Tag Archives: Bob Weir

Dreaming of Jerry Garcia

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Today is the anniversary of the birth of Jerry Garcia.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Jerry Garcia was a musician: player of guitars, banjos, and mandolins and a singer too. He was famous as a founding member of the Grateful Dead, but was also in Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, and New Riders of the Purple Sage.

I dreamed about Jerry just as this year’s season as a camp host started.

A couple of days before Memorial Day, I dreamed I was outside somewhere with trees. I was not in a city.

Jerry Garcia was walking around this place of my dream, smiling and happy. He was giving out LSD.

I knew him, of course. I think he knew me, but I don’t think he knew me well, like maybe we’d met once or twice, but I didn’t think he’d consider me a close friend. I wondered if he’d remember me at all. I knew he’d probably give me a hit even if he didn’t remember me because he was passing it out freely, but it would certainly be nice to be remembered by Jerry Garcia.

When he came up to me, I opened my mouth, so he could lay a hit on my tongue. I thought he’d drop a hit, maybe two, into my mouth, but he fed me I don’t know how many hits. I had little bits of paper poking from between my lips.

My feelings were torn between Oh boy! and Oh no! I was excited and scared.

How much is just enough? How much is too much?

I wondered how many hits I’d just taken, considered asking Jerry about the numbers, then decided to just go with the flow.

I heard a woman ask him in a real suck-up tone, Are you getting tickets tomorrow, Jerry?

He said, I’ve got tickets right now.

If his looks left any doubts as to who he was, the unmistakable voice erased them. It was definitely Jerry Garcia right there.

Unfortunately, I woke up before I could feel the effects of the gifts from Jerry. I wonder if the Catholic Church would view Jerry getting me high from beyond the grave cause for canonization. I bet most Deadheads would. In any case, while I didn’t wake up high, I did feel happy and at peace.

It was the first time I dreamed of Jerry, although a few weeks earlier, I’d dreamed of hearing a Grateful Dead song I believe existed only in my brain.

A couple of weeks after my dream about Jerry, I was driving when “Attics of My Life” began drifting from my speaker.

I’d not listened to “Attics of My Life” much. It wasn’t in the repertoire of songs marking my relationship with the person who really got me listening to the Dead. Since I mostly listen to music when I’m driving and I want upbeat rhythms to keep me awake, I hadn’t heard the song often since I’d been on my own. But it somehow made it onto my phone with a recent importing of music, and now it was slowly swelling out of my speaker.

It’s a lovely, ethereal song, from the 1970 American Beauty album.

Why have I never really listened to this song before? I wondered.

Then the last verse hit and Jerry singing Robert Hunter’s words brought me to tears.

 

I’m not even sure if I can explain how I felt when I heard this song after dreaming of Jerry.

(In The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics, David Dodd says Robert Hunter was asked about the meaning of this very song  Hunter replied,

…If I could say it in prose, I wouldn’t need to write the song. Poetry is evocative–it’s meant to communicate to deeper levels and approach the levels of nonverbal experience.

So I suppose if I can’t express my reaction to the song in prose, Robert Hunter did his job as a poet-songwriter perfectly.)

I felt as if Jerry and I had some connection. I know that sounds trite and cliché . But if we realize we are all connected (even if in a state of chemical alteredness), does that make it untrue? If I hear this man sing twenty years after his death and his voice moves me so strongly that my tears begin to flow, well, I maintain that’s a connection.

I also felt as if my dream brought Jerry Garcia to life, if only in my REM state brain. There he was–living, moving, smiling, talking, feeding me all the LSD I could fit in my mouth, bringing me comfort and peace. I dreamed Jerry into existence again, for however brief a time.

 

Happy birthday, Jerry.

 

 

How I Met Mr. Carolina and the Boys

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Sometimes I don’t know how much background I need to give in order for a story to make sense. Sometimes I can just start in the middle of everything and tell a story, but sometimes I have to give so much background info that I’m a thousand words in and exhausted by the time I get to the story I want to tell. That’s how I feel about how I met Mr. Carolina and the boys.

