Fare Thee Well

GratefulDead-ADMATAs the disappointment of losing the Fare Thee Well TicketMaster battle weighs on my heart I can only take solace in my experiences in this scene over the past 22 years. From the 15 year old who put on his brand new Liquid Blue and had his mom drop him off on the lot of a Grateful Dead show at Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY on June 16, 1993 to the bass player of a band who has had the privilege of playing on the same bills as Bob Weir and Billy Kreutzmann. Everything in between has made for one beautiful life, but that fateful day in ’93 put me on the path I still travel today.

Instantly I fell in love with the scene, the beautiful people, the painted busses, the artwork and craftsmanship on the Shakedown, I had stepped into another world as an alien teenager who didn’t know the language and could only decipher the body movements to know what was going on. I went into the show early to find my friends and their parents and we walked around the stadium taking it all in. When we approached the back of the stage, below us was Jerry talking with some of the staff and I yelled down his name and waved. He looked up and smiled then carried on with his conversation.

We then found our seats and waited for the show to start. The music was all new to me, I only recognized two of the cover songs as none of the others had been on the two cassette tapes I owned “Skeletons from the Closet” and “American Beauty.” The one that stuck in my mind and carried me through many lot scenes to come was the anthem that will carry me until July – “I Need a Miracle.” When that beginning riff kicked in after Space, the Stadium erupted and everyone joined in the chorus. It was a magical moment that I still carry with me. The show ended with “Good Lovin” and they encored with “I Fought the Law and the Law Won” due to the countless arrests that occurred over the two day run that I still have the newspaper clippings from.

Looking back at the show I realize my innocence. It was the first show I taped as I had wanted to know as much as I could about the Dead before going into it so I read a lot and somewhere I found out it was ok to record their shows. So I brought along my mom’s tape recorder that she used for note taking at school and had it in my pocket recording the whole time. It wasn’t the best quality but that tape got some use.

It was a different time and that show eluded me for years, I tried my best to trade those “Maxell XL-II”’s for a copy but it was nowhere to be had. Now I can just hop on over to archive.org to find it. Listening to that show recently, I was surprised to hear how many of my favorites they played, “Cold Rain and Snow”, “Brown Eyed Women”, “Stella Blue”, “Foolish Heart”, “Ramble On Rose”, and so many more. I still feel lucky that I got to see them before Jerry Passed.

As I said that show was a crossroad for me, that led me down the path to this beautiful scene that encompasses so many bands these days. Since I couldn’t hop on Dead tour, I hopped on Phish tour with a few friends. We traveled the nation going to upwards of 50 shows and again I count myself lucky to have been part of some great musical experiences. From there I found Moe., String Cheese Incident, The Disco Biscuits, STS9, and Umphrey’s McGee and watched them all go from playing to a handful of people to selling out Amphitheaters. I also found some older groups like Widespread Panic and went to many Dead related shows such as the Furthur Festival, Ratdog, Phil and Friends, Mikey Heart, Merl Saunders, and went on a little Other Ones tour that ended at Shoreline of Bill Graham’s own design (It looks like a Steal Your Face from above). All of the bands listed I have seen numerous times now and they are all part of one great music scene.

So I go back to playing my current anthem “I Need a Miracle” and hope that I get a chance to see two of my favorite bands collide in a city that has been such a large part of my life. At this point I have to put as much faith as possible into getting those tickets as I have no more reason to go than anyone else, I don’t deserve to be there more than anyone else, I am just one person who is part of this large community that all want the same thing, to have a good time with friends new and old while listening to some grate music.

There is nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile 🙂

The Drifter – Part 2

Still nothing, I rummaged through the house looking for something to eat, nothing there except an empty kitchen. My stomach was growling loud enough to scare off any predator. While digging through my pack I found the remanence of a granola bar, torn from its packaging and smashed to bits from the incessant digging my hand had been guilty of during fits caused by bad packing. I picked up the bits of granola piece by piece as if I had turned into a ape cleaning the parasites from the cloak of a fellow ape. Even after every crumb was recovered from the inner lining of the backpack and shaken from every article of clothing I had – the state of contentment had not been reached. My stomach had now gone on the attack, as if it were going to scare its prey to death, but I was the only prey it could devour and If I didn’t find food soon I would be eaten from the inside out.

