(printed as a "Right Side Up" columnist )
Over the last few weeks, the eulogies have been said, the tears shed and the bumper stickers printed all in memory of the man and legend, Jerry Garcia. The wandering tribe of deadheads that for years followed the Grateful Dead from concert to concert has finally lost their aging messiah. One of the last vestiges of the 60s era, Garcia leaves a questionable legacy for the youth of today.
To be honest, all of us need to escape occasionally from the pressures of life. But this can be done without compromising our personal responsibilities and setting a bad example for others. Unfortunately, Garcia fled his personal responsibilities for a permanent escape from reality. Several failed marriages, drug and alcohol addiction and bitter children are the legacy he left offstage. On the day of his funeral, one of his daughters approached a reporter and rather eloquently explained that "he was a s**tty father".
It seems that the only glimmer of happiness this man ever felt was in his hazy dream world, stoned on stage. For someone like this to be viewed with such awe and devotion puzzles me. For him to have led part of a whole generation into the 60s pitfall of drugs, rebellion, irresponsibility and failure is not to be admired, but seen for what it really is. Most of us admit he was a gifted and talented musician with amazing stamina, as evident in his seemingly endless concert tours. But let us be honest and see this man and his life for what it really was. Shooting heroin and writing songs does not a great man make.
I have been surprised by the anger and hostility of various deadheads and the like toward those of us who apparently fail to appreciate Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead and the great "contribution" they apparently made to society. Supposedly, we have all been touched in some way by this visionary man and the life that he led.
A friend of mine appeared in the Rocky Mountain Collegian in a "man on the street" interview a couple of weeks ago. His entire comment on Jerry Garcias untimely passing was, " I dont think he was a very profound thinker, but Im sorry to hear he died. Say no to drugs." This, I felt, was a non-offensive, truthful view on this unfortunate event. I have never before heard of Jerry Garcia being compared with Plato or John Locke, and I agreed that we all could learn from the drug abuse that put him in an early grave.
The resulting barrage of verbal assaults and insults resulting from his brief newspaper appearance took us both by surprise. Apparently, these proponents of peace and love have problems practicing what they preach. The lesson to be learned is to be wiser in your search for someone to worship, idolize and follow. We are often too quick to put someone on a pedestal that is woefully inadequate and incapable of being a positive influence.
Jerry Garcia died a lonely, depressing death. The addictions that had haunted him for three decades eventually defeated him and drove him to an early grave.