It all started with the Grateful Dead. Yes, that’s the place to start.

I was not a Grateful Dead fan when the Grateful Dead actually existed. I guess I’d heard of them in 1987 when “Touch of Grey” hit the charts, and my first true love did put “Sugar Magnolia” on a mix tape when he was trying to woo me in 1992. But I’d gone most of my life not being a Deadhead. Then I met the boyfriend who turned out to be not very nice. I’ll spare you all the gory details, but he was a Deadhead. We listened to the Grateful Dead all the time, and we started seeing a lot of Further, and I became a Deadhead too.

(If you didn’t know, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furthur_%28band%29

Furthur was a rock band founded in 2009 by former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. The original lineup also included John Kadlecik of the Dark Star Orchestra on lead guitar, Jeff Chimenti of RatDog on keyboards, Jay Lane of RatDog on percussion, and Joe Russo of the Benevento/Russo Duo on drums.[1] Named after the famous touring bus used by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters in the 1960s, Furthur was an improvisational jam band that performed music primarily from the extensive Grateful Dead songbook, as well as their own original music and that of several other well-known artists. In addition to the original members (with the exception of Jay Lane, who left the band in March 2010 to rejoin his previous band, Primus), the band’s lineup included backup vocalists Sunshine Becker of the a cappella ensemble SoVoSó and Jeff Pehrson of the folk rock bands Box Set and the Fall Risk.)

When I finally extricated myself from the not-very-nice boyfriend, I thought I had lost Furthur and the Grateful Dead too. I thought that part of my life was over, and I’d never hear those songs again.

I got over that silliness in a couple of months.

I realized the music belonged to me as much as it belonged to anyone else. My not-very-nice boyfriend might have introduced me to that music, but he didn’t own it.

I’ll fast-forward through the part of the story where I was homeless and living in a highway rest area (if you want to read about that, you can go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/06/11/hummingbird/.) I’ll skip the part where two friends from college who’d heard I’d disappeared found me and offered love and support. (That’s a story for another day.) I’ll go straight to the part where I used the money I’d earned selling hemp jewelry combined with money friends had donated to my cause so I could buy a van to live in and work out of. One week after I’d gotten the van registered and licensed, I was off to the big city where Furthur was playing.

I drove all alone for hours to get there. My new-to-me van didn’t have a working radio, so I had no music to distract me from my thoughts. Was this trip the right thing to do? Would the van make it? What if I ran into my ex-boyfriend there? Would I make enough money selling jewelry to even get into one of the three shows Furthur was doing? Would I make any friends?

I didn’t really expect to make any friends. In real life, I’m shy, and it’s not easy for me to make friends. And if you’ve ever been to Shakedown Street

(the parking lot, or large area, outside os [sic] Grateful Dead or Phish shows where everything from drugs, burritos, tie dyes, incense and clothing were sold. Shakedown was the place where one could chill before or after a show and find whatever it is one was looking for. Most known for it’s [sic] open air drug supermarket where cats would have nitrous oxide tanks in the back of cars and sell balloons of nitrous for $5. also [sic] people would walk around uttering “trips trips” or “kind bud, according to http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Shakedown+Street)

or a Rainbow Gathering or a music festival, you know those places are not hotbeds of middle-age, single women.

But I was excited to go, excited to be in the hubub of the parking lot, excited to (hopefully) make it into the show.

The first day on the lot was fun enough. I sold a few things, traded for a few things, gave water to thirsty kids and dogs, and generally hung out. That night I tried to sneak into the outdoor show, but I had no idea what I was doing and ended up surrounded by scratching, jabbing plant matter. As I tried to get out of the mess I was in, a security guy (who was probably young enough to be my kid), heard all the noise I was making and yelled, Get out of the bushes! I yelled back, I’m trying.

