Anchor ads are not supported on this page.

4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Victor Zamudio, stager of Chicano art shows, studied under Herbert Marcuse

"My great opportunity came from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City"

— When the time came for Victor Zamudio Taylor to be born, his mother, Guadalupe, deliberately crossed the border -- into Tijuana. She and her husband, Regino, were determined that their son should be born a Mexican.

"For my parents it was very important that we be born in Tijuana," says Zamudio, now 43, "on Mexican land, on Mexican earth."

Zamudio tells his story under the leafy columned patio of the Museum Cafe, sipping cappuccino outside La Jolla's Museum of Contemporary Art. In more ways than one, this is the triumphant return of the native son. Zamudio is visiting as one of the world's experts on contemporary Latino and Chicano art. He came to help curate next year's "Ultra Baroque" show, which is expected to throw new light on Latin American, Chicano, and border art.

"San Diego-Tijuana is what I would call an index of cultural transformation and exchange," he says. "It's a region unto itself. Institutions here and in Tijuana have created a very intense and interesting artistic climate. And what is interesting is that San Diego and Tijuana institutions have a more north-south axis. The Americas. Not the standard California-New York-Paris focus."

Zamudio is one of a new breed of "freelance" curators who take their expertise on the road. He will stage Latino and Chicano art shows anywhere from Budapest to Brooklyn. Latin American art is in. Museum directors and art patrons are realizing it tells the story of our times: the collision of cultures and the confusion and enlightenment that follow.

For a long time, neither Zamudio nor the art he championed was taken seriously. His crusade for Latin American and Chicano art has been a push all the way, with help from such coaches as his parents and UCSD's radical philosopher of the '70s, Herbert Marcuse.

Zamudio now triangulates between his home in New York, where he has close associations with the Museum of Modern Art; Washington D.C., where he advises the Smithsonian on their Latino and Latin American art program; and to a new appointment as curator of Casa Lamm, a richly endowed museum in Mexico City. He has invitations to lecture everywhere from Madrid to Auckland to the Canary Islands.

The art world's attention to the problem of identity between neighboring cultures puts Zamudio in the middle and in demand. In the elitist world of art, Zamudio has made it. He says it's all due to his parents and Balboa Park.

"Education was very important in my house growing up," he says. "If it involved culture and education, there was no limit as to our activities. My parents were members of the San Diego Zoological Society and the San Diego Museum of Art, so we grew up spending weekends in kids' programs and young-adult programs in Balboa Park. Either at the Museum of Man, the Museum of Art, or the zoo. Our parents would drop us off there, and we would attend all these weekend programs. I think that's what got us all interested in the arts at an early age. My two brothers and me."

Sponsored
Sponsored

His parents' enlightened attitude wasn't because they were wealthy and well-educated. "My father was a diesel mechanic. He was a brilliant student who couldn't go on to university, and my mother was an avid reader and a lover of art and history -- and a housewife."

Zamudio's family story is at least partly a refugee's story. "This sounds like a Garcia Márquez story," he says. "My father's family were refugees from Christian wars in Mexico, in the late 1920s. The Zamudios had an ice cream shop in Colima. My paternal grandfather would bring blocks of natural ice down from [a nearby] snow-capped volcano on the backs of donkeys. He made ice cream and sherbets out of that.

"In 1927 he was forced to leave Colima. He was a Catholic. He was accused of being in favor of the church. So he took his eldest son and went to the port of Manzanillo. And the first boat leaving was bound for Ensenada. They hopped on board and wound up in Tijuana.

"My mother, Guadalupe, is from an old California family, Meléndrez, and she also has American Indian blood. Part of her heritage is Pai Pai-Ti Pai [Kumeyaay].

"My mother's father was a son of an English immigrant family to Sonora. That's where we get the 'Taylor' name. She lived on a ranch in Baja and also in Ensenada. And she would spend summers in San Diego with her godmother, in a house right across from Balboa Park on Upas Street. She'd hear lions roar at night."

