Social Climbing

by thoughtsonthedead

A New York City kinda afternoon for you, Enthusiasts: upward mobility of all sorts; treats for your eyes and your ears.

The ’72 Academy of Music run is underrated, and under-represented in the Vault. The 3/28 show, plus the best of a Bo Diddley sit-in set that goes on far too long, was released as a Dick’s Pick, but several other nights are missing or partials. The Dead played seven shows in eight nights, putting their noses to the mirror in order to fill their coffers for the Europe tour. (Don’t forget that the Boys were still scraping by in 1972, and actually lost money on their tour of the Continent, only recouping later with the live album.)

The 23rd is the only Dark Star show, though. Sure, it’s a short one (only 23 minutes) and it’s a rare stand-alone DS: they just kinda start, and then they just kinda stop.

“Hey, fellows: you wanna do that thing where we magically flow into another song?”


“Not really.”

“Kiss my ass, Weir.”

“Is it time for Drums?”

“Mickey? You shouldn’t be here.”

And so on.

There’s also a passel of snappy and authoritative versions of the short songs: if you didn’t know better, you might think they actually practiced. The Looks Like Rain (with Phil on the high, throaty harmony) is a killer. Plus a China>Rider opener. There’s nothing you were planning on listening to that’s better than this show; go and listen to it right now. There will be a quiz.

But, you ask, what should I do with my eyeballs?

Good question, I say, but that’s an odd way to phrase it and now I fear you.

Go read the latest from FoTotD (Friend of Thoughts on the Dead) Nick Paumgarten in the New Yorker, where I have been called a genius. He tells us about the best boulder-climber in the world, which is a thing. She’s a 14-year-old girl, Tavi Gevinson with chalky hands, and she climbs up and away from her father faster and better than anyone’s ever seen.

Boulder climbing is unlike the other climbing sports in minor details, but it’s a status game of the bored and privileged played because humans have no feathers to pluck out or fur to chew at. Once the problems of food and shelter have been solved, everything else is a defense mechanism against long afternoons.

It is, however, the minor details that count. Bouldering isn’t mountain-climbing (which is mostly punctuated walking) or rock-climbing (which is 90% hideous conversations about chafing and pitons and carabiners): it’s dashing up a bumpy rock.

To me, this is even more pointless than climbing mountains. Get to the top of a mountain and you have a rare view; there’s nothing on top of a boulder except maybe a used condom and some stubbed-out Marlboro Reds. Plus, this young climbing woman lives in New York City and climbs the rocks in Central Park. If Law & Order has taught us anything, there will be a dead body up there once or twice a year.

Read the story. It’s sadder than it seems, but most things are.