“It’s always darkest before it gets darker.”
-J.Harrison, The Summer He Didn’t Die
To unwind I like to watch old movies on Netflix in our bedroom. Just to unplug with a time that was completely unplugged other than the ubiquitous corded telephone. It usually takes a couple of viewings to finish a show. Last night I started Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Fifteen minutes into the show and the dialogue had made me nervous and slightly irritable. I made a picture to distract myself.
Later on Facebook, a friend RX’d me Henry Mancini. Seems to be working. I look forward to continuing the movie tonight.
That’s not entirely true – I do read often. Just not books, lately. Every possible bit of internet activity requires some reading, of course. I mean, life. I’m not a big fan of YouTube so you can’t fault me there. Regardless, three books I have read (and currently reading) this past year. All three are gold.
1) American Psycho – America’s favorite affluent and affable psychopath. Patrick Bateman is just trying to fit in. Delusional? Maybe. Either way you’re gonna cringe, squirm and laugh your way through this. BTW – don’t feel bad for laughing, you’re still free to laugh at fictional murder.
2) The Mayflies – Penned by my college friend Sara Veglahn. Beautifully written and haunting. Each page was a treat. Really though, the descriptions of the river- just so familiar.
3) The Summer He Didn’t Die – Currently reading. A gift from my best childhood friend. My favorite line out of the book so far, “It’s always darkest before it gets darker.”
After a near 48 hour ordeal of plumbing and general handyman stuff I’m about to take a blowtorch to my laptop’s keyboard because hey, it damn near fixes everything else. All weekend I have spent troubleshooting shitty little problems regarding plumbing and 1/8 inches of measuring and now my keyboard is like oh you want to write about this plumbing business in a meaningful way? Ha-ha (Simpson’s Nelson laugh). Well screw you keyboard I have
easily overcome the most maddening and tiniest infractions of plumbing that would cause a leak at say… the supply line or the feed to the dishwasher. Whatever keyboard. I’m the coliseum and I drink your milkshake!
So, it all started Christmas Eve at my folk’s house with my sister’s sky lanterns that she bought on Groupon. They’re super awesome. You light up the paraffin or waxed infused cardboard and let these mini paper balloons float off into the night sky with all your wishes and dreams fiercely flickering in the winter night (make me a master plumber!). Conditions were inclement on Christmas Eve and lighting up the sky lantern was difficult. My wife says I’m a fixer so I went to the garage and found my dad’s blow torch. Normally I steer clear of anything labeled as a “torch” but tonight I was feeling it. It’s the eve of Christ’s birthday if you’re not gonna use a blow torch now it isn’t ever gonna happen. I started it up, and lit up the sky lantern’s fuel supply in 2 seconds , and from that point on I was addicted to the blow torch and it’s undeniable power. But with power comes great responsibility. I think I just stole that from somewhere? Spider-man? Whoop whoop.
Next, a chain reaction sort of occurred. I bought a blow torch. On the box it said I could use it to remove tile. Hey! We had tile to remove in the kitchen! What are the odds of such a practical use? A year ago Christi started removing the back splash in our kitchen. The tile job that came with the house was uninspired. I mean, there was an attempt. Half-assed no doubt but an attempt nonetheless. No problem tho. I’ve got a blowtorch and where Christi left off I picked up again and within a day the back splash was removed with the help of my old trusty blow torch. Later Christi would tell me that the blow torch wasn’t needed but was it? That stuff came off toots sweet. Either way, what had sat for a year was gone under 24 hours.
Next stop was the water softener in our basement that never worked. When we first moved in my father-in-law installed a garage sale bought water softener that refused to cooperate the day it was put into use (no good deed goes unpunished). I’d daydream of cutting the tarnished copper water lines that fed into it and sweating in a sort of u turn that would save the supply lines for the day I would buy a working water softener. I could visualize the blue glow of the torch illuminating my face as I sweated in the necessary copper fittings. Well, that day came on a Sunday afternoon. I cut everything out (CARPE DIEM PLUMBERS MAKE MORE ON THE WEEKEND I DON’T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING) and tried my hand at sweating in my u-turn. Haha. Not so great. I turned the main water supply on and that shit literally exploded off my modified supply lines. Very Titanic. Water coming from everywhere. Fortunately I could turn the main water supply line off. Not so lucky for Jack Dawson. I spent the rest of the evening trying my best to solder that shit back on but it wasn’t happening just like I wasn’t gonna draw Kate Winslet as one of Jack’s French girls when this was all over with. We packed our overnight bag and made our way to my parents’ house. It was a defeat and I chastened myself for it on the drive out but once we arrived, my dad and mom’s presence took hold and it all sort of fell away. Christi mentioned that this might be a perfect opportunity to buy a new water softener and perhaps a new sink? Maybe a new counter top too? Finish off that back splash? The chain reaction was complete. My mind started to tick away the steps needed to make it all happen. A truck for the counter top and all of the tools (BLOW TORCH). I was pretty sure I could round it all up by the next weekend.
Getting to this show was more exhausting than the actual show itself – highlights included sort of squatting in an apartment somewhere in southeast Chicago, a card game called Montana or Montoya (we could never figure it out) and being circled by Hell’s Angels in a McDonald’s parking lot. It was summer, desolately hot. I was 20 years old. Perhaps this could be an entire post about everything BUT the show- I contemplated demonstrating different dance styles before starting this, but that is an entirely different story. Also another thing – I’ve been to a dozen or so Phish shows. I don’t have any photographs or memorabilia other than ticket stubs and a few instructional concert flyers. I have Paul Languedoc’s (he made the band’s guitars) autograph somewhere too.
A few observations before starting the review in earnest- Bong rips on the tollway are never a good idea, ever. The Hell’s Angels seem relatively harmless when in transit. They’re like, a big school of perch. Small, many and completely allusive to laws of any sort. Where will they be next? Who knows. Parking lot of McDonald’s, maybe. More of a revelation may be the fact that the Hell’s Angel actually eat food let alone fast food. Also to note -young, impressionable college types will buy psychedelic mushrooms called, “Colorado Golden Reds” at inflated street prices. I told my friends later they’re just lucky that they weren’t poisonous when it became apparent that they were not getting psychedelic from their purchased fungus. And I will also remember fondly, who at the beginning of the show, with “Chalkdust Torture” revving up my roommate said to me, “This is it! This is why it’s all worth it!” I had never been so happy to be twenty years old and exhausted as the band shifted into second gear. After that moment, everything went downhill. Let’s begin with the review of the show. It’s just links! Haha. I point out a few highlights below them. Stay with me.
I could try to go song for song as a review but shit, this was twenty years ago. I can hardly remember twenty days ago. The general impression I am left with, so many years later, is that I wanted it to be great. I wanted it to be a summer blowout. Sure, the show had its high points and listening to it twenty years later from the comfort of my Spotify account it’s easy to gush. But when I think back to that night, I just wan’t feeling it. By the time Purple Rain touched down I felt lost and homesick. It wasn’t like I could text my mom or place a cell phone call. I couldn’t even find a pay phone. I remember being jealous of all the kids that would take off after the show and be home, safe and sound. Me? I had the tollway to look forward to.
One weird thing from the show though. I remember this distinctly. Trey announcing midsong –
“with aaahh five minutes left in the third quarter… cardinals three…bears ten”
They keep rolling “Daniel Saw the Stone” with no reaction from audience at all. Either everyone was too far gone or Phish just wasn’t that big of a deal yet for people to care about a random sports announcement even if it was the home team. Probably just the pre-season game anyway.