Wednesday, July 23, 2003

The Tao of Pauly will be on hiatus for a week maybe longer. I will be on holiday in Rhode Island/Foxwoods Casino, followed by four more Phish shows in Philly and Maine to end this year’s summer tour. I will be back up and running for sure in no time. Thanks for checking in.

Phish Travel Journal: NYC to Wisconsin

Travel Journal 7.16 thru 7.21

We traveled 1400 miles from NYC to Alpine, Valley. 8 states along the way. 15 total this trip so far.

Javier dubbed Alpine Valley, Wisconsin… “the middle of nowhere.” Only Phish would bring random freaks out to the middle of nowhere. Farm land and cows and the land of cheese heads and funny accents… the normalcy of Wisconsin life collided with the Phish tour for a few days, and despite sub par shows (due to my unrealistic high expectations of the shows) I still had one of the best times I ever had on tour. Fun was a key word. I had a fun time both nights, before and after the shows, and of course during the shows. The venue was very nice. A slightly severe incline on the lawn, but there was no bad spot. We sat on Page side both nights. And the second night (first set specifically) was the better of the two shows. Despite Javier almost beating up a racist, homophobic, anti-semtic frat boy... things were awesome in dairyland.

Random Incidents… Stopped off near Kalamazoo to hit a couple of baseballs in the batting cages at the coolest place to be in Western Michigan… none other than Captain Mike’s Fun Park! Located just minutes off of I-94, I did very well at the cages. I hit more fast balls than slow ones! My timing was off. We happened to drive through Ann Arbor during the Michigan Summer Arts Festival and most of the streets were blocked off and parking was $10 in some places. Traffic was awful from Gary, Indiana all the way through Chicago! Michigan girls are cute and they talk funny. Wisconsin girls are hotter and have hilarious accents. I met a cutie named Alea and she thought I had a weird accent. Call me and I’ll do my best impersonation. The entire weekend, Javier and I would talk to each other in Wisconsin and Chicago accents. “Oh geez, you came from a far away place!” and “Oh gosh, I never been to New York before. You must be bored being in Wisk-cannnnnnnnn-son!!” Wisconsin people party hard. They drink a lot of beer for sure and they set off fireworks like crazy after the Phish shows in the parking lots. The post-show scene afterwards was barrels of fun. The traffic was awful so everyone pretty much stayed behind, drank, and set off fireworks. On the second day, one guy came up to me and said, “Geez, you forgot to tell me about the fireworks last night! Must have been something!”, he said with the widest eyes. I laughed hysterically. Fireworks. It’s a big thing around there. Usually on a Friday night in the middle of Wisconsin, people are drinking in the fields and playing music, but the post Phish fireworks was the biggest thing to come out to the middle of nowhere since cable TV dishes. Javier gained immortality among Wisocnsin frat boys after the guys parked next to us watched Javier chug down a couple of shots of Jim Beam out of the bottle before we went into the show. “Dude, he was drinking for like eight seconds! Wait more like ten!” For decades to come, there will be urban myths and stories about that dude who drank an entire fifth of Beam before he saw a Phish show, then he drove all the way back to Connecticut that night! Javier started yelling at this one girl during the show because her friend was passed out on the lawn and no one was taking care of her. The food court at Alpine Valley sold Grilled Cheese for $5 and beers were $7. I hear the funniest things wandering through the parking lots at Phish shows. My favorite this time was: “Dude if you give me another hit, I swear I won’t tell anyone.” Javier recorded a personal record of driving 368 straight miles without stopping once! I was there. We had to piss badly nearly 280 miles, but we kept pushing the limits! I met random people all over the tour that wanted to read Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. After I let on that I’m a writer, I often get asked what JTSMD is about. After I tell them and stare at the unhinged jaws for a few seconds, their next immediate response is “Can I read it?” I should have printed up copies and brought them on tour with me! Next time for sure. The coolest people we met in Wisconsin were from Iowa. And I’ll never forget my favorite Wisconsin phishead Alea, the blonde girl from Kenosha with the sea shell eyes!

I don’t have enough time to tell you more about my random adventures. Next time for sure.

Detroit Sucks City… Without a doubt, Detroit was the lowlight of our trip. It was a huge mistake for me even to suggest checking it out. It’s the gambler in me. I heard about the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit and how it’s popularity grew after 9.11 when Americans wanting to gamble scoffed at the idea of two and three hour long waits at the border crossing into Windsor, Canada to play at their prestigious casino. I wanted to play poker there, but again the border and security hassles weren’t worth it. Upon walking into the Detroit MGM Grand, Javier got a bad feeling and decided that he didn’t want to stay. I too felt an odd vibe and we bailed fairly quickly. Somehow we ended up at Wheat & Rye, the Detroit airport bar and grill. It seemed harmless with $5 pitchers of Budweiser. The burgers were great and the clientele was peppered with beer guzzling locals and middle aged people drinking after work, primarily cliques from the local airline and related businesses in the area; staunch check-in counter people, greasy aero-mechanics and overly friendly front desk workers. Our waitress was Canadian and she had eyes for Javier.

