Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: madison square garden

Hop In The Hack


“Yes, sir.”

“The time draws nigh.”

“It does, sir.”

“I can’t draw nigh. I can do a bunny, but not nigh.”

“I’ve seen your bunny, sir. You capture the ears quite well.”

“Could’ve been an artist, Jenkins. Painted. Sculpted. Or performance art. I could have thrown poop at people and had museums give me money for it.”

“You’d be a Downtown sensation, sir.”

“Giant racket, art. Only reason society tolerates art is that it gives homosexuals something to do in the afternoon.”

“If you say so, sir.”

“I enjoyed pottery. It was a concrete task. You started out with a lump of clay and you ended up with a differently-shaped lump of clay. And the wheel. You could stick smaller children on it and spin them until they knew their place in the world. I had such fun in college, Jenkins.”

“Yes, sir.”

“How much are kilns these days? It would fit in Carruthers’ office if I fired him.”

“Sir, we need to talk about the poster.”


“Yes, sir.”

“We just did this!”

“Oh, sir, we’re still at the very top of the hill. We’ve got some skiing to do before we make it to the lodge.”

“You paint a word picture, Jenkins.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“We’re both artists.”

“Yes, sir.”

“We should wear smocks.”

“The poster, sir.”

“Poster! Jenkins, I had a brilliant idea.”

“Is the idea a boat that goes underwater? Because I’ve told you that that’s already been invented a dozen times.”

“No, for the poster.”

“Yes, sir.”


“Continue, sir.”



“Nothing. Nothing at all. Pure white. Less a poster than a poster-sized piece of glossy paper.”

“Uh-huh. Why, sir?”

“Because I think we have a fanbase dopey enough to buy it. Let’s do a social experiment.”

“No, sir.”

“And we’ll bet.”

“Sir, the relationship between the Grateful Dead and their fans is a sacred one. We’re not KISS.”

“If were in KISS, I’d make you be Peter.”

“That’s hurtful, sir.”

“I’d be the short one with the afro. Big Funky. Remember him? He used to have a parrot on his shoulder that would do cocaine with him? That was one rock ‘n roll parrot, Jenkins.”


“The parrot’s name was Little Funky.”


“Died in a whitewater rafting accident, I believe. Well, the cops said it was an accident.”

“The poster, sir.”


“We need to put something on it. Can’t do a blank poster, sir.”

“What about boobies? Are the kids still calling them boobies, Jenkins?”

“Yes. The kids are. The adults aren’t.”

“Let’s go with that. Glamour shot of some garbanzos. Big floppy ones.”

“I don’t think that’s really on message, sir.”

“Make ’em tie-dyed.”

“No, sir.”

“Jenkins, you know what I’m about to demand of you.”

“That I blast my eyes, sir?”

“Oh, yes.”

“How did that feel, Jenkins?”

“Awful, sir.”

“Good. I only wish that you were twins so I could make both of you blast your eyes.”

“The poster, sir.”

“Poster! Oh, I don’t care.”

“I thought you wouldn’t, sir, so I took the liberty of commissioning a student from a local art college to draw this one.”

“Which school?”

“The Throckmorton School for the Artistically Disinclined.”

“Delightful. Make sure he throws in a bear. And make sure the bear looks like Chewbacca with Downs syndrome.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And fire Carruthers.”

“Yes, sir.”

The Greatest Show on Ice


“Yes, sir.”

“I had a napmare! Bring my wibby!”

“By ‘wibby,’ you mean–”


“–scotch? Yes, sir.”


“Such a wonderful drink named after such mud-covered savages.”

“If we could get past the baseless racism, sir. You said you had a nightmare?”

“Dammit, Jenkins, do you have dicks in your ears? Little skinny dicks blocking up your eustachian tubes?”

“Not that I’m aware of, sir.”

“Napmare. Much worse than a nightmare.”

“How so?”

“Shorter! All the horror has to be packed into 20 minutes instead of being spread out all night.”

“20 minutes? You’ve been asleep for three hours, sir.”

“And yet I’m still sleepy.”

“What was the dream about, sir?”

“Oh, Jenkins, it was terrible. Time looped in upon itself like a fat boy doing somersaults. We were stuck performing the same inane, useless tasks day after day after day. Nothing ever changed! My God, what an awful dream. Ah, well. Over now. Just a dream. So, what’s on the agenda.”

“Dead & Company’s back on tour and we need to make a poster.”


“Get away from the window, sir!”

“Why? I’ll just wake up again tomorrow, which will be today again!”

“Sir, no!”


“You’re awake, sir! You’re not in a time loop!”

