Saturday, April 26, 2014

January 18, 1985: Strung Out and Busted

January 18, 1985 has got to be Rock Bottom for Jerry Garcia: strung out and busted.

But let me step back. Six days earlier, Garcia gave an interview to Jas Obrecht and Jon Sievert (Obrecht 1985, 2010). Obrecht reports that the interview took place at the home of Nora Sage, said to be a fan in whose basement Garcia was crashing. Jackson (1999, 337-338) says instead that this is the Hepburn Heights house (12 Hepburn Heights, San Rafael, CA, 94901), that Rock Scully had moved/been kicked out in 1983, and that Nora is keeping house and tending to Garcia between her law classes. After the events to be narrated, Ms. Sage helps Garcia kick by rationing his drugs in progressively smaller doses, gets him painting for the first time in twenty-five years, has him making model cars and guns, toys for Jerry denying the Devil of his. Brother Tiff appreciates it: "If it wasn't for Nora Sage, Jerry probably would have been dead a lot earlier" (Jackson 1999, 338).

It cannot have been easy. Obrecht (2010) sets the stage, January 12, 1985:
Garcia, unwashed and disheveled, shuffled slowly into the living room, his black T-shirt sprinkled with white powder. His fingertips were blackened in a manner consistent with “chasing the dragon,” as smoking heroin was commonly referred to in the Bay Area. Ten minutes into our interview, Garcia nonchalantly chopped a large rock of cocaine into about twenty lines and consumed all of it during the next hour.
Hyperbole? Check out our googly hero in the fish-eye lens. Look at all the blow and dandruff on that t-shirt, the tarred fingers! For want of Smell-O-Vision we can't truly appreciate the "prodigious body odor which preceded him by the room’s length" (

Jerry Garcia, 1/12/85 - Frets, July 1985, photograph by Jon Sievert.

Less than a week later, in response to an intervention staged at band and family's request by new Dead manager (and old friend) John McIntire, Garcia drops Nora off at class and sets off for rehab. But he detours a little bit, a consequential little twist, planned or unplanned. Since I know neither wither he was coming nor whence he was going, I don't know if it's an actual detour. Corry suggests below that it could rather have formed a destination. Regardless, he "stopped in Golden Gate Park, where he sat in his car meditating on his life, and, not coincidentally, finishing off his drug supply. Unfortunately, his BMW, a gift from a disreputable source, was not registered" (McNally 2002, 552).

On Friday, January 18, 1985, around 12:30 in the afternoon, SFPD Officer Mark Gamble steers his Honda police motorcycle toward a black BMW with expired September 1984 tags parked on the north side of Middle Drive in Golden Gate Park (north of Metson Lake). Approaching the driver's side window, he finds the vehicle's sole occupant "looking down at his hands in which he held a piece of tin foil paper which had a brown, sticky appearing substance on it. He looked up at me and quickly shoved the tin foil out of view to the right side of the driver's seat. He started reaching all over the base of his seat acting very nervous."

Officer Gamble:
I told him to open his window more and he started the engine and opened the power window. I asked him for his driver's license and the vehicle registration. He said he did not have his driver's license and he gave the registration to me. He verbally identified himself as "Jerry Garcia, born 8/1/42". ... I looked into the car and saw an open briefcase open on the front passenter seat. Inside the briefcase I saw several other pieces of tin foil with brown residue and burn marks. Also, I saw the baggie of paper bindles, the glass cooker and [?pro?] and the cigarette lighters. I also smelled a slight smell of something burned coming from inside the car.
Officer Gamble arrested "Jerry Garcia, born 8/1/42" on charges of possession of narcotics for sale, based on multiple, separately labeled bindles of drugs and a sizeable wad of cash. The man, 42, 6'0 and 250 (ish), long greying hair, a plaid red shirt and a black t-shirt -- perhaps the same getup from six days earlier, "knocked-out-loaded" (James Booker), flat-out busted (something Booker also understood).

His stash duly inscribes itself into his official (hence "permanent") record, as in modernity it must. The numberings are mine, so I can refer to them (another thoroughly modern move, in terms of the quantification and the agency I feel in imposing it).
  1. 1 brown briefcase containing misc papers
  2. 1 SFPD issue property envelope [ed: containing at least next three items]
  3. $990 (16x $50, 9x $20, 1x $10)
  4. 3 paper bindles containing brown powder (found in rose tin)
  5. 1 baggie of 6 cotton swabs
  6. 1 plastic container liquid
  7. 1 glass container liquid
  8. 8 pieces of foil with burnt residue
  9. 11 paper bindles with brown residue in a bag found in briefcase
  10. 1 paper bindle of white powder found in briefcase
  11. 1 Zip-Loc baggie containing 1 yellow legal paper bindle containing white powder, labeled "1/2 gram"
  12. 1 paper bindle with brown rock like substance
  13. 1 cooking glass with prong holders
  14. 7 cigarette lighters
  15. 1 razor
  16. 1 4" metal tool
  17. 1 zipper brown pouch 6" x 4"
  18. 1 seven of hearts playing card
  19. 1 rose metal box 4" x 2"
Let's consider this.

Least commonly, we find the opiate "Persian", item #4, the brown powder found in the rose tin. I don't exactly understand the preparation and use of this. Was it mixed with one of the liquids (#6, #7) to create a paste or rock, this on or perhaps then placed on tin foil (item #7). This is placed on a cooking glass (#12) held via tongs (#12) in one hand, heated with lighter (#14) and inhaled from above? Perhaps he could place the fin foil with the drugs over the tongs and the tin foil heated directly, while the glass cooker is for freebasing the cocaine (see below). I just don't know (thank goodness). The cotton swabs (#5) and I guess the other fluid are for cleaning the paraphernalia, I figure, as possibly is metal tool #16.

