Chris Hayes, Bill Keller and Understanding What The Romney/Ryan Ticket Really Means

It’s been both scary and incredibly frustrating watching so many Americans vote against their own well-being and the well-being of their neighbors. But it’s far from surprising: 8 years of George W. Bush, the rise of Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, even Ronald Reagan being considered one of our “great” presidents… There is a portion of America that simply does not follow what is going on. They just… follow. Their buttons are pushed and they react.

America has become a country overrun with greed. It is a testament to just how dangerous Capitalism can be when the failsafes are broken, when they are deemed “unnecessary.”

“What is good for me is right.”

Ayn Rand’s quoted statement that traced back to child murderer William Hickman (see HERE) seems to have become the American mantra. At least for a portion of the country. Now I know there are many, many well-meaning, truly good people who will be voting for Romney come November (assuming he gets the nomination–I’m still watching for a last minute Jeb Bush game-changer), but there can only be one reason for this:


While I recognize that to be a rather harsh statement, I’m afraid there are many people out there who, if they knew the truth behind what it was they were voting for and what the repercussions would actually be, would vote quite differently given the proper information in its proper context. Take fear and misinformation out of the picture and what is revealed would scare even Ronald Reagan out of his own cement boots.

The other option for voting for the Romney/Ryan ticket would be straightforward selfishness and/or greed. Of course, that would probably release those folks from the category of “well-meaning.” I’m sorry to paint such a black and white picture here, but to vote Republican in this day and age, with what Conservative America is proposing and the path it has taken, there really aren’t any other believable reasons for voting that way. Okay, mental illness counts, too.

But in all seriousness, this is no longer about political ideologies. This is about a system that has broken down to allow the ruling class (yes, we have a ruling class) to change the rules in their favor. At the expense of every other citizen. This is not just a possibility, this is not hyperbole, this is what has happened and it will take educating more people, opening a few more eyes, and getting some seriously brave people out in the field to turn this around. And by “the field,” I mean the voting booths, peaceful protests, writing blogs, op eds, talking seriously to friends and family armed with facts and knowledge, doing whatever one can do to make sure as many people as possible understand exactly what it is they are voting for and who it benefits.

My conversations with conservatives of late has revealed a deep well of misinformation. For a group of people fighting against the horrors and corruption of big government, it’s amazing to see those very same people absorbing what they’re told by Fox News or those on the payrolls of the world’s wealthiest corporations as the word of God. With absolutely no desire to scrape the surface and actually find out if any of what they’re being sold told is based on any measure of truth! And the level of intransigence that goes along with their conviction that what they claim to know as truth is a reality worth fighting for is downright surreal. But alongside that surreality is a very frightening reality that these people could very well damage the lives of millions of people, including their own and those of their loved ones. In the age of Christian conservatism it comes across as downright ironic since their very own Messiah preached values that seem to be the polar opposite of what these people are voting for. Without realizing it, these folks have become the crowd encircling the crosses at Golgotha calling for blood and reveling in the death of three men whom the powers-that-be insisted were dangerous and unworthy to live.

For anyone who might have an interest in knowing just a tad more about what the Romney-Ryan package has to offer, I recommend Bill Keller’s write-up in the New York Times on that very subject.

And finally, I think Chris Hayes nailed it while on the Rachel Maddow show. His succinct and precise interpretation pretty much says it all:

You can watch the entire interview HERE.

Chris Hayes, Bill Keller and Understanding What The Romney/Ryan Ticket Really Means

Just Heading Out: That Fateful Day in ’95

Blair Jackson in his recent Golden Road Blog over at asked the question “Where were you when you heard the news?”

This was my answer:

August 9, 1995. I was home and getting ready to head out the door for work when my phone rang. It was my friend Randy from back east (I was living in L.A. at the time). I knew something must have been up for him to be calling me in the morning hours. Not usual. Of course, I didn’t know exactly what. “Is it true that Jerry’s Dead?” he asked. I hadn’t heard a thing, but in that moment, my heart sank and a dread washed over me. Without confirmation, I knew the odds were that wherever Randy had heard this, it was probably true. Yet I hoped in my silence that it wasn’t, that it was all a piece of gross misinformation that Randy had come in contact with. But my heart was already pumping with nervous energy and fear. I turned on the TV immediately and my dread was fully realized. There was a photo of Jerry and, before even hearing the news report itself, I knew that day I long-dreaded had arrived.

I was already late for work and knew I had to get my shit together and bolt out the door. The drive was interminable, the radio reports confirming and reconfirming this new reality.

