JERRY GARCIA AND FALAFELS
Jerome (Jerry) John Garcia was born in San Francisco, CA, on August 1, 1942. He died on August 9, 1995, when his big ol’ heart gave out on him in the middle of the night at rehab. He’s remembered by many as a channeler of peace, love, hope, social activism, and, of course, music. Sweet music.
Twenty-two years ago, on the day Jerry Garcia died, I began to mourn him, not as a celebrity, but as a loved one. Yet, I couldn’t figure out why he meant so much to me. In time, I boxed up my newspaper and magazine clippings, shelved them for a few years, and then moved them to the attic. Although I honored him on his birthdays, I was completely unable to face the anniversaries of his death.
Everything changed this year when the Fatima saints and a Lent Madness post sparked a succession of miracles in my life. I’m now able to honor Jerry’s memory on his feast day and in this way, thank him for a real good time.
Jerry Garcia is not a saint on any Church’s calendar. However, he became a part of the Body of Christ and member in the Communion of Saints upon his baptism and dedication to Jesus Christ in 1942 at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church in San Francisco. Therefore, we can call on him for intercessory prayers in heaven or the metaphysical realm, depending on your choice of vocabulary.
Author/Editor Dennis McNally captured some of Jerry’s memories and thoughts about church in his book JERRY ON JERRY: THE UNPUBLISHED JERRY GARCIA INTERVIEWS:
When we moved down the peninsula (to suburban Menlo Park) and the Catholic Church was quite a long way away, that’s when I started really lapsing out. So, I made my First Communion, but I wasn’t ever Confirmed. That’s when I lopped off.
I was never a deep Catholic. I never went to Catholic school, you know. I never was at catechism enough to get a picture of what they were trying to tell me about. For me, the most real thing about Catholicism was my presence in the church and the awesome sense that the church could fill you with just the reality of it and the rumbling of the Latin mass, the sensual – the theater got to me much more than any ideas. You know what I mean? So, I never developed a sense of morality of the Church. I wasn’t exposed to it. Nobody in my family went to church. Well, I was the kind of Catholic kid where my grandmother would give me a quarter, you know, to put in the collection plate, and that was church. Page 26
So, he was a lapsed Roman Catholic just like me when I attended Grateful Dead concerts in the late 80’s/early 90’s. I would find my way to the Episcopal Church in 1994. Jerry’s spirituality, on the other hand, grew wide and far from our shared traditional roots. He got his first guitar at age 15 and never looked back at conformity. I mean, most of the history books on the Grateful Dead dig deep into their early years — the people who influenced their music and life style. Plus, the whole thing with LSD. Jerry believed the use of psychedelics affected his spirituality:
I think that too much of this thing is the fear of change of consciousness. Like it’s something that I think is something to be feared. It’s another level of, you know what, somebody wants us all to see reality the same way. You know? I never did get the reason. Now, explain to me again. I understand why it’s not good to steal. And killing. I get that. What’s the part about getting high again? What was wrong with that? You know what I mean? I don’t get the moral, you know, the structural, moral part of it? What is the reason? Why is it that everybody has this thing about getting high?
That’s what I wonder. Who is the guy that said – where does it say, even, in the Ten Commandments, “Thou shall not get high. Thou shall not change your consciousness.” Who says, you know? The way I understood it is that it was helpful to change your consciousness, sometimes, you know? That’s the way I got it, anyway. I just want to be part of that minority point of view. If it is, in fact, a minority point of view.” — Page 124-125, Jerry on Jerry
Coincidentally, an article called The Spiritual Consequences of Alcohol Consumption answering Jerry’s questions popped up in my Facebook Newsfeed the day after I read the above:
We have to ask why is alcohol legal throughout most of the world, yet in many countries and specifically the United Sates, psychedelics are illegal. The conscious and safe use of psychedelics or “visionary medicines” are known to assist in mind expansion, to initiate spiritual experiences where people have communed with the divine, healed numerous physical and spiritual ailments, increased intelligence, helped repattern the brain in a positive way, assisted people in aligning with their soul’s purpose, and have inspired many people to create great works of art and other innovative creations. It seems that these substances would definitely be banned and discouraged if there truly is an agenda seeking to oppress the human potential and keep us “in the dark” regarding who we are as spiritual beings, our innate potential, and the path to empowerment.
