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September 13, 2011

Blog Post "Phail"

On September 12, I wrote a blog post titled "Here For Phish? How About You Lend a Phreaking Hand?" In retrospect, I realize that it was ill-timed and ill-conceived. A number of readers felt the post impugned the good work already being done by flood volunteers, took for granted Phish's contribution to the relief efforts, and was offensive to a legion of music fans.

This was not my intent. I simply meant to draw attention to a need facing our state in the wake of a natural disaster and, at the same time, poke a little fun at the caricature of the Phish fan that has formed over the years. And, yes, I realize there is more than one kind of Phish fan. 

I, like my fellow Vermonters, appreciate the work that is being done around the state to help get people back on their feet after Tropical Storm Irene. Phish is being incredibly generous by donating their time and talent. The money that is raised from their benefit show on September 14 will go a long way toward helping the state heal. I didn't intend to minimize their contribution, or those of concertgoers from in and out of state.  

Judging from the negative reactions to the blog post, I clearly didn't achieve what I set out to with the piece: to entertain and inform. As some have already pointed out, this piece was a "phail." I acknowledge that, and I'm sorry.

Editors' note: Opinions expressed on our staff blog do not necessarily reflect the views of editors or staff at Seven Days. Many of us are longtime Phish fans, and all of us appreciate what the band, and its fans, are doing for our state.

(starts slow clap) We phorgive you. Now, let's go raise some phriggin' money!

I will be sure to not patronize any of your advertisers whilst in Burlington. Thanks for the hate speach. U are only sorry because u got caught

Lauren, I have a blog and I KNOW what I write about is controversial. The difference is, just my friends and fans are reading so when they don't like what I've written they simply don't say anything. Being published you're subject to a whole bunch more criticism and the dangers of people who don't care if they ever have to look you in the eye. A small fraction of the criticism and a much gentler version would have been delivered had anyone had to say it to your face. Chin up! :)

I get where you were coming from, but your article was really mean, and I sincerely hope that you learned your lesson here, Miss. Ober. It's never a good idea to rip on people who really care and are genuinely interested in donating their time or resources to a natural DISASTER.

Miss. Ober, here's some unsolicited advice:

Next time, write a piece that is warm, cohesive and supportive instead of negative, derogatory and hate-fueled. As with anything in life, if you're kind, sweet and smart, I think you'll find folks want to gravitate to you and support your efforts. Instead, you took a huge fan-base and completely alienated them from your publication. Negative gets you exactly nowhere.

FWIW, I still think you did the right thing by apologizing and despite what other people say, we appreciate your honesty.

Hopefully, maybe you'll be able to attend a show and see what we're all about. Phish is a really a fun-loving band and most of the folks I've met through Phish are among the sweetest and brightest people I've ever known, and for that, I count myself lucky.

Wow Nick. Clearly you are unaware of the make up of certain fanbases and phish in particular. I think if you find any phish fan on wednesday and ask them if they are here to help VT, they will UNDOUBTEDLY say Absolutely first and seeing phish is a bonus.

I don't live there any more, but I grew up there it pains me that I can't be a vermonter-come-home who happens to love Phish, but will be there first and foremost for VT because of people like you. Phish is a New England band with a vast fanbase right here in New England, not some dirty hippies trudging around the country any more. We have grown, changed, dare we say...care about things! Especially tragedies that happen right in their region. We are easily mobilized people who have been helping for years - can you fault us on that? Our legacy is caring, helpful, and community - Phish meant it to be formed that way and has an official capacity through it's own organization called the WaterWheel Foundation. It's a pinnacle part of every phish show. Look up what they do then you can see why people are so mad about the stereotypes that you really want to perpetuate in jest.

I don't know how I feel about this. Why publish something and admit it was a fail? Why even go forward with publishing something shitty?

