Tokin’ with Jesus

Last night was brain fever night. That’s my name for it. I don’t know if it’s a medical condition or not. A sudden attack of hallucinations and brain shudders. Like a bad trip on LSD.

I don’t know what brings it on, out of the blue, or rather out of the darkness of midnight. Unless it was the four gin and tonics, three beers and two brandies. But I’ve drunk that much before without a brain fever attack.

Maybe it was the Xanax at bedtime that went on a diabolical rage with the alcohol already streaming in my blood.

You can’t sleep. You lie in bed and ride it out like a storm in hell. Around four o’clock in the morning, the waking nightmare begins to abate. Finally you sleep, mainly from the exhaustion of the battle.

The doctor told me my liver was more like a die-r, and to knock off the booze. I don’t see how. Drinking is my last pleasure. Like smoking cigarettes and grass was to my wife. And when she fell ill and was told not to smoke, she still smoked.

And now she’s tokin’ with Jesus.

My wife was a believer, especially when she was high. I try to be, but I can’t get there. Jesus was always high. So were his disciples.

As Matthew relates (14:24): But the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And he [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea. … So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

If you get high, man, you can do anything.

As the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia said:

Brain fever night

Getting high on the Universe is cool and I can do that, but taking it a step further, maybe if you get high on Jesus, you end up getting high with Jesus.

I don’t know, man — just keep tokin’.

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Garcia, righteous revolutionary


“If we had any nerve at all, if we had any real character, we would make an effort to address the wrongs in this society, righteously.” — Jerry Garcia

Art by Nicolás Rosenfeld

Counterculture icon of the 1960s

Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist of the legendary rock band The Grateful Dead, died of a heart attack on this day, August 9, 1995, at the age of 53.

“I think The Grateful Dead represents the spirit of being able to go out and have an adventure in America at large,” said Jerry Garcia. “We didn’t invent the Grateful Dead, the crowd invented the Grateful Dead. We were just in line to see what was going to happen.”


“You need music, I don’t know why. It’s probably one of those Joe Campbell questions — why we need ritual. We need magic, and bliss, and power, myth, and celebration, and religion in our lives, and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it.” — Jerry Garcia






The final salute to Jerry by thousands of friends and fans at his memorial service was to stand as one and roar and applaud just like at a Grateful Dead concert.

“What a long, strange trip it’s been.”


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Pigpen was the heart of the Grateful Dead

After Pigpen’s death we all knew this was the end of the original Grateful Dead.—Jerry Garcia.

Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan was just 27 when he was found dead on March 8, 1973, of a gastointestinal hemorrhage at his home in Corte Madera, Marin County, California.

Band members were devastated. Pigpen had been living alone in a ranch-style house overlooking San Francisco Bay. After he died, a friend found a tape cassette in the house that Pigpen recorded in the last week of his life.

On the tape he plays slow piano and sings in a frail voice: Don’t make me live in this pain / no longer …

Grateful Dead hero ‘Pigpen’
Jerry Garcia and Pigpen McKernan

Pigpen was a founding member of the San Francisco band and played organ and harmonica in the group from 1965 to 1972. “He was the musician in the Grateful Dead,” said Mickey Hart.

“With his long black hair in an Indian headband,” wrote the Rolling Stone in his obit, “striped shirts, his black leather jacket covered with medals and a Hell’s Angels patch, his biker’s cap and often a couple of days’ growth of beard, ‘Pigpen’ was the most visual member of the group. But for all the rowdy appearance — he rode a BSA and was an honorary Hell’s Angel — McKernan was known as a gentle, introverted soul.”

Pigpen became close friends with Janis Joplin. They performed together along with the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore West on June 7, 1969, and sang his signature ‘Turn On Your Love Light.’

Grateful Dead hero ‘Pigpen’
Pigpen McKernan and Janis Joplin

While other members of the Grateful Dead were getting off on psychedelic drugs, Pigpen was drinking whiskey.

As early as his mid-twenties, the alcohol had messed up his liver and doctors told him to quit drinking and to stop going on gigs with the band.

“He was never quite sober,” said a friend, “even when he woke up in the morning, he’d wake up drunk.”

Pigpen’s health kept getting worse until he could no longer perform. He made his final concert appearance on June 17, 1972, at the Hollywood Bowl.


With his days numbered, Pigpen broke off all personal relationships with the band. “I don’t want you around when I die,” he told them.

“God knows what kind of emotional shit he went through near the end,” said Laird Grant. “When it got down to where he couldn’t drink, that really knocked him for a loop because then he was in a total void; he had no place to hide. It was like being shuffled off to the side track and watching the freights go by.”

Ron McKernan was buried at the Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“He was the sweetest guy anyone had ever met,” said band member Bill Kreutsmann.

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