23 March, 2009

Pins and Needles

This is the state of my mind today. I have six outstanding bids in for two sets of four-night passes to what will be one impossible ticket. (You don?t need to know math to puzzle through that last sentence.)

Fingers crossed, Jason and I will get tickets for all four nights of Phish at Red Rocks this summer. More fingers crossed that our friends Fred & Jewel and Jim & Kate also get tickets. Hell, for that matter, all fingers crossed that scalpers and haters are shut out entirely and only those most deserving get tickets.

But wait, would I be on that list?

Scratch that, let?s just go with Plan A.

19 March, 2009

The Roller Coaster

Last night, Jason and I spent the evening at a funeral home saying goodbye to his Grandma who died Saturday at the amazing age of 94. It is customary for Catholics to have open casket wakes the day before a funeral and today is the funeral so last night, Grandma was in attendance. I spent most of the evening in the kitchen of the funeral home. Lifeless bodies make me nervous.

Everyone from Jason's family was there except his brother and sister-in-law in Arizona who had very good, job-related reasons to be absent. Jason's grandma had two children and he hadn't seen the family branch from his uncle's side since he was in his single digits so I was a little overwhelmed by the Whole Family Reunion thing.

The members of the family who organized the wake brought out some old family albums from his grandmother's life with pictures of family life that ranged from, I would say, the late 1800s up to a picture from our wedding and Jason's younger brother's wedding. Some of those older photos were Fabulous. We think our digital point-n-shoots now take good pictures? These pictures were just as good but with less technology. And back then for some of those old pictures, you paid a pretty penny to have them taken so that you could have only one picture of yourself to pass down. How many pictures of myself have I thrown away while spring cleaning?

While sitting in the kitchen, avoiding the room with Grandma in attendance, Jason began receiving urgent phone calls from various friends. He ignored a couple of them but then got curious as more calls came in, so he stepped out to answer one of the calls.

Within a few minutes, he appeared in the doorway and gestured for me to come out with him.

"They're releasing 4-day Red Rocks passes on TicketMaster now!"

Turns out that someone, at some point this evening, had pushed the More Info button on the TicketMaster page for the Red Rocks onsale that is supposed to lead to information about when the tickets go on sale. That button will turn into a Find Tickets button next Thursday at 10 a.m. But instead of leading to information, it led to a Captcha page where TicketMaster is supposed to weed out the Bots from the Humans with a word or phrase that you have to type before moving on to a waiting screen. And once the Captcha was entered, the waiting screen appeared and after about a minute or so, the Purchase Tickets page came up.

Was it intentional? Was it a mistake? Two biggest questions of the night, only asked After people got the confirmation page and email that they had just purchased 4-day passes.

One of the calls Jason received was from a friend who assured us she had us taken care of but we knew of a couple of friends that needed to be taken care of so I ran out to the car to grab my phone. I thought I might have a chance at getting through TicketMaster on my Dare but Verizon's web service isn't accessorized enough to get through Java and Flash requests. So I called my friend Stacey.

"Are you by a computer now?"

"Yes, why?'

"Can you go on TicketMaster and search Phish Red Rocks? People are getting tickets now - there's some sort of mistake or something."

So she heads to the page and sees the More Info button. As a TicketMaster veteran herself, she knows that means that it isn't onsale yet so she tells me so. I tell her to click the More Info button. She is more and more shocked at each subsequent page that comes up that she shouldn't be able to get to but can. When she pushes the Submit button with my credit card information, neither she nor I expect it to go through, but it does.

Holy Crap, I have 2 4-day passes to Red Rocks. Holy Crap.

I head back into the funeral parlour, avoiding the front room where Grandma is, with a huge smile on my face. Totally incongruous to the surroundings and our reason for being there. I managed to duck my head in time to avoid being seen by a mourner, but couldn't erase my smile.

For the next two hours, Jason and I talked quite a bit about the possibility of this going through. Ever the realist, I presented a pessimistic viewpoint and gave reasons for why I thought this way. Jason is much more of an optimist than I but even he was questioning the likelihood of this actually sticking. Despite our personal views on whether or not it would stick, however, we were both very excited and hopeful that yes, it would actually be *that* easy.

When I got a chance, I checked out bank account online (my phone can do that, at least) and the money was listed as pending. Holy Crap.

I was heading off to bed when the cancellations started coming in for our friends and acquaintances. I haven't yet gotten mine - the email went to Stacey since she completed the transaction under her own account - but I know I will. According to a TicketMaster-employed source on one of my message boards, this was a huge error in event scheduling and, as soon as it was discovered, TicketMaster's I.T. Department scrambled immediately to correct it. Supposedly, the source is going to fill us in more around lunchtime when he can escape from the all-day meetings (oh, to be a fly on those walls today) and let us in on details. It doesn't matter much; the upshot is that it was, in fact, a mistake and that all orders are canceled, all monies will be returned and all of us will have to return to stroking our lucky idols whilst placing our lottery orders. And when/if those come back unfulfilled, all of us will be taking a break from our jobs a week from today at 12 p.m. mountain time to overload TicketMaster's server in an attempt to get those damn tickets back in our hands.

