to Kim Jackson and all her hard work.)
there ain't nobody safer than someone who doesn't care
And it isn't even
lonely when no one's ever there
I had a lot of dreams once, but some of them
The honey's sometimes bitter when fortune falls on you
The Grateful Dead, "Just a Little Light"
want to do what?"
She looked at me as if I'd lost
my mind, and who could blame her?
"I want to interview
Jerry Garcia," I said.
Kim stared at me for half-past
an eternity. "Are you serious?"
"Of course I'm
serious. You said you can contact people, and I want Jerry Garcia. You can contact
"Yes," she said, looking mildly
offended, "yes, I contact people."
"I don't have a problem . . . It's
just that . . . I don't know . . . Jerry Garcia? The musician? The guitar player?"
one and only."
She threw up her hands. "Alright,
I'll give it a shot. I'm not going to promise you anything."
all I ask."
I hadn't known Kim for very long. She and
I met at a party about three months prior, and the mutual friend of ours who was
throwing the bash (an art critic out of Chicago by the name of Chauncy Willit)
introduced her to me as Kim Jackson, the "psychic-medium;" meaning that
she can talk to dead people; also meaning that she can talk to dead people when
there's a fee involved and some sucker is willing to pay the price. Kim gave me
her card, and I tucked it in my wallet and forgot about it for about nine weeks
I was never one to believe in psychics, or mediums,
or ghosts, or anything like that. But then again, I never really believed in the
Republican Party either, but it exists, so I guess not believing in something
doesn't make it untrue if my half-logic serves me well.
I took her card and forgot about her. Days passed, and then weeks, and then months.
And then, as he has a tendency of doing, my editor Joe sent me an e-mail asking
where my column was. And then he called. And sent another e-mail. And another.
The well had run dry, tapped clean; nothing was there, just dust and bones . .
. I could not - absolutely could not - think of anything to write about. I didn't
have a case of writer's block, I had writer's paralysis.
paced through the house one day, back and forth, back and forth, wondering, thinking,
shouting out loud, what could I, what should I, what would I write about? I even
asked my cat, but she gave no reply, just stared at me stupidly. And then I started
thinking . . . Maybe I could tell about the time Bob Oliver and I partied with
Jewel's ex-boyfriend Steve Poltz and had him tell us some nasty stuff about the
singer/songwriter/fine-piece-of-ass? Or maybe . . .
it hit me . . . An interview. I could do an interview! I tried calling Keith Richards,
but he was out of town. Alice Cooper's people wouldn't return my calls. The same
went for Willie Nelson, and ditto for Eminem. So, who would it be? Who could I
interview? Who should I interview? If I had my way, I would've interviewed everyone
I just mentioned all at the same time . . . That'd be a hell of an article . .
. But I don't have my way because life is unfair and it sucks ass . . .
Thoughts: Thoughts: But if I could . . ., who would I interview? If there was
one musician living or dead that I would really like to sit down and talk with
who would it be?
And then the answer was as clear as rain .
. . Jerry Garcia. I would like to talk with Jerry Garcia. He seemed like a cool
guy. Hard working, diverse musician, talented guitarist. Yeah, he'd be cool to
talk to. Most people would say Lennon, or Morrison, or Elvis, but tons and tons
of interviews have been done on those guys. Lennon and Elvis are friggin' icons
worshiped by the masses, so I really couldn't find out anything interesting about
them - nothing that anyone else couldn't find out, I guess. And Morrison . . .
Although I like his stuff, he'd probably put up a front, or act like a jackass
if I tried interviewing him. But Jerry Garcia . . . Yes, legions of fans love
him, yes, people adore him . . . But he's not held in the same light as Elvis
or Lennon. He's slightly under the radar.
he's dead, and once again I didn't have my way, and . . .
God. Oh, dear God, wait a minute . . . Shit . . . It was a stupid idea, but, Christ,
it struck me as funny. A lightning bolt of thoughts: Kim Jackson. Psychic. Medium.
Contacting. After. Life.
