Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: phil lesh (page 2 of 92)

I Spy With My Little Eye…

  • Classic iPod. (Behind Mrs. Donna Jean.)
  • Amazon Echo. (In between Mrs. Donna Jean and Garcia.)
  • Two iPads. (To the left of Billy and Mickey.)
  • Phil’s booty. (Behind Phil.)
  • Precarious Lee’s handiwork. (Bottom left.)



Is that a humidor?

“On top of the monitor?”


“Nope. Ashes.”

Human ashes?



“Don’t worry about it.”

Is that secure? That angle is rather…



“It’ll be fine.”

Will it?

“Should be.”

Your words don’t fill me with confidence.

“I duct taped it.”

Oh, well, then it’s fine.

“I know.”

I was being sarcastic.

“I know. Don’t care.”

Without A Hairnet

Did the cooks go on strike again?

“I’m not at the restaurant, jackass. I’m volunteering at a soup kitchen.”

Good of you to do.

“Gotta give back.”

Yes, you do.

“I would’ve rather done a show and donated the proceeds, but Jill wanted to do this.”

Gotta listen to the boss.

“Yup. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. Never cooked in my life.”


“I can put stuff in the toaster. Or the toaster oven. I got both those suckers down cold. But the stove? Completely foreign device. I believe food should be brought to me.”

Does Jill cook?

“Oh, yeah. Great at it. She makes the best chili in the world. Know what she calls it?”




“It’s a portmanteau.”


“I didn’t say it was funny, I just said that’s what she calls it.”

I’m cool.

“You’re not.”

I know. You look good in a hairnet.

“Fuck off.”


My First Time Machine

“Baby Levon! What are you doing here? It’s 1991!”

“I got Time Sheath, Gampa!”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake.”

“I bwing Mongol Horde into pwesent, Gampa.”

“No, Baby Levon! Not the Mongols!”


“I okay, Gampa!”

“Good, good.”

“Gampa, I kill Baby Hitler!”

“No, Baby Levon!”

“Yes. I be hero.”

“No! Something worse always happens!”



“Oh, no.”


“Yay! Dinosaurs!”

“Stop messing around the timestream, Baby Levon!”

“What the fuck is that little motherfucker doing?”

“Who is that? And could you not curse around my grandson, please?”

“Fuck you. I curse in front of everyone.”

“I’m a little busy right now, Miles.”

“Me, too. There’s a fucking ankylosaur in my living room. He’s fucking up my shit. I got expensive shit.”

“Well, there’s not a lot I can do about that.”

“I know, motherfucker. Useless as a fucking donkey in a horse race. I gotta take care of everything.”

“Miles, this is a Time Sheath technology-related situation.”

“I know, motherfucker. Why you think I’m wearing my Time Trenchcoat?”

“Y’know, you’ve really eased yourself right into this universe.”

“I been in groups before.”

Huggy Bears

Matt Busch watched. He stood and watched. Could not avert his eyes tho he begged to.

Move, feet. This is what Matt Busch told his feet and they did not listen. Turn, head.

There was a conspiracy against him. His body desired what his brain could not process.

A smell arose from the men. Lust and sweat and balls and ball powder. Close, nostrils. They would not. Small yips of pleasure came from the men. These intensified.

Matt Busch watched.


“Uh, Phil?”


“You’re really getting in there.”

“I’m just so happy, Bob.”


“Because social media didn’t exist while we were doing whatever the hell we wanted.”




Buffalo Gal

Are you caressing Stu Allen?

“It’s his hand, jackass.”

Ah. I see it.

“Good for you.”

Hey, wasn’t Harvey Weinstein a concert promoter back in the day? You guys ever run into him?

“A bunch. Him and that asshole brother of his ran Buffalo in the 70’s. Always something funny with the receipts with those two. Christ, I can still see his face. Like a fat pineapple. Looked like a Jewish Noriega.”

Not an attractive man.

“One of those strategic temper tantrum guys. Would scream at the top of his lungs about nothing, then get real quiet and charming. Well, you know. ‘Charming.’ Jackass.”

How’d you deal with it?

“Laughed at him. He was no Bill Graham.”

He was awful big, though.

“So was our crew. I’ll tell you a story. He tried that massage shit on Mrs. Donna Jean in ’77.”

That motherFUCKer!

“Yeah. She would get her own little room so she could get dressed. Keith was in there, but he had passed out.”


“So, big boy charges in there and starts demanding a massage. And, you know, Mrs. Donna Jean’s a Southern girl, and they’re real polite up to a point.”

Up to a point.

“And that point was him taking his dick out.”

Bro, I’m steaming mad here.

“Story gets better.”

Does she say something clever and hurt his feelings?

“Fuck, no. Grabbed his cock and sunk her nails into the shaft real hard.”


