Tuesday, December 22, 2009

musings on holiday decorations...

In my many years driving between NYC and VT, I developed a weird fascination with the bizarre lawn ornaments that dot up rt. 22a & 149 (Whitehall, Ft. Ann -> Vergennes and everywhere in between). Especially the strange religious figures, like Bathtub Mary. I guess it was like seeing a sopping wet hearty chunk of "Real America". This odd interest eventually became the subject of a sculpture I did during my senior year at UVM and in a seasonal twist-- it became a Manger display.

My only real regret was that I tried for WEEKS to hunt down a cd of dogs & cats performing xmas jingles to play on a loop with the display-- and failed. It was long before the days of the interwebs & music file sharing. I settled for tiny stuffed sheep that bleeted when you gave them a squeeze.

please note: a Wise Man tempts Gnome Jesus with the Dark Side.

a Wise Man brings Gnome Jesus Chanukah Gelt.

In that spirit of creativity, I have started taking serious offense to the many lawn-faux-pas happening around me each month. More specifically- those fucking giant inflatable lawn decorations. I'm not saying the occasional snow-globe on a roof is unappreciated, but why is there an inflatable Pilgrim Turkey tethered to your lawn?

And why is he wearing an ascot? Is he gay?

Every year it seems that more people choose to go the half-assed Walmart route with their decorations instead of taking the time to set up a balls-out display of awesomeness. Some hard core devotees still take the time to do it right. While it might be difficult trying to sleep next door to this one, it's kind of pretty-- and even reminds me a bit of a Monet painting:

Though this one, while perfectly executed- is a bit much and has probably caused many-a-seizure.

the Wizard House Thing-- yes, this is real

But the cookie cutter and/or inflatable lawn decorations get tackier every year. Hasn't there been a recent surge of people working to "Keep Christ in Christmas"?


How is that going for them?

Here's how it's going for them: Poorly. Inflatable Mangers? I'm a Bad Jew and even I'm slightly offended on their behalf.

Also, as an outsider- many of these decorations confuse me. What the fuck does Santa even ride in these days? I thought it was a sleigh pulled by reindeer?

Is that wrong? Does he have a helicopter now? Or is it a boat? Maybe it's a dump truck. Really? A dump truck? A dump truck for $679.99? You could buy your daughter a lot of condoms and at least 2 abortions for that kind of money.

A plane?

A tractor?

A golf cart?

Or is it a NASCAR? And if yes, which #? Who's fucking car does Santa drive?? Your Team's!

Or maybe the Northern Ice Cap has finally melted and Santa now has his very own tropical paradise (except that the Jews showed up).

Lawn Buster???

The seizure-house's (above video) music is broadcast on an FM frequency so people don't have to hear that intrusive music 24/7, but some people add audio to their displays which is an all out fuck-you & abuse-your-neighbors kind of message. That's what the DEA did during the Waco siege. Driving cult members slowly insaner w/ gregorian chants and "the rap" music. Similarly, physically assaulting neighbor's senses with xmas jingle MIDIs is grounds for eye-for-an-eye retaliation, yes?

You know what I did with my Gnome Jesus Manger once it was disassembled? Well, I returned Gnome Jesus, cuz he was fucking $$$ and that was good beer money. But 2 of the Flamingos went to the Bourbon Cowboy (They make the perfect gift). The other 2 (they were sold in sets of 2) went into my garden. Do you know why? Yes, they helped keep the bunnies away. But mostly* it was to piss off our bitchy neighbor who has a pole up her ass and gets deeply offended by those sort of things.

My point is, it's mental warfare. We all have to stare at these fucking eyesores--- if you're trying to make a point, what's the problem with taking the more interesting route and using some of that fucking brain you've got somewhere up there, you lazy-thick-skulled-pre-assembled-consuming-tools? Just because it's out-of-the-box, doesn't mean you are.

Anyways, Happy Fucking Holidaze, yo!

*... mostly.

Monday, December 7, 2009

phish, 12/2-4/09, msg, nyc

phish, 12/2-4/09, madison square garden, nyc, ny

After getting all sorts of uppity about how I "wouldn't spend any more money on The Phish this year", I ended up doing the complete MSG run. It's Fall Tour, after all.

