The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site
author:  Margie Culbertson

"1st Place" in the Best "Short" Humor!
December 1999/January 2000 Contest

The Jerry Garcia Murder Conspiracy


John Pizzuto

I had just clicked off a cable shopping channel that featured Bill Walton pushing, for only $29.95, a set of three official Grateful Dead golf club covers – endorsed by no less a luminary than Fluff, Tiger Woods's caddie – when I realized suddenly that it's been over four years since Jerry Garcia died. I still remember where I was that fateful day back in August of ‘95 when I learned he checked out. Actually, I can't recall exactly where I was – I was having an acid flashback at the time – but I'm pretty sure it was somewhere on the East Coast. As I polished off my last pint of the gourmet ice cream named after him, Chunkie Junkie, with a pang of regret it occurred to me that if Jerry was still alive today, he'd be four hundred and ninety–five pounds.

Since he tragically expired, in my own modest way I've done what I can to keep the Grateful Dead vibe alive: I panhandle and hitchhike; I don't go anywhere without my headband; I'm chronically unemployed. In fact, as a tribute to the band, I'll only work for companies that have the initials G.D.; so far I've been turned down by General Dynamics, Global Distribution, and Greg's Delicatessen. I tried following Blues Traveler from town to town for awhile – hawking tie–dyed ascots and shoplifting – but the magic just wasn't there. Maybe if John Popper grew a beard and started mainlining...

So I'm grateful the Dead (wink) have made it easy for me to feed my jones with a steady stream of jerseys, jodhpurs, and jockey shorts, not to mention polo mallets and support hose, all embossed with the distinctive logo that lets the right people know I'm an official Deadhead. And between their new multi–level marketing agreement with McDonald's and that joint venture (wink, wink) with Martha Stewart, it looks like I'll be in sparklin' clover for some time to come.

I'm on a high right now. In addition to scoring some new official Jerry Garcia postage stamps (available in sheets, booklets, or individual doses), I just finished listening to the latest collection of live Dead, Dick's Picks #913, a 10–CD set from the historic shows at the Podunk Armory back in April through December ‘76. This is the one where the band played And We Bid You Goodnight for two hours before they realized the audience hadn't shown up yet. It's also got the best version I've ever heard of Estimated Prophet into Turn on Your Lovelight into Playin' In The Band into Uncle John's Band into Help on the Way into Black Peter into Franklin's Tower back into Turn on Your Lovelight into St. Stephen into Ramblin' Rose into Morning Dew into One More Saturday Night back into Playin' in the Band into Stella Blue into Me and My Uncle into Shakedown Street back into Uncle John's Lovelight into St. Stephen's Band back into Playin' in the Morning Dew into Turn On Your One More Estimated Ramblin' Black Uncle, and finally ending up with a three–day jam on Feelings. Whew! If they'd all been playing in the same key it would have been awesome.

Still and all, I don't rest easy these days, the prozac notwithstanding. It may be three years since Jerry's body was found in a drug rehab center north of San Fran, but something keeps eating at me. Even though the cause of death was officially ruled a heart attack, I suspect drugs were involved. Sadly, Garcia suffered from a chronic eating disorder (called gluttony) and this may have contributed to the coroner's rubber stamp. During the autopsy they reportedly found traces of blood in his heroin. They never got to follow up on it because within days Garcia's body was cremated (either that or the band smoked him) and his ashes were spread over the Ganges River and the Pacific Ocean. Just a coincidence? I don't think so.

I think Jerry Garcia was murdered.

Don't laugh. Garcia was a diabetic. He once lapsed into a coma for three days under mysterious (read: drug–induced) circumstances. He eventually recovered, but soon afterwards his bandmate, keyboardist Brent Mydland, died of a drug overdose. Does anyone truly believe that Garcia could have been such an impenitent, self–indulgent sociopath as to become a heroin addict ...again? (I mean, aside from those who knew him.) I just don't buy it. I think someone covertly replaced Garcia's insulin with heroin, repeatedly, over and over, and over and over and over again, for twenty years. The poor slob never knew what hit him.

Why didn't the police follow up on this theory, you ask. I'll tell you why. It was rumored that Garcia had experimented with LSD during the 60s. There was speculation he single–handedly supported the Cali Cartel coke trade during the 70s. He actually farted nitrous oxide during the 80's . By the early 90s, this image of him as an addled, narcotics–soaked "hippie" apparently stuck; it even gained momentum via lame jokes perpetrated by second–tier stand–ups (e.g., "Today President Bush announced a new plan to cut drug use in America in half. He's sending Jerry Garcia to Canada."). Garcia himself unwittingly played into this stereotype by wearing a Just Say Yes button, smoking crack during interviews, and driving his car into an occasional tree. There was also his personal credo –"So many brain cells, so little time" – that was too often taken out of context. And San Francisco State University may have sent out the wrong message when it endowed a hypodermic needle in his honor. This all made it easier for the cops to let the whole thing slide. But I can't let it slide. More than just a rock and roll icon, Garcia was a visionary. He was one of the earliest advocates of marijuana use for medical conditions that haven't occurred yet. In terms of fashion, he was the first one to demonstrate that black jeans can be accessorized with a black tee shirt, black sneakers, and dark sunglasses no matter what season it is. And he was a pioneer in vocal technique who proved that off–key croaking could be construed as an interpretive singing style. But he was much more than this. He was also the big Kahuna of a financial empire; a psychedelic tycoon; one very fat cat. In my heart I still can't accept the official version that he died of a coronary. I believe Garcia was victimized by someone on the inside, someone who felt he was eating too much into the profits (literally), someone who knew that – like Jimi, Janis, and Jim – Jerry dead would be more valuable than Jerry alive (not to mention cheaper to feed). And by this time Garcia himself was so pharmacologically strung out he couldn't tell the difference. The Grateful Dead marketing juggernaut was big business, and there were bigger bucks to me made. And he was in the way. So there it is. I believe Jerry Garcia was killed as part of a colossal and insidious scheme to milk every mothertruckin', blissfully spaced–out Dead fan for every nickel bag they're worth. That has to be it. How else can you possibly explain Grateful Dead golf club covers endorsed by a guy named Fluff?

©John Pizzuto

ABOUT the author:

I'm 46 years old and live in Brooklyn (the geographical center of theuniverse). I was self–employed for a number of years, but business declinedand I had to lay myself off. I actually do computer research and I'minvolved in some real estate dealings. Although I've had some professionalexperience writing for Bob Hope and Bill Maher, I write humor these days as a hobby.

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