When I was a kid, I would see hippie types at the Coliseum wearing the logo to the left and I was quite intrigued. What could it mean? I was in Florence with my buddy, and we just had the shittiest time getting into the city from Rimini. It was late July and the city was baking. We threw our gear down and started with getting some pizzas. Half liter of wine turned into two, which turned into four. I was retelling some raunchy stories despite being in a crowded restaurant, expecting no one to understand what I was talking about. Turns out, we were sitting next to an old English couple who were every inch the uptight stereotype. They told me I was the most offensive being on the planet. I thanked them. We then headed to a bar, met a gorgeous Australian girl, dark hair, blue eyes. I only say that out of recall, seriously, I had zero chance. We started ordering pitchers of Heineken four at a time. The beers were ice cold and the night was hot, so they went quickly. Walking around the city at night, everything was dark, but we heard music, and followed up to a house party and crashed it. They were listening to the Greatful Dead, and despite my prejudices, it was sounding good. For some reason, I had the bright idea of swiping two massive bottles of wine. On the steps of the Duomo, there were a bunch of kids milling around the steps, we joined them, where I finished a bottle while watching my friend attempt to hit on a hippie girl in Italian. Then we proceeded to spend the next hour searching for the hotel, because we hadn’t bothered to keep track of where it was, or which one it was. That was awesome.
I woke up at 8:30 having to catch the 9am to Basel, and had it all, the spins, the nausea, the imploding headache, burning eyes, and I reeked of alcohol. Of course my train is packed, and for once, I’m sitting across from a beautiful woman as opposed to a fat hairy dude. I’m reeking of booze and sweat and again, I had no shot. But I started thinking about the Dead again and how the music nerds in Arthur Magazine (or one of them anyway) had said that they were a good band if you gave them a chance and got passed the sterotypes. (I think you know what I’m talking about or you wouldn’t be here) A quote from Arthur Magazine: ” A funny thing about Deadheads (by that I mean even avid fans that don’t go to the concerts) is that I think a lot of times the explosions, the feedback and the edges of the earth exploring that they hear are all in the eye of the beholder. Whereas Sun Ra or Keiji Haino make the pushing of boundaries and the assaults on the senses an obvious and fundamental thing and bring the abnormal and danger and deconstruction into a bound and constructed world to be presented, there is something about the Dead which is off in its own little world –you have to go there to dig the presentation, and partly that’s because once they had that weird huge traveling built-in fan base it was so intense that they could completely ignore musical trends, sudden radical changes in their sound of their albums wasn’t even reactionary to what was going on around them musically. When you engage with The Grateful Dead music you engage on their terms and step inside of their huge complex bubble. And in that way and within that realm their music means many different things to different folks – including a great outlaw philosophy and devious and experimental heart. And those not willing to engage on their terms I think just fucking hate the shit.”
I’ve got my cheap bottle of vodka, walking down Crenshaw Blvd. behind an older mexican gentleman who absolutely REEKS of marijuana when it hits me right in the forehead: a wave of emotions and forgotten times, thoughts, and practices. I was smack dab in the middle of high school again. You see, my friends and I were always skipping school to skateboard, smoke weed, go to the movies, hit on girls, etc. and we would always stop in this dingy liquor store next to the Greyhound station to buy this certain brand of cheap vodka. (If you absolutely need to know, the brand is Taaka; which is surprisingly distilled in Frankfort, Kentucky, and even more surprising is their slogan, “mixes easy…just add people.”) Now before you get your panties in a bunch, remember that I eventually went to college and am a normal, tax-paying citizen with a girlfriend etc. who just happened to grow up in the 90’s when kids acting like derelicts was somewhat common and fun.
In the typical American fashion, these past-times have turned into big business; as every counter-culture movement is eventually commodified and eventually cynicism and complacency overwhelms your constantly dying brain tissue. (If you are a lucky reader, you were a baby boomer who didn’t have to do shit (not even a college education) except be born in the right era, and you can hang on to the fact that you are “important” despite the fact that you are most definitely a victim of your own glorification of your era, and didn’t actually contribute ANYTHING to the human race except that you are a horrible person with your head up your ass with nothing to offer ANYONE except for jumbles about the, “good old days” as your parents had told you before you decided to become a faux hippy 10 years after it had died as a movement completely.) The generation after saw these actions and acted accordingly. (each generation likes to act as if their “dereliction” was “innocent” compared to the generation after. As I grew up in the 90’s, enough time has passed to claim that innocence) My parents fit well into the dereliction of the era and did a bunch of coke, danced, and has children out of wedlock. I am a product of the “hippy era, ” yet an afterthought. A “test tube baby” of the “rock and roll/capitalism” era before anyone (or very few) knew how to cash in.
The 90’s was known as the “grunge generation” and a particular friend of mine was keen on listening to a band from Seattle called Willard. I thought they sounded like Nirvana, was mildly impressed, even thought some of their songs were better than the so-called “grunge gods.” (who am I fooling?…. all that shit was boring, isolated and well, not punk rock…although some may vehemently disagree) No sooner do I get home when I see this baseball card lying on the floor. Jerry fucking Willard. I smoke a bowl, put on this absolute piece of shit, stained cassette tape a friend had given me that I hadn’t considered for over 15 years. I smile.
I always liked this Jeff Jones card because he looked righteously blazed. Turns out he is now the pitching coach for the Tigers and a totes L7, daddy-o. Its ok baby, dont get your chones in a bunch… Chill the fuck out and enjoy one of the greatest garage/psych rock bands of all time.