I need to educate myself about this substance and its use, specifically by Garcia. I suspect the Greenfield oral history Dark Star might have some information?

Cocaine was commonly encountered among Bay Area affluenti (drivers of late-model black BMWs, for example) of the mid-1980s, as it probably is today. But Garcia was a man of copious tastes and appetites (and lots of money), and he impresses with his all-around hoovering versatility. If I understand things correctly, the bindle from the brief case (#10) and the ½ gram in the yellow paper bindle (#11) are powder cocaine, easily consumable on the bottom of the rose tin (#19) using the razor blade (#15) or the playing card (#18) for refinement and alignment and either the tool (#14) or probably the bills (#3) to snort it. The brown rock-like substance (#12) is apparently heroin, according to a commenter.

Was he freebasing cocaine by washing it in ether (#6 and/or #7; volatile stuff!), and smoking it in a pipe (#13?) as a pure whack to the brain and blood? That'd complete the trifecta (powder, rock and base) I guess. Croz (Crosby and Gottlieb 1988, 294-295) gives a taste for the paraphernalia involved in that:
You collect junk for it. You have a million little pieces of glass. You have little tubes and bottles and stoppers and screens and pipes and pieces of rubber. You have all kinds of little metal tools to scrape the pipes. You have a zillion little containers to keep liquids and powders. We carried around bags full of stuff. I carried little pH papers to check the acidity and alkalinity. I carried bottles of water, little containers of ammonia. I carried bags of baking soda. … [295] I'd have a pipe and a spare pipe and then parts to fix the pipe and all kinds of strange shit. The torch became a part of the things I carried with me, the way people carry car keys or a wallet.
I don't think Garcia was freebasing cocaine, but I am not sure about that. But Croz's narrative gives a sense of the thing, and the Croz-Garcia comparison is one I'll try to say at least a little bit about at some point.

I notice they list no cigarettes- I wonder if they let him keep his unfiltered Camels with him in stir? Because as a characterization of Garcia's material environment and possessions –as a proper inventory-- it can hardly be complete without smokes. Either they were so trivial the clerk never wrote it, or the perp was allowed this little comfort (in which case, look out lungs!), or Jerry was actually out. If he was not holding smokes when he was arrested, then he really was finishing up and about to leave again -- man's gotta breathe. This is need #1 in Garcia's life at this point, always ready-to-hand -- take my drugs, but please leave me my Camels!

Whatever his nicotine circumstances, he was almost out of Persian. There were eleven used brown-paper bindles (#9) and eight pieces of used tin foil (#8)! Dude had been chuffing like a madman in his driver's seat. My expectation is that he was going to do up a bunch of blow, too, though perhaps not all of it. Gotta get your concentration on for driving. It's possible that he was going to stop off somewhere to a friend, lover, coworker, associate, middleperson, codependent, dealer, or someone else's and drop off at least some of the coke (could he really have done that half-gram sitting there in his car?), maybe some money if he's going away for a few days so they can have some stuff ready for when he gets out – a Scout being always prepared.

The total drugs left comprise the three bindles of brown powder (#4), the white powder briefcase bindle (#10), the ½ gram of blow (#11), and the rock (#12). The cop was being a hardass in busting him on intent-to-sell based on the multiple packaging, but that's really just Jerry's stuff.

The Sources do a great job with the fallout of The Bust, including the relative slap on the wrist for the criminal matter and Garcia's long, slow recovery out of opiate addiction over a sixteen month period (Jackson 1999, 337). McNally says that what drove him to clean up his act was not the Bust, but that.
Early in the summer the consequences of almost total physical passivity caught up with him, and he began to experience massive edema, a swelling in his ankles and lower legs that was so bad his trousers needed to be cut. The appearance of his legs was so shocking that Garcia finally had undeniable proof of the damage. Bit by bit, as the year 1985 passed, he began to clean up and exercise at least a little (McNally 2002, 552). 
I have delved at least a little into some Garcia shows from the following period: March 2, 1985, May 31, 1985, June 1, 1985, and June 3, 1985. I don't want to say much more right now. Instead, I want to use Corry's beautiful knowledge and words to put a little bow on the Bust. Discussing why Garcia might have been in Golden Gate Park, he notes that
It's a giant tourist attraction in a city where there are far too many cars. GGP has been made intentionally unfriendly to through-traffic--the roads have never been widened, the intersections are full of stop signs and roundabouts. Even on a weekday in January (Jan 18, 1985 was a Friday), there are tourists trying to back into parking spaces, roads blocked because there is an international Frisbee championship, and so on. So if you have any experience driving in San Francisco, you go out of your way to avoid any trip through Golden Gate Park, with the exception of 19th Avenue (Highway 1), which is a through street and isn't a convenient entrance to the park by design. Two fast one-way Avenues bracket the park (Lincoln to the ocean, Fulton towards downtown) to provide further inducement not to enter the park unless you are planning to stop there.

Middle Drive north of Metson Lake is a dead-end street
, rather difficult to get to. However, if Jerry was looking for a quiet place ... From a symbolic point of view, Middle Drive north of Metson Lake was probably within sight of the Polo Fields. So if Garcia was taking stock of his life, he was doing it right next to where the Human Be-In was held nearly 17 years earlier (within 4 days). Although Park geography has not changed since the 1950s, it is symbolic as well that when Garcia wanted to find a lonely place to get high in the car, he knew how to find a dead-end street close to the Polo Fields.

Very cinematic.

"I don't ... like ... confrontation!" says Toy Story Rex, the tremulous Tyrannosaur, and neither did Garcia. Who does? Yet he had been directly confronted by everyone closest to him, and exceptionally, had overcome his own probable embarrassment and allowed himself to accede to their request that he clean up his act ("mannnn"). He wouldn't be the first or last addict to try to finish his stash before cleaning up, with potentially dangerous and certainly problematic consequences. But, re-reading Corry's context, maybe he was also taking time to re-evaluate; remember how it was, imagine how it might be.

