Remembering Garcia, a Year Later


When 8/9/96 began looming ahead a couple of months ago, I started wondering if and what I should be doing about it in the Grateful Dead Forum. I first considered having some high-falutin' panel discussion, but that seemed too contrived for a sad day. Some had suggested nothing at all, that we should just spend the time quietly.

But the reality was that I knew people would be gathering in our little corner of cyberspace regardless. After Jerry died, the need to talk to other like-minded souls was greater than ever. On the day he died, we had up to 12 chat rooms full of grievers, and had over 1000 people at an impromptu auditorium gathering that night. I knew there would be no such level of activity this time around, but that people would be expecting something. What I came up with was a form of a memorial service adapted to the auditorium format. Since people sit in rows of 16, there would essentially be mini-chat rooms for people to talk to each other, while the 'service' would proceed along a certain topical format. People were encouraged to discuss the issues in their chat row while it was being discussed on stage. We had a good turnout, and many fine comments from the audience. Since I was up on stage, I have no idea how it felt in the rows, but I would like to hear from you if you were there


The following is a transcript from an AOL online auditorium event held on August 9th, 1996 at 9PM EDT, a year after the death of Jerry Garcia. Structurally, this is how it went:

I was the emcee. I had two "onstage guests," David Gans and Mary Eisenhart. The other names you see are screen names of audience participants who submitted comments on the different topics. The transcript has been edited to provide the illusion of intelligibility!

Geoff Gould
AOL GD Forum sysop

Copyright 1996 America Online, Inc.

Geoff Gould : Hello, my name is Geoff Gould, I'm the sysop here.
Welcome to the Grateful Dead Forum's online memorial service. The focus tonight is on you, the community. What goes on up on stage is not the only thing. What goes in in your chat row, even in your IRC room ;-) is just as important. We are the community together.

The first days are the hardest days, don't you worry anymore...

Welcome to a memorial service to remember Jerry Garcia, someone very important to us. He left us a year ago today, and to paraphrase "Throwing Stones," we are on our own more than ever. One thing that was made clear a year ago, is that the community needs to be together, we need to support each other.

A year has passed, and many of us have moved into various stages of grief and acceptance. Many are still hurting, and we need to help each other get through this.

Today we will be do something different with the auditorium format. We will be covering 5 main issues. Members and/or panelists will be discussing the following topics:

Words eulogizing Garcia (as poetic as possible)
What the changes in the last year have meant to me?
What did we learn from the Furthur Festival?
What can we say to those that are still hurting?
What can we say to help us all move forward with love?

I'd like to indroduce a couple guests you may already know. But before I do, I think you should all introduce yourselves to each other, hugs wouldn't hurt! Get to know your chat-row neighbor!

Mary Eisenhart co-founded the GD Forum with me about 4 years ago! She's now the editor of Micro-Times magazine here in the Bay Area. Welcome Mary.

Mary Eisenhart : Thanks, Geoff, it's good to be back here again.

GG : David Gans is the producer of the nationally syndicated Grateful Dead Hour radio show, and
GG : author of several GD-oriented books, the most recent of which is "Not Fade Away", the online world's response to Garcia's passing. David also helped get the Forum off the ground as well. Welcome, and I believe doing a gig tonight?

David Gans : Hi! I've been lurking here off and on since you started.
Yes, I've got a gig with The Reptiles, a band I've been part of for more than 20 years! Tonight we're playing at the Ashkenaz in Berkeley, and we're going to be two guest guitarists: Henry Kaiser and Gary Lambert.

GG : great, let's get rolling
At the end of each topic, I will be clearing the question buffers so we can move on to the next topic

The first topic:
Words eulogizing Garcia (as poetic as possible)

Send us questions and comments now, but also tell each other in the rows how you feel too

I feel Garcia was the classic inspired artist, and that was also his role for us and the music. The quintessential Garcia guitar lick was like a revelatory bell-chime, a call to "wake up" The confidence he had in those notes inspired the music, and us as well. We certainly don't hear his "sweet licks" anymore, but part of inspiration is what it does for those inspired. I'd like to think we're not helpless in his absence as deep as his absence is. I feel Garcia was the reluctant hero.

: VERY well-said, Geoff. CONFIDENCE. He was fearless, and that inspired a lot of players to take chances.

ME : Well, unlike you guys, I'm not a musician, but it always seemed to me that Garcia could open up entire universes by playing... and put entire lifetimes into solos.