As far as those accusing Phish fans of forcing this retraction/apology, it's called civic participation and it's what our nation is based upon, We all expressed our opinions, we did not force anyone, the writer, the paper or owners to retract or apologize. I suppose those Phish fan critics on here think there is some powerful hippie cabal who runs the media. Go back to your Fox News or your NYT. Oh, and most of my Phish fan friends have advanced degrees, short hair, are parents and do not follow like a cult. You're mixing us up with another band's fans from 30 years ago.
PS- I bet me and me Phriends do more to help Vt than any of our critics on this laughable little on line blog/media outlet/paper. The rest of my effort will be actual work, not typing bullshit about other bullshit.

To little, too late. The damage is done as far as I'm concerned and I'm so sad and disappointed that 7 Days published the article. I'm a Vermonter with a Masters Degree and a full time job- the stereotypes were inaccurate and insulting. Really, really sad.

I am a musician. I love playing music and listening to it. However, first, I am a volunteer. I offer my services to society and the environment.

While folks might take offense at the tone in the prior post, I do think Ober's point was well made: there are lots of people hurting in the state, and while it is great to support the cause by buying a ticket, I think a greater contribution would be helping out some of the residents, farms, and businesses hit hard by this tragedy.

Phish fans could shake a lot of the stereotypes by rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. We must always celebrate a bit in hard times to keep up the spirits, but Phish fans need to realize that some folks who are struggling right now because of the floods might be a little upset by people partying it up while they are trying to put their lives back together.

No apology needed, your original article was tongue-in-cheek funny and yeah, sort of accurate. Plus you gave good links to places that really need help. And let me just say to those poor abused Phish fans - remember the last time there was a Phish concert in Vermont? I do recall those "fans" tore up this State! It's only right the band AND fans are helping out now, so thanks Phish and your fans. But I sure do hope you don't do any more concerts here. No offense intended, and don't expect an apology if you are :)

Lauren, I read your original article and found it irreverent and humorous. And if some Phish fans took such offense to it perhaps it just hit a little too close to home.
And for the Phools who were cutting it down as bad journalism, it just goes to show that they don't understand the difference between an op-ed opinion piece and actual journalism. Humor is a tough tightrope to walk and the fact you struck such a nerve would have made Lenny Bruce smile.
I welcome Phish and all their Phans and hope they have a rocking good time. But come on guys and gals...lighten up.

Don't stress it, Lauren. Your post was clearly lighthearted and whimsical (god forbid us Vermonters chuckle a bit during these trying times). And, most importantly, it was informative. If anyone took offense, I think they take themselves a little too seriously. It's a joke, people. I'm a phish fan (though I refuse to say "phan," and I can't say I've cared too much about them since sometime around 2002), and I certainly didn't take offense. Yes, she pokes fun at a caricature of Phishheads. It's obviously a joke.

And, "Brian J man. This is a blog post. It's not a reported article. It doesn't purport to be a piece of reporting or traditional journalism. It's commentary, with a service element. And I think it's laudable. (I'm a journalist w/ 10 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines and websites.) You complaining about her tone in a blog post is no different than me saying that your use of "meh" in the comments section is a travesty to the great tradition of journalism. I'd never say that. It's new media. It's about communicating. Maybe this was a bit of a "swing and miss" since so many overly sensitive people took offense, but it's certainly not a "travesty to journalism." Relax, people.

Thanks for the apology. I do think the article was in poor taste and really misguided but people make mistakes and Seven Days is still an amazing paper. For every ehhh??? I get when reading Seven Days I get about a hundred ahhhhhhs!! Keep up the good work!

Thank you for your forced apology. I know how it is when you get caught. Oh boy. Back track fast. I will be boycotting you and anyone who spent money adveritising in your little rag this week while in Burlington. Your comments were insensetive and borderline racist. Shame shame

Ms. Ober,

We all learn from our mistakes. It would be advantageous for you to conduct research on the Phish community as well as the Waterwheel Foundation so that you may see just how wrong your accusations and stereotypes are. For a true and meaningful apology why not follow up on your crass and uneducated assessment by also looking into the Vermont Community Foundation and track to see just far this money will be stretched and consciously put into the hands of REAL Vermonters that need it most. Check in with Waterwheel Foundation in a month or so and see if they have an accurate total of the monies raise and the sources of those funds...It would be my guess that much money was a monetary donation with no ticket or merchandise purchased.

