Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I need a miracle

I went to a lot of Greatful Dead shows between 1986 and 1992. The first one I went to, I knew I was in love - not with the guy who brought me, but with the band. I remember feeling like we were all in the same living room, grooving to the same live band. All of us were on the same wavelength.

I had never much felt like I belonged anywhere, before. I certainly didn't feel like I belonged to the family I was born into. As we moved around so much, I didn't really feel like I belonged to a group of friends before then.

At the point of this story, I had been dating Seamus for about six months. He was a pretty popular guy among the stoners. His mother let him throw huge keggers with live bands in the basement, and would go out and cover to the cops for us if they were called about the noise. She was drinking right along with us, which we thought was awesome, at the time. That was actually how I met him, at his 18th birthday party right after school started our senior year. I'll devote a whole other post about him because he deserves it. We are still in touch and something happened recently that is blog worthy. CRAP, I just realized I missed his birthday exactly one week ago. I know you are not reading this, Seamus, and that is not your real name anyway, but Happy Birthday and I love you.

Seamus and I, and a large network of friends all traveled to The Meadowlands in New Jersey for a Dead show. If I recall correctly, which I don't, many of us were going to crash out on the floor of someone's apartment in New Jersey, and drive home the next day. This someone was a friend of a friend of a cousin of a neighbor of a friend. I don't think I ever even knew this person's name.

Seamus and I didn't have tickets to the show. If you knew the scene during that time, it wasn't a big deal. We had money, we would try to get tickets if we could. If not, it wasn't a big deal. We went for the

I'll try to liken it to going to a fair or an amusement park. It was a much different theme, of course, but just as enjoyable unless you were planning to go on rides. Add in hallucinogenics and you don't even need rides! The best part, the side-show was free! All you have to do is walk around, or wait for people to walk to you.

People were selling things, giving things away, talking with each other, playing music and singing. There were two huge parking lots full of tie-dyes, jewelry, Guatemalan ponchos, Indian batik, gauze shirts and dresses, pipes and bongs, fallafels, whippets, Rastafarian weaves and tams, water and beer out of some one's cooler, crystals and stones, runes and tarot cards, musical instruments for sale, music on cassette tapes for sale, Indian blankets, veggie stir fry, hackey sacs, rain forest sticks, and anything else you could possibly think of. Including, and especially, the drugs.

One of the people in our group set up a pop-up camper on a grassy patch at the edge of one of the parking lots. This was basically home-base. We all went our separate ways with the intention of meeting back at that spot at some point after the show was over. The group not camping would then drive back to the apartment of which we planned to sleep on the floor.

Seamus and I very early on split a quarter pound of mushrooms. I don't think I had ever eaten mushrooms before this, but I remember they were horrible. Swallowing them down with beer was even worse, but that was the only option. In retrospect, this was way too much for my system, and swallowing a hallucinogen with alcohol did not help matters in any way. A large group of us set out to see the sights. The effects of the mushrooms and alcohol set in to me almost immediately.

While Seamus was very anti-cigarette smoking, I really liked to smoke. The more he tried to get me to stop smoking, the more I rebelled. And by rebel, I mean very passive-aggressive shit like telling him I would quit and smoking behind his back. Breath mints and perfume shit. Especially when I was drinking. Which was every weekend at his house.
Add mushrooms, and forget it.

I didn't even care that he saw me smoking right in front of his face! He was pretty upset, we got in a fight that I don't remember, and the party split into two groups. He was in one group, I was in the other. And I got to smoke.
I considered it a win-win situation until the concert was about to start. At which point I found out that every single person in my group had a ticket to go in to the stadium except me. I walked them to the stadium doors and wished them a good show, and then realized I had no idea where I was.

Not only did I have no idea where I was, I basically had no idea
who I was. I was tripping my face off, walking around a parking lot in New Jersey where I didn't know anyone and couldn't find my way back to the pop-up camper home base. By this time, the sun had gone down, and the show inside the stadium had just started.

If you are not familiar with the Greatful Dead, one of their songs is called "I need a miracle". Many fans would stand outside the shows with a piece of cardboard like a homeless person asking for "a miracle". I don't know if they were asking for a free ticket, or a discount on a scalper's ticket, I know I never did that. Sometimes they would even hold up one finger. That showed they only wanted one "miracle" that day. There were always way more people outside the shows than the amount of seats inside, no matter what.