Dear God . . .
if it was bullshit, even if she was lying and making it all up and completely
fake it still would be a great idea, I thought. It might make for some interesting
jokes and gags at the very least. I asked the cat what she thought, but she was
I was too excited, and I couldn't sit still for the
life of me. I immediately pulled Kim's card out of my wallet, called her, told
her that there was someone I wanted to talk to, made an appointment, tracked down
her store (a place called Inner-Visions in Dearborn), gave her $20, and we went
into the backroom of her shop, past racks filed with horoscope books and incense
and magic crystals, past Fung Shui maps and Chinese horoscope pamphlets.
sat down at a table. I sat on the opposite side.
not going to promise you anything," she said.
can I have my twenty bucks back then?"
She shook her head
"If you can't get a hold of Garcia, try Tiny Tim.
I want my money's worth."
She closed her eyes.
turned on my tape recorder.
She bowed her head slightly and
stayed like that for a good minute or two.
I watched her. Her
I watched her.
And I watched her.
Her eyes opened.
She looked at me.
I looked at her.
. . .
(The following is a transcript of the audio recording
that took place that day.)
Jerry Garcia (supposedly):
Mike McHone: Jerry Garcia?
Yeah, directly from the astral plane, who's this?
(laughs) Wow . . . This is, uh . . . This is Mike McHone from "The Record,"
a small . . . uh, a small magazine out of Detroit. How are you doing?
(pause) I'm fucking dead, moron, how do you think I'm doing?
JG: And don't make any cracks, like, "Oh,
are you grateful now that you're dead?! Huh! Huh! Huh!" Don't wanna hear
that crap again.
(pause) Uh . . . You, uh . . . get that a lot, I take it?
Yeah. Morrison says that kinda junk all the time.
Morrison? Jim . . . Morrison?
JG: No, Toni Morrison,
ya fuckstick. Of course Jim Morrison!
MM: So . . .
Wow . . . I can't believe I have a chance to talk with you.
Well, you do. I don't have anything better on the agenda today.
JG: You gonna ask me something, or what?
MM: How's . . . How's heaven?
It's alright, but it has its hang-ups.
MM: Such as?
JG: No acid.
MM: That sucks.
JG: Yeah, tell me about it. I can't get any cigarettes
here either. Nothing but cleanliness here. Cleanliness and Godliness and all that
crap. And, shit, you try dealing with every Jehova's Witness that's died and come
here since the group got started! Shit . . . These pricks are still bugging the
crap out of people. It's like it's programmed in them!
Uh, wow. So . . ., besides Jim Morrison, who else is up there with you fame-wise.
JG: Janis; she's up here. Jimi. Louie Armstrong. Bill
Monroe . . . David Lee Roth's career.
MM: Have you
JG: Yeah, but not recently. Not since he
went to the Wasteland.
MM: Wasteland? Wa- You mean
Elvis went to hell?
JG: Close. He went back to Vegas.
He opted to get reincarnated. And when that life cycle is over with he'll come
back and I'm sure that stupid hick will tell me all about his adventures.
What did he decide to come back as?
JG: See, that's
the thing: You can't decide what you want to be. If we could do that everyone
would go back to Earth as either Marilyn Monroe or Gengis Kahn. You want reincarnation,
you roll the dice, and the Big Guy sends you back. It's all random.
So what did Elvis come back to Earth as?
JG: An Elvis
Well, some days you're the Sacred Cow; some days you're the cow shit.
Hear, hear . . . So, you've checked in on Elvis once in awhile, have you been
keeping up on some of the other things going on down here?
Yeah, I do from time to time. But not much. Earth's a bum trip, man. Looking down
on it, I'm glad I got out. I might bitch and moan about the whole heaven gig,
but Earth is just a downer. And I mean . . . I'm talking about from my perspective,
the things that have happened to my music and my band and my image and what-not.
It's just depressing.
MM: How so?
How so? I'll tell you how so. They made a fucking toy out of me! That Todd McFarlane
asshole and his little company made a fucking toy out of me! I didn't pick-up
a guitar and write lyrics so I could have some 12 year old fidget with my Kung-Fu
grip! What the hell's that about?! I was in the Grateful Dead, not KISS. I'm Jerry-Fucking-Garcia!