It truly is sad to think that your previous post and its unfair bias print may be seen as a fair representation to how Vermonters feel about Phish and their fans. Coming from one of the Vermont communities that was truly devastated by the floods cause by the tropical storm, I can correct you on your assessment of how Vermont feels about ANY aid that is being offered. Vermonters are thankful for any and all help that they receive. After all that has happened the last thing Vermont needs is someone like you criticizing an organization that is so willing to help get us back on our feet again.

I had always thought of Seven Days as a great gift and now my opinion of the magazine has been swayed, I will not read it anymore because you, as a representation of what the paper of the papers values, tells me that Seven Days and its bias and discriminating beliefs, is not a publication that I wish to be associated with.

Lauren, answer the question: What have YOU done to help Vermont?

Also, if you were doing your homework as even an amateur journalist should be, you would have seen that in every forum where Phish has announced their VERMONT FLOOD RELIEF BENEFIT CONCERT, you can not help but notice 1) what the purpose of the concert is for; 2) how people can contribute financially and voluntarily AND 3) that only 2,000 tickets were available for the wider world via online lottery and the remaining 8,200 or so were snapped up at one location only, in cash, by people who had to motivate and afford it on short notice.

This will be a different sort of event than Coventry or any other Phish show. You didn't poke fun, you maligned an entire fanbase and subculture that is every bit as big as what the Grateful Dead had in the early 1990s, one that overwhelmingly means well despite its unsavory elements.

Also, you didn't just inflame "some" of your readers, deary...the replies to your original post were 100% against that miserable piece of writing. NO ONE liked it, so therefore it was inaccurate, without merit and utterly WORTHLESS.

Apology appreciated, but I don't believe it to be sincere. Your phool phlag has phlown and no one who has read this will take you seriously again.

Thanks for the apology. Although I do not go to Phish concerts , or consider myself a "phan", I happen to have had only wonderful experiences with Phish fans during my time working in various concert venues around Virginia. Don't worry about these internet trolls. They are just immature people who happen to like Phish. While the article was a bit shocking, it did not warrant such responses.

Nice apology! But Self'd

Spreading the impression that a large group of people are contsantly breaking criminal laws is not "poking fun."

Thoughts like those get people unjustly arrested.

Dear Phish fans - Phish is NOT comparable to the Grateful Dead. Don't even try. Thank you.

The first article was condescending. How about offering solutions instead of stirring up problems? One way to increase volunteer numbers is to make volunteering accessible. Provide housing (if possible) and/ or shuttles from the campgrounds to where volunteers are needed. At the very least tell people where help is needed. I'm sure many of those attending the show would consider putting in some hours if it were made known how to do so. Don't expect people to search out volunteer opportunities on their own, remember that not everyone has experience in disaster relief or the knowledge of how to make themselves helpful in the effort. However, I hope the venue is left in better condition than any of those I've yet seen after a Phish show. Leaving the lawn and lots clean after the show would go a long way toward showing our true colors as Phans. I know everyone is there for a good time, but please don't use the mentality that you paid for your fun and it's someone else's job to clean up after you. Thank you! I can't be there, but I hope you all enjoy the show.

As someone who volunteers A LOT, I am inclined to agree with Lauren's original blog. Granted, her stereotyping of phans was not exactly the best way to motivate people to want to help, but all stereotypes are rooted in a grain of truth and she didn't say anything that we don't ourselves say on PT...but seriously, if you can find the time and energy to travel to VT for the show, you can take a few hours and help someone out while you're there. And when you get back home, take the time to volunteer locally. AND HAVE A GREAT SHOW!!!