: The real sadness lie in those who will never hear Jerry, My heart goes out to them

JTJMJM Peace Jerry, Good bye friend, be free

ZEN GRDN: he taught all of us to appreciate music of all kinds and how to be kind to one other, live together

LSOLAT : What can be said about a man who's music brought so many good people togther. I've made everlasting friends at shows

GG : Have you two read Hunter's letter to Garcia?

ME : Yes, it's amazing and absolutely right on.

GG : NICOLAIHE wants to know what we think of it

ME : I thought it put into words a lot of things that were unspoken but really important all these years.

GG : Hunter's letter I feel was right-on, brutally honest

DG : Hunter's letter is amazing, just like his ongoing journals.

ME : As David and I were saying in a conversation earlier in the week.a lot of the songs are, at some level, about Hunter and Jerry, and a lot of the themes come out explicitly in the letter.

GG : Sad how some things work out. I hope all of you will read it

ME : I'm so glad Hunter is figuring out how to make this stuff do the next stage of the job!

GG : Next topic : What the changes in the last year have meant to me?

: BIG question.

GG : For me, the Forum has become a tighter community in the last year. The deep need we have for each other is so much more apparent now than before he left.

GG : David and Mary?

DG : The community seems to be as strong as ever, online and off.

: At the same time, there's a lot of figuring out how to take it to the next place.

: A lot of great seeds were planted in those 30 years, and we now get to nurture 'em.

: I felt really good about the vibe and cohesiveness and HOPE at Furthur.
What David said!

GG : R3323 sez: I think Jerry said it best when he sang "If you get confused,listen to the music play"

GG : although Hunter said that!

DG : Heh!

ME : Yeah, but he said it in Jerry's voice!

GG : GCeva sez: My tapes are now more important to me

DG : She's right, you know :^) Yes, the tapes carry the genetic code to future generations. And live music, too...

: NineMlSki sez: I really appreciated hearing Hunter's thoughts at this time, a year later. He really knows how to put things in perspective. Sounds like he is really missing Jerry too.

SlrpyNoze : Jerry's passing was in a sence a test of our devotion to the dead and I would have to say that we passed it with flying colors.

AL Girl55 : I think the saddest for me is that my children will never get to experience Jerry. I plan on having children in the near future and planned to take them to a show. :-(

GG : ok, let's move on a bit

GG : Next topic : What did we learn from the Furthur Festival?

ME : We learned that it's alive, whatever It is!

GG : I felt good about seeing everyone. There is an obvious void of course, but the vibe was like no other show you can go to. I think the scene had to change anyway, with or without Garcia. Now we don't have a choice. If we want to get together, this will probably be the way.

McKenally : I've always shunned the tag "deadhead", mostly because of what Steve Silberman termed "deader than thou syndrome". But in this past year I've realized that it's more important now than ever to embrace Deadheadness, now that it's all over. It's almost our duty.

DG : I don't think we shuld wait around for the surviving Dead guys to tell us when to gather.

: good point David

ME : Indeed, it's great to see all the creativity people are putting into gatherings.

GG : MATROPOLI sez: that there is still family !!

GG : Deadheads gotta dance

GG : Dupe King sez: That the scene is still strong, but we all miss Jerry

Slk431 That the Wheel is turning and you can't stand still!!!

: Well said!

Terrapinn : furthur needs to continue

GG : Shpoffls7 has the next comment:
Comment : I still hope the boys will reunite in some future incarnation of the band.I understand why they stopped,but there's no reason for musicians forbid themselves from ever jamming from time to time.

GG : Ajackstra:
Comment : I feel we learned that without jerry life stilll goes on but it will never be the same

Donald7 :Jorma helps a lot

GG : here here!

Mrd666 : it was no replacement but still nothing like the scene at any other competing road shws

ME : Jorma was a real treat!

CASSIDYGR : Everything goes on ... just in a different form... the energy still lives on

: We learned that we can still come together and experience the joy and love that Jerry showed us!

SlrpyNoze : The furthur festival showed us that as a community we are still the strongest. Anything based on love always prevails.

: That as it changes its not the same,yet the spirit endures.

LZYRVRD : Jerry is still very much a part of our lives

GG : very much. David and Mary, what point of Furthur made you miss Jerry the most? For me it was during Cassidy

DG : If I had been at Shoreline, it would have been when Phil hit the stage.

GG : It was nice to see Phil

DG : I can imagine!

ME : There wasn't a particular moment for me...

GG : Bruce kept teasing Lovelight with Phil's amp offstage

ME : Agreed, I was SO glad to see Phil because I'd missed the symphony stuff and was afraid I'd never see him play again!

GG : Dupe King:
Comment : The main thing I noticed about Furthur (apart from the lack of Jerry) was the lack of the "Dead-head-for-a-day" that plagued the scene in the last few years

ME : What Dupe King said!

