Iowa Writes

A Jerry Garcia Sighting

Jerry Garcia, as he liked to call himself, would sing and play his guitar at the corner of Washington and Jefferson from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., every Tuesday to Sunday. Jerry enjoyed the fact that he looked like the popular Grateful Dead singer, so much so that he included "Dark Star" in his set, which only previously had Beatles standards.

Jerry specifically chose the corner of Washington and Jefferson Street since he didn't like to be distracted while he was working. This corner was always full, yes, but there were no benches, and thus, no people he'd be obliged to make conversation with, or worse, other performers who'd try to steal the spotlight.

Like most businesses, there were off hours as well. Mid-afternoon was always slow, so Jerry used this time to make account of his earnings, his big, black guitar suitcase (the one covered in old postage stamps), serving as his cash register.

At 5 p.m., Jerry would stand up and start what would be another four-hour set, before he took another break. He'd start with Rubber Soul (which he always felt was Lennon's first real album), then work his way up to The White Album. If he was in a good mood, he'd play requests. But this was rare.

Jerry didn't pay attention to anyone while he was performing anyway. He thought he performed best with his eyes closed. He said he never felt alone this way, as in his head, there was always applause.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Jaton writes, "Fresh off the plane from Manila, I discovered I could write fiction (or something that looks a lot like it) after spending this last summer in Iowa City. This is my first story, inspired by the fascinating homeless people that hang out on the ped mall, where calls for 'change' happen daily."

This page was first displayed
on October 30, 2008

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