I wrote "Rosemary," "Truckin'," "Touch of Grey,"
and what am I remembered for in recent past? A fucking toy! God! (silence)
JG: Sorry . . . I said God, and the
Big Guy thought I said something to Him.
MM: So are
there any bands out today that you like?
JG: Not many.
Most of them suck. It's all image, not talent. If I had my other nine fingers
chopped off I'd still play the guitar better than half of these douche bags today.
But anyway . . . There are a few bands that are okay. Phish weren't bad when they
were together, but I had my hang-ups with them . . . Gee, a jam band surrounded
by a bunch of smelly out-of-work hippies . . . I wonder where they got that idea.
But I do like the White Stripes.
MM: Yeah, the White
Stripes are very good.
JG: Man, that Jack White can
play the slide. And Meg is just a solid drummer. They're really making a statement
in rock music today. I'll tell you, the last time a duo made that much of an impact
it was Dale Earnhardt and a wall at Daytona.
JG: Oh, gimmie a break! The guy rides
around in a machine at over 150 mph in a circle surrounded by concrete and steel,
and you want to tell me it was a shock that he died?!
But, still, you shouldn't make light of people dying!
All's I'm saying is don't canonize a man whose main goal in life was to learn
how to work the clutch.
MM: Alright . . . Next question:
Do you have any regrets?
Care to elaborate?
(pause) Okay . . . Let's get back to music: What made you want to play music in
the first place?
Really? Not artistic integrity, not communing with fellow musici-
Nope. Pussy. That's all.
And I got it too, I'm glad to say. I mean, sure doing art for art's sake is great.
But if you had the choice between painting a great picture or having a steady
stream of orgasms for the next 30 years, which would you pick?
You got a point.
JG: I usually do.
What do you miss about the 60s?
JG: Not a damn thing.
Seriously? It was the 60s! Peace, love, happiness, change . . .
The 60s happened and now they're over, and that's that. (pause) The decade wasn't
as life-altering as everybody makes it out to be. If you hear some lunkhead spouting
off about how wonderful the 60s were rest-assured the fucker was either too stoned
to remember the decade or not there to begin with. All most young people realized
was that they were either going to get their legs blown off in Nam, or stay in
college a little longer on daddy's dime to avoid the draft, the job market, or
Sure, there was MLK, JFK, and the Beatles, but once you get rid
of those three things and boil it all down, the 60s were just like any other decade:
filled with corruption, war, death, laziness . . . A few of the kids were trying
to say something now and again, trying to organize, trying to stop the war, but
for the majority of them . . . they were just floating along, hanging out, not
doing shit, just like kids in any other era. But there were the small, small few
that felt like they had a purpose, but when the 70s hit . . . Where were they
then? Most of them traded acid for coke or speed, anything to make them somewhat
ready for reality. On acid, you can't look normal, or act normal. With coke and
speed you can still look relatively normal, still sort of function in the mainstream,
still go to that job and look responsible, but inside . . . Inside it's a whole
And I think that's exactly what happened
to a lot of the children of the 60s. They learned not to give a fuck about anything
beyond the realm of their own pupils. All that counted was what was in their precious
little heads. And with all that coke and speed, what was in their heads was a
massive filter that took reality and made it cloudy and made life that much more
acceptable, because they knew, deep down, that everything they thought they were
doing in the 60s - stop the war, remove Nixon, end the draft - was a bunch of
bullshit. They realized, finally, that you can't change anything at all with dope,
or love, or music, or art . . . You can only remove corruption through tearing
everything down to the nervous system and building it back again . . . But once
you build it back, it's just going to happen again, and no work of art, no constitution,
no mandate, no book will ever change it. Utopia will only happen when there's
no one around to live in it.
I really hate to say it, but a
chord strummed by Bob Dylan never halted a bomb from blowing the guts out of a
Vietnamese kid playing in a rice field.
