30 August 2009

It's About Time...

...16 years, to be exact. I'll start this off in a way I should have months, perhaps years, ago.

The date: July 23, 1993. The place: Jones Beach Amphitheater, Wantagh, NY. The thing: a show, a band, me, thousands of others, a friend, his friend, lights, the beach, and the music. Things rarely change in a storm of gales and current. Sometimes it's a breeze, just a touch of air, and things are toppled entirely.

The band Phish is the closest thing I've gotten to a real, mostly healthy relationship, in my 34 years on the planet. I've been grappling lately with the reality of that fact, and how in the world it could be seen as healthy, when I've only ever met the Carrot Top of this "Four-Headed Boyfriend." How is that healthy?

But how is it not? With the band recently reunited after 5 years on the lam, my life has been reinvigorated. For 6 years, my soul rode the earth inside its vehicle, my body, in a half-stuporous slumber. I didn't even know I was sleeping, but the whole time was a dream. How is it possible one can be asleep, and yet awake? I know this is possible; it's called samsara, the wheel of suffering, walking the planet in a shell popularly known as myself, convinced I'm real, but desperately deluded. And I'm comparing my life without Phish to samsara?!

Yes, a little bit. My life changed drastically in 2003. Little did I realize, for changes of heart and scenery that I'd gone through after leaving college in 1996, my life would begin to reveal itself as not so much a "life," but an exercise in existentialist decoupage. Collapsing under the weight of a 13-year party that had to stop sometime, I jettisoned the "friends" I'd known, the "life" I thought I was living, and went into a kind of exile, in order to learn how to live. I did an okay job; got a career going, and mostly just came to realize there is no escape hatch -- I have to live my life as it's delivered, sometimes warm, sometimes ice-cold. There's no runaround that doesn't lead right back up to me.

Another thing I didn't quite realize was how much my life changed the moment Phish was not a part of it anymore. My Four-Headed Boyfriend decided he needed some space, and I entered a period of introspection mixed with profound sadness and a denial so thick, I didn't have the wherewithal to understand what was missing, or even that anything was. Everything had to change, so Phish just went out in the rinse.

It's all been good news, especially turning 30 and such. But art has no age, and while there's no running from life, there is always the opportunity to run towards it, full speed ahead, with guileless gusto and untrammeled enthusiasm, the likes mostly found in small children, or those considered mentally unstable. And, being pretty close to both of the latter descriptions, when I heard Phish were reuniting, my feet left the ground and have since not returned.

When Phish went on hiatus the first time (2000), the phenomenon of blogging was in it's infancy -- I know because, usually on the bleeding edge of what's tech-hep, I had already cooked up a homegrown HTML blog (in 1997 or so), and then a very short-lived LiveJournal blog, both of which have since gone the way the dead pixels go. Later, I concocted a blog that was secretly launched to vent my feelings about all the stupid crap in my newly sober life, while keeping the names of both myself and others anonymous to protect the innocent (and not-so-innocent, namely me).

Having signed up for Twitter in 2007, before I could even comprehend what it would ever be at all useful for, I have only recently become aware of its indispensability, as a Born-Again-Phishhead. Instant setlists, as they flow from the fingers of The Four! Pithy commentary from phellows, in real time during shows, then constantly (and yet manageably) in the times between. And for me, who can tend to be long-winded, having to rein my thoughts into 140-character encapsulations has been ever-so-handy in the "keep it simple, stupid!" department.

Finally, today, on my second day of what I'm calling (at least for the moment) "Phish Land Re-Tour," enough silvery sound-dust has settled on my brow that the inevitable thing is happening: I have stopped running, and the wall has met my face, and it is a blog. Yesterday, full of vibrations, nostalgia, excitement and flat-out glee, I decided to recreate the entire thirty-show Phish 2009 Reunion tour on my iPhone, by downloading and indulging in (approximately) one show a day, in chronological order. I can give myself a couple of extra days on some shows, perhaps two at a time, since I have seen six live, and heard another seven or so in addition to the six seen, since their performance.

Naturally, I cannot do this in 140 characters, or 140 words. I'm in the process of pitching a proposal to do it in about 140 pages, but that's a story for a later post. In the long or short of it, I am positively heaving at the gills with new love, appreciation, life, and comprehension of my own existence as a creative being, as mirrored and refracted through the art of these fine New England gentlemen. So, without further ado, I invite you to don your flippers for as far as the swim will take you, into my velvety sea of Phish scholarship, appreciation, interpretation, examination, but mostly complete and utter Joy.


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