I have various people helping me place lottery orders because I know my chances with TicketMaster on the work T1 next Thursday are very, very slim. I would love to have more. If you have about $450 room on a credit card and want to help me out, I would love you forever and ever. Or if you have a lucky idol you want to throw my way, that works too. Sigh.

17 March, 2009

The Cover Song

How many of my last posts have been about music? As you can see, I am clearly a music junkie. I am obsessed with Sound. So, I figure, I might as well continue in the same vein and return to the almighty soundtrack. It's only about half-burned now, we need to fill this sucker out.


One of my favorite things about music, both recorded and live in concert, is the way in which artists express their respect and appreciation for other artists: The Cover Song.

I have several albums devoted to this genre on my iPod - various artists singing Elton John & Bernie Taupin tunes on the great album Two Rooms, various other artists putting their own voices to the epics from the Grateful Dead on one of the first CDs I ever purchased: Deadicated. I've got an entire album covering Cole Porter as well as a live recording of the Jamband supergroup Brain Damaged Eggmen covering the Beatles and Pink Floyd. It's a win-win situation for me: I get to hear Brendan Bayliss of Umphreys McGee singing Dear Prudence from The Beatles. Buy one, get one free.

As well, it's always interesting to see what spin a band or singer will give to the cover song. Will they play it true to the original artist or will they make it their own frankensteined version that is just as good but not the same?

Phish - I'm sure you've heard of them, perhaps I've mentioned them a time or two in this blog? - has devoted an entire holiday to this genre four times in the 90s (and I can only hope will continue the tradition a fifth time in 2009). They don a "musical costume" on Halloween, paying their deep respect to an entire album for the second set of their typical three-set Halloween shows. And while they attempt to play the album true to the original artist, it isn't ever difficult to hear Phish in the music.

In 1994, the first year of the musical costume, Phish started out at the very top covering The Beatles' White Album. The next year, a couple of my friends attended the Halloween show in Chicago to experience The Who's Quadrophenia after some teasing of Michael Jackson's Thriller. (I know I am a child of the 80s, but I applaud Quadrophenia and the decision to merely tease Thriller. They could not have pulled off Michael Jackson's opus and that is not necessarily meant as a criticism.) In Atlanta, in 1996, they covered The Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense and then the last one, in Las Vegas, the only one I attended, they covered Velvet Underground's Loaded. Many of the fans in the audience were disappointed that they didn't cover Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (they covered it a few days later - tongue-in-cheek, raised eyebrows and all that - at the very under-attended show in Utah), but I felt that I had received a little gift I hadn't expected at all: previous to that show, I didn't know a lick of Velvet Underground but with that particular costume, Phish introduced me to and helped me gain an appreciation for something I likely would not have otherwise heard. That's the very best outcome of The Cover Song.

One of my three favorite cover songs, I heard as a cover song first.

Back in the 90s - oh so long ago - when I lived with three roommates in Chicago, I shared an obsession with a couple of my upstairs neighbors: the Indigo Girls. I had been listening to the Girls since I'd lived in San Francisco and randomly purchased their self-titled album on cassette. I wore that cassette out, I enjoyed their music so much.

When I met and got to know my neighbors, I discovered this about them also. In order to expand my Indigo horizon, one of the neighbors, Missey, loaned me her 1200 Curfews double CD (a mish mosh of many of their best tunes, live, studio, in-studio) and I fell head over heels for one of the songs in particular, a cover of Bob Dylan's Tangled Up in Blue.

I don't know how I hadn't heard this song before. After hearing it that first time, I seemed to hear the Dylan version on the radio at least once or twice a month. It is possible I had heard it but it hadn't registered because I find Dylan's voice worthy of changing the channel? But I consider the first time I heard the song to be credited to the Indigo Girls.

I will give Dylan this: he is by far, the very best troubadour modern America has. Tangled Up in Blue is a sad kind of story about two people who once had great passion but over time drifted apart in time and space. And barely recognize each other when they have a chance run-in later in life. Like many of Dylan's best, it isn't a short song. If he has a story to tell, he needs the time to tell it and this song can linger, but that's a good thing. I want to keep listening to it.

The Girls definitely put their own mark to this song around the fourth refrain when they push the song into an intense, slow blues rhythm and Emily sings the stanza - where the two characters in the song find themselves at the place they left off but older and as different people - with a raw voice not holding back. By the end of the song, I feel like I've been lifting weights for an hour: dog-tired and head-high. Every time I listen to it. Still.

I've heard Tangled Up in Blue covered by another band, another great version. I would choose the Indigo Girls' version for the soundtrack because theirs was the first version I heard, and still my favorite. And this other band sings another of my favorite covers that I will attribute to them even though I mention another band covering this song earlier in the post.

Of course, I had heard Dear Prudence before. I've owned The White Album on CD since high school and if my mom hadn't "stolen" it from me when I went off to college, I probably would have worn it out by now. On the album, Dear Prudence was one of those songs that contributed to the Whole but didn't so much stand out on its own to me.

