I’ve raved here for years about my favorite contemporary writer, the deeply anonymous, Florida-based creative genius behind Thoughts On The Dead. He’s been cranking out the words and pictures since 2012, hewing (on a macro basis) to an initial premise he framed thusly: “My thesis is that the Grateful Dead were the Silliest Band in the World. I will attempt to prove this through misquotes, malicious lies, and just plumb crazy talk; everything in these pages is, of course, satire.”
Good satire is really, really hard to write, a point made screamingly clear by subjecting yourself to any of the piss-poor popular examples of the form that the web has belched forth indiscriminately since its inception. But Mr TotD is a true master of the genre, building a complex and complete creative universe around the core essence of the Grateful Dead’s members and their various fellow travelers, spinning and pivoting in exciting directions while (mostly) keeping one foot anchored in the real stories, personalities, experiences and foibles of the protagonists. He dubs the resultant product “semi-fictionality,” which in meta-meta-meta fashion has become an ongoing topic of conversation between various characters within the semi-fictional story arcs, most typically involving those new players confused by their unexpected first entries into the brilliantly perverse TotD universe.
Mr Thoughts is also blindingly prolific, putting my own obsessive writing impulses and productivity levels to shame, and then some. I’ve quite literally started almost every day for many years reading his work and words with my morning coffee, routinely marveling at the quality and quantity of entertainment that he offers me (and many others) with righteous, rigorous regularity. In my various year-end reports of the best things life has set before me in the prior twelve months (e.g. 2019: Year in Review), it’s just a given that he’s going to be featured there, because I have a hard time imagining finding many, if any, things online than I enjoy more than his website.
While the Grateful Dead provide the hub around which the whole semi-fictional thing spins, the hairy daddies (and Mrs Donna Jean) don’t necessarily feature directly in some of the best work done on the TotD site. There have been a pair of brilliant novels serialized there (with a third in progress), for starters, and I’d still claim TotD’s A Book With No Title as one of the finest reads I’ve experienced in the 21st Century. The novels and related stories are set in the fictional west coast city of Little Aleppo, and the histories, characters, and happenings documented within their (virtual) pages are hilarious, heart-breaking, and hair-raising in equal measure. I’ve had to pinch myself at times to remember that some of the people I’m reading about there aren’t real, because I feel like I know and understand them as well as, if not better than, I do some folks in my real life, famous or otherwise.
TotD also occasionally offers deep dives into the careers of other influential creative types, and I’d cite his long-form pieces on Queen and Van Halen as among the very best of many articles and books I’ve read about those fascinating artists. His political work is top notch too, with his tales of late-night calls from various GOP creeps to Maggie Haberman, and his tone-perfect Cadet Bonespurs Tinyhands monologues eliciting both giggles and groans in their willingness to take situations that are already painfully absurd and escalating their essences into the satirical stratosphere. He’s the complete package as a writer, at bottom line, and he continues to carry my strongest, most heart-felt endorsement as the owner and operator of a site that will reward regular reads like few others, anywhere, by anybody.
All of that being said (again) here, I’m actually thinking Thoughts On Thoughts today for a different reason, related to a typically creative and reaction-inducing recent post of his which, alas, is set in the very real world in which we live, and not the semi-fictional one Mr TotD normally documents with alacrity: Thoughts On Cancer. Oof. Ouch. And no no no no NO. Mr Thoughts reported this morning that he’s beginning his first chemo sessions today, so I hope you’ll join me in pointing whatever good juju, karma, prayers or magick you’ve got in your quiver straight at him through the tough times he’ll be facing in the days and months ahead. You could even hit the Donate Button in the right sidebar of his site and send some dosh his way to buy ice cream, edibles and panaceas to ease the process and smooth the path before him. I’m sure he’d appreciate that.
Mr Thoughts is a creative treasure, and I selfishly want to keep him that way, since he freely and readily provides so much enjoyment to so many people, me among them, with bells on. From a less selfish perspective, he’s just a good dude who I have come to count as a good friend in virtual space, and I don’t want him to suffer or hurt any more than he absolutely must to kick this thing to the curb quickly and get on with the getting on. Keep an eye on his site, please, and offer the encouragement you’re able, in your heart or in public, as is your wont. Thanks.