WEDNESDAY, 12/2/09

Wednesday's pregame found us at Stout's Pub, where a rude waitress refused to let us sit, but a kind bartender kept the alcohol flowing. The place was a total clusterfuck. The only reason I was there was because it's where Weiss was distributing his extras in the back room like the Godfather. Don Weiss.

A group of us headed over to the Garden and split off into our respective sections.

check out the narc in the grey hoodie!

Gabe and I headed up to 223, where we found THIS:

Hmm... I looked around and saw no one. Curious.

Oh, but TAMIS was my neighbor. How adorable is that?! Additionally, this was Gabe's very first Phish show (somehow). We were all very excited for him and anxious for his reaction. (You never know). Another AC/DC Bag opener, which seemed odd (twice in 1 week?) and made me hope they would do something to make these shows (and the band's return to the Garden) extra special. El Herno appeared out of nowhere- he had gotten out of a work obligation and scored an extra for $20! Nicely done!

Let's do this! Trey was smiling and jumping around like a little kid who just ate a whole pack of Fun Dip, Lick Stick and all. Set I. Poor Heart was awesome. I love it. But then... MOTHERFUCKING PEACHES EN REGALIA!!!!!! They played the opening notes, my jaw dropped, and I turned to Hern in disbelief. HOLY FUCK. THANK YOU. They ripped the shit out of it. It sounded SO GOOD. Divided Sky was beautiful too, but Peaches had already made my night.

I hate bitching about repeats for a band I saw 4 times in 1 week, so I won't. *coughs* 8 *coughs*. Slave was nice, but TWEEZER was a THICK kinda NASTY! And it got LOUD. Filled the arena. Joy and Wading in the Velvet Sea kinda sucked some of the life out of the room, but Suzy brought it back up. Antelope was just about as aggressive and forward as I've ever heard it. Right there, though- that's the sign of pure genius-- they've been playing that song for more than 20 years and still successfully bring it to new places. They've recaptured the spark and energy of '94-era-Phish, where anything is possible.

Gotta pause right here to say that Chris Kuroda's light designs have added so much more to Phish's show. He is a true artist. Antelope is a prime example of how he enhances a song. MAD HUZZAHS to Chris Kuroda!

Antelope, 12/2/09, MSG

A Day In the Life, whatever. Tweezer Reprise was BIG and got the room all sorts of wound-up for the next round.

Gabe LOVED his first Phish show.

It was shit-storming when we got outside. Sideways rain and such. Made for a fun exit on the wrong side of the arena. Oops.

Chalk Dust Torture
Wolfman's Brother
Brian And Robert
Poor Heart
Sample In A Jar
Peaches en Regalia
The Divided Sky

Golgi Apparatus >
Light >
Slave To The Traffic Light >
Tweezer >
Harry Hood >
Wading In The Velvet Sea
Suzy Greenberg
Run Like An Antelope

A Day in the Life
Tweezer Reprise

THURSDAY, 12/3/09

Good news, everyone: my sneakers had dried! Wanting to be well out of the radius of Thursday night MSG douchebaggery, I held court at Rogue. By truly happy accident, they serve kickass mojitos there! Mojito pregame? Ho, ho! Fuck yeah!

A few of them got me lit UP and on the short trek to MSG we passed a hippie-eating monster that has evolved to sound like the SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSing of a nitrous tank. Ah, evolution at it's finest! BEWARE, HIPPIES!

It was a total bottleneck trying to get through the ticket-scanners portion of the arena entrance and we ended up missing the first half of PYITE. BOOOO ticket-scanners!

But an Axilla aaaaand ---> the crowd was warmed up! KABLAMMO! Boogie On was cool, Erika pointed out the Trey totally forgot the lyrics of this one. I want my money back. Stash!!