Chicago… Bob a friend of mine for almost 13 years, was a great host. Love his neighborhood called Lincoln Park. I forgot how many good looking women live there. “As soon as it’s 78 degrees, then they all come out. It’s great in the summer,” Bob explained. We ate dinner in Wrigleyville at Bar Louie just a block from the infamous Wrigley Field. We almost made a run for the Indiana casinos, or the riverboats down in Joliet. The poker tables were packed when we called ahead. It would be all night before we got to sit in at a game, so we decided to play No Limit Texas Hold ‘em at the Bob Casino in Chicago. It was great and I caught some hot cards including beating Javier’s pocket Aces (A-A) after I was dealt lovely ladies (Q-Q). After the Flop and Turn of A-8-Q-6, Javier went all in with his money and raised me nearly $20, all of his chips. I called (foolishly) and got lucky after a Queen fell on the River and I beat Javier’s full house with 4 Queens. It was a classic showdown and I had less than 4% of winning. Alas, I did. Late night, Bob drove us around downtown Chicago and we saw the newly renovated Wrigley Field and all the security in front of the Sears Tower.

I found a couple of Truckin stories along the way. I hope to work on them later this week.
Phish setlists

7.18.03 Alpine Valley, WI

Set 1: Axilla, Rift, Bathtub Gin > Mango Song, Roggae, Discern, I Didn't Know > Dust in the Wind, David Bowie

Set 2: Down with Disease > Catapult, Bug, Secret Smile, Two Versions of Me, Twist, Character Zero

Encore: Harry Hood

7.19.03 Alpine Valley, WI

Set 1: Sample in a Jar, Reba, Wilson, Scents & Subtle Sounds, Maze, Driver, NICU* > Ya Mar*, Rocky Top*, Lawn Boy, Julius

Set 2: Piper > Rock and Roll > Seven Below > Prince Caspian, You Enjoy Myself

Encore: Velvet Sea

* all three songs consecutively contained "Played it Leo!"

7.21.03 Deer Creek, IN

Set 1: Cities, Runaway Jim, Meat, Water in the Sky, Stash, My Old Home Place, Vultures, Birds of a Feather > Mike's Song > Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

Set 2: Suzy Greenberg > Taste > 46 Days > Tweezer > 2001 > Limb By Limb > Good Times Bad Times

Encore: Loving Cup> Tweezer Reprise

7.22.03 Deer Creek, IN

Set 1: Punch You in the Eye, Beauty of my Dreams, Gumbo, Divided Sky, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Carini > Magilla*, Possum

Set 2: Split Open & Melt > Free > Friday, The Lizards, Walls of the Cave

Encore: Bouncin > Frankenstein

Happy Birthday Jay Sheer!

Today is Jay's b-day... best wishes!

Friday, July 18, 2003

Sweet Home Chicago...

We finally arrived in Chicago... crashing with my old friend Bob! He lives in a cool hood called Lincoln Park. We played Texas Hold 'em last night... actually we played NO LIMIT! And I walked away a winner (for now)! Leaving for Wisconsin soon... Phish tonight, getting pumped!
Kansas Phish!

7.17.03 Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Bonner Springs, KS

Set I: Chalkdust Torture, Wolfman's Brother, Maze, Dirt, Pebbles and Marbles, Strange Design, Back On The Train, Divided Sky
Set II: Tweezer > Makisupa Policeman, Limb By Limb, Anything But Me, Horn> Waves, Cavern, Antelope
Encore: Contact > Tweezer Reprise

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

On the Road... Again!

I'm hitting the road again, driving from NYC to Alpine Valley, Wisconsin to see two more Phish shows this weekend. Stops along the way will be Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee, and ????

Be back in about a week!

Travel Journal... July 6 thru July 14

6000 air miles, 4000 road miles, 7 States, 5 Phish shows.

Two Waitresses Named Athena... This is my next Truckin story! Molly and I met two women named Athena, within a 24 hour period, one in Las Vegas and the other in Arizona. One served us pricey cocktails at the Nectar's Lounge at the Bellagio and the other slung late night food our way at a Waffle House. Stay tuned.

