*Third from final song played at the Cap Center show in Landover, MD on March 14, 1990
Wednesday, March 14, 1990 dawned just like any other day that’s ever been. Even though March in Maryland was more on the “Cold Rain and Snow” tip, today Mother Nature woke up in a warm and fuzzy mood feeling she should “Let it Grow.” Sitting out in the “Morning Dew”, a call came in from one of my Dead Posse.
“Ang - you gotta roll down to Cap Center with us to catch the show tonight.” I though for a moment, having no ticket and having had hung up my touring shoes in favor of motherhood the year before, I had to consult my intuition.
I was thinking that, if I went to this show, it would be number 27 for me, to match my 27th birthday coming up later that year. Some Deadheads pass number 27 during their first tour. But for me, all of those shows stacked up over a decade traced a magic path of hard won victories: each show a shining jewel in my spiritual tiara.
I told my girl “Well.. it would be my 27th show…” and before I could finish she warbled “You are turning 27 this year - it’s your freaking BIRTHDAY SHOW!” And as that blessed day progressed I realized that The Universe concurred completely.
My posse all had tickets and had rolled into the show as I ambled up to the front of the Cap Center. On my way to the main gate, The Universe began celebrating my birthday, unbeknownst to me at the time.
A cute little couple, teenagers with nothing but limpid pools of black for eyes, stopped me and thrust a bag into my hand. “We’re tripping too hard!” They laughed in unison “Do you want this bag of Chocolate Chip cookies?” Any other time or place I would never take food from strangers, but the voice was strong in me that day and it told me it was alright. So I took the cookies and sent them merrily off to follow wherever their long strange trip led them from there.
Nearly to the main entrance now, another similarly dosed individual spun up to me (I mean this literally, it was like the Tasmanian Devil had twirled by to say hello) and thrust a bouquet of scarlet begonias in my hands. “You’re beautiful” he screamed, mid-spin, “You deserve flowers” and off he went, dervish-like, into his own destiny.
At this point I stopped and looked up into the glowing sky and thought “Hum… this is different. Maybe in some time line this actually IS my birthday.”
The show was just about to begin when I took up the “I Need a Miracle” looking-for-a-ticket stance, swaying, waiting. A gorgeous young woman approached and said “Nirvana can be yours for a mere $50.” “Ah,” I responded, smiling, “my pocket seems to be $10 short.” She wished me good luck and went off to seek her profit.
A few moments later I heard the first notes of “Cold Rain and Snow” drift out of the venue as I again reflected on the fact that Mother Nature had other ideas this day. I remember thinking “I’d better manifest this bitch unless I want to spend this evening sitting outside eating cookies and smelling flowers.” Not a bad gig on any other day, but today The Dead were hittin’ it mere yards from where I stood - time to bring the MF’g magic baby!
So I closed my eyes and envisioned a young man walking up to me and offering me a ticket. Just then I heard a polite clearing of the throat right in front of my face. I opened my eyes and the young man I had envisioned was standing right in front of me. He smiled and said “Looks like you could use a miracle.” I patted my pocket and responded “You got that right, brother, however all I can offer is steal-your-face value.” Without missing a beat he said “No matter - you need to be in there.” and the transaction was made. Universal Present Number Three by my count.
I chose the upper concourse and sat down along the aisle as the Boys rolled into “Mama Tried.” No sooner had my ass met cushion than the guy next to me turned with a square of paper perched on his fingertip and asked “Wanna dose?” By this time I was counting coup in my head. “HELL YES!” was my answer as Universal Present Number Four was dropped on my tongue and ticked off on my interior tally board.
By the time the entire arena experienced a collective mutual orgasm with “Loose Lucy” (oh God, can’t you just hear it now - doesn't it make your hair stand on end?) I was entranced, watching the lower deck roll and undulate like the deck of “Ship of Fools.”
Set break and I had found my posse sitting at the very bottom of the concrete wall that led to the upper sections. As I sat there with them, explaining about all the presents the Universe had already bestowed upon me that fine day, a deep sea diving watch dropped out of the air above and RIGHT INTO MY GD LAP!
A collective intake of collective breath accompanied by a mutual gaze upward for the now watch-less individual, my Posse exploded “Holy F the Universe DOES THINK IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!” We all streaked up the circular concourse ramp waving the watch around looking for its owner. I mean, this was no Swatch, you hear? This was a big-ticket item.
But no takers were found and I knew I had just received Universal Present Number Five.
Feeling insanely blessed, like the music would never stop, Jerry drew me and my posse back into the start of the second set with “Crazy Fingers.”
But the Universe, financially challenged whore that she is (see below for my poem of the same name) still had more to give.
As we nooked into place and began the cosmic dance, one of my Posse leaned in with another dose and said “Here, Ang, The Universe thinks its your birthday.” And with that second dose, Universal Present Number Six was delivered unto my doorstep.
I count Cap Center March 14, 1990 as Universal Present Number Seven in honor of my 27th year and the 27 Dead shows I was blessed to attend. Somehow it knew, even if I did not, that this would be the last time I would ever be in the same house with Jerry. It invited me to the party, it showered me with love and gifts, and then, just like Jerry, it set me free.
Angie and husband, Jaret in Deadwood, OR.