As we strive to heal, awaken, and transform our world – I pray that we wise up to the dirty trick played upon humanity in regards to alcohol. Non-benevolent forces have wanted to keep us oppressed, disempowered, and asleep.
Look at the effects of alcohol in your life, in the lives of people you know, and in society at large. Make conscious, informed, and health enhancing decisions. The more people who awaken to truth and seek health and liberation from mind-control agendas, the more likely we are to make positive changes and co-create the world we feel good about living in.
Fascinating stuff. But, back to Gerry’s spiritual beliefs. In a discussion about his lyricist, Robert Hunter, Jerry said:
The lyrics to “Ripple” are a little talky even for me. When I sing that song, there is a moment or two when I feel like, am I really a Presbyterian minister? You know what I mean? It just – it crowds me just a little. It’s right within range. I mean, I can just manage it, but if it were . . . if it had one more word or cautionary moment in it, or whatever that is – yeah, I’d have real problems with it. I personally have a real low embarrassment level. — Page 211, Jerry on Jerry
What Jerry was ultimately looking for in song lyrics was a way to connect with everyone in the audience, backstage, and on the stage:
But what I was thinking of when it came to me was, jeez, it would be great to have a song that was like, now it’s that moment on stage when we could all look at each other and say, okay, here we are. We’re in the now. Here we are in the now. Let’s address this situation as it’s happening in the now. You know? It was like writing a song that addresses that somehow, although how to do it without it being a total bullshit trip was something that totally escaped me. I don’t know what I would want to say apart from isn’t it great to be here and isn’t it swell that we’re all here. — Page 215, Jerry on Jerry
Speaking of song lyrics, another significant Hunter/Garcia song is “St. Stephen.” It’s significant to me because when I learned via a Lent Madness post by Celebrity Blogger Rev. David Hansen that Jerry’s funeral was held at a St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, the understanding that Jerry had an affinity for a particular saint and he was a Christian dawned so inspiringly in my consciousness I haven’t fully adapted.
I previously had no idea, thinking he played all those spiritual folk songs just because he liked the style. This understanding led to numerous epiphanies including the most miraculous one of all:
Posted on Facebook, May 26, 2017
Right. So, I found the words.
If you’ve been following along on my timeline, you know Jesus showed up and entwined my soul with His forever.
I’m about to tell you how this feels. Ready?
When Jesus shows up, it feels like requited true love.
And, according to the teachings of Miracle Max, “True love is the greatest thing in the world – except for a nice MLT – mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomatoes are ripe. They’re so perky, I love that.”
It feels like Wesley and Buttercup:
“Can you move at all?”
“Move? You’re alive! If you want I can fly!”
It feels like family after reading a good book:
“Grandpa? Maybe you can come over and read it again to me tomorrow.”
“As you wish.”
It also feels Stranger than Fiction:
“I brought you flours.”
By the way, I highly recommend this movie from 2006. Yes, I see myself in the character of the passionate baker. In fact, this has been one of my favorite movies for a long time and in watching it again recently, I see this is likely where I got the idea to equate baked goods with the sweet love of Jesus Christ. Eh, I’m okay with this not being my original idea. I mean, what’s the point of stories if not to create ripples of positivity?
Do I also see myself in the character of the addicted writer? Heck, yeah.
But, it’s Harold I most empathize with, because he faced up to and talked down that poetic voice of addiction narrating his life. Harold dared to write his own story.
Okay, so here’s what happened to bring me to this place:
This past Lent while minding my own business and playing Lent Madness (Thank you for existing, Lent Madness!), I came upon a tidbit of info in Rev. David Hansen’s post about St. Stephen (Thank you, David!) – Jerry Garcia honored St. Stephen. And Jerry’s funeral was held in a St. Stephen Episcopal Church.
