Acid Heroes

May 15, 2017

A St. Paul story

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:39 pm

 

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“JERRY GARCIA!! GRATEFUL DEAD!!”

St. Paul was one of the more well-known Deadheads that used to hang out on Telegraph Avenue back in the 1990s.  An impish little guy, you’d often find him hanging out on a street corner with a drug-addled look on his face, endlessly repeating his eternal mantra: “JERRY GARCIA!! GRATEFUL DEAD!!”

The story on St. Paul was that he had raped an underage Deadhead chick on the tour. So to get back at him they dosed him with a massive amount of LSD (laced with something) that permanently scrambled his brains. I don’t know if this urban myth is true or not. But his brains were definitely permanently scrambled.

St. Paul was banned from virtually every establishment on Telegraph because he could be so annoying and obnoxious. But — typically — he was the last to know. He’d happily walk into a store announcing the good news of “Jerry Garcia! Grateful Dead!” Within minutes he’d be getting the bums rush out the door. “GET OUTTA HERE YOU!!” St. Paul would just merrily walk down the street, stick his nose into the next establishment, repeat the same formula,  and get run out of that joint, too.

Anyways, one evening around 1996 this movie company swooped down on Telegraph. They were making a fictional movie about the Grateful Dead parking lot scene. So they needed to round up a bunch of hippie-looking extras to be the background Deadheads. They offered us 50 bucks each for a couple hours of our time. So about 200 of us ended up on the movie set. And if they crowded us together in the shot we could simulate a crowd scene.

Naturally they chose St. Paul (talk about “right out of central casting”!!). And St. Paul must have thought he had died and gone to heaven. To be paid money to be a Deadhead was probably a dream come true for him. And probably the only job he was remotely qualified for. So he had an even more beautific and brainless and stoned-out smile on his face than usual. “JERRY GARCIA!! GRATEFUL DEAD!!” he announced to one and all, over and over, flashing his trade-mark, two-handed peace signs.

They were filming in this abandoned arena in Oakland. And they posed us all hanging out in the hallway looking suitably stoned, as the main character — this young ’90s hippy boy type — went running down the hallway.

Then they filmed a big scene where the hippy boy goes into the restroom and he’s tripping on acid, and when he looks at his face in the mirror he freaks out big-time. “AARRGGGHHH!! he screams in psychic agony. Bummer, man.

Then he comes running back out to the hallway. And they needed a couple of extras for the close-ups. So I was surprised when they picked me (I used to wear these round Lennon sunglasses back then that had these tinted, rainbow-colored peace signs on the lenses that you could see when the light hit them just right — so I guess I looked like a goddamn hippie back then).

When it came time to pay us the 50 bucks the producer said: “We’re on a tight budget so if any of you are willing to volunteer your time and do it for Jerry that would be appreciated.” None of us took him up on that. We all wanted our 50 bucks.

On the ride back to Telegraph, St. Paul was in ecstasy. It was like he could barely grasp the awesome magnitude of what he had just experienced. Needless to say, he repeated his eternal mantra “JERRY GARCIA!! GRATEFUL DEAD!!” the whole way home.

Years later, somebody told me they actually recognized me in the movie. I never got around to seeing it. I got a VCR video cassette copy of it stashed in my storage locker somewhere. But I don’t think I’ll be getting around to viewing it any time soon.

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