Vegas cabbies... always a source of amusement and literary musings. What is Vegas without a Jesus Freak for a cabbie? "If you knew what I knew about God..." he rambled on as he drove to the Bellagio just before I rolled my eyes at Molly. Since I'm an existentialist, I didn't tip him. We had another cabbie who's sex I'm still trying to figure out. It was one of those maybe a guy-maybe a woman persons... just like Pat! He/she looked like Oliver, the wacky younger cousin with a blonde butt-haircut and wire rimmed glasses who joined the cast of the Brady Bunch late in it's run on TV. Anyway, the he/she was bitching about how slow and rough the summer has been in Vegas. But she/he also shared my disdain for California drivers. "They're the fuckin' worst," I told Oliver as I handed him/her a nice tip.

Vegas drinks... It was Molly's first time in Las Vegas, so we decided to get one drink in as many casinos as we could. We stayed at the Excalibur. Started drinking at my favorite bar in Mandalay Bay, before heading over to the Luxor, then Nectar's at the Bellagio, over the walkway to the bar at Paris, the tiki lounge at the Mirage, then New York, New York, where Molly won a few dollars playing the slots.

Random oddities... On my flight to El Paso I was sitting next to a former college quarterback turned Jesus Freak. He's a pastor at a church in South Africa and shared with me the socio-political-economical impact of post 9.11 Central Africa. Some of what I heard would scare you. Anyway... I saw the Water Show at the Bellagio and some lady asked me where the guys from Ocean's Eleven were standing at the end of that flick, afterwards we wandered into the bar at the Paris (I ended my Frenchie boycott). Unknown to me, but later that week, the Paris Casino would be hosting the annual Hooters Bikini contest. That's why the bar was bursting with a horde of scantly clad, extremely chesty, silicon-laded, fake-tanned, Sea Breeze drinking, Hooters waitress from all over America. What else happened? I saw a band called Tea Green Leaf after the Phish show in San Francisco. Bumped into random people all week that I met in Japan. Got lost in Arizona and ended up on Route 66 near Flagstaff. I ate at Waffle House twice (waffles and hasbrowns both times y'all), Denny's twice and Fat Burger (avoid the fish sandwich) once. Bought no less than seven burritos from random Phishy chicks in the parking lots. I told a Hare Krishna that Jesus loved him and Jesus told me to tell him to have a Margarita and move to Boulder. I lost $8 to Kat who whooped me in a watermelon spitting contest. I told her I'd give her $1 for every seed she could spit past my best effort. Ouch. I met a sheriff at a gas station in Scratchmyballs, Oregon. His name tag read: M. Gordon. I asked him what his first name was. And it is: Mike Gordon! When I told him the coincidence (bass player from Phish is Mike Gordon) he laughed and said, "My sister is one of those Phisheads. She tells people her brother is Mike from Phish all the time!" On the way to Vegas, there were security checkpoints set up a few miles outside the Hoover Dam, on both sides. Tom Ridge and my tax dollars working and making sure Al Qadea doesn't try to blow the dam! I was mesmerized by the sunset in the rear view mirror of the car as I watched the solar orb glowing with shades of reds and oranges disappear behind the shadowy mountains as I drove through New Mexico on my way to Las Cruces.
Kwait Brothers Band will be playing at Tabacco Road in NYC on Saturday for a 2 hour set!
Phish Setlists....

7.12.03 Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA
Set I: Taste, Mexican Cousin, Stash, NICU, Heavy Things, Mock Song, Army of One**, Maze
Set II: Piper, Two Versions of Me**, Tweezer, Dogs Stole Things, Water in the Sky, Ghost, David Bowie
Encore: Frankenstein, Tweezer Reprise

** New Song, first time played

7.13.03 Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA
Set I: Runaway Jim, Scents and Subtle Sounds, Axilla > Carini, Dog Faced Boy, Round Room, Halley's Comet, Guyute, You Enjoy Myself
Set II: Llama, Wolfman's Brother > Jesus Just Left Chicago, Seven Below, Harry Hood, Chalkdust Torture
Encore: First Tube

Mike played bagpipes on Round Room & Halley's Comet!

I realized that I saw all 8 shows that Phish played at the Gorge since 1997.

New Phish Songs

I have not heard Discern, but I am told it's one of their best newbies. I'm not fond of Spices, nor Scents and Subtle Sounds, which I have now seen at 2 (Spices) and 3 (S&SS) shows already! I admit the end of S&SS is very catchy and it's my favorite part...but I'd rather hear Walls of the Cave. The other new songs debuted at the Gorge are better. I appreciate the lyrics in Two Versions of Me and my favorite by far is Army of One, featuring Page on vocals and swanky piano.

Phish will be featured on Bob Costas' HBO "On the Record" on Friday, July 18th.

Congrats to Eial and Orange Girtz who were married on June 29th.
Belated Birthday Greetings...

Happy Birthday Skippy!

Friday, July 11, 2003

Setlist for.... the Phish!!

