A Grateful Dead Fable: Back to the Fillmore
With Fare Thee Well finally upon us, Billboard dives into the realm of Deadhead fantasy.
This short story is excerpted from The Boy Who Cried Freebird: Rock & Roll Fables and Sonic Storytelling by Mitch Myers (HarperCollins)
The year is 2069 and Adam Coil V is celebrating his 17th birthday alone in his room with his computers. Adam’s mother had put one hundred and fifty bancredits into a digital dollarfund and given him his very own access code to the account. Within fifteen minutes, Adam had transferred the entire sum over to Grateful Dead Enterprises, (a wholly owned subsidiary of the one and only Record Company). He then opened his personalized Dead file and examined his purchases, which were the three latest Grateful Dead live collections, Dick’s Picks Volumes 1498, 1499, and 1500.
Adam eagerly browsed through the still images, video clips and text that accompanied the postdigital soundfiles. He then downloaded the information into his custom database so he could cross-reference each Dead recording by date, personnel, song selection, venue, video footage, set list and a number of other categories. While Adam was happy to bring his archive up to date and hear the latest Dick’s Picks, he was already thinking about the next five hundred Grateful Dead recordings that were scheduled for release over the next few years.
At the same time, he was feeling restless and unfulfilled. “Life is so damn boring!” Despite the fact that Adam constantly had all sorts of data streaming into his computer, the days held little mystery for him. He rarely went outdoors since the putrid atmosphere and blazing sun had made it impossible for him to breathe easily. Besides the terrible environment that kept him indoors, his legs were weak from lack of movement and the recreational drugs provided by the WG (World Government) always made him sleepy. Lately, he’d been more lethargic than usual and couldn’t shake the sense of dull apprehension. “At least I can still listen to the Dead,” he reminded himself. The Grateful Dead’s music was his escape from a dreary reality.
Adam came from a long line of Deadheads. Although his father’s interest in the family’s Dead collection waned when he was just a child, Adam Coil IV made sure to pass down a library of hard-to-find Dead relics to his only son. Memorabilia from the 20th Century included actual live recordings preserved on Maxell XLIIS hi-bias cassette tapes, archaic vinyl albums, vintage compact discs, ticket stubs, backstage laminates, and original poster art from the Fillmore West. Of course, these items were only the foundation of Adam’s Dead collection. He’d been immersing himself in Dead culture since he was eight and devoted every bancredit that came his way towards his hobby.
It all began when he took a trip with his anthropologist grandfather (Adam Coil III) to the Terrapin Museum and Grateful Dead Memorial Library. Since that day, Adam had taken to collecting vintage books made of actual paper, old videos and every Grateful Dead recording he could find. He’d also collected thousands of essays written about the Dead, unearthed countless band interviews, archived concert reviews and other sorts of artifacts. Adam took after his grandfather and considered himself an authority on all things Dead.
Since his parents were gone for the season, Adam had invited some people over to watch holographic concert videos of the Dead on his quantum-entertainment console. He rarely met with his friends in person; it was easier to see them on the home videophone or have qua-encounters on the computer. Still, he was a bit surprised when the doorbell rang at three o’clock in the afternoon.
Adam was initially disappointed when he saw that it was a delivery service, but when the autobot informed him of a priority letter for Mr. Adam Coil V, he enthusiastically accepted the package. He became even more excited when he saw that it was from his grandfather. “Grandpa Coil remembered!” he thought happily.
Smiling with anticipation, he tore open the envelope and found a handwritten note attached to a big folder of official looking documents. “Dear Adam,” the note read. “Here is your birthday present. Use it wisely and be sure to tell your old grandpa all about your trip when you get back.”
“Trip?” Adam said out loud. “What kind of trip? Gramps knows I don’t leave the house anymore, it’s too damn dangerous to go outside.” It was true; Adam had no desire to actually travel anywhere. Like most kids his age, he did his globetrotting through the Virtual Reality Voyage Vender. It was quicker, safer, and much less strenuous.
Feeling somewhat disappointed, Adam looked ruefully at the contents of the birthday folder. It was then that he read the words; “This voucher entitles Adam Coil V (only) to one round-trip ticket anywhere in the past two hundred years. Some restrictions may apply. See pages 2 through 12 for details and international guidelines. Please bring three separate items of identification and a signed copy of the consent contract (page 13) to your local time-travel representative after reading the regulations and choosing your exact destination and itinerary.”
