6/26/16 17:16 Penn Station, NYC on the train to Philadelphia
I thought this train would be packed. There has not been an announcement telling the passengers where this train is headed as we hurl through the tunnel in a direction. Wait, here he is. Conductor will be collecting tickets. Train to Philadelphia and Harrisburg. We stopped. So close.
This morning I came home at 1:30 in the morning. I assumed I would get in closer to 2:00. I was at the Dead & Company concert. The first of two shows at Citi Field. I wrote about my last experience seeing the Grateful Dead at Brendan Byrne Arena. The man who I had to leave at that arena all of those faded decades before (Frank Dentrone) met me last night. All of these years later? To take a guess – 25 years? There were warnings from the professional Citi Field organizers to show up early. I followed their instructions to an extent and ended up at my seat up in the nose bleeds - 518 section with a beer and sausage and pepper sandwich about an hour before the band hit the stage. Frank had an event to attend and showed up at 9:30. Frank saw The Grateful Dead more than a hundred times and he said if he counted the various versions of the band he saw in concert – it would tally to more than 200.
Let me be clear, I wouldn’t consider myself a dead head. I like their music and respect them as artists. I don’t recall every buying an album and I vow I never had a tie dyed t-shirt, even in the late eighties when it was a craze. That’s a lie, when I was a kid - we made tie dyes with rubber bands and various dyes over at our very close neighbors, The Dickersons. Here’s my thinking with the tie dyes. Where else would you wear one except for a Dead show or one of their various incarnations and copy cats?
This crowd is a unique and considerate breed who look out for one another. Frank and I caught up on our lives and we discussed his years of experiences at the Dead shows. He warned me about the large brown bus which follows the Dead when they are on tour. They are known as Yashawaa followers and would welcome any tripping soul into their cult. I told Frank I saw the bus in the parking lot. Stay away from them dude. OK, got it. Stay away from the brown bus. And with the joy were the tripping, long haired, bearded kids who were feeling it more than I ever would. I watched one kid, of course wearing a tie dye who sort of slunk as he stepped. He lit up a joint in the round as if he was lighting a cigarette as if he could get away with it. He did. He did not give a shit. He was having a good time and was stoned immaculate. We were all having a good time except for the row where someone took the party to the extreme and got sick. The staff cleaned it up with rolls of paper towels and rubber gloves. I assumed the kid with the tie dye would be slumped against a wall the next time I had to use the bathroom. More about him later.
There was a sense of joy throughout the stadium. All ages were there and most were standing and dancing in their seats. Old hipped and the young ones who made the leap into their music. I confess I joined them. It was late and I was getting into the vibe. Give me a break and ignore my swinging intoxicated arms; taking in the distinct smoke clouds rising from multiple joints. The show opened up with Shakedown Street whole the sun was slowly setting. The crowd slowly made their way in. Some were bouncing with joy as they made their way. I watched women without bras and with flowers in their hair smiling from ear to ear - delicately dancing hand in hand. This band caters to the hippies and they were out in full force. But you know what – it was a great time. I told Frank they should come around every year – like Jimmy Buffett. But the event may lose its appeal. The current tour is fairly short. The band is not taking advantage of the fans and yet they have received some criticism. Phil Lesh, the original bassist is not playing with the band. Jerry Garcia has been dead for more than twenty years and in his place, doing his very talented and distinct best is John Mayer. Last night, one of their original backup singers joined the band for these shows – Donna Jean Godchaux . The last time Lesh played with the band was last year on their Fair Thee Well Tour, or their fiftieth anniversary or what was promoted to be their final gigs.
Just before midnight, the band bowed to an adoring audience and Frank and I made our way down from the heights. We stopped outside and were about to part ways when a guy with long hair and robe on offered me a pamphlet. Frank told me who he was. The tied dyed kid who I thought was passed out somewhere, was standing guard like a saint and was ready to warm any unsuspecting Dead Head. He looked at me with wide awake eyes, “Dude, don’t take it. It’s a Yashawaa, be careful.” Thank you my friend. I handed the pamphlet back to the robed fellow who looked disappointed and made my way to my car. There were four men in the corner of the parking lot selling bogus concert tie dyes. One of them waved the bright shocking shirt in front of me. Only $20. They’re $60 inside. I don’t have it, I said. How much you got? I walked away and counted out a ten and went back. How much? $20, he said. I don’t have it. How much you got? $10. Noooo, noooo. I started to walk away. Hold a sec. What’s your size? Handed him the cash and drove off with my first tie dye. Maybe it’s time to buy a Grateful Dead album.
Thank you for reading this.
A view from the Nose Bleeds: