Run Like an Antelope (Out of Control)

I apologize from the outset to readers who are not–or were not–Phish fans. This post might be hard to comprehend. It’s mostly directed at people who, at some point in time in their lives, let Phish into their hearts; who know what it feels like to have nothing outside of Phish matter.

For me, this era lasted from 1993-1997, with its climax occurring during the Red Rocks shows in the summer of 1994.

For the show’s first night, I convinced my buddy Aaron to make the drive down to Morrison. We got a little buzzed on tequila and a couple bowls, and entered the largely empty amphitheater. The concert was mostly songs from their just-released album “Hoist”–an album that marked a steady transition into more conventional music-making. The night was great, but it wasn’t life-altering. That would be the duty of the second night.

The second show was an all day affair. I hooked up with a bunch of heads to tailgate. We had a keg of beer in the parking lot, then ate a bunch of liberty cap mushrooms shortly before the show.

It’s impossible to convey what happened that night. The band was in their experimental-tripped-out glory. The expanse of sky overhanging the prairies visible from the Red Rocks’ bleachers was punctuated by isolated thunderstorms; bolts of lightening seemed to crack on queue with Trey’s guitar. When “Tela” was played, huge gusts blew from beyond the mountains.

A bathroom stop turned into an epic journey in serendipity. In my incapacity, I lost my party and wandered into the upper seats, which were nearly vacant. A shirtless, dreadlocked dude was dancing his ass off with his old woman. Sensing my aimlessness, he said, “Welcome to our lair. Have some of our nectar.” He handed me a jug of fresh pulped strawberry nectar. I have never tasted anything as delicious before or since.

It was a time when anything seemed possible. When oneness with creation was a realistic goal. When 18 minute jams seemed too short. When I knew what they meant when they instructed “Run Like an Antelope, Out of Control.”

Subsequent “adult” experiences have dampened some of my wonder. I bottomed out on drugs and alcohol, oneness was not achieved in relationships, nothing seemed nearly fast enough for me, etc. But I don’t want to dismiss this era as meaningless. While I don’t eat mushrooms or dose anymore (or listen to Phish for that matter), I may have been closer to the truth then than I am now.

For Phishheads and non-Phishheads alike, consider:

  1. What beliefs have you discarded, believing them the products of youthful naivete? 
  2. What ‘adult’ experiences led you to dismiss these beliefs?
  3. Ask yourself: are the adult beliefs any more valid than the youthful ones? Remember, your experience is not an indication of the truth.
  4. Choose one of those beliefs to incorporate into your day.
  5. Take an action around that belief. 
  6. Run like an antelope, out of control.

 

 

All in All I’m Probably Just Another Brick in The Wall

I'm the brick on the 3rd from top row, right where the K intersects.

In 1994, I was 18 and really into Pink Floyd.  Meddle, Animals, Wish You Were Here, The Wall—I loved them all.  Their songs were elegant, harmonic distillations of my disgust with the world.

Everyone was wrong.  Everyone was a brick in the wall.  No one knew why they were living.  They went to work, ate, drank, married, reproduced because they had been told to do so by the machine.  I had integrity (or at least as much integrity as someone can have while his parents pay rent and stock the refrigerator).  I would never be another brick in the wall.  No one would welcome me into any machine.

When I heard about their concert at Mile High Stadium in June, I made sure I had a ticket.  It would be the summer’s climax.

The day of the concert was a typically beautiful Colorado summer day—dry heat, sun with a little cloud-cover, a late afternoon sprinkle to cool things off.  Before heading down from Boulder, my friends and I ate some mushrooms.  To ensure the full experience of Pink Floyd’s insouciance, I ate a quarter ounce.

I had never been to a stadium show.  It didn’t seem like the best place to experience a concert, but I had faith in the Floyd to maintain their integrity.  Tickets were $80 after all.  How could an $80 show be bad?

My friends and I tailgated before the show, bringing a keg of beer to ease us into our mushroom trips.  Everything was going great until I entered the stadium.  The large spaces, the massive crowds of very brick-like characters, the hawking of t-shirts, the concession stands selling overpriced Coors and cheese-whizzed nachos.  I became immediately disturbed.  Then I found my seat.  It was on the first level, in the last row next to the exit.  Because the seat was deep under the first balcony, I had only a partial view of stage (apparently a large inflated pig came out of the top of the stage, but I didn’t see anything).  Florescent lights flickered overhead.  I couldn’t smoke weed because cops stood next to me throughout the show. Continue reading “All in All I’m Probably Just Another Brick in The Wall”

A Funny Thing Occurred to Me While Tripping on Acid

Drugs were an unspeakable evil as a child growing up in the 80’s.  The “Just Say No” campaign bludgeoned me with fear.  Many of my mom’s friends experienced coke-fueled implosions.  Shane fell off the bridge and got brain damage on Degrassi High.