To the moron wookies who keep asking what Lauren's done, try to pay attention. She's written about volunteering at Lareau Farm and the Intervale. Too bad she apologized--her original post was spot on. Many of the commenters here prove that much.

I think this apology is acceptable. Phish and "Phish culture" is a fun target for mockery and humor but the original post was pretty harsh in my opinion. When something is as popular as Phish is in Vermont there is bound to be a backlash from people that are "too cool for that kind of stuff." But come on Lauren! This concert is for a good cause!

PS - Hi Trey!!!!

"Vermont has been good to you, no? We gave you Phish and Ben & Jerry's and phlannel and weed. That's right — we invented phlannel. And weed. We might have even invented patchouli, white-people dreadlocks and barefoot dancing. So consider giving back. Then when you go back to New Jersey, you can tell all your phriends how you helped save Vermont. So heady, brah"

Who in their right mind would want to give to our state with this as your sales pitch? You hear that.....? Thats the sound of eleven thousand people coming to see an amazing show and instead of helping out calling it even with their ticket purchase. Good work

@Nick - You say that as if it was the typical making fun of Phish fans post, which the community is used to. Where she went beyond that is by attacking the band and their fans as we put together HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS to help your state AND telling us we aren't doing enough.

If you want someone to continue to help you, you don't kick them in the nuts, make fun of their appearance and then put your hand out.

You clearly missed the point of the anger if you think this was about over-sensitive Phish fans having no sense of humor.

Hey Phan & Phello and all the rest of you whiny brats that missed the point that the reporter was asking (however clumsily) for practical help with the flood damage...

It really gets me when 'pholks' like you criticize others for something you're doing yourself (like sarcastically criticizing sarcasm)

Perhaps you should look up the word immaturity and shut the phuck up.

Lauren, everyone makes mistakes and it's super tough when they're so public. I think your apology is well written and I can only assume it's sincere.

And one last note to the haters: how do you know she's insincere and/or was forced by her editors to publish an apology? - Perhaps you think you know her better than she knows herself?

I'll say this - the rude responses to this are doing more damage to the phish fans reps than any smelly dreadlocks ever could.

Thank you for the follow up and please continue to communicate the needs of your community. I guarantee you will achieve more results if you ask for help nicely. :)

While I have a sense of humor about being a Phish fan please don't diss or deny our philanthropic work.

Cheers and have a great show Vermont!!

Too Late, you put it out there, and now it seems that you have your foot in your mouth.
Learn the first rule of life dear, Live and Let Live.

Regardless of the reason for the apology (orders from the boss, genuine guilt), writing it was the right thing to do.

Good Stuff, Forgive and Forget... Hope the Great State of VT gets rebuilt quickly and everyone is back in their homes as soon as possible!

PAW

Too little too late, Ignorance ****.

So Phish and Lance Armstrong are apparently your achilles heels.

Hey Phish fans, stop acting like your an oppressed ethnic group--you're a bunch of spoiled white kids who like a crappy band. You got your show & now you get to get high and listen to some shaggy haired drug addict wank out on guitar for three hours. So quit ranting, enjoy your horrid music & then get the hell out of my town as quickly as possible.

Thanks for re-routing to the high road, Lauren. Now go out & enjoy yourself with our legions, while contributing to the recovery & overall well being of your fellow statespeople! Wish I could be there, but I WILL be watching.

"Hey Phish fans, stop acting like your an oppressed ethnic group--you're a bunch of spoiled white kids who like a crappy band. You got your show & now you get to get high and listen to some shaggy haired drug addict wank out on guitar for three hours. So quit ranting, enjoy your horrid music & then get the hell out of my town as quickly as possible."

No problemo. Looking forward to destroying it for a night.

Thank you for your apology. I was really shocked to read the original one, esp when I just got home from store with cleaning supplies and food goods to bring up from CT where we endured much damage as well.

