Oh Joy!
2000-09-20 || conquering New Jersey
A friend of mine recently told me to put thins in here for some reason. The second time I did Phish tour by myself, I wrote all of this down, and yeah...here buddy.


The lure of the road has always captured me. Time and again I�ve gone on these excursions whether alone driving to the next state, or with a friend to a concert in New Jersey, or just aimlessly driving with a companion on the streets I know by heart in Massachusetts. One thing has always been consistent though, well, two things: You need good music, and you really need to be in the right state of mind. Not that I follow any �Zen-driving� guidelines (I�ve never been able to understand the concept of Zen thought, as you�re not supposed to anyway-so perhaps this is all a practice in just that), or some spiritual need for open road, but I really love the romanticism of the road trip. This possibly stems from reading Kerouac books when I was younger or seeing Easy Rider over and over.

The summer previous to the following trip, I went on a road trip to follow my favorite rock band, Phish. Their improvisational philosophies have played a key part in my personal music ventures, as well as in day to day life. I don�t really enjoy having things planned out, and I love things that are unexpected, or, unplanned. Granted I was pretty strict on my planning for last years� trip, as well as this one. But that was just with hotels, and general routes.

I was to leave on July 3rd for a trip I thought would take me from Boston to Maryland, to North Carolina, to Virginia, to Maryland, to New Jersey, back home, then to New Jersey, and then end in upstate New York. This didn�t happen as planned, for the same reasons, ironically, as why I decided to go at the majority of it alone.

I think everybody deserves a vacation from time to time. I always try and set a vigorous regiment of work ethics for myself whether it�s in my actual job or just a random �project� I happen to be working on. So I worked myself to death before leaving for this years trip just so I would enjoy myself more when I didn�t have to be at work. I�m pretty sure this backfired.

June 30, 1999

Romeo is Bleeding-Tom Waits

Leaving in 3 days from right now. Any fears of getting lost, not having enough money, breaking down, etc. can be dealt with now, so as to not ruin the trip with worrying. It�s been a great week, great prelude to this summers outing. Last evening I was with someone I really enjoy being around that I haven�t seen in a few years, or hung around with anyway. I�m in better spirits than I was last year when I left. Although I feel this need to �escape�, I have no clue what from�I guess the same red lights, the same voices and faces, the same bed, I see every day.

July 1, 1999

Children of the Grave-Black Sabbath

People just don�t fucking get it. I really can�t believe I actually just wrote last night how I was in good spirits, etc. Tonight was another example of why most people are just ridiculous; I�ve lost any hope in the people around here. They make a lot of fucking noise, yet there�s no substance coming out of their mouths, or shred of honesty, or respect for others ideas and whatnot. One of the few people I�m going to miss around here, isn�t even from this country ( ! ). Most of the other people I see or talk to on a day to day basis I will miss also, but, I�m not gonna worry about it. I�m pretty fed up with the whole �nice guy� thing nowadays. Perhaps I�ll get lost in the woods next week.

July 5, 1999-Waynesboro, VA

Salt Peanuts- Charlie Parker

3 days into this trip and I�m already bored out of my brain. Today I slept, watched television, slept, and discovered a soda can had exploded in the parked car. Possibly because it was 104 degrees today. Watching television is such a trip, it�s funny that some of the people I know pretty well, and consider pretty intelligent folks watch a lot of television; even the shows that are supposedly �clever� or whatnot, it still falls into giving people what they want to see. Just because you put an obscure reference in here and there doesn�t make it any funnier when Homer Simpson falls down a flight of steps. Even the documentaries you see on these �specialty channels� are trite and all seem to follow the same formula. �When we return, our subject falls into a world of drugs and treachery��, or �When we return we will see why the monkey likes to climb trees�. It�s all to satisfy the masses, and again, I feel sorry for anyone who puts themselves through more than an hour of television a week.

There�s absolutely nowhere to get coffee in this town, and the woman at the hotel desk looked at me like I had eight heads when I asked where I could get coffee. Maybe because of the temperature�I�ve resorted to the gas station (who are �all out of covers honey� right now), and the market for those Starbucks in a bottle thingys�which aren�t very good I might add.

The highlight so far has been the Skyline Drive, which was basically 105 miles of winding roads through mountains and trees. I don�t think I�ve ever seen anything like it, and feel like I�ve now seen another one of the United States� most beautiful areas. I decided to shut off the air conditioner in the car, as it seemed ridiculous in the face of the awe inspiring surroundings to just see everything, and not smell and feel it. I�m sure I still wouldn�t have impressed Emerson though; as I was driving a car, and drinking Dr. Pepper out of the can. None of the ride got boring or tired, even if you were only allowed to go 35-45 mph.

Tomorrow I see friends from home in North Carolina; this is good because they�re two of the few people I actually enjoy seeing a lot.

July 6, 1999- Kannapolis, NC

Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles- Captain Beefheart

Thunder and tornado warnings in the afternoon called for a night stuck in the hotel after my friends left. I think I watched a movie but I can�t even remember at this point. Had a good time in the day when I got here, they met me, we went out for food, and then drove around the area in which the race car track was the highlight. We were stuck in a coffee place for a while, as the weather eased up. I really enjoy sitting in these random places and watching people. I�ve grown tired of this new hip thing going on where it�s the �in� thing to mock poor people, or �white trash� folks if you will. In my eyes people are the same no matter where you go, they all have the same hang ups, and same problems whether they are wearing Doc Marten shoes, or work boots. Anyway, the people down here are more real, there�s no stupid attitude, there�s no fashion show going on. If you�re judging people because of circumstantial things like where they grew up, or how they were raised then you�re no better yourself.

