Blair's Golden Road Blog - Mixed Marriages?
By Blair Jackson
This summer, my lovely wife, Regan, and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary (thank you, thank you); a pretty decent accomplishment, I suppose, in this era of fractured families and sky-high divorce rates. You know how they say “opposites attract”? Well, I’ve never bought that for a second—or at least never sought out my own “opposite.” To the contrary, I think it is our convergence on so many of life’s issues that has allowed us to hit the three-decade milestone without breaking a sweat. We really do agree about most things—our tastes are quite similar in almost everything, from movies to food to colors we like. And, of course, it also includes our mutual love of the Grateful Dead.
Regan wasn’t a Dead Head when we met in the late ’70s. She went to her first show with me at the Warfield in 1980 (10/3/80, if you must know), 10 years after I’d been seeing the band. She had three Warfield shows under her belt by the time we got married in July 1981, but then in September of that year the Dead played the first of their modern series at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. We went to all three shows, and after that she was completely hooked. We did all five New Year’s concerts at the Oakland Auditorium (the first night, 12/26 was even her birthday) and had the best time. The next year the band added Ventura and Frost to their regular schedule; by the following year we took our first out of state road trip to Eugene and Boise, came home and worked for a week at our jobs, then went to Santa Fe for one of the most magical weekends either of us had ever experienced. We’ve been traveling down The Golden Road ever since, committed to following this strange muse and having a great time just about every step of the way.
I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if my significant other had not been a Dead Head. And through the years I’ve heard more than a few horror stories from folks who are in what we jokingly call “mixed marriages” (whether they’re married or not). Now, traditionally this term has been used to apply to black-white, Jew-gentile, etc. couplings, but the Dead Head-non-Head pairing can definitely cause as much friction (though not as much from parents). Argument flash-points were numerous: “Why do you have to go see all those shows?” “That tape wall is ugly; why can’t we just put a bookcase there?” “Can’t we listen to something else in the car for a change?” “Don’t ask me to come to the hospital when you eat a PCP-laced veggie burrito outside a show!” “Can’t you hear how bad those harmonies are?” “You are not going to Frost Amphitheatre on Mother’s Day; we’re going to my mom’s for brunch!” “I am not looking at a Dancing Bear tattoo for the rest of my life!” “You sent away for more tickets? That’s why we’re broke!” “Red Rocks is not a vacation; Acapulco is a vacation.” “Do you have any idea how silly you look in that tie-dye shirt?” And on and on.
At some point, there’s usually a grudging agreement to go to a show and see what all the fuss is about. A few have even been converted this way. But often it’s a disaster: “I thought there weren’t any more hippies!” “That guy spinning around smacked me in the back!” “All this endless noodling is so boring!” “That’s only intermission? Can we leave now?” “How can you do this night after night?” “What’s the matter with these people?” “Why can’t I talk? What is ‘Dark Star’ anyway?” “Go buy me a beer; I’m not going out there!” I had one female buddy whose non-DH boyfriend wore a gas mask to a show to protect himself from all the smoke! About the best-case scenario was when the offended party would fall asleep at the break or during “drums,” temporarily liberating the poor Dead Head in the couple. But people have had to leave hot shows to save a relationship, and there are certainly many who have broken up over one partner’s fanaticism.
Of course I’m aware that many, many people did (and do) succeed in their mixed relationships. But it often takes quite a bit of work and lots of accommodation on both sides.
What has your experience been? Is the theme song of your romantic history in the Dead scene “They Love Each Other” or “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad”? Tell us your nightmare stories and what “the last straw” was before the breakup, or tell us how you’ve succeeded in making it work!
...I missed that blog entry someone. Definitely will post over there, because the irony is that she's the one who got me ON the bus!
Glad to see that she's now your "ex." That could've been fodder for our 'Mixed Marriages" discussion a few weeks ago... Life's too short to spend time with the clueless...
Left the GOTV 2007 show early, because the ex didn’t like how crowded it was, wouldn’t come out and watch George Clinton and P-Funk in the rain, etc. I saw DSO, Mickey with Molo and Kimock, but missed RatDog.
In 08, Bobby and RatDog came to my backyard, Royal Oak Music Theatre. I work a few blocks from there, so parking was free. :) Bought two tickets, but the ex kept saying that she was going to get really really drunk so she could stand the show. I finally told her to stay home. Not busting my groove two years in a row! I didn’t miracle my ticket, well, not directly at least. I’m seat 4 from the aisle (with seat 3’s ticket purchased but not used). Seats 1 & 2 are taken up by a couple. Up comes a guy who’s supposed to have seat 5, but he’s on crutches. I tell the group that seat 3 is “mine” but won’t have anyone in it, so the couple moves over and lets the guy in crutches have the aisle seat. Very nice! Even better, no one’s in seats 5 or 6, so I scoot over one spot, all of our coats can now rest in my old seat and everyone has room to dance--evenCrutches Guy was grooving from his chair!
