"Captain Trips Bums Clevo"
What A Short, Dull Trip It Was.
by Chris Butler
(p.s. - there are no accidents.)
"i had all their records. i had all their records and i'd played them so
many times i'd worn them out. then i'd buy new ones and wear them out.
even today i can sing every note, every drum part, every solo from "st.
steven" straight through to "turn on your lovelight". i can/could play them,
too. i'd brought my drum set down to school, but my roommates had said uh uh
we've got to study this 1/4, and so it being the Twang Age and all, i'd gone
out and bought my first electric guitar--a single cut-away Les Paul Junior
for 50 bucks. it would be worth around 1,500 now. i got the money working
part-time at an antique shop called airflow junk, the owner paying me $10 a
day under the table. unless he was high. then he would ask "have i paid you
yet?" and i'd say "no". this would happen 2 or 3 times on a good day.
now, i would spend hours noodling along with their tunes especially the
ones on the live album til i got the licks right, and was very impressed
that a band of known drug abusers could play a song in 11/8 time and more
come down on the 1 together. the music was only a simple major scale--book 1
page 1 lesson 1, but to me that was the beauty of it! so imagine my
excitement when i opened the cleveland plain dealer's friday magazine and saw
that for one night and one night only belkin bros. proudly presenting in
their first area appearance...the grateful dead.
on d-day, 7 or 8 of us cut classes, piled into my vw, drove the 30 miles
from kent to cleveland, coped with a flat tire no spare, and ran out of gas
2ice. see, my bug's 'fuel delivery system' had a hole in it and could only
take an 8th of a tank at a time no gas gauge either. but we had anticipated
all this. we'd left 6 hours before showtime so we could get lost. we had
the proper amount of controlled substances in our bloodstreams. we knew
there was a long journey ahead of us...after all, this was the dead!...so
there would be adventures built in and ordeals to endure and little trials
and challenges to experience and that we could and would triumph because when
it came right down to it we knew this one shining truth--we were immune!!
nothing could stop us.
and so of course we found a parking space right in front of public
hall-proof! and so of course we bumped into the rest of the kent contingent
in the lobby-more proof! and oohhh the stage was sssssooooooo beautiful
could you believe all that equipment? they'd replaced the stock speaker
cabinet grill cloth of their guitar amplifiers with tie-dye!! even the p.a.
stacks were tie-dye!! even...hey! there they are! even the band was in
tie-dye!!...and jumping like a willy's in 4-wheel drive.
but as good as it was, it was not good enough. i had to get closer closer i
wanted to be the music not watch it it seemed so phony so square this
arbitrary 4th wall concept separating 'band on stage' from 'people in
audience' weren't we all one? and didn't we lose so much with the artificial
divisions we were forced forced! to live with dictated mind you dictated! by
a straight society who didn't know they just didn't know.
the hell's angels who had been hired as concert security had all gone to
take a collective leak or gang rape a hippette or something and magic magic
magic of magics there was an open door right by the stage no one was watching
it the band had drifted into 'dark star' and they had fired a spotlight at
the cut glass mirrored ball and pin-points of light creamed around the hall
fast at first and then slowly slowed down and then aahhhh actually went the
other way and no one else had seen the unguarded door but me it was for me
there are no accidents. a path had been cleared and it was my duty and
destiny to take it. so in i went and the next thing i knew i was in the
wings on the stage and oh it was wonderful and this beautiful lady said hi to
me and it was Mountain Girl! the Mountain Girl! a real merry prankster and
she smiled at me and asked if i wanted a beer and i said yes and she showed
me a whole wash tub a whole wash tub! of iced coors and i had one one of the
band's beers! and then i had a few more and then i heard the unmistakable
opening lines to "st. stephen" the patron saint of hungary i am half
hungarian it was no accident there are no accidents and off we went and i
knew the rumors must be true that owsley had really brewed up a batch of his
finest and had put it in a mason jar and before each show garcia would dip
his fingers in it it's true i was there it sounded like it anyway and i was
it and i sang along and danced and we worked it we that's right we! we
worked through the whole 2 sides of the album and i was the band the band was
me and pigpen lurched into "lovelight" and i sang along and then i grabbed 2
empty beer cans and i started playing when the percussion breaks came right
on cue i knew where they were i was on jerry's side of the stage and i was
banging along and singing and dancing and staring at that wonderful face so
deep lined and wise with that wonderful beatific look of pure knowing and i
sang louder and banged the cans harder and that wonderful face and it's halo
of hair slowly it took forever drifted floated over to me to me and he was no
more than a foot away i could smell the sweat and the reefer smoke on him and
from out of that wonderful mouth and those twinkling eyes came at the top of
his lungs WILL YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!!!!!
I sold my guitar back to the guy I'd bought it from for thirty-five dollars
and lent my drums to my friend Jeff Miller. He didn't get to play them much.
Three weeks later he was shot and killed by the Ohio National