But my adolescence was an unspeakable evil too.  Without drugs, I was like a cold Chihuahua, thin, shivering, plaintive eyes, tail between my legs.  I walked around certain that no one liked me, unpopular with both sexes.  I offered guys no competition.  I offered women no confidence.  Most of my nights in high school were spent alone watching reruns of Quantum Leap.

Shortly after moving to Boulder, Colorado when I was 16, I was introduced to marijuana.  I was working at a bike shop.  One night after we closed, “Shorty,” a buzz-cut, army-fatigue-wearing, 6’5” Wisconsan, who grew skunk-smelling, crystal laden kind-bud (I’m not sure if they still call it that) lit up a bowl.

I took one puff of Shorty’s weed and was sent into paroxysms of coughing.  When the coughing subsided, I spent the rest of the night in the bike-storage room hallucinating that my parents were at the front of the shop. It was not an auspicious start.

Undaunted, I worked past this initial foreboding experience.  No feelings of near-death and extreme terror were going to deter me from squashing my depression.  Throughout that summer, I learned to love marijuana.  When I started my high school, that love blossomed.

Nancy Reagan lied.  Drugs were great. I spent the next few years continuously high. Continue reading “A Funny Thing Occurred to Me While Tripping on Acid”

32 Points to Freedom

In April of 1998, the two things I was most passionate about—whiskey and my motorcycle—produced an unfortunate, if predictable, collision.

I had just left a concert at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado, after a long day of partying—drinks and barbecue at my friend Todd’s before the show, several more drinks at the show.  I decided a feast of Taco Bell would be the perfect ending on this long, bourbon-soaked day.

I got on my bike and rode a block up 13th Street (the main drag for Boulder’s “Hill” section).  I took a left on College avenue and stopped at the light at Broadway, before taking a right onto Broadway and riding south toward Taco Bell.

I guess I only thought I came to a stop at the light, because a few seconds after turning onto Broadway, bright, unmistakable, blue-and-red lights lit up my backside.

In that moment, I saw two options:

  1. Pay the consequences.  Pull over and get a DUI.  In Boulder this meant plea-bargaining down to a DWAI (driving while ability impaired) because it was my first offense, taking alcohol education classes, doing 24 hours of community service and shelling out around $1500.  I knew these consequences because I was the last of my peers to get one.
  2. Escape.  Grab the clutch, downshift and get the hell away from Johnny Law.  No cops, no court, no money, no classes, no community service, no consequences.

With roughly a mile of straight and clear road in front of me, a motorcycle that could hit 60 in under 4 seconds and ample whiskey coursing through my blood, the decision seemed clear.

Continue reading “32 Points to Freedom”

Advanced Fonzametrics

Standard English Fonzometer. How cool are you?

Arthur “the Fonz” Fonzarelli, was the coolest person to never live.  Nothing affected him.  He was handy.  He knew how to fight.  He rode a motorcycle.  Men wanted to be him.  Women wanted to be with him.
Most of my life, on the other hand, has been decidedly un-Fonzie-like.  I have historically been hypersensitive, copping quick resentments and easily falling into depressive states.  I have been pretty inept with tools for most of my life.  I didn’t (and don’t) know how to fight.  I owned a motorcycle, but it was crashed in a very un-Fonziesque manner.  I have had trouble earning the admiration of men. I have had greater difficulty getting the attention of women.
This lack of inherent Fonzieness didn’t extinguish my ambition to be like the Fonz.  To be cool has been a principle aim for much of my life, often at the extreme detriment to my happiness.
The trouble with being cool is it has made me inflexible.  Cool is an ideology—i.e. a way of behaving driven by an idea.  In my case, the idea that Fonzie knew the answer.  And when you’re an ideologue, you have trouble stepping out of that idea.  Acting within the ideology of cool, I couldn’t be a dork or a whiner or whatever a situation might dictate, even when to do so would save my life. Continue reading “Advanced Fonzametrics”