3:23pm. Sitting in the room at Congress Hotel. This seems to be Dead central for the weekend. There’s a thin door between us and the next room and the smell of Mary Jane seeps under the door and there’s no sound coming from in there.
There was last night. These neighbors, whom I’ve yet to run into in the hallway, smoked weed and clanked glasses until 4am… and then there was that familiar aroma around 9am. Professionals.
All sorts of professional Deadheads crawling around Chicago. There’s a DeadHead exhibit at the Field Museum. Daughter Jeanie and I walked down there (Alexis still a little tired from last night’s festivities, which I’ll get to later) and looked at all the beautiful cards that people sent in to Stinson Beach to try to get tickets. Check out the photos of some of them. Amazing.
There was Jerry’s guitar, and an old reel-to-reel that they used in the early days, and a dinosaur with a Grateful Dead headband draped on it. But the real show is the people
“Dad, why are you taking so many pictures of all of these people. You’re gonna get beat up.”
“Not at a Grateful Dead concert, Jeanie. Not here.”
Maybe so. We talked to a couple from Philadelphia that flew in this morning.
“The Dead loved Philadelphia, did some of their best shows there,” the guy told me.
“Yeah, it was like their favorite city to play,” the woman said. These two are going, like Alexis and I, on Friday and Sunday. On Saturday night, they’re going to the City Winery to watch that night’s concert on the big screen. They, however, unlike Alexis and me, are still looking for tickets.
Speaking of looking for tickets. My brother Jeff keeps texting me from Indianapolis if I could find tickets for tonight. No way. There’s rattlers crawling all over with one finger in the air. They’re everywhere. I’m guessing that means they need one ticket but that’s just a guess. I just steal pictures of them and don’t often stop to talk. Anyways, Jeff’s going with his wife Laura and my brother Brian and his wife Michelle and cousin Doug and his wife Susan to see the Rolling Stones on Saturday night.
If Alexis and I had any balls at all we’d do the Dead tonight, get up and drive to Indy for the Stones on Saturday night, and then back for the 2pm show here in Chicago at Soldiers Field on Sunday. That’s if we had any balls.
The partiers next door have woken up. There’s yelling from men’s voices and laughter from women’s… and a constant wafting of weed smoke under the door. Welcome to the Congress Hotel during Grateful Dead weekend.
It’s a little sad, I expect. It’s a long goodbye.
“What do you mean they’ll be extinct in five years?” Jeanie asked me as we sat hanging our feet over the sea-wall towards Lake Michigan, near Buckingham Fountain.
“This is history. These people, this scene, will all be history in a few years. I feel like I’m taking pictures of a bird variety that is about to be extinct. And we know it and accept it.”
So there. It’s the Grateful Ball here at the Congress tonight after the concert. I wonder if they’ll play Box of Rain, Sugar Magnolia, Eyes of the World, etc. I wonder where I’ll be 30 years from now. Possibly dead. It was probably 30 years ago that I last saw the Dead. My mom got sick, I came back from California, got a job, met Alexis and goodbye Grateful Dead and all that it stood for. Alexis had a son and I immediately let love win over rambling and that has made all the difference.