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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Now THAT's a Stimulous Package

They came. They saw. They got arrested.

As numerous media outlets are reporting, last weekend's Phish reunion shows in Hampton, Va resulted in a perhaps predictable flurry of activity on the city's police blotter as 194 concertgoers were arrested and cops seized — are you sitting down? — an estimated $1.2 million in drugs and another $68,000 in cash. Read those numbers again slowly . . . holy shit, right?

In other Phish numbers, Hampton's Daily Press is reporting the shows infused more than $7 million into the local economy and apparently was a boon to . . . wait for it . . . Hooters. As DP staff writer David Sturdevant reports:

Hooters at the corner of Coliseum Drive and Mercury Boulevard had a tie-dyed banner that read, "Hooters is Phish friendly." Servers dressed in their trademark orange shorts and tie-dyed tank tops played around in the parking lot with water balloons and hula hoops as Phish fans from as far away as Germany and Hawaii came to get burgers and beer. Some fans were in head-to-toe costumes, and servers made as much as $400 in tips on just Saturday and Sunday.

Read that last sentence again. "Some fans were in head-to-toe costumes . . ." Oh man. That definitely gets my vote for Best Unintentionally Funny Reportage of the Year. I guess Virginians just aren't as accustomed to Heads as we are here in the Jam Band Republic. If I'd had the time, money and patience, it would have been fun to go and report the show from the Hamptonites' perspective. Maybe next time.

I know I've been especially snarky regarding the Phab Phour reunion — just wait until you see tomorrow's column . . . ahem. But in reality, I think the whole thing is great for Phish fans. Really, I do. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop poking fun any time soon. You guys just keep serving up hanging curveballs like this little, um, nugget from Phish Twitter-feed aggregator PhishTwit: "RT @jcrawfor: The cultural relevance of Twitter is gay. Rick Sanchez digs it. Senator Grassley digs it. I joined so I can follow #Phish." I mean, come on.

When I was a lad, "following Phish" meant hopping in your parent's luxury SUV clad in patchwork corduroys with a cooler full of shrooms and nitrous and hitting the road for months at a time, stopping only only to put gas on your parent's credit card and/or dance barefoot at rest stops. There was none of this namby pamby "free bootleg downloading" and "Twittering." We had to smuggle recording equipment into shows and tape on crappy cassettes to trade for even crappier cassettes of the same show. And we liked it dangnabbit! Kids these days.

But I digress.

Back to the point, anything that makes so many people this happy can't really be a bad thing. Congrats Phish-heads. 



Well, this comment is none-too-timely, but I feel moved to post it anyway… perhaps because I share in your Phish-snarkenfreude, DB…

When I was a lad, Phish were heavily flirting with becoming a full-on modern prog-rock band. Their PR material and show programs from the time even name-dropped Yes as being a major influence. Their jams were heavy, dark, and weirdly futuristic. Following them (which I did because they were heavily flirting with becoming a full-on modern prog-rock band… and because I suffered a stoned delusion that the scene around them was one of true, welcoming freakdom) meant climbing into my ’87 Dodge Nothing in used cut-off Dickies and a holey Bad Brains shirt, with the proper culinary hand tools and enough chick peas, tahini, pitas and organic veggies to put together the 40 - 70 sandwiches which I would begin making around 7 bells each morning of tour. Sales of these delicious and hearty hand-meals kept me in gas, food, drugs, and car repairs.

Rather quickly, the scene lost its luster for me (I may have been stoned, but I wasn’t stupid*); I found that, actually, there was no scene outside of a police academy that was more lockstep, conformist, and goddamn boring in its insipid group-think. I grew weary of being asked by blissed-out Beautiful People (otherwise clearly indifferent or even opposed to my existence), splayed on the hoods of those shiny parental SUV’s in spanking-new hippie duds, to “kick down” my high-quality, super-reasonably priced foodstuffs… again… and again… and again.

I continued to subject myself to being surrounded by these people and their bullshit for at least one year too long, holding on and holding out false hope as the band’s proglivities faded and gave way to a sad, slow decline into spectacular lameness (it’s always been my pet theory that Fishman was the driving force behind the progtastic times, and that he should’ve kicked some people’s asses and stayed the course… but what do I know… ).

Yeah, I guess sometimes I wish I could have those three or so years back.

*Okay- actually, I was.

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