I'll assert that Garcia's was a life well-lived - too short by any standard, with some down deep and dirty low points, but way out in the far-right tail of the distribution in terms of average quality, with maxima probably hitting few-in-trillionths level rarity. So I don't think that August 8, 1995, Garcia's last day on Earth, was Rock Bottom. Far from it. By that time, at only 53 and only ten years after the events narrated here, he had, I hate to be crude about it, shot his wad. He had burned through more experience in 53 than most do in 80, the cliché would have it, and I think that's probably right.

On the afternoon of January 18, 1985, by contrast, dude was probably thinking he still had a lot to live for, some unfinished business. That's certainly how he narrated his own thinking after the coma a year and a half later. While he and his Dead associates had already begun ascending a long arc of success, within two and a half years they'd have a hit record and would become one of the heaviest and most reliable earners in rock and roll (see my snapshot of 1991). Garcia's unfinished business was, quite literally, to make himself an American success story, to reach the top of the mountain. Maybe he spied it, just a glimpse of it, jonesing for a smoke in a San Francisco lockup, up over the horizon of recovery, through patching up some personal stuff, working his ass off - a few more years, maybe some good times, a few laughs, more music, and a little greatness along the way.

(Acknowledgement: Thanks to Walter Keenan for the report and Corry Arnold for context and analysis.)


  1. I wondered what the "misc papers" in his briefcase were. The police report had no interest in those, but it would be illuminating to know what Garcia was carrying around...
    As it happens, Robert Hunter explained a few years later that the briefcase was actually full of unused Hunter lyrics!
    "[Garcia] has avoided a great deal of stuff which both he and I think is good. What he does is put it all in a briefcase and then he carries it around with him, in case I ever get run over by a dump truck or something. Maybe it's his insurance policy. But he's got some real good stuff tucked away from years ago. When he got busted a couple years back, that briefcase got impounded for evidence, and I realized that all this work was in it! So I got his lawyer onto it - 'For chrissakes, this isn't evidence, it's years of work!' - and he managed to get it back for us. I was worried for a minute."
    (2/23/88 interview for Golden Road)

    A while ago I looked up Nora Sage's tangled history with Garcia:
    It's quite an interesting story (or would be if we knew more of it), as she fell in & out of favor with Garcia - different people have very different views of her. It illustrates the tendency in Garcia's life for various feuding factions to form around him of people competing for his some people gained ascendancy, others would get the boot.

  2. I don't know, man. I REALLY don't like it when people speculate about stuff we really don't know that much about--shit like where "rock bottom" is/was, what he was planning to do with all that stuff in his car, hypothesizing about JG getting busted as a passive-aggressive act... I guess that's what blogs are for, but I hope no one confuses it with actual history.

    1. A little more.

      "stuff we really don't know that much about--shit like where "rock bottom" is/was"

      Of course this is pure conjuring. There's no knowing something, in the sense you mean, that is inherently subjective.

      "what he was planning to do with all that stuff in his car"

      You mean, like the Dead's in-house historian saying that he intended to finish it all? I just disagree with you that it's not kosher to speculate about it, not least given Dennis characterization of Garcia's intent. Maybe a 1/2 gram of coke was realistically finishable. Maybe it wasn't. It's worth asking the question. What's more, you take some time in your book to discuss the controversy over the Sage plan to clean Garcia up gradually. Why shouldn't we be able to figure out what his intentions were when he was apparently driving himself to rehab?

      "hypothesizing about JG getting busted as a passive-aggressive act"

      Since when is any hypothesis off-limits? It may not be comfortable, it may not be right, but trying to understand what was in his head and his heart strikes me as totally legitimate.

      Maybe I'm just defensive around you, Blair. But I have always had the sense that you got to have your say -- he was "still addicted to heroin" in February, you tell us (p. 337), but how do you know?-- but are less open to others having theirs.

    2. I can say that an addict forms a love affair with the dope because it's their life. The only thing on the "to do list" GET DRUGS. AND DO THEM. Now that being said before someone goes to treatment for the purpose of stopping. Forever . You say goodbye. And get yourself as together as your pocket will afford you. Most people check in because they have run out of dope ,money and people to manipulate into getting them dope and or money.But if you are able to give it a good whack before you hit detox smelling like a wild goat.You do it...23 years on both sides of the fence allows me a masters in indulgence. ..Oh ya.I could of done a half gram in the time it took me to write that. To a daily/nightly user, that's just enough to poss you off or to kill the time it takes for dude to get his ass to my house with 3 1/2 grams.If that cop was an hour later Jerry would of been somewhere else. Or maybe not.

    3. My exact view upon finishing this disturbing, projectionist piece. Probably says more about the writer himself than old Garcia, Imho of course.

    4. This is a disturbing read. Blair is right. It is a projectionist piece by a doughy loser who couldn't have less going on.

      He has what feels like deeply violent sadistic tendencies towards Garcia. This is not the first time have seen him spout off.

      There are many pieces missing here that no one really deserves to know.

      First of all keep Ms Sage out of this. She is none of your business.

      Second, Garcia and his life is none of your business

      Third, you are a doughy loser and should either get a life or find a bridge

      and to those of you below--- you don't know his drug use or why he used. He was actually on only enough pure Persian heroin out of Europe to not die for withdrawls. He was tricked into that addiction and supplied for life. The first time he tried it he was told it was opium. He had reservations but the front man for the Who and his gf at the time Deb Koons both insisted he wouldn't be addicted and "when in Europe, be in Europe!" the front man for the who should face murder charges and Koons should be outed. I wont do it.