After I made it out of the cacti and trees, I sat out in the van until after the show, thinking maybe there would be some hanging out. Of course, the cops ran everyone out of the parking lot after the show, so I drove to the nearest Stuff-Mart and got some sleep.

I returned to the lot early the next day. Not long after I parked, a car full of people pulled in next to the van. More people joined them. Most of the people were young men, although there was an older-than-me woman with them and a man younger than her but older than the rest who seemed to dote on her. They hadn’t been there long when the older man offered me a bottle of water. I took it gratefully.

Several hours later when the late autumn sun was beating down, one of the young men asked me if I wanted some shade. He said they had a tarp and asked if they could stretch it from the car and attach one end to my van. I agreed and helped a little to get the cover in the right place. I didn’t spend much time in the shade, but did have short, pleasant conversations with the various people hanging around.

On Sunday, not long after I arrived in the lot, the folks who’d hung out next to me the day before got there without the car. (I believe they came riding in standing on the running boards of a pickup truck.) I went over to talk with them and we exchanged names. Sweet L admired a copper bracelet I was wearing, and I told him a friend of mine had made it. The dogs of the couple who I later found out spent most their time having whisper fights needed water, so I said we could fill the bowl from my five gallon water jug. One of the young men jumped up to help me. That young man was Mr. Carolina.

 

 

 

 

She’s Gone

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And by “she,” I mean me.

On Friday, April 17, I finally found out the date I was expected to report to California for my training for my summer job as a camp host. The date? April 27. Yep, they wanted me to arrive for training in ten days.

I was told that the snow on the mountain had melted, and people wanted to be up there camping, so they had to get the camp hosts in. They were getting all the camp hosts for that area together as soon as possible to get them trained and on the job.

At first I was kind of pissy. I had originally been told that the job would start in mid May. How is April 27th mid May? (Hint: It isn’t.) I had a job making $13 an hour (with the chance for bonuses) that was scheduled to last until May 20th. I had a place to stay paid for through the end of May. By leaving before April ended, I was effectively throwing away $300. Also, I was not ready to go. I still didn’t have new tires. I still didn’t have a back slider window. I still hadn’t replaced all the rusty screws holding the high top to the van. I still hadn’t bought a Luci light or a bunch of food or the cleaning supplies I need.

And then I just got over myself. I was on my way out. Out of the hot, dirty city. Out of a job, which, while well-paying was numbing my brain and causing me to have ideas about how I could really work better if I could could just get a little bump of speed, not too much, just enough to perk me up. Out of driving twenty miles a day through streets lined with strip malls and stores, supermarkets, restaurants, shopping opportunities of every kind. Out of the beautiful yet brown desert. Out of the rat race. Out of the game.

I was moving into free. Free on the road, with the Grateful Dead and Lucinda Williams singing through one cheap speaker and the tiny, cheap MP3 player which doesn’t even let me set up playlists, but instead plays whatever it wants, whenever it wants. Free to sing along at the top of my lungs or shout or curse or listen silently, no one in the passenger seat to judge or disapprove or be offended. I was moving into the mountains, into the trees, into a place that shows up on the map as a huge expanse of green. I was moving closer to the area of the magical hot springs I visited with my boys two and half years ago, knowing when I left that I would be back someday, somehow. Moving into quiet and solitude, but also into people from everywhere that I will meet as they too come to visit the trees. Moving into myself. Moving into the trees.

I wasn’t sure how I would scrape together all the money I needed to do all the things I needed to do before I hit the road. (In my original plan, I’d have had four to six weeks worth of pay from scoring essays saved up before I took off to Cali. The way things actually worked out gave me 34 hours of pay on April 24, with another two weeks of pay coming on May 8th.) But then I realized, it was only money. I’d gone farther on less.

No sense panicking. No sense worrying. All I could do was do what I could do, then hit the road.

The title of my post is a reference to the Grateful Dead song “He’s Gone.” I took the photo in this post.