When Guadalupe married Regino and came to live in San Diego, they agreed: their children must become bilingual, bicultural, at home on either side of the border.

Victor's parents held to their vows. When Victor was 13 they sent him to prep school in Sonora. "I attended junior high and high school there and then returned to San Diego and enrolled at UCSD. I studied literature and Latin American studies."

That's where his life changed. "I was quite rebellious. At that point I didn't think it was important to attend university." His parents found an unlikely ally in the battle to change his mind: radical philosopher Herbert Marcuse.

"Between him and my parents, they talked me into going to school."

Marcuse (pronounced Mar-koo-za) remains etched in UCSD lore as the German-born Marxist philosopher and advocate of change who supported "resistance, disruption, subversion of the existing order." The New York Times called him the "most important philosopher of our time," but also "angel of the apocalypse." Ronald Reagan tried to have him fired. Angela Davis became his acolyte. Victor Zamudio Taylor became his student, and later, a friend who helped him in his old age.

"He was a very important figure for me. He instilled a love for knowledge and culture that was practical and related to seeking truth and having ethical stances -- not being afraid to say that something is wrong or good. What was particularly interesting was his vision that art had a purpose in life. That art could express experiences that couldn't be expressed in other disciplines."

Zamudio's crusade for Latin American artists may have begun when Marcuse held a study group on the philosophy of art. "We demanded that instead of looking at the European classics as examples -- like Balzac or Goya or Goethe -- that we also look at Latin American literature and Latin American artists. We got him to read [writers like] Gabriel Garcia Márquez and look at Latin American visual arts. That was amazing. That someone in his late 70s could start a new track there and let himself be led by these late-teen-early-20-year-olds to say, 'Let's look at aesthetics but let's utilize Latin American examples.' "

It wasn't so easy for Zamudio to find qualified tutors for his Latin American graduate art studies. "When I was going to graduate school, there was not one Ph.D. in the country that had been trained by a Latin American [modern] art specialist."

Zamudio went to Princeton but soon felt confined by academe. He began freelance lecturing and advising on his areas of specialty, modern and contemporary Latin American art and art made by Latinos in the United States.

"My great opportunity came when the Museum of Modern Art in New York City hired me [in 1993] to lecture on a very important and controversial exhibition called 'Latin American Artists of the 20th Century.' " Latin American art was just starting to get traction and respect. So was Zamudio.

"I was three years lecturing at the Museum of Modern Art, advising different institutions -- San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas; Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; I began to advise Mexican institutions. I started to curate my own exhibitions."

European assignments followed, then an invitation from the Smithsonian, and earlier this year, the Televisa Cultural Foundation appointed him curator if its collection of modern art and ancient photographs.

Zamudio sees himself as one of a new breed of curators.

"I am part of a growing number of curators between their late 20s and early 40s who find it very interesting not to be tied to one institution. In a sense it's reflecting the increasingly global character of our world and the interaction of our world."

Two of his gigs are as guest curator for upcoming exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and here at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Los Angeles exhibit is called "The Road to Aztlán; Art From a Mythic Homeland." That's scheduled to open in 2001. The La Jolla show, due in September 2000, is called "Ultra Baroque."

Look for questions of identity, Zamudio says, but more in the content than the style of the art.

"The generation of Chicano artists from the 1960s and '70s up to the early '80s were working with themes involving history, spirituality, with identifiable icons like the virgin of Guadalupe, the bleeding heart, references to pre-Columbian art and culture, to Mexican popular culture, and also to religious cultural [elements] like the altar. That was an affirmation of an identity. These artistic practices were calling attention to the fact that Chicanos are different. As Americans they're different. As Mexicans they're different. But now what happens, from the late '80s to our decade, is that Chicano artists -- and other Latino artists who are firmly grounded in their culture -- are not interested so much in working with identifiable forms and images, but are rather part of the international scenario."

He says "Ultra Baroque" will show a Latin America exuberant, ahead in its vision of the world.