      He was going to rehab. Why? to clean up and get away from the idiots around him that were ruining his life. He was finishing his stash and heading over to the center when he was pulled up on by police. Someone--- again am not outing anyone--- called the police on him. Why? to stop him from getting clean. There was far more money and interest in keeping him hooked.

      So lets have some compassion shall we?

      And to talk about "rock bottom" ? you are rock bottom blogger. your life is rock bottom. your mind and soul are rock bottom.

      He died in a rehab. was given bad shit. parish was the last person to see him alive other than 2 nurses. so just stop. your karma is horrific for writing this and judging him. you don't know the first.

      I went to the sfpd for Hunter. My findings were published in the sfexaminer about the missing song lyric pages. they were checked out with the briefcase and not used is all. There were thousands of pages not used. Hunter didn't realize they had been shelved is all and didn't have another chance after the RS interview to explain that.

      Its Christmas and I came across this and Blair, thanks for your nobility. There is a reason you have had success and actually published. As to everyone else here but the blogger, may peace and love be you and yours for all time. Please hold Garcia's memory in highest honor.

      And you blogger. Please. I'll buy you a bridge. youre worthless for this

    5. Sorry Parish am trying to find the edit button. I don't want to rewrite that. I apologize your good name--- the name of the people who love and protect God--- was used in such a nasty context. I simply was trying to say that as an old friend you met him in the parking lot and were the last family to see him alive. you were with him so many years it is notable you were there at the very, bitter--- very bitter end. I hope you have a lovely year Parish and thanks for your radio show. better than this dumb blog shit here for real

    6. I am sorry this post upsets you so much. Taking Blair's criticisms to heart, I have tried to limit speculation and stick to facts.

    7. A half g of blow is easily finishable in one setting, lol.

  3. With all due respect, Blair, I am quite sure I know what actual history is.

    To suggest that "just the facts" (no interpretation) even exist, let alone that we might limit ourselves to them were they, indeed, to stand on their own, strikes me as utterly naive. All observation is theory-laden, Blair - we can't escape our own biases. All we can do is try to identify where we think facts and and where we think observation begins.

    1. It's pretty easy to stick to the facts when you have them readily available (e.g., nos. 1-19, above). Everything else is projectionist BS. There is no ambiguity between facts and narrative dude.

    2. Your last line is inconsistent with the idea that observation is theory-laden, which is an idea that I generally buy. But, as to whether I am projecting, sure, OK. I do try to say "maybe" and "I think" and that sort of thing, but I could certainly mark my speculations more clearly. Thanks.

  4. Hi,
    I know what addiction meant to me. And to a lot of others, too. It might look the same from the outside, but it ain't. There are only similarities. For anyone to claim much similarity with Jerry is a stretch at best. He had performance, professional and personal pressures none of us can imagine. To hypothesize is one thing; I don't see much evidence of that here. It is more like letting the imagination run wild and take a stab at it. You're entitled to do that, but call it what it is, don't try to elevate it. We have every right to feel defensive when people come along and make things-up about a generous, multidimensional person we followed for years. For example, I don't speculate n what goes through the mind of a rock, or what it's like to be one. I wouldn't presume to know it's intentions. If I did such a thing, I'd be about as close as the author is in guessing what drove Jerry. Jerry deserves better than that. So do the readers.

    1. i often wonder what it would be like to be a rock ,mostly tourmaline sometimes aqua marine

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Fair enough, Anonymous, thanks for weighing in.

  6. But let me also respond.

    "To hypothesize is one thing; I don't see much evidence of that here. It is more like letting the imagination run wild and take a stab at it."

    To me, a hypothesis is an educated guess. I see plenty of hypotheses here.

    "You're entitled to do that, but call it what it is, don't try to elevate it."

    You mean, to elevate it up to the status of a blog post?

    "We have every right to feel defensive when people come along and make things-up about a generous, multidimensional person we followed for years."

    What have I made up, exactly? Yes, I offer various conjectures, some of them ungenerous.

    Interesting set of reactions. Thanks to everyone for reading and sharing thoughts.

    1. A characterization of a mental state is not a "hypothesis"; it's pretty much pure speculation, unless verified by the person being speculated about.

      And fwiw I don't think that it's productive to try to get into the interior head space of an artist from the outside, through conjectures based on details of their personal life. It verges on vicarious living, or celebrity voyeurism.

      The way I see it, one of the signature attributes of great artists is that they're giving you their most essential stuff in their work. That doesn't mean that biographic detail is worthless. But it is secondary.
      I also think there are both ethical and rational limits to biographical inquiry. It's all too easy for a biographer or critic to enter a zone where their personal projections overshadow or even replace a fair, honest, and accurate accounting of the person they're ostensibly chronicling.

      One warning sign of that problematic tendency is an insistence on drama. And in regard to the situation being discussed, I'll hazard a speculation (not hypothesis!) of my own; Garcia was simply after a place to discreetly carry out the mundane business of getting high, and it turned out to not be discreet enough. And his stash was just his stash. Mostly used up. Enough left to tide him over until he got a refill.
      That sounds a bit casual, but that's how people with drug habits tend to view them. I don't mean to minimize the health hazards associated with cocaine and heroin use, which are authentically serious and potentially lethal. But that situation isn't helped by criminal penalties that chase the users into lonely cul de sacs, especially if they're strung out.

    2. Well, I think of a hypothesis as an educated guess, and I'd still defend that that's what some of this is, but it's not really important. Your comments are fair!

  7. I had my say 16 years ago so I'm not allowed to weigh in on these things? You know how much I value the scholarship that you and Corry (among others) have put into these subjects in recent years. All I'm saying is that I'm not personally comfortable speculating about motives, etc. Just not part of my makeup. Have at it all you want. I apologize if my comments offended you. Twas not my intention. I'll keep my grousing to myself from now on hereabouts...

