Wednesday, August 18, 2004

End of Phish

As I was grooving silently to a Phish song at some point over the last weekend up in some abandoned cow pasture in rural Vermont, some guy sidled up to me and asked, "Hey Bro, you got a nitrous cracker?" Alas, I didn't have a nitrous cracker on my person, though I wished I could have accomodated his request.

That's the thing about Phish. If I walked down into the West 4th Street subway station and asked a conductor screaming, "Stand clear the closing doors, please!", if he had a nitrous cracker, he'd probably say, "What the fuck you talkin' bout?" But at Phish, it was a perfectly legit question. I may not have had the cracker, but someone certainly did. And this guy, his brain shriveled due to multiple whippets was going to find that someone, crack into a whippet, and fall face first into the urine-soaked mud. I'm going to miss that sort of suspended reality, where ridiculous things are not only possible, but likely, especially as pertains to drugs.

So it was with a mixture of anticipation and heavy hearts that 10 brave souls revved an RV named the Chateau and set out for a mud-soaked quadrant of Vermont for a often-trying, but ultimately successful weekend.

So we're cruising up I-91, having just picked up Handstand and Zebra outside of the Basketball Hall of Fame (I had no idea, but the B-ball Hall of Fame looks more like a McDonald's with a Hall of Fame attached to it, kind of like a McDonald's Kid Land with a ball pit and a Mayor McCheese teeter-totter. There's certainly no stately elegance like the baseball hall.) and we've hit the traffic. Stretching as far as the eye could see, we did not move again for nearly 24 hours. Luckily, we had the Chateau, which was essentially a living room on wheels, complete with fridge and pooper. So it was cold beers and lots of laughter for a long time. It was the first time I've ever grilled fresh, Greepoint kielbasa on a hibachi in a drizzle on the side of a major north-south expressway. It was also the first time a wookie walked up to me on the side of an expressway and said, "Dude, THAT's some sausage. Are you selling any?" We turned him down, but shouldn't have, since those extra links of kielbasa stunk up the Chateau for the rest of the weekend.

At 9 the next morning, we awake to Mike Gordon of Phish on the radio saying, "You're all fucked. Sorry bout that. Go home now." After about a half-hour of dilly dally, we got the Chateau into gear and hauled ass up the suddenly clearing I-91. Gordon be damned, we were going to see this show. Eventually, having meandered on the backroads, we pulled up at some local's house that had a "Park & Ride" sign on the front lawn, except the "R" was backwards and the ampersand just looked like poorly-drawn penis. A woman with several teeth came out and told us we could park in her backyard, which was about 3 miles from the entrance to the campsite. Seeing no other option, we parked, guided in by the woman's husband, a 7-foot bear.

The walk to the campsite was uneventful, save for the thousands and thousands of frustrated dirty people trying to enter through the gates. Just when I'd given up hope, sure enough, a hippy fell off the back of a flat bed on her head, shook it off and said, "Ow, dude."

And then we saw the mud. Acres of it. Hectares, even. Ankle-deep. Knee-deep. Waste-deep. And I'm not kidding. It was insane. Over in one corner of the campground, I saw a pagan priest incant something and then rip out the heart of a wookie and hold it aloft. He then lowered the wookie in to the mud and as he did it, the heart in his hand became engorged in mud.

As for that night's show, we were woefully unprepared. First of all, I was wearing flip flops, which basically meant I was wearing a foot encased in mud. And it got pretty cold and mushy up there on the hillside. So that wasn't too much fun. Plus, we didn't have a tarp, or chairs, or even alcohol. The music was great but not fantastic. The crowd was tired and cranky for the most part and I just wasn't feeling it. We actually left a little early and got rides back to our campsite from a guy playing the banjo with narrow eyes and his buddy who said, "Aintree, what you go up thar fer?"

But the second day was so much better. First off, I wore shoes. That right there turned my attitude around considerably. Second, we had much better "seats." In fact, we brought in some collapsable chairs, a huge tarp, three logs to mark off our tarpal area, and some liquid fortitude in the guise of smuggled Bud Lights and a water bottle filled with Cuervo. If this was going to be the last show, we were going to do it right. And we did. Through the muck and mire, we remained clean, dancing in our socks on a tarp stretched over a mud pit. It felt like we were grooving on a big blue vagina cause the ground was so, well, mushy.

And then it was over. 9 years invested in this band and now I'm cashed out. And I'm happy about it. Now maybe the part of my brain that was dedicated to remembering the whistling part of Reba can be used for some useful knowledge. Now I don't have to hear my mom say, "No pot this time, huh?" Now Irene can't guilt me into missing New Year's at the Garden...but I'm sure she'll find something else to turn those screws.

Check this out too. Apparently, everyone is going to miss Phish. That's how cross-cultural a 25-minute Tweezer can be.


At 4:11 PM, Blogger Don Fiedler said...

Man, slow day today or what? That obviously wasn't my best post but fuckin' shit man, where is everyone?

At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually that was absolutely hilarious, I now have a very painful case of the hiccups from laughing so dang hard.

At 5:09 PM, Blogger Jason Mulgrew said...

It's just that I know you, and I've heard the stories from Zebra. Not from Handstand though, since he's trying to cut me out of his life.

Good luck Handstand, good luck.

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Chalk it up to a slow day...I thought the post was hilarious with a capital H. Although for some reason I didn't capitalize it. Damn.


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