So I started my quest, looking for a bug, a leaf, a blade of grass, sap dripping from a tree, anything that remotely resembled food – anything that could supply sustenance. With the dense fog overhead I tried to suck in moister to at least supply me with the essential hydration.


what is that?

is that a birdsong?

or just the wind whistling?

looking all around I searched out the bird running this way and that. I heard it over here no it was over here. I picked up rocks and thrust them in to the air hoping that they would magically hit something and a meal would land at my feet.


Trudging on I found myself frozen as if I were in the shoes of the Theater Arts Student. There was the ray of light blinding my dilated pupils. I looked up to see a massive building, one unlike any I had ever seen. The darkness seemed to stem from this building, as if it was inverting the very light illuminating it. There was no resemblance to any architecture I had seen, no hint of Frank Lloyd or I. M. Pei, just a solid formation jetting out of the ground with an odd entrance. Two black columns zig zag their way up to a mutual point, over head a doorway at least thirty feet high. The doorway was empty with nothing physical to open, just an encompassing dark mass to let you know you had passed into the building. I reached for my flashlight yet again but to no avail, the darkness just grabbed the light right out of it and suck it into whatever void it created. As I walked forward I became blind to my surroundings. With my arms extended to their full reach I proceeded with a caution and slowly rotating from side to side so I wouldn’t hit anything. After a few minutes of careful exploration I found a staircase and began climbing up the spiral to find whatever lay at the other end.

Hours went by and still no end to this staircase, not even a level to stop at. In the back of my mind was the intention of turning around and going back to the desolate world below, but at least I felt I was going somewhere, if not in reality, in my imagination – which complete darkness lends itself to fairly well. Again the mountains came to mind, the fictional wife and job, life on the road, and the bird of prey resting in the pit of my stomach creating the overwhelming hunger. Visions of Ghandi took over, and the a peaceful feeling came over me. I was fasting, forced yes but still fasting, and not just food but






everything I had known throughout my life was gone and every thought was geared on how to get it back – but that is not what I’m supposed to be doing now is it. Whatever, whoever sent me to this place is not trying to convince me of this. When I’m on the verge of gaining something more is taken away, delusions of the perfect life come to mind only to stripped away in this harsh reality to the point where there is nothing left to entertain me but thy own mind.

So I keep climbing

hoping to attain something resting at the top of these stairs

my hand drapes across the banister

holding me up

The hours seem to drip into days

the days into weeks

and I still climb

taking breaks every once in a while to sleep

– very uncomfortably I might add.


and Up

and up

and horizontally



the staircase start to flatten out and go in a different direction and I found my self walking on level ground again. Was I imagining things or was it getting lighter? In front of me was a opening similar to the zig zap columns of before but white. As I got closer I expected the sky to dreary and full of fog but it was brilliant. I found my self standing on a marble bridge above the clouds with the sun shining down. it looked to go on forever, at least past the horizon so I hiked on.

Is that a mirage? As I got closer, a pedestal lay before me garnished with fresh fruit. I grabbed an apple and inspected it. Got out my buck knife and cut it into pieces. It appeared to be fine so I took a gamble and took a bite. I ate for hours on apples, bananas, mangos even a few I didn’t recognize. By the time I filled up sleep came over me and for the first time in who knows how long I laid on level ground with my mat and sleeping bag and fell asleep.

The Drifter – Part 1

I’m a drifter, traveling from place to place – leaving one for another when boredom sets in. I have seen the world and after awhile it all started to look the same – until I drifted too far. This place was one I had never been before. I couldn’t figure out where I was and leaving was unattainable, no matter how hard I tried.

The city was dreary with brick walls all around it – having no recollection of ever passing through any gates upon my entry, as a matter of fact I don’t remember how I got to the city.

My last destination still haunted my memories, with beauty encompassing the landscape, a forest leading up to the mountains and ending at the beach, but this peculiar feeling of not being aware of my arrival disturbed me. A thick blanket of fog coated the sky obstructing my vision. It kept a clean coat of mist upon my person not to mention my belongings. So thick that it never left day in or day out it stayed convoluting my sense of time – how long have I been here?

There was the feeling of a big city such as Paris or New York but there is no life in this city, as if a eternal slumber took hold and never woke up -no one walked the streets, no store fronts manned with the armies of store clerks on the front lines of customer satisfaction, no buses, no cars, no bikes, no squirrels, no police patrolling the beat -not even a leaf on the trees leaping, as if wanting to escape into the heavens, but still I sensed activity.

No life forms visible to these eyes, a endless search pursued for a exit, life, death, something to bring reality back into the picture. It didn’t take long for my memory banks to map out the whole place, every empty store – every empty apartment -every empty bar that I hoped to find a drinking buddy -still I turned up nothing.

