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Columns > Dean Budnick - From the Editor

Published: 2008/10/10
by Dean Budnick

Not Necessarily So Much About Phish (Necessarily)

Hey, I have some breaking news for you, Phish is coming back!

Oh, you’ve heard that already, sorry

Come to think of it, not only have you heard it but you’ve likely received your share of emails from longtime friends and associates who are SO OVER PHISH. These folks have proclaimed loudly and proudly that they’re disinterested in the Hampton shows, disinclined to attend and please stop asking them if they’re going, thank you very much.

Well feel free to bring any of those individuals right on over, because this month’s editorial most assuredly will not focus on Phish.

I must say though that I have been struck by the number of people inspired to bellow about their alternative plans for the weekend of March 6, 2009. Frankly, given my penchant for calling audibles on just about any occasion that requires me to triangulate the position of my car keys, I have some measure of admiration for anyone able to elucidate on the particulars of their Phish-free weekend 145 days into the future.

So with a nod to all of those oft-repeated and unsolicited declarations by those individuals who are SO OVER PHISH, I hereby pledge that for the remainder of this piece, the band will for all intents and purposes be relegated to a relative footnote.1

Speaking of Phish though, maybe I’m going a bit Gatsby here, borne back ceaselessly into my tinnitus-inducing past, but I must concede that as a native New England boy, I have had a more intimate relationship with the music of Phish than with any other band. What’s more, in 1996, I wrote a book that reveled in Phish musical minutiae (apparently said book can be yours for a penny- plus shipping- via your favorite online secondary sellerbtw, if you visit Amazon, that’s not actually the cover of the book, it’s a test cover that my publisher eventually dropped in favor of the one that appears on the Barnes & Noble site). Frankly, my favorite part of writing the book (since you asked, thank you very much) was the research, which I approached as the dutiful History of American Civilization doctoral candidate that I was in 1996. I listened to about 2000 hours of Phish in chronological order, much of it in between classes cranked up through headphones on Cambridge sidewalks, which, now that I think about it, may have played a role in my tinnitus diagnosis (as did a lack of ear protection at shows, a column for a future date).

This editorial, however, has little to do with tinnitus (directly), although such a topic might well prove acceptable to those folks who don their burnished, self-designed Badges of Honor in order to identify themselves as SO OVER PHISH.

You see, here’s the thing. I recognize that tastes change and vary. It’s certainly fine if someone is SO OVER PHISH (just as I think it’s fine if someone was, neverumm under Phish in the first place). Plus, as I’ve suggested, I’ve been through this before. I can remember all those gradual steps through the venues, from clubs to theaters to arenas, where certain folks lamented “They’re not our Phish anymore.” I also recognize that this is a curious time, as Phish’s recent announcement carried some measure of mainstream media respectability, an off-putting prospect in its own right within certain circles. Plus, of course, there is that whole “Cooler than thou,” “Back in the Day” cultural capital mentality at work here as well.

However, I’ll tell you though, it just feels like something’s slightly different here. I have the sneaking suspicion that the inner geek lives. I believe that many people are hollering that they are SO OVER PHISH PHISH PHISH because deep down it provides them with a giddy glee once again to yell PHISH PHISH PHISH.

Or it seems to me, as I beat on against the current, thinking not necessarily so much about Phish.


1With a nod to my onetime college debate opponent, the late David Foster Wallace.

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