Remembering Jerry and The Dead 25 Years Later

The Day The Concerts Died

A Tribute To The Grateful Dead

By Michael A Scanlon

August 12, 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Jerry Garica. RIP old buddy, I never got to meet you, and yet, you felt like an old friend.

For the uninitiated, the Grateful Dead were certainly special for their music, and their music carries on thanks to both The Tapers and the band. The Tapers, as they were known, were the DeadHeads who lugged around sophisticated analog recording equipment from show to show. Mind you, with most bands, you get caught recording their concert, the best you can hope for is a not-so-gentle escort out the front door you came in. You might also get arrested or even sued.

Not the Dead. They (brilliantly) told their fans “Sure, you want to make a recording, we’ll not only let you do it, we’ll carve out the best space on the floor and let you sit there.” (The dancers knew the best sound was behind the tapers, and even better, since you couldn’t see the stage very well behind all those dozens of mics, no one else went back there and you could twirl away.)

So we all owe the Tapers a huge debt of gratitude, because thanks to them, you can listen to any show the boys ever did. And they did a shit ton.

And it was the shows that really made the Grateful Dead into a unique experience.

We called ‘em shows, not concerts, because to call a Dead show a concert would be like calling beer a drink. Sure, beer is a drink, but its so much MORE than just a drink. And so too were Dead shows far more than just a concert.

The parking lot for any Dead show usually opened at 10AM, and there would be a line out front ready to race in and jockey for the best parking locations. Mind you, these concerts were typically at 7PM local time.

These early arrivers were mostly vendors, DeadHeads who scratched out a living by selling burritos or lyric books or, let’s admit it, drugs, to concert goers. The legit vendors arrived early to stake out the corner lots at the key intersections. You know the old adage, location, location, location.

By Noon, the place would be hopping, and by 4PM, the parking lot would be packed. You could buy anything you need in those parking lots, except love. The love was free.

The love was all around, the love flowed freely, and the love was expressed constantly and in unique and beautiful ways that made you glad to be alive. The guys, we’re guys, so we were, by and large, more downlow about it. Smiles mostly. Some hugs. But the women. Oh, those lovely hippie chicks!

Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t sexual in any way. I never saw a topless woman at a Dead show, I never saw a couple “doing it” at a show. And to use a modern phrase we didn’t have at the time, the love was gender non-binary.

I can’t tell you how many random interactions I had with beautiful women at dead shows that left me smiling. I don’t think I ever even got a kiss, but then again, the love was flowing, and on more than occasion, I was tripping. Or as we liked to say, “tripping my balls off.”

I saw the band 19 times. I think I found acid at two shows, the rest, I had to merely smoke copious amounts of weed. That wasn’t hard. At all. It was everywhere, and it was all shared.

I did get dosed in the summer of ‘90 in Pittsburgh. It must have been 98 degrees that day. Old Three River Stadium. In the parking lot, some guy my buddy found had some liquid LSD (“really good shit” I believe was his marketing pitch) for only $20. I gave him the money. He goes “I’m gonna pour one hit in your hand, as soon as I do, like it right up, don’t spill it or anything.” So he pours it in my hand, and I immediately lick it off my palm as he says “Oops, that was more like one and a half. Oh well, it’s on me. Enjoy.”

And enjoy I did! Crosby, Stills and Nash opened up that night. The rumor du jour did not, unfortunately, come to pass. Neil Young was not there, or if he was, he chose to be a spectator. No worries, CSN rocked it just fine. Worth the price of admission alone. A few things were consistent around the controlled mayhem of a Dead Show, and one of them was that you always got a great opening act on any summer stadium show.

The summer shows were always the craziest, because football stadiums can hold 60,000, 75,000 people. I never went to any Chicago shows, but I heard they’d exceed 100,000 people. And that’s just ticket holders inside. More people would come just to hang out in the parking lot, perhaps hoping for a “miracle,” a free ticket, and a reference to one of the greatest songs the boys performed, I Need A Miracle. So many of us would sing along to that crowd fav “I need a miracle EVVV ry day!”