"The baroque has particular forms and expressions in Latin America, because Latin America didn't go through the period of 19th- and 20th-century industrialization, as European states did. So it remains more vivid. And also in Latin America there was an exchange, an intermixing, a mestizaje between Indian, African, and European peoples, from the very start of colonialism. So you have the phenomenon of what you could call 'cultural syncretism.'

"If 'cultural syncretism' is a characteristic of contemporary [Western] culture, it has been a phenomenon in the Americas for the last 500 years. So in many ways, current global issues or concerns are anticipated in Latin America. That's what the exhibition is about, but it's looking at artists who use a variety of media. Video, photography, sculpture, painting. The artists that we're considering from the [San Diego-Tijuana] region -- we haven't finished our list of artists yet -- you may not identify them formally [as being from here], but you will be able to relate to the themes they're dealing with."

Zamudio says the "Ultra-Baroque" feel also stems from a very 21st Century "horrore vacui" -- fear of emptiness.

"They have to fill every moment, every little space. If this art is the 'overripe fruit of a tottering [Western] civilization' [as some have said], it is also the fruit of dramatically changing technology, communications, political and economic globalization, and increasingly intimate cultural exchange. It's a monster, but it also expresses today's wonderful new possibilities."

He sips his cappuccino, which has cooled.

"And that's why I'm back here in San Diego, at the MCA."

He suspects he may be back again. As curator of Mexico City's Casa Lamm, he's always looking for places to exhibit, because the museum has very little exhibition space of its own. "I'd love to bring them to Tijuana." He thinks a moment. "And perhaps to Balboa Park, which gave me the taste for this life."

The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Surfside Fish House brings casual seafood inland

An ocean sized menu propped up by value prices in Scripps Ranch
Next Article

Front-yard chalkboard charms OB passersby

Questions asked, stories told, neighborhood celebrated
Cassie and crew at the Las Vegas Sphere.
Cassie and crew at the Las Vegas Sphere.

Basketball great and San Diego icon Bill Walton died on May 27. The next day, sports commentator John Canzano posted an interview clip on TikTok in which he asked Walton how many Grateful Dead concerts he had attended. “Not enough,” replied Walton, before recounting that his first Dead show had been when he was in high school. “I was 15. I’m listening to FM radio and the disc jockey, it had to have been Gabriel Wisdom, that was the guy that everybody listened to, and he said, ‘Boys and girls, that last jam you just heard, that was a new band from San Francisco, and they call themselves The Grateful Dead.’” Wisdom then said that so many people had showed up to the Dead’s recent show in San Francisco that everyone got in free, and that maybe the same would hold true for their upcoming show in Los Angeles. “We said, ‘Yeah, that’s us, let’s go chase the dream!’ So one of the guys stole their parents car for the weekend, right? Nobody had driver’s licenses, nobody had any money, we just went up there in our shorts and our tennis shoes and a T-shirt. We just went up there, got in free somehow, went right to the front, and our lives were never the same.”

“Not enough” Grateful Dead concerts translates, in Walton’s case, to somewhere north of 850. Many of the stories written after his death made mention of his devotion, sometimes to the point where his storied basketball career seemed to be secondary. What were two decades on the court compared to more than five decades in the stands — and on the stage? (Walton famously joined the Grateful Dead offshoot band Dead & Company onstage as a white-bearded, rose-crowned Father Time for its 50th anniversary celebration in 2015.) Drummer Mickey Hart recalled that his dear friend Walton would “regularly send messages that said, ‘Thank you for my life.’ He was the biggest Deadhead in the world and used our music as the soundtrack of his life.”

