Thoughts On The Dead

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

Author: Thoughts On The Dead (page 2 of 928)

Real-Time Thoughts On Billy Joel’s Millennium Concert, 12/31/99

  • This is not my fault, Enthusiasts.
  • I mean, it sort of is.
  • Never did I make it clear that the Donate Button is not the Request Button.
  • Donate comes from the Old English, and Middle French, and originally Latin.
  • Donationem.
  • It means “gift.”
  • It’s a one-way transaction.
  • “Hey, remember when Ginger Baker got a fistfight with Death? I liked that shit. Here’s twenty bucks.”
  • That’s how the Donate Button works, but–to be faaaaaaaaaair–I did not clearly outline the rules and regulations.
  • So I kinda gotta do this.
  • It’s not like I’m giving the money back.
  • That’s out of the question.
  • I’ve done a lot of shitty things in my life, but “giving the money back” is not one of them.
  • Have there been occasions where I should have–morally, ethically, legally–given the money back?
  • Fuck, yeah.
  • But a man’s gotta have a code.
  • And my code states that once the cash has gone from your pocket to mine, it doesn’t go back.
  • So I guess I gotta do this bullshit.
  • Suck my wet asshole, Billy Joel.
  • Three fucking hours?
  • I can’t do anything for three hours straight
  • I can’t even sleep for three hours straight anymore.
  • Got that Sleep Apnea.
  • Which is the worst apnea.
  • Ever have the Veal Apnea?
  • Melts in your mouth.
  • People say it’s cruel to strap CPAP machines on baby cows, but fuck ’em: that’s where the taste comes from.
  • Pairs well with a full-bodied red.
  • Any full-bodied red: wine or a fat communist, whichever.
  • No one has ever referred to Nikita Khrushchev as a “full-bodied red,” but they should.
  • HEY!
  • Mm-hmm?
  • You gonna talk about Billy Joel?
  • He’s playing the piano like a pussy.
  • Offensive.
  • True.
  • All pianists are pussies, and they sit down to pee.
  • Holly Bowling?
  • Sits down when she pees.
  • Fine.
  • He’s drunk and playing The Ballad of Billy the Kid.
  • Which I fucking love.
  • Especially the live version from Songs From The Attic.

