That was my youth. And it was Grateful. And it was Dead.

I remember my first Dead Show. It’s true what they say: There is NOTHING like a Dead Show.

Before we get into this, let me just say that before being “woke” threatened the comedy community, the Grateful Dead were singing about a woman who was her own hero. When a weak male sheriff refused to step up and get justice for her murdered beau, she took it upon herself to shoot his killer in the balls and drag his ass to justice. This is for all the Delia Ds out there. Keep shootin’ ’em in the balls! Even if it’s me.

That right there was MY Grateful Dead, and it was a year before I caught my first Dead Show. My first show was at Rich Stadium (Orchard Park), Buffalo, New York, on July 16, 1990. It was one of the best experiences I will ever have. There is NOTHING like a Dead Show. That is, there WAS nothing like a Dead Show. Today’s incarnation, “Dead & Co.,” is just a corporate-sponsored safety-wrapped grab at nostalgia for (sadly) my generation. Shady Shakedown Street is gone. No more scraggly hippies rolling past in the crowd offering “buds… doses…” No, today it’s Bacardi Rum stations serving mixed cocktails for $12 a pop and easy-access padded nostalgia so you don’t break a hip because no one wants to get sued by this overly litigious entitled generation. Boooooo!

I remember the Grateful Dead as I first saw them, and I am envious of the dark-beard Jerry days. Back when I first caught them, I was 20 years old, and Jerry had more than a Touch of Gray. The Grateful Dead, on average, were in their mid-40s. To us, they were “old.” But we loved them anyway. Now I am “old.” Jerry Garcia and Brent Midland are dead. I remember the day each of them died. Brent went first. He was predeceased by the original band member, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, and by Keith Godchaux, who brought his wonderful wife Donna to the Dead. To this day, Deadheads debate whether Donna was glorious or a Yoko. For the record, I am pro-Donna. She was there in what I consider the glory days, and she contributed greatly to that.

But when Jerry died, it all ended. The day Jerry died – August 9, 1995 – a friend called to break the news. He had pulled over to the side of the road on his way to work as he had heard it announced on his car’s radio station. I sank to the floor of my kitchen. And all my friends gathered round, and we reminisced. We traveled to a vigil in New York State. We mourned. And it was, to be honest, a selfish mourning. We mourned the loss of a great musician and personality, but mostly we mourned the loss of the summer tours. We realized that all of those long, strange trips were ended. And it was crushing.

Back in the days of the shows you see here

And here is MY first show. That crowd noise? One of those voices is mine.

I was a young college student. I was indestructible. And the Grateful Dead were the soundtrack of my life.

And then, in 1990, they were only 20 years past their break-out album American Beauty. That album came out the year I was born.

What a difference twenty years makes, depending on your perspective in life. If you are only twenty years old (as I was) it was a lifetime. If you are fifty (like I am now) then twenty years seems like a snowball on a hotplate – gone too soon.

I can only imagine how the Grateful Dead felt, seeing us newbie twenty-somethings invading their classic scene. I think, on that day in Buffalo, the feeling might have been summed up by David Crosby, of Crosby, Stills & Nash, who opened up for the Dead on that day. As my friends and I walked into the stadium to find our seats, he said, “Here’s a song Stephen wrote before most of you were born.” And they launched into “For What It’s Worth.” An incredible welcome to us, who were essentially teenagers with a strange sense of nostalgia for the revolutionary days of the late 1960s.

We had come of age in the Reagan years, and we HATE Reagan. We hate everything about him, and may he be burning in Hell as I type this. And since then, the GOP has only gotten worse. But it’s not just the GOP. They play the villain that drives voters into the welcoming arms of the DNC, who are on the same damn team as the GOP. They play the rival good guys with a blatant incompetence that can only be described as complicit.

But I digress. In short, this world is now fascist. Voting is pointless. Your race, religion, sexual orientation, or nationality is meaningless, and is only being used by your masters to keep you fighting amongst yourselves so that the billions of you do not kill the hundreds of them. There aren’t even nations anymore, only corporations.

I’m tired of telling you. You’re on your own now. I’m a-fixin’ to die. If the Grateful Dead were “old” in 1990, I’m a fuckin’ mummy now. Go fix your own damn shit. As Crosby, Stills, and Nash and the Grateful Dead and Buddha and Jesus and Thoth and all the rest of the enlightened ones probably had to say, “I’m done. You either get it or you don’t.”

And judging by this world, we just don’t and never will.

[Why do our leaders keep promoting natural, world-saving solutions and yet keep leading us down the path of destruction and slavery? We see it, they see it, and yet… there we go. Voting is obviously not changing shit. So, what will you do? I’m old. I’ll just watch as we all slide into poverty, chaos, and collapse, and I slide out into death. Maybe I’ll be back, like a good Boddhisatva. Then again, maybe I won’t.]

Published by pookabazooka

I am an ape living abroad, writing to stay focused and to remember the things I think about. I post them here in case you'd like to spend a bit of time thinking about them, too.

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