But when I heard the Jerry Garcia Band play Dear Prudence on their Live album, oh wow. It's a completely different song. Paul and John are the ultimate lyricists. Their music is good, but it exists as a background player to their amazing lyrics in The Beatles' catalog. The Jerry Garcia Band realized this and brought that background to the front in a nearly-twelve minute live version of the song.

I can remember the Where of discovering this song, if not exactly the When: the apartment I shared with three roommates in Chicago. One of them owned this CD and occasionally interrupted the constant stream of Phish to play it. Oh how I wished for many years that I had stolen that CD from him when I moved out but it's never a good idea to get Tim angry so it was probably best I didn't. And after so many years apart from that beautiful song, I found the CD at a Disc Replay and purchased it. That version of Dear Prudence is now safely permanent on my iPod.

One evening not long after the purchase of the long-sought album, I set the iPod to wake me up in the morning with this version. I'm a snoozer - when my alarm goes off, unless I have very exciting reasons to wake up that day, I hit that snooze button four or five (or seven) times till I can finally motivate enough to rise. All the while, waking my husband who doesn't need to get up nearly as early as I do.

That morning, the iPod went off and I heard the first few notes of Dear Prudence, and I just stopped my hand that was reflexively heading for the snooze button. The volume was at a perfect level to enjoy the song without - hopefully - waking my husband as well. I laid there for the nearly-twelve minutes dreaming through the bouncy rhythm and Jerry's perfect voice, smiling and waking gently rather than the usual blare and jump weekday mornings tend to be.

At the end of the song, when my hand softly pushed the Alarm Off button, my husband turned to me and said That was very nice before falling back to sleep.

We went to Jamaica in December, for the Caribbean Holidaze festival put on by Umphrey's McGee and the Disco Biscuits. The best memory from that week comes from the last night, the Brain Damaged Eggmen show. Each night before, we had arrived a little too late to the shows to grab a lounge chair and enjoy the music from a horizontal perspective and my great hope was that we could do just that for this last show which I knew would be heavy on The Beatles and I really just wanted to listen and not be body-conscious as I sometimes am when I am standing or dancing.

We got there a little late this evening as well and would not have found extra lounge chairs if not for the brief downpour that chased off many of those formerly lounging. We chose two chairs a-ways back, nearer to the crashing waves than the stage. I'm a huge fan of ambiance.

Five songs in, the Eggmen play exactly what I was hoping and expecting to hear. I leaned back, closed my eyes, concentrated on the combination of waves and music and let go. They played a shorter version of the song than JGB but with added ambiance, it became a different song to love just as much. A cover of a cover.

When I was a kid, I was allowed to stay up late for only two television events each year. The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music. Now, this was back in the day before HBO or even VCR -gasp!- so if you wanted to see either of these movies, you had to wait till ABC or CBS had their yearly television event. I still have a love for each of these movies because of their associations with the good parts of my childhood. I own the CDs of both of these soundtracks. I randomly find Oz and Sound songs in my head throughout the day. I don't mind them there.

Perhaps the best of all these songs, certainly the most famous, is Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It is a sweetly sung melody that captures peoples' hearts even as it annoys them dreadfully. I have always liked it for that ability. Part of me would like to think I have the same qualities.

Watching the television show Scrubs one day, I heard a version of this song that knocks out the annoyance factor and actually makes me want to put this song on a soundtrack. And when it catches in my head, I don't want to bang my head into a doorjamb till it's out. Because I love the song, and I love Judy Garland, but I don't so much love Judy Garland singing that song.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole is the singer of the version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow that I love. I don't know who he is, I have never heard anything else by him, but his version pulls the song up off the ground and sends it soaring above the rainbow as the lyrics have been requesting all these years. After listening to this song on my iPod, I have sometimes pushed Back and Play because this is a song I can listen to twice in a row. Even though it is a cover, it isn't faithful to the original and thus stands entirely on its own. I would never listen to Judy Garland's version twice in a row voluntarily.

I think when an artist performs a cover song, s/t/he/y are openly flattering the original artist or writer of the song. And whether they have intentions of being faithful to the original or quite the opposite, there's nothing in the rule book that says the original version must always be the best. Sometimes a person may start a work of art that another person is supposed to finish. It may be the original artists' destiny to simply put the framework out there so that the artist performing the cover can make it beautiful. I have many more examples of this but these three are definitely on the soundtrack as the best.

16 March, 2009

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

I know ? it?s Monday, Monday, Monday today. I missed matching a Sunday event to a Sunday blog. But I didn?t want to cheat you of the Sunday story so better late than never huh?

I had a feeling Sunday would be the bust-out show of the weekend. A lot of people were talking about hitting Friday/Saturday and heading back home Sunday so they could be at work Monday morning. Hell, I had to be at work Monday morning and gave it brief thought but I had the tickets and I can?t miss a Phish show I actually have tickets for. That?s wasteful. There are music-starved children in Africa and I must think of them, it?s only right!

So the plan was: sleep in Sunday, enjoy a leisure lunch with friends, mosey on over to the line, get in and get good seats, rock out at the show, head back to the room and quickly pack, get a couple hours of sleep, wake up at some ungodly hour, get in a taxi headed to the airport and get on a plane so I could get back to Chicago in time for work (well, a couple of hours late but in time to be at work).