    The February addiction comment is unattributed from Nora. I talked to her A LOT but mostly off the record and not for attribution...

  8. I understand, Blair. I reacted defensively, and I apologize.

    One of the challenges is that you and Dennis have done such a great job with "just the facts", that sometimes the only follow up involves speculation.

    Anyway, I'll try not be defensive moving forward. I'd love your feedback, which of course you can offer anonymously as well if you don't want to deal more with my issues than you have to.

    All my best!

  9. Now let me respond on the substance of your response.

    "I had my say 16 years ago so I'm not allowed to weigh in on these things?"

    That's not what I meant to say. What I meant to say is that it would be unfortunate for you and Dennis, who have done so much amazing scholarship that is so hard to follow, to shut the door behind you. I come from a scientific milieu. We build progressively on each others' work. Sometimes that means triangulating things that weren't available to you and engaging in new interpretation and, yes, speculation. Sometimes that involves scrutinizing claims, such as Dennis's that Garcia intended to finish his drug supply (note the imputation of motives; and even if JG told DM this, there are problems with that sort of evidence, too - see below).

    In short, because you and Dennis did such a good job with so many facts, to say that everyone else must stick narrowly to those same facts is akin to saying that the door is closed. To accept that would result in stagnation. We have to push the boundaries of this stuff, as we try to do in science.

    "You know how much I value the scholarship that you and Corry (among others) have put into these subjects in recent years."

    That gratifies me. Thanks.

    "All I'm saying is that I'm not personally comfortable speculating about motives, etc."

    Two reactions. First, point taken. There's no accounting for taste. I am more comfortable with that. Second, nonetheless, I think you'll find that in your own work you frequently impute motives and all kinds of other stuff beyond the facts. I don't want to be pedantic --too late!-- but it seems pretty well accepted in the social sciences that there are very few, and perhaps no, facts that stand on their own. "All observation is theory-laden" is how I have it in my head, from my advisor, and I am sure that's a quote from a book or paper somewhere. It's certainly my view. We cannot escape judgment, interpretation, extrapolation. All we can do is try to trace their contours and limits as transparently as possible.

    "I'll keep my grousing to myself from now on hereabouts"

    I respectfully request that you feel free to grouse out loud. Exchanging views, even disagreements, even, sometimes, vigorously, is something I really value. I know I haven't set the incentives properly in this exchange, but I'll try to do better, I promise!

    "The February addiction comment is unattributed from ..."

    Let me be a little more pedantic. In my day job in the last 8 years or so I have dabbled, and I do mean merely dabbled, in a little bit of psychology. And I have come to see that it's complicated. So, while talking to people who were there is still the gold standard, it's not foolproof. Everyone has, we all have, our own biases, cognitive and other limits, emotional involvement, and all that.

    In re-reading the relevant sections of your book, I love how you were able to talk to the key players, and how you structure your narrative on this topic around the insights, thoughts, recollections of those who were there. Amazing stuff. But it's not foolproof. Your informants were very deeply involved in all of this, their motivations were always complex, and they are just as flawed as the rest of us.

    So, in short, while I don't doubt that testimony from Person X who was there should stand as crucial evidence, I reject that idea that such evidence constitutes unassailable fact. My goal, as always, is to triangulate as many different kinds of evidence, abetted by a wide range of insight (including my own and others' speculation and interpretations, appropriately flagged!), in pursuit of understanding.

  10. If you're looking for more info about how one operated all of JG's confiscated Persia works, you should really read Tom Davis's book. He actually redacts part of the section about the specific smoking procedure with black bars, but otherwise talks quite explicitly about his Persian use with Garcia. It's the only on-the-record, first person account, as far as I know. It sounds creepy when typed like that, but Davis does it well -- almost sweetly, if such a thing is possible. A worthwhile read for anyone looking for a very human, very funny perspective on Garcia's dark years, as well as many other topics.

    1. Actually, Rock Scully also had a first-person account of smoking Persian with Garcia...the morbidly curious can look up Living with the Dead, chapters 20-22 (p.314, 339, 360 in particular).

      John Kahn also had a few general comments about it (see Jackson's Garcia bio, p.321-22).

  11. Personally, I love to hear all the stories from everyone and don't mind hypothesis. What happen to Jerry is terrible and unfortunate. You can't help someone who doesn't want help and the dude liked to get high. That being said, the GD changed my life for the better. I enjoyed every moment of it, and I'm sorry it took Jerry down in the process. If he would have just stayed with the weed and psychedlics, maybe things may have been different. Once you touch the harder stuff, its tough to escape.

  12. Thanks, anon. Yep.

    Jesse, I thumbed the Davis book from the library when it came out, and just a few days finally bought myself a copy, so I'll get it at least from that view.

    So much to read, so little time!

  13. As for me, I have spent so much time wondering "why didn't the Dead play Dark Star" and "why did Merl Saunders get pushed out" that it's hard not to extend my curiosity about Jerry's thought process to other matters. Speaking personally, I think he wasn't that reflective, and dealt with stress by taking on more risk. Put another way, he was reckless for it's own sake.

    I'm still fixated, however, on what Jerry was doing in GGP in the first place. The getting high before rehab thing is understandable, and for all I know common. Still, Jerry lived in San Rafael, and was going to the East Bay (Berkeley/Oakland). Why go by means of Golden Gate Park (check the map link above and you'll see what I mean).

    If the answer was that Jerry was already in San Francisco the night before, where was he? In the Sunset, or Ocean Beach? What was Jerry doing in Ocean Beach. My point about the difficult geography of GGP (mostly quoted above) was related to the fact that it would have been easier to pull into an Orchard Supply Hardware parking lot in San Rafael to get a buzz on. Next time you are in San Francisco, try driving through Golden Gate Park--it's hard to get there, and there's nothing "convenient" about it.

