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Columns > Randy Ray - Peaches En Randalia

Published: 2006/05/15
by Randy Ray

The Road Lesh Traveled

Peaches En Randalia #3

Author’s Note: The names have been changed but the symbolism remains the same. This is a wee bit of fortune cookie flaky Buddhism about events that are mysteriously obtuse but, in the end, they appear tangled up in onion layers despite themselves. And if you ever sat with two Dead and/or Phishheads, complexity reigns supreme

Tim and I chose a booth and stared at the college basketball game being broadcast above the bar. The sound was turned down so the locals could hear the rock music gently emitting from the CD jukebox. Meanwhile, a biker chick with about ten earrings in one ear played pool with a girl in a heavy black leather jacket at the table recently vacated by us. I met Tim in junior college back in the early eighties while I studied journalism and he dove into economics. He finished his degree in 1986 after transferring to S.F. State but I never made it. In those days, I hung out with a friend named Ben who unintentionally veered me into the theatre direction. After four years of the stage number, I completed an 18-month accounting program at a local business college and entered the work force down south in L.A. The jobs were plentiful there in the late eighties and my sister offered free room and board for an indefinite period of time. I stayed for around three weeks before moving out and into my own apartment in North Hollywood saddled only with a car payment and a $12,000 debt owed to my college creditors. Yes, even a non-degreed higher education can be costly. I had it easy, however. After my sister’s horrid first marriage, she had entered junior college in L.A. at the age of 29. She graduated with a degree from the University of Pomona at the age of 34. Her debt at that time? $32,000. She’ll have it paid off by the time she’s 40—or so she said. Consequently, we both paid what we had to for the educational goods but I was left wanting. Whereas my sister was happy with her job despite its moldy male management style, I yearned for a return to creativity so I went back to school to pursue a degree in English. That was 1996. It’s now late 1998 and I should be able to transfer to S.F. State myself next fall. Timwho took the usual four years after high school in-and-out route—sat across from me, peering at the basketball images flashing from the screen in the velvet naked lady-painting bar.

“You ever miss those visits we had together in L.A.?” I asked Tim.

He didn’t turn from the screen. “Yeah, sometimes. You?”
“Sure.”
“Why did you guys leave L.A. anyway?”
“The job transfer—you remember.”
“No. Come on. You went down there for acting, right?”
“Yeah.”
“Then you get married and the next thing you’re back up here.”
“So you miss your freebie Jefferson Estate visits in L.A., after all.”
“Yeah, you guys really lived in luxury.”
“Remember that godawful pullout couch we had for you, Tim?”
“How could I forget?”
“You seemed to find other homes sometimesI mean you found other people to stay with“
“Other women, you mean.”
“No more of those times.”
“I’m doing alright, now. How about you?”
“I’m seeing someone.”

“Seeing someone? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I’ve been with someone for about, oh, a couple of weeks.”
“Wow. A couple of weeks. How did you manage that?”
“We’ve dated a couple of times. She’s really something, Tim. Kind of newI can’t explain it.”
“You’ve been down this road before.”
“Goin’ down the road feelin’ good.”
“Hey, nice one. Did you catch the Dead on the radio on Wednesday?”
“No, I was with Julie.”
“Is that her name? How cuteBob and Julie.”
“Yeah. Like Tim and Cherise.”
“Correction”
“Over already, Tim?”
“No. Hardly. It’s Cherise and Tim if she has her way.”
“Yeah. I needed your car and you let some strange female take it instead.”
“She’s not so strange, Bob. She’s just”
“She talks a lot, Tim.”
“What? She’s intelligent.”
“She talks a lot, Tim. There’s a difference.”
“Ah, gimme a break.”
“Yeah. Like you’ve given me a break on my dating choices.”
“You were doing alright as far as I could see, Bob, then you met your match in Rachel.”
“Yeah, well, L.A. was, well, long ago.”
“You miss it?”
“Yeah. I miss the people, the sun, the beaches, the movie openings, the thrill of the clubs, the energy down there…I miss that. I just don’t miss all the graffiti—the driving—the sitting, you know? The sitting in the car going mad. Man, I lived in my car 20 hours a day down there. We always had to plan everything a week in advance because L.A.’s so spread out. It just took everyone forever to get anywhere. I’m not kidding. I think it took at least 45 minutes to get from point A to point B. It drove me bonkers.”
“You haven’t thought about moving back, have you, Bob?”
“Naw. I like L.A. but I like living in the City too. I had expectations for L.A. That wasn’t so smart. I just miss—well, let’s get this right, I don’t miss the time it ate up going anywhere—everyone in a hurry. I got so chained to the clock back in those days. That and the firm I worked for almost killed me. You remember. I would love to go hang out at Venice Beach again. Maybe, we could take one of our fabled road trips.”
“That would be cool. Let’s do that when it gets warmer. Bob, you hear it?”
“Uncle John’s Band.” Yeah, we’ve got another Head in here somewhere.”
Tim looked out the window as he watched some passerby and I daydreamed about the last time I saw the Grateful Dead with Tim in June of ’95. I picked him up at his apartment in the City and we both smoked cigars in the car while blasting 9/20/90-The Dead at Madison Square Garden in New York. He drank a beer in a plastic sports bottle while I drove. We talked 70 miles a minute and when we reached the Shoreline Amphitheatre parking lot, I was greeted by many friendly people who partied hard.
“Tim?”
He turned from the window and tilted his head back. “Yeah.”
“What is itwhat hooked you? How come you got into the Dead?”

“I guess it was my older brother. He was into them.”
“Noyouwhat hooked you?”
“What hooked you, Bob? I mean it’s been about ten years for you.”
“You gave me my first tape in the fall oflet me seeyeah, you’re right, it’s been ten years. It was 1988. How did you remember that? You should have been the accountant, not me.”
“No way. I like what I do.”
“Someone has to.”
“Insults aside, I guess I got into the Dead, ultimately, because of the way they jammed or hearing and feeling IT when they finally turned that corner in some long sequence. Garcia would be flyingLesh, Weir, Bill, Mickey, everyone would be flying.”

“That’s just the thing. I can’t define IT. In On The Road, time would stop and everyone had the same feelingIT, that imponderable mystery as Dean Moriarty explained to Kerouac’s character.”

“IT? I don’t know if one can define IT. I’ll put it this way—have you ever had an experience that’s indescribable and for want of a better term it was either pleasant or nice or just plain good? That’s what IT is. I don’t mean to sound too simplistic, Bob, but if you want me to be specific about the Dead, I guess I’d call IT the moment in the jam when the music ascends to a higher level and everyone within a hundred miles knows that fact without a single word being spoken.”

“How does that happen? Practice often so you bumble into the Zone? Is that the place where IT resides? The frozen moment? The subconscious would be there too, right?”

“Yeah. I think you’ve got the idea. Definitely. The peak of enlightenment? WellI just don’t know. I can’t define the moment. It just is.”

Dedicated to Mr. Phil Lesh66 years young and still towering over the live music scene while continuing to find a way to articulate the incomprehensible beauty that lies within.

Randy Ray stores his work at www.rmrcompany.blogspot.com.

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