Sunday went according to plan.

There, that?s my blog post. A day actually went according to plan. Isn?t that exciting enough for the interwebs?

Oh whatever.

The dramatic highlight of Sunday, and I think I may have mentioned this in the very large blog post that began this, was of course the near-fight I got into with a large, shirtless man over an entire row of seats. Okay, if you know me, imagine me at my stubbornest, which I know is not a word but let?s make it one today, ok? I set my legs over shoulder-width apart, set my jaw and look you square in the eyes with a glare that says you don?t stand a chance with me. That was totally me last Sunday.

Fred & Jewel got in separately from me and after (I tried to grab Jewel and put her in front of me in line but the security guard got me before I could squeeze her over) so it was run for the seats and hope I could find them when I did (I didn?t have either cell number and would have had to coordinate with an absent-Jason in the chaos). I ran immediately for the lower Page-side towards the back of the venue seating thinking that it had the best head-on view without being all the way at the back of the venue. Unbeknownst to me, Jewel and Fred were thinking way, way forward and had I known, I might have saved myself some grief.

So I run in and see an entire front row empty except for one guy ? one large, shirtless guy. So I head down there thinking it?s about 14 seats, no way he?s saving all of them.

As soon as I reach that level on the stair and start into the middle, he comes barreling over from his side of the row with his hairy chest thrust out in some animalistic, territorial, instinctual ? thing. It strongly resembled any number of nature films where the leader of whatever pack of growling animals confronts the brazen intruder. And no matter how many seats the row held, he had every intention of ridding his land of this intruder: me.

So I set myself. I know when a large, shirtless man comes at you with his chest thrust out, there is a chance of violence and I also know that you?re less likely to get bowled over if you set your feet just right.

Okay, let?s pause here because something is bothering me. And this is one of those issues that kind of has two sides of me at odds but it was something I thought much about that day. Chivalry. Now, normally, I scoff at chivalry. I think the very idea of sitting in a car while the man turns off the car, opens his door, gets out of the drivers seat, closes the door, walks around the car and opens your door for you to get out is silly and a waste of time. If you have a 7 o?clock movie to get to, there?s no time to wait for that crap. And does the woman not have arms? Is she completely unable to open a door?

But then, in times such as when a man is barreling towards me with seemingly violent tendencies, I wonder whatever happened to the world in which men bore a gentle respect for women and even if they disagreed with them, handled their opposition in a respectful, if slightly patronizing, manner.

After this incident, this is what bothers me the most. Had he turned, saw me, saw I was threatening his territory ? which was not actually HIS, by the way ? and come toward me at a normal pace, with his shirtless upper body in a relaxed pose and said, I?m sorry, I?m saving these seats for my 13 friends ? I still would have argued (nicely), I still would have been irked at the audacity of it, but I wouldn?t be nearly as PISSED as I am about it. The dude came barreling towards a girl. It isn?t right. It isn?t respectful. I should have kicked him in the balls without saying a single word just for that; taught him that if he can?t be a gentleman, then he shouldn?t even have the equipment to be a man. And yes, that isn?t very respectful of me to say or even think that but he made the first impression that he did so I can?t help but to react in the way I do.


In the end, I gave up the fight. Pragmatic me surfaced and reminded me the goal tonight was to get good seats and enjoy the show. I would likely not have succeeded at either if I had stayed and fought any longer. As it was, my fledgling voice was losing even more decibels, the more I yelled at him.

With one last extended middle finger and a choice phrase I won?t utter here, I took to my heels and ran up the steps to the next level up and managed to secure five seats on that front row. I threw my hoodie over three of them and paced across the section, happy that I got front row in a section, still fuming over the encounter.

Not long after I found the seats, I spotted Fred?s red cap, blue shirt coming in and called him over. He was impressed with the seats but once he called and talked to Jewel, he said we might have better seats, he?d go check.

While Fred was gone, I watched the venue fill in. The best seats were gone so people started simply looking for enough seats together. I had a few looks my way but they saw the hoodie and they saw me standing in front of the seats not yet covered and they got the idea. In the second row, I heard a couple of guys talking about the number of seats they would need and perhaps they could grab some from the row above them to get the number they needed. I spotted a few friends and waved.

Fred returned in a few minutes saying Jewel had much better seats. Front row also, and much further down, closer to the stage. And in his opinion, we should pick up stakes and move.

No sweat off my back, I just wanted to be in good seats with good friends so I turned to the guys behind me and let them know they had five seats in the front row if they wanted them. See the difference between me and Cro-Magnon man? Respect is the most valuable tool we have and it isn?t in limited supply so there?s no need to dole it out with caution. Be free, use it anytime you want. Respect Away.

Still steaming about that guy over a week later. Not that I would remember his face because my eyes were seared by his massive, hairy chest, but I do wish I could run into him again, when I am able to quell pragmatic me. I have a few things to say.

I did manage to forget the incident that night. As I had expected, Phish played the best show of the weekend, ending with a spectacular Tweezer Reprise after releasing the XXL balloons hanging above the audience. The best part: we were seated close enough to see their faces and they wore a perma-grin all night long. As did I.