    Even if you think Jerry wasn't usually reflective--and I think that--it's still remarkable that he ended up getting busted within eyesight of the Human Be-In location.

    1. I totally agree. I know it's a theory but he definitely went for a reason . When you are in that life you pull into a police station if your brain and body tells you its time again. Any kind of hassle between you and that moment is unacceptable. People just get out of my way or I will move you. It's most common to get high in the parking lot at treatment. As close to the door as possible and save something just in case anything goes south and they can't take you or the building catches on fire. Any possible senerio that has you back out in the world sober-ish just can't happen.I really hope JG was just visiting an old friend. Trying to remember simpler times when getting high was still fun and not a requirement for getting your shoes on. I really hope he wasn't thinking about the dose or pull that stops the pain and that voice that tells you your to far gone.It's too hard for me now. I have let everyone down. Again.Just simply understanding that he was human and flawed takes away what some of us built him up to be. That must of been a great weight for him. I can't imagine. I felt awful when I urinated on my coffee table in front of my wife's parents. I was embarrassed when intervention made an appearance. Having it happen from the people you. And let's just say it. Are living very well and doing big things because they are affiliates of yours. Employees. Rythem guitar. Guitar tech. All telling you that hey man we love you but you are a mess. You stink.Your a terrible father and the wheels are coming off this thing and a lot ,I mean a lot of people are dependent on the machine that you captain (or the illusion you captain) And in the history of time. Noone let's a person drive themselves from an intervention to treatment alone. I will tell you I wear ladies underwear if it will get you off my back. So epic failure by the group. You don't let a drug addict out of your sight with their car, $900 ,and expect them to show up anywhere. Just been my experience. I did that crap for 23 years.I work around the process of people trying to get help now and this is all first day stuff.The first page of the basic text simply states "to find out if a drug addict is lying. See if his lips are moving" He was really great though.Just being human got ahold of him.Superman in a wheelchair.

  14. Very cinematic indeed. Ugly ugly shit, but very cinematic. I admire the research and the joining of the dots, and I admit to being bowled over by the bust's proximity to the Be-In… but I have to halt at visualizing the scene of Jerry in jail, strung out and filthy and aching for a smoke, yet peering up through the bars at some distant hazy glimmer of the summit of the American Dream, thinking he had a few more rounds left in him and some unfinished business to attend to. Please don't get me wrong -- I'm saying this as a devoted and very appreciative follower of this blog -- but it just feels almost too cinematic, and life/history/reality/whatever just ain't always as cinematic as we'd sometimes like it to be. imho, obviously.

  15. Oh yeah, for sure. Artistic license and all that. Sometimes it's totally banal.

  16. Readers, if you feel educating me on the drugs and their uses, please do. I see from traffic folks knocking me for admitting to my ignorance and asking for enlightenment.

    Since so many reading this post don't follow the blog much, let me just be straight with you: I don't know it all, but I know plenty. I try not to have shame or pride either way. I just want to understand the things I want to understand.

    So, again, let me invite you to leave any corrections or fill in any holes. I am all eyes and ears.

  17. File under internet hearsay... In response to Corry's post - I'm not sure where the link may be, but I can say that I have read a Deadhead's post on a message board that claimed that Mr.Garcia's dealer was situated on the south side of the park nearby to the bust. Basically, that he had just copped and went into the park to get loaded. This story always made some sense to me. It's probably out there somewhere where this subject has been discussed before.

    1. well now I don't appreciate you so much. You are wrong. He was going to rehab that he arranged for himself.
      You admitted to being an addict?
      Imagine if someone handed you a pipe and you asked "what is this, hashish?" and your European "friend" said yeah dude the best hashish in Europe and you took a hit.

      And then he started laughing "that's not hashish!!!!"

      and you were scared but tough and said oh what is it or whatever he said.. I don't remember. And he said "opium, pure opium"

      and you hand the pipe back saying "hey man I don't need to become a brain dead addict" laugh a little.

      And then your gf says you wont get hooked. And your "friend" says "when in Europe, be in Europe" so you smoke it and get high. very high. and love it

      And then are told its pure Persian heroine and you can have a hook and endless supply for life delivered to you.

      the front man for the who should be charged for murder. deb koons should be exposed. he was trying to get away from drugs and have a happy life and someone called the cops on him to make sure that couldn't happen.

      you need more compassion. this is very sad

  18. I absolutely think he was going to finish all of those drugs. From reading Scully's book, from knowing a lot of users, throwing 1/2 gram of coke into the mix seems pretty par for the course. Scary, but that's what happens. Takes more to get right, until the amount to get right borders, then becomes, toxic. As for 'place', addicts are creatures of habit. I'd imagine he frequently used there, felt safe. Just a guess. He could've been there for hours, planned to stay for hours. No reason to assume he would be 'on schedule' for rehab. I'd imagine he was going to get as high as possible, nod if needed, and show up whenever, if at all. Or he just didn't clean out his used foil. Not like he was tidy.

    1. If you took enough drugs in the right combination it was like taking no drugs at all . . .not a bad deal for $600 a day . . .

    2. Garcia was notorius for not finishing his persian foils ... hangers on would pick them up and finish the dragon chase and get high on the leftovers (heard from source who says he did it).

  19. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts, I really appreciate it.

