Thursday, June 30, 2005

DC Dead: RFK

Went to another Nationals game at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium last night. Each time I've been, it brings back a flood of memories. RFK is hallowed ground for me. For years, I enjoyed Redskins games and a slew of great concerts there. No memories were greater though than the Dead shows that I saw there form 1989 to 1994. I was telling the friend I was with about some of those great times as those memories were rushing back. Two memories stick out in particular.

There was nothing like a Grateful Dead concert, but there was also nothing quite like camping out for Grateful Dead concert tickets. I did that in 1990 with 500 close Deadhead friends in the South parking lot of the Stadium. It was an all night party, everyone in great spirits, anticipating the next morning when we would get our treasured tickets. Early the morning the tickets went on sale, a buddy and I were sitting on a grassy hill chilling out before everyone lined up. We got talking to a couple other guys next to us for an hour or two, and had a great time. A year and a half later, on the eve of the 1991 Superbowl (Redskins vs. Bills), I went to a party to watch the game. I didn't know whose house it was, but when I got there, it just happened to be the same guy that I met on the grassy hill early that morning when we got our Dead tickets. I hadn't seen or spoken to this guy since we left that hill that morning, then I show up to his house a year and a half later to celebrate a Redskins Superbowl Title. Amazes me to this day.

My other great memory was from the 1992 show. During Drums/Space, we headed up to the very top of the West side of the stadium to hang out for a while. I took a look outside into a peaceful summer DC night and saw the Capitol building. I looked back into the stadium and saw this bizarre psychedelic blend of music and color and dancing and general madness. I looked back out again and saw conservative, buttoned-down Washington. I looked back in and was blown away by the polar opposite scenes that I was witnessing.

Yes, DC is a very culturally conservative town, but it was always full of Deadheads too, just ask Senator Patrick Leahy! According to Dennis McNally's book, "A Long Strange Trip":

Senator Patrick Leahy, who recognized the invigorating energy of the concerts, "...traded his pinstripes for tye-dye and shorts at shows and then danced up a storm." During the 1993 RFK Stadium concert's opening act, the Senator received a message from the White House. "The Senator requested a phone...and returned the call, to Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Christopher briefed the Senator regarding actions to be taken against Saddam Hussein, "...and the went on to remark that the radio was on rather loud where the Senator was. 'No, that's Sting.' There was silence. 'Sting, the musician.' Silence. 'He's opening for the Grateful Dead.' A very deep silence ensued, until Christopher replied, 'Would you have time for the president?'"

I love that story!


At 11:08 PM, Anonymous jonathan said...

Dude, I so remember that Super Bowl. I was a Junior in college, and I watched it on TV at a friends' house who was from DC. Great great times.

I definitely enjoyed reading your memories of the Dead at RFK. Go Nats! Anyone but Atlanta!

At 4:08 PM, Blogger Ben said...

The Skins had a great year that year, and have been pretty pathetic ever since. I'll be a Skins fan until the day I die, but it pretty much sucks these days. That's why it's so unbelievable what the Nats are doing this year. It would of been good enough to just have a team, but to have a 1st place team on top of that is crazy. As Bobby Weir once sang, "This must be heaven..."

The Dead must of loved playing RFK 'cause most of their shows there were very good and some of them were truly great.


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