Thank you, Phish!

14 March, 2009


Saturday was the toughest day of the run for me. After a mind-numbing Friday that didn't end till 3 a.m. and an alarm blaring at 7 a.m., I knew I would have to rely on adrenaline to get through Saturday.

The reason for the early rising was the poster/art show Jason had organized at our hotel. Approximately 850 tickets had been sold to see Jim Pollock, Ryan Kerrigan, Fred Hosman, AJ Masthay, Tripp and several other well-known artists in the scene and, while much of the basic setup had been done already (thank you Fred, Jewel & Jim&Kate!!), we needed a few hours to get artwork up and ready to sell.

Jason asked me to assist Pollock in his room, so after a quick breakfast of free cereal, I began putting thousands of dollars of art prints into mylar sleeves to safely hang on the 8' x 6' cardboard sheets lining the back and one side of the room.

Around 11:30, Jason opened the doors and the immense line that had been building since 9 a.m. surged in.

Previous to the doors opening, I had penned a sign to be placed very prominently letting people know that we had NO Show Pollocks available. It was understood that without that sign placed so prominently, we would waste an hour of the day simply answering that one question from every person not within hearing distance that last time we answered the question. And even with that sign placed so prominently, I probably spent a total of 10 minutes that day answering that very question.

The people in line were patient and very excited to meet Jim. I heard one complaint about the time in line all day and if you know the Phish crowd, you know that a one-complaint day is a very good day indeed.

The hardest part of the day for me was simply standing in place all day long. When you walk, you are giving one foot a rest, even if for only 5 seconds or less. When you stand in one place, you are placing all your weight on both feet, all the time. It hurts after awhile. By the time the show was done, I felt as though I'd never had any arches in my feet. And I couldn't believe I still had to go to a Phish show. Yes you heard that sentence correctly: had to go. Saturday night, following Saturday, the Phish show actually became a bit of a chore. Any other band, even Umphrey's McGee, and I would have told Jason to sell my ticket, I'd be staying in. But it was Phish. I went.

I actually liked the show that night better than the first night. I got quite a few of my favorite songs and Phish seemed to be very sympathetic to my feet; they played plenty of songs I could sit down to. The promise to myself from the night before was made; tonight was about staying within my abilities and strength.

I was stopped three separate times Saturday night at the show by people who had seen me at the show. Each one asked, hey aren't you the poster lady? Jim was only stopped two times at the show, that I saw. That night, I was more famous than he!

Saturday night marked the first night of the end of my voice. I refused to hold back my exhiliration which meant that I was yelling and singing full volume each night. Friday night started to affect my voice but Saturday night really brought it to a croak. By the end of the night, my voice was as bad as it has ever gotten ... and I still had one more night.

Before bed, we decided to hit up Waffle House for an actual meal, my first since arriving in Hampton. It was greasy and it was good.

I went to sleep that night with a smile on my face. And I slept for seven hours.

13 March, 2009

Phriday Stories

I'm looking back fondly on events a week ago - do you ever do that, take a vacation or have a really great day that you memorialize by weeks gone past? - and, while I already posted about my BWE yesterday, I didn't necessarily go into individual stories, for lack of time or space. So thought I'd tell some Phriday Stories here, seeing as how today is Friday.

So, this was my first time at Hampton - actually, I don't think Jason or Jim Pollock had been there before either - so, on the walk from the hotel to the venue Friday night, I was playing the role of Tourist. I had my phone out and using it to take pictures and videos (my phone rocks). I made a joke when Jason stopped to take a video and Jim and I kept going that he had my tickets, he'd better keep up.

So, we get to the chaos surrounding the venue and I want to take a picture of the cardboard robot in the front fountain. So I stop, take my picture, put my camera/phone away and start walking in the direction we were headed. Except Jason and Jim were no longer in front of me. I stopped. Looked around. Nowhere. Gone. I felt like I was five years old, lost in the mall again. I have a tendency to do that. But Jason has my ticket. Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit.

But aha, I have my phone. I get the phone back out and text him. Where are you?? He responds within a minute: Right behind you.


So then, I'm antsy to get in. I want a decent seat and not to be stuck up in the nosebleeds or separated because there are no three seats together. But Jim has an extra (the Phish organization set aside 2 for Friday and Saturday for him) and we're trying to get in touch with any number of people we know who are there and ticketless for that night. Of course, they must not be too desperate; no one is answering their phone or texts.

Eventually, it comes down to two possibilities. One, we sell the extra and pay the security deposit for the poster show with it (the person who was supposed to pay the security deposit forgot and the manager had mentioned it a couple of times). Problem with this plan, of course, is that it is illegal to scalp on property and Jim Pollock being arrested for scalping wasn't a good story. None of us liked that idea and immediately rejected it. Which left the ol' miracle someone. I always like this; I love seeing people happy and I love seeing people amazed into speechlessness. A miracle to this show would catch the height of both of those emotions and I thought it'd be a great way to start the night. It was agreed.

So then, who to miracle?