This information rocked me to my core because I had always believed, without actually thinking about it too much, that Jerry played all those spiritual folk songs just because he liked the style. Also upon further pondering, I’m now pretty sure that back in the day, I was misinformed by someone. *ahem*
Uh, no. Jerry Garcia was Christian!
I suddenly realized that all those unchurched years in my twenties, weren’t. In fact, as we followed Grateful Dead tours (without actually quitting our jobs), we were attending “church” along with thousands of other peace-loving folks. Jerry Garcia’s spirituality and Love of Jesus Christ, drew me like a magnet. That’s why I loved him so much. That’s why I was so devastated when he died. Because Jesus. But now I understand that even though he’s on no Church calendar, I can call him “St. Jerry.” Because when Jerry accepted Jesus into his heart through Baptism, he became a part of the Body of Christ and a member in the Communion of Saints. So, I can honor him and pray with him to my heart’s content.
OMG, right?! I mean, this is a miracle that would have carried me a long, long time in great contentment. But, that’s not all.
Meanwhile, I was all over the whole Our Lady of Fatima story and the upcoming Canonization of Jacinta and Francisco Marta. Plus, our cat, Seven, by the grace of Blessed Mother Mary and Sister Lucia of Fatima, survived a medical emergency and thrived during Lent. She then passed peacefully away on Holy Wednesday. I was disappointed in myself for not being able to summon Easter joy on Sunday. I was so ashamed of my tears for a cat on our Lord’s most special day, that after receiving Communion, I escaped to the ladies’ room and prayed, “I’m sorry, Lord. I know she was just a cat.”
He answered me, “Yeah, but she was yours.”
The words were said in my language, but I knew it was Him because Holy Communion opens up a divine aperture between the source of all Goodness and all us wee ones.
Then I really started to get blown away by all these miracles. I mean, each one could have been analyzed and blogged about as they were all so extraordinary. But I didn’t have time to adapt. Miracles were coming at me every day. I was able to post some of them to my timeline.
I was all into the Grateful Dead again. And also, still posting about Fatima – “Get ready, pray the Rosary, we need a miracle!” I even posted a Fatima miracle prediction – a generalized thing in which I wrote that time has no meaning in heaven and everything about the miracle would connect and make wonderful sense. As a joke, I added a reference to THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY in a parenthetical prediction that the number 42 would also somehow be involved. Because really, who am I to be making miraculous predictions?
A few days later, I heard a Grateful Dead song on GD Radio called, “We Bid You Good Night,” which includes the lyrics, “I love you. But Jesus loves you the best.” Oooooooo! So later, I found a video of it on You Tube. Interestingly, the clip was from a show recorded on October 16, 1989, which was Bobby’s 42 birthday. Oh, there’s another of those number signs which I tend to blog a lot about on Saints and Recipes.
So, I go to post the video on FB, and as I’m typing my intro, it suddenly occurred to me to check my ticket collection. YES! We were at this very show in the Meadowlands in New Jersey!
HOLY MIRACLE TICKETS, BATMAN!
And then I watched the song over and over until I understood. Via this video clip, Jesus time traveled me to this forgotten moment which had had a profound effect on me as an unchurched 23-year-old. Jerry Garcia, whom I loved, loved me back (because he loved all his fans), but Jesus loved me the best. Jesus loved me, even though I wasn’t going to church. I didn’t have to earn it, Jesus just loved me. It felt so good back then. And it felt so good to revisit such an important memory, which had drifted deep below my consciousness, and to experience it again from a totally different perspective.
And yet, the whole thing could still be considered a coincidence, especially by imaginary people for whom I felt I had to keep verifying.
But then, I looked back at the 42. And that was it. He had me at the 42.