“Hot damn,” exclaimed Adam. “A journey to the past! I bet this cost Grandpa Coil a fortune.”
After staying up half the night discussing the remarkable gift with his friends, Adam had decided exactly where he wanted to go. He didn’t know how his grandfather had managed to pull the strings for such a high level excursion, but when Adam checked with the Bureau of Time and Space Travel, they confirmed his eligibility. “Just make sure to read the entire contract before you plan your trip,” the department chief told him. “It’s not complicated, but there are some very important rules when it comes to time travel. Basically, you can’t tell anyone that you meet there anything about the future, you can’t have sex with anyone from the past, you can’t do any drugs, and you absolutely must return to the present exactly twelve hours after your departure from our time zone. You know, your standard time travel restrictions.”
It only took Adam a week to finalize his travel plans. Of course, his parents were upset about his going back in time all by himself. They resisted the idea until he wore them down with a combination of incessant pleading, golden promises, and black oaths. “Fine, go ahead and time travel if that’s what you really want to do,” his father said wearily on the videophone. “But I’m going to speak to your grandfather about this. Next time he’d better clear things with us before putting any more crazy ideas into your head. You never know what kind of people you’re going to meet back there in the past. I only pray that you’ll be extra careful and not to talk to any strangers.”
It hadn’t been difficult for Adam to choose a destination for his fantastic voyage. The thought came to him immediately when he first saw the travel voucher accompanying his grandfather’s birthday note. He was resolved to see the Grateful Dead perform at the Fillmore West on February 28th, 1969. That night was definitely supposed to be a magical gig. Even the classic 20th Century album, Live/Dead, contained some performances from that psychedelic evening. There was also something mysterious about the date that called out to Adam. He couldn’t imagine what it was that drew him to that particular Friday. He knew that the Fillmore West (formerly the Carousel Ballroom) had begun operations under Bill Graham in the summer of 1968. The original Fillmore had closed in the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s assassination and while Adam barely knew who Martin Luther King was, he knew a whole lot about the Fillmore West.
The prospect of catching the Dead on the second of four nights at the Fillmore was just too much to pass up. He would be seeing Jerry Garcia at his early peak and keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKenrnan in his boozy prime. According to Adam’s archives, latecomer Mickey Hart’s role as the band’s second drummer was already well established and on February 28th the Dead had jammed their way through a cosmic second set including immortal renditions of “Dark Star,” “Saint Stephen ” and “The Eleven.” There was no doubt about it; Adam Coil V was going to see the Dead in San Francisco!
When Adam arrived at the Time Travel Agency he was ushered into a white room with two men sitting at a long table. Adam was intimidated by the formality of the screening process. He wondered if the men were dressed in identical suits because they were required to or because it was the current style. “Do you understand the international rules and regulations of time travel as they have been presented to you?” one man asked. “Yes sir,” Adam answered. “Do you agree to comply with the aforementioned rules?” asked the other man. “Yes sir,” Adam replied again. “Good,” said the first man. “Now remember that you’ll have to stand in the exact same spot where you materialize when it’s time for your return.” “I will sir,” said Adam.
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This short story is excerpted from The Boy Who Cried Freebird: Rock & Roll Fables and Sonic Storytelling by Mitch Myers (HarperCollins)
The second man leaned forward and said sternly, “You absolutely cannot be at all late when the time comes to return home. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in the past and we would have a devil of a time ever finding you again. The consequences of reckless time travel are quite serious, young man.” Then he lowered his voice and said, “Your grandfather is a highly respected man here at the Bureau and he personally vouched for your qualifications in these matters. If it weren’t for him, you’d have been placed on an eternal waiting list like everyone else from the consumer sector”
After several more reminders, the first man asked Adam if he was ready for his maiden voyage. “I guess so,” he answered nervously. Adam had dressed for the occasion in a leather jacket with fringe hanging from the shoulders and a skull and roses on the back. He had gotten it out of a box in his parent’s room after his father had called and told him where to find it. “I was going to auction it off and put the bancredits towards your educational dollarfund,” his father had said. “But this seems like the right thing to do. Besides, we can always auction the jacket when you get back.” Adam wasn’t sure, but his father seemed kind of sad when they exchanged good-byes. “Don’t worry Dad,” Adam said. “The whole trip will only take an hour or two on this end. You won’t even have time to miss me. I’ll call you tomorrow night as soon as I get home. Promise.” Still, Adam felt weaker in the knees than usual as he waddled towards a room with the sign, “Time Travel Division: Departure Department,” floating above the door.