K, I was soooo SUPER-excited to see Stash. Mostly because the last band I heard play it was moe. at moe.lloween. Were Phish going to top moe.? Well, I guess that depends what your definition of "top" is, because that'd be like comparing Oranges to Whoranges. They may rhyme, but the similarities end there. In my professional opinion, both Phish and moe. play awesome versions of Stash. Enough said.

Moving on- Time Turns Elastic. On a 3-night run, it was inevitable. We all knew it was coming.

When they started up, there was a lot of chatter amongst the crowd. It was early enough in the show that everyone didn't need to pee, some people went and got beer, other people sat down and discussed the merits of this song.

The consensus is slightly morbid, but whatever Trey needs to stay off the junk--- we're there for him. Even if it means sitting through this song again. We love you, Trey.

The view from El Herno's Brain during Time Turns Elastic

Fortunately, Julius slapped everyone awake and got 'em moving again. Thanks, Julius!

SET II started out with DWD, which yanked everyone back into the room. -> Piper. Yes. -> a TRIUMPHANT Fluffhead. Huge. If Old Guy From Wetlands was there, I guarantee you he was jumping up and down, I'll tell you what. Cities--- was awesome, got the crowd singing along and some NYC love going. Free was a great pee break. Almost went to get water but the only stairs were an up-escalator. It was a sign. We didn't need water. Instead we went back in and got HALLEY'S COMET! Sweet and uplifting. Loud and beautiful. 2001-- YES! Then we heard the tapping. "What's it gonna be??? Bowie or Maze? I don't hear any bass!" And just like at SPAC this summer, my friend Melissa (who was not in Albany last Friday) had her heart stomped on when Phish broke into a jammin' David Bowie.

Ridiculously strong SET II . Mike was laying it down and Trey was just shredding. Of course Fishman and Page were great too, solid +. High quality, high energy, what the hell would they pull out Friday?

I tried to buy a poster on the way out (didn't get one Wed. night cuz of the monsoon) but they were already sold out. SERIOUSLY??? LAAAAAME!

Punch You In The Eye
Backwards Down the Number Line
Axilla I >
Boogie On Reggae Woman
Lawn Boy
Time Turns Elastic
Back On The Train

Down With Disease >
Piper >
Cities >
Halley's Comet >
David Bowie

Character Zero

FRIDAY, 12/4/09

Friday the running crew was at Twins for pregame, where we made the best of a situation when we encountered one of the most assholiest bartenders in the entire city. Wow. I will not be going back there. Erika had to be held back from jumping over the bar and shoving a bottle of Merlot down his throat. Seriously, if he had any idea what was good for him he would have served my friends with the utmost respeck and charm, cuz they are serious fucking alcoholics and he lost a lot of future money with that shitty 'tude.

My ticket was for 334, so naturally I ended up in 408 to enjoy the company of El Herno & c4d. Sometimes the best view is with your friends. (vomit).

How they were gonna top Thursday night's SET II, no one knew. But holy crap, did they EVER.

SET I highlights: Possum, Wilson (LOUD, ABRASIVE), Kill Devil Falls (really digging this song), MOTHERFUCKING GLIDE!!!!! WHAT??? I had forgotten ALL ABOUT Glide-- THAT is how long it's been since I've heard it. WOW. MIND BENDING! THIS WAS SPECIAL. Fuck those 18 hours it took to drive to Bonnaroo to hear Prince Caspian again- fuck Bonnaroo. GLIDE!!! 46 Days totally jammed out. Bouncin', sure. REBA!!!! YES!!!! DINNER AND A MOTHERFUCKING MOVIE???!!! OH MY CHEESUS!!!!!! WHAT??? OUT OF THE PARK!!! Guyute rocked! Maze**-- well, Maze was better in Albany last Friday.


Sorry to inform you, but everything I've written up until this point is inconsequential. The only thing you really need to know about Phish's 3-stand night at MSG is: First Tube. Phish started layering it- fat, loud, haunting, noisy, scratchy, delicious-- and it built and built and something really strange happened. Something I'm not sure I've ever witnessed or been part of at any concert in my entire life. First Tube took a sharp twisting path to it's darkest most evil place--- and some sort of bizarre instinct was telling me to scream--- cuz Trey was alive, cuz Phish were back-- but I wasn't alone. The entire Garden started to ROAR! Trey was jumping and looking around at the spontaneous eruption of screams from all sides and as the song peaked, the place exploded! The crowd was so loud you couldn't even hear the music anymore. Screams of cathartic insanity and love. Screams of a collective spiritual orgasm? GOOSEBUMPS.