  • The Ballad of Billy the Kid is Billy Joel’s Terrapin Station.
  • I want Nick Paumgarten to weigh in on that assertion.
  • There may be no human being on the planet more qualified to weigh in on that assertion than Nick Paumgarten.
  • I don’t know if he puts that on his resume or not, but I would.
  • We should discuss Billy’s hair, I suppose.
  • It is generous of me to call it “hair.”
  • This is New Year’s Eve, 1999, and Billy’s still holding on to the follicular aspirations of his youth
  • Now, what I think is going on up top there is that sprinkly shit you shake onto your head.
  • You see ads for it in the back of gentlemanly magazines.
  • Ron Popeil used to sell it, I think.
  • Although, even when Billy had hair, it wasn’t good hair.
  • It wasn’t Rock Star hair.
  • That hair inherited a chain of pool supply stores in Yonkers, and is fifty grand in debt to bookies.
  • Wanna see Rock Star hair?
  • That’s some Rock Star hair, man.
  • Plus bonus points for Slash wearing a shirt with his own name on it.
  • We won’t talk about Steve.
  • In fact, don’t even look at Steve; it’s unsettling.
  • He’s usually much better-looking than that.
  • See?
  • Nikki Sixx had better hair than Billy Joel, as well.
  • (FUN FACT: That beige building next to the Carvin showroom is the legendary Mexican restaurant El Compadre, which is known for its inedible food and nuclear margaritas. And if you walk either north or south around a half-mile from where Steven and Nikki are standing, you would be at my old apartments. I may have stumbled that half-mile many times.)
  • Anyway, what the fuck was I talking about?
  • Hong Kong, and their fevered march towards freedom?
  • The climate, which is going through them changes?
  • Titties and ding-dongs?
  • Oh, right: a three-hour Billy Joel concert from two decades ago.
  • Jesus.
  • Billy’s schnockered and playing the Moonlight Sonata.
  • Stop that, Billy.
  • This was Attila:
  • Attila was Billy’s heavy metal band; they put out one record in 1970, and it had the worst cover in music industry history.
  • Look at those poor bastards.
  • An album cover shouldn’t make you feel bad for a band.
  • Maybe that’s what they were going for.
  • A pity purchase.
  • “I wasn’t going to buy this record, but look how sad the little Jewish fellow looks.”
  • FUN FACT: Every used record store in the entire world has this album on display; you’re not even allowed to open up a used record store unless you own this album.
  • Atilla did not sell, the band broke up, Billy moved to Los Angeles, got a job at the Executive Room on Wilshire playing for real estate novelists and Davey, who was in the Navy.
  • It should be noted that, as I am mocking the man, I am also singing along with every song.
  • Every word.
  • I know every fucking word to every fucking song.
  • Wanna know a Secret of the Jews?
  • We LOVE Billy Joel.
  • He’s ours.
  • There’s an ownership thing going on.
  • Potheads have the Dead; Jerseyans have Bruce; fat chicks have Lizzo.
  • Jews have Billy.
  • That’s what “Chosen People” means: we chose Billy.
  • You put on Summer, Highland Falls at an AEΠ mixer, then arms will be placed around shoulders, and swaying will commence.
  • Hey, Palestinians.
  • You want peace?
  • Open up the next negotiations with “Bro, Nylon Curtain is seriously underrated.”
  • The mood of the room will change, I guarantee it.
  • Oh, wait: I wanted to tell you the Billy/Guns story.
  • When Guns played MSG in ’91, Billy showed up backstage, wasted and demanding Johnny Walker Black Label.
  • Which is wonderful.
  • “Get that Jack Daniels shit away from me. What’d you say your name was? Sploosh? Where’s your boy? Billy needs Black! SEND YOUR BOY FOR BILLY’S BLACK!”
  • Scotch drinkers are–to a man–assholes about their brand.
  • When I used to drink, my preferences were “red wine” and “vodka that isn’t Popov.”
  • Or whatever you were paying for.
  • Or banana schnapps one time.
  • I was living in the neighborhood I was telling you about before, the one by El Compadre.
  • Bought myself a pint of banana schnapps and drank it while wandering around the Ralph’s supermarket.
  • I’m not proud of that, but it happened.
  • Probably stole some sushi while I was there.
  • In my defense: I had spent all my money on the banana schnapps.
  • Billy’s introducing the band now.
  • Actually, he’s been doing it for ten minutes now due to a combination of Scotch-induced garrulousness and the fact that there’s two dozen people in the band.
  • Full-on Late Career Giant Band Phase.
  • Billy’s got regulation black-up singers AND white black-up singers.
  • Oy vey, he’s doing Uptown Girl.
  • I preferred the band introductions.
  • Good for you scoring a supermodel, Billy.
  • You didn’t need to write a song about it.
  • At least not this one.
  • Do you think the other rockyroll muses made fun of Christie Brinkley at their meetings?
  • Patti Boyd had Layla AND Something In The Way You Move written about her.
  • Rosanna Arquette?
  • In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel AND Rosanna by Toto.
  • Poor Christie.
  • Maybe that was why she divorced him.
  • Okay, Billy just took a break and now he’s back onstage in a tuxedo.
  • No one else in the band is wearing one, and so he looks like a schmuck.
  • Anyway, this show is at MSG.
  • Billy’s headlined the World’s Most Famous Arena over 100 times, including 12 nights in a row in 2006.
  • But he doesn’t have the record.
  • Can you guess?
  • What performer has toplined MSG the most?
  • Not the Dead (53 times).
  • Or the Phosh (60).
  • Those are bush league numbers compared to Gunther Gebel-Williams.
  • GGW was the star of the Ringling Brothers circus for three decades, and he tamed lions in the center ring in MSG over 1500 times
  • He didn’t play choogly-type music for Katy Tur and other media types, no: he locked himself in a cage with a dozen half-ton predators while wearing spangles.
  • Look at the size of the paws on Kitty up there.
  • Gunther TAMED that shit armed only with Teutonic will.
  • Shouldn’t you be talkiing about Billy Joel?
  • He’s playing We Didn’t Start The Fire.
  • Oh, good God; keep discussing the German animal-botherer.
  • Right?
  • Wait!
  • Y2K!
  • I totally forgot about Y2K!
  • Although, so has everyone else.
  • Younger Enthusiasts, gather around and let your Uncle TotD tell you a story about disaster narrowly averted.
  • Early computers were hilariously stupid.
  • There just wasn’t enough room in ’em, for one thing.
  • Nowadays, we measure digital storage in terrabytes, and will very soon go to petabytes.
  • Used to be  just plain bytes.
  • A byte is the amount of space a computer needs to render one character.
  • Z
  • That was a byte, that “Z.”
  • Notice how I didn’t use a period?
  • That’s because the period would have been a second byte.
  • Clever people figured out how to jam a whole bunch of information into a byte, but still: itsy-bitsy, and you only had so many of ’em in a system.
  • And so when these clever people were building important computers, ones that would keep planes from crashing into one another or economies from collapsing, they needed to maximize their processing power.
  • One of the ways they did this was by reducing the digits in dates from eight to six.
  • For example, instead of 10/31/1970, the calendar would read 10/31/70.
  • Problem solved.
  • Until someone–no doubt a very clever person–asked “What will happen in 2000?”
  • And then it was very quiet for a long, long moment.
  • And then it cost over $300 billion to fix.
  • Auld Lang Syne?
  • What is this, Downton Abbey?
  • Ride a giant hot dog or something.
  • Put your back into it, you drunken gnome.
  • It cannot be overstated how blitzed Billy Joel is at this moment.
  • Impression-drunk.
  • Some white guys, when they get shitfaced, start doing impressions.
  • Sinatra.
  • Arnold.
  • You might even get Generic Black Guy Voice.
  • You hope you won’t, but you might.
  • I might honestly prefer GBGV to River Of Dreams.
  • River Of Dreams sounds like Jimmy Buffet farting in a Sears.
  • What?
  • No.
  • NO.
  • This is absolutely the last request I take.
  • I love money, but not this much.
  • From now on, any requests must be made in drugs.
  • And I’m talking weight.
  • Ounce is the lowest I’ll go to do this again.
  • Not mids, either.
  • Scenes From An Italian Restaurant.
  • Scenes, braj.
  • Y’know the bit from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure when he’s in Texas and sings The stars at niiiiiight are big and briiiiight and everyone around him goes CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP deep in the heeeeeeaaaart of Texas?
  • Walk into any building in Long Island and sing Bottle o’ red, bottle o’ white.
  • Same thing’ll happen.
  • My God, he’s introducing the band again.
  • These band introductions are like herpes: they just keep flaring up.
  • Speaking of herpes, Billy is now doing his Austin Powers impression.
  • In his defense, it was 1999 and Austin Powers impressions were 20 years more acceptable than they are currently.
  • IT’S AXL!
  • No, I lied.
  • That’s from 2014.
  • In 1999, Axl still looked like Axl.
  • And he hadn’t bought that hat yet.
  • Elvis.
  • Billy Joel is Impression-drunk, and has forced his band to play Suspicious Minds so he can do his Elvis voice.
  • But only the first verse.
  • It’s a Replacements show at this point.
  • And now he’s doing Mick.
  • The band’s playing Honky Tonk Women, and Billy is flat-out Mick Jaggering.
  • The lips and the moves and everything.
  • I’m in hell.
  • I am in hell and Billy Joel is the house band.
  • How about another picture with Axl?
  • “You!”
  • And then a riot broke out.

