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Dead's Garcia lives on in hype

He's gone, but the money keeps truckin' in.

First there were Jerry Garcia ties. Five years later, Jerry Garcia boxer shorts have arrived. In the next few weeks, Jerry Garcia computer screen savers will make their debut. In a few months, Jerry Garcia notecards are set to hit the stationery stores.

Although the famed Grateful Dead guitarist has been dead for 1{ years, the merchandising effort using his artwork is going full steam ahead.

Larry Lautzker, president and owner of Famous For Our Look, a men's specialty store in Mill Valley, Calif., said the multicolor, silk boxer shorts, which came out just before Christmas, have been selling well.

"It's enjoyable to put the stuff on," Lautzker said. "When you open your underwear drawer in the morning, it takes you to another time. For many of us, it was the best moments of our lives _ thousands of people coming together all as one entity. There was nothing like a Grateful Dead show."

Lautzker added: "It's amazing. When people are buying the shorts, everyone has a little anecdote _ how the band impacted their lives. Everyone has a life-transforming event."

The shorts, splashed with the bright colors Garcia used in his watercolors and featuring the J. Garcia label on the waistband, sell for $29.50 _ about double the price of other silk boxers.

One of Lautzker's customers, Ralph Pinghera, 47, of Mill Valley, said he "never knew about the world of silk boxer shorts. It was great to be accompanied by the spirit of the Grateful Dead."

Henry Jacobson, president of Mulberry Neckwear in San Rafael, Calif., the manufacturer of both lines of boxer shorts and a new line of Grateful Dead ties, says that love for the late musician and his band is what makes the products sell.

"People want that stuff around. . . . They want it to be part of their lives," Jacobson said. "It's an enduring thing. It was about more than the music."

Jacobson said his company shipped 25,000 Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead boxers to stores nationwide for the Christmas rush and the same number for Valentine's Day.

"The amazing thing is that 35 percent of the inventory sold in one week for Valentine's Day at Macy's," Jacobson said. "Whether you're talking about Dayton Hudson or Marshall Field or Macy's, they sold really fast."