b r e a t h i n g
r o o m
27 Feb 98
Couldn't get much work done today. Had to sleep in after being out till 12:30 last night, then had to rush to the office to do a modicum of work. I left the office around three, drove to Bay Farm Island, picked up Sarah (she gave me this beautiful little shell, which I immediately put in a pocket and lost track of), drove home, and showed Sarah the house and some of my paintings, and the backyard (avoided a near disaster on the steps to the basement to the backyard when Sarah, teetering on unfamiliar thick shoes (think island girl), threw her water on me and landed nearly in my lap. We were none the worse for wear and I changed into my fIREHOSE t-shirt and the collarless purple shirt Briggs gave me in Colorado for the solstice back in 1994, I think.
Briggs and Sarah talked gardening while I got myself together and before long we were headed off into the city to see Nick. The plan was to drop by him, maybe eat something, and then go down to the Fillmore and try to find an extra ticket for Nick (though we'd been hearing about scalpers, I mean brokers, selling out, and people paying hundreds of dollars per ticket - we cursed the online journalist who had eagerly spread the rumor that a Grateful Dead reunion was in the wings.
In retrospect, I should have told Nick to eat something, since we were running late and typically he hadn't eaten all day. Because we headed straight to the Fillmore and started looking for tickets, he began to get antsy and hungry. Finally we sat in a pizza place and I ordered some salad and lemonade. I already felt like I was tripping. Everything seemed wobbly and the waiter was flamboyantly over the top. The food took a long time and the Deadheads around us were in friendly, peculiar moods, all looking for tickets. Funny how the lot scene fits itself into the urban backdrop. Nick never did get in that night, and ended up in the arms of his young waitress friend whose name escapes me - Kate?
The show itself was perfect. Sarah and I had mourned the fact that we'd become close only after Jerry's death (her first e-mail message I have is in response to my posts that day), and had never been able to go to a show together. This felt like a second chance, a form of redemption. A release from that pulling-it-all-down that Garcia himself had often said he hoped would not be his legacy. Life went on. The Dead universe sprang to life. We had a space there that belonged only to us, and we communicated wordless. There were more delightful surprises in that show than in the last 70 Dead shows I'd seen, and there was the feeling of a first show, a "first psychedelic" show, a return after a hiatus, a new attack, a different angle, a reassertion, and old taboos exploded. On the floor where we stood, even with uptight taper vibes and don't bump into me's, there was a remarkable open channel among the audience and with the players on the stage. Phil had stepped into the harsh glare of the charisma spotlight and shouldered the burden. As Bobby had stepped up to fill unfillable shows when Pigpen faltered, so was Phil pinch hitting for Jerry. It remains to be seen whether this worked only because of its freshness and if a new collection of players can really inhabit this music and make it their own, but I'm interested in being there when they try.
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