They realized, perhaps,
they were just fooling themselves and others. And that it was bullshit, and if
was all just bullshit, might as well buy into it and try to get as much stuff
of their own before someone else does . . . And, if I'm wrong, where are they
now? There's a war now. There're people getting killed now. There are assholes
in power that don't give a flying fuck about the working class right now. Where
are the peacemongers from the 60s? Statistically, they still exist. And statistically
the young voters - the 18 to 29-year olds - and the elderly - 65 and up - hated
the fucking president and voted against him. So, if the Baby Boomers were soooooo
peace-filled in the 60s, and so full of love, and so full of hope and spirituality,
why wasn't the last election different? Shouldn't those same people that protested
one war pour out into the streets to protest another? War is war. It doesn't matter
where you're dropping the bombs; it's still a war.
were they? I'll tell you where they were: In the realm of their pupils. Not giving
an ounce of shit to what happens on the other side of the globe because it's not
happening in front of them.
The common thread between the 60s,
70s, 80s, 90s, and today is the Removal of Reality, and this begats the Acceptance
of Bullshit. Acid cooked the brain in the 60s. Coke and crack took over in the
70s and 80s, along with cosmetic surgery, and the boom in consumerism. The 90s
brought thousands of prescribed drugs that can fuck you up worse than most things
on the street, and along with it "new age" ideas and political correctness:
all forms of the Removal of Reality.
Today, all of us realize
that politicians are cheats and liars and scumbags that will fuck you over at
every turn, but most of the Boomers don't care because they've figured out the
game: Eat them before they eat you.
I'm not saying that all
of them are bad, but I am saying that if a Boomer says the 60s were the time of
Love and Revolution, I'll tell them - me, Jerry Fucking Garcia - will tell them
to take their fake Revolution and stick it up their ass, because a true Revolution
does not stop until the whole job is done; a true Revolution does not cease when
there's a Starbucks on every corner; a true Revolution is not made through music
- even though the music may incite it, or inspire it - it is made through people
and sweat and aching backs and blood and tears and death. Like the brother-man
Gil Scott Heron once said: "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." Revolutions
do not stop when you yourself are content. They only cease when every single person
in the entire world can look around and say, "Yes, this will do. I am happy
with what I have. I am not jealous of my neighbor, and tonight I can sleep easy."
Then, and only then, will the revolution triumph.
JG: Hey! HEY!!!
(stirring awake) Huh? Wh-What? What'd I miss?
(pause) You didn't miss anything, you prick. Alright, I've had enough of this
crap. I'm leaving.
Kim closed her eyes and snapped them open
seconds later. "What . . . happened?" she asked.
not even sure," I said.
Kim sat there. She had the face
of a lost person looking for a nice quiet place to vomit.
alright?" I asked.
She shook her head. "I'm alright
. . . I need to lie down."
I thanked her for her help
and left the store. (I tired calling her a few times since then, but she never
answered the phone and was never in her shop. I asked our mutual friend Chauncy
if he had heard from her recently and he said that he saw her once at a Dunkin
Donuts in Toledo; she had gained weight and started experimenting with marijuana,
Later, I listened to the tape recorder and all
I heard was Kim's voice. I don't know her that well, but she doesn't seem like
the kind of person that would say "fuck" over and over again, or say
something like the five-minute Marxist speech at the end. And I can't say that
I know Jerry Garcia either. What I've heard from him . . . He doesn't seem like
the kind of guy that would make fun of a race car driver getting killed, or David
Lee Roth, or someone that would bash the 60s . . . So, was it him? I'd like to
think so . . . But if it wasn't, who was it? Who would be that cynical? But then
again, who would speak so much truth, unafraid of the consequences or what you
or I might think about it . . .?
Maybe it was Lennon.
I was hallucinating.
It is now
close to 3 a.m. as I write this. I have to be up in four hours to go to a job
at a newspaper I hate, to write stories I hate, for a town I hate. My pupils are
aching. My back is sore. And I am tired.
Was it Garcia? are
the only words that are really going through my mind right now. Maybe I'll never
know. There's only one true way to find out, and I'm not ready to take that avenue
yet. Maybe tomorrow, but not right now. I'll just have to have faith that it was
A little faith never hurt anyone I guess.
least, I hope not.