I got a miracle, of sorts, once. It wasn’t technically a miracle, because I paid for the ticket. It was a miracle, because I was standing out front of the basketball arena in Charlotte, NC, with everyone streaming past me and going in. It was looking bleak. My friends had long headed in. I had written down their section, just in case. I had $20 to my name. (Good thing I had a ride back to Virginia!!)

I was standing there on the curb, with the number one finger up like all the other hippie bums, begging for a free ticket. There were far more of us than available tickets. As you’ve probably guessed, my one finger meant I just need one ticket please. I just need a miracle.

Suddenly, this couple stopped. The guy told me he a ticket left, one ticket. He didn’t immediately offer it to me. I started telling him how badly I wanted to get in, how all I had in the world was $20 but I’d gladly give it to him for the ticket. He said he could see I was really passionate and a “true Deadhead.” He sold it to me for $10. He could have easily gotten $50, even $100 for it. I hugged him like I’ve never hugged a strange man, before or since.

I ran toward the gate, finally got through security, and as I’m walking the concourse amongst my fellow Heads the band broke out into “Feel Like A Stranger” to open the night. The place went wild. I felt like a stranger, surrounded by people I didn’t know, but strangers I knew I could love and trust.

I danced all the way to my friends seats, where they were pleasantly surprised to see me.

That was Spring 1995. It was a tough time for me, financially, and I couldn’t swing the summer tour, so I had to sell my Orlando tickets.

The Grateful Dead distributed tickets in a unique fashion. The lines must have gotten too unruly, the way all the other acts had to sell tickets, with teens lining up overnight at the local department store waiting for the TicketMaster mainframe to warm up and hopefully work

The Grateful Dead had a very strict system, which was kind of ironic, very un-Dead, but you know, money. You had to go get a money order for the exact amount, and you had to use a 3X5 index card and you had to include a SASE. They had to keep those hippies in line!

So when Winter 1989 went on sale, I mailed in for tickets for the first time. I had been to a few shows at that point, but had never ordered my own tickets. I went for the Grand-daddy of all shows, their fabled New Year’s Eve show they did every year in their hometown of San Francisco. They wrote me back apologizing that Dec 31 was sold out by the time they got to my request. But I did get tickets for the 28th. (And damn it, too broke to find transportation to Cali over winter break in college, I had to sell those tickets. They guy who bought ‘em said the show was “awesome.”)

The point is, I think that got me ranked on their system or something, because I never got denied tickets, and people often got their money orders back with no tickets. Not me. I’d order tickets, and a month later, one day, bam, Dead tickets in the mail. It was like Christmas. My friends took to giving me cash and orders (“Get me one for each of the first three days of the four shows at the Cap Center this March.”  “OK dude, but you gotta drive.”)

I’ve always regretted selling those Orlando ‘95 tickets, because unbeknownst to all of us, Jerry up and died suddenly in August 1995.

Rumors that the band wanted to break up had swirled for years. And they seemed to grow throughout the Nineties, and you couldn’t tell if that was natural – they obviously weren’t getting any younger – or borne out of some truth. Or both.

I had a very reliable friend who claimed that Bobby Weir was getting regular action from a chick with whom he used to do it. They were still on good terms, the way a guy and a girl who had casual sex together and aren’t yet married can in a way that a guy and a girl who dated, can’t. You know what I mean?

Anyway, he swore his source was right there, on the inside, no rumors, no translations, he was getting the actual inside word from the family. And the word was that all of them were over it, but none of them wanted to be known as the Yoko Ono of the Grateful Dead. So in a way, Jerry liberated them all by speedballing his ass to heaven.

That August day, President Clinton and his team made some snide remark about drug use that day when they praised him, as one should, when one comments on the passing of any human. Jerry was no ordinary human. He was an artist among artists. He was one of the greats. The snide remark could have waited a day, couldn’t it have? No one was talking up speedballing that day. Indeed, Jerry may have been into it, but I never saw anyone speedball at a Dead show.