Three days after Walton’s death, Dead & Company paid tribute to him during a performance of his favorite Dead song, “Fire on the Mountain.” The biggest Deadhead got the biggest sendoff: his image, name, and player number 32 splayed across the gargantuan curved screen of the Las Vegas Sphere, where Dead & Company are in residence until August 10. They started their run in May, after finishing their farewell tour in July of last year, and my wife was in attendance opening night. When she returned, she insisted that she needed to go back — this time, with me. She insisted that Dead & Company was not simply a glorified cover band, rehashing old favorites with the help of relative youngster John Mayer. She insisted that the band was revitalized, in an almost literal sense: the Grateful Dead were alive again, somehow, lo these 30 years after the death of founding member Jerry Garcia.

She knew just what to say. Like many fans, I had thought the Grateful Dead era ended when Garcia died. My wife understood my feeling, if only because she was a little like Walton and other devotees who talked about the Dead — and Garcia in particular — in tones that bordered on the religious.

Garcia was a reluctant high priest — he saw himself as a working man — but that didn’t stop the true believers, even if the best they could offer to explain themselves was, “They are a band beyond description,” one that provided, through their music and the community that formed around it, the closest thing to a religious experience they had ever found. “I am the human being that I am today because of the Grateful Dead,” Walton once said. And like converts, it wasn’t enough for them to attend; they had to tell the world, convince them to come along. “You’ve got to get on the bus, man!” They were friendly, wide-eyed, hopeful you’d join them. But for many, including myself, it felt like they were trying to describe a rainbow to a blind person.

On May 5th, 1990, I got on the bus — or tried to. My best friend at the time was a drummer named Steve Harris. He know I was into progressive rock: polished bands delivering tight performances of frequently complex music. He did not care. He insisted that the Dead were something I had to see, “a band beyond description.” He bought me tickets to see a set of weekend shows in a field at Cal State Dominguez Hills. He proudly declared that these were his first Miracles. I had no idea what he was talking about, but he had a sincerity that was hard to resist, and it seemed important to him that he share this experience with me. Besides: free tickets.

We wound up sitting on the grass, fairly close to the stage. It was extremely hot. A lady seated in front of us said, to no one in particular, “I wish I knew somebody who was at their first show.” Steve quickly let her know that I was just what she was looking for. “Here,” she said, handing me a tiny square of colored paper. “Eat this.” I looked at Steve for reassurance. He was happy to provide it. That set us up for a 16-hour psychedelic ride. But before the acid kicked in, the band strolled onstage and spent what seemed like five minutes tuning their instruments. I had never seen that before, or heard it. It sounded…disorganized. And when they started playing, they kind of fell into the song. The vocals seemed sloppy. I didn’t hear any of the songs I had heard the band play on the radio. The rest of the crowd seemed to approve, but I didn’t get it.

Then they took a break, and when they came back, well, only the drummer came back. The drummer played for what seemed a long time, and when the rest of the band came out, they started doing the strangest thing I had ever heard musicians do. It seemed like they were playing badly on purpose, making sounds that did not link together in any discernible way. By this point, I was thoroughly altered, and the discord sounded weird and even ominous.

By way of consolation, Steve leaned over and said simply, “Space.” I was not consoled. I was annoyed. I had heard so much hype about how good these guys were. Then, finally, they started in on a song that the crowd seemed to recognize, and it was like the whole audience exhaled and relaxed in unison. Then this guy who looked more like somebody’s grandfather than a rock and roll star started to sing something about needing a miracle every day. Steve leaned over again, and explained that a miracle wasn’t just a free concert ticket — it was a gift.

By this point, the LSD had taken hold. I had never experienced it before, and after an hour, I found it close to overwhelming. When we left the venue, we were in no condition to drive. So we sat in Steve’s car, and he played his current favorite Dead song on his car stereo — a slower number called “Box of Rain.” He explained that the song was about the bass player’s father dying of cancer. I remember still not getting it. I remember saying that they sounded like a low-budget Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, with passable but loose harmonies.

Later, my friend Steve died of cancer. Now, when I hear the song “Box of Rain,” I am taken back to the good times we shared before the sickness blossomed in him like a poison flower, and invariably, I will weep. The song has become a time stamp for a moment in my life. It hits deep. But even so, and even though I saw the Dead again a year after that first “miracle,” I did not become a Deadhead until I saw the band’s current iteration at The Sphere. The Dead are an acquired taste; it took me three decades to acquire it.