As the team of technicians began their final countdown for the timelaunch, one of the men he had first spoken with made him empty his pockets, taking his electronic wallet with all of his identification. He then handed Adam an envelope and said, “Your grandfather asked me to give this to you. It’s the only thing you’ll be allowed to take with you that you don’t have to bring back.” Opening the envelope he found a twenty-dollar bill from 1964 and a note that read, “Don’t spend it all in one place! Have fun, Grandpa.”
The time-technicians explained to Adam that they were transporting him directly inside the Fillmore West so he wouldn’t have to worry about buying a ticket to the concert. “You’ll be arriving at the venue a few hours early, so just try to blend in until the show starts. And please remember the exact spot where you arrive because you’ll have to be in that same location when it’s time to come home. A technician then clamped a titanium timepiece on Adam’s right wrist and said, “You have exactly twelve hours. Enjoy your trip.”
The time transport itself was not unpleasant, but the brief period of disembodiment left him senseless when he first arrived in 1969. At first, Adam just stumbled around and couldn’t see or hear a thing. Gradually, he began to acclimate to his surroundings and sensed a bright light above him. He concluded that he wasn’t in the Fillmore, but actually standing outdoors with someone else quite nearby. As his eyes and ears slowly adjusted, he realized that this other person was yelling at him. “What in the hell is wrong with you kid? Are you too stoned to understand English?” It was an intense, dark-haired man and he was screaming right in Adam’s face. “I told you that you can’t stand here, now get the f--- in line like everybody else!”
Looking around bewilderedly, Adam saw that he was just outside of the Fillmore and a number of young people were standing in a line along the building. Several bystanders laughed as he tried to take a step and fell right into the arms of the screaming man. “Jesus Christ!” the man screamed. “What the f--- is your problem?” Adam tried to speak but his mouth refused to form any words. Then, the myriad of smells from Earth’s rich atmosphere and especially the dogshit under his feet made Adam sick to his stomach. He puked violently as the man in front of him got more and more irate.
Adam was starting to fear for his safety when a tough looking guy dressed in motorcycle garb stalked up to his raging antagonist. “Hey Graham,” the biker shouted. “Why don’t you pick on somebody else? Don’t you have anything better to do than harass your own clientele?” The screaming man whirled around and said, “And what the hell do you want Barger? Are you turning into some kind of humanitarian? Why don’t you go ride your Harley and let me run my business?”
Meanwhile, Adam had pulled himself together and was trying to figure out exactly what was happening. Then it hit him like a ton of bricks: the two men arguing were none other than Fillmore impresario Bill Graham and the infamous leader of the Hell’s Angels, Sonny Barger. “Wow,” thought Adam. “I made it. I’m actually here!”
Sonny Barger and Bill Graham were nose to nose. Both men were swearing and yelling until Graham finally said, “Okay Sonny, you win. Just get this kid the hell out of here before I bury my foot up his ass. I’ve got a million hassles to deal with tonight and you aren’t one of ‘em.” “Screw you Bill,” Barger muttered back. Then Sonny Barger grabbed Adam by the scruff of his neck and dragged him away from the Fillmore. Down the street, several men sitting on their motorcycles were waiting.
Before they reached the motorcycles, Adam tried to squirm out of Sonny Barger’s iron grip. “Hey,” he pleaded. “Let me go. I’ve come a real long way to see the Grateful Dead. I appreciate you sticking up for me back there but I’ve got to hang around for the show.” Sonny Barger threw Adam against a car and held him down by his throat. “Listen punk,” he growled. “I just saw you appear out of nowhere. One minute the sidewalk was empty and the next you just materialized out of thin air. I don’t know where the f--- you came from or how in the hell you got here but I’m not letting you out of my goddamn sight until you tell me what’s going on. Understand?”
