Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jerry Garcia

I was in San Francisco the other day, we stopped for lunch at Cha Cha Cha in my old neighborhood - the Upper Haight or as it is still called Haight-Ashbury. In the summer of 1995 I was living a couple of blocks from the corner of Haight & Ashbury in The City. On August 9th of that summer, Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia passed away of a heart attack while in a drug rehabilitation facility. He was 53.

Around 11 o'clock in the evening, I walked up to Haight Street to see what tributes there might be to the fallen leader of the Grateful Dead. The light poles at the corner of Haight and Ashbury were festooned with garlands. There were pictures of Jerry and the Dead on every stoop and curb. Candles glowed from windows. Lots of kids were sitting on the street listening to Dead tunes coming from a second story window.

Later that night I wrote an email to my friends who could not be there that night. Those words are now long lost but one thing I vividly remember. I painted the picture of Haight-Ashbury 1995, the four corners reflected the changing face of The Haight. Sure there was still the same vintage clothing store on one corner and a t-shirt shoppe full of tie-dye on another; but the other two corners were a brand new Gap and a Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Emporium.

I knew that ice cream shoppe or rather they knew me, I stopped there often enough that the evening crew recognized me. I had given a couple of the scoopers advice on community college classes. I poked my head in that night and one of them waved me over to the counter.

"I've worked here for two years," he said, "we've never run out of a flavor before."

I must have looked at him with a blank, unknowing expression because he continued: 

"Everybody's been buying Cherry Garcia, it's all gone."

There are tributes and there are tributes. I wonder do they still make Wavy Gravy?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This guitar and several others of Jerry's were in a separate glass case in the bottom floor of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.