What the hell was that?
Oh, that was just Phish, fucking our faces. Not letting any of it go to waste and savoring every second of it, as the song ended, Trey ripped off his guitar and started throwing feedback to every corner of the arena***, like a giant Thank You, until the set ended. It was one of the most amazing live music experiences I've ever had in my life. It was better than getting laid****. It also made for one of the best sets of Phish I've ever seen. Wow.

This video is excellent but doesn't do the crowd noise level justice. At about 2:54 Trey looks up towards the noise in our section (above Page)- in person, the look on his face was of shock, and love... and then I think he creamed himself. Around 3:25, Page stretches his arms, cracks his knuckles, and smiles knowingly. This song was huge. The lights were bonkers- MORE HUZZAAAAHS to Chris Kuroda. First Tube. Hot damn!

Oh yeah, that was ONLY SET I. What the hell was next? BRING IT ON! Set II started off a bit slow, I've heard Rock 'n Roll enough this year. Seven Below ROCKED and this is just about when Mike started really laying down a THICK PHATTY groove, the boys followed suit, and shit turned DIRTY. Yes, Dirty. Mike's -> Hydrogen -> Weekapaug. SHEEEYAAT! GIMME MORE. Horse -> Silent was beautifully done. YEM was heavy and punched you in the gut. Encore was the Stones' Shine A Light, with Page laying out the organ- it's a keeper- the whole thing was beautiful.

What a night. Tens of thousands of smiles as we filed out of the Garden. I attempted to round up the troops for U-Melt dowtown, but no one was biting.

We ended up at a diner that sat us waaaaay in the back the second we walked in.

"I want fries, but could you just throw a couple of onion rings on top of them?" - El Herno

Heavy Things
Kill Devil Falls
46 Days
Bouncing Around The Room
Dinner and a Movie
First Tube

Scents And Subtle Sounds
Rock & Roll >
Seven Below >
Mike's Song >
I Am Hydrogen >
Weekapaug Groove
The Horse >
Silent in the Morning
You Enjoy Myself

Shine A Light

These 3 shows were all about Phish. No special guests. Just Phish. Which is good, cuz that's why we were there too..

LET'S RECAP: Poor Heart, Peaches En Regalia, Tweezer, Antelope, Tweezer Reprise, Axilla, Fluffhead, Cities, Halley's, 2001, Possum, Wilson, MOTHERFUCKING GLIDE, Reba, DINNER AND A FUCKING MOVIE, **BEST** FIRST TUBE EVER, Mike's, Weekapaug. They love New York City. Two of the best Phish sets I've ever seen. Dirty jamming. Genuinely excited, happy, and involved musicians capable of 1994's energy. Phish's, MSG Run 2009: 9.5 HUZZAHS! Phish are back. This is not some Throwaway Nostalgia Act. This is The Real Thing and people should be fucking excited.

Just to drive this point home- I've gotten to see so many friends that I hardly ever get to see-- SO MANY TIMES this year, simply cuz we can share a night (or 3) of Phish together. Huge THANK YOU's to Mike Weiss for his Wednesday extras & the lovely Sontags for their Friday (and of course Marty for the previous Friday in Albany). It really does take a village! It's freaking awesome to be surrounded by so many good people, so much love, and such balls-out-awesome music all at once. It's good for the soul... and your balls, which you should powder, cuz you've been sitting too long.


* K, maybe two or three of you would be fine.
** To add insult to injury, Melissa H. never found an extra for this show-- so she missed Maze. Sorry Melissa. There's always Spring Tour! :)
*** As opposed to Eddie "drama queen" Vedder's painting-the-crowd-with-guitar-light gag. Spare me.
**** And Phish have never once drunk texted me at 3am. BONUS!