Adam was scared to death. He puked again, barely avoiding Barger’s boots in the process. He tried telling Sonny Barger the whole thing was a misunderstanding and that he was just another kid who’d come to San Francisco to be with the hippies. The Hell’s Angels surrounded Adam and Sonny Barger shook his head, “You’re coming with us now. I’ve got important meetings tonight and we’ve got to get going.” “But I’ve got to see the Grateful Dead,” Adam wailed. Barger slapped Adam on the back of the head and said, “Quit crying or I’ll give you something real to cry about. Besides, the Dead won’t be playing for hours. Just tell me how you got here and I’ll get you back here, and inside the Fillmore too. I know Garcia and I know Rock Scully. Hell, I’ve done business with both of them. And motherf---er, you will tell me what I want to know, one way or another.”
The Hell’s Angels all laughed and gunned their engines as Sonny threw Adam on the back of his motorcycle. “You better hang on kid,” Barger said. Howling maniacally with Adam in tow, Sonny and the Hell’s Angels roared off in the direction of the Bay Bridge.
Their first stop was a seedy bar in Oakland and the place was loaded with intoxicated bikers. Adam was trying to recover from the first motorcycle ride of his life, not to mention the residual effects of a journey through the space-time continuum. He’d kept leaning the wrong way during the ride and Barger had threatened to push Adam off his Harley. While Adam was extremely frightened, he was also exhilarated by the experience.
One of the Hell’s Angels who’d been with Barger near the Fillmore, Terry the Tramp, said to Adam. “Hey kid, you got any cash? We need some beer.” “All I have is this paper money my grandfather gave me,” Adam replied weakly. “I’m not supposed to spend it all in one place.” “Well, this is a f---ing emergency,” the Tramp laughed as he grabbed the twenty dollar bill and strode towards the bar. Adam was now broke, kidnapped, and far away from the Fillmore West. He looked at the front door of the bar but before he could take a step he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder. “Don’t even think about it,” a deep voice said. Adam turned around and stared up at the biggest man he’d ever seen.
Hell’s Angel Armand Bletcher was six foot eight inches and weighed around 350 pounds. He was wearing a sleeveless jean jacket, sunglasses, and a scowl. His massive arms were tattooed and he smelled as strong as he looked. Armand drained a glass of beer and said, “Sonny says for you to stay right here while he does his business.” Adam looked around the bar and saw two-dozen Hell’s Angels, some members of the Nomads and a smattering of rough-looking women. They were all drinking, yelling, and laughing like crazy.
Suddenly, a fight broke out. Mouldy Marvin must have said something quite offensive to Doug the Thug because they had knocked over a table and were rolling around on the floor. They were punching the living hell out of each other, much to the enjoyment of their fellow Angels. The fight spilled out onto the street but about five minutes later the two men were back in the bar smiling, bleeding, and drinking together in the far corner of the room.
“These people are all insane,” Adam thought. “What the hell was I thinking, coming to such a backward and dangerous time period? The ripe odors of the bar, combined with the exhaust fumes he’d inhaled on the motorcycle ride, made his stomach churn.
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This short story is excerpted from The Boy Who Cried Freebird: Rock & Roll Fables and Sonic Storytelling by Mitch Myers (HarperCollins)
With Armand watching him closely, Adam took a seat near the window and tried to calm his stomach. A moment later, Terry the Tramp was leering next to him with a drink in his hand. “Here kid,” he said with a smile. “You gotta be thirsty after that ride. Have a beer on me.” Adam looked fearfully at the Angel and remained frozen as Terry the Tramp extended a bottle in his direction. “Are you refusing to drink with me?” the biker asked menacingly. Adam shook his head. “Good,” the Tramp laughed. “Then drink up.”
Adam accepted the bottle and took a small sip. “I said drink it, not play with it,” the Tramp insisted. Adam guzzled the beer as fast as he could with the Angel nodding approvingly. “That’s it kid. You’ll be feeling fine in no time.” Terry the Tramp smiled again and strolled towards the bar without another word. Adam was pretty sure that the Tramp was talking about him with some of the other Angels. He was looking in their direction when Terry caught Adam’s eye and raised his glass high into the air. There was more laughing and Adam wondered what was so damn funny. It took all of his willpower not to puke again.