7.10.03 Shoreline Amphitheater - Mountain View, CA

Set 1: Spices > Waves, Reba, Lawn Boy, Moma Dance, Antelope

Set 2: 46 Days, Divided Sky, Friday, Free > Seven Below, Velvet Sea, 2001, Down w/ Disease

Encores: Rift, Character Zero

Notes: Another kick ass show!! It was my 120th show.... :) but who's counting right? I haven't seen two back to back nights in one city like that since Vegas & Albany (fall tour in 2000) and defintely since the Deer Creek 3 show run in the summer of 2000. Phish busted out the heavy hitters: Reba, Antelope, Divided Sky, 2001, DwD... and they played some of my favorite songs: Waves, Lawnboy, MoMA Dance, 46 Days, Free & Zero. I can't decide what was a better show.... I'm leaning towards the first night (I'm still feeling that 30 minute Gin, YEM to open, Boogie On, AC/DC Bag, Mike's > Groove, Loving Cup!).

Last night was fucking solid, despite some rough edges (Reba to start was kinda choppy and flat, but they kicked it into "high gear" and jammed that fucker out!) Moma Dance was 110% pure Phishy funk. Mike Gordon was going off.... and I was so fucking wasted that I forgot what city I was in for a few songs!! I bumped into a google of Japanese heads... one guy knew me from the TOKYO shows!!! He was friends of freinds of the guys in Horse!

I saw a couple of repeats: Spices & Zero... (I missed DwD in Chula Vista). I KNOW they'll play Scents & Subtle Sounds again at the Gorge. Maybe I'll start to like it? No Bill Walton or random Dead sightings at the show.

The biggest surprise was: DIVIDED SKY! I thought they'd save it for the Gorge.... which means they definitely play Punch You in the Eye & Makisupa Policeman up there. The Gorge is ny favorite outdoor venue to see a concert and to see Phish.

3 shows down, 2 more to go on my west coast swing.... We leave for portland very soon. :)

Thursday, July 10, 2003

California Phish....!

7.9.03 Shoreline Ampitheatre, Mountain View, CA

Set 1: You Enjoy Myself > Simple, Mountains in the Mist, Chalk Dust Torture, Bathtub Gin

Set 2: Boogie On Reggae Woman, AC/DC Bag, Piper > Twist, Scents and Subtle Sounds, Mike's Song > Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

Encore: Loving Cup

Notes: This was one of the best shows I have seen since the Japan Tour. Only Las Vegas in 2000 and the reunion show this past New Year's stick out as better gigs. Indeed, a very special night. YEM to open? A 30 minute Bathtub Gin?!? Mike's > H > Weekapaug to close! And a sick Loving Cup encore. I really dislike the new tune... Scents & Subtle Sounds. It's the new "Pauly's Taking a Piss Song". Pumped for tonight! It was a chilly 65 degrees at show time. At least 40 degrees cooler than the Phoenix show... I was happy to depart the scorching 100 plus tempatures of the Southsweat!

7.8.03 Coors Amphitheatre, Chula Vista, CA

Set I: Guyute, Horn, My Sweet One, Tweezer, Limb By Limb, Fast Enough For You, Frankie Says, Taste

Set II: Down With Disease, Vultures, Secret Smile**, Harry Hood > Carini, Discern**, Waste

Encore: Bouncing Around the Room > Tweezer Reprise

** New Song, First time played

Notes: Bill Walton was at the show... :)

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Phish 7.7.03 Cricket Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ

Set 1: Stash, Sample in a Jar, Billy Breathes, Waves, Spices*, Anything But Me, David Bowie, Dirt, Possum

Set 2: Birds of a Feather, Wolfman's Brother, Scents & Subtle Sounds*, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > Walls of the Cave, Prince Caspian

Encore: Character Zero

* New Song, first time played

Notes: This show was not sold out. Half the lawn seats were empty and reserved seating looked like 80-85% filled. It was tough to get rid of extras. Everyone had extras to sell it seemed. Tickets were going for $5 on e-Bay! We had two extras wchich we were lucky to find someone from Montana with $20 and nugs to trade. Stash opener was good. Highlight in Set 1 was Waves, my favorite song on the new CD. Possum was great! Mike finally woke up and he was wearing that ugly yellow shirt of his. I don't like the new song Scents & Subtle Sounds. I couldn't wait until it ended. Walls of the Cave to close was the highlight of the set. First set was much better than Set 2. In the lots, the vendors were taking a huge hit... not too much money going around the tour these days. And without a sell out, it was tough to make any money. Molly bumped into a few friends from Texas, including one girl she used to be a cheerleader with many moons ago.

It was hot as fuck in Phoenix. Might have been one of the hottest days I ever saw Phish. I mean in Vegas it was 110, but managaeble. In El Paso it was 105, but breezy! Arizona... whew. I couldn't handle it! Too hot, y'all!

Friday, July 04, 2003