Because Jesus was teasing me. Forty-two is not the answer to life, the universe, and everything. But in this case, it was. This was His cosmic joke to me. It was the ultimate speaking-to-me-in-my-own-language maneuver. He made me laugh.
And now, I’m His forever. He had been in my mind and in my heart. But now, and for all time, He’s in my soul.
Here’s the epiphany that finally helped me to put my feelings into the words of this post:
Not only does Jesus love the dedicated spiritual messenger, the devoted Communion Bread baker, and the diligent mom; He loves the repentant gossiper, the daydreamer, the crazy cat lover, the deadhead, the sci-fi fan, the shy high schooler who somehow managed to be voted class wise ass, and the seven-year-old who didn’t know her Catechism at her First Holy Communion.
I never had to earn it.
The survival/social skills I had developed as a child of an alcoholic and applied, not just to my parents but to everyone, created a veil of addiction that had distorted my vision of reality all these many years. But now He’s healed me, and I literally see it all so clearly:
Jesus loves me, and He always has, just as I am.
I know, right? It really is a pretty big deal.
Back to the song, “St. Stephen,” the funny thing is I don’t really like it. It’s too disjointed for me. You know? I like to picture the story of songs in my head and with this one, I can’t find the story. But, many people absolutely love it and maybe it’ll grow on me if I keep listening to it.
Anyhow, for more thoughts on Jerry Garcia and spirituality I read, WHY THE GRATEFUL DEAD MATTER by Michael Benson who described their music, among other things as:
tie dyed angel music for spinning the sacred dance of life as a falling leaf at the jubilee.
However, he offers no direct quotes. Just lots of summing up of articles and books he’s read that are listed in the back as “Further Reading,” and his experiences as a life-time fan of the Grateful Dead. In other words, he rambles on from one topic to the next as if he were standing around outside the stadium enjoying the parking lot scene before the doors open.
Here’s his take on the band’s spirituality:
The musicians, Jerry, in particular, became aware of the divine aura in which they were seen, but they didn’t buy into it. You only had to look at the bad end that awaited most cult leaders to see what a trap that was. It was cool that there were dialed-in freaks out there in the dark who reported a group-mind experience, and sometimes a direct telepathic connection to what was happening on stage. If it were real, the musicians weren’t feeling it. They had no sense of being puppet masters pulling their audience’s strings. They were simply filling the air with wonderful sound, and everyone was free to get off on that in any way they chose.
One of the ways Jerry avoided the “ego trap” was to believe that the music was not something he created but rather something he channeled, that it was in the air and that he and the Dead, if they had their heads right, would make it audible, and the differences between a great show and a lousy one was their ability to snatch the music out of the ozone and blast it out their speakers. — Page 94, Why GD Matter
Hmmmm. This seems to be the same story/different version of how healing prayers work.
Here’s the author’s bit on the band’s social activism which pertains to our current political environment and why I list it as one of saint Jerry’s attributes:
The Grateful Dead philosophy eventually surpassed “it’s cool to get high,” and spread to matters of humanity, benevolence, charity, unity, and spirituality. One of the reasons that the band so drastically outlived the hippie/flower power media car wreck is they never bought into the naïve optimism that turned its slogans into national catch phrases, that led to rose-colored notions that all you had to do was put a flower in the barrel of The Man’s gun and there would be peace on Earth; that if you joined a commune in Big Sur then Capitalism would melt like the wicked witch. The band knew better. You can’t change everything forever. You can only change where you’re at right now, and for a lot of people that’s enough.
The band philosophy wasn’t as much about what it took, as what it gave. The Dead formalized their charitable efforts and formed the Rex Foundation, named after Rex Jackson, the roadie and tour manager who was killed in a car accident in 1976. Each year, the Dead played a handful of shows with the band’s portion of the proceeds going to fund a few handpicked causes. The money did not all go to formal charities, but it did all go to non-profit concerns, often projects or causes that weren’t actively seeking money. The Dead took great delight in surprising people who were doing good works with big fat checks.