Still feeling nauseous, Adam peered out the window. He surveyed the surroundings and saw Sonny Barger and three other Angels step out of a car that was parked across the street. It became obvious that some kind of deal was going bad when the driver jumped out of the car and ran after Barger, yelling about getting his money. Within seconds, Barger and the Angels began kicking the man to the ground. This wasn’t a good-natured bar fight like the one between Doug the Thug and Mouldy Marvin. This was a vicious beating pure and simple.
Adam was horrified. The Angels quickly walked back into the bar, leaving the man bleeding and stretched out next to his car. He wasn’t moving and Adam didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Once inside, Barger made his way across the room and walked up to Terry the Tramp. Adam stole a glance at the bikers. Deeply engaged in conversation, they seemed to be looking his way.
Sure enough, the two Angels walked up to Adam. “So kid, how you feeling?” Sonny asked. “Not too good,” he answered warily. Sonny winked at Terry the Tramp and said, “Listen, we’re done here. Are you ready to go to a party? There will be loads of hippie chicks, you might even get lucky.” “But what about the Grateful Dead?” Adam asked meekly. Barger put his arm around Adam’s neck and pulled him close. Adam felt Sonny’s sour breath on his face as the biker whispered hoarsely, “There’s still time for the Fillmore, let’s go to this party and talk about it there.” Before he knew what was happening, Adam found himself back on Sonny Barger’s Harley. Terry The Tramp and Mouldy Marvin were riding on opposite sides of Barger, trailing a little bit behind as they sped off into the night. Adam heard Sonny say that they were going to Marin County.
As they rode in the moonlight, Adam stared up at the sky with wild wonder. His queasiness had passed and he’d never seen a sky as breathtaking as this one. Each star twinkled and gleamed and the constellations seemed to dance before his eyes. The fringe from his jacket was flapping in the wind and the sound of the motorcycles roared in his ears. Unaware that Terry The Tramp had dosed his beer with a large amount of LSD, Adam began to let go of his fears and frustrations. He loosened his grip around Barger’s waist and started leaning into the turns as Sonny instructed. He inhaled deeply through his nose and finally understood what fresh air was supposed to smell like. Sonny was singing “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” and Adam found himself singing along. He felt an abrupt sense of discovery and then had a series of revelations regarding nature’s delicate balance and the spectacular beauty of life itself. Adam could hardly believe that he was really riding on a motorcycle in Northern California in the year of 1969. He threw back his head and laughed. And by the time the bikers rolled into Marin County, Adam was howling at the moon.
The party was in full swing when they arrived. There were people sitting and walking in the moonlight while others wandered in and out of the sprawling ranch house. Psychedelic music blared as the Angels cut their engines. Immediately, a skinny longhaired guy accompanied by three young girls enthusiastically greeted the bikers. “Sonny man, glad you made it. I’ve been waiting for you all night. Is everything cool?” Sonny Barger nodded, kissed one of the girls and smiled, “Sure Roger, everything is cool. Let’s go and work your thing out right now.” The skinny guy looked happy as he followed Barger and the girl into the house.
Adam had been distracted by this exchange. “What are all these people doing out here?” he wondered. He became even more confused when he turned around to find Terry the Tramp stripped down to his underwear and dancing with the other two girls. The night air was cool and Adam shivered as Terry the Tramp and his nubile partners boogied in the moonlight.
Adam looked over at Mouldy Marvin and Mouldy Marvin looked back at Adam. “We better get some beer,” Mouldy said. As they walked inside, Terry the Tramp and the girls ran off into the woods behind the house. It was around this time that Adam figured out that he was tripping heavily on some genuine bathtub acid. “This isn’t anything like the hallucinogens the government provides back home,” he thought.
Music was reverberating throughout the house and there were hippies everywhere. Rooms were filled with chattering longhaired people and thick clouds of pot smoke rolled in the air. Adam gawked shamelessly and was thrilled when people smiled and said hello to him. He followed Marvin into the kitchen and stood there high as a loon while the biker drank three beers in rapid succession. A couple of teenaged girls came into the kitchen and one of them started talking to Mouldy Marvin about his motorcycle. Mouldy and the girl began kissing. Embarrassed, Adam looked away and saw that the other girl was smiling at him. “Are you with the Hell’s Angels?” the girl asked.
