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

Tag: cornell (Page 1 of 2)

Also Gonna Be A “No” From Me, Dog

Casual, or new, readers may notice a lack of Cornell coverage on this site. This is because Thoughts on the Dead is grad-level, baby. We’re above that here, Enthusiasts; you should have covered the fundamentals somewhere else.

I’ve also written about the stupid show for, like, the past seven years and have nothing more thoughts. Search for ’em if you want.

Corona delenda est

Topics I Would Rather Write About Than Fucking Cornell Again

  • Meghan McCain and her stupidity.
  • Bonos’s business partner and his cupidity.
  • That coffee cup that went to the Met Gala.
  • The 38 CD Woodstock box set. (This is a torture device, plain and simple. I’d give up the nuclear codes halfway through the fourth disc or Joan Baez’ first number, whichever came first. The great Jesse Jarnow wrote some of the liner notes, and I’m glad he got paid, but this is not for me. I’m not voting for Joe Biden, and I’m not listening to fucking Woodstock. Come at me, Boomers. Struggle out of your chairs and come at me.)
  • The secret racist history of hula hoops.
  • Anything anyone has to say about Ilhan Omar.
  • Anything Ilhan Omar has to say.
  • Whether or not that runner lady who looks like a guy has a cock.
  • The Internet of Stuff. (It’s like the Internet of Things, but less specific.)
  • Joe Rogan’s podcast.
  • Moutaineering, bouldering, the Giant Slalom, sherpa politics. (Longtime readers will recognize these as topics that FoTotD Nick Paumgarten has covered in the New Yorker. My respect for–and envy of–Nick’s writing skills stand no chance in competition with my fervently-held belief that humans should stay the fuck off of mountains. That is not where we are meant to be. We are not snow leopards; you can tell by our posture. Draw a mountain, sure. Have a romantic picnic at one’s base. Hell, gain 200 pounds and name your band “Mountain.” These are all fine activities. But stay the fuck off the slopes.)
  • The Newt Yorker. (It’s like the New Yorker, but by and for newts. Latest issue features 20,000 words from Masha Geesen on her childhood as a communist newt.)
  • The re-emergence of Avitel Ronell.

You all seem like nice people, except the simpletons who post comments calling me a “soy boy” after I mention what a slapdick the President is, but you need to make your own decisions. Listen to 5/8/77, don’t listen to it, sand your nipples down to nubs: I don’t care.

For those of you desperate to hear a lonely weirdo’s impressions of a semi-defunct choogly-type band’s mid-week contractual obligation: the Search Button is your friend. For those who aren’t: the Donate Button is also your friend.


Next Step: Federal Holiday

Sisyphus was a pussy: he didn’t have Cornell. Roll the fucker up the hill every year; you think you’re good and May comes around again, whistling innocently. Here I am, sailor. Let’s dance.

I have no more dances in me.

And then Cornell says DANCE, FUCKER and sticks all of its hydrodicks into you.

At least this year there’s the new box set to talk about, Get Shown The Light. (There’s one  set, with the books and pictures and essays, left at Amazon.) The full set is four shows–May 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th, 1977–from the fabled and long-lost Betty Boards. Technically, they weren’t lost: they were in the shed of a chemistry teacher who wanted too much money. By the way, now that they’re safely back in the Vault where they belong and this can’t actually happen and I can’t be implicated: I am deeply saddened by Deadheads’ refusal to heist the tapes.

But if they were stolen, then they couldn’t be remastered and sold by the Dead.


Good argument.

Thank you. I’ve listened to the whole set and Jeffrey Norman, et al., have done their usual brilliant job: one of the draws of the Betty Board for Cornell has always been the huge, but specific, bass; Phil always sounded like he was 200 feet tall and mad at a mid-sized city. Once again, though,  the production team has improved what seemed unimprovable: the sound is massive and immersive, with air all around the instruments

(You can still buy the three-CD release that just has Cornell on it.)