For example, when one of their biggest – literally biggest – fans, seven-foot basketball star Bill Walton, told the Dead that the Lithuanian basketball team wasn’t going to make it to the 1992 Summer Olympics for lack of bread, the band sold a t-shirt showing a skeleton slam-dunking a basketball and sent the proceeds to Lithuania, where the hoopsters got to live their Olympic dream. That’s the sort of thing that makes a band rich in a way no bank account can measure. — Page 79, Why GD Matter
Here he discusses Jerry’s thoughts on religion:
The Dead were always a persuasive voice against the “evil” aspect of straight culture: wall street, the military-industrial complex, intolerance, and yes, Gestapo-like law enforcement. Their liberal voice remained clear and strong even as the country shifted to the right during the Reagan/Bush era. The facets of straight culture that were not perceived as evil (such as religion and domesticity) largely received a pass from the band.
Jerry said he thought real Christianity was ok, not perfect. It was kind of weird when it came to death, taking what is clearly an abstract concept, what happens to consciousness when the body ceases to live, and overly personifying it into a concept (heaven) that the masses could get a grip on. Why would the universe bother to have consciousness evolve if it just ended with death? — Page 103, Why GD Matter
This shows what happens when we don’t study our Gnostic gospels. Consciousness does continue to exist in the metaphysical realm in Christianity. (See my post on St. Mary Magdalene for more info on this topic.) I’m also pretty sure now that his soul/consciousness is there, he gets it about the whole, “Dear saint Jerry, please pray for us,” thing.
Regarding Catholicism, he didn’t care for the exclusivity clause, but a lot of the rules for behavior set forth, the commandments, are the bedrock of civilized behavior. What religion really needed to make it a solid positive was ritual celebration, more singing and less listening, being preached to – but maybe no. If churches were better at ritual celebration, fewer people would come to Grateful Dead shows. People accepted Dead shows as an almost religious experience because it has ritual celebration, a ritual performed in a trustworthy environment. Fans feel comfortable in a predictable vibe, taking it closer to the edge at a Dead show than say, a show by the Who. If pressed, Jerry would admit he had no clue if there was a God, but religion taught him some important lessons. Don’t fall into the ego trap. Respect others. That stuff he could dig.
Once Jerry felt he was having a conversation with a higher intelligence, very cool, might have been God, the idea was exciting. Then he noticed that God had exactly the same sense of humor that he did. Page 103, Why GD Matter
And that’s it. I gotta stop right here. Because I’ve recently experienced the same epiphany – the Jesus who speaks to me sounds a lot like me. There’s a lot here to play around with.
For example, Jesus, Blessed Mother Mary, Saints, and Angels speak to mystics in their own language. I mean, it’s convenient. I have no doubt Jesus or Blessed Mother Mary spoke to mystics St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bernadette of Lourdes, and St. Jacinta, St. Francisco Marto and Sr. Lucia of Fatima. However, if pressed, I’d be slightly less inclined to believe they spoke to St. Joan of Arc and Margery Kempe because the voices they heard sounded a lot like their own.
On the other hand, if you really
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, — Mark 12:30
then you’ve become a divine conduit. You’ve become an instrument through which God does good. So, whether it’s His voice or your own you’re hearing in your head doesn’t matter. It’s one and the same, the unique combination of you and God.
Speaking of instruments, St. Francis of Assisi did not write the prayer, Make Me an Instrument – it’s attributed to him falsely. See St. Francis’s Canticle of the Sun Canticle of the Sun to understand his writing style and perspective. He was not so much with the “I” or the “me.”
And neither was Jerry. For him it was all about collaboration.
(Oh, man. Get this. After sitting for five hours working on this post, I got up to make dinner, and, of course, needed to blast some music. I turned on GDRadio and a song called “Lucky Old Sun” popped up. I’ve never heard it before. And yet, it’s a perfect companion to St. Francis’s “Canticle to the Sun.” Check it out:
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness. – Canticle
Lucky Old Sun
Take me across and wash all my troubles away
Like that lucky old sun, give me nothin’ to do
But roll around heaven all day – “Lucky Old Sun”
Proving once again, to myself at least, that I’m not writing these posts all by me onesies.)