“Then why do we keep doing the same shit over and over?”

“Life is both cyclical and progressive, sir.”

“I can’t take it, Jenkins. I’m very fragile. I feel as though I may snap at any second. Like Emily Dickinson at a Black Friday sale.”

“Oh, she wouldn’t do well that in that environment.”

“She is me, Jenkins! I am her! Look at my hand. It’s trembling.”

“That’s your penis, sir.”

“Oh, so it is. Hello there, Monsieur Floppy.”

“Sir, the poster.”


“Yes, sir. The band will be playing at MSG.”

“Ah, yes. The Mongolian Sex Gulch. My children had their Bar Mitzvahs there.”

“No, sir. Madison Square Garden.”

“Oh. I had Mongolian sex there.”

“I’ll regret asking this, sir, but what is Mongolian sex?”

“It’s semi-nomadic.”

“I’m moving on as though this conversation made sense. Do you have any ideas?”

“Child labor needs to make a comeback.”

“Ideas about the poster, sir.”


“Yes, sir.”

“Something that goes with the venue. Let me see, let me see. MSG. MSG. MSG. Ah! A Chinaman frying up a cat!”

“Sir, the racism needs to stop. It’s 2017.”

“Yes, I know. Have you looked around? Racism is getting a reboot. Like Star Wars, but less diverse.”

“Let’s concentrate, sir.”

“Yes, yes, How about a drop more concentration juice?”


“Yummy. Oh, by the way, how many of these posters are we going to have to do this time around?”

“About a dozen.”

“Just hand me the damn bottle.”


“Smooth. Jenkins, I might take up crack.”

“Oh, sir, no. Why?”

“No one’s doing it anymore. I feel bad for crack. Used to play the big rooms.”



“How about something related to sports?”

“Jeff Chimenti in a jockstrap.”

“No, sir. Sports that take place in Madison Square Garden.”

“Patrick Ewing’s sweaty dong.”

“No, sir.”

“You didn’t let me finish, damn you.”

“Excuse me, sir.”

“Patrick Ewing’s sweaty dong, and Billy and Mickey are his sweaty balls.”

“Ah. It’s still no, sir.”

“Is it too late to go to grad school, Jenkins? I could be a squirrel scientist. Sit outside with a notebook. ‘2:30 pm: squirrel ran up tree.’ ‘2:35: ran back down.’ I’d record the doings of squirrels and be happy. Do I deserve happiness, Jenkins?”

“Can we get back to the poster, sir?”

“Poster! Oh, fine, let’s plow through this. Heads is basketball, tails is hockey.”



“Hockey it is, sir.”

“Heads is bears, tails is turtles.”

“Oh, no, sir. That isn’t necessary. It has to be bears.”

“Why is this?”

“Turtles are cold-blooded. They can’t play hockey.”

“Excellent point, Jenkins. Deadheads demand scientific exactitude in their posters.”

“Thank you, sir. What about the colors?”

“Make it look like a TeleTubbie threw up.”

“Yes, sir. And the font?”

“Third-rate circus.”

“Yes, sir. Isn’t this exciting? Fall tour!”

“Go buy me some crack, Jenkins.”

“Oh, sir.”

Ten (Short) Thoughts On The Baker’s Dozen


I watched a little less than all of the Baker’s Dozen, but much more than none of it, so I feel I’m the most qualified person in the room to discuss the subject.


A butcher’s dozen is 10-and-a-half. A fisherman’s dozen is a net full of perch and an old boot.


Highlights of the run: Backbiter’s Dilemma, Vamoose, Hanging By My Toes, Vamoose Reprise.
Lowlights: the four songs that Sam Cutler saw.


Amanda Petrusich wrote about the Phishes from Vermont in the New Yorker, and the great Jesse Jarnow covered the shows for Rolling Stone, and that is all you need to read about the Baker’s Dozen except for what I write. The rest of the articles fall into one of two categories:

  1. I hate Phish, and have nothing interesting to say.
  2. I apologize for liking Phish, and have nothing interesting to say.


The Baker’s Dozen is more a testament to Phish’s fans than to the band, in a way. Bruce could do 13 shows at the Garden, but if he didn’t play Thunder Road every night, folks would get pissed. On the other hand, it’s easier to not play your hits when you haven’t had any.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am being informed that Phish did have a semi-hit single. Free from Billy Breathes went to #11 in 1996. We apologize for the error.


All four members of Phish have the same voice–a wavering, untrained, nasal tenor–and if you’re just listening instead of watching, then it’s difficult to figure out who’s singing.


