I cannot lie to you, Enthusiasts, even though I do so all the time: the wonderful people at Da Capo Press sent me an advance copy of Fare Thee Well: The Final Chapter of the Grateful Dead’s Long, Strange Trip by Joel Selvin with Pamela Turley two months ago. And I read it, too. It’s not like the book’s been sitting there with an uncracked spine: I devoured the sucker the day it arrived in Fillmore South. I meant to write about it, I honestly did.
I mean to do so many things.
Anyhowdy, here’s the review: Da Capo Press sent me a free book, so you should buy FTWTHCOTGDLST. Thank you, and remember to smash that like button.
No. Absolutely not. That was a terrible review.
I’ve been corrupted! There’s been collusion!
No collusion. No collusion.
Nothing but collusion! How could I say anything negative about a Da Capo Press release? They sent me stuff I didn’t have to pay for, or shoplift. And they sent it DHL, too, so the guy knocked on my door and handed me a package; I felt like an important businessman for a moment, and that was nice. I was puffed up like a marshmallow. Even considered putting on trousers.
You don’t have to review the book. Just write about it.
I love this product and everyone should purchase at least six copies.
Maybe concentrate more on the contents. For example, what was the overarching theme?
“It could have been so much more embarrassing.”
Expound upon that.
After the Grateful Deads who didn’t die tossed the one who did in several rivers and bays–and they even fucked that up–they immediately turned on one another in increasingly petty ways, their primary weaponry being a passive-aggression so thick and layered it might be described as rococo, reuniting occasionally to suck cash out of multi-purpose sheds and assault one another. But, sweet Pittsburgh poontang, it could have been more embarrassing.
They did not, unlike KISS, write competing auto-biographies accusing each other of Nazi-sympathizing, wig-wearing, and being smelly.
They have not, unlike Pink Floyd, put numerous lawyers’ children through college suing each other over and over for two decades.
They do not, unlike Aerosmith, have Steven Tyler (who is a vulgar clown) in the band.
So it could have been worse. The surviving Grateful Deads kept most of their squabbling backstage, save for intermittent snafus like whatever the fuck happened with the Archive that one time and Mickey being a dick during interviews. Mostly, the Dead didn’t shame themselves in public.
But in private? Oh, yes, in private they made complete asses of themselves. Self-sabotaging, self-delusional, self-medicating paste-eaters all four of them, and in precisely the ways you’d imagine: Bobby’s first suggestion when the Terrapin Station restaurant/theater/museum concept is unveiled is to “put a roller coaster on the roof;” Mickey gets up early just to drive around Marin County looking for saxophonists to be cruel to; Billy is, well, Billy.
And then there’s Phil, or–more rightly–Philandjill. You can always tell who speaks with the biographer in one of these books about a bunch of people, because they come off the best. Philandjill did not speak to Joel Selvin with Pamela Turley. There’s no way around it: he/she/they are the bad guy of FTWTHCOTGDLST. According to this volume, at least, Philandjill basically pulled a “Look at me; I’m the captain now” routine starting a couple years after Garcia’s death and kept it up for 20 years. With vigor, too! Does Philandjill put a guitarist off the bus on the side of the highway? Yes, they does. Does Philandjill get into screaming arguments with backup singers and drummers’ children in front of the entire crew? You bet they does! Does Philandjill demand to read an advance copy of Billy’s book before he/she/they sign the final contracts for the Farewell Shoes? Fuck yeah, brothers and sister: they does!
(Technically, Jill did those first two things, and Phil did the third, but marriage means cosigning your spouse’s bullshit, so both are held responsible. Also: totally true about Billy’s book. Phil had to go to a lawyer’s office and hand over his phone like Billy’s skank stories were national secrets, and that is simply perfect. I see him muttering the entire time.
“Fuckin’ Billy. Fuckin’ book. Fuckin’ Benjy. How do my reading glasses get so smudged? They’re just in my pocket. Fuckin’ BIlly.”
And then Phil signed the papers, but only after insisting that the band only rehearse for two hours.)
I come back to my original statement, which was about my inability to lie to you: this book is hilarious. It wasn’t meant to be–and it won’t be to anyone who can’t hold an hour-long discussion on the Dead’s Best EVAR two-show stand–but to us, Enthusiasts, it is Grouchovian in its comedy. It’s in the details, and I won’t give them away. You know the plot already, so the joy to found within the covers lies in the details. I will not, for example, reveal the true origin of Philandjill’s enmity towards Billy.
Okay, but just this one and don’t go begging for more. Gotta buy the book.
Billy grabbed her tit.
Of course he did. Recently?
No, recently he tried to strangle Phil.
Garcia was literally the only member of the Grateful Dead Billy didn’t try to strangle.
That fact probably explains all of the post-Garcia years.
True. So, when was the untoward squeezing?
1987 or so.
Philandjill still holding a grudge?
Impressive. Did Billy ever say he was sorry?
Yeah, but Billy makes the jerk-off motion while he apologizes.
That undercuts the message.
Nullifies it, if we’re honest.
Sure. Hey, what if you tell the nice people some more of the juicy, stupid details, but label it SPOILERS so that those purchasing the book and not wishing to have it ruined can, you know, go about their lives?
Good idea, Italics Guy.
You heard him: if you don’t want the funny bits ruined, then bail out now. I’m not gonna do my usual routine of making up ludicrous bullshit; this is gonna be from FTWTHCOTGDLST, available from Amazon or your local bookseller on June 19th, and like I said: most of the fun of the reading is in the grotty little nuggets of bare-assed humanity.
BUT some folks like a good spoil. Andrew Jackson fucking loved spoils. So if you are Andrew Jackson, or a non-genocidal maniac who simply doesn’t want to read a book, here are some of the best chunks:
I’M NOT KIDDING ABOUT THE FUCKING SPOILER THING. DON’T READ THIS SHIT EXPECTING IT TO BE ME GOOFING AROUND AND THEN GET MAD AT ME FOR RUINING THE BOOK.
- Garcia died in August of ’95 and the first all-hands meeting after that wasn’t until December; in that time, Billy became a drunk, got shipped to rehab, got divorced, and moved to Hawaii.
- Billy was doing the “middle-aged sad man” speed run.
- Speaking of rehab, Bobby’s first time was in 1986 for white wine and valium.
- Because Bobby is a Real Housewife of Marin County.
That’s about it.
You did such a build-up.
And 95% of it was for the Bobby thing.
I can understand that.
In conclusion, Fare Thee Well: The Final Chapter of the Grateful Dead’s Long, Strange Trip by Joel Selvin with Pamela Turley is a spiffy, sprightly yarn that will keep you wondering who the killer is until the last page. Also, the fuck scenes are hot.
There are no fuck scenes.
Thank God for small miracles.