Unfortunately for me, no one where I worked was into the Dead. Jerry’s passing, for them, was just another rock and roller biting the dust. My job at the time required that I be “on” and present. No chance to disappear into a side office and make a call to a dear friend who would understand. That came later that day (about 8 hours later), but throughout those long hours I genuinely struggled to maintain myself. Several times tears ran down my cheeks and I managed to hide them from clients. I was also amazed at the depths of my sorrow. There are family members I’ve lost whose deaths I was not nearly as effected by. Yet I had only met Garcia once and, though he was as generous and delightful as one would hope he’d be, we weren’t friends, nor even acquaintances. But through his music, through seeing him live, I felt I knew something integral about the man. And if nothing else, he had touched me, moved me, more times than I could recount. The mere thought that I would never again see him play, that there would be no more Grateful Dead shows, that this experience and this seemingly crucial and beloved part of my life –two-thirds of my life!– had come to a close, left me feeling devastated and empty, confused and lost in a way that only death can elicit.

About two days later, an envelope arrived in the mail. My tickets to see Jerry and the Grateful Dead at the Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion. 3rd row center.

So here I am, like everyone else, 17 years later. And Garcia is still a reigning part of my life. His presence is still felt, I’ve just managed to alter my expectations of how he and his music present themselves in my life. And there’s comfort in knowing that there are thousands of others out there who know and share this experience, this experience of mourning the loss and celebrating the life of someone we did not personally know, but whose soul managed to touch us so deeply nonetheless.

Oh, and by the way, I still have those tickets.

Just Heading Out: That Fateful Day in ’95

Jerry Garcia Week 2012 Day 9: Death Don’t Have No Mercy

As another week of celebrating Jerry’s birth and mourning Jerry’s death comes to a close, it seems appropriate to spend a little time in both the dark and light. DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY was a song the Grateful Dead played early in their career. It vanished for a while, but was then resurrected in 1989. When I was playing in the short-lived band DOG GONE, we’d play this song from time to time. My lead guitarist, however, always cringed at the thought simply because he felt it was too dark, too morose, too negative. But for me, the song –particularly as sung and played by Garcia– was so full of genuine emotion as to be nothing less than a testament to the deepest of human experiences.

Music, to me, like any art, exists as expression, as an opportunity to connect people on a primal level, on what may be the most honest level. I want the art I make and the art I receive to run me through the gamut of human experiences and emotions. I’m not the guy who only likes to watch films that make me laugh or listen to music that is upbeat. Happy or sad, light or dark, art elates me. It all has its place and, for me, if you offer one without the other, you indirectly create a distinct lack of balance and end up offering a happy illusion that, at the end of the day, ultimately feels thin and lacking.

As the saying goes “There is no light without the dark.” 

And so we’ll close out this week with a little of the dark which, ironically, leaves me feeling whole and energized, invigorated and alive. Go figure :)

Jerry Garcia Week 2012 Day 9: Death Don’t Have No Mercy

Jerry Garcia Week 2012 Day 8: Hornsby Resurrects

After the sudden death of longtime Grateful Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland, Bruce Hornsby offered his temporary services to the band until they found and trained someone to be their new permanent keyboardist. Jerry always seemed jazzed when guests sat in with the band and Hornby’s presence really seemed to thrill and inspire Garcia and, as a result, the rest of the band as well. This short but sweet period in the Grateful Dead’s history may well have been their last hurrah before Garcia’s health problems and drug addiction sent him on a downward spiral that eventually led to his premature death.

I’m thankful for Hornsby’s desire and opportunity to sit in with the band and his positive effect on Garcia and the music they created together.

A Certain


“To honor the Grateful Dead’s wishes, I’d like to have a moment – a moment of silence – for somebody who brought a lot of love to the world, our dear departed brother, Jerry Garcia.”

At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame I dedicated my performance to Jerry. It was hard to do, but I was so excited. It was a sad reason that I played, but Jerry was someone really special, and I was honored that the Grateful Dead wanted me to do this.

In September 1990, I came into the Dead just winging it off the streets for five nights at Madison Square Garden. There’s nothing like the Grateful Dead audience, and it was incredible for me to bite off a small piece of that.

I always felt a certain connection with Garcia. At RFK during the second night, the next to last song, Wharf Rat, there was a blue light on him. He was singing very soulfully, and I was getting chills up my body. I knew it was a special moment, and I drank it in.