In 09, I’m determined to see the Dead open on Easter in Greensboro. Told the ex that she was welcome to come along for the trip, even if she didn’t go to the show, but that I *was* going. She declined. So I’ve got my ticket, maps, and a printout of the route to take to get straight (no pun intended!) to Greensboro from Detroit. But on the Ohio turnpike, I passed my exit. When I realized that a few miles later, I decided that since I was going to see a band noted for improvisation, I would improvise my trip! Drove to DC (first time there) and then through Virginia on to the show. Got to my hotel with enough time to catch a quick nap before showtime. All day, I kept thinking of TMNS, so when they opened with it, I was pleased that I called the first tune!
2010, and I have a raging cold and a bad foot. That didn’t stop me from seeing Furthur’s first night in Chicago, though! Not only a great/grate show, but some truly wonderful people in my section. One conversation was about music--Coltrane, classic rock, Hank Sr. The other was about architecture! Gotta love the diversity and knowledge of Deadheads!
Pretty tame stuff, but let’s see what the Summer Tour has in store... :)
Back in '85 we decided to go down to Long Beach for shows for the first time. Stayed in a hotel right across the parking lot from the Long Beach Arena in adjoining rooms with some friends. Shows were pretty good (though not as good as '87, which I did not go to). After the first show, when sleep seemed unlikely for a while, our group decided to go exploring in the area and found ourselves onboard the venerable Queen Mary ocean liner, the historic ship that had been turned into a hotel, I think. Except no one seemed to be staying there or even working there. In fact, I have no idea how we got in at all. But there we were, roaming through these endless corridors and having a great old time... until a security guard came by, wondered aloud what a bunch of people in Grateful Dead t-shirts were doing there and firmly but politely told us we had to leave... What a buzzkill! Not really; I think we laughed all the way back to the hotel...
...hope you're both still enjoyin' the ride!
Went into town with a girlfriend, came out of town with a fiance...
Wasn't exactly the plan, but 22 years and still growin'
"Borrowed" my father's new VW (without his knowledge) to drive up from Philly to New York spring `71 to see the boys, dropped some acid, attended a fabulous show during which it snowed outside, then on the drive back while still high, skidded on ice on a New Jersey Turnpike exit into a parked big wheel and totally cracked up the driver's side fender.
Upon arriving home in the 'burbs of the City of Brotherly Love, Dad, as you may imagine, was none-to-pleased and forbid me from ever driving the bug again.
In hindsight, quite a funny memory, but at the time, all hell was raised.
Once in a while you get shown the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right.
Spring tour 78
Decide to hitch down to William and Mary from DC, we were just south of DC holding up our little sign that said "Grateful Dead" and some Indian guy sees the word dead gets off at the next exit circles back and picks us up b/c he thought someone had died, he drove us all the way to the show. Needles to say they played the only Dew of the year and it was all over, went back to school the nest day gathered up a group and a car and drive out to Huntington WV, where we knocked on the back door and got let in for free, the cute girls didnt hurt I guess
Fall of 78 Imbibing an hr or so before the cancelled New Haven show and then driving to hartford
Driving out to Pittsburgh scoring 4th row tickets for both nights at the Stanley Theatre at the box office
Tell my father I am borrowing the family car to take a few friends to the beach and then a bbq instead drive 4hrs up to Saratoga from Long Island Park the car in the middle of nowhere inside the park somewhere Imbibe various substances get my mind blown at the show while dancing on the lawn. somehow find the car after the show, and find out I had dropped the keys! Run back. what seemed like a few miles, to the middle of the lawn, stop, crouch down light my lighter and there they are! First try! Begin to truly believe in miracles at that Point! Get home tell Dad we had a great time at the beach the next morning
If my kids are anything like me Im fucked
Our war stories are always happy ones: at Telluride in 87 we got to town Friday afternoon without a place to stay. Yes, we had sleeping bags & a tent in our car, but we're really not campers. On the road into town we met a woman who had a sign: room for the weekend! Right on. Her cottage about 3 blocks from the Town Park was barely 2 bedrooms; there was no door over our bedroom - $200 for the weekend, a steal by Telluride prices - just an Indian bedspread. She had a wonderful big dog, Burke, who liked us, so we were made in the shade. The $200 was Laurel's approximate winter heating costs. It was the most romantic weekend - our second honeymoon, having been married August 2 the year before (and having missed Red Rocks, our intended first honeymoon in 86). Our time in Brokedown Palace as we lovingly called this place was one of the greatest honeymoons we've had.
Nothing compares to the wonder of the Dead road experiences.
Just a quick story...
My first show was 7/2/88 Oxford Plains. After the show, the crowd was slowly making it's way toward the exits, packed like sardines, not an inch to spare, when someone vomited. A 20-foot circle opened up as if a nuclear weapon had been set off. Few things motivate like vomit.