Lauren, we're one step ahead of you babe. http://blog.phish.net/1315920428/the-extra-mile-in-vermont Think and research before you judge and write. Thank you for the apology... it is welcomed and accepted.

Wimp. No, so I include the editors who threw you under the bus, make that: wimps.

Thanks, once again, for proving that there really is no alternative media in Vermont. Sorry, cute puns don't count.

I'm sure the rest of the 7 Daze crew got the message: Don't mess with the Vermont elite or you'll be forced to write a dopey retraction. We'll call it the "Ober-rule."

Whatever.

You Suck. Apology not accepted. I will never read this P.O.S. blog again. I donated to the cause by buying the webcast for $20.00. All of which, 100% is going to help your state. So screw you saying i need to do more. You are a pathetic voice for your state. Have some respect for a world renowned musical institution and their fans. I thought people from Vermont were smarter than that but i guess i was wrong. Please don't ever come to Florida. You are not welcome here. and please don't ever mention or mock phish again. You mock what you don't and never will understand and you make us all sick. you would have been better to just keep your big pie hole shut. You are a Buffoon. Good Day SIR! IDIOT!

"I simply meant to draw attention to a need facing our state in the wake of a natural disaster..."
if the above statement is true, then you need to study more rhetoric because
moronically degrading your audience is not a very good strategy when your objective is to persuade or to draw attention to your cause.

Lauren, will you go out with me? Our first date can be the Phish concert.

Lighten up Phishing fans! For a group of caring, educated people you sure are sensitive. Mt first thought when I heard they were coming to town was " how is it that they can think that a concert is the best way to help? We don't need more people here for a party and a lot of Vermonters are financially strapped because of the storms from not only this fall but this past Spring as well and can't afford to attend themselves..." Lauren is not the only one wishing people would find another way to help out... Not trying to look a gift horse in the mouth or anything though.

The problem with your attempt to "poke a little fun at the caricature of the Phish fan that has formed over the years" was that there was nothing in it that was funny, it was just mean spirited and ill informed. I know a racist who doesn't realize he's one and uses this exact same argument to excuse his nigger jokes. You Lauren, are really bad at your job. You made no attempt to understand the people you were trashing and no attempt at being funny or entertaining in the process. How easy would it be to write a piece trashing a faux hipster chick writing for some stupid free weekly, in the faux hipster capital of the Northeast? Seven Days...pfft.

Piss. Poor. Apology.

Never have I seen 3rd grade sarcasm mixed with kindergarten journalism and snark before. I have now.

Now I can die angry. Oh Joy for me.

Seriously I wonder how you successfully draw a paycheck with your ill-conceived words. Your "timing" is probably permanently bereft, as is your wit. How clever to use a "ph" with everything, which by the way probably should have been left out of a more thoughtful apology. Moving on...

Lets consider the impact of the fans coming to the area.
Many of them by happenstance or otherwise either used to live here or are a true fan of the State of Vermont, how we do business, and how we LIVE. They all want to be here, yes for the band, but also because its VERMONT. The best State in the union in my humble opinion.

With 10000+ people in the area, many of them local, many of them not, what do we think the monetary impact for the benefit and for the local economy might be? My guess (probably a low one) is between 3-5 million dollars in merchandise, food, hotel stays, cab rides, the copious amount of booze about to be imbibed, and lets not forget the price of admission and parking.

Many folks will stay to help, many will donate money, many live here and have perspired and bled for their fellow Vermonters already. Some will simply go home after having a fantastic time. Many still who live here don't like Phish, which is more than fair and they will choose to contribute in other ways.

Even more so, the show and all of its trappings, will make many, many people think about Vermont, make them like this place even more than they do already, because this is a truly special thing. Long run we will see more people spend money, want to settle in, and want to play in our beautiful home. Many people might be annoyed by this, but seriously.. Aren't locals more consistently annoyed by the more permanent college students who also bring with them huge economic benefits to our area. I see this no differently. Just a minor inconvenience for some, but a social, economic, and spiritual windfall for many.


