June 25, 1994, remembers Tim, was the day he was reborn in Sin City. He and Josh, Jeff and two other friends trekked to Las Vegas (Katie met up with them there) and along with thousands of other Deadheads basked in the insufferable heat and choking dust and found heaven in hell.
"It was unbelievable," recalls Tim, who still listens to Fugazi and other punk acts but prefers a live recording of the Dead's "Fire on the Mountain" before running. Trying to explain the appeal of the Dead's ever-improvisational live jams, Tim concludes it's the music's organic quality of being real and dynamic like a breathing entity.
"Once you have a Grateful Dead experience," Jeff says, "it stays with you forever. There's something about the atmosphere at a Grateful Dead show. Everyone's really nice to everyone. It's overwhelming. When you're 17 and you can hang out and relate with someone who's 50--that's a weird experience . . . in a good way."
Consider the golden rule that things will always work out in this scene because of the goodwill among "family" members.
An integral part of this generous culture are the "miracles," extra tickets handed out for free or swapped for anything from beads to a ride home.
At the Dec. 19 L.A. Sports Arena show last year, two of Katie's friends discovered they had lost their tickets, or left them somewhere. They assumed the customary stance of walking around with a finger pointing upward and wished for a miracle. Instead, they found an envelope with three tickets. They waited and when no one claimed it (Katie promises they did this), they took two for themselves and granted a miracle to another seeker.
Tim and a few other friends drove all night to see the Dead in Oakland in December, not knowing anyone in the area or where they would stay the weekend. After snoozing a few hours in their car in a Safeway parking lot, they met up with some out-of-town Deadheads and hooked up with them at a Berkeley co-op house full of affable strangers.
This kind of fellowship, Tim says, "gives me hope that our society isn't really that messed up. It makes me believe that there's people that are trying to get along."
* The Scene is a weekly look at the trends and lifestyles of Orange County high schoolers.