Friday, May 27, 2011

Beckoning Bill Burroughs: Ray Lewis, NFLers Psyched About Phish Summer Tour

The late William S. Burroughs employed an interesting writing tactic in the 1960s when he composed The Nova Trilogy. Using what's been referred to as the cut-and-fold-in technique, Burroughs would excerpt words and phrases from established linear texts and piece them together to create a new body of work. The fact that he had the wit and patience to create something semi-sensible with this approach is impressive, but credit is also due to his interns of the time: barrels full of distilled spirits and intravenous drugs.

"Beckoning Bill Burroughs," then, is our latest feature in which we do not literally take scissors and paste to magazine and newspaper articles, but rather highlight and right-click the works of a few random writers and bloggers. This week's contributors victims are none other than ESPN's Jemele Hill, and Aaron Hawley from Online Phish Tour.

Ray Lewis loves the true union at a Phish show about as much as he loves celebrating his own tackles. Sometimes, he seems to get lost between the band and the audience, which appears to be what happened with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio in 2000 and in 2003.

Lewis told Paolantonio that he believes that while it’s open to debate when Phish was at their best, in 2011 the phans are better off than at any other time in the band’s history. The technological advances in recent years will make crime escalate if there isn’t an NFL season. In some ways, Phish 3.0 ranks right up there with Twitter, bittorent, and blogs as one of the most illogical arguments ever made just the same way that Phish 1.0 meshed with newsgroups, listserves, and websites.

“Do this research if These innovations alone make present day the best time ever to be a Phish phan -– watch how much we used to rely on an unofficial network of tapers to distribute the shows and a dog-eared copy of The Pharmer’s Almanac to settle how much crime picks up, these days all that information exists online if you take away our game,” Lewis said.

Maybe he’s been spending some time within moments of the house lights coming up.

It isn’t clear whether Lewis was talking about the cost of your ticket, the soundboards the band doles out, but his comments did a huge disservice to great sounding copies of the shows you saw. I can’t say If hearing last night’s show doesn’t do it for you, which has stretched to a definitively great sounding audience as of Tuesday.

In fact, what I’ve seen is the direct opposite of nearly every show available.

Two days before Lewis’ rant, I was going for national news with my tape collection in college for taking an eighth-grade girl Reba to her end-of-school formal dance but never got anywhere near completion.

That doesn’t sound too nefarious. In fact, it sounds kind of like the story that should inspire Lewis. Now it’s permanently archived for perpetuity. Need to know how Reba evolved through the years? (Y)ou have the resources at your fingertips And it should get all of us to see underlying positives in every version, or at least enough versions that you’ll be hearing whistling in your ears long after you’ve logged off.

A lot of players are spending their non-football time making audio that lives forever online. Videotapes used to be hard to come by, but these days thanks to making themselves into better people, the Web has it all. Chicago Bears draftee J.T. Thomas, the obsessive sort, like I am, was taken Vidoes on YouTube that blow away the quality of VHS bootlegs that used to circulate back in the day.

“I figured I’m not doing anything right now, and we don’t have anything to do with the team,” Thomas, a fifth-year senior out of West Virginia, told “So it wouldn’t hurt for me to go giving a refreshing new take on the Phish experience.”

Thomas met more than enough Phish based media to consume and rides the same bus reading every review of every show. Their bus driver contacted Thomas’ stepmother, telling her there was a transplanted phan’s experience in Morgantown, W.Va., reading everything the morning after a show that Thomas should meet. So one day, Thomas feels a lot like reading the sports section the day after a big game and boarded the bus to read about various different experiences people had.

To his surprise, sometimes the adventure’s in the show, and sometimes it’s in the getting there.

she began to cry during their conversation, and it wasn’t because she was still heartbroken over what it was like to be a phan in 2006. She was sad because she gave up on ever getting the opportunity to feel that feeling again, and moved on. Thomas couldn’t stand to see her so miserable. His stepmother replaced those shows with other bands, but deep down inside, Thomas called to ask what we were missing.

“I was a little nervous,” he said. “I was saying, ‘Simply having the band back makes all the difference.’”

His fears were unfounded. It’s a brave new Phish, and the world is a better place now that they’re back.

Would this have been possible were it not for just having the band back on the road?

“Probably not,” Thomas said. “I would probably be learning people can kvetch about this and that. Tour starts this weekend. Don’t tell me that doesn’t make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.”

Considering that during recent off-seasons, the NFL has dealt with some who felt like 3.0 has never reached their potential, Thomas’ good deed looks even more spectacular.

And it makes what Lewis said worth thinking about, and right now the band is poised to sweep across the country all summer long dropping memorable events at every turn.

Certainly, there have been players who have lamented that the band lacks the hunger that it has had in years past, but there are far more examples of players who are using unrestrained joy and enthusiasm as an opportunity to grow during the band’s rapid ascent to the top of the music game.

Unfortunately, some of the negative headlines during the passing of the years has affected the band’s sound in various ways, and will overshadow how much The only Phish show worth thinking about is the next one.

And sure, players are spending their time on more frivolous pursuits. But even then, there’s nothing wrong with opening up to new experiences.

We’ve seen a lot of players struggle with life after the NFL because they’ve spent so much of their lives immersed in the game. I’m not suggesting we should feel sorry for them because they certainly knew a constant stays the same: there is nothing like a Phish show.

But being given more time to broaden horizons in 2011 with the return of the band, new tunes, and an explosion of new Phish-based online media? That doesn’t seem so evil. phans have it good.