Thoughts On The Dead

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

The Good, The Bad, And The Naked

An event! A gathering hullabaloo shindig happening–a sock hop, or it would have been if anyone in Florida wore socks in August. What is wasn’t was a potluck. Enthusiasts don’t need luck: they have pot. Sunshine Daydream in theaters for One! Night! Only! and simultaneously gussied up (sonically) and left alone (visually) and it was worth every penny and all of the wait.

The last 25 minutes of the film are its best, transitioning from a very nifty concert flick to a piece of art that stands on its own, apart from the relative merit of the performance. It switches gears in a place that for most bands doesn’t exist: 20 minutes into the 30 minute song. There is a section of the heatstroked death ray of Dark Star around 10 minutes in; the music matches the visual shot perfectly. The last theme has dissipated, swirly little burbles of music left to pick at when Billy and Phil level up and unlock all sorts of new sexy, this skitteringly busy rhythm without a solid center. The beat is completely uncountable to a normal human. 4/4? 7/8? 3/14? Do even the men playing the damn thing know for certain?

But it’s the magic of the visual/audio marriage that elevates it over the (just) remarkable experience of listening to it. When they hit the new section, the film cuts to an easy two-shot of Billy and Phil and Phil is just a buzzard standing over Billy, who’s tucked into his customary teeny-tiny drum kit. They’re living effort; they’re amplified joy and the 100-degree weather has sweated Phil right up. His face is beading up and, in the waning daylight, the sweat on his cheeks look just like tears.

Phil’s hair was perfect.

As fatuous as it may sound, Dark Star is here–and maybe here alone–mere prelude. First, to Bobby’s power grab into El Paso(seriously, go listen: Garcia wants to play Morning Dew) that recontextualizes the old Marty Robbins classic: the small, dumb decisions of a man who just wants to believe in love v.s the vast indifference of the heavens.

The sun is now going down and this is where the film–the actual filmstock, the celluloid, Shoshonna!–sits in with the band for a number.The microscopic scratches and burrs in the frames form fractal mandalas on the crowd,  too fuzzy in the gloaming to be made out individually, just this sunburned massive beast swaying to Merle Haggard’s lullaby for the judged. Everything is blue and it becomes the quietest thing that is, in reality, stupidly loud that ever was.

Mrs. Donna Jean shows up for the first time all evening, hands out protectively in front of her; she doesn’t have a guitar to fend off the world with. Curled into herself in a red shirt without a single spot of perspiration because Mrs. Donna Jean is a southern lady and she would rather fart in front of you than sweat. Fainting couches were common in antebellum homes for a reason. Also, those homes existed for a reason, which was slavery, which I am not going to address at length here, especially not the rumors floating around linking the Dead to the white slave trade, and not rookies either: they are IN THAT SHIT UP TO THEIR PUCKER-POINTS.

You were doing so well.

Hey, just because I see through the lies to the real lesson of the movie, the thing they were trying to get us to WAKE UP and realize, and you can’t, don’t freak out.

What exactly was it we were supposed to realize?

It’s all about yoghurt, man

That was actually my takeaway from the little intro, too.  Also, that white people are terrible.

YES! THEY’RE AWFUL! And they LOVE yoghurt. Yoghurt’s like crack to a cracker!

Just go ahead and ignore him please. The rest of these bloggings will be presented in listicle form in the manner of Buzzfeed. (That site is running out of shit to make up gif-accompanied lists about. 28 Signs You Went to Bucknell? There aren’t 28 students at Bucknell.

Anyhoo, Thoughts on the Dead proudly and lazily presents the (remember to come back and put the number here, numbnuts) Things Some Lonely Weirdo Noticed At Sunshine Daydream

  1.  Right up front: holy diver, did Billy look unseemly. Bloated and greasy, he was like a fast food meal sprung to life, punched forth from the dick of Zeus.
  2. Available for pre-order (we’ll get to that presently) at as we speak, so pre-order now to avoid heartbreak and possible amputation of your psychic aura
  3. Every male in that theater spent a goodly portion of his day deciding amongst t-shirts
  4. The Dead were the only band that allowed you to take a piss/smoke/text break and only miss a third of a song.
  5. To a dermatologist, this is a horror film.
  6. Perhaps the obesity problem in this country could be solved by using this film as legal precedent and requiring one day of nudity from everyone each year. White people be skinny back then.
  7. Speaking of whiteness: the whole evening was whiter than Helena Bonham Carter on a snow day–on the screen and in the theater. I did see one African-American woman. I saw her because the film cut to her 27 times. Admittedly, she had wonderful boobies, which makes the raical guilt and overcompensation go down a lot nicer.
  8. Speaking of nudity, the biggest round of applause all evening was for when they cut back to Naked Pole Guy and he’s wearing a pair of shorts.
  9. Speaking of Naked Pole Guy, he is the mirror universe evil version of Smiley Overalls Guy from The Grateful Dead Movie. I hope they never meet–only one could survive
  10. Speaking of Billy, it was just an unfortunate day to look so unfortunate, and he did it to himself. That mustache…that mustache looked as if it had driven itself to the show in his personal windowless van.
  11. The rest of the boys, and Mrs Donna Jean, looked like rock stars, especially Bobby, the most thoroughly-conditioned ponytail in history flowing down his skinny back
  12. I would make fun of how Keith looked had he appeared in the movie. I definitely heard him, so I think he was there, but…
  13. Does every film these assassins of the brain cell appear in need to feature a nitrous scene? Nitrous is to the Dead’s movies what shots of feet are to Tarantino’s
  14. When you’re 60, you have the face you deserve; when you’re 60 and have written a sleazy tell-all about your best friends, you get the face you’ve fucking earned. Rock Scully now looks like a skull made out of rocks. (Facile, sure; easy, yeah; true, however.)
  15. Baby Boomers were pretty great and awesome, indeed. Ask them and they’ll tell you. Or don’t ask them and they’ll figure out a way to work it into the conversation.
  16. The Dark Star animation was so awful that three people in the theater clawed their own eyes out. No keys, nothing: just gave themselves the ol’ Oedipus Fingerfuck. That happened: I swear on all that’s holy.
  17. The best part of the intro film was Sam Cutler. Laden with the silliest jewelry you can buy from the Silly Jewelry District, unrepentingly smoking and cursing and pontificating about rock and roll set out to change the world, but instead, the world changed rock and roll. Man. PLUS, he has that old school accent from the North Counties, turning a simple statement about a dairy concern’s ownership into: “So, the Keseys? It was…their creamery, wuddin like?” This was Sam Cutler’s greatest weapon as a negotiator: no one had any goddam clue what he was saying. Also, he had dosed the person he was negotiating with an hour prior. But the accent thing is also important.
  18. I haven’t gotten a sunburn in years, but the memory my shoulders’ skin peeling off in defiance of the very laws of nature still remains. Sunburning your dong, though…whew. Sunburning your dong. Even Billy would respect that.

After the show, I was walking to my car when one of my fellow Enthusiasts drove past in a VW microbus. “Hooray!” we all cheered for him, but at a second glance, it wasn’t a real microbus–it was one of those new Westphalia things.  Looked the same, maybe a little better, but not the real thing.

It fooled me for a second, though.


  1. Couple nice Zevon references in there. Well played!

  2. Enjoyed the film so much I came home & paid almost $90-friging-fuckhole-bucks for the 4 lp vinyl version of the show. Fuck me.

    Also of hote- I ate so much candy & drank so much soda that I really did get the shits. I am 12 again.

    And- I agree about the black chick’s boobies; HOOOO-WEE! Them was some nice titties, Ace.

    Once again, great piece, dude.

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