“Then she pulls him into the dressing room where we’re all hanging out and announces, ‘Boys, this venue got itself a cockroach problem!'”

I love Mrs. Donna Jean.

“She had her moments.”

Are you sure you’re not caressing Stu Allen?

“Go away.”


Fogey Mountain Breakdown

  • Mary Jane’s Last Dancin’ In The Streets.
  • We Can Running Down A Dream.
  • Rosa Lee MacFree Fallin’.
  • Good Morning Little American Girl.
  • I Won’t Feedback Down.
  • Standing On The Full Moon Fever.
  • Don’t Come Around And Around Here No More.

Down In Front

The past looked like shit. The present is a hyper-designed nightmare of weaponized professionalism, but the past looked like shit. It was slapped together; “good enough” was good enough for the past. You could see all the seams, several of which were fraying before your eyes. See how there’s no chairs or aisles or sub-divisions within the crowd? That’s called general admission. It kills people. Not always, and not often, but it kills people. The past was more flammable.


This is 11/27/70, which was the day after Thanksgiving that year. The Dead played on the 23rd in New York City, and then this show on the 27th. Did they fly back to the Bay, or did they eat their turdrugken in Manhattan? (Turdrugken is a chicken stuffed into drugs stuffed into a turkey.) The venue was called The Syndrome, because in 1970, you could name a venue “The Syndrome” and people would respond to that by saying “Groovy” and “Far out,” instead of “That’s a terrible fucking name. Are we in a hack novel about the Sixties? Don’t name it that.”

The Syndrome used to be called the Chicago Coliseum when the Blackhawks played there in the 20’s. In 1904, Teddy Roosevelt accepted the Republican Party’s nomination when they held their convention here; TR accepted the Bull Moose Party’s nod here, too, in 1912. Didn’t work out as well. There was roller derby during the Depression, and then the Chicago Packers laid in a hardwood floor and put up some hoops. They would change their name to the Chicago Zephyrs shortly before moving to Baltimore and becoming the Bullets, then heading a few miles south to D.C. where they are today the Washington Wizards. (Fun philosophy question: is it still the same team? Discuss.)

Out of date and lacking any sports teams to support it, the Coliseum turned to a life of crime; worse, it started presenting long-hair bands. The owners renamed the dump The Syndrome and booked acts throughout the 60’s. (Did they think the kids would be fooled by the dopey hippie name? That they would overlook the fact that the joint was less a building and more a building-shaped pile of material? I can smell the urine through the photo.)

Anyway, the Dead played there only once, on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1970. They brought the New Riders with them, as was their wont in 1970. There’s no tape.

Three months later, 6,000 fans crammed into the arena to watch the simulcast of the Ali/Frazier fight. The projector broke. Riots broke out, and the fight fans damn near tore that old building down. The ensuing insurance inspection turned up so many fire code violations that even a bribe couldn’t fix it, and may I remind you that this was Chicago. Takes quite a bit to be beyond a bribe in that city, but the Coliseum was not longer financially feasible as a performance space. Japanese Buddhists own it now, and they do Japanese Buddhist things there. There is most likely no roller derby at all.


Check out JT Leroy looking back at the camera.

In A Semi-Fictional Way

“You ever been this cool, motherfucker?”

Nope. Not even close.

“I’m like this always.”

You are.

“Many of the problems I’ve had with white people stem from this. White man sees me, and he’s threatened. Knows he can’t walk like me, knows he can’t dress like me. This threatens him. Then he sees the white bitches wanting to fuck me, and this angers him. Plus, most white men are homosexuals, so they also want to fuck me. I fuck the white man’s head up.”

Mr. Davis, did you ever pay the National Anthem before a game?

“Why asking me that? You in the CIA?”

I am not in the–

“Most white men are homosexuals and in the CIA.”

Uh-huh. Not in the CIA.

“What the fuck you asking about the anthem for?”

There’s a kerfuffle about it when I live.

“You just say ‘kerfuffle’ to Miles fucking Davis?”


“You know I’m gonna shoot at you, right?”

Also yeah.


I deserved that.

“Ain’t never played that shit. What, you mean stand on the fucking pitcher’s mound and play that dumb-ass song? Nah, fuck that shit. Mets asked once.”

You turned them down?

“Yeah. And the next time I saw Cleon Jones, I punched the motherfucker.”

You know Cleon Jones?

“Everybody knows Jonesy. Outgoing motherfucker.”


“Who the fuck is that playing that shit?”

“Is your piano player.”

“You ain’t my piano player, motherfucker! Where’s Herbie?”

“Herbie Hancock have accident. Very sad. Fell on upside-down lawnmower. Tragedy. Now I piano player.”

“Stop playing that fucking piano.”

“Putin nyet play Fender Rhodes.”

“That’s not what I meant, motherfucker!”

“Putin solo.”


