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  1. #1
    Disgruntled Planner bpohl's Avatar
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    Can I get a Critique??? Phish fans please chime in...

    I never kept a journal on tour, but I've been in an awfully pensive mood about the time I spent on the road for a few weeks now. Would anyone mind reading this and telling me what they think about this as an opener? I want to somehow catalogue my experiences, not necessarily in story-telling fashion; rather, I want to simply show how much the touring experience changed my life... just want some advice... what would you want to hear? Help me get an outline of what I'm going to write. It may never turn into a real book. It's going to mainly just be for me, but I wanted to get some feedback.







    I want to Live Beneath the Dirt

    I’ve been awfully lucky in this life to experience some things that few people have truly experienced or lived in any capacity. More often than not, more people than not have lived fairly “normal” lives going to school, buying a house, having kids, bills, a car, mortgage, and all of the trappings of that which comprises “normal” life. From the vantage point from which I write today, I can say the same of myself; however, I also find myself thinking of the days from 1997 to 2000 as the days that molded who I am today. I can trace almost all of my most memorable experiences back to those times, times which taught me how to live, where my place is in the world, and the things that I find most beautiful about the 6 billion other folks with whom I share space upon this planet.
    Indeed, my time living on the road is not usually most comfortable being recounted around a water cooler with the other planners; but almost every ideal I hold, including my sense of who I am and what I want out of my life, stems from those three years of following … a band… around the country.
    I can understand and appreciate how odd the whole premise seems to most people. For the average concert-goer, seeing their favorite band at their local large amphitheater once per year on a warm summer night would be the sort of thing that anyone would look forward to for weeks on end. I, too, these days, find myself with one concert ticket in hand two weeks before the event and think about how excited I am to go experience a show up close and personal and how thankful I am to have the day after the event off from the doldrums of being an urban planner in Indianapolis. For sure, it is a fantastic feeling for which I can understand and share in anyone’s excitement.
    However, having one ticket hanging on your refrigerator for a show two weeks from the day it arrives is altogether a completely different feeling from the sheer joy of running to hug the FedEx man, who just stopped by your house to deliver tickets to twenty shows across the entire continental United States. The sheer excitement of what those tickets meant, the implication of what that oversized envelope on the coffee table meant for your life is enough to drive even the most normal person certifiably insane, especially considering the amount of fun and freedom that was contained in twenty well-designed, hologram-laden pieces of cardboard that sat dormant in front of you and all of the visitors to your house for months on end.
    Lest this gets too dramatic, I feel impelled to note that not all excitement inherent in holding so many tickets around the country at one time was the kind of nervous excitement that I now take from going to Chicago for a weekend. Getting ready for a tour meant all kids of questions that had to be addressed: How much money do we need to save for the trip? How many shifts can I pick up delivering pizza to obtain those funds? What do we need to buy for the road? Do I need a new tent? What is the best way to get from Vernon, NY to Limestone, ME? Where in the hell are we going to stay in New York City during the New Year’s holiday? How do we make all of this come together? Why would I do all of this to repeatedly go see four Vermont play music night after night? Have I lost my mind?
    Don't waste your breath to save your face when you have done your best.

  2. #2
    Disgruntled Planner bpohl's Avatar
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    Maybe I had lost my mind. I was an 18-year-old kid from Gum Spring, Virginia, dreaming of being on the road with a bunch of hippies, camping every night, selling beer and burritos, thinking that driving up and down interstate highways in a Jeep Cherokee somehow meant that I was dropping out of society and being the rebel I had always wanted to be. Even though so precious little evidence of great things prior to leaving on my first tour had substantiated my excitement, I somehow knew that this event was big, that it would forever alter who I was… my goals… my reality… my perception of reality… even the way that I relate to my fellow human beings. I anticipated great things, but what I got were experiences that were beyond words (though I will try and capture those herein), things that changed the world I knew in ways that my dreadlocked head could have never dreamed of.
    You always remember those moments, the ones where you feel completely at peace with the world around you, when you know that what you’re experiencing is somehow the universe’s way of offering you a peek towards what’s really possible in this life, what’s actually out there… if you simply have the audacity to go and find it. I use the word “audacity” here simply because so many people didn’t understand what the point was in following a band around the country. Yet, I think of times like the one driving at 4 am to Greenville, South Carolina, on no sleep, surrounded by large semi trucks carrying goods to civilization, and watching the most intense meteor shower I had ever seen in my life unfold on the other side of my 1988 Chevy Nova’s windshield, somehow knowing that one day I’d be sitting at my house after the fact recounting that story and filing miserably at translating the feeling I had into words. I can only compare that feeling to falling in love… the way that every ounce of your soul feels lucky to be alive… the way that you feel so humbled by your own existence. These are the moments you think of when you roll your eyes at the girl at the bar, who tells you she isn’t religious, but she is spiritual.
    I suppose “spiritual” means different things to different people, but my spirituality was defined by the events of those three years. Spiritual was coming home from Atlanta on July 5th, after seeing an amazing show, yet realizing that the Jeep was going to explode from overheating in the Atlanta summer, driving home to Richmond with the heat blasting full-tilt, not planning on going to the next day’s show in Charlotte, then finding a friend who was going and taking your $31 and a case of water to that show and hoping for the miracle. “Spiritual” was arriving at the Charlotte show and having a middle-aged business man offer you a free VIP ticket, then going into the show to hear the line “nothing I see can be taken from me” during the second set. “Spiritual” was not having the heart to tell your tour buddy what happened in Charlotte, because he was stuck in Richmond, tending to the overheating tour vehicle.
    Don't waste your breath to save your face when you have done your best.

  3. #3
    Disgruntled Planner bpohl's Avatar
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    “Spiritual” was watching him cry his eyes out the very next night, as Trey and the boys wailed on “Terrapin Station”, their first Grateful Dead tune in 15+ years played on the fourth anniversary of Jerry’s death.
    Don't waste your breath to save your face when you have done your best.

  4. #4
    Up on the Down Side CyLowe97's Avatar
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    Man, if it's just for you, that stuff is golden. As long as the words can trigger the right memories, there is no way they can be wrong. I've got tons of moments in that same timespan, even though I wasn't following them to every stop. The whole ticketing system with FedEx was part of it. If you were willing to go through all that fuss, the wait for tickets was part of the thrill. With online ordering these days, it loses a little bit of its charm.

    For me it was coming out of the jam in "Free" at Camp Oswego. Right as they get to the "FREEE!!!" a single balloon when aloft into the upstate sky. It was perfect.

    Or maybe it was the Art Jam and Hood glowstick war (before that got out of control) second set at the Went -- still my favorite set ever -- and then the "the day I burn this whole place down" Circus > TweezPrize encore when they literally burned the whole thing down.

    Or the sun coming up on January 1, 2000, to the poignant "Wading In The Velvet Sea" and the no-need-for-encore Beatles "Here Comes The Sun" over the sound system.

    Or my wife's first show at the Horizon. Or even just wandering around the Cincinnati Zoo with her on a December day in between shows back in 1999.

    The traffic into Big Cypress and celebrating my wife's birthday in the car just after midnight with a small bottle of champagne on Alligator Alley as we patiently waited to get into the reservation.

    The even worse traffic into Coventry.

    Being the designated driver because I was the only one not doing anything I shouldn't have done...

    The friends made along the way. Good stuff.

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