-Bruce Hornsby

This passage is an excerpt from GARCIA – A Grateful Celebration, originally published in 1995 by Dupree’s Diamond News. To learn more about Dupree’s Diamond News or how to obtain a copy of GARCIA – A Grateful Celebration, click here.

The following is Hornsby’s induction of the Grateful Dead into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I think, in many ways, he nails it. Both from the perspective of a fan and then as someone who had the opportunity to play with them and experience a Grateful Dead concert from the inside. It’s a fun, truthful, and heartfelt induction speech and well worth watching.

And now here’s the Dead’s take on Dylan’s IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH, IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY from Madison Square Garden with Hornsby and Vince Welnick on keyboards and Branford Marsalis on horns.

And finally, a STANDING ON THE MOON from Madison Square Garden also with Hornsby, Welnick and Marsalis. Enjoy!

Jerry Garcia Week 2012 Day 8: Hornsby Resurrects

Missed the MOVE ME BRIGHTLY Jerry Garcia 70th Birthday Celebration? Watch it now…

Missed “Move Me Brightly” Bob Weir’s musical celebration of Jerry’s 70th at TRI the other night? Well here it is. Sadly, it’s missing the interviews at the intro, but the live performance is here and intact. I thought some of it was good, some of it rather awkward. A bit of a mish-mash of energies not always in sync. But a grand salute nonetheless :)

Thanks to Voodoonola for posting this (as well as so many other amazing shows!)!




The Wheel
Cumberland Blues
Mississippi Half Step
Dire Wolf
Dupree’s Diamond Blues
Tennessee Jed
Ship Of Fools
They Love Each Other
Bird Song
New Speedway Boogie
Loose Lucy
Friend of the Devil
Mission In The Rain
Ramble On Rose
Catfish John
Shakedown Street
Terrapin Station
He’s Gone
Eyes Of The World
Scarlet Begonias
Don’t Let Go
Days Between
Franklin’s Tower
E: U.S. Blues
Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad

The Wheel & Cumberland Blues (Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Donna Jean Godchaux, Neal Casal, Jon Graboff, Jason Roberts, Joe Russo, Jeff Chimenti)
Loser (Casal, Russo, Weir, Mike Gordon, Chimenti, Godchaux, Jim Lauderdale, Roberts, Graboff, Adam McDougall)
Mississippi Half Step (Weir, Gordon, Jim Lauderdale, Godchaux, Graboff, Casal, Chimenti, Russo)
Dire Wolf (Weir, Harper Simon, Gordon, Russo, Godchaux, Graboff, Chimenti, Josh Kaufman, Sam Cohen)
Dupree’s Diamond Blues (Chimenti, Casal, Russo, Gordon, Cass McCombs, Sam Cohen, Josh Kaufman)
Tennessee Jed (Chimenti, Casal, Godchaux, Russo, Gordon, Weir, Roberts, Graboff), Ship Of Fools (Chimenti, Casal, Godchaux, Russo, Gordon, Weir, Graboff)
They Love Each Other (Chimenti, Casal, Godchaux, Russo, Weir, Gordon, Jonathan Wilson, Graboff)
Bird Song (Chimenti, Casal, Godchaux, Russo, Weir, Gordon, Graboff)
New Speedway Boogie (Chimenti, McDougall, Casal, Godchaux, Russo, Weir, Gordon, Roberts, Graboff)
Loose Lucy (Weir Solo Acoustic), Friend of the Devil (Lauderdale, Simon, McCombs)
Mission In The Rain (Chimenti, Casal, Godchaux, Russo, Gordon, Wilson)
Ramble On Rose (Chimenti, Casal, Russo, Weir, Gordon, Wilson)
Catfish John (McDougall, Chimenti, Casal, Russo, Godchaux, Gordon, Weir, Wilson, Graboff)
Shakedown Street (McDougall, Chimenti, Simon, Godchaux, Chris Tomson, Godchaux, Gordon, Weir, Kaufman, Cohen)
Terrapin Station (Chimenti, Godchaux, Russo, Gordon, McCombs, Weir, Kaufman, Cohen, Graboff)
He’s Gone (Chimenti, Russo, Godchaux, Weir, Gordon, Kaufman, Cohen, Graboff)
Eyes Of The World (McDougall, Chimenti, Simon, Godchaux, Russo, Weir, Gordon, Lauderdale, Kaufman, Cohen, Graboff)
Scarlet Begonias (Chimenti, Craig Finn, Tad Kubler, Russo, Godchaux, Weir, Gordon, Kaufman, Cohen, Graboff)
Don’t Let Go (Chimenti, Finn, Godchaux, Graboff, Russo, Weir, Gordon, Wilson, Simon)
Days Between (Chimenti, Casal, Russo, Weir, Gordon, Kaufman, Wilson, Cohen)
Franklin’s Tower (Chimenti, McDougall, Casal, Russo, Simon, Weir, Wilson, Godchaux, Gordon, Kaufman, Cohen, Graboff, Tomson, Lauderdale)
U.S. Blues (Chimenti, McDougall, Casal, Russo, Simon, Weir, Wilson, Godchaux, Gordon, Kaufman, Cohen, Graboff, Lauderdale, Finn)
Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad (Chimenti, McDougall, Casal, Russo, Simon, Weir, Wilson, Godchaux, Gordon, Kaufman, Cohen, Graboff, McCombs, Lauderdale, Finn)
Ripple (Chimenti, McDougall, Godchaux, Simon, Wilson, Tomson, Casal, Roberts, Kaufman, Weir, Gordon, Russo, Wilson, Lauderdale, Graboff)

