2013: Reflections on The 30th Anniversary of Phish (Part I)

“The years just keep sliding by don’t they…”

Anniversaries are arbitrary. The demarcation of space and time and the claim that human activities are explicable or effected by such artifical boundaries is, well, kind of a cop out. Scientifically or subjectively, it cannot be said that because “such and such” happened in “such and such” year is a matter of causation or correlation (as it should be said correlation does not always suggest causation or vice-versa). Put crudely, it is pure coincidence – a happenstance or seemingly connection that only occurs in our minds as a product of categorizing and organizing human moments in our all too brief lifespans. To be sure, the notion of age/aging or loosely applied, entropy (i.e. the predictability of decline – we all will get older and die) is a contingent factor. Biologically, time and space have influence over numerous aspects of life, such as “biologial clocks” for all sorts of life (e.g. humans, and no pun intended, fish…like salmon). Less we forget the Earth’s orbit around the sun and the changing of the seasons. These happen whether or not we acknowledge them with our labels or constructions. None of this is to suggest that fixing or organizing the passing of time in space is ‘bad’ thing – by no means. Western civilization depends on it (but it does make one wonder what life would be like, for instance, human activities followed a different set of rules for counting out time, say like Native Americans following seasons in matters of resource distribution and diets). But to suggest that any subject or object is influenced by the “grid” we call time – and in the process sucking all the ‘fun’ that comes from such divisions completely – is senseless. If anything, such distinctions probably do more harm than good to the human psyche, those constant reminders that, in the words of Jim Morrison, “the future’s uncertain and the end is always near.”

Having said this, no Phish fan can doubt that 2013 was a good year. Indeed, it is a good time to be a Phish fan. If summer tour was one thing (despite the bad weather that seemingly followed the band all the way to Chicago), including the Gorge, the Tahoe “Tweezer” and the Bill Graham run; fall tour took an unparalleled leap into the stratosphere in which Phish arguably produced the best music of 3.0 and some of the best music of their career. If we take Trey’s word for it, and this train keeps rolling (which I think it will), then I think it is certain we will look at ’13 with much of the same reverence as we look at the years ’95 and ’97 with the same meaningless milestone differentiation we do with all other human things, music or not (1.0, 2.0. and 3.0 included). That is to say, it was not the years themselves, but the always emergent development of human activity – evolution in skill, acumen, practice,  ideas, and creativity. Are other factors present in such moments? Certainly. For example, it is very likely if one has more money than another, then a whole plethora of things will radically be different from health, sleep, stress, convenience – quality of life and materiality – will improve, over those that unfortunately have less.

All of this is to say that NYE runs, while no doubt special and a whole lot of fun, are by no means any better than any other shows Phish plays on any given tour at any time during the year.

Furthermore, fall ’13 as a whole, or even a select handful of the twelve shows they played (and let’s just say 10/20, 10/26, 10/29, and 11/01) are arguably ‘better’ than the four New Year’s run shows for 2013. Don’t get me wrong here: I’m not poo-pooing NYE ’13 for any specific reason other than to put it in retrospective of what an awesome, incredible year of Phish this was. Was NYE ’13 good? Absolutely. Was it the best NYE run ever? Doubtful, but what NYE run is? Each year Phish has performed consecutively at the end of December has always produced one or two great shows, some legendary (12/31/95, 12/31/98, Big Cypress, 12/29/97, and I will include 12/31/10, and 12/30/12 to keep things fresh – I think we can add 12/29 and 12/31 for 2013 to that list as well).

But in my humble opinion, fall tour ’13 was superior to the New Years Run ’13.

(more to come)


Introduction (Yet Again)

This blog began as a project for a graduate school pedagogical class (and looking back on it,  a pretty good one at that). In the course of graduate school, however, the impetus to maintain, write, and post things on this blog fell by the wayside (busy, busy, busy). The original posts, many of which were required for that class, have been purged since they were so far removed from what I intend to do here now.

Who am I? I am a happily married  PhD student in the ASPECT (Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, Cultural Thought) at Virginia Tech (VT) home of the Virginia Tech Hokies, residing in Blacksburg, VA. I work as an instructor of record and adjunct faculty teaching courses in Political Science at both VT and Radford University (RU), located roughly twenty minutes from Blacksburg. This year I will be diligently working on my (as of now untitled) dissertation project that, to be brief, is a [poststructuralist] problematization of United States national security policies and objectives, domestically and internationally.

This blog will serve ultimately as a vehicle or “canvas” of ideas and thoughts that may facilitate and propel the so-called art of “dissertating.” Furthermore (as per the original intentions of the construction of this blog), it is a medium in which to show others the work and research I engage in. It will likely incorporate themes and class material from the courses I will be teaching in any given semester as well (ahem, students). Not to mention provide a brief, personal, glimpse into my thoughts, life, interests, and personality.

This blog has no set format, although I think the heading “like you know whatever” (see “Summer of 4Ft. 2” episode of The Simpsons) will suffice. I will write and post about things that are of interest to me; deal with my “research” in my PhD program (I put this in quotation marks because, well, I suffer from so-called “imposter syndrome” – which of course is false, but it is so overwhelming it needs to be acknowledge), and generally whatever I feel like on any given day. It is not “personal” as such (i.e. this will not be a “diary”), although I reject the notion that one can remove themselves (i.e. personality, perspective) entirely from research, much less politics, life, and art. For instance, bias (preference or “taste”) is not bias if it is acknowledged and recognized. Indeed, most are often unaware of our own self and socially constructed biases.

In other words, this blog will not be simply “in my opinion” (IMO) but provide, provoke, destabilize, and offer analyses, perspectives, and counter-narratives to late modern and contemporary issues of importance, and indeed, digress into matters of pure personal interest (including my obsession with the rock group Phish).

I think that should do it, for now. Thanks for reading.