Grateful Dead Magazine Articles

Playboy Interview w/J. Garcia Pt. 5

Collected from
Back Previous Bus Stop Forward (Beth Dyer)
Organization: University of California; Santa Cruz
Reprinted without permission from Playboy, March 1972...

GRATEFUL DEAD I HAVE KNOWN (pt. 5) by Ed McClanahan

"The thing about us, I guess is that we're not really layin' anything on anybody. I mean if you're telln' people directly how to 'be right,' how to act, how to do, if you're talkin' to people on that level, then the kind of feedback you get is gonna be more of, like, 'You promised me this, man, now where is it?' It's the I-demand-to-speak- to-John-Lennon-personally syndrome. Like one time this guy came into our office, this f*cked-up guy, just walked right up and started staring at me in this intense way, man, and he was so heavy, it was as if he was about to say something really important, you know, really urgent, he looked like he was on the verge of exploding or something, and finally he says, 'Listen when are you guys gonna get it on, man? Because you know scientology's got a good head start!' But it's just the price you pay for standin' up in public, you get stuff comin' back at you, and if you're a little f*cked up yourself, you get f*cked-up feedback, that's all."

Another summer Sunday afternoon, and I'm driving up to Marin County to see a softball game between -- get this -- the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane, and just before I get on the Golden Gate Bridge I pick up this most remarkably scroungy, stringy-haired snaggle-toothed hippie hitchhiker -- "Wheat Germ," he called himself, I swear he did -- who says he is bound for Sausalito, and in the slow Sunday bridge traffic I light up a number and rather grandly offer him a hit, all the while coming on (I admit it, I'm freakdom's own Major Hoople) absolutely shamelessly about the Great Moment in Sports that the editors of a certain Nationally Known Publication have prevailed upon me to cover for them this afternoon, and Wheat Germ coolly takes his toke and lays a fat smoke ring against the windshield, and then goes for the inside pocket of his ragtag old Goodwill Bargain Basement tweed hacking jacket and outs with ... gasp! ... a badge? a gun? No, just a saddle-soap tin, the kind that about twice as big around as a Kiwi can, which he extends to me the way one might proffer a tin of lozenges, and I see that it's full of these little purple tablets* thousands of them, tiny lavender pastilles that slither around inside the can like collar buttons when Wheat Germ shakes them gently, saying, through a sudden spray of spittle so dense that, as his excitement rises, I can sometimes almost make out a rainbow in it, "Serve yourself, dad, go on, take some, sh*t yeah, all you want, me and my brother Yogurt's got a factory up in Sausalito puts out seven hunnert of these tabs an hour, it's good acid, man, I mean I've moved over six million dollars' worth of dope in the last three years and nobody's got burnt yet!"

*Yogurt? Six million?

"Sh*t yeah, over that. And that don't even count the shipload of hash the Interpol narcs shot out from unner us down at Yucatan last month! Them Interpol pigs, man, they're all a bunch of Commies or somethin', fifteen hunnert keys, man, straight to the bottom of the Pacific!" (The Pacific? Uh, say there, Wheat Germ, Yucatan is.... ) "Sh*t yeah. I mean they tar-petered the mother, man! But I don't give a sh*t, I got me a crew down there right now, divin' for it, I mean I'll get the bastid back f*cking-A dig it, dad, I deal for all the big people, see, the really heavy dudes, I mean Janis and me was just like that, dig, and whenever I need anything done, I just ... I mean I got people all over the f*ckin' country workin' for me, man, in my organization. The Syndicate, me and Yogurt call it, hee-hee-hee. Listen, man, are you sure you can't use a hit of this acid? Because I was just thinkin', you know, I wouldn't too much mind doin' a little dealin' to them guys, the Dead and the Airplane." He pauses long enough to glance down at the array of Official Accuracy Reporter's Notebooks spread between us on the engine housing, and adds, "Reporter, huh? I can dig it. What are you, dad, a sportswriter or somethin'?"

Turn to Part 6. . .

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