We tossed ideas back and forth. Jason had his point & shoot which had video capability so he wanted to capture the transaction. Which meant we needed light. We walked to and fro, trying to find the right opportunity, the right light. It was nearly full-dark by this point and my antsy had by this time, turned into hyperactivity. I needed to move, to progress towards the doors, to get inside. When was the show supposed to start? If I miss that lights down, I'm gonna be PISSED.

Finally, we're standing in a decent pool of light next to some glass vendors when Jason takes off at a run. I turn to Jim wondering what the hell that was about (because of course, I stopped paying attention to anything but the doors by this point). He tells me that Jason heard someone singing a Happy Birthday song and wanted to see what that was about. Cool. Cool.

Two minutes later, Jason comes back with this smiling, but confused man and his entourage.

It's true. It is his birthday, Jason says, handing Pollock the drivers license in his hand.

So while Jason captured the video, Pollock miracled a birthday boy from Hampton. Which turned out to be really, really cool because the birthday boy's wife had One ticket. Which meant that only one of them would get in. And no husband is going to tell his wife that she can wait out alone in a dark parking lot for him or even head back to the hotel/home without him. Husbands aren't geared toward putting their wives in that kind of potential danger. Birthday or not, I have confidence he would have insisted she take the ticket and he wait outside. But the choice didn't even need to be made: with Pollock's miracle ticket, both Steve and his wife got to celebrate his birthday inside The Coliseum for the reunion show.

That was awesome!

12 March, 2009

Phishing in Hampton, VA

(Fred in the red hat and Jewel front and center, front page picture of the Hampton Daily Press Saturday March 7, 2009 - Love this picture!)

I know I'm a few days late on this - chalk it up to an attack of The Ick (awww, just like old times) - but I must interrupt the regularly scheduled programming (which for me is usually silence, is it not?) to gush about this last weekend, a weekend I heretofore dub: The Best Weekend Ever In The History Of The Whole Wide World or, BWE for short.

Okay, cut to the chase - if you didn't know already, Phish is my favorite band. Now, sometimes, I will say The Beatles are my favorite band because I believe they are Rock-n-Roll's quintessential Adam & Eve (don't give me that Elvis crap!) and I *so* appreciate their existence but to be completely honest: Phish is my favorite band. Phish shaped my mid-to-late twenties and early thirties as no other non-child-of-my-body entity possibly could have.

In 2004, when Trey announced they were kaput, I was bereft. What the hell would I do with my summers, how would I ever again enjoy music? I couldn't make every show they played after The Announcement but I certainly did my best! If they were going to make me say goodbye, I wasn't going to miss it.

Their last shows, in Coventry, VT, were a debacle. As if God mourned their goodbye as much as we did, the endless summer rains leading up to the festival so drenched the former cow pasture that non-economy sized cars were in danger of becoming mired in the festival for good. Saturday morning, a day after we pulled in and set up camp, I was awakened by The Announcement Part Deux on The Bunny, Phish's festival radio station: if your car hadn't yet left the highway, you weren't going to be able to drive in. The grounds were either puddle or mud, or both - it was by sheer luck that Jason spotted a hill when we pulled into our area Thursday night/Friday morning at 1 a.m. and forced me to help tote our gear up that hill to set up camp. The area behind our rental car - a non-economy sized car - glistened in the sun, as water will, and with my tendency towards laziness, our tent and gear would have been submerged in that, as many of our neighbors were. Thank God for sensible husbands!

The music at Coventry matched the conditions; the members of Phish mourned as we did, the end of this livelihood. Together, the fans and the band had enjoyed many years and the end wasn't just tearful on our side of the stage. I still have very strong emotions at the memory of Page cracking and breaking into a sob in the middle of Wading in the Velvet Sea. And when Mike and Trey handed their one-man trampolines out into the audience - the depth of the sadness that still hits me is kind of surprising even to me, especially given the events of this past weekend.

So. On October 1st, 2008, The Announcement Part Trois: We are coming back.

Getting tickets to the Hampton shows for March 6-8 was a little like getting your name called in the NFL draft. Good luck with that one. We did not have good luck. We were denied "mail" order (quotes around mail because it hasn't been Mail order since, like 2000?) and the TicketMaster onsale was a joke. If you didn't have 6 computers running consecutively on separate T3 lines, you didn't stand a chance. Or if you were a broker. That almost undid me.

So I failed to get tickets to Hampton and I was again, bereft. I couldn't miss the reunion show; I hadn't missed the first reunion show, how on earth could I stand to miss this one?! But, without a solution and multiple thousands of extra dollars and the lack of morals required to buy from a broker, it certainly seemed as though Hampton would go off without me. And in the meantime, Jason made other plans to help run an art show for Jim Pollock (Phish's main poster artist) for that weekend in Miami and it really seemed to be the end of the dream.

Then in January, I got a PM from a friend on a non-Phish message board who had managed to get 2 3-day passes to the shows. Turns out she and her husband couldn't make the shows and they wanted to offer me the tickets for only slightly above face before taking them to eBay.

Well, you can imagine what I did. I'm not even sure I got through the entire contents of the PM before yelling out a hearty Hell Yes!