Missed the MOVE ME BRIGHTLY Jerry Garcia 70th Birthday Celebration? Watch it now…

Jerry Garcia Week 2012 Day 7: Ram Dass Remembers

Spiritual teacher and author of the influential book Be Here Now, Ram Dass was also a firm believer in the spiritual power and energy encompassed and shared by the Grateful Dead and, even more specifically, channeled through the soul and spirit of Jerry Garcia, whom Ram Dass considered to be a bodhisattva. Garcia, of course, never saw himself that way. He always had a somewhat less mystical approach to what he was doing, as is referenced in Barbara Meier’s interview with Garcia:

Barbara Meier: I remember reading Ram Dass describe you as a bodhisattva.

Jerry Garcia: He’s very kind, but I don’t deserve that. I’m just a guy trying to play the right notes, that’s all. If I were to think of myself in a spiritual context, however, I’d think of myself as some sort of Buddhist.

Barbara Meier: Well, music is your practice. When I hear you in concert, I feel you want to push the energy further and further, taking the crowd along with you.

Jerry Garcia: I don’t do it consciously.

Barbara Meier: You must be aware of it.

Jerry Garcia: Only because of the feedback, because of the endless reportage. It’s like UFOs: if enough people say “I saw one the other night; they’re spinning around,” even if I haven’t seen one myself, I start thinking there must be something out there.

Barbara Meier: No intentionality?

Jerry Garcia: Not really. From my point of view, it’s all a bead game. My finest moments have been as part of an audience in a musical situation, or as a performer, when things are unfolding in a graceful way. It’s one of those moments of grace that humans get to experience. When that happens, no one enjoys it more than I do. And when it’s just hard work, that works for me, too.

There are times when I feel I’m playing way below what I’m capable of, and I think, “Well, this whole evening is a giveaway. I never played at the edge of my ability.” I used to hear guys like Pablo Cassals say, “If I don’t play for a day I can tell, if I don’t play for a week my wife can tell, if I don’t play for two weeks everybody in the world can tell,” and I used to think “Ah, come on. . . .” But now I recognize what they’re talking about. It’s a purely technical thing—something my muscles do.

Barbara Meier: I remember you practicing the guitar twelve hours a day.

Jerry Garcia: As far as I know that’s the only way you get good. When you play music, you know how good or how bad you are and what you can or cannot do. And I’m still surprised more people stay than leave. That’s totally baffling.

Barbara Meier: Not only stay, but keep arriving. So what is the Grateful Dead all about?

Jerry Garcia: It varies through time. We’re just trying to play music; it really isn’t any more complicated than that.

Barbara Meier: But there’s this other thing happening.

Jerry Garcia: Yeah, and that has a consciousness of its own, and we’re invented by it. It’s really just a continuation of those old days. Everybody’s gotten older and is doing other things in their lives, but we really never decided to go somewhere or become something. As we go along and gain larger and larger illusions of success, it requires more and more preplanning, and we have to spend more time investing consciousness into the fiction of the corporation. Even though we’ve always operated without an agenda, the hardest part is preserving the illusion of spontaneity. It gets to be more complex as it goes along, full of all kinds of complex ethical questions.

Barbara Meier: Like what?

Jerry Garcia: For example, is it fair to charge people $25 a ticket to go into an enormous stadium and see people on the stage this big? (Jerry holds his thumb and forefinger a half of an inch apart.) I don’t think it is, unless you’re able to create a good enough sound and a large enough image to play to the worst seat in the house.

Barbara Meier: But you do do that.