  20. Garcia, "6'0" ?!? RIDICULOUS!

  21. Replies
    1. jerry was about 5'8". i have stood eye to eye w him. he is no way 6'0"

    2. Jerry was my exact height barefoot. I got in front of him while he was talking and stood up straight and drew a line from my head and realized I needed to subtract his hair. So I scrunched his hair down and drew the line from my head to his and we were exactly the same height. I am 5'8 now but that is age and some back injuries. I was very proud of my height as a woman and standing up very straight was 5'9 12". His hair was about 3 inches more

    3. oops forgot my /--- 5'9 1/2 " We are lucky people mr Vincent to have met him

  22. The Seven of Hearts. Intriguing. A very Hunteresque detail.

    1. Seven of hearts
      The near future seems uncertain as the seven of hearts relates to the incapacity to decide, dissatisfaction or the search for a better situation. In cartomancy, the seven of hearts reveals inner pessimism and a lack of self-confidence.

  23. On the webpage, Eggplant says on 25/Jan/06:

    At Madame Tussaud's he looks 5'10 - 5'11 (prime).

    There is a website for everything, never ceases to amaze me.

    1. There's a label press release (or a similar type of source) from around '67 that indicate his height as being 6'0". It's killing me that I can't put a finger on it...Anyhow I was surprised. He was stooped, hunched-over, chin-on-chest, elbows-out in my days ('94-'95)..

    2. jerry was my exact height minus the hair. I scrunched down his hair and drew a line from my head to his and he was exactly 5'9 1/2" without shoes, just socks.
      Jerry was such a beautiful man. His facial expressions. The way he moved his eye brows. he was utterly intoxicating to stand near and watch talk. His voice was beautiful. Everything he said was so intelligent and humble. His laugh infectious. He was a wonderful wonderful man

  24. Robert Hunter talks a bit about this episode in his new Rolling Stone interview:
    "We all went over once to his house and confronted him, and he opened the door and saw what was going on and said, "Get out of here!" He was trying to shut the door and we all filed in and did the confrontation you could do. And he said he'd do something about it. That's about all you can do, isn't it?
    "All I can say is that it more or less ruined everything, having Jerry be a junkie. I remember a time when "junkie" was the nastiest thing Garcia could call anybody.... But what are you going to do when you're elevated the way he was? He once said, "They're trying to crucify me, man." ...The whole weight of the Grateful Dead scene was on Jerry's shoulders, to support all the families and everything as well as the audience's expectations...
    "The time Jerry got busted in Golden Gate Park, they took his briefcase. I haven't gone searching for it, but I happen to know that briefcase had a number of new songs he was working on. And if the police still have them, I'd like them back, please. It doesn't seem right. A lot of those songs disappeared...
    "I didn't get the feeling he intended to live for very long. In fact he had said as much, at one point I can remember. He was conscious that it was not going to last forever, nor did I think he wanted it to... There was an aspect of him that was rather deeply depressive, which people don't know about. You think Jolly Jerry, and that's fine when he's singing. But that man had an agony almost that he had to fight...there was a decided darkness to him. But...his bright side, his ebullient side, far seemed to outweigh [it]."

    Of course Hunter's speaking with lots of hindsight and memories of the '90s still strong in his mind. As it happened, the bust came at the start of an upswing for Garcia (and may have partly contributed to it), and there's no telling how depressed or burdened he may have privately felt in Jan '85. But this random bust would be remembered differently if it had happened 10 years later.
    Hunter also seems to have forgotten that they did in fact get the briefcase and songs back.... Not that Garcia may ever have bothered working on those songs! (He'd finish ten songs in the next ten years.)

  25. "Jail’s a terrible place, man. There’s nothing much but bummers to be learned in jail."

  26. A few years after the bust, spring 1987: “For me and drugs, the bust helped. It reminded me how vulnerable you are when you’re drug dependent. [147] … spending time in jail is one of those things I least want to do. It was as if this was telling me it was time to start doing something different” (Gilmore 1987, 146-147).

  27. I did not clever to thank, but the writing on which is the information I was looking for already a long time.

  28. Later, Garcia could laugh about the band's intervention: The band "finally stepped in just as I was on my way to comfortably killing myself – the bastards! They stepped in a suggested I stopped and I said Okay, I will, but on my own time – and a year later I did" (November 1987, in Hibbert 1988).

  29. "Dead's Garcia held for drugs in GG Park," San Francisco Chronicle, ca. January 19 or 20, 1985, p. unk.

    "He was very, very nervous, but a perfect gentleman," the arresting officer said.

    "Garcia was booked into City Prison but was released about 5:30 pm after a friend posted bond on his $7,250 bail".

  30. Parish describes Nora Sage as "part housekeeper, part girlfriend". She was the one who found Garcia when he collapsed in July '86.

    ! ref: Parish 2003, 253.

  31. Half a gram of blow is an appetizer, at best.

    1. Just enough to piss you off. The cotton is suspct. I know what heroin users need cotton balls for. And it's not cleaning Crack pipes. That what your pants are for. ref. Rick James. It really makes no difference how you get it in you except on amount of time it takes to feel. Opiates are the great equalizer. If if use it enough times you better make sure you know where to get more because your going to get sick.And when you have passed that invisible line your mostly using to get back to square 1. Not 9 or 10. Just even. Very seldom can they get back there without the addition of benzos. (Xanax or valium) That is why you add the coke. If your doing all this dope and spending all this money you might as well feel something. Smoking Crack is something you can do all the time and the variable on the high is just loosely based on how good a dealer you got. Freebase. Crack. Same thing. White people and Richard Pryor say it to separate themselves from street smokers. But it's crack. And crack is base. I really can't imagine both those habits with all that money. Because you never have enough. If it's $20 or $2000 you spend it all. And touring. Man . Exasperated

    2. I'm sorry I didn't see his property list. The liquids were water and some kind of lighter fluid or accelerant. You use the tongs to hold the fluid dipped cotton and light it to make your crack. Lighter wouldn't do it. Plus it would kill your lighter and now you can't smoke the crack. The other substance was baking soda. You put coke ,sods and water in the glass cook it and chemistry gives you good old fashioned crack cocaine. You really don't see people do that on the road. He really quit caring because you can't hide any of that stuff. By themselves they are house hold items. Together they look like you are trying to go to jail. And it's probable cause to try and find the dope. It's a terrible life to keep up with. Lots of work. Lots of dark places and court dates.