So, let’s see. Is Jerry Garcia saint worthy? Well, research showed he was a baptized (Roman Catholic) Christian. But, alas, I’ve been unable to find the moment in history when Jerry decided he believed in God after all and wouldn’t it be cool to entwine his soul forever with Jesus’s while still maintaining his broad, open, and accepting spirituality.
And yet, I still believe it happened at some point, maybe during the eighties, because I can see and hear it in recordings of his expression and voice when he sings spiritual songs either with the Grateful Dead or the Jerry Garcia Band.
Also, I remember reading the quote from above about “Ripple” –
When I sing that song, there is a moment or two when I feel like, am I really a Presbyterian minister? I personally have a real low embarrassment level. — Page 211, Jerry on Jerry
Jerry was uncomfortable singing songs with lyrics he didn’t believe.
And there was the next quote regarding his goal of connection –
“ . . . it would be great to have a song that was like, now it’s that moment on stage when we could all look at each other and say, okay, here we are . . . I don’t know what I would want to say apart from isn’t it great to be here and isn’t it swell that we’re all here.” — Page 215, Jerry on Jerry
Well, at some point, he found the perfect spiritual folk song he and the boys seemed pretty comfortable singing. In other words, he must have believed the words he was singing to overcome his low embarrassment level about seeming too preachy – “We Bid You Goodnight” includes the lyrics:
I love you, but Jesus loves you best.
And, that’s good enough for me.
Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack on August 9, 1995, at a drug rehabilitation facility in Forest Knolls, CA. He was 53.
His funeral was held at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Belvedere Island, CA. On August 13, a public memorial service was attended by over 25,000 people in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
In honor of saint Jerry Garcia of the United States, let’s make falafels — the absolute best food to buy from the deadhead vendors in the stadium parking lot to enjoy, along with the scene, while waiting for the doors to open.
1 box falafel mix
1 ¼ cups water
1 TBS olive oil
8 pita bread halves
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 small tomato, sliced
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
1 small avocado, peeled and sliced
Mix falafel mix and water in a medium bowl. Stir until blended. Let rest for 15 minutes. (Or follow directions on the prepared mix’s box.)
Roll mixture into 16 one-inch rounds, then mash into patties. Brush both sides with olive oil.
Broil in oven for about 3 minutes on each side.
Fill pita halves with two falafel patties, add some of each of the other ingredient.
You can mix up your own dry batch of falafel mix using this recipe.
You can prepare all the way homemade pita bread by using the recipe in my St. Philip and St. James post.
Instead of broiling, you can fry the falafels in olive oil. You can also cook them in round shapes instead of mashing them flat.
When it comes to writing about music, it’s best not to. Instead, I offer links to these Jerry Garcia Band and Grateful Dead spiritual songs so you can check ‘em out yourself. Some are traditionally spiritual and some are metaphorically, or metaphysically spiritual.
JERRY GARCIA BAND
THE GRATEFUL DEAD
Ultimately, here’s the thing about the Grateful Dead:
They’re a band beyond description
like Jehovah’s favorite choir
People joining hand in hand while
the music played the band
Lord they’re setting us on fire
— The Music Never Stopped
Here’s a link to the complete New Year’s Eve 1988/1989 show we attended in Oakland, CA. The San Francisco area is such a beautiful place, I’d like to go back some day. I mean, there’s got to be a shrine to St. Francis of Assisi around there somewhere. And this concert? Well, if nothing else, click through to see the amazing set list including a three-song encore with “One More Saturday Night” to finish. I knew as it was happening that it was the best New Year’s Eve I’ve ever had and will ever have:
(Original posted on 8/9/2017 to Saints and Recipes on Blogger.)
2/4/2018 Updated Bonus Material:
Check this out! Ripple Around the World, 2015