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Columns > Randy Ray - Peaches En Randalia

Published: 2009/03/26
by Randy Ray


Peaches En Randalia #37
It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. – W. Churchill, this time referring to Russia, in a radio broadcast, October 1939
Guess I am supposed to talk about Phish here.
Nine little obvious words before the onslaught of unpredictability, eh?
Never one to follow directions, and this column hasnt been assigned to the specific realm of our reunited heady heroes, but it feels appropriate to talk about Phish since this is March 2009, and the Phab Phour just played their first gigs since August 2004.
Of all the feedback I have received in regards to my three Phish at Hampton reviews98% positive, and the 2% negative was more than justified due to my occasionally sloppy non-linear prose which begets hyperbole and theatricsI am most surprised that those that have followed my work, and chimed in with me, missed something critical. At the end of the review run, I guess the truth sort of came out of me from some deep cavern: one of lifes little artistic pleasuresguilty, or otherwise, depending upon ones ability to explain the unexplainable to the uninitiated cultural masseshas finally returned, and Phish appear ready and willing to play a hell of lot of good material to those that desire such a thing in 2009 and beyond.
Why did I say that last part as if Phish were some abstract OBJECT, out on the road, ready to continue the psychedelic circus shows for one and all? Wasnt I part of that traveling THING that I should desire? Why is my conclusion so aloof? Well, I write to find questions. Im not one that is looking for answersintellectual curiosity, for me at least, means that one should become less brain-y and metaphysically definitive as the hourglass of ones life sheds grains of sand. Huh?! I write from a basis of mystery, wade into its onionesque essence, and try to come out with some sort of refined point of view. Sometimes, that means I know more than I did before I began writing. Sometimes, less.
At Hampton, I had no idea what to expect. I had successfully cleared my mind of any debilitating barriers that would keep me from enjoying myself at the reunion gigs. A day-long trip on Thursday, March 5 helped. What was even more curious was that I refused some fresh and weighty tomes that usually fortify my mind during lengthy air flights, and, instead, watched a couple of movies, and zoned out at an altitude of 30,000 plus.
To be sure, these were my first sober Phish shows, so that helped clean out the cluttered vault devoted to the band originally heralding from Vermont. Safe bet to say these were Phish frontman Trey Anastasios first sober shows, as well. Standing next to the rail between Anastasio and keyboardist Page McConnell, I couldnt help but think that this
band had returned to settle some old scores, and continue writing new chapters to bolster their legendary legacy. However, I never thought the word closure would pop up in my mind, and thankfully, it didnt in Virginia. Instead, a calm sort of eternal bliss settled over me as if the passing from one era to another somehow now made sense.
And keeping the mystery intact, I wrap up this brief bit of musing, by stating that some of us may feel like we have climbed the mountain, reached the summit, and can now walk safely back down the other side, knowing that the band we have loved for so many years, through mind-blowing sets filled with extraordinary music, through toxic misadventures filled with mindless euphoria, and through the thick of the 90s and the thin of the 00s, has finally returned to their throne. They were and always will be a band called PHISHfour equal musicians, who are also life-long friends, playing as one unified group. Whether one chooses to follow the new chapters written with sonic conviction from Hampton to Shoreline is moot. What remains is clear and true and honest, and the story continues, with or without any particular seasoned veteran along for the ride. Much like the rapidly aging Dead Heads, we are EVERYWHERE, but that doesnt necessarily mean we includes any specific you or me.
Ahhhat last. I may have found the next question on my quest for momentary clarity: guess I am supposed to talk about the lack of collective personality of this new entityeither emanating from the band, its organization, or its many fans. I will leave that to others, for now, as I sit back and watch All the Presidents Men for the umpteenth time. Hal Holbrooknow, THERE was a fine American artist. Great line uttered by the ancient thespian in the film: I’ll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that’s all. Just…follow the money. He played Deep Throat, and the real Deep ThroatW. Mark Feltis gone now, but even the Dead know this equation.
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