  • The music business industry makes strange bedfellows of us all, Enthusiasts.
  • FUN FACT: Billy Joel has never employed Buckethead, nor has he even heard of the masked shredder.
  • 2000 words?
  • About a Billy Joel concert?
  • I got a friend who’s a surgeon.
  • He separated conjoined twins once.
  • Not me.
  • I’m dancing like a monkey for chump change.
  • You underestimate how much saxophone there is in Billy Joel’s oeuvre.
  • However much you think there is, double that.
  • Double it again.
  • Add five.
  • That much sax.
  • And doo-wop.
  • Has Billy Joel always been this doo-woppy?
  • There’s so much doo-wop that stickball games keeps breaking out, and Mayor LaGuardia is on the radio reading the Sunday funnies.
  • Piano Man.
  • I thought he wasn’t gonna play it, but then BAM second encore.
  • Billy is plotzed, red-faced, and making up the words as he goes.
  • But y’know what?
  • That’s him with his new model wife getting honored at the Kennedy Center, so he’s doing just fine.
  • Good night, Madison Square Garden, wherever you are.

Chuck Berry Is Rolling Over In His Beethoven

If Jools Holland were any whiter, his name would be Jools Holland.

The Only Combover That Mattered

I miss Tom Snyder.

ALSO: Joe got his teeth fixed in between London Calling and Sandinista.

They Call It The White House, But That’s A Temporary Condition, Dig?

The song should not be confused with Neil Young’s 2006 ditty Let’s Impeach The President, nor the band with Robert Plant’s 80’s backing group. Also: yes, let’s impeach the President.

Won’t You Give Us A Smile?

Real punk bands had bad teeth.

What’s In A (Superyacht’s) Name?

There is no connection between Queen and Basketball Head, you say. Perhaps you whisper it softly, as if a prayer. Please, dear Jesus, keep separate Freddie, who was made of joy and boners, separated from Donald Trump, who is a used band-aid. Some folks ought maintain a chasm betwixt. It’s like the Offspring said, Lord: Ya gotta keep ’em separated. If you won’t listen to me, Lord, then listen to the Offspring.


This is not a yacht. She is a superyacht, and she was originally called the Nabila, which is Arabic for Noble Lady, but she was also called the Flying Saucer when she starred in a James Bond movie. I am unaware of the helicopter’s name, or whether it appeared in any films. (The reason that boats are “she” and helicopters are “it” is because humans were not cooped up in helicopters for months at a time slowly going insane to the point where they began gendering vehicles.) The Nabila has, as you can see, a helipad and an outdoor swimming pool/sexy-time jacuzzi tub. Hidden within are 11 suites, a movie theater, gym, formal dining room, and quarters for the crew of 48. Cost $100 million, and that was in 1980, when $100 million was real money.

