Phish at Darien Center, Aug. 13 2009
Let’s begin at the end, so that we express our belief that nothing ever ends. We know that this is true because we end our stories in the middle of others, we begin them at the end in reverse, and we sometimes make stories that never stop. It is inconceivable to earnestly begin a story. It is outright arrogance, assumed ascension and portentous pontificatry! To begin a thing is to know Nothing and then to change it. Pause a moment and ponder the varied impossibilities and absolutes contained in that statement and then read this: I will not claim access to Nothing, nor to her entourage, though I think I saw them once at a Meatpacking District after-hours club. Sometimes I ride my pedicab through those wobbly alleys looking for the as-yet elusive magic ride: a near-endless journey that involves a satanic sum of money, and hopefully some drugs and sex. Anyway, Nothing, being neither here nor there, wasn’t likely present. Her attractive and hollow hangers-on however, exited an unmarked brick warehouse-style building filled to bursting with couture and cocktails, then, Illuminated by three flashes from a camera, they stepped into an extended black SUV and trundled drunkenly into the deep of Thursday morning. I couldn’t help but imagine a lonely Nothing, not frolicking in eternity, neither with nor without Anything else for company, deserved some better friends.
That would be me and my mind in my mind. Sometimes I feel like a wallflower at the Sock Hop where Nothing is playing the part of Belle-of-the-Ball. We, me and my mind, are standing there together, one of us the body and the other the wall, neither knowing our job but doing it anyway. At this dance, Phish is the band. The time that the dance happened at Darien Lake on Aug. 13, 2009, I held an embodied Nothing in my arms at the moment Trey sang “…and set a different course.” Then I saw the pinnacle of a blasting and bizarre narrative arrive from within: everyday, every lifetime containing every day and every fraction of a day between the first day before history began and the moment that my brain registers as now, which is actually 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000004 days before that moment, appears as a shadow of the now, approaching in silence, and arriving somewhere just a step into the future as a fully-golden throat trumpeting its own arrival. Phish must be made of Supermen, for the weight of such a truth merely brings them to their knees.
In the distance, at the moment I write this, Bono is singing, “It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain.” Take that Authorship.
I was rumpled and in love.
The First Mutable Law of Phish: We Want You To Be Happy!
When I look at my face in the mirror, I see many things: the second is the apparent spatial distortion cause by warped mat silver. I see a canine countenance; cheek bones and shape to my jaw that changes every few weeks ears that are large enough to imply the letter V, which reminds me of V for Vendetta and bolsters my self-esteem; perfect and mismatched eyebrows, a long and winding nose; a Greek theater mask moving and winding ever-so-slightly, as if the viewer were on the tiniest bit of acid; my history or my future depending on how much I’ve been drinking and when I woke up; the place where my mustache should go; an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in which a guy wears tightey-whiteys on his chin; Vegeta from Dragonball Z; the water of Long Island Sound lapping at the side of the New London ferry; a camel; fascination; a library; a loudspeaker.
It wasn’t until recently that I recognized the absence of Misery, which used to be a mainstay on my face, appearing nightly in spectacular productions of rage, hatred, bitterness, snobbery and cruelty. Now I see a door, because I can meet each eye in the mirror with its counterpart in the real.
“Joy,” by Phish, is the kindest of invitations to the past to accept and love its future. The world WILLs to know the supreme and abject bliss of quiet love trumpeted to the shores of the river of no-time. We could do it all now. We can step through the door of our eyes. It sounds like fingertips pressed lightly to our shoulder blades, a tender bosom pressing ours, a firmament made soft and a clear bed of stars harboring the smoke from campfires.
The Lot looks like a field of orchids waving gently. The ground is lush and pungent. The tops of heads and shimmering bodies turn, whirl, suspend, dive, twist and breathe. The other side is just above a gate yawning thigh-wide. A mountain is slowly growing like fibers between a Tesla coil. Pockets and rows collide and fumble like water to and from a high green wall shielding the face of a white, three-pointed tent. Somewhere, down low, the band is running through “Sugar Shack.” Hear them practicing their play! You shan’t regret it.
I’m here because of the grand yaysaying, the in of the out, the whole of the soul: the Jam. It’s hard to Jam alone. It’s hard to see the universe when staring at an inerververse, but it’s truly a holy circus with the sun setting behind roller coasters and silhouetted against some contraption dangling people upside down.