“We’re in B-flat, motherfucker!”

“Putin play free.”

“Not on my fucking stage.”

“Kiss ass, Miles David.”

“What the fuck did you say to me?”

“HEY! Gentlemen!”

“Not okay, boys! We are NOT going to fight here”

“Who the fuck are these motherfuckers?”

“Putin know skinny man. Owns restaurant I invade several time.”

“Eyes up here, fellows.”

“Look how disappointed Phil and I are in you.”


“If you’re not gonna play nice, then we’ll separate you.”

“Who the fuck are these motherfuckers?”

“Maybe they vill have accident.”

“I’m okay with that.”

“Putin make call.”

Don’t Bop

Hey, Mister–

“Shut the fuck up. Listen.”

What am I listening to?

“A bass player about to be fired.”

Which one this time?

“Dave Holland. Had to fire his limey ass. Played the notes wrong.”

Dave Holland was playing wrong notes?

“I didn’t say that, you simple motherfucker. He played the right notes, but he played ’em wrong.”

You have a unique way of leading a band.

“I tried to tell him. I said, ‘Dave, play like a cowboy in the supermarket.’ And he couldn’t. He’d play one thing, and it’d be a cowboy but not in the supermarket. Maybe in the post office or something. Played another, and now he’s in the supermarket, but he sure ain’t no fucking cowboy. Boy just couldn’t understand basic fucking instructions”


“Besides, I couldn’t stand that accent. Sounded like a queer. Wife sounded like a queer, too.”

I’m just gonna say “okay” again because I have no response to that.

“When I was doing Bitches Brew, John McLaughlin made the date. Came in here with his guitar. Motherfucker could play, man. So I told him, ‘John, play like a genius just punched you in the eye,’ and I punched him in the eye. That track became Miles Runs The Voodoo Down. That was a man who could take direction.”

You did like hitting people.

“Motherfuckers became punched. Let’s leave it at that.”

“Miles, what do you want on your tofu dog?”

“Don’t bring that white bullshit near me. Put your tofu up your ass.”

“They’re delicious, Miles. And good for the earth!”

“Fuck the earth, fuck you, and fuck tofu. Don’t I know you?”

“We shared a bill three years ago, when I was 29.”

“Been a rough three years, motherfucker.”

“Three years your time. Like, forever ago in the reality of my photograph.”

“This all some white people bullshit I’ve gotten involved with.”

“Oh, yeah. White as hell and bullshit as all get out.”

“Don’t make no fucking sense whatsoever.”

“Nope. You want ketchup on your tofu dog?”


“You shot the tofu!”

“Probably tastes better now, motherfucker.”

Bowling With The Homies

Hey, Holly Bowling. Whatcha doing?

“Me? You have to bother me?”

Phil yells at me, Bobby has too much crap in his sweatpants, and Jim James kinda scares me a little.

“What about Ross James?”

The whole James family scares me. Beardos.


So, how you doing? I see you brought your hat.

“Leave the hat alone.”

Does it have a road case?

“Please stop talking to me. I’m concentrating.”

What are you playing?

“Dark Star.”

It’s just a jam in D minor.

“Please don’t say–”

The saddest of all keys.

“–the saddest…you’re so original.”

How’s that all-girl jam band coming together?

“It’s not. I’m very happy with my career, and I don’t need advice from you. Holy shit, do I not need advice from you.”

Oh, no. You’re right. I give terrible advice. You need a manager.

“I have a–”


“Where is that coming from? Bobby’s sweatpants?”

He really does have a lot of junk in there.


“I left my phone backstage.”

Check your hat.

“Stop making fun of my hat.”

I’m celebrating it. Check under your hat.”

“Yup. Phone.”

Told you.”

“You’re rolling with Bowling.”

“Great phone greeting, Holl. Perfect.”

“I know this rasp.”

“Holly, it’s Benjy Eisen in a chipmunk costume.”

“Where’d you get a chipmunk costume?”

“Stole it from Brent.”

“Why are you in a chipmunk costume?”

“Don’t worry about the chipmunk costume. This is not about the chipmunk costume. You’d look great in a chipmunk costume.”

“What do you want, Benjy?”

“I wanna take your career to the next level.”

“No, thank you.”

“Listen to my idea first.”


“Jam-themed holiday album.”


“It’s called Have A Holly, Holly Christmas.”


“What if I told you I could get you a sponsor?”

“A sponsor?”

“Absolutely. How do you feel about wearing a chipmunk costume onstage?”

“I’m hanging up.”

“Is Billy there?”


“Can you leave me out of your little make-em-ups, please?”

I promise nothing, Holly Bowling.

“You suck.”

Do you consider your last name to be more of a gerund or a participle?




Oh, hi, Phil.

“Fuck off!”

Your hair looks great.

“I know. Fuck off.”


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