I was on the road that day, that wretched, awful day in August ‘95 when concerts died for me. I was over 2 hours from home when I got the word, and the whole way up I-81, racing back to Blacksburg so I could grieve with my friends, I kept looking for a car with a dead sticker in the back window. See, that was the code to show we were cool. Many of my friends said I was stupid, that I was asking to be pulled over by a cop, which never happened, not because of the stickers anyway. Probably didn’t help any when caught speeding, but the stickers themselves never got me searched or anything. And good thing.

Window stickers, bumper stickers, the most common was the steal your face logo, the skull with the lightning bolt through it you may be familiar with. Over the years, some more subtle symbols came forth like the dancing bears and the roses. Like everything else about the band and the scene, it was all beautiful.

Driving home, I didn’t see a single Dead sticker. News moved slower in those days, before the internet and cell phones, but it didn’t move that slow, and I think by Noon, all the Dead heads were at home mourning.

And on that long lonely drive home, I kept thinking “I’ll never be able to go to a large concert again. Nothing will compare.”

About a year later, I mustered up the faux interest to try another major concert. It had been a while. I had seen my share of local acts – The Kind, the Blacksburg Dead cover band, were my favs – but I just couldn’t bring myself to experience another major act in a sports stadium.

In a sense, it wouldn’t be fair. Who could compare to the Dead? (The answer – No one.) I was worried I’d be too disappointed.

But about a year later, I got a chance to go see the great Jimmy Buffet live. We showed up a little early, walked in, waited, had a perfectly adequate concert performed for us, upon the end of which we walked to our cars and waited in a long line to go home.

It was such a let down. The Dead had ruined concerts for me, there were no two ways around it. I continued to support local acts. In 1997 I moved to Colorado, and in my first years here, I had some great moments at The Bluebird and The Ogden Theatre. And some places I’m not sure I ever caught the name of!

In 2016, my oldest was 15, and he wanted to go see The Who. My first thought was, wow, I did a great job raising my son, he likes The Who! My second thought was Hell yeah!

Once again, the standard concert style unfurled. I showed up to a parking lot full of cars and nothing else. Not even a solitary food truck.

The strangers all around us did not speak to us, and us not to them. Shit, no one even tried to pass me a joint during the show, although I suppose that could have been because I was there with my teenage son. (And yes, I would have politely declined. But it’s nice to be asked!)

I keep thinking another band will recreate the traveling magic. Phish got close in one sense, but they didn’t in another. I’m not really an expert, having only seen them once, finally, in 2016, here in Colorado. (Commerce City baby!) And I hear String Cheese is super cool, I never made my way to one of their shows, so I can neither confirm nor deny.

In summer 1991 – or was it 1992? – a group of us went to the Horde Tour. This was a relatively new concept, multiple bands in a show of its own name and design. We signed up because we really wanted to see this new band called Phish, but it turned out Merriweather Post Pavilion was one of the few stops they didn’t make that year. (Our consensus was that the third act was best. We had to look them up. Some guys from Georgia called Widespread Panic.)

Panic had great shows, I know. Amazing, trippy music. And I’m not saying there wasn’t any love there. It just didn’t compare. And would it kill some of you Rastafarians to pull a cooler out of your trunk and spend a few hours selling cold soda (yeah, soda) from the back of your car? A little service here!

Ah, what do I know any more? I’m 52, and twenty years of scrapping and struggling to support my family has beat me down and left no time for staying cool. And frankly, I’m not sure that desire is still there even if I could revert back to not having a life.

So maybe it is out there. Maybe there is a traveling flea market with a circus-like atmosphere, touring America one big city at time, a swirling hive of activity around a great musical act. And if there isn’t, there’s no reason one couldn’t arise out of this new normal. People will want it more than ever.


