One day at a band meeting that had been going on for three days and claimed the lives of six refrigerators (Billy became enraged at them, believing that their open doors represented the limitlessl judgement of mortality), Bobby threw something out there.
“Y’know, the kids follow us. They board the trains at night and the byways at dawn. ‘Come and play,’ they whisper to each other. ‘Come and see America,’ the drainpipe whispers, and the backyard, and the abandoned street with the car waiting at the end–lights out and idling warm and ready for the ride. We are the New Jerusalem; our sing-along songs are Holy Scripture.”
The room fell quiet for a moment, mostly because no one had any idea what Bobby was talking about, but there had been a certain woozy poetry to the rhythm.
“What if we declared ourselves a church, is what I’m saying. For not paying taxes.”
Now the room was quiet for a different reason: everyone understood precisely what Bobby was saying. Except for Garcia, who was happy in a rented basement apartment or a hilltop mansion as long as he had his guitar and some stash, the Dead liked money as much as anyone else, which is to say: to the point of violence.
Phil disliked the IRS because of an elaborate theory he had that included the Rockefellers, a multi-hued range of alien saboteurs, Lorne Michaels, and deadly Romanian war ferrets manipulating the economy or controlling the weather: no one could pin him down on the specifics, and if you pressed the matter, Phil would accuse you of being “part if it, man,” and take out a notebook and write your name down in a very threatening cursive.
Mickey, too, thought that the IRS were thieves who were stealing his hard-earned money and, to Mickey, that was something that should be kept in the family.
So, they declared themselves a religion, the world’s first dis-organized religion–every service a St. Stephen’s started with looking for the bibles for a good thirty minutes.
Brent played the organ; one of the highlights of the service was a 45-minute medley of hymns with a Fairest Lord Jesus>Spanish Jam>Amazing Grace segment that just killed it, but ended on an odd note when Brent transitioned from singing along with his solos to flat-out shrieking improvised lyrics about his wife that probably shouldn’t have even been whispered.
Rather soon, they found out that their tax-exempt status was not forthcoming, as Rakow had simply scrawled “CHRUCH NOW” on the first page on the paperwork before mailing it to the wrong address without a stamp, so Billy took out a giant insurance policy on the building and left Garcia there for a little while, which settled a whole bunch of problems.