Cornell’s the Best EVAR show that the Grateful Dead played because some show has to be, and why not it? It was more available than other shows back when the Dead existed on cassette tapes and traveled via the mail; it sounded better than most other contemporaneous recordings, causing people (perhaps unconsciously) to listen to it more; it was a more accessible chunk of music than, say, Veneta’s half-hour Dark Star freakout.

So call it number one.

And so a cottage industry has built up around the myth of Cornell: books, documentaries, walking tours. There’s even a section in the Cornell bookstore dedicated to merch commemorating the show. You can buy all sorts of things.

  • Baby onesie with “The DEW, brah” written on it.
  • Take A Step Back: the turn-based role-playing game.
  • Decorative collector’s spoons. (Sold in sets of two only. The first set is okay, but the second is really good.)
  • Betty Board ® surfboards.
  • Scarlet begonias. (Seasonal)
  • Fire on the Mountain hot sauce.
  • For thirty bucks, someone who was at the show will tell you stories.
  • Leroy Neiman prints of Billy in his underwear.
  • Snow globe with Barton Hall and tiny little students coming out of the show.
  • Because it was snowing when they came out of the show.
  • Did you ever hear that before?

Anyway, it’s Cornell Day. Go listen, or don’t. You do you.

In Which I Whine About Cornell

Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow is tomorrow, so I’m not dealing with tomorrow today; I’ll live through tomorrow tomorrow, but today is today–a day like any other and not special at all–and so I will care about and write about whatever I want to. Tomorrow has an agenda, but today is for us. Today is free. Like birds and shit.

You all right, buddy?

Fuck Cornell.

The school?

Yes, but mostly the holiday. It’s exhausting. I can’t write about that fucking show any more than I already have, and I refuse to do it.

But the nice people will be expecting it.

The nice people were expecting to have gotten used to saying “Madam President” by now. Let ’em keep expecting things and see how happy it makes ’em.

Oh, good. A moody Sunday night raging against the dying of the choogle.

No one appreciates me. Where’s my box set?

What now?

I want a box set. I want an expansive collection of my greatest hits and dick jokes in a fancy package, and I want Nicholas von Meriweather to write the liner notes, and then I want to not buy it and download it illegally.


And I want Mexico to pay for it.

Oh, tonight’s gonna be fun.

People want to read about the Cornell box set, then they can read what the great Jesse Jarnow wrote in Pitchfork. I agree with everything he says; he has my May ’77 proxy.

Only a 9.0?

The editors come up with those numbers. We all know Jesse would have given it a 10.

What was the last thing Pitchfork gave a 10 to?

Kendrick Lamar’s outgoing answering machine message.


A Religious Holiday

Well, isn’t this nifty? Who says government doesn’t work for the people?

This is, however, the final draft of the document. The first version was quite different; one of the Haight Street Irregulars broke into City Hall and stole a copy so I could share it with you:


WHEREAS the Grateful Dead’s concert at Barton Hall at Cornell University on May 8, 1977, was perhaps the best show they played that week, depending on whom you ask, and

WHEREAS the show has become a local cottage industry, and

WHEREAS on the other hand, you pop Cornell in the tape deck of your Datsun and turn that shit up, and you have a good old time, and

WHEREAS there is no Sugaree or Half-Step, precluding the show from ever truly being the greatest show of all time, and

WHEREAS it was snowing when the students exited the building, and

WHEREAS it has been said many times by many people, the best people, that Cornell was just a tremendous show, a real top show, and probably the best of all time, which is what many, many people are saying

NOW THEREFORE, I, Dan Klein, Vice Chair of the Tompkins Legislature hereby proclaim May 8, 2017, as


WHICH means that all members of the Grateful Dead are eligible for up to 10% off at participating local businesses.

