Surviving the Dead

Its not just a band, its an adventure

That's when it dawned on me that I was completely alone, as isolated and vulnerable as I had ever been in my life. I was on acid in a foreign city.

Despite the LSD coursing through my brain, I knew that I had to get to the train station, where I could sleep through the near-freezing night inside a heated building. But the entrance to the subway was chained shut. My map indicated there was a bus stop a few miles away where I could catch a lift to the train station. I started marching.

I didn't see anybody else on the streets that night, but occasionally I could hear echoes of Deadheads yelling "Ba-oooh! Werewolves of London!" Because of the acid, I wasn't sure if I was hearing real echoes or imaginary ones. When I got to the bus station, I found a bench and sat and waited for the next ride. An hour passed. I lay down, using my parka as a blanket. My body shivered uncontrollably. I listened to a bootleg tape of one of my favorite Dead shows on my headsets. The batteries began to drain and the music went into slow motion, but I didn't care. It was as if time itself had slowed. All I could think about was whether my feet had fallen asleep or if I had frostbite. By the time my bus arrived—just after dawn—I was already starting to warm up again. (Nick Schou)

ECSTACY BONERS AND PANIC ATTACKS

First Dead show. Cal State Dominguez Hills, 1990. Don't know what to expect. Like Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. Not familiar with much else. Waiting for the show to begin. Patchouli and armpit hair. Hot sun. Parrot heads. Sue asks me if I want a hit of acid. Okay. Never dropped before. Crowd roars. Music starts. Never really stops. Sound of bear growling. A song begins. I've never heard anything like it. I swear my friend says it's "Franklin's Towel." I'm frying. The sky is gelatinous. There's a blimp on the horizon. It grows larger. It dwarfs the sky. Alert everyone within earshot of this salient fact. No one else impressed. After the show I can't find my shoes. I'm obsessing about Jimmy Buffett and The Lord of the Rings. I am nine and 90 in a single second. Bill Graham rides a motorcycle in the parking lot. There's a bus. Someone's selling lemonade. The music never stopped . . . New Year's Eve, whenever. Oakland Coliseum. Indoors. Graham plays volleyball on arena floor. Know our love'll not fade away. We are all sparks of the eternal flame. I have to shit . . . The Coach House, 1991. I dose at a Bob Weir show. I am convinced that the venue is a portal into another dimension. A troll sits next to me at the bar. He offers me his nachos. He is evil with a smiling face and really bad teeth . . . Las Vegas, 1992. Bad trip. Full-blown panic attack. Hard to breathe. Have to get away from people. Duck outside stadium. Find a small lawn. Lie down. From behind, two dudes talking. "I don't know, man. Don't you ever get scared about that whole Armageddon thing in Revelation?" Not what I need to hear. I truck back inside. Jerry is standing on the moon. He sees the battle raging below. Now he's standing somewhere in San Francisco on a back porch in July. All is one. Our incompleteness makes us whole. Embrace the fear. I'm frozen in a moment of sublime transcendence. I taste tears. The storm has passed. Life is limitless, again . . . Shoreline Amphitheater, whenever. Spend my last dollar on ecstasy powder from a Head named Chocolate Chip. I swallow it. Gag. Must wash it down. Have no money for anything to drink. Walk to a condiment stand. Enjoy my ecstasy with great relish. Enjoy show with boner for entire second set . . . August 1995. Jerry's dead. That night, we open our small downtown theater to anyone who needs to chill. We crank up the stereo, sing "I Know You Rider" until the small hours of the morning. The fat bastard landlord calls the cops . . . These days, it's a lot harder to hear the music, but sometimes, if you look at it just right, you can swear it's still out there, further than ever before, still never stopping. (Joel Beers)

The Dead perform at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine, (949) 855-6937. Thurs., Sept. 18, 7 p.m. $38.50-$48.50.
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