As always, the redoubtable Mr. Completely sums it up by saying that “Phish are five different bands, and I like three of them.” I agree with his assessment, but my math is a bit different.

Phishes I do not like:

  • Reggae Phish.
  • Blues Phish. (Holy shit, should those four men not be allowed to play the blues.
  • Whimsical Phish.
  • Acapella Phish.
  • The Phish that Jon Fishman is in charge of. (The vacuum cleaner thing, the song about getting you ass handed to you: it’s a hard pass for TotD. Just play the drums and wear your frock.)

Phishes I do like:

  • 30 minute boing-boing jam Phish.
  • I also enjoy the song Blaze On.
  • That is all.


I cannot state strongly enough that Phish should not be allowed to play the blues.


Just to remind everyone: the entire Anthony Scaramucci saga unfolded between Tweezer and the Tweezer Reprise.


Phish are still trying, which is rare among acts around for as long as they’ve been, and their fans are still buying tickets, and none of them are dead or suing the others. When they closed the last show, they were crying; so were the fans. They played a Willie Nelson song about making music with friends, and it didn’t seem like a lie at all.

The Phishes from Vermont: in and out of the Garden they went.

What Lies Beneath

Below the trash is the floor;
below the floor is the ice;
below the ice are pipes;
below the pipes are springs;
below the springs there is steel;
below the steel there is a train station;
below the train station are tunnels;
below the tunnels is the bedrock.

Below the bedrock are your keys.

What Have You Done With Winnie?

deadmsg1Oh, God, what are you?

Help me, I’m sick.

Stay away from me.

I thought I was putting the costume on, but it’s wearing me.

I will taze you. Go away.

They took Marymother to the Bug Room and turned her ears off.

None of this.

Marymother Mothermary satan is fastest but the highway is safe with the jesus on the hiway to my face what did he do to my face?

Can I–


–say somethNOPENOPENOPE.

Did you scare yourself again?

I don’t want to do the bear bit anymore.

Okay, champ.

Hell Brent For Leather

Douglas Adams had his Infinite Improbability Drive, but he didn’t go far enough: I introduce the Infinite Infinity Drive.

Assume infinity.

Assume the multiverse.

Therefore, if where you are is not where you want to be, then in one of the infinite universes where you are is where it is at. One can figure which is which by building a computer large enough to calculate infinity. Since such a computer would necessarily have to be larger than infinity, it might seem impossible, until one remembers that infinity must by definition contain, say, infinity+24.

It’s bigger on the inside.

You are teetering on the brink, my friend. 

9/5/79 at MSG (Do I favor East Coast show over West Coast? Am I a Coastist? Do I believe that the West Coast is fine and all, just as long as it stays over there? Yeah. Sue me.)

I am hissing at you. Hissing. Hssss.

It is, obviously, a Brent. Much like strangers at airport bars, I’ve always had an iffy relationship with Brent, but I’m going to give him a concentrated listening, at least until I can staunch this bleeding head wound. I woke up to vomit last night, like you do, and I THWACKED my head into the samurai swords I keep loose in the bathroom, the one room you’re almost guaranteed to roam around in like a piano tuner nightly. (I’m sure blind people must have gone to Dead shows, but did they bring the dog in with them? It seems mean to the dog, what with the dog-hearing and a Dead show had to be, like, the most INTERESTING SMELLING PLACE IN THE WORLD to a dog, but a guide dog has to be like those guards outside Buckingham Palace.)

(BUT, if you were blind, would you ever go to a concert or put on headphones without your dog, or the biggest, strongest, most loyal buddy in the world with you? Like, your brother just happens to be The Big Show. And I’d rather have the dog: some drunk asshole will have a go at The Big Show just because, but nobody messes with dogs.¬†Music would cut off all your connection to the outside world; you wouldn’t be able to hear anyone sneaking up on you and people sneak up on blind people all the time)

My equivocation towards Brent lies with his playing and his voice. His playing is tremendous: he fit in with the band instantly and added new layers with his adroit B3. His playing stepped up everyone’s game and though his Rhodes could sound tinkly, it was still a welcome relief from the constant piano block-chords of the later Keith years.

I just never warmed to Brent’s voice. It always sounded like a hack comic doing a Michael McDonald impression. I’m sure there are those of you who disagree. I am sorry for your wrongness.

Ways And Means

How could you go wrong with Keith’s first trip to New York, Pig singing Run Run Rudolph and Billy quite literally speedbagging the prehistorically large dong of a police horse (not pictured)? 12/4/71 from the Felt Forum, which is in Madison Square Garden, which is in New York.

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