“I guess I’m with the Angels tonight,” Adam replied. The girl had long dark hair, big brown eyes, was barefoot and wore a long peasant dress. Adam was feeling self-conscious and his mind was reeling on twelve different levels, but the girl had such a gentle, open manner that he relaxed.
“I knew you were with the Angels because of your leather jacket,” she said. “Do you really know Sonny Barger?” Adam was lost in the girl’s big brown eyes. “Sure,” he said. “I rode up here on the back of his motorcycle.
“You can call me Cinnamon Girl,” she said. “My name is Cindy but everyone calls me Cinnamon Girl.” Adam was so caught up in their conversation that he almost didn’t notice Mouldy Marvin and his new friend slip off into another room.
Adam immediately saw his opportunity for escape. “I wonder where Sonny is now,” he said casually. “Oh, he’s in the back selling Roger a bunch of speed,” answered Cinnamon Girl. “I don’t think he will be coming out of that room for a while though. My friend Donna is in there with him and she and Sonny have this thing going. They’ll be making it groovy tonight.”
Even in his acid-drenched condition, Adam knew this was his only chance to make it back to the Fillmore. He smiled at the girl and said, “Hey, I’ve really got to go but it was awfully nice meeting you.” Adam was caught off guard when Cinnamon Girl leaned over and kissed him on the mouth. They held each other tightly and the warmth of her body radiated through Adam. Then Cinnamon Girl exhaled a low moan into his ear and Adam forgot all about the contract he had signed in the future.
With music and smoke swirling all around him and fireworks going off in his head, Adam followed Cinnamon Girl into an empty bedroom. She immediately switched on a black light and pulled her dress off over her head. Adam was technically still a virgin in 2069 but he knew just what he wanted to do with his Cinnamon Girl. The sex that they had was exquisite and while Adam had only known her for half an hour, he was already in love.
Afterward, they lay in each other’s arms until she sat up and said, “Hey, what’s your name anyway?” “Adam” he whispered. “Well Adam, my friends and I are heading over to see the Grateful Dead. Are you going to the Fillmore tonight?” Adam couldn’t believe his ears. He was just about to ask Cinnamon Girl for a ride to the concert when he looked up and saw Sonny Barger standing silently in doorway.
Adam turned back to Cinnamon Girl and said, “Yeah, I’ll be there. Shall we meet up later?” “That would be cool,” she answered. “Is it okay if I wear your leather jacket to the show? I promise I’ll give it back to you.” Adam said, “Sure, go ahead and take the jacket. I’ll find you at the Fillmore.” Cinnamon Girl squealed with delight and put her peasant dress back on. Then she leaned down and kissed Adam tenderly, grabbed his jacket off of the floor, and ran out of the bedroom to join her friends.
Adam sat on the bed in paranoid silence until Sonny Barger said. “Well, get dressed motherf---er. And hurry up! We’ve got some talking to do or else you’re not going to make it in time for your date.” Adam knew he had a decision to make. He also knew that by going to bed with Cinnamon Girl he’d broken one of the three major rules of time travel. There was going to be hell to pay back home.
He was in double jeopardy and counting. “What will happen if I tell Sonny Barger what he wants to know?” Adam wondered. “The entire universe could be affected and it would be my fault. But what if Sonny is lying and doesn’t take me back to the Fillmore? And what if this whole thing with Cinnamon Girl is really some kind of set up?”
Adam recalled the vicious beating Barger and the Angels had administered outside of the bar in Oakland. He began to hyperventilate as he imagined being murdered right there in Marin County. Adam pulled on his boots and walked into the kitchen where Barger, Mouldy Marvin and Terry the Tramp were waiting.
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“Okay Sonny,” Adam said. “You win. I’ll tell you what you want to know.” And with the dose of acid saturating his brain, Adam spilled his guts about the future, his obsession with Grateful Dead, Grandpa Coil’s spectacular birthday gift and the impending deadline for his return to the year 2069.