July 7, 1999 Chesapeake, VA

Caravan- Duke Ellington

Tonight I stayed in the same place I stayed last year when I was here. I remember getting drunk here and calling my friend and talking to her for a while, while listening to Kiss on my cd player. This time I made it there late in the afternoon and went immediately to the record shop I went to last year and found some great jazz CD�s I�ve been buying from this particular series (Chess Records okay!). I talked with the punk rock boys behind the counter for a while about punk rock, etc. and then explained I would be late for the Phish show if I didn�t get a move on it. One of the best things about traveling is the random people you talk to along the way. I�m always dying to tell them I�m �all the way from Boston�. As much as I love a lot of these cities and towns I see and pass through I don�t think I want to leave Boston ever. There�s something very comfortable about it, and I love that I can never get lost there, even if I tried to.

The end

I saw the band for the second time last night, after sitting in a traffic jam I didn�t expect , I arrived at the show late missing the first song, which set me off. As they were doing something with the song they never did before, between the heat, and the enormous crowd I frustratingly made it to a spot on the lawn. I was looking around feeling very alone. I can�t explain how one feels alone amongst 30,000 people, but I felt very out of place, old, and generally unsatisfied with how my trip was so far. Lot�s of waiting, lot�s of aggravation, and general disdain for humanity. I was supposed to meet some friends there before the show, but that never happened which was also frustrating. I left the show during the encore because I didn�t want to sit in traffic, I wanted to just return to the hotel and watch the tv with the cd player on. The phone rang at half past midnight and I didn�t answer it, I didn�t want to see anyone. I thought for a minute it may be my mother calling to tell me of some sort of emergency, I still avoided it and shut the light out thinking my friends might be coming to the door at any moment. The phone rang again and again, so I threw a towel over it to muffle the sound and went to sleep �early�.

The next morning I was on my way to Baltimore, Maryland to see my next show. I stopped at the coffee shop just around the corner from the hotel. I was in line and still pretty much on my way to see the band that night a few hours away. I remembered the traffic nightmare the year before where I was going. On my way out to the car I decided to go home. I grabbed my sheet of paper with all of my hotels and plans and called my next couple of hotels and cancelled them. It was ten in the morning. Fourteen hours later I pulled into my driveway. I drove straight from Virginia Beach all the way to Boston. I don�t think I�ve ever been happy to see New Jersey, or New York, but I was very happy. I went and searched my friends out, found them within minutes, and kind of made a surprise visit to a little gathering they were having. I explained I wasn�t going to see Phish in Boston that week, or to New Jersey and New York like I was supposed to. I had had enough of crowds, and that was that.

I went to the two shows in Boston with my friends and had a great time, seeing my favorite band, but being with friends made it even better. I could discuss what happened on stage and things like that. I also went to New Jersey for two nights.

I�ve never had a good experience in New Jersey. From the first time I was here in 1989 seeing the Grateful Dead walking within inches of cars and trucks drunk on the New Jersey Turnpike, to the time five years later when I couldn�t find my hotel after three hours of driving on the street past the supposed address. I wrote New Jersey off, thinking it was a waste, it would always win. I just always stayed away. Last year when I went away, I drove about seven hours out of my way just so I didn�t have to touch it. I don�t know what it was this year that made me want to give it another go, especially after the disastrous time I had earlier on my trip.

It turned out good and bad I guess. I made it down to my hotel with absolutely no problems. I had a new found energy, and was just ready to dive right into this fucking place and destroy it. Perhaps because I was reading Mishimas� Sun and Steel for the tenth time. That book always gives me confidence to do anything. I had two days and two shows left on my trip. I was also to meet an old friend to trade a ticket to the last show I was supposed to see in upstate New York for some high quality pot. I found a Starbucks immediately in the phone book when I got there, and made my way down there for some coffee. The show that night was easily the best show I�ve ever seen the band play, I was very close, and the music was �on�. I went back to the hotel happy. The next day I kind of reprised what I did in Virginia, I was driving my car to the show, maybe two exits before the venue, I got off and turned the car south. I drove back to the hotel and contemplated driving down to Atlantic City to gamble on my last night of vacation. I had never been to a casino before in my life. What a trip it was. Seeing the glare of the lights from the distance gave me a very creepy feeling for some reason. This is where they suck the money out of your pockets. I picked whatever casino sounded the best and walked in no knowing what to expect. The sound of all of the talking and slot machines had a sedating feeling on me as I walked through watching all of these people spend their money. I was too stoned to deal with any sort of human contact, so I sat at some slot machines and gambled until four in the morning or so. Hypnotized by the lights and hum of all the machinery I was up a lot of money at one point, and walked out of the place with enough money for a cup of coffee on my lonely drive back to the hotel. Right next to my car were a man and a woman in their late forties or so kissing against a car. When I got in the car I could see his hands going down her pants and gave a chuckle as the guy looked like a warped version of whomever that Frasier guy is on TV. I would sleep two hours or so, and then drive back home for good.

New Jersey still felt the same, but I had dealt with it successfully. The people there have an attitude similar to Boston. Don�t bother me, I won�t bother you. I took this as a comfort and knew what to do from there. I don�t think I�ll ever go back there though. Atlantic City is a very depressing place, although it may have been the hot night outside, who knows. The best things on my trip were the lonely hotel rooms, the Blueridge Parkway in Virginia, and seeing the band. Everything else I can easily forget.

Next year, I go to the midwest and try that instead.

before & after