I've had my suspicions that most Phish fans are totally humorless, but after reading the steady stream of blind hate speech in the original post, my suspicions have been confirmed. Clearly, these haters neither recognize good satire, nor do they understand that they're attacking a person who gets paid to express her opinion. It's an Op-Ed! And p.s., the person you're chastising is a PERSON, who I'm sure doesn't like being threatened -- be it over email or over a Subway sandwich. Check your aggression, please. And if Ober was forced to issue this apology, as everyone seems to think she was, Seven Days needs to grow some cajones. And fast.

Ms. Ober, your apology is appreciated. Nevertheless, we'd never have been in this position had you and/or your editors decided that in this case discretion was the better part of valor and that there is a time and a place for everything. We Phish fans can certainly handle a little good natured poking fun at our expense and we've certainly heard all the tired cliches and stereotypes that you mention in your original article before. However, when the members of the band and the community that follows it are giving their time and their financial resources to help Vermont recover from a disaster the likes of which it hasn't seen in over 50 years; your commentary is in extremely poor taste. I certainly hope you learned a valuable lesson here and that in the future you and those who make decisions at the publication for which you write will think long and hard about what you print and who you might offend and upset with those comments. Just about 24 hours until showtime and there is no where on the planet that I would rather be come tomorrow night then the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds to see the band I love do good for the state that it loves and will always call home.

I think people are confused about what a donation is. Buying a ticket to a show does NOT mean you are making a donation. Phish is donating the money, not you.
The writer of the blog post that is making everyone so postal never said anything bad about Phish and if you read the articles and posts she has written in 7 Days you will see that she has, in fact, volunteered herself in Central Vermont.
The real shame here is that 7 Days hired a writer who they knew was a comedy/satire writer (it's what she does, look at ALL HER ARTICLES) and then when someone doesn't like it they don't stand behind her. It's not like you didn't know what kind of writer she was before you hired her!
I am so bummed out that 7 Days has so little integrity. American Apparel ads have periodically created controversy for 7 Days as well. However, American Apparel is never going back and apologizing to 7 Days readers for making us look at prepubescent girls in skimpy that looks like kiddy porn.
Really 7 Days? You couldn't instead have pointed out that Ms. Ober NEVER criticized Phish? That she has in fact donated her own time to volunteer to help in the recovery effort? That while some people might not like what she has to say that for better or worse that you hired a comedy writer and that's what she does?

Shame on you 7 Days for instead, throwing her to the wolves with this:
"Editors' note: Opinions expressed on our staff blog do not necessarily reflect the views of editors or staff at Seven Days. Many of us are longtime Phish fans, and all of us appreciate what the band, and its fans, are doing for our state".

For the record, I live downtown and the Phish fans that stood outside in line for tickets to this concert left a HUGE mess on the front steps of my building. They peed in our elevator and smoked pot all day and night while they were in line. I'm not sure Ms. Ober's portrayal of them is too far off.

Yeah, the editors' note was so blatantly pandering, it was downright embarrassing.

Maura, what?

Fans are most certainly donating money to help the cause! Phish is giving their TIME as an incentive for fans to donate (they're using underwriters and private backers to fund the show, not ticket money).

Sure, you can say Phish is donating the money on our behalf, but, either way, it's still money that's flowing from our pockets to the state of VT.

$75/ticket + 10,000 tickets sold = $750k raised for VT recovery efforts, so far. This doesn't include the $20-50 cost of the webcast which will allow fans all around the world to support their efforts.

In addition: proceeds from merchandise sold at the event will also be donated (100%); and, out of town fans (and locals) will provide a much needed boost to an economy that, no doubt, was left stagnant in the aftermath of the storm (as many communities encounter in the wake of a natural disaster). Many people are giving their time to assist communities, and others are giving money. I think, at this point, VT's recovery requires BOTH.

Further, an attack on Phish's fans is an attack on Phish. You really can't separate the two.

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