December 30th started out with me landing in LaGuardia at 9 AM. I quickly met Nancy Seaton, and we started walking from her Brooklyn apartment, across the Brooklyn Bridge, and into Manhattan. I was stoked to use this future high tech "City Toilet." The construction looks like a spaceship in a low budget movie. Further walking brought me to a flea market where I bought a cool metal Dr Pepper sign. "Drink a bite to eat at ten, two, and four!"
After leaving the Queen of the Chipmunks, I wandered off to Madison Square Garden (Yes I walked from Brooklyn to the Garden.). It took some work to find the holodeck gathering, but by standing in front of the bookstore and saying "Holodeck", I managed to make the most important connection of all; Lizzzzzzzzzzzzz had my NYE ticket. (Of course, Mark Goldberg's 12/30 ticket also is worthy of praise, but Lizzzzzzzzz's ticket will come into this story again... :) )
Hmmmmmmm the 12/30 show. A lot of people are down on this show, but I must disagree. Maybe it was just the excitement of travelling, but this struck me as being better than most of the northwest run. The 2001 Theme was much better jammed in the middle and the spacy Kung worked well in the middle of It's Ice. Harry came very close to actually being finished, and came very close to being as good as Spokane's. The 13 minute Scent of a Mule was also quite nice. I was a little bummed when Cavern came to end the second set a little early, however it didn't.. Instead it was followed by... ANTELOPE?!?! Shouldn't this be played on NYE like they have every other year?
The trip back to Chez Seaton was uneventful until I got to her apartment. Her lock had broken recently and it was tough to open her front door. After 30 minutes of struggling with turning the key, I finally got the door to open. When I finally got in, she explained to me that I should have rung the doorbell. Oooops :)
December 31st arrived not with a bang, but with a flood. In attempting to use Nancy's weird plumbing, the drain stopped working. Instead of the water going down the drain, it went onto her floor. I cleaned up the mess as best as I could (not very), tried to reach her at work, but her rotary phone couldn't get past the voice mail hell. Due to the weird schedule of the Long Island Railroad, I had to leave immediately to catch the train to visit Kitty. So I left her apartment (with water still on the floor :( ), and grabbed a subway.
The meeting with Kitty went pretty well. We're pretty dissimilar when it comes to interests, but we seemed to get along ok. One problem came on the way back to Manhattan. I was cutting it pretty close in order to make the show. I had about 90 minutes to play with. Now the LIRR is in two parts. At Huntington you leave the electric train from Manhattan and enter a diesel train. With the opaque windows, bundled passengers, and bleak snowy landscape, it looked like we were heading to work camps, not Stoneybrook. Now on the way back, one more factor was thrown into the mix- unreliability. About a mile from the Huntington station, the train came to a stop. Every now and then it would move a foot or so and then come to another halt. After fifteen minutes of fantasies of missing the show, it suddenly started up again. Whew! :)
Ah the show, what can I say about it? The show started with a bang. Punch you in the Eye followed by The Sloth. After a few solid versions of the classics, a Forbin in which it is explained that Phish control time, followed. Second set included Drown (which must stay in the rotation!!!) and a long amazing Runaway Jim. After calming things down for a bit with Strange Design, Hello My Baby made me worry that that would be the set break. Then came the Mike's Song. This version of Mike's alone made the trip from New York worthwhile, as it was a long melodic version with many peaks and a Dave's Energyguide Jam.
After the Phish Time Control Lab NYE silliness, the version of ALS was quite good and it segued into the missing Weekapaugh. This Weekapaugh might have been even better than the Mike's Song. One thing that people may have missed was the Spooky Jam. I thought Page was going to sing it a la Gunnison, but instead it was just foreshadowing. Afterwards, a YEM (another potential best version I have seen) had a terrifying vocal jam (reminsient of What's Become of the Baby)followed by an evil Sanity and then Frankenstein to close out the set. The encore was another smoking song- Johnny B Goode, and I walked out in shock over what I had seen.
Alas the shock had some bad results. I first went into the E train instead of the A, so I had to change trains. As I got off at the Lafayette stop, I told another Phish fan that so far the trip seemed completely worthwhile, but I was still in NYC and anything could happen. Alas I was right.
Two buildings away from Nancy's apartment I saw a lit thing fly by me. I was about to curse someone for throwing a cigarette at me when there was a loud noise in my left ear. I was painfully deafened by the firecracker that was thrown at me. In a rush to get into the apartment before anything worse got sent into my direction, I turned the key too hard and it bent. I rang the doorbell and rang the doorbell. There was no answer.
Finally I figured that I had to call Nancy. I walked down South Portland and I saw a familar face. Last year at the 12/30 show, I was accosted by someone who wanted to "help me" in exchange for me giving him money. That year I was able to shake him. This year I wasn't. As I walked to the phone, he would NOT go away. All of his attempts to convince me that he was really safe were done in a matter that made me more nervous. And when I called Nancy... no answer. I was truly stuck... until I looked at my clipboard.
As I was kind of worried about getting my NYE ticket, I wrote down the phone number where Marci (the person who hooked me up with Lizzzzzzz's extra) was staying. A quick call there soon gave me a place to stay in the Upper East Side. I still had to shake the guy I was with though. He gave me directions to the subway and insisted on walking with me. Finally as I was about to enter the subway, he said that if I gave him $5 then we would be even since he was "so helpful" (Yeah, helpful in stressing me out.) The implication was that either I pay him the money, or I would pay with my body. I reluctantly gave into the threat.
After grabbing a catnap there, I called Nancy and arranged to go back there and get my plane ticket. It turned out that she had crashed at a friends house. After yelling at me a bit, we made up and I went back to the airport. When I got there I found out that my flight was going to be delayed as "there is weather in Dallas." While I was wondering if I would be able to make my connection, an announcement was made over the loudspeaker. Anyone willing to give up their seat on the flight would get a $300 credit. I was offered a flight through Chicago that would get me home at the same time. Naturally I jumped at the offer. My next trip is free, and while I would like it to be somewhat less eventful than this one, having some adventures is what it's all about.
Read more essays