Jerry Garcia would have been 66 today. I was never a fan of the Dead, but I respected what they did and enjoy some of their tunes. August 9 will mark the 13 year anniversary of Garcia's death. I remember that day well...
I was the master carpenter at Cortland Repertory Theater, near the Finger Lakes in Central New York State. It had been tumultuous season that began with the firing of the technical director before the 1st show went up and had continued with hot weather, a host of set problems and the insistence of the carpentry intern to play endless Dead bootlegs while we built shows. There was only so much "This was the concert where the light operator let his cat walk on the board, which synced perfectly with 'St. Stephen's Tower'". I was beginning to hate what Jerry had created.
Fortunately, the theater hired a temporary technical director for the fifth and final show of the season and I saw less and less of the intern. We become more productive as a unit and played a wider variety of tunes in the shop. On August 9, we finished the set work before a Noon rehearsal and headed back to the TD's house. Chris and his wife (Amy) were going to drive me up to Syracuse to pick up my truck from a dealer service shop. Amy made some bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes and we settled down for a snack.
MTV news was on the tube and we soon heard the news of Garcia's death. I was surprised but not devastated. Chris seemed nonplussed. Amy was bummed. She broke out a pipe with some weed in it and offered me a toke. What the hell? Chris didn't smoke and was driving me to the dealer and the effects would wear off before I had to drive back. Right? Wrong.
Amy's stash had likely been purchased near Ithaca, which is the home of some powerful herb. There were only two times in my life when smoking marijuana knock me on my ass and both strains of the stuff had been grown in this region. This was the first time. I spent the 30 minute drive in the back seat of their Volvo, staring up through the rear window at a clear blue sky.
They dropped me off at Toyota and I was still out of the loop. After paying for the service, I wandered into the parts room for a few minutes until a clerk directed me to my vehicle. There was no way in hell I was going to drive 30 minutes in this condition. I had to get my body right quickly.
"Gotta eat, gotta eat. Where to eat? McDonalds? Perfect. Let's go. No got money. Must get cash. Gotta find an ATM then a McDonalds. Then I go home. ATM, ATM. Can't find an ATM. There's a bank. Good. Got my money. Good. Must find McDonalds. Let's see. Where is McDonalds? Wait. Must read while I eat. Need reading material while I eat alone. Barnes and Nobles is right here. Let's go in. Rolling Stone. Check. Spin. Check. Good to go. Wait. Let's go to the music section. Good. This is a good CD. I'll buy it. And this one too. Rolling Stone. Spin. Music. Good. Must find McDonalds."
This went on for what seemed like hours, but was more likely twenty minutes or so. The Golden Arches were thankfully right off of the interstate and by the time I left and merged into traffic, I was less muddled yet paranoid enough to stick to the right lane and do the speed limit all the way back to Cortland. Needless to say, this was the last instance of me doing such a thing. Thank you, Mr. Garcia.