From that point on, everything fell magically into place: Jason's art show plans in Miami fell through due to the cancellation of the Langerado Festival scheduled the same weekend as Phish's Hampton shows (you had to know that was going to be a problem!) so his anguish at possibly missing the first night (aka The Show) disappeared. Then he came up with a plan to have the art show anyway - in Hampton. Which then resulted in a free hotel room within walking distance of the venue. We found very inexpensive airline tickets to Norfolk, VA from Southwest Airlines. And my boss gave her approval for me to take off the Friday of the first show, asking only that I be back the Monday after the last show (another coworker in my 5-person department had already scheduled off for that Friday and Monday so getting even one of the days off was a gift).

By the time we had reached the seats our friends Jim & Kate saved for us Friday night, we were trembling with equal parts excitement and exhaustion. Jason had spent a hectic three weeks planning an art show from scratch and I had spent three weeks listening to his woes and trying to add insightful advice when I had it. And gotten four hours sleep the night before due to tapas and a Tea Leaf Green show with a friend. But mostly excitement.

Then the moment came: pre-show music faded quickly out, lights instantly down, the moment I had waited for for so long and been so lucky enough to get to experience when others, just as deserving or even moreso than I, were not as lucky. I had my phone out so that some of them could at least know the first song back practically when I did.

Fluffhead. Frickin' Fluffhead. NO WAY! How apropos. How long had people been clamoring for a Fluffhead and apparently, Phish had been listening. I quickly texted the name off and began a very long night of dancing. I had made a deal with myself that I wouldn't sit while Phish was onstage Friday night. Saturday and Sunday weren't part of the deal but my ass had no business cuddling up with a seat at the first show back. And I kept that promise to myself. They played a nearly two-hour first set, which sorely tested the promise, but the music selection and lack of Type II Phish jamming certainly helped. 17 songs were played in that two hours and I tried a mnemonic device to remember them all without the aid of paper or pen but eventually failed. I can remember a little bit still, though:

Fluff divided the chalkdust sample from his stash - aaaaaand that's where I decided to stop being a geek and just enjoy the moment (Fluffhead, Divided Sky, Chalkdust Torture, Sample in a Jar, Stash)

So, anyway, who knew buildings sweated? By the end of the show, the first time I ventured away from our seats up high Page-side, every surface of The Coliseum was moist, if not downright puddled. I avoided falling on my ass the entire weekend long (contributing, of course, to the BWE designation). I can't even do that in real life! Phish is magic. Okay, well lots of other people fell so maybe Phish's magic only extends to me and those with me. Fact is, I stayed upright all three nights and I count that as a resume-worthy achievement.

That first night back at the hotel, we (Jason, Jim & I) further plotted the poster show the next day. The hard work had already been done with the help of our friends Fred, Jewel, Jim M. and his wife Kate who all arrived in Hampton Thursday and could spare the time to help Jason set the stage and plan. But we still needed to plan Jim's room and so, stayed up till 3 a.m. doing so. Leaving us approximately 4 hours of sleep before we had to get up to finish setting up and run the show.

Due to the invisible partner's negligence, Jason had to take on the role of overseer of the whole show so I stepped in to assist Jim in his room. Luckily enough, the questions I fielded that day were ones I knew the answers to and we weren't in need of the particular insight that Jason or another person might have had on some of the pieces. My primary job was simply to take the money and keep the table full of prints, and I like to think I did an excellent job on the first, though I was remiss on the second (I forgot about the stash in the portfolio behind the cardboard until two hours before the show was over). Other than that, though, it was a very successful day for all the artists involved.

The show wrapped up late, as we knew it would, so we had to rush to break down Jim's room in order to get to the show on time with a little time to rest between - we had all been on our feet since 8:30 that morning. We made it in time, we found seats with some friends who had a nearly head-on view of the stage, and I enjoyed much of Saturday night's show sitting down, without any guilt. It was a great show and there were several parts I couldn't help but stand and dance, but there were several parts that made it easier for me to justify sitting down and resting my very tired feet.

Walking out of the Saturday night show, we stumbled upon a scene straight out of a nightmare: a group called the Nitrous Mafia from Philadelphia has lately become a gritty fixture at concerts and festival in the East and Midwest. They have backpack versions of nitrous tanks and can pick up and set down shop on an empty patch of earth and everywhere they land, wastoids follow. Saturday night, we chose the wrong path back and ended up walking right through a crowd of balloon-sucking shufflers, hisses of tanks and carnie calls snaking out into our path from the left and right. Jason grabbed my hand and veered us off the path and out of the uselessness and into some streetlights and we both made a mental note not to walk that way again. Wah-wahs make people dangerous.

Nearing our hotel, we met up with Jim and all expressed our great hunger so we ventured over to the Waffle House in our hotel parking lot and ended the day with some late night grease.

The next morning, we -gasp!- slept in. It was awesome. The bed in the hotel was very comfy. And yea, we did have to wake up to an alarm but not one set for two or four hours later. We managed to get a good seven to eight hours sleep and that was juuuuuuuuust fine.

We met our friends Fred & Jewel at the tavern across the street for lunch and ended up running into just about everyone else we knew, to boot. There we made our plan. Jason and Jim would go sell Jim's remaining prints in the parking lot and Fred, Jewel and I would go grab a spot in line and go for great seats. After I ran back to the room to get some necessities, we walked over.