My soul had succumbed to madness –

how could this town be full of activity with nothing to show for it! A whole city with only my lonely soul strutting down the street.

Fatigue set in without food, without water, with-out companions, so I made my way towards what seemed to the residential part of town. A extremely large house stuck out of the cookie cutter culture that had followed its erection a few generations later.

So I thought I would take this opportunity to have what I didn’t have before. After opening the large double doors I walked through the verandah, up the stairway, and into what appeared to be the master bedroom -without a bed -as a drifter I was prepared for this -my backpack, the home on my back, was a fully functional bag of tricks.

I pulled out my sleeping bag and mat, laid down, and while falling into sleep – I dreamt of all the places I’d been, the people I met, every thought in my head was aimed at trying to forget where I was.

The inevitable came -I woke up. What was I going to do now, what reason do I have to wake up. As I roll over the sheets, tangled up in a mess, are pulled from my body as I slid off my bed.

Standing up I stretch and descend the stairs where breakfast is waiting for me in the dining room. Some one spent a long time preparing it and for that I am thankful. After I finish eating I say goodbye, kiss my wife, and leave for yet another day at the grindstone.

As I walked down the sidewalk towards the garage I couldn’t help feeling something was different. I get in my car, start it up, and pull down the driveway -as I backed up into the street I shifted into drive and raced on down towards the interstate -I pulled out off the on ramp and cut off some jerk who flips me off. The rat pursues to challenge me to a drag race – we speed down the road weaving in and out of every poor soul who follows the guidelines, the ever present road signs controlling the very movements set forth by the feet of society.

An old lady driving 45 miles per hour in this fast lane that acts as a trap for those who feel that they should be on nascar’s payroll, a spider web with the big red and blue -eight donut beast -sitting in the median waiting for its prey to fly by without noticing its sly parking job. The old lady, slowing me down as the rat finds himself trapped in the web.

I sit back and relax into the sonic vibrations penetrating the wax of the drums resting in my inner ear -a song that has been ingrained into every fiber of my being, making me oblivious to the stop and go traffic that has since clogged the drain leading down the pipes of the inner-city -downtown of consumerism -elimination central.

So I Pull out that little cardboard box of death and inhale my way back past the realm of annoyance -with my window freshly rolled down I start to breathe the breath of my artificial horse.

The everyday madness pursues, as my daily schedule unfolds, but the moment I dread the most is starting to fly at me faster than a airplane heading straight towards the ground -But wait a minute? Can I think that? Should I hide my box cutter and run for the hills? Paranoia sets in as I feel my mind is being watched, probed by the secretary of homeland security.

Finally arriving, I pull up in the parking lot of that citadel protecting the void of 9 to 5 monday through friday and supplying me with those handy little pieces of life that once made up the forests of this world but now I trade for everything that enters my mouth or fills my living room with mind numbing entertainment.

So I walk through those glass doors, past the receptionist (trying to avoid small talk I look the other way) I sink down into my little gray cubicle, turn on my auxiliary brain, and proceed to work.

Where am I?

Where am I?

this emptiness is driving me mad-

where am I?

oh ——

I am here again

– just a dream I suppose –

– a dream of dreams –

a nightmare of hope lifting me up past the surface into the sea of life dripping across the ocean’s bed in a unified motion of single drops – each with its own purpose – its own direction, but why cannot I breach the sea on my own, why cannot I reach the shore as I drown in this unpleasant place.

Life still fills my breath, but this place seems to drain it from my lungs, I reach around searching for my backpack in the darkness of this room, feeling its presence I follow the teeth of the zipper to the top and pull it open, forcing my way past shirts and smelly socks I find my flashlight. With a faint beam I search around the room. walking over to the window I pull the blinds to find what little light that breaks through the fog illuminating the room (if you want to call it that)

What must I do in this situation,

no escape,

no subsistence,

no salvation,

– wait

what is that

a light breaking the fog

cutting through the precipitation like a knife through butter with a slice of light putting a single building on display as if it were some childhood theater arts student frozen in a spotlight.

But what does this mean, Am I to search this building out and find what ever lurks there, to find my death, to find my life, to find a exit to this place forsaken by whatever has sent me here, or is it a trap, a portal into some vortex that will suck me into a dimension far worse than this. Whatever it may be I must feed my catlike curiosity as I starve for the culmination of this existence.