His confession initially amazed the three bikers, but Marvin and Terry became bored. Adam was going on and on about the terrible state of the future and how technology and pollution were killing man’s spirit and they all had to get back to nature to avoid the trappings of technology and corporate greed. Adam was clearly reliving the events of his own future in an inverted, psychedelicized state. You could even say that rather than an acid flashback; Adam was having a flash-forward. Mouldy Marvin and Terry the Tramp finally had their fill of Adam’s blather, and departed on their motorcycles, promising to meet up with Sonny at the Dead show should he make it back to the Fillmore that night.
The entire time Adam spoke, Sonny Barger sat and listened. He would ask a question now and then, but for the most part he just let Adam ramble on in tangential fashion. At one point Sonny handed Adam a beer, which he drank down greedily. After what seemed like an eternity to Adam (it was about twenty-five minutes), he looked straight at the leader of the Hell’s Angels and said, “Well, that’s the story. I really don’t care whether you believe me or not but I sure would appreciate it if you’d take me to the Fillmore before it’s too late. I’ve just got to get back home.”
“Well,” mused Sonny. “I guess I could take you back. Maybe you can tell me a few more things about the future on the way.” “Anything!” Adam promised. “Just please take me back to the Fillmore. Maybe I’ll get a chance to say goodbye to Cinnamon Girl.” “Hell,” Sonny said. “Tell me enough details and I’ll get you back in time for the second set.”
On the ride to San Francisco, Sonny Barger quizzed Adam about the future, especially the 1970s. Sonny kept telling Adam that he didn’t care about the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, the Kent State incident, Woodstock, the Grateful Dead or the tragedy at Altamont. He was instead fascinated with Viet Nam, big business trends, drug laws, the CIA, Bob Dylan, national politics and the Watergate scandal. He started inquiring about the stock market, but by that time the second dose of acid Sonny had slipped in Adam’s beer began taking effect. They were crossing the Golden Gate Bridge when Adam became extremely disoriented. After that, he couldn’t remember any U.S. history except for the Microsoft years and later when Bill Gates ran for president. Still, Sonny seemed satisfied with the information and actually took Adam back to the Fillmore.
Parking his Harley in front the Fillmore, Sonny walked to the entrance with Adam following right behind. Then Adam got sidetracked. He began gazing at a bright red-orange concert poster announcing the Dead’s current four-night stint and was transfixed by the mesmerizing combination of photography and psychedelic art. “There they are,” Adam murmured. “The greatest performing rock band of all time. But who are Pentangle and the Sir Douglas Quintet? There’s just so much about the sixties that I still don’t know.”
Sonny Barger poked Adam in the ribs, “Kid, the party is inside the Fillmore, not out here. Do you want to see the show or not?” Adam nodded, took a deep breath and then started gagging and shaking uncontrollably. “Oh f---,” Sonny muttered. He grabbed Adam and dragged him towards the entrance.
When Sonny and Adam got to the front door, the guy collecting tickets stopped them. “Don’t you know who I am?” Sonny asked. The guy looked blankly at Sonny and said. “No, who are you?” At that point Sonny snapped. “Motherf---er! I’m Sonny f---ing Barger and you’d better let me in before I burn this place to the ground! Why the hell don’t you piss off and go get Rock Scully or Bill Graham or Garcia if you don’t know who I am? You think I’m one of these hippie wannabes who just hitchhiked here from Idaho to walk around barefoot on the Haight? I should kick your ass!”
Right then, an older looking black man came out from behind the soda counter and said, “It’s okay, you can let them in.” Sonny brushed past the ticket guy and shook the black man’s hand. “Thanks John, I was going to have to take that guy out. Listen, my friend here came a long, long way to see the Dead but he’s a little out of it right now. Can you keep an eye on him?” The man smiled and said, “I’ll try Sonny, but I’m a little busy tonight. I hope your friend isn’t too far gone.” “He’ll be okay,” Barger promised. Then he turned to Adam and said. “Kid, this is John Walker. He’ll show you around.” And Sonny Barger walked off leaving Adam dazed and confused, and in the care of kind John Walker.
John Walker had worked at Bill Graham’s Fillmore for quite some time and had seen a lot of kids in Adam’s condition. He gently led Adam over to a wooden barrel filled with apples and said, “Son, you look like you could use something in your stomach. Try one of these and tell me how that makes you feel.” As Adam bit into the apple, he felt the world open up like a flower blooming in the sun. He looked around and exotic people dressed in colorful clothes were moving in all directions. To Adam’s eyes, the hippies were in complete communion with a colossal good vibe.