The Second Mutable Law of Phish: Beauty and Danger Live Side-By-Side
It’s only hard to understand exactly what it means to have these two in your bed until you get a visit from the Wolfman’s Brother, who sends you through a maze of trials: battle, rattle, cattle, the works! Sure you can fight. Yes, you may dine. Yes, you may get devoured…or bored if you are That Kind of Person. But if you just say YES! O, blissful, beautiful YES! To what the guy has to say, you’ll come out coming on the otherside: a planet of green grass with a wooden chest in the center. When you open the chest, something suddenly leaps at you and squeaks incessantly. If you say NO, you are in violation of some law of beauty.
And should you happen to make friends with the Wolfman’s Brother, even going so far as to include him in romantic interludes, occasion, night drives to the ocean and so forth, what happens when your new friend pulls a knife from Nowhere (the second cousin of Nothing)? Will you run away from your fantastical and rambunctious ally? Could you forget your mutuality? Your intertext? Would you assume some new morality to help you cope with your status as rejecter? Or will you decide to learn just what makes a knife so beautiful to your new friend? Will you get a knife of your own? And just whose brother would that knife happen to be?
No matter what you decide, you will likely live to see it come to disaster. Deal with it. Once I went a-driving, a-very late at night, in an attempt to reach my home, before the morning light. I drove a heavy auto-car, as fast as it could fly, and when it raced under my wheels, a mother fox did die. And how should I cope? Should I cry? Or take it to the erotic earth, where the Centre keeps Its eyes. It’s a tight rope strung across a gorge, with ne’er a helping hand to cross. But the band keeps chugging along due North, as if they didn’t feel the loss.
And should I decide to follow, to the farmhouse ‘cross the way, the band would play perfection, for this earth’s tender sway. “You are on course,” they loudly sigh. “You’ve seen the door behind your eyes. Now follow to with tremulous pace, and just remember, ‘it’s not a race.’” Life’s perfection, delivered swift, is this dance house band’s lasting gift.
Follow the line of the rope on which you crossed the gorge to the backside of the farmhouse. There you’ll find the farmer’s sugar shack. It’s low and grey and sends steam into the sky. A million plastic lines run to it from the nearby forest, where maple trees are tapped with pegs, strung with buckets, and made to deliver sugar to the world. I crawl inside. You crawl inside. We step inside with our blankets and hose and bunk down for the early spring, climbing the walls and regulating the boiler. The air is literally sweet in this room, for the sugar is hot enough to ionize and then crystallize in our lungs. Breathing becomes laborious, and we settle into staring at the walls. When night falls, we’ve forgotten the world outside the shack.
Many winters pass. We’ve produced a lot of syrup, which has stuck up straight up on the ground. We can neither lie down nor fly. And this is a most mundane predicament. How ever shall we get beyond it? However shall we cope? However shall we learn to accept it? However shall we make it feel good? However shall we convince the others that it feels good? However shall we forget the feeling of being unstuck? However shall we taste something unsweet? However shall we stop asking questions? However shall we remember the questions we used to ask?
He came to this planet to begin anew, but found only ennui. He found a world as blank and raw as a codex of sophistry. To look in this book is to beg for madness, a terrible issuance, a fierce and terrible utterance. I’m alone. I am extra and more. Man in body, and altogether sore. But the there is hope, for my madness begs for partners. They come in droves. The answer to their prayers, thinks he: LET’S BE MAD TOGETHER! LET’S DANCE! A demonstration of how to turn world-chaos into harmony.
If you want to get in on Bowie’s trip you have to drink some homemade gin. You can make it in mass quantities in your very own bathtub. Once imbibed you will recognize a third mutable law of Phish: IT’S ALRIGHT WHEN IT’S ALL WEIRD.
The weirdness is contained within a single cell. The world is divided into three parts: the biosphere: the physical planet, our bodies, plants, animals, paramecia, rocks, etc.; the subjective: the individual, self-referential and therefore seemingly isolated consciousness that I experience as a an ever-shifting chronology; and metaconsciousness: the Force, God(s), Eris, the symbiotic energies generated by and informing the other two (all wisdom is about this last and least/most important principle, except when it’s about the other two). Family, gathered, growing strong. You have the universe inside you. So breath. I saw you. I saw you there. Maybe just once. But once lasts for a lifetime that lasts for infinity because every moment is the same as every other moment. Every particle, at the fundamental, most inverted and non-existent level is identical in nature and placement to every other particle. I saw you. You were me. I am you. We are all together, and we’re dancing. That is why Golgi Apparatus.
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