I Have No Thoughts On A Book

I was going to, Enthusiasts, I was going to. I tried, and hopefully I will, but not now. I’ll have to write about Cornell in a month–it’s the 40th and the spiffy new Box Set is coming out–and if I write about Cornell ’77: The Music, The Myth, and The Magnificence of the Grateful Dead’s Concert at Barton Hall now, then I might just blow my Cornell wad and then I’ll be dry next month, and dust will shoot out of my word-cock.

What now?

My word-cock. That’s what writing is. Emptying your brain-balls  all over the page via your meaty word-cock, staining it with your essence. This is the first step towards literary immortality.

Would the second step be actually publishing something?


All your friends have published books. Even some of the dumb ones.

I hate you.

It’s mutual. Go back to talking about the thing you’re not talking about.

Right: I have nothing to say about this book. Not that it’s a work-for-hire rush job to capitalize on the 40th that the author admits in the acknowledgements was not his idea. Not that it spends 30 or so pages delving into the backstories of the student committee that brought the Dead to the school that night. Not that one of the two glossy-paged picture sections is just photos of the Cornell campus. Not that a full ten percent of the 200 pages (I did the math) are a “Further Listening” chapter that lists several studio albums you should hear, because someone who just read 180 pages about Cornell probably needs to be told about Blues for Allah.

I’m certainly not going to mention the padding.: the ten pages on the history of audience taping in a book about a show that got famous from the SBD; the chapter on Bear and the Wall of Sound; the extended anecdote about the author’s recent trip to Bobby’s TRI Studios.

Wonder if I could just flip open at random and find padding? Let’s see.

Yup: two pages on the guy who runs Rhino Records

Thank God I’m not writing about this book; there’s nothing to write about. Go to your local library, Enthusiasts, or shoplift this book.


We haven’t discussed the new box set–and the doings behind it–in detail yet. The first release from the newly-reacquired Betty Boards, May 1977: Get Shown The Light contains four full shows that you’ve almost certainly heard (and heard, and heard, and heard) before. The 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th of May (New Haven, Boston, Ithaca, and Buffalo, respectively) of that magical and well-rehearsed year of 1977, shined up to a gleam and bursting with extras and bonus bullshit.

This is usually the place where I post the latest video from David Lemieuxsebitmysister, but he recorded this one inside a vacuum cleaner. I don’t know how he got the lake in there, but he accomplished it and all you can hear is wind.

Luckily, I found a piece of software that transcribes YouTube videos, and I can present to you his words here:

“Uh, hey, everybody. David Lemieux here, your old buddy Dave, and I’ve got some very exciting news. If you’re watching this you probably know that we’ll be releasing–”

[NOTE: At this point, a large duck steals Dave’s hat.]

“Hey! That’s mine!”

[NOTE: Dave chases the duck in and out of frame for two minutes and three seconds.]

“Okay, as I was saying: big news, folks. You probably remember that, after quite a bit of negotiation, we got the so-called “lost Betty Boards” back into the Vault where they belong. So what we thought would be a great way to commemorate the 40th–”

[NOTE: A small child, naked but for her toque, sprints towards the lake.]


[NOTE: Dave snares the child before she enters the water.]

“You know we can’t swim!”

[NOTE: Canadians cannot swim. Sink right to the bottom. They’re like bulldogs or chimps.]

“Go back and play with your mother Regina, and your siblings Gordie, Northstar, Jean-Luc, Fleece, and the twins, Mickie and Billie.”

[NOTE: As Girl Gordie begins to walk back to the igloo where the Lemieux family live, a duck steals her toque.]

“Darn it, not again.”

[NOTE: At this point, Dave and a small, naked child with no toque chase a duck in and out of frame for several minutes.]

There’s like twenty more minutes of that, if I’m honest.

There is also, as I mentioned, a bevy of bonus bullshit: a book, and an essay, and–in 5 of the 15,000 copies that will be shipped–a Tie-Dyed Ticket. The lucky recipients get to go to the Vault, meet DL, and be ironically murdered. Last one standing gets to be the new Dead archivist.

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