I received a phone call at work at about 10 a.m. on Aug. 9 from my wife, asking if I heard the news. I asked, "What news?" She asked if I was sitting, and then told me that very close friends of ours had just called from San Jose, Calif., to inform us that Jerry Garcia had been found dead during the early morning hours of natural causes in his room at a rehabilitation center outside San Francisco.
The phone proceeded to ring off the hook. Friends and relatives from throughout the country calling to see if I heard.
Jerry Garcia, in addition to being the lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead, an accomplished solo artist and widely respected musician, was a spiritual leader who touched many people through his enormously talented artistic abilities.
To many not associated with the "Dead" scene, he will be remembered as just another "drug influenced" hippie from the sixties -- an era most would want to deny living through.
I was born during the beginning of the cultural revolution and have never been able to say that I "experienced" the sixties. Had I been alive and old enough, I probably would have been there.
My wife and I met at a Grateful Dead concert while in college. Nine years later, we have two beautiful children, a house, good jobs and a lot of love. He touched us.
Garcia was much more than he will be remembered for in many circles. Those who can associate with him and the band know what I mean. Most everyone else hasn't a clue.
I work in the white-collar professional world. I have been raised with strong values and caring parents. I have a strong work ethic. Yet there was a side of me that will always be attracted to what the Dead and Garcia stand for:
Peace, freedom and the American way. The ability to choose to live your life the way you want, provided it doesn't cause harm to anyone or anything, and not be persecuted for it. To pick a cause and get involved, regardless of what the cause may be.
There was also the sweet music. Perhaps more than Garcia himself, people will miss the music. His expression.
Jerry Garcia was no angel. He lived a heavy life. He experimented with and used drugs. It was his choice. He knew the risks.
Funny thing is, with those who knew him and could relate to his expression, he won't be remembered in that light.
What he accomplished in his life is something for which we should all should strive. He touched people. Many people. And he will always be remembered for it. RIP, Jerry.
I was appalled that neither Glenn McNatt's July 29 column, "The Art of Development," nor the Aug. 3 editorial, "New Space for Maryland Art," mentioned the Contemporary museum.
Not only is the Contemporary an important part of the arts community in Baltimore but it also played a primary role in the exhibition, "Mining the Museum."
In recent years I have had the pleasure of seeing nearly all the exhibitions that the Contemporary has done, many in collaboration with other Baltimore institutions. Most have included an artist or artists-in-residence and have been installed in different locations (and communities) in the city.
Less than a month ago I attended a lecture given at the Walters by Karl Connelly, one of the artists-in-residence for the "Going for Baroque" exhibition, a current collaborative effort between the Walters and the Contemporary.
I regret that Mr. McNatt is apparently unaware of the Contemporary or the innovative way in which it functions. Although "Mining the Museum" (created, not curated, by artist Fred Wilson), was installed at the Maryland Historical Society, it was a collaborative effort with the Contemporary, which played a vital role in facilitating Fred Wilson's residence at the Historical Society.
Certainly the Maryland Historical Society deserves credit for its plans to expand to the old Greyhound bus garage.
A few years ago some of us in the community had the pleasure of viewing art in that very space when the Contemporary installed a wonderful exhibition of Russian photography as one of its shows.
The demise of Mickey Mantle and the recollections of the greatness he and others achieved through sheer talent prompts me to express an opinion shared by many.
The state of Major League baseball today, and I use the term "major league" loosely, is a miserably inferior example of what baseball once was.
The owners, with their quest for the almighty dollar and unscrupulous concern for the game, have served up to the gullible public 28 teams which in most part are manned by proverbial minor leaguers. Most of whom are compensated to the point of exaggeration.
Where are the real stars we had in the past?
We will not see such as them again, because to attain greatness they had to have great players performing beside them.
We don't have that today with the mediocre talent playing with potential stars who will never attain greatness.
For pure enjoyment of baseball, give me a sandlot game.
Don't outlaw citizen rights to self-defense
I noted with interest state Sen. John Pica's statement, "I won't let my wife walk around the neighborhood after the sun goes down."
It is fortunate for his wife that she does not need to pursue educational or employment opportunities which would require her to be out after the sun goes down. I have not been so fortunate.
Although I attended college on a full time basis, I have gotten three post-graduate degrees through night school programs. My employment has, more often than not, required that I travel after the sun goes down.
The students whom I now teach travel after the sun goes down to obtain education which will enhance their employment options.
Those students frequently walk into class with pepper spray containers in their hands. I frequently walk with the students to our cars for security, my own and theirs.
I was somewhat relieved to see that Senator Pica exercises the same paternalism toward his family as toward the people of Maryland. We, like his wife, are expected to accept limitations on our freedom in order for him to protect us.
We are expected to give up the educational and employment opportunities available after dark and consent to stiff registration policies for gun ownership.
The senator assures the citizens that proposed changes to the laws will not "affect or impact the right of a law-abiding citizen to protect his property or home."
How strange that a radio news story, the same day as this article, discussed the high number of handgun purchases.
Why does the news story mention that the gun purchasers are women? Why does the announcer describe these gun buyers as "the guy next door?" Because the citizens of Maryland know that their right to self-defense will be further compromised by the next session of the legislature.
Law-abiding citizens realize that if they want a handgun to protect themselves, they have to buy it now.
I understand that any analogy can be overdone, but Sen. Larry Young's statement that this is "an aspirin for a situation that needs a Darvon" is truer than he realizes. We have an infection on the body politic. It is caused by ignorance, poverty, lack of opportunity, anger and apathy.
Rather than attacking the infection, Senator Young proposes that we attack the pain. Whether Senator Young legislatively enacts an aspirin or a Darvon, the infection will continue.
Billie J. Grey
Still a dream
In the discussions of the pros and cons of affirmative action, Martin Luther King's dream of being judged by content of character, and not color, is frequently quoted.
But, is this a realistic portrait of an America, where media personalities and mega-stars are judged by outward appearances?
An America, where hyphenated ancestries are the norm?
An America, where separatism exists in housing and houses of worship?
An America, where student admissions are influenced by athletic prowess and family alumni ties?
L An America, where the field of opportunity is multi-leveled?
An America, where the meaning of affirmative action becomes a synonym for racial quotas?
An America, where Dr. King's dream is a manipulative tool of ideologies of all persuasions?
An America, where the dream remains, sadly, a dream?