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Dear Ask a Deadhead,

Settle an argument: Who is cooler, Bob Weir or Pigpen?

Big Joe, Chapel Hill, N.C.



Dear Big Joe,

Sorry, dude, but I’m not going to help you out here. Instead, I’m going to complicate things. The answer is Phil Lesh.


First, the guy is an excellent bass player. People don’t really give Phil the props he deserves as the number two soloist in the number one band. But that’s what he was. And considering he was playing a rhythm instrument, that’s pretty hard to do. Second, the guy just gave $10,000 to the defense fund of Christine Blasey Ford.

Did Bob Weir do that? Not that anybody knows. Would Pigpen do that if he was still alive, Probably not.

I mention Phil’s donation for two reasons. One, I think it is totally cool. And two, a lot of readers are asking what do we do about Brett Kavanaugh, the judge conservatives are dying to put on the Supreme Court, despite the preponderance of evidence indicating that he is nothing more than a supreme D-Bag.

I had no idea what the answer was to the Kavanaugh question, other than to say vote, call and email your representatives—even though the members of the U.S. Senate have fewer balls than a game of ice hockey.

But then I remembered his story I heard in, like, 1986 or 1987. A young New York jazz cat percussionist named Gregg Bendian gets a call from Ornette Coleman, who is like, a super-mega jazz diety. You know “Drums/Space?” Ornette was into “Space” like a decade before our heroes. You could argue he invented it. Seriously. Anyway, Ornette says—and I know this is going to be hard to understand for some of you—”Who’s Phil Lesh? You ever heard of him?” And Bendian says, “Yeah, he plays for the Grateful Dead.” Then Bendian has to explain the Dead to Ornette, who exists a few steps above planet earth if you know what I mean. It turns out that Phil had somehow contacted Ornette and invited him to see the Dead at Madison Square Garden. A few years later, Ornette jammed with the band in Oakland.

What does this have to do with Kavanaugh?

If this story is true, then Phil reached out to Ornette. He attempted to unify, to bring the heaviest of jazz cats into the Deadosphere, and maybe even vice versa. Now, we have this douche named Kavanaugh, an alleged serial sex harasser, who spent years working for Ken Starr trying to nail Bill Clinton for supposed sexual misdeeds. When somebody brings up Kavanaugh’s sexual low lights, he freaks out, gets all aggressive one second and weepy the next, like his underwear is too tight. And he complains that he doesn't deserve this. Hello? Somebody call the irony police! And then he lies about his history of alcohol abuse, which his best friend actually wrote a book about.

Kavanaugh is not a unifier. He is, like Trump, a divider. He is all “us and them” and “country club and them” and “jocks and them” He is a total dick. So do what Phil did with Ornette, and what he did for Blasey Ford: reach out, bond, create, give, donate. Try to make the world a better place. I know that the One is very proud of Phil right now. And you should be, too. So there’s the answer.

Peace out!

Supreme Court Cases: Bobby vs. Pigpen and Phil vs. Kavanaugh 

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"Metaphysical Graffiti will make you think twice (and laugh thrice).” —Will Hermes, author, Love Goes to Buildings on Fire

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