Jerry Garcia: We try. Another issue concerns the safety of the fans and their exposure, because a lot of people still come to our shows thinking it’s kind of a hole in reality where it’s okay to take drugs. But we can’t protect them. We have no control over the world at large. The police are going to do what they want. Some years the newspapers are full of Dead bashing; and yet there are also years when we gain something like respectability.

Barbara Meier: There’s this amazing nomadic tribal culture that has formed around the Dead

Jerry Garcia: “Deadheads” aren’t that easy to pin down. They range from professionals doing hard scholarship to total street weirdos. That keeps it interesting, because the feedback is amusing. At the same time I feel guilty, because I wonder, “Isn’t there something real to think about out there? Aren’t there questions that people could be applying their valuable human energy to?” Getting involved with the Grateful Dead isn’t going anywhere except onward.

Barbara Meier: You don’t impose any political message.

Jerry Garcia: I couldn’t do it. The power is frightening.

Barbara Meier: Are you ever tempted?

Jerry Garcia: No. I thought, if I’m going to be onstage I’m not going to say anything to anybody or address the crowd, because it doesn’t matter what you say, sometimes just the sound of your voice might inadvertently set somebody off. The situation with psychedelics is so highly charged that you never know what’s leaking in. I don’t mind doing it in the music, because that’s where I divest myself of ego. It’s egoless, something I trust. If the band has something to protect, it’s the integrity of the experience, which remains shapeless and formless. As long as it stays that way, everything’s okay.

Despite Garcia’s humble reservations about being seen as anything other than a guy doing the best he could to be happy and make music, Ram Dass knew what he knew and those of us who spent time in Garcia’s presence certainly do have a sense of what Ram Dass was speaking of. There was something special there, something unusual. Flawed, but wholly unique and gifted in a way that transcends so much else that those select few of us have encountered on our own personal journeys. There’s a reason why Garcia’s life and passing had such a profound impact on so many. It’s easy for others to dismiss this connection as being purely fabricated or dependent on drugs to maintain the “illusion,” but I tend to think, from my own personal experience and the combined experiences of others I know and have met and have read, that we had a short window of opportunity to share space with someone who unconsciously and unintentionally tapped into something extremely universal and rare. And, lucky for us, he had the innate ability, humility and vulnerability to embrace it and spread it out to all the rest of us. For that experience, I am eternally grateful.

The following was written by Ram Dass shortly after hearing of Garcia’s passing. I have included it here as a photo in order to preserve its intended formatting. You can click on the image to make it larger:

Jerry Garcia Week 2012 Day 7: Ram Dass Remembers

Jerry Garcia Week 2012 Day 6: David Crosby & The Perro Sessions

Perro, or Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra, was the name given to the group of musicians who played, recorded and jammed together in the early 70’s. They were, essentially, members of Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Their first album together, Blows Against The Empire, was released, not as the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra, but as Jefferson Starship (a name later used for Grace Slick and Paul Kantner’s band formed in 1974). They then officially became Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra on David Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name.

In 1971, these musicians got together for rehearsals at Wally Heider Studios and, luckily for us, these sessions were recorded (see below) yielding some truly remarkable music and interactions between this collective group of inspired and supremely talented artists. They were as follows:

Shortly after Garcia’s death in 1995, David Crosby had this to say about his longtime friend:

Missing Jerry

I remember laughing so hard I got the hiccups. Of course, that might have had something to do with the big sticky buds, but we were a pair of odd ducks anyway, and we cracked each other up a lot.

Jerry, Phil Mickey, and Bill all came to Wally Heider’s many nights when I was recording “If I Could Only Remember My Name.” So much fun, so MUCH music…

What did we lose? One of the best minds in music: articulate, always thinking fresh, original thoughts. Jerry didn’t tell you what he thought you wanted to hear, he told you what he thought.

Jerry played his own way, too, completely unlike any other musician. As different as Hendrix was, in another direction.

Somehow, I wound up being a closer friend to Phil. Jerry wound up being kind of hard to reach to, in the later times. As much as I miss him, I know that Phil and the others miss him more. I listen to Kids and Dogs, or The Wall Song, and… I miss him.

-David Crosby

This passage is an excerpt from GARCIA – A Grateful Celebration, originally published in 1995 byDupree’s Diamond News. To learn more about Dupree’s Diamond News or how to obtain a copy of GARCIA – A Grateful Celebration, click here.

Here, for your listening pleasure, is some of the now-famous Perro Sessions:

Jerry Garcia Week 2012 Day 6: David Crosby & The Perro Sessions