Conflicted About the Residency

I’ll state right from the beginning, I’ve already checked out airfare and Air BnB prices around New York. I’ll admit too that Madison Square Garden is a bucket list venue for me, especially when it comes to Phish. I’d love to see the Knicks play there as well, but it is right on the Mecca-level when it comes to Phish. So, it isn’t like I hate the idea of 13 shows at the Garden come this summer.

I get why the band is doing it as well. Trey is on record saying the band was going to take it a bit easier this summer and short of not touring at all (eek! bite my tongue!) staying put for the better part of a month, where at least Trey lives no less, seems pretty good to me. I also can’t imagine the money will be bad and if Phish is going to do a residency anywhere, New York is pretty much the most logical choice.

The truth is though, I can’t go, unless I hit the lottery. Even then I’m not sure. It isn’t just the money, though that’s a big part of it, no doubt. The time involved is kind of hard as well. Going to a local show is a lot less of a hassle. Also it isn’t just my life getting rearranged, but my wife and kids too.

Now there are rumors that there will be something of a summer tour in June and July and they almost assuredly will be coming to the Chicago area in that case. If they don’t, it will make for a less enjoyable summer. That’s probably what’s at the heart of all of this. Since 2009 and 3.0, Phish has been a part of the summer. A little nostalgia, a lot of good music and a predictable routine. If Phish prides itself on anything, however, it’s being unpredictable. There’s always couch tour.

(Wow. This really has become a bit of a Phish blog:-) could be worse.)

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One Last Trip to NYC.

Went to New York for the weekend and I’m not sure when I’ll be heading back. My sister who currently lives there is moving to London soon. I’ve talked about my love of New York before, yet here I am again, telling you about more things I love. Actually chalk that one up to what I love too, I’ve been there many times and yet everything I did on this trip was new. The first thing my sis and I did was visiting the birthplace of Theodore Roosevelt. It was a grand Victorian brownstone that was impeccably restored. It was quite a testament to the work of curators, public historians and especially the rangers who staff the tours and the front desk. We got a private tour of the residence and our guide was like every ranger I’ve encountered, incredibly knowledgeable of his or her subject. My sister said I really should cop to the fact that I’m an historian, but what fun is that? Anyway, TR’s house is something to check out in New York. It gives get insight into the life he led before the cowboy transformation, just great stuff. If the cowboy stuff is your thing, however, never fear they have tons of artifacts on display from his cowboy, roughriding and presidency days so you won’t be disappointed. Oh one more thing, it’s all free.

Speaking of rangers, the ranger we had on the second day was equally knowledgeable but man, was she awesome. She was the great high school teacher every kid should have teaching them, enthusiastic, energetic, engaging (nice alliteration there if I do say so myself.) We took a tour on Ellis Island with our ranger and we toured the island and all of the important rooms of the facility. Afterward, a great exhibit on the Nisei during World War Two is running through October, well worth the trip. Oh and that costs all of twelve dollars, which is basically payment for the transportation to the island. If so inclined, that same twelve bucks gets you to Liberty Island, home of the Statue of Liberty. We decided to skip Lady Liberty and went straight to Ellis, either way, a really great afternoon and cheap taboot.

The theme of this post seems to be New York on a dime, so I should mention a place that we went to lunch, Lombardi’s Pizzeria. It was awesome, to put it bluntly. A great thin crust pizza isn’t hard to find in New York, but this is some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. Truth be told, I’m very fond a place called Patsy’s, but I think Lombardi’s has it beat; the deciding factor was the crust. It was crispy, but not overdone and had a great salty flavor. Also the use of real pepperoni is always a plus for me, the kind that curls up under the heat and has a little puddle of grease in the middle, heavenly. I could stand a little more sauce, but seeing how almost no pizzerias have enough sauce for me, I think I’m in a minority here.

The last thing to mention about this trip is a visit to the new Yankee Stadium. I went to the old Stadium and mentioned that the Yankees, the premier team of baseball, should play in a palace. Well this place is pretty damn close to that. Everything is sparkling and new, the seats were perfect, the scoreboard was amazing and everywhere I walked I could see the field and keep tabs on the game. It was kind of funny that we had the last seats in our section, the handicapped seats. I felt a little weird next to the guy in the rascal and the girl with a limp, but we offered to move if need be and we weren’t the only ones who weren’t disabled so…extra leg room for everybody! The White Sox really need to up the ante on their scoreboard. The Yankees are only the latest in the superboard, but the technology is out there and the White Sox are terribly outdated at this point. The food was pretty good too. One can still get a Nathan’s dog, but why would you want to when there is so many better options available. I went for the spicy Italian sausage and had a great pretzel. Sorry US Cellular but your pretzels pale in comparison.

A couple of disappoints at the Stadium and I’m sure that this is akin to spitting on the flag, or at least booing the Seventh Inning Stretch at Wrigley, but Yankees, seriously, you can’t hire a singer for the National Anthem? Really? There’s what, about 1 million out of work singers in New York, waiting tables and doing lame cabaret nights and you can’t spring for a live singer? Come on. My friend has made comments about the White Sox fans not clapping at two strikes. I admit it is cool when you hear it at the Stadium, but talk about a let down, the new spiffy scoreboard is PROMPTING the fans to clap. I know I know it was never the case at the old stadium, but now the bells and whistles and fan-o-meter no less have invaded Yankee Stadium. The scoreboard prompting also leads to this observation: Yankee Stadium is a tourist attraction. There were a lot of brand new jerseys, t-shirts, hats and other things that were probably bought that day. Sorry, but if your Jeter t-shirt still has the hanger marks and the hat you’re wearing doesn’t even have a crease in it, I’m not convinced you’ve been a lifelong fan.

Two last things to mention about the Stadium, and really the Yankees, that I found kind of funny, if not a little disappointing as a matter of entertainment. First, the Yankees come out to an extraordinarily lame song and presentation. It’s some weird mash-up of “Welcome to the Jungle” and AND, the “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” dude. What, Black Eyed Peas, “Let’s Get It Started” was too expensive? Feel the need to bring us back to 1989? And may no Yankee fan ever give another person crap about scoreboard graphics. They use phrases from John Sterling after a Yankee player does something good. Each time Cano got a hit, a graphic with, “Don’tcha Know, Robbie Cano!” came across the screen. I think the price of a ticket should free a person from all things Sterling.

So there you have it, my last visit to New York, at least for a while. I’m a little bummed about that, really. I agree with Anthony Bourdain who says that there are only a few real cities in the United States, and New York is by far the most cosmopolitan. Or like my former pastor liked to say about traveling, “Cities are my mountains.”