Another random Dead show memory: The Grateful Dead never played the same song the same way twice. It was part of the charm of the shows, the need to tape every show. Sure, some shows were shit. The boys would be the first to admit it. But some shows were magic.

Each song sort of played out the same, where they began straightforward enough, singing the initial lyrics and what-not. But every song had a place where they would allow themselves to drift off and play off each other and see where the mood swept them, musically. It was like watching Picasso paint. Jerry, over there on our right, would turn to his right, to see his fellow guitarists, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. Phil, on our left, would turn to his left. Poor Bobby, he always had to look back and forth. What’s Jerry strumming? Where’s Phil headed? I suspect they could have done just as well blindfolded. Maybe even better, I mean, they were making music after all, why did they need to see each other? I think it was mostly to take turns on “lead” so they each knew who they were following. Did it always go perfect? Oh God no. But hey, it was a Dead show. Perfect wasn’t what you encountered along the way. Love and spontaneity were much more valued than cold perfection.

Colorado Cannabis History

Colorado is a hardscrabble land, and this state was built by pioneers with a strong spirit of hard work and innovation. Today we’re lucky to be joined by two pioneers and innovators in the cannabis industry, Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert.

Brian and Mason were two of the leaders at the forefront of the legal cannabis movement and the effort to end prohibition, an effort which, unfortunately, we are still struggling with today.

Colorado has been a leader in the legal cannabis movement. If you watch this video, you’ll see that Brian and Mason are quick to share credit, as they know it takes the masses to have a political movement. They can be a little too humble, as these two, as much as anyone, deserve credit and thanks for the modern cannabis industry.

In this video podcast, Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert share some of the highlights of Colorado history and the early days of ending cannabis prohibition.

Just Wear A Mask

As we all continue to adapt and adjust through the Pandemic of 2020, it has become increasingly apparent – thanks to the scientists – that this wretched virus is transmitted more through our breath than through touching dirty surfaces.

Because of this, public officials keep upping the ante on masks. TriCounty Health called for masks when in public across its three-county area (Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties). Douglas County will now leave Tri-County Health because of this.

It’s sad that science is questioned in some political circles. Why?

Think of it like this – if it comes down to everyone wearing a mask all the time in public, or shutting down the economy, then c’mon. Is there really any choice there?

And by not wearing a mask, not only are endangering me and my family, you’re slowing or preventing the re-opening of the American economy. In other words, if you hate America, show it by not wearing a mask.

C’mon people. Just like Climate Change, the science isn’t political, and the Laws of Physics don’t give a shit about your freedom rants. Now, the response to these problems is political, and the responses are legitimate grounds for policy debate.

But not the science. The science is clear. Wear a mask. And eat less meat when you take it off!

Let’s All Do More For Racial Justice In America

“With malice towards none; with charity for all; 

with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, 

let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds;…

to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.”  – President Abraham Lincoln at his second inaugural speech on March 4, 1865. 41 days later he would be slain by a white supremacist.


In the aftermath of George Floyd’s brutal murder by police, America finds itself deeper in the conversation of our racial injustice than ever in my lifetime. Let us endeavor to leverage this moment to achieve a just and lasting peace among ourselves.


The eruption of protests around the brutal state-financed murder of George Floyd has me questioning my actions and has me challenging myself to do more for racial justice in America.


I have always considered myself anti-racist, and while I have tried to coax along my fellow white folks, it hasn’t been enough. (In 2006, working with roughly 100 others in a local division of a giant financial services company, I suggested to management – all white, of course – that they really should have more than one black person in a workplace of that size. I literally got back nothing more than blank stares. It wasn’t enough.)


I was proud to put in hours volunteering for Barack Obama’s election in ‘08 and his re-election in 2012, and thank God he won those elections. (Oh, thank God he won those elections.) But it wasn’t enough.


In the buildup to our first Cannabis Public Policy Conference, someone suggested social equity as a breakout session and I thought it was a great idea! And we actually had two sessions. But it wasn’t enough.