My wife kept showing me videos taken of Dead & Company at The Sphere. She told me it was a must-see event, that the venue was as much a part of the show as the band, and the internet seemed to share her opinion. Okay then. But our flight out of San Diego was delayed, and despite skipping dinner and making a mad dash to the venue, we arrived after the show started. I should have been soured on the whole experience, but the experience was too sweet for that.

Trying to describe The Sphere makes me sympathize with Deadheads trying to describe the Dead. I will say this: it feels like the future. There are something like 40 individual speakers per seat, and the sound is focused like a laser beam. One section might receive audio in Chinese and another in English, and there would be no confusion. Despite the sonic excellence, it was hard at first to judge the band’s music, because the visual experience was placing such a massive demand on my attention. The curved screen behind the band was enormous; the graphics, all but overwhelming.

But as I settled in, I found I couldn’t help but be impressed by the musicianship of John Mayer (and the rest of the Dead’s new blood). He was doing Jerry Garcia’s guitar licks, but taking them further. And while he got all the words in all the right places, he wasn’t trying to sound like Jerry. He was doing his own thing, and it was working. In short order, I was dancing along with the rest of the crowd.

Back in my younger days, when the band did their “drums and space” thing, that was bathroom and beverage time. No longer. This giant contraption with dozens of drums and assorted instruments was played by three members of the band — and that’s when I noticed the haptic seats. When the drums hit certain notes, I could feel it through the chair. The sound seemed to be three-dimensional, at times bouncing noticeably off the front, back, and sides of the Sphere. But it wasn’t like panning a speaker left and right; it was all around me. And then Mickey Hart did something with an instrument called The Beam that triggered light effects that were unlike anything I had ever experienced before. A one-hundred-and-fifty-foot brain appeared on the screen, the nerves pulsating as if stimulated by whatever it was he was doing. It was incredible! I would pay the ticket price just to see that one aspect again.

As it was, we came back for the Friday show with better seats, and again on Saturday. Each night, the emotional impact grew. The old favorite songs were new again. I started to get it, to understand why the Dead got so big, so ongoing, and why the scene is still so vibrant today. It’s something profound, something beyond music. After the last show, while we were doing the exit shuffle, riding the escalators down, we found ourselves face-to-face with people on another escalator. Our eyes met, and we started cheering, not for the band, but for each other. That’s the kind of love and goodwill I encountered.

Back home, I sought out the local Dead cover band scene. To my amazement, I found around a dozen. Does any other band have a dozen cover bands in one town, or 1800 nationwide, with at least six being full-time touring acts? Dead & Company called their Sphere residency “Dead Forever;” given what I saw and felt, it does seem like the long, strange trips will be going on for a long, long while.

— Albert Barlow

In 2023, Dead & Company announced that their current tour would be their last. They hadn’t played San Diego since 2021. I had to travel to Los Angeles to see the second show of that last tour at the Kia Forum and then to San Francisco to see the very the last one at Oracle Park. But just because they’re no longer touring doesn’t mean they’re no longer playing, which explains their residency at The Sphere. Or helps to explain it.

I frequent a bar in Coronado. One of the bartenders there is Cassie. She’s tall, with dusty blonde hair, the most beautiful brown eyes I’ve ever seen, and she’s drop dead gorgeous. That aside, she’s got heart and soul and is a Deadhead. One day, I went in for a beer. Cassie gave me a wide smile; her eyes sparkled. “I just got a bunch of tickets for Dead & Company shows at The Sphere.”

My interest was piqued. “How do I get in on that action?”

“I got tickets for the first weekend and second weekend. I think we’re going on the second weekend.”

“That’s the weekend I want to go!”

