Phish New Years Run (Scuba Diving) Miami, FL - 12/30/03
Miami Travel Blog› entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
Despite partying past 4 a.m. on the 29th, a few members of our crew were committed to a scuba trip in Miami on the 30th and I figured I’d tag along. My brother and Josh, both certified divers, had never dove together. Living 2,500 miles apart (and neither in warm climates), they couldn't figure a better time to share a dive. Scuba diving between Phish shows? Does it get better than that? They had to find out for themselves.
I woke up on the 30th expecting to want to bail on the trip (having no qualifications/credentials or experience and serious butterflies in my stomach) but found myself surprisingly excited and ready to go. We were picked up at noon for a 6-hour trip to visit the Atlantic.
Across Key Biscayne we traveled to get to small dive boat with 25 others, many in Miami for the Phish shows. We chatted about the shows as the boat headed toward a shipwreck a few miles off the coast of Miami--I was going to do my first wreck dive!
The surf was rough and the ship was rocking, but they jumped in to sink just below all the churning and froth. I was still a bit nervous and feeling a little sea sick, so I decided to hang back for a minute and catch a breather before going in. Little did I know it was only going to get worse.
They said the wreck dive was awesome. The World War II-era navy ship had been sank in the Seventies, and the skyline was visible from the surface. Jordan and Josh buddied up and followed the rope down to the hull of the vessel.
All along the bottom was blue, grey, and black. There was little life to be seen, other than a few small creatures--and friends--swimming by. Apparently Josh’s air dwindled, and he was forced to swim up. Though he felt fine in the water, one step onto the boat, and his perception went wrong. He dropped his empty tank and threw up off the side of the boat. Oh well, I figured to let the fish feed upon the morsels he happened to drop. But this was just the beginning for him & me both. I have no stomach for that sort of vision as well.
I sat in the sun at the deck of the boat, trying to recapture the energy I had at the day's start.
The waves of sickness came and went. At one point I was bonding with a fellow Vermonter over the Radio City Ghost. Then a minute later I was dry heaving uncontrollably at the front of the boat. Repeat, rinse, repeat. My body evacuated itself until I was heaving an unknown, glowing green substance. Without hyperbole, I threw up no fewer than 50 times and possibly more than 100. My guts knotted as they sored from the stress.
Back on land, I kissed the Earth and considered NEVER attempting scuba diving EVER again entirely. Eventually (like w/any hangover you vow to never drink again, it passes and sure enough you’re back at it again) it became a long lost memory and it was something I would try again few years later and this time successfully.
We didn't get back until 6:45. My friends were heading to the show, but I needed rest. The bed wasn't moving and the room wasn't rocking, and I liked it.
After 10 minutes of a calming Seinfeld, I hopped in the shower. I was so dizzy that I had to brace myself on the walls to keep from tipping. I was in bad shape.
Still, I never had any doubt about making the show (I got in at 7:55).
After sitting a few rows up on Mike side for the show on the 28th and in center for the 29th, it was my turn to sit Page side.
I hadn't digested any food since the previous day's sushi, and I was in a bit of shock from the day's events. By all reasoning, I should have been lying in bed watching more reruns of Seinfeld. Yet Phish tapped an energy source I didn't know existed.
From the Wilson opener to the killer Bathtub Gin > 2001 (with P-Funk teases), I felt no trace of the nausea that had afflicted me for most of the day.
The middle of that set featured a rare Weigh, a roaring Scent of a Mule, and the Talking Heads cover, Cities.
For the second set I joined Andrew (Ziggy) a section over. Ziggy had moved to China and hadn't seen a Phish show in four years.
Andrew and I turned to each other in shock as Tube segued into the Doors' LA Woman. Ziggy had been abroad for a while, but he knew something unusual was happening. Indeed, LA Woman segued into Birds of a Feather and then back into LA Woman.
Coincidentally, only weeks before the Miami trip Marcus has sang an inspired rendition of LA Woman at a SoHo karaoke bar.
The madness of 12/30/03 II was just beginning with the whole LA Woman insanity.
Phish introduced George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic midway through the Makisupa Policeman to infuse the set with some serious funk, old-school style. (See pic left).
On stage with Phish was a man with colored dreads and a week-old mug shot for smoking crack; a fully grown black man wearing diapers; and a teenage boy with Down syndrome dancing like mad.
Among the jams, Clinton rapped Booty Ain't Nothing But a Butt, Get Off Your Ass and Jam, Give Up the Funk, P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up), and One Nation Under a Groove.
Then Fishman did a line from The Doors' Touch Me a Capella. It was just that kind of night.
During the 12/28 show, I recognized the kid a row in front of me that i met at another Phish festival earlier that year simply dubbed "IT". His name was Matt, and he was in the picture in the middle of my IT Blog, wearing the alligator hat. The afro was unmistakable. I had recognized him from tour, and we'd shared Phish experiences at the northern tip of Maine and southern Florida. He happened to be in the row in front of me on 12/30 as well, and I was able to take a picture of him before the show's end. See pic right.
It was pretty wild seeing Andrew again. The New York-raised, Oberlin-graduated old-school Phishhead had made a solid life for himself in China. He had a good job, a girlfriend, and a pet. He had built himself a great situation with some devotion and motivation.
It wasn't too long ago that he was preparing for his Chinese exam in the hotel at Hampton in 1997. Everyone else was raging around him, but Ziggy was cramming vocabulary in the corner of the room. It was 3 a.m. in Virginia, and the test was at noon in Ohio.