5:21pm. In our room at the Congress Hotel. It took 35 minutes to drive the 24 miles to south Michigan Avenue… and then an hour to go 1.8 miles to the hotel.
At check-in, Alexis and I and daughter Jeanie ran into a Deadhead from Denver and another one from Kentucky. The former flew in and the latter drove his Honda Civic. I know because we were behind him in the cutout off of Michigan Avenue. Valet costs 44 bucks a night.
I’m not that good with traffic anymore, so I’m writing this little blog in the hotel room to chill out for a while. For 18 years I drove this shit or bumped into people on the train. My wife says I’ve got PTSD about traffic. On Sunday, it took us 2:04 to drive 33 miles from our house to the other daughter’s apartment at Lincoln and Fullerton to drop off some pills and a blouse. You can imagine what it was like not moving on Lake Shore Drive for 25 minutes.
America’s on high alert for terrorism. Isis. False alarm at the Washington Navy Yard, two years after the massacre at the same place. Makes you wonder about the Dead show at Soldiers Field. They’re talking top targets on NBC news with Lester Holt. Big Fourth of July events. Be aware. Look for anything suspicious. You get the picture.
It’s an entirely different picture from the last time I saw the Grateful Dead. I don’t know when that was, exactly. I remember a bunch of shows at Alpine Valley and Watsonville and Berkeley and a few other places that I can’t remember. I’m also a bit foggy about when. Is it possible that after I left Berkely I didn’t see the Grateful Dead again? That can’t be.
But then again after 1988, I was with my current wife. And she tamed me. I’m no longer a wild animal trekking around California in search of… what? Adventure, for sure. And women. And, yes, a little substance. And liquid. And hiking. And poetry. And the Dead. That was a long time ago. Here I am 30 years since the last time I sat through a Dead show? That’s a shame.
But is it something that you can accept? I think so. When you meet someone and fall in love, you leave something behind of myself. I left behind the Grateful Dead and everything that it stood for in my life. Instead, I got a job trading in the pits of the Chicago Board of Trade, and I did that for 18 years.
I all irony… the Board of Trade officially closed yesterday. It’s just a few blocks from where I’m writing this minute. But it’s dead. And I’m going to see the Dead… with my wife of 24 years and a kid who’s 22 and another one who’s 20. We’re going to dinner in a few minutes so I won’t be able to write the blog that nobody reads for much longer. Instead, we’ll walk amongst the tie-dye and guitars and dred locks and bad body odor to get some salad, wings, maybe some craft brews. How times have changed.
If it were Berkeley 30-plus years ago, what would it be? I’d have been living in a place called Barrington Hall 2315 Dwight Way in Berkeley. It was the second weirdest place I’ve ever lived and worked in my life. The weirdest place is WJOB, of course.
The Dead would come in for the weekend and the whole city would close down. You couldn’t really drive anywhere, kind of like Michigan Avenue right below me four floors. Gridlock. Which didn’t matter to me since I didn’t have a car and could walk the mile up towards the Greek Theater in about half an hour, depending on how many times you might stop to, you know, stand in a huddle with other people in tie-dye and bandanas.
Once on the way to a Dead show I ran into Pete Vukovich, who grew up in my hometown of Munster, Indiana. He was walking through Sproul Plaza talking to himself. A Berkeley scientific genius unable to really have social interaction in the normal sense. He declined an invitation to stand in a crowd of Deadhead. He declined by looking at me intently, blinking a few times, then walking – and talking – on his way.
That’s enough for right now. My wife’s done putting on her lipstick and Lester Holt and the NBC news is about over. I get it, Lester, there could be a terror attack this weekend. I hope it doesn’t happen at all, and I sure as hell hope that it doesn’t happen in section 133, row 13, tomorrow night about 7:30.