Buzz began to build within the local Dead community; people wanted to know who was going to which show. It intensified when the first clips hit the internet after the opening show on May 16. I didn’t want my experience to be spoiled, so I resolved to avoid them. But the thing about spectacles is that you want to look at them. Happily, they didn’t lessen my excitement about the real thing.

Cassie, her friend Fil, Evan and I were the Coronado Tribe, headed for the May 24 show. Unlike Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo in Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, we opted to fly instead of drive. (Cassie let me know which flight to book and already had a hotel lined up.) Like Duke and Gonzo, we had plenty of drugs to keep us company: eight hits of LSD (4 microfiche and 4 liquid gels), five infused joints with kief and rosin, one pressed Ecstasy pill, sixteen Molly caps, four cannabis pens, one bottle of 1000 milligrams of THC tincture, and a quarter of mushrooms.

That Friday morning, Evan came to pick me up in his golf cart. Golf carts are not uncommon on the streets of Coronado. Evan is 26, and is in the Navy. The Navy promises one sort of adventure; our journey promised an entirely different sort. We met Cassie and her roommate Luke at their place to catch a Lyft to the airport. (Luke was heading to London and his flight was around the same time as ours.) Fil was already inside the airport bar, waiting for us and drinking a beer. Cassie and Evan opted for Starbucks, but I stayed with Fil and ordered a $14 Tito’s & soda on the rocks. I’m not a big fan of flying, so a stiff drink was in order. Fil is 43, svelte, and has eyes that pierce into one’s soul. That gives him authenticity.

We arrived at our hotel around 1:30. Fil had arranged for a suite at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club. After unpacking, it was time to change into our Dead attire and head out to Shakedown Street. For non-Deadheads, Shakedown Street is the designated vending area set up in the parking lots of Grateful Dead concerts. Vendors sell clothing, jewelry, arts and crafts, food, drinks, and illicit items. In this case, Shakedown Street was at Tuscany Suites & Casino, less than a mile away from The Sphere. We arrived at 4 pm, and after we had taken a couple of laps around the lot, we concluded that it wasn’t as robust as others we had visited. (I recently learned that the vendors eventually moved inside the hotel due to the heat.) Fil noticed something odd: “I don’t hear any tanks or see any balloons! Headshops sell tanks here in Vegas, though.”

Cassie bought a hoodie and we decided to walk towards the Sphere. Along the way, we passed by Lawry’s Prime Rib Steakhouse on Howard Hughes Parkway. I was telling my crew that the place was an iconic restaurant when I noticed something else: “There’s a headshop!” Inside, we learned that 2.2-liter nitrous oxide tank prices ranged from $45-$99. We all pitched in for the $45 tank and some balloons. People sell nitrous balloons for up to $20 at shows.

We found a staircase at a shopping center across the street from the Sphere to do our balloons. But we got kicked out by security immediately after doing our first round. We decided to head into the Sphere parking lot to see if there was a space for us to do our thing. First thing we saw were police officers getting ready for their concert shift. We needed a different spot after that encounter. We looped around and found an abandoned parking lot. There, we were free to do our derelict activities: inhaling balloons, smoking joints, and playing music.

After our frolic it was time to march to the Sphere (but not before hiding what was left in our tank in the bushes). We found the line to the entrance. While in line, I saw fellow wordsmith Emily Elizabeth Allison from San Diego. I went to say hello and get her thoughts. This is what I got.

Dead Forever

Giant round belly

against the sky,

an egg, giving birth

within itself

to itself.

Outside-in

swirling dervish

calling across dry sun,

an unforeseen spectacle

so full of nothing

but offering something…

spiraling dreams

in a bubble

that no dawn can burst.

You are a memory

of past desert days

and simpler times.

You are the magic ball

of the future

telling fortunes

in rapid blinks,

sensory reminders

of parts of ourselves

that had been forgotten

and now beg to be

remembered.

You are a balloon

with its exhale

catapulting itself

against hopeful blue

sky water.

You are my bucket of joy

and then my hollow of grief.

