That man could read.
News & Rambles
Alligator chomps, the Golden Earring edition.
In the early-nineties, I had a brief career as a concert security guard. Brief in the sense that it lasted all of two shows – the Grateful Dead and Neil Young. You can learn a lot about society at a Grateful Dead show. At least you used to be able to, what with Jerry Garcia being dead and all.
As an aside, Jerry Garcia died on my oldest daughter’s second birthday. I was blissfully unaware of this knowledge until I stopped to make a phone call in downtown Portland and a hippy came by channeling Paul Revere on his bicycle, loudly proclaiming, “Jerry got his miracle today.”
That moment still holds a spot in my all-time top ten moments of weirdness in my life. Right up there with the time the Dalai Lama waved to me, or the time the one-armed man from Twin Peaks rode past me on a bicycle.
How I came to be at this show was, well . . . the nineties.
I was in my early-twenties at the time, and still had a raging case of insomnia that wouldn’t go away fully for another twenty years. I spent a great deal of time going to shows and staying up till the wee hours of the morning playing chess with a buddy of mine, Christian Steve. As his name suggested, Steve was a devout Christian. As I was not, we had fun debating religion deep into the night. Good chess player.
Steve was associated with a group of freaks that orbited around a local indie band called The Clergy. Like a lot of bands The Clergy had a lot of hangers on, extended family and general riffraff. Unlike most bands they were all batshit-crazy Christians. I don’t mean that disparagingly either, they were all pretty cool people. Cool people that happened to be batshit crazy.
One of their flock was affiliated with a local concert security crew that staffed shows throughout the northwest. As I had nothing better to do, I got myself drafted.
Next thing I knew, I was on a yellow school bus filled with a strange blend of ex-jocks and Christian punks heading down to Eugene to take part in the spectacle.
At the time, I absolutely despised the Grateful Dead. I was a young punk rocker and blindly rejected anything and everything related to hippy culture. I signed up for duty mostly in the hopes of scoring psychedelics and tripping my balls off in one of the camps.
We arrived in Eugene in the late afternoon, met up as a group and received our assignments. The football players got the forward-facing positions – admission, stage barrier, etc. The delicate flowers such as myself got the cushy gigs.
My beat? The misting tents. I was there to keep the peace and ensure there were no shenanigans. Mostly, I just watched the Deadheads frolic in the mist with slack-jawed amusement. Every so often I had to tell someone to put their clothes back on.
The position of the misting tents provided me with an unobstructed view of the stage. I got to see both the Grateful Dead and the Indigo Girls sound check – which was a pretty cool experience – as well as the actual show. Does that count as seeing them twice?
When the show was over, I made like a sailor on shore leave and went AWOL. I left in search of adventure and mind-altering apothecaries. I found little of either, eventually calling a friend of mine to come and fetch me. A few weeks later, I was back on duty for the Neil Young/Pearl Jam/Blind Melon show. This time, I was dropped off nearly a mile away from the venue and tasked with directing traffic. It was during that experience – braising in the swelter that Portland passes off as summer – that caused me to rethink my career options and return to civilian life.
I eventually made my peace with the Dead. Having toddlers come out and wiggle dance every time Tennessee Jed comes on tends to do that to you. The process was a bit like the reconditioning in A Clockwork Orange just with a lot less fuss.
Here Comes Sunshine
Lazy River Road
Queen Jane Approximately
The Promised Land
China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Way To Go Home
Good Morning Little School Girl
The Last Time
Standing On The Moon
One More Saturday Night
I Fought The Law
You figure it out. Here’s a hint, it’s only by a smidge.
Also: Vertical > Sideways & Sideways.