A moment later, Adam heard Bill Graham’s voice come over the PA system, “And now the last of the gay desperados, The Grateful Dead!” Music seemed to come at Adam from every direction as the band began playing “Cryptical Envelopment.” As the resounding psychedelia surged and intensified around him, the exotic sense of unity that Adam had perceived grew even more exaggerated.
“You okay son?” John Walker’s voice interrupted Adam’s cosmic reverie. ‘Yes,” said Adam. “I’m perfect. Would you mind it if I called you Uncle John?” “No,” John Walker replied. “I guess that would be all right. Are you really feeling better? I should be getting back behind that soda counter soon. “I’m fine Uncle John,” Adam laughed. “I’ve come to hear the band.”
As he bid goodnight to John Walker, Adam had the distinct sense that time was being stretched and slowed and somehow bent to his will. He heard the Grateful Dead segueing from “The Other One” back into “Cryptical” and hurried out onto the main floor of the Fillmore. Then the band went straight into “Dark Star,” which psycho-activated Adam’s barely suppressed memories of his unique, non-linear reality. It was like a déjà vu with the exaggerated poignancy of a perfect stolen moment that never was. Adam stared wide-eyed at the band as they launched into a spirited version of “Saint Stephen.” Then he decided to start looking for Cinnamon Girl.
As he walked around the Fillmore, Adam glanced down at the titanium timepiece fastened to his wrist. According to the timepiece, Adam had just fifteen minutes to get back outside in order to make his trip back home. Adam’s heart sank, he was just getting into the groove and the show wasn’t going to end for another hour and a half. He thought about the rest of the second set, which he had memorized. The Dead were due to play “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” and then jam on “Alligator” which went in and out of “Drums” and into “Caution (Do Not Stop On The Tracks)” before closing with “We Bid You Goodnight.” He was totally flustered, and didn’t know what to do.
By this time the Dead were well into a cooking version of “The Eleven” and Adam heard these words reverberating in the air. “…..now is the time of returning…with our thought jewels polished and gleaming…..Now is the time past believing…the child has relinquished the rein…now is the test of the boomerang…tossed in the night of redeeming…..” “Wow! That’s some meaningful stuff,” thought Adam.
He also thought about the trouble that he was going have when he got back to 2069. “What’s going to happen now that I had sex with Cinnamon Girl and told Sonny Barger all about the future?” Adam remembered the liability clause of the contract that he had signed and the massive bancredit debt his family could incur. And what would Grandpa Coil say? Besides all of that, Adam just wanted to stay out past his stupid time-traveling curfew. He hadn’t even found Cinnamon Girl yet—would it really matter if he let her keep his jacket in the past? It was a dilemma that Adam was in no condition to contemplate. “Man, the future sure is uncertain,” he thought.
Eventually Adam noticed the psychedelic light show going on behind the Grateful Dead. He gazed at the splashing hot colors and the lights that throbbed in perfect sync with the music. When Adam shifted his gaze from the undulating backdrop, he saw Sonny Barger, Bill Graham and John Walker standing together at the right side of the stage. He was also pretty sure that he had glimpsed Terry the Tramp stripping down to his underwear again.
At the last minute, he spotted Cinnamon Girl and her friends spinning around near the front of the stage. The room was shimmering in a great golden light and it occurred to Adam that everyone he knew at the Fillmore was smiling. Terry the Tramp and Mouldy Marvin were smiling. John Walker was grinning from ear to ear and even Bill Graham and Sonny Barger looked happy. But there was no time left to say goodbye. Adam had to leave immediately if he was ever going to get back to his life in 2069.
As Adam sadly turned away from the dancing throng, he realized that he himself had never danced, ever. Adam had not danced one time in his entire life and now he was heading back to a world that didn’t dance either. The thought of it all was too much for Adam.
Impulsively, he ran back through the crowd towards Cinnamon Girl and began moving in a wild, spastic manner. He twisted and twirled and jumped up and down as the music of the Grateful Dead echoed around him. At that precise moment Adam decided that being stuck in the past wasn’t such a terrible thing after all.
His long strange trip had truly begun.