I never could have known

how I would be swallowed

into your orbit

and spun within your cycle

of a million stars.

You remain for me

a single planet

unmoving

like a gift

with no corners

or ribbons

and seemingly no end.

Perhaps,

like Christmas,

your smile will subside

and you’ll start a new list

of naughty and nice.

But for now,

you are the wizard

behind the curtain

showing all the love

and unexpected tears

are my own.

Decades ago

I never could have imagined

you are rolling up to my gaze

like God’s spaceship,

offering a portal

that demands no vehicle

but breath.

You, round star,

watch my arrival

then spin behind me

as life pulls me away

back to the sea.

You are indifferent

to my comings and goings

and still, I see your wink

inviting me back

each week

to swim in your sphere.”

Our seats were in the 300 section. Once at our seats, we ingested our LSD. The information I was getting on social media was that the 300 and 400 sections were the best for catching all the visuals of the show, and the floor was good for dancing, spinning and being up close to the band. I haven’t experienced the floor yet. (I stress “yet!”), but confirmation can be provided that the 300 section is good for the visual aspects. Viz: the doors opened to the Grateful Dead House in Haight-Ashbury while the “Music Never Stopped” and then everyone was floating up into outer space. Not to mention standing underneath a waterfall, letting the water run between my fingers and catching the rain with my mouth, only to arrive at that cathartic moment viewing Jerry’s silhouette during “St. Stephen.” The crowd on the floor looked like amoebas moving in their pseudopodal state.

The show ended and it was time to find our tank. Cassie had a pin on it, but wasn’t confident one of our brains would work enough to get us there. Good thing I’ve had children, because my fatherly instincts for finding the child kicked in, and we found our parking lot and continued our derelict activities. There was enough in the tank for two more balloons, and we smoked a joint. That was night one.

Next day was recovery by the pool, drinking beers, hitting the vapes, putting tincture under our tongues and relaxing. At one point, Cassie sat up from her lounge position and declared, “We fucking deserve this! I know all of us work so hard!” After sufficient relaxation, the plan was to get cleaned up and head to the Venetian for the Dead exhibit they had there. When we arrived at the Venetian, we learned the exhibit was (and is )at the Palazzo. Exhibits about the history of the Grateful Dead; I probably don’t need to recommend that. Cassie, Evan and I started eating mushrooms at a microdose pace; we didn’t want to trip out too hard before the show.

The Palazzo connects to the Venetian, and the Venetian connects to the Sphere. Because we were in Vegas with some time to kill before the show, we all splintered off to do some gambling. We set a meeting spot, and after meeting at our designated rendezvous location, we shared our stories of being up and down and happy to lose only around $60. We all considered that a win.

Time to go to the show. Night two was not as intense and I was able to grasp and capture everything better because I was in a more stable state of mind. We all opted to head back to our hotel after the show because we had to wake up at 7 am for a 9:30 flight. Our flight back only took thirty-six minutes, but we were stuck on the tarmac for over an hour because there was a plane with maintenance problems stuck at our gate. That was the worst thing that happened on our trip.

There were firsts for each one of us. It was my first back-to-back shows. It was Cassie and Fil’s first indoor show. It was Evan’s first Dead show ever, and the first time he did LSD. He had moments of going deep inside himself, trembling and being confronted with moments from his youth. He made it out with enlightenment. None of that can explain, nor can anyone explain what happened. As Cassie said, “It’s inexplicable!” Our own experience is the one we have. I got to share and rejoice with my sister and brothers.

As the late Bill Walton (Rest In Power) once said, “We all won, and everybody wins.”

Gabriel Garcia

Comments
Sponsored

The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Black man helped Don Bauder in J. David case

Freight train jumper excited reader
Next Article

Encinitas goes beyond plastic straw ban

New rules allow only reusable or compostable cups, plates, bowls, trays, take-out boxes, stir sticks, lid plugs, and utensils
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox Movies@Home — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close

Anchor ads are not supported on this page.