: Who Is Danny Pendergast? :

an excerpt by Kent Nelson


I’m not sure when it first happened—maybe the evening of The Other Ones Dead Show in Ashland, Oregon—thousands of people, guys with electrified hair wrapped in bandannas or straight hair put in ponytails, wearing T-shirts with Jerry on them, or shirtless with tattoos of peace symbols and body paintings, shorts unbuttoned with one-eyed snakes hanging out, unreal, and chicks, in all manner of get-ups or non-get-ups (get-downs?), their eyes like comic book XXX’s, barefoot a lot of them, their breasts swinging and their hair all sweaty as they danced.  I’m talking about 2002, one of the rare palindromic years.  The Other Ones were left over from The Grateful Dead, and Jerry Garcia had already been gone seven years.

I wasn’t on drugs, but I was on the fringe—always have been.  Dusty had gone to find a friend—yeah, like among the multitudes?—and I knew I wouldn’t see her again until next week.  I was cruising, not for a woman, but in my head, poking my brain into this little cove and that narrow inlet, sailing sometimes full spinnaker downwind.  The band, such as it was without Jerry, was between sets, and there wasn’t a lot to focus on except a sea of ugly body parts and the sun sinking casually into hazy farmland.  Maybe that’s when it came to me.