GG : Phil looked good, sounded good, doing double bass with Bakithi Khumalo

GG : moving on

GG : on to the fourth topic: What can we say to those that are still hurting?

: I feel this is the toughest question. Grieving is always a hard process; not something you can force. I do feel it's good to encourage others to move forward, to "the next step"

GG : David and Mary?

ME : I think it can't be forced. Different people have a lot to come to terms with at different levels with all this.

GG : JHAWKS197: Listen to the music play!

DG : I think it is a good idea to look a little closer to home for your inspiration and motivation.

GG : SlrpyNoze:
Comment : Like the song says, "a box of rain will ease the pain and love will see you through......."

ME : Some people need to have a lot of gatherings, and others need to be by themselves. I think eventually everybody will find something good to make from this. As Slrpy suggests, we have a manual for this...

GG : good point David. Some people were TOO dependent on the GD

DG : <smile>

DG : I was smiling in response to the "manual" remark.

Acacia77 : There is a lot of great music out there--expand your musical horizons

GG : Wiley837:
Comment : Nothing lasts forever. Better to have had this light for a while than never to have seen.

DG : Yes! Many different kinds of music can provide ecstasy!

GG : JaimeG9:
Comment : For David Gans: Good work bro with the GD Hour : )

GG : shameless!

DG : Thank you! It's an honor to have the gig.

GG : Pikopiko:
Comment : Your family is here for you...whenever you need us, it's ok to cry: our mourning is our celebration, and our celebration is our mourning : )

ME : Nicely said!

GG : Soc of Le:
Comment : let go of the negative and embrace the goodness

GG : Lots of good advice here!

DG : Loss and grief are part of life.

CBarrows : Let your grief be honest. Feeling good again doesn't mean you love Jerry any less.

GG : Burnie662:
Comment : There is nothing any one person can say to make the pain, hurt, and anger over Jerrys death go completely will always be there in some small way...

DG : That's right! No survivor's guilt, please!

GG : very true

ME : There had to be someting pretty great there for us to miss it so much!

GG : let's move on to the final segment:

: What can we say to help us all move forward with love?

: Once again, I posed this as a question, not because I knew the answer, but because I wanted to know an answer. Certainly we all need to keep spinning the big wheel, juicing the gears with all the love we can muster. I'd like to know what the rest of you think?

ME : I think the realization that we're all still here to move this forward is powerful in itself!

: Take what we've learned from this experience and put it into practice everywhere we go.

GG : Mimean:
Comment : Why should we be angry about his death? Yes, we're upset, but it's a part of life, too...that crazy thing death. I was sad. I'm still sad.

: Rmnantsed:
Comment : everyone needs to remember,there is no growth without pain

ME : Well, death was always there in the culture, and coming to terms with it is a big part of what GD is, to me anyway.

DG : I wasn't angry about his death. It seemed pretty easy to predict, unfortunately.

GG : Ntforkids:
Comment : LET THE MUSIC PLAY!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment : Hug'll make you feel better!!

GG : Gr8flDay:
Comment : As long as we have the memories...Jerry will never be completely gone from our lives : )

DG : That's right!

: Johnnycabl:
Comment : he gave us something lets try to share it with others that haven't got it : ))

GG : Dupe King:
Comment : Live your own life. Don't wait for others to live it for you. "If you plant ice, you're gonna harvest wind"

ME : One of the real heartwarming things for me that's come out of this is how much non-Deadheads offer condolences, with much sincerity even though they don't get it...

DG : He taught me a hell of a lot about music and life.

GG : SlrpyNoze: (cribbed from McNally!)
Comment : The spirit not only endures, it can triumph. Put on your dancing shoes.

Comment : keep travelin and sending the word!! don't let anger take you to an early grave faith, peace, and love will be the way

GG : KarenW409:
Comment : this has been a sad year, but one of change...for me, Garcia is alive in my heart

GG : Well, I'd like to thank David and Mary for coming tonight

DG : Jerry will be with us on stage tonight, for sure.

GG : This has been quite a day around here. I want evryone to hug each other before you leave tonight

GG : {{{all of you}}}

ME : It's good to be here. Take care of each other out there!

DG : Thanks for doing all of this, Geoff.

ME : What he hugged!

GG : Fare thee well, fare thee well, we loved you more than words can tell

peace. Goodnight everybody!

ME : Goodnight!

DG : Good night!

GG : reception follows in the Rose Garden

ME : Have your tickets out and ready!

Return to GD Forum (AOL Members Only)

Return to GD Forum (Internet Edition)