By Sunday, the security working the lines had their job down. Friday it was pure chaos, Saturday, it was approaching some semblance of order and Sunday it was a no-brainer. We joined the left-most line and enjoyed a warm day in the shade.

Once it got close to doors opening, the order began to disintegrate a little. People from the back or people who hadn't been in line at all, attempted to move forward and circumvent those of us who had been waiting but we were ready. We heckled, jeered and outright blocked most of the rudeness coming forth. But when it came right down to it, trying to get good seats at a Phish show is no different than trying to get home in rush hour in a timely manner - you have to be out for yourself and you have to be willing to move past the slow people in order to get what you desire. I grabbed a guy I knew had been in front of me in line and told him I didn't mean to cut him off so he better keep moving but everyone else, especially the group of kids who successfully cut in ahead of us, I swept past. In this day and age, niceness is a luxury if you ever want to succeed. Sad but true.

And thanks to this attitude, both Jewel and I found perfect seats and it was up to Fred to choose which ones were more perfect. Jewel's seats won but I got the story:

Running in I saw a whole front row in the lowest seating Page-side and one large, shirtless guy guarding it. Now, chances are, he was trying to save the whole row, but it couldn't hurt to try, right? So I run down there and when he sees me, he pushes his hairy chest out and bumbles over.

"These are saved!" he bellows.

"You're saving a whole row?"

"They're saved! Move on."

"No, it's a whole row."

"I've been here since 2:30, get out!"

"Doors just opened, Dude. You obviously haven't been here since 2:30."

You can see where this is going. I'm like a little Yorkshire Terrier who thinks she's a German Shepherd; it makes life interesting. I'm not afraid of a fight because I'm not afraid of a little pain. That night, the only thing I was even slightly afraid of was getting mediocre seats when I'd had them the last two nights. That's what finally got me out of there with a "You're a fucking asshole you Goddamn prick, hope you fall headfirst - can't be any worse, right?" thrown over my shoulder loudly for good measure.

To his credit, he didn't chase me and kick my ass - the seats were that good!

So, Jewel's super spectacular seats were close enough that Jason & I could finally see the band's faces (Fred & Jewel had Rail first night so they enjoyed the seats). I do wish we'd put more effort into good seats on Friday night but at least we got them Sunday. At least I got the chance to see just how much fun the guys were having and how sincere their thanks was. All the joy we felt out in the audience, Trey and Page and Mike and Fish felt onstage.

So they opened that night with one of my favorite songs, a tongue-in-cheek older tune called Sanity and closed with one of my favorite songs, Tweezer Reprise, a call-back to the first night when they played Tweezer. By the time the last song finished, I was finished. I can't imagine having the energy I had in my younger days to go from show to show, spending all day in a car and all night at a show. Those were many, many years ago.

So, after three days and thirteen hours of sleep (4+7+2=Oy), what I hoped would be a good time but not the same as it ever was, was a BWE and I can't wait to go back. Farewell paycheck, farewell vacation days. I hope you saw enough of me in the last four-and-a-half years, Family 'cause if they ain't coming to your town, I'm probably not either.

The Boys are Back.

(my husband's video of the making of the official poster and some of the lot scene, including Pollock miracling a birthday phan)

04 March, 2009

2 Sleeps Till ...

... Hampton.

Oddly, I?ve been hoping lately that when I see Phish in two days, I will not be as impressed as I know I really will be. Meaning, I hope I am pretty Meh about the whole thing. I could surely use all the money and vacation I will continue to spend on this band for other things. Sans Phish, I could release myself from the chains of debt or afford a larger, more convenient home or go someplace fabulous every year for vacation.

I estimate, very roughly, that I have spent over $25,000 seeing this band. When you count the tickets, the plane fares, the hotels, the gas, the rental cars, the purchases in Lot ... it comes up to an insane amount of money that could have been a down payment on a condo back when I was single and prices were reasonable.

The reason Phish is back, of course, is that they want my money. Phish's return isn't quite so noble as missing the music ... they need the money. Times are tough for us all, even the rock stars. And you know what ... I'm going to end up beefing up their bank accounts because what do I need with my hard-earned money? Food? It goes right through me. A roof over my head? Why - summer's coming and I have a large tent. Why shouldn't I invest my portfolio in a prospect so promising as Phish?

I know, I?m aghast at my cynicism too. What is Debbi talking about? She Loves Phish. And I do, I really, really do. But 4 ? years ago, I said goodbye to them and hello to all the other really cool things I could do with my life. I got married in Jamaica, we bought a condo, I got a new, awesome job ? hell, I got a cat! And in that time, I have also managed to visit my family on my own schedule rather than around Phish?s tour dates in the area. When I told my parents that Phish had announced their return, I could hear in their voices a resignation: they knew they would soon be relegated to decreased visitations. What kind of daughter am I?

But let?s face it, I?m not going to get the change I kind of want because you know what I most wanted in these 4 ? years without Phish when I could have been embracing so many other non-musical things? Phish?s return.

Clearly, I am my own worst enemy.

2 More Days!