(WARNING: Do not start googling “superyachts unless you wanna go Full Commie. Did you know that the latest trend is away from 300-footers and towards ultra-luxury 200-footers paired with smaller support boats that act as floating garages for your tenders/waverunners/landing craft/chopper/etc.? You didn’t know that, did you? How does that fact make you feel? Violently redistributionish? Me too, comrade.)

Anyway, when she was called the Nabila, she was owned by Adnan Khashoggi, who was a social kind of fellow. In the 60’s and 70’s, he was good friends with the Saudi royal family, who wanted desperately to buy as many tanks and planes and bazookas as possible; he was also buddy-buddy with Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman, who wanted just as breathlessly to sell as many tanks and planes and bazookas as possible. The papers called him an arms dealer, but he was just an outgoing guy. The arms sales provided the seed money–about a billion’s worth–for further investment and trinket-collecting. Game reserves, and shopping malls, and far more mansions than necessary, and the Utah Jazz.

The boat got the most attention. So much so that Queen wrote a song about it in 1989.

It is not a major entry in the band’s canon, just a scrap of Brian’s usual Heavy Rock from The Miracle, but it’s still a Queen song. They didn’t write shit about you, did they? No, Queen wrote songs about not liking Jaws or Star Wars, and Beelzebub, and curvaceous bicyclists. And the Nabila. Heady company.

In 1990, Khashoggi sold the boat.

He ruins everything.

Other Kippurs Of Note

Foam Kippur For 24 hours, no Jew is permitted to attend one of those freaky Ibiza parties where they pour the foam all over the dance floor.

Noam Kippur From sunset until sunset, no consent may be manufactured.

Frome Kippur Eight days after Rosh Hashanah, all men of Bar Mitzvah age must pretend to have read Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome.

Zsa Zsa Kippur A total proscription against being famous for no reason, and marrying a dozen rich guys.

“That’s enough, enough of this. Son, you’re floundering.”

Hey, you can’t be here.

And he really can’t be here.

“You pay Orenthal the respect he’s due. My God, the yardage he churned up! And with Buffalo, no less. Imagine that, knowing you’ve got no shot at the title, but still running your heart out every Sunday. You could take lessons.”

I am not taking any lessons from OJ.

“The Juice. I am, uh, informed that he is called by that name. The Juice.”

Yes, sir.

“Many of them have nicknames. The blacks, I mean”

I figured.

“Very informal people. As you can see. Most guests to the White House wear suits, ties, they dress properly. But, uh, Orenthal has chosen to show up looking like Bing Crosby. This is not a sign of disrespect in their culture.”

We are veering dangerously close to the rocks here, sir.

“The black believes that suits are for court appearances.”

Annnnnnd we’ve crashed onto said rocks.


“Justy, I know you’re my son, but–”

“We’re not doing foot stuff, Pop.”

“–let’s do foot stuff. Why not?”

“It’s wrong.”

“Naaaaah. You ever hear about Abraham and Isaac from the Hotel Book?”

“The Bible. That book is called the Bible.”

“They did tons of toe-play. Nobody thought less of them.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels, Justy.”

“I’m here to talk about drums, Pop.”

“Shit, you wanna talk drums, you should call up your Uncle Mickey. He won’t shut the fuck up about ’em. I keep telling him to get a hobby, but he just pretends his hearing aids aren’t working. Deaf as a coffee table that had the mumps as a kid.”

“I already talked to Uncle Mickey.”

“He tell you about the time he fucked half the UCLA ladies’ volleyball team? He had to climb most of those chicks.”


“Eventually, he got tired and just started rubbing against their knees.”


“Benjy, you went bald quick.”

“Not Benjy, Pop.”

“Am I getting paid for this?”

A Righteous Riot

The thing about bastards is that they never go away, not for good. There will always be bastards.

There’s more of us, though. And we have more to lose.

Yoakum If Ya Got ‘Em

“Thanks for having me on your show, Radio Randy.”

“Bob, for the ninth time: I am not Radio Randy, whoever that is. I’m Dwight Yoakum.”

“Well, uh, that sounds like an even faker name than ‘Radio Randy.'”

“It’s my real name, Bob. Now let’s talk about–”


“–you new band…what now?”

“And dwarf.”

“Are you listing words that start with the letters ‘dw?'”

“Yuh-huh. Not that many. There’s also Dwayne.”

“I guess so.”

“Now, if we we speaking Welsh, then we’d be here all day with the ‘dw’ words. But, uh, it’s a weird combination in English. Almost as weird a combination as when you married Julia Roberts.”

“That was Lyle Lovett, Bob.”

“Talk about outkicking your coverage.”

“I wish we could go to a commercial.”

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