I’ll never forget sitting at John Bailey’s Colorado Black Roundtable event in February. I may have been the only white person not running for office in the room. I could feel myself shrinking in my seat as John slowly read out a “list of actions that can get a black man killed in America.”

Running away from the police

Running toward the police

Putting your hands in your pocket

Pulling your hands out of your pocket



He kept going and going. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. Why is America, the land that I love, so steeped in racial indifference and hatred? Why why why why why? And that question does no good, there’s no resolution or satisfaction in simply asking why.


Driving a nice car

Standing by a broken down car

Standing on a street corner

Walking down the street


I’m no expert on racially motivated murders. Many of you can cite far more cases than I can. But I kept thinking of Eric Garner, a name all of us should know. Eric was a black man in New York (Long Island I believe) who was selling individual cigarettes, or “loosies,” when police approached him and put him in a choke hold where he famously begged for his life – “I can’t breathe” – before being killed by police.


As John kept going, I kept waiting for “selling cigarettes” or “selling loosies.”


Whistling at a white girl

Talking back to their boss


Eventually the list would get to selling loosies, and mercifully, it ended shortly thereafter. I managed to make it through without breaking down in tears of racial shame. It wasn’t easy.


And I don’t share this story for your pity or for warm affection. I do at least recognize my position of privilege in this country. I share this for other white people. Perhaps you are where I was. Perhaps you feel like you’re not the problem. You don’t lynch black people. You never passed over a black candidate for a job. (Or would you qualify that and say you never passed over a qualified candidate, and it just so happens you’ve never had (what you perceived as) a qualified black job applicant?)


But that isn’t enough.


The next Cannabis Public Policy Conference, September 23-24 here in Colorado, will once again explore the issue of Social Equity in cannabis.

(You can see the report from the first conference here.)


It isn’t much, a breakout session at a conference. It will be whatever we make it out to be.


I promise to make it one of, if not the, biggest and most important sessions at the Cannabis Public Policy Conference on September 23-24. But I can’t do it alone.


We need your help. The cannabis industry needs your wisdom and experience. America needs us to make itself better. Lives literally hang in the balance, and if that expression is racially insensitive, I apologize.


There is a golden opportunity here to leverage the cannabis industry for a sliver of racial justice to oppressed communities. Cannabis has the right mixture of new – policies are still forming around cannabis – and applicable – communities of color were disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs.


Let’s seize this moment to craft some victories for racial justice. Join us, this discussion is your discussion. Let’s all collaborate to create some wins for historically oppressed communities. Let’s collaborate for progress. America is an imperfect union. It will never be perfect. But the more you and I work at it, the better she gets!


Suggested Reading for My Fellow White People


Ta’Nahisi Coates makes a very elegant case for reparations. He is one of the greatest writers of our time.


There’s plenty we can do. Pick one or 10 from this list and then do it.


Here’s a data tracker demonstrating how COVID-19 is literally killing blacks at roughly 2X the rate as whites. Unacceptable!!


Most black people running are just jogging like you or me. They just have to approach it completely differently. Confront your fears America!

20/20 Growth – Jump Starting The Cannabis Industry

A networking event hosted by 20/20 Growth Conferences where we social distanced and more!

Last Thursday, May 21, 20/20 Growth Conferences held a networking event for cannabis professionals looking to expand their sales and grow their company.

And a year ago, that wouldn’t have really been newsworthy. But with America and the rest of the world slowly beginning to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown, this was something of a first. 20/20 Growth will continue to lead the way, just like we did on May 21st.

20/20 Growth Conferences is planning a series of these events leading up to our next conference, the Cannabis Public Policy Conference on September 23-24. Our next event, June 11, we’re looking to connect 10 locations of 10 people!

David Wilkinson, Director of Global Strategy at 20/20 Growth Conferences, offered up some great advice to companies looking to Jump Start their business.

Hosting events as your community emerges from the lockdown won’t be easy. Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

– Use a questionnaire to screen people at the door for symptoms or recent contacts.

