Tuesday, August 31, 2004

This one goes out to my homey

The chieftain of Craig's Cranny, one of the shrewdest, wittiest dudes I've ever known, a member of one of my favorite families, and the source of many a fine music lead. Best of all, he was my stroke for two or three years during my high school rowing days. I shall never forget the moment he pulled us out of a rut in the heat of 900m race against St. Paul's in Reading, England. "Let's get the hell out of here." Primal excellence, clean victory. I still get chills.

Recently, Craig was at a truly cataclysmic event: the Phinal Phish Phrenzy in Vermont. Without further ado, I give you (most of) his inimitable reportage of that event:

So I'm sure everyone has been wondering "Craig, where ya been?" I'll tell you where I've been, TRAFFIC. For hours. I just so happened to get a ticket to the last Phish show. Yes that event my relatives all saw on CNN and called me about, the very same. The very same show that some people paid in excess of $900 for a single ticket. I didn't pay nearly that much (get ‘em early, get ‘em cheap). But it was a pretty swell event, despite the debacle of getting there. . .

9:30AM 8/13/2004 - Yes, Friday the 13th, not a good way to start out an epic adventure. We leave Burlington, VT, ... [and back] roads are chosen for our journey as we've already heard that the traffic to the venue in Coventry, VT is already backed up on the main highways. Keep in mind that this is Friday morning, and the concert doesn’t start until Saturday night and the traffic is already backed up for miles on the highway. We manage to drive within about 5 miles of the event gate and we stop. It's only backed up about 3 miles, how long could it possibly take to go 5 miles? The answer is 10 hours. Stop and go for 10 hours, but its not really stop and go. Its more like roll 20 feet and shut the car off, take a nap for 30 minutes, start the car and repeat. And its raining the whole time.

At one point I thought it would be a good idea to use a payphone at a gas station that we were stopped next to to check my voicemail.... While Im paying $.80 for a phone call back to Burlington the traffic begins to move. ... It took me well over an hour to walk along the highway in the rain to finally get to my car. ...

6:00PM 8/13/2004 - Finally making it to the event gates our car was "searched" as they said they would. ... The extent of the search of my car was limited to a guy looking through my window, asking me a few questions, making a few wise cracks, and then leaving for the next car. ... So we eventually get to the place where we're supposed to park, a giant mud pit. The guy directing traffic just tells me to "gun it", and I'm immediately stuck, wheels spinning. So I get out and ask if its OK to park there, he replies "no, you'll have to move it." I could tell this guy was a real achiever.

Luckily just then a local farmer was rolling by on his tractor, and I got him to pull me out of the mud pit and on to some semi-solid ground. That's where the car would remain for the next two days (see pictures). Much to my dismay when I turned the car on, the "Check Engine" light was on and the "Cruise Control" light was flashing on and off. Bad news if you ask me, but I wasn’t about to call AAA and have them try and find me in a field in rural Vermont amongst 60,000 other cars. I can imagine the conversation.....

AAA "AAA, what can I do for you?"

Me "Well Im stuck and having some trouble with my car"

AAA "What kind of trouble, and how are you stuck?"

Me "Hmmm...where do I start. Im in a mud pit stuck up to the axles and there's lights flashing on the dashboard"

AAA "That doesnt sound good....Where are you at, maybe we can send a truck out to pull you out?"

Me "Im parked in a field in the middle of nowhere in rural Vermont"

AAA " ....click....dial tone....."

If you knew Craig's voice, and his deadpan narrative style, you too would be dying in laughter on the floor with me!

We managed to get the tent up on a grassy spot and finished Friday the 13th, finally.

...It seemed like our parking spot was just about "Ground Zero" for the mud pits, but we heard over the radio that a lot of people were getting turned away and were told to go home. I guess they didn’t really like that idea, and about 5000 people just ditched their cars on I-91 and walked the last 15 or so miles to the venue. Now that's dedication.

Not to mention an act of religious devotion in most corners of the world.

I don’t think there's any other band past or present that could 1) sell out 70,000 tickets to a one band festival in about a week or 2) have the fans that would risk losing their cars and walking 15 miles to a concert after waiting over 30 hours in traffic. Pretty amazing. The performance had some good parts and some weak parts overall. I ended up about 5th row for the first night. They played for close to 5 hours during the three sets. The second night was good as well, lots of mud, some muddy playing, but overall pretty good.

Getting out of the venue wasn't too bad. ... I got home around 4:30AM Monday morning, and I heard on the news that a lot of people didnt even leave the venue due to traffic until Tuesday afternoon.

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