I have chased down many a show over the years in pursuit of something approximating bliss or satisfaction. There have been moments, rare moments, where this feeling almost resides. I have been enraptured by the likes of The Grateful Dead, Stereolab and Sufjan Stevens. (Video here.) I have also been fortunate enough to happen across these moments, such as the choral chanting in Tant Kyi Taung Pagoda, Myanmar. (Video here.)However in my long and winding pursuit, I have been as equally disappointed by all of those those mentioned above, finding boredom and ennui instead. It’s not astonishing to realize that it is the sound and not the event, the journey as they say, even if it’s a recording on a drive going nowhere. (Video here.)
The two remaining pillars of The Grateful Dead – Phil Lesh and Bobby Weir – don’t play together anymore, which is an odd turn of events given the success of last summer’s reunion in Chicago.
Phil tours with “Friends” and Weir plays with “Company”, leading to the question not why are they apart but which band is better?
Band members: Dead and Company appears to have this in spades, given the inclusion of original Grateful Dead drummers, Billy Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, along with John Mayer and, of course, Bob Weir.
That said, the focus of Phil Lesh’s bands has always been the quality of the music, with Warren Haynes, John Scofield, John Medeski as regulars, and noted guests including Melvin Seals (longtime member of the Jerry Garcia Band) and Chris Robinson from The Black Crowes. Further, given the fact that John Mayer isn’t as great as he thinks and Kretzmann and Hart are mailing it in, the Friends have it here. Advantage: Phil Lesh and Friends
Venues: Dead and Company are going for the big, fast bucks and have booked the largest venues possible; in other words, it’s all hockey arenas and baseball stadiums.
Phil Lesh plays almost exclusively at The Capital Theater (outside New York City) and Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, California, with capacities of 1800 and 350 respectively.The question is only getting there. Advantage: Phil Lesh and Friends
Song Selection: Dead and Company draw from across The Grateful Dead catalog, showing favor to the early 1970’s, including Weir’s Country and Western gems. Phil and Friends have a similar bent, more in the 1960’s. Advantage: Draw
Overall Sound and Experience: While it’s true that Bobby is losing his touch and Phil should stop singing, both know the music. However when it comes to getting inside the sound, being carried away by the interplay between musicians – the jams, man! – Phil plays and leads best. Advantage: Phil Lesh and Friends
What is wrong with this story is that it is not a true story. Men have in their minds a picture of how the world will be. How they will be in that world. The world may be many different ways for them but there is one world that will never be and that is the world they dream of. Do you believe that? (From Cormac McCarthy’s Cities of the Plains)
Tired of the same-old Planet Earth problems? Perhaps you think it’s time to give another planet a go? But do you have what it takes for this distant quest? Nick Kanas’ Humans in Space, The Psychological Hurdles details the psychological and social issues of interstellar travel in the final chapter. Beyond the obvious loneliness and isolation of deep space, there are a few other things to consider:
Earth-out-of-view Syndrome. What would it be like to not just see Earth as a distant planet, but not see it all?
Monotony. How would you occupy your leisure time? There are no events to see, no relatives to visit, no sports nor Instagram feeds to follow. There’s nothing but the people and data on board. Does reading make a big comeback?
Physical Effects of Near-Relativistic Speed. What are the side effects of constantly travelling at a such a fantastic speed? Might we grow taller? Might the blood thin? The eyes cloud? And what of sleep?
Intolerance of Diversity. Most agree that some kind of group think is needed for such a journey to be a success. And so what of those that were outside the mindset? What about people who want to do things differently or maintain a belief outside of the norm? What would happen to them?
Justice. How would criminals and sociopaths be handled in such a small social network? How tolerant would it be possible to be of violent crimes? Is it one strike and you’re out?
Mission Goals. How long would it take for the focus to sway from the original mission goal? What if a discovery were made of another possible planet on another course? Who would make these decisions? What authority would be needed?
Myths and Folklore of Earth: Earth will eventually become a memory. The second generation will only know it through stories and Disney movies. What effect will that have on how the society evolves?
Dee sat on the floor and went through the books on the bottom shelves, and opened an old Pop-Up book, Babar’s Moon Trip. She opened and closed the center of the book, the space station rising up, falling down again. She played with the bent point of the space tower, toying with the tip of it until it broke and rolled the dirty piece of cardboard between her thumb and forefinger.
When everybody is swept away unthinkingly by what everybody else does and believes in, those who think are drawn out of hiding because of their refusal to join in is conspicuous and thereby becomes a kind of action.In such emergencies, it turns out that the purging component of thinking is political by implication. The manifestation of the wind of thought is not knowledge; it is the ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful from ugly. And this, at the rare moments when the stakes are on the table, may indeed prevent catastrophes, at least for the self. (From The Portable Hannah Arendt)