Back to me, because really, isn't that what it is all about? I was walking around a parking lot in New Jersey after dark, 17 years old, with no idea how I was going to find the people I came with. Did I mention I was tripping my face off? Tears were pouring down my face. Out of nowhere, someone walks up to me, puts his arms around my shoulders and says the magic words, "you look like you need a miracle". The dude just gives me a free ticket into the stadium, no strings attached.

I walk in, and go to my section. The first thing I see is my friends, Nicky Z and his brother and sister. All is right with the world after that.

This is literally the picture that I took immediately upon discovering them. This is before Nicky (on the right) becomes the jerk I have already mentioned. This is also right before Seamus and I decide to travel cross-country with these siblings and their cousin, following the Greatful Dead for the summer. Stay tuned for more craziness!

Update: after consulting YouTube for a link to the I Need a Miracle song, I have been obsessed with seeing and listening to other people's video to Greatful Dead concerts. This was way after I stopped going to shows. But it is close to what I was talking about the experience.


JoJo said...

Hello fellow Deadhead Sisterfriend!!! "We are EVERYWHERE" as the sticker used to say.

I have a few years on ya, but my Grateful Dead experience started in 1987 & I went to my first show in 1988. In fact tomorrow, 9/19, is the 20th anniversary of my 4th show, at Madison Square Garden.

I met my husband at a Maine show, when I sold him my extra ticket for face value. We honeymooned on tour. We moved to San Francisco and got to the last 3 NYE shows. We have over 600 hours of live tapes and we even got to meet Jerry and Bobby at a benefit. We were living in Marin County when Jerry died at that treatment center, which was about 6 miles west of where we lived. We heard the ambulance sirens going by at 4:30....then heard the horrid news at 8.

Would love to talk shows with you more!! Glad I ran into you! :)

mysecondjournal said...

I never got into the Dead. I was a Parrothead... that was always a trip. Never involved mushrooms, just onehits and smuggled joints and lots of beer.

I can't believe they all had tickets but you..asswipes

Anonymous said...

I had the almost same experience, sans ticket miracle: my miracle was a truck driver that gave me a lift all night, while he was on duty working the Meadowlands. His friends on the dispatch radio were so envious of him! He had a cool deadhead chick in his car, 17 y.o.

Looking back, I wonder how I had been so lucky and watched over. Nothing but fun talk happened all night, no date asked for later: he was like a brother. I don't believe he knew I was tripping, but it was raining and I was so glad to be out of the rain.

All of my friends were inside. it's a wonderful memory.

You wrote a more interesting story, and how I loved it!

Aunt Becky said...

I love The Dead, but I was too young to go see them. Something I'll always regret.

Fancy Schmancy said...

JoJo: Never had an NYE experience, I am envious. What a wonderful story for your family about how you met your husband, and honeymooned! I am also glad to meet a fellow sister on the opposite coast. Please, let's stay in touch.

Mysecondjournal: The Parrotheads are awesome. I'm glad you found something similar to where I was going with this.

Aunt Becky: I love you, but WTF with the age reference ;) Just kidding. Really, you didn't miss much toward the end. That is why I stopped going. I love the GD, but their sound started slipping toward the end. I'm probably going to catch a lot of heat on this, but the last couple of years before Jerry died just weren't that great. And I loves me some Jerry Garcia.

kate said...

Wow! That is a great story. I don't know why I don't think to write about my drug-soaked youth. Although I think I'd need to be drunk to properly remember the details!

Fancy Schmancy said...

Also, anonymous, I'm glad it turned out okay for you, that night. It could have taken a whole different, much scarier, turn.

LegalMist said...

I loved the scene in the parking lot at Dead shows. I'll never forget a particularly spacey, soft-spoken girl with a flowing tie-dye skirt (well, didn't nearly everyone wear those? - hers was mostly green and white) carrying a basket of round brown balls in the parking lot at the Vegas show, calling softly, "organic peanut butter ganja goo balls, pure happiness, only $2.00." This was back in the days before organic went mainstream, and I remember thinking, "where else can you buy 'organic pure happiness' for just $2.00? nowhere else, only at a Dead show...."

Dr Zibbs said...

And by the way, I've been to a few Dead shows in Philly. We've probably made out and smoked a bone together.

Fancy Schmancy said...

Zibbs, I totally think I would have remembered that! Unfortunately, I don't think I ever saw a show in PA. I've seen them in Maine, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and California.

katrocket said...

Ah yes, the adventures of spiteful smoking among non-smokers. You're lucky to be alive... great story!