Category Archives: This That Other

Fare Thee Well

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When the Grateful Dead announced they were planning three final, once-and-forever farewell shows in Chicago over July 4 weekend, with Trey Anastasio on guitar, I knew I had to be there. Except I couldn’t: I’d made July 4 weekend plans with my family and going back on that wasn’t an option.

When the Dead announced a few months later that they were adding two shows to the start of the run, dubbed Fare Thee Well, at the 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara, CA, I had a second chance. And so it was that, fresh off a plane from France, I hopped one to the Bay Area and rendezvoused with Meredith, Daryl, and Company for two nights of music. Observations, in no particular order:

1) Went into the shows with no particular expectations around the music, which is always useful and a good trick for having a great time. The shows proved much stronger than whatever it was I didn’t expect.

2) The lot scene around the stadium — Shakedown, in Dead parlance — was weak by any standard. The Levis Stadium staff relegated any fun to the outer outer lots, which we found on both nights and enjoyed a chill stroll through. Festival atmosphere absent, however.

3) Vibe inside the shows, by contrast, was incredible. There’s something about stadium shows and 70,000 people all overjoyed to be in the same place for the same purpose. I saw three Dead shows in the Jerry Garcia era, the last two in the summer of 1994 at Shoreline Amphitheater, when I lived in Berkeley for the summer and interned at the late great Mondo 2000. The energy at Shoreline was similar to that at Levis; the second night at Shoreline, wandering the venue’s massive lawn, I came up with the idea to write a book about Phish. A year later, with the help of my friend Andy Bernstein and his besties Larry Chasnoff and Brian Celentano, that idea became The Pharmer’s Almanac. (Bringing it all full circle, on Sunday at Fare Thee Well I spent setbreak with Andy, who was there overseeing a giant charity auction on behalf of Headcount, the voter’s rights/advocacy organization he runs. Amazing.)

4) Everyone thought Trey’s addition to the Dead’s lineup would divide the fans, but everyone ended up with the same take: that Trey had done his homework and knew the Dead’s catalog inside and out. Saturday night’s show, a clear tribute to the Bay Area where the Dead made their bones, featured only songs written before 1970 and markedly restrained playing from Trey. The second night, with a setlist far less interesting on paper, proved the better show, with Trey stepping forward and the band sounding like a band that had played together for years. Surprise highlight: Trey’s jam in Hell in a Bucket, and Bobby Weir’s failed attempts to cut it short. High comedy.

5) Yet all anyone really wanted to talk about was The Rainbow. It bloomed over the stadium during the first set on Saturday night, spawning references to Jerry’s magic and the Supreme Court gay marriage ruling the day before. Until the next day, when Billboard earnestly reported that the rainbow was a $50,000 special effect paid for by the band. It wasn’t, of course, but we got a delightful Snopes debunking out of it, plus many Lols. As one member of our group observed, “If the rainbow cost $50 grand, how much extra did they spend on the sunset?”

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Thank you for a real good time.

Monday’s List

LEFSETZ
Is the best blogger working today, inside or outside the music industry. He’s the master of a type of ruthlessly judgmental quick-hit post that takes on anything and anyone, which, in the spirit of stealing from the best, I hereby undertake in this space now.

IPHONE 6
Of course I’m upgrading (6, not 6 Plus). Upgrading every year to the new iPhone is one of the few no-brainer decisions available in this modern age. If you’re not upgrading every year because you’re waiting until you’re eligible for an upgrade from your carrier, I submit that you’re choosing one of the strangest ways possible to save a couple hundred bucks. The new phones are always better, always faster, and if you spend more than a few minutes a day on yours, you’re robbing yourself by not upgrading. Two friends over at our apartment last week forced us to dig an iPhone 4 cable out of the drawer for them. How debasing.

ANDROID
Nope. No chance. I got a free Samsung phone for participating in Guest of a Guest’s questionnaire/photoshoot You Should Know Powered by Samsung Galaxy. Nice looking phone. Feels good in the hand. But the software. It’s still terrible. Feels like everything’s on a lag. The finesse just isn’t there. Talked about this with a friend who’s a major CTO this weekend. Asked him if he’d consider swapping his iPhone for Android. Answer: “No way. No chance.” Yup.

AT&T
I’ve had it since the first iPhone, and I’m not thinking of changing carriers. Lefsetz thinks this makes me one of the stupider people in America. Maybe? Or maybe just the fact that we make so few phone calls these days means only data and data speed really matter?

