The day Jerry Garcia died, I spent several hours drinking cheap gin and orange juice with two drifters named Timberwolf and Guitar Joe while we consoled a depressed hippie.
I don't recall the hippie's name because it's difficult to remember anyone's name when a man who calls himself Guitar Joe is playing Three Dog Night covers on a three-stringed guitar while occasionally pausing to yell lewd non-sequiturs at passing college students.
Although I felt sympathy for the hippie, I didn't get what the big deal was with the Grateful Dead.
And I still don't.
But I found myself covering Dead & Company at Folsom Field on Saturday, and an unholy legion of fans had converged around the area, most of them wearing Dead regalia. I wore my favorite (and only) punk band T-shirt just to be contrary.
I would have been disturbed by the sheer amount of blatant marijuana smoking, but then I remembered I was in Colorado and, more specifically, I remembered I was in Boulder. Fun fact: On the scanner later that night, a young man took LSD, cocaine and lithium for some reason and then smoked pot. He was having trouble with it.
Unfortunate combinations of bipolar medication and schedule II and I narcotics aside, the thing that stuck out most in my mind was how many people in the crowd had come from as far away from the East Coast and not bought a ticket.
Not only had they not bought tickets, they walked around with their fingers in the air, hoping to get "miracled" in. That's apparently a thing at Dead shows. Most of these people looked 20 years old, way too young to have ever seen the Grateful Dead, yet here they stood in T-shirts with dancing bears and lightning bolt skulls.
It's lame and hipsterish to co-opt the imagery and fan culture of a band that existed long before you did. It's not entirely unlike the Black Flag sticker on my truck, because I was so into Black Flag in 1981, when I was 2 years old.
Stay on topic, John.
I interviewed a 65-year-old hippie who was selling pipes in an effort to get into the show. He was not the friendliest person I'd ever met. And he had some severe cognition problems that come with smoking pot for 50 years. I wished him luck.
I later received two tickets to the show. I didn't want to give the extra to a shiftless layabout, especially if I was nearly old enough to be his father. It seemed if anyone deserved the ticket, it was a shiftless layabout old enough to be my father. I found the old hippie sitting in between two merchants selling tie dye. He hadn't sold any pipes.
"Hey, I talked to you earlier? Do you remember me?" I asked.
"Oh yeah," he lied.
"Did you get a ticket?"
"Here, enjoy the show."
I put the ticket in his hand and walked away before he could say anything. It seemed better that way.