The first chapter of ‘Scarlet Begonias’ introduces the protagonist, Suzi Greenberg, a directionless art student on the brink of graduation, and her college roommate, Eve Mendel. They are sitting on the floor of their boarding house trying to figure out the mail-order instructions for the Grateful Dead spring tour of 1991 - the April 27-28 shows in Las Vegas to be exact and the setting for the pivotal nexus around which the story orbits.
Have any of you experienced the convoluted ricockulosity required to complete the paperwork for a Grateful Dead tickets lottery? If you have, then you already know the pain involved. But if you’ve never had the pleasure, then here’s a peak into the mind of a Deadhead with order-form in hand.
Firstly, the name itself ‘ticket LOTTERY’ is daunting. How many tickets are available through this process? Do repeat buyers really have a better chance? Will I find out if I got the tickets before they go on sale at Ticketmaster? If not, will I have to go to Jewel that day to buy more just in case – how fast do the shows sell out – will there be a line – what time should I get there?
If I have to buy the tickets twice, then why even bother with the lottery – are the seats better – do I even want seats when I like dancing in the lawn better? Do I have a better chance of getting tickets if I just select lawn? Maybe – but if I get really good tickets, then I will have better leverage when bartering for magical provisions in the lot before the show – we can trade our good seats for lawn tickets + goodies.
We only need two tickets, but should we order the max of six, in case our friends don’t get theirs? Duh – that’s a no brainer! If we get extra, we trade. That could be a lot of extra tickets – six mail order + six through Ticket master – 2 for us = 10. If the show doesn’t sell out, will we have to eat the 10? Are you cracked in the ass – have you ever been to a show without loads of desperate hippies with cardboard signs around their necks and fingers in the air begging for a miracle?
How many postal money orders do I need? (one for the lawn price + the difference between seats and lawn (in case of a partial refund))x(the # of venues attending)……all of which need to be labeled correctly. And don’t forget a stamp for the self addressed stamped envelope.
What’s a #10 envelope? Do we have any 3x5 index cards? Did you spell San Rafael right? If we decorate the envelope with mushrooms and bright colors, and fold up the corners, will it get picked first? If we put it in the mailbox at the airport at midnight, will it get postmarked and put on a plane to California faster?
See what I mean – the thought and coordination involved in that transaction was maddening! And was required for every season they toured!!
Just in case you are wondering – yes, Suzi and Eve got the tickets. In fact, so did Mannie, Driscol, and Rajesh of the Psycho-cartographers. And in Jerome, AZ, a record number of bong sales financed the tickets for the entire Heart of Gold Coven.