ROGER GODDELL
Of course should go. Will he? I suggest that he will, because with the NFL facing a threat to its very existence over the coming decades, Goddell has shown that he is not up to the task. I suspect the owners know this and that despite their public defenses of the man, they will act accordingly. To make it interesting, harryh and I made a bet a few days ago about whether Goddell will be the person to hand the Lombardi Trophy to the Super Bowl champs in February 2015. I have $100 that says he won’t be.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Looked like absolute crap in week one. Looked totally dominant in week two. Lesson: who the hell knows? Though among Pats fans, feels like everyone’s in the mood for fatalism this year.

RUSNY CASTILLO
How to keep interest in your last-place baseball team this late in the season? If you’re the Red Sox, make a surprise $72 million signing of a Cuban outfielder who’s never played a game in the major leagues, then send him quickly up through your farm system over the past few weeks before unveiling him in the majors tomorrow night in Pittsburgh. Somehow Larry Lucchino wins again.

OAKLAND A’S
Are the team I’m rooting for in the postseason. Wouldn’t hate to see Baltimore or K.C. win, either. As always, fuck the National League.

ROOT & BONE
Is the new East Village restaurant that captured some buzz this summer because its chef came from Yardbird, the fantastically awesome fried-chicken-and-southern-cuisine restaurant in South Beach, Miami. Finally made it to brunch here a few weekends back. Maybe because I’ve been to Yardbird, maybe because I’ve spent more time dining in the South as of late, but — pass. Liked the vibe of the room but the food didn’t do it for me. When the cornbread is a miss, where you gonna go from there? And this, by the way, is patently absurd. The fried chicken tastes of dill. Dill!

TRIBECA
Is more Tribeca than ever.

MARK BITTMAN
Is responsible for three-quarters of the meals we put on our tables. (Well, Mark and Quinciple. Quinciple, about which I’ll have more to say on another day.) This time of year, we’ll do like Mark and make this recipe at least half a dozen times in the next two weeks. Enjoy.

Follow-Up Fever

· The “Name Our Restaurant” people choose a name: Chickpea (“As a way of thanking everyone for their great submissions, we’re giving away free falafel sandwiches all day on Monday, March 1 (9 AM – 12 AM, one per customer) to the community. So please come join us for a meal, on us (23 3rd Ave between St. Mark’s Place and 9th Street) and take a look at the new restaurant.”) [Name-Our-Restaurant.com; thanks, SD]
· Octopus Mania: BlueJake on the trail of the graffiti du moment (plus part II) [BlueJake.com]
· All’s well that ends well: Felix Salmon says FreshDirect now delivering to all of Eastern Rivington St.

The Buttle/Tuttle Problem

Last week, two months after depositing the princely sum of $8,600 in my Citibank account, the money appeared as part of my balance. Why the delay? As it turned out, the deposit was credited to account *****55, instead of my account, *****33. As I fought an increasingly heated—and seemingly futile—war with the folks at the other end of the Citifone™ 24-Hour Banking line, it was impossible not to recall Gilliam’s Brazil, when stormtroopers raid the apartment of Harry Buttle (shoe repairman) and arrest him instead of their intended target, Harry Tuttle (illegal freelance Heating Engineer). The culprit? A fly falling into a typewriter causes a misprint. As in real life, the problem proves impossible to rectify, even by those working inside of the system.

The upshot of my experience? Mom gets to crow that she’s been right all these years “not to trust ATMs”; I feel empathy for all who have been through identity theft, which much be a hell of a lot worse than this; and, at long, long, last, I can balance my checkbook again.
· Brazil Quotes (“This is your receipt for your husband … and this is my receipt for your receipt.”) [scififlicks.com]
· The Tuttle/Buttle Mistake [Melbourne Indymedia]
· More Buttle/Tuttle Errors [whump.com]

Evidence of a Loving God

George Will pens a paean to Vegas:

But Westerners, who are veterans of the politics of water, have two pertinent axioms: Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over. And: Water flows uphill toward money…


But do not bet against this city, which “owes nothing to its surroundings” and “produces no tangible goods of any significance, yet generates billions of dollars annually in revenue.”

Anyone else feeling a little choked up?
· Bet on Vegas [NY Post]
UPDATE: Bill Simmons was in Vegas last weekend, too (Nice companion to Will’s piece. “You see some things you just can’t un-see. House rules prevent me from elaborating, and maybe that’s a good thing.”) [ESPN's Page 2]