The Dead Heads to Oval Office
"No ties ... and no tie-dyes."
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Dead dressed for a meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office, according to a source who witnessed the band's long strange trip through the White House on Monday evening.
The meeting, which was not on the president's official schedule, was a surprise for the band, arranged by a plugged-in friend. The current lineup (surviving founding Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, along with fill-ins Warren Haynes and Jeff Chimenti), some joined by their wives, met with Obama for about 15 minutes, chatting amiably about the history of the Oval Office and the president's desk.
Then it was on to a much longer visit with senior staff. While the president has never been to a Dead show, the officials they met with next -- senior advisers David Axelrod and Pete Rouse and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina -- are said to be big fans who had plans to attend last night's Verizon Center show. "They talked about a lot of different issues," said our source, "the environment, climate change." (And, maybe, like, who's got the best collection of bootlegs?)
Another source tells our colleague Mary Ann Akers that outside the Oval Office, Lesh's wife, Jill, spotted a vase of, get this, scarlet begonias! ("Scarlet Begonias" is one of Jerry Garcia's most beloved tunes.) And then the band went across the street to dine on oysters, clams, shrimp and soft-shell crabs at Old Ebbitt Grill.
A rep for the band said it was a profound meeting for them, since Obamania prompted their reunion. Weir, Lesh and Hart set aside years of differences to play a February 2008 fundraiser; Kreutzmann later signed for October's "Change Rocks" concert at Penn State.
Alas, despite our begging and pleading for a photo of POTUS with the countercultural icons -- no return call or comment from the White House.
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