Covering the Grateful Dead for Obama

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Obama_logo I freelance for Premiere Radio, a great news service for radio stations, that keeps them updated on music news.

They sent me to San Francisco’s Warfield Theater Monday, where three members of the Grateful Dead were reuniting to get people to vote for Barack Obama. You can see video of the press conference and bits of the concert here.

It was funny: there were reporters from all over, and some of them had no clue about who the Grateful Dead were, except what they read in wikipedia. It was funny, because they asked some great questions, no fan would have the guts to ask, like “Do you guys like each other?” (Real answer: they are a family, like many, and are often dysfunctional. But says Bob Weir, “blood is thicker than water, and what we have is thicker than blood.”)


It was a big political love fest, a pep rally, until I asked the guys something that’s been bugging me. Sunday’s New York Times had a scary article about how Obama claimed to have passed great nuclear regulatory legislation, but it turns out, after a nuclear energy company became his biggest contributor, he softened the law.

In fact, it was watered down so much that it went from requiring nuclear plants to report hazardous spills to neighbors, to suggesting that plants should report the spills. Not exactly a neighborhood-friendly bill.

In one quick moment, my balloon was popped. I wanted to jump on the second coming of the Kennedy bandwagon, but quickly came to realize, he’s a politician, like all of them. Better than most, but you never know unless you watch carefully.

I asked the Dead members that and two of them, Mickey Hart and Phil Lesh, looked at me as if they had stepped in dog poop on the way into the room. They hadn’t seen the story. The third, Bob Weir, gave a well thought out answer, saying that those are the kinds of things we must examine in a candidate, and he’d keep his eye on such things.

Right answer. While so many people play politics like a big pep rally, the bottom line is that we have to keep our eye on those we elect and let spend our money. And we need a healthy media to do it.

Otherwise, with weapons of mass distortion, they suck us into the most shallow and glossy imagery, letting us cheer and party and dance, while they are busy behind the scenes, not always making the world a better place.

To tell you the truth, sometimes I wish I could let all of it go and just have fun, but someone’s got to ask the hard questions, don’t they?

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