– Set the seats at least 6 feet apart. This makes for an eerily empty-feeling room but I think we’ll get used to it rather quickly.

– Remind everyone to wear masks. We didn’t wear ours the whole night. But we all wore masks into the building, per local public health requirements, in this case, Denver, Colorado.

On-line, or “virtual”, networking is suddenly more important than ever.  At 20/20 Growth Conferences, we’re working on developing a leading-edge tech experience for our community. And to be frank, we have room for improvement. To the 9 Zoom attendees who endured the delays and glitches, thank you. I promise we’re already working on adding more cameras for more views for you to view while sitting at home or where ever you Zoom. Does anyone Zoom anywhere else? And if so, where!? Most importantly, we’re going to test run a new program for introductions to meet other sales professionals so you can generate leads from your home.

Thanks to Cultivated Synergy for helping host this event. This has been a trying time for everyone, and Cultivated is no different. Events are a significant revenue stream for Cultivated, and we hope that revenue stream snaps back quickly!

That said, we here at 20/20 Growth Conferences are proud to have produced the two most recent events at CS! Let’s hope they don’t go another 10 weeks between events!

It’s OK to start moving around more America. We’re all being super cautious about it.

Seeking A Female Of Color For Tech Co-Founder

My name is Michael Scanlon, and my company, 20/20 Growth Conferences, is re-inventing conferences.


I have a vision for next generation virtual conferences. My conference community needs me to fulfill this vision so they can continue to grow. I am obsessed with making a better virtual conference experience!


I am seeking a Tech Co-Founder here in Colorado with experience developing XR. Our solution will be both AR complimenting a real live event, and VR, where some participants are completely virtual. We will blend both into one conference experience. 


The Tech Co-Founder I seek is the opposite of me. She is young (or at least young-ish) and from a community of color*. She lives on Colorado’s Front Range. And of course, she’s female. (Sorry guys.)


A rough analogy of the technology we are developing is VR Chat or Discord inside VirBELA or Matterport or Sketchup or Mozilla Hubs. Like everything else, it should work on a cell phone. And naturally, it will be more immersive with AR glasses like Spectacles or a VR headset like Oculus.


This is an entrepreneurial offer, a get rich slow scheme. You have to build the tech, I have to continue building the audience. As an equity stakeholder in the company, you will only get paid a percentage of any sales you bring in and/or a percentage of profits.** I already have some sales, and more lined up once the tech exists. This market need absolutely exists, the only question is if we can execute!


Conferences take years to build a large community, but once built, are very reliable streams of revenue. At least they used to be. I am confident they will be again one day. Right now there is a huge opportunity, a yawning gap yearning to be filled.


Zoom does not replace conferences! Not even close. We can do better.


Women interested in this opportunity can email to apply. Please detail any experience you have coding (required) and any business experience you have (not required). Do not include a photo of yourself. List your DOB and ethnicity*. Feel free to tell me any life experiences or other relevant information you want me to weigh when considering you for Tech Co-Founder.


Yours Truly,


Michael Scanlon

Founder, 20/20 Growth Conferences


* I know claiming a race can be complicated. Tiger Woods never liked being boxed into one category. Barack Obama learned young that even though he’s half white – and indeed was raised by the white half of his heritage – that in America, if your race is a tie, well, you don’t get to pick. I’m not going to perform any blood tests, and frankly, if we did, we’d both be a mix of a lot of ethnicities. If you’ve ever felt discriminated against because of your skin color or appearance, you qualify.


I remember Ward Churchill saying only people who claimed Native American heritage were asked to take blood tests “like dogs.” I believe you are who you self identify as, and I will always treat all applicants, and everyone else, like the equal you are.


** And assuming we’re successful, many years from now, there will be the “exit.” We’ll talk exit strategy early, to make sure we’re on the same page. If one of us wants out in a few years, we will have a pre-arranged process for a co-founder exit – how to value the shares of the company, what the final number will be, what the payout process will be.

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