Following the Dead for some 23 years, I've learned a few things from the band's music and my fellow Deadheads. Among these are compassion, generosity and tolerance--something Garcia's detractors apparently don't understand, either.

Barton Puryear

Of all the dumb (as opposed to vicious) things written about Jerry Garcia last week, the prize must go to Michael Roberts. He gets the "Tin Ear of the Year" award for describing Garcia as a "limited guitarist."

Perhaps Roberts's hearing capacity has been blown out from listening to the musical footnotes he seems to adore.

Meanwhile, Bob Dylan (who has a way with words) said of Garcia, "He really had no equal. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There's no way to convey the loss."

Thanks to technology, Garcia's music will endure and expand its reach, and there will be new releases from the archives from time to time. But Roberts reveals how uninformed he is by suggesting that the Grateful Dead will go on without Garcia, when every Deadhead knows that's unthinkable. And none of us expects the survivors to exploit Garcia's image in the way Roberts suggests. Instead we hope to see them in new configurations from time to time as they, like us, get on with life--a little sadder because the unique experience of being with Jerry Garcia and hearing him play is no longer a reality.

Jeff Walsh

Michael Roberts: The way I see it, you have screwed yourself into a position this time from which there is no escape. You say that Elvis Presley and John Lennon were giants among a handful of the finest, but not Garcia? Let me tell you, Jerry Garcia was the finest! Never have I seen or even heard of such a man who would give everything he had to millions and millions of people night after night just for the sake of loving his music and his fans. Not to take anything away from Lennon or the King, but what made Garcia different was that he gained the complete and total respect, friendship and, yes, even love, of everyone and anyone who ever saw him perform or performed with him. This, by the way, is why people are so saddened by his loss--because he gave all of us everything he had when he played. What means the most is that I don't know if anyone like him will ever come around again. But you, Michael Roberts, have your very own narrow-minded view of the situation that is now taking place when perhaps the most beloved musician ever is being mourned by people all over the world.

You couldn't see how people would like to hear the same songs being played since 1967. It wasn't really what the Grateful Dead played at their shows; it was how they played it.

When you play all over the world for thirty years and still sell out every performance, I don't call that redundant. I call it legendary.

Just as with love, true friendship, great sex or even an acid trip, you can either say that you have experienced it or that you haven't. The same goes for Garcia's and the rest of the Grateful Dead's music.

Michael Roberts, you have all of the sympathy that I could possibly give to a man who has written an article about a topic of which he has no real knowledge, therein revealing the true ignorance that you possess. For this has made you look like a complete ass to me and anyone else that knows just how much Jerry Garcia really meant to music.

Jason Noto

Hey, Stupid!
Good news for dummies! Eric Dexheimer's article about the Evergreen "ethnic intimidation" case ("War of the Words," August 9) identifies several occupations where stupidity is not a handicapping condition--namely: district attorney, newspaper reporter, cop, state legislator, housewife, Anti-Defamation League director, etc.

The basis of the case (ethnic slurs used in private conversation, unaccompanied by action) should no more be prosecuted than blasphemy or common crudity. The rationale for increasing the penalty for a crime when words such as "nigger" or "kike" are spoken during its commission is bad enough (each crime already carries an appropriate penalty), but the attempt to criminalize speech alone is the work of would-be totalitarians. They use the same principle the mullahs of Iran employ when they tell the faithful to kill Baha'is and other heretics. The difference is one of degree.

If racism and ethnic strife are serious problems, it is largely due to pot-stirring and efforts by the politically correct to impose a ghastly orthodoxy on us. Their movement is on the way out, but as the Evergreen case illustrates, not fast enough. One way to push it along is to flaunt their pious rules--be insensitive, use "bad words," tell them to go to hell.

Norman Ely

Eric Dexheimer's report on the Aronson-Quigley feud seems pointless given the fact that "the families and their attorneys... declined to be interviewed for this story." The article lacks basic substance, historical perspective and insight. It marginally belongs on an editorial page.

The Quigleys apparently committed no crimes and ultimately were vindicated from all charges by a fair legal system. Their disgusting references to the Holocaust that became a part of the feud's recorded history seem to confirm that there is at least some degree of anti-Semitism in their words, if not their minds. That this type of thought was exposed to public scrutiny is certainly more newsworthy than, say, a former U.S. attorney general candidate's love life. The Quigleys at least deserved their self-inflicted bad publicity. And now they can capitalize on it by initiating a lawsuit!

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