  32. I'm almost positive he was freebasing, I was present with him on a few occasions.

  33. Thank you for sharing the information, as unhappy as it may be, Billy. I'd gratefully receive any more information or thoughts you have, either here or offline via

  34. There are some pretty comical errors in the authors speculations on how the items were used. I see no reason the speculation on motives etc are not mere more "uneducated" guesses. Cotton for cleaning and rocking heroin?

    1. But its a fun read nonetheless, thanks for writing it!

    2. In all my travels in that life. And cotton has one use that I am aware of. See Jerry smoked filter less cigarettes. So you need cotton. You need cotton for shooting up.A drug addict cleans nothing except bank accounts and the memories people had of you with the "new" person. That supply of drugs was for the drive wherever . Half gram I brush off my pants If I was a I had bottomless resources. I wouldn't. Just saying that's nothing to a all-star, hall of fame drug user.

    3. Cotton is a wick for cooking (making crack) the fluid Is lighter fluid to dip the cotton in so it burns longer. The third powder was baking soda. He was making crack in his car. He couldn't even wait.

    4. GareBear, thanks for helping me to understand a little bit better.

  35. Wherever you can correct something, I would be happy to quote you (or not, as you like), Tat Ittle. Thanks for commenting.

  36. The Euro '72 press release lists Jerry (and Bobby) at six foot and Phil at 6'1", which looks right when you see them standing side by side.

  37. RIP judgment...but don't tell me he lived all lifes grand offerings. He had muchmuch more to do, experience and offer

  38. Cocaine is NOT brown! Pardon me if someone else has already said this; I skimmed the comments and didn’t see it. Feel free to change it and credit me. Cocaine is white. Heroin is brown. That was a rock of Mexican or South American heroin.

    1. No. that was pure Persian coming out of Europe. it was supplied by the front man for the who and someone should put that guy in jail

  39. Speaking with Blair on 4/28/81, Garcia talked about Golden Gate Park embodying "the whole 'odyssey' idea – journeys, voyages, and adventures along the way".

  40. Herb Caen: "I can't believe an old pro like Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead would get nailed for allegedly using dope in G'Gate Park. The Grand Guru couldn't wait till he got home?" SFC 1/31/85 p35.

  41. this is absolutely a tragic read. I hope it is deleted. I hope this whole blog is deleted. It has nothing of value to add to history and is just horrible. you made me cry. Garcia was a wonderful wonderful person and I miss him very much on Christmas. Shame on you blogger. get a life or please do us all a favor and do the amount of blow Garcia could do in an hour. That would help humanity a lot to find you dead for real

    1. I don't think I will delete it, though I have considered it many times. I am sorry you wish me or anyone dead. My goal is to understand the man, and I disagree that even the dark details add nothing to history.

    2. Jerry was a human being, not a perfect being. He was flawed as we all are. I don't think certain aspects of his personality should be ignored just because they put him in a bad light, just as they should not be concentrated on by the conservative media to dismiss him as a worthless talentless junkie. He was a major figure worthy of study and so the good goes along with the bad. And we all still miss him.

  42. "hi my name is" comes across as unbalanced. It's a blog. Get over it. People are free to speculate all they want. Feelings hurt? Stop reading.
    Never put it together myself about the items and freebasing because I've never done it, but makes total sense. Empty bindles and burned foil were almost certainly old, used ones he didn't throw away. He was a notorious slob. If he had just done all that heroin he would have Od'd, tolerance or no.

    What I want to know more about is the "front man of the who" references. Are you saying Roger Daltry introduced Jerry to Persian in Europe, Fall '74 tour??? If true, wow. Daltry, being the lead singer, would be considered the "front man". If you mean Townshend then your choice of words is a little off. But I'd believe Pete over Rodger in this story.

    I'm not going to apologize but I've been fascinated with learning the details and timeline of Garcia's heroin addiction. He's a hero of mine, and some may think it's a messed up, morbid curiosity but I truly want to know as much as I can. I find it fascinating. I'm deeply into the precise history of the GD, and Jerry's addiction is a HUGE part of how it unfolded mid-70's onward. It's fine to dwell on the sunshine, good vibes, hippie angle but that's not the whole picture, or even an accurate one. I want to know how it REALLY went down.

    Thank you for this post, most info I've gotten on this subject in a long time.

  43. The cotton is for filtering a shot of heroin when you pull the solution from the cooking spook, up through a cotton ball and into the syringe, to filter out any solids or impurities in the liquid...

    1. "When you pull the solution from the cooking spoon..."

  44. Mr. Garcia was an addict, and it appears as though his addictions ultimately cost him his life. Imagine how difficult it would be for someone like Jerry Garcia - world famous rock star, icon, etc. - to get sober in the middle of the whirlwind that was the Grateful Dead. I'll bet he could run but he couldn't hide - people were probably falling all over themselves to give him drugs all the time - just for bragging rights or to say that they partied with Jerry Garcia. I got sober in my 20's - but if I was a famous rock star instead of a nobody, there's no way I would have sobered up. Too much temptation on a scale I probably can't even visualize. I don't think the guy should be judged for his choices - he did his best with what he had to work with at the time, internally-speaking, and sometimes it's not enough. The big lesson no one wants to articulate here is pretty simple - addictions kill, life is fragile, you have people that love you, so take care of yourself. It seems like some people close to or associated with the band vacillate between denial and aggressive blowback when the subject of Mr. Garcia's drug use comes up. That's ok - they are taking up for their friend and colleague because he's no longer here to defend or explain himself. His unbelievably great work is his legacy - the work transcends.


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