by Ken Kesey

         Hey, Jerry-- what's happening?  I caught your funeral.  Weird.

 Big Steve was good.  And Grissman.  Sweet sounds.  But what really stood

 out -- stands out -- is the thundering silence, the lack, the absence of

 that golden Garcia lead line, of that familiar slick lick with the uptwist

 at the end, that merry snake twining through the woodpile, flickering in

 and out of the loosely stacked chords...a wriggling mystery, bright and

 slick as fire... suddenly gone.

         And the silence left in its wake was-- is-- positively


         Now they want me to say something about that absence, Jer.  Tell

 some backstage story, share some poigniant reminescence.  But I have to

 tell you, man: I find myself considerably disinclined.  I mean, why go

 against the grain of such an eloquent silence?

         I remember standing out in the pearly early dawn after the Muir

 Beach Acid Test, leaning on the top rail of a driftwood fence with you and

 Lesh and Babbs, watching the world light up, talking about our glorious

 futures.  The gig had been semi-successful and the air was full of exulted

 fantasies.  Babbs whacks Phil on the back.

         "Just like the big time, huh Phil."

         "It is!  It is the big time!  Why, we could cut a chart-busting

 record to-fucking-morrow!"

         I was even more optimistic.  "Hey, we taped tonight's show.  We

 could release a record tomorrow.

         "Yeah right--" (holding up that digitally challenged hand the way

 you did when you wanted to call attention to the truth or the lack

 thereof) "--and a year from tomorrow be recording a Things Go Better With

 Coke commercial."

         You could be a sharp-tongued popper-of-balloons shit-head when you

 were so inclined, you know.  A real bastard.  You were the sworn enemy of

 hot air and commercials, however righteous the cause or lucrative the

 product.  Nobody ever heard you use that microphone as a pulpit.  No

 anti-war rants, no hymns to peace.  No odes to the trees and All things

 Organic.  No ego-deaths or born-againnesses.  No devils denounced no gurus

 glorified.  No dogmatic howlings that I ever caught wind of.  In fact,

 your steadfast denial of dogma was as close as you ever came to having a


         And to the very end, Old Timer, you were true to that creed.  No

 commercials.  No trendy spins. No bayings of belief.  And if you did have

 any dogma you surely kept it tied up under the back porch where a smelly

 old hound belongs.

         I guess that's what I mean about a loud silence. Like

 Michaelangelo said about sculpting, "The statue exists inside the block of

 marble.  All you have to do is chip away the stone you don't need."  You

 were always chipping away at the superficial.

         It was the false notes you didn't play that kept that lead line so

 golden pure.  It was the words you didn't sing. So this is what we are

 left with, Jerry: this golden silence.  It rings on and on without any

 hint of let up...on and on.  And I expect it will still be ringing years

 from now.

         Because you're still not playing falsely.  Because you're still

 not singing Things Go Better With Coke.

                                                         Ever your friend,