As SPAC concert showed, reality of Phish world doesn’t fit with perception
Last weekend when Phish played at SPAC, one concert attendee died, more than a dozen required hospital treatment and police made over 200 arrests, mostly for drug possession.
On July 3, Jeffrey Brown of the staid PBS Newshour interviewed [guitarist] Trey Anastasio about his interest in classical music, his sense of community with his loyal fans, and his ethic of hard work and discipline that he brings to his career. Welcome to the disconnect between the real world and the media presentation of it.
Phish played concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening [July 5-7]. We didn’t attend any of these concerts, but we were well aware of the increased road traffic, the number of young people wandering about downtown Saratoga, and the campers and makeshift tents along Route 50 between Ballston Spa and Saratoga.
Even more striking was the mess Phish fans left behind. Monday morning [July 8] on the way to the Saratoga YMCA, the parking lot at SPAC was littered with all sorts of trash. Green plastic ponchos festooned the pedestrian bridge connecting the tailgate parking lot with the main parking lot. The tailgate parking lot was covered knee-deep with all kinds of refuse.
Local newspapers reported this week how three different police agencies and the local courts were overwhelmed with work. Most of the arrests were for drug possession — LSD, ecstasy, hallucinogenic mushrooms, hash, ketamine, cocaine, heroin, etc. There were also 50 traffic tickets issued and over 90 violations for offenses like underage drinking.
On the Newshour the previous week, [the] Jeffrey Brown segment included a video of Anastasio in a dark suit playing guitar with Washington’s National Orchestra, Anastasio composing new music in his studio, and even playing with his band on stage.
He mused about the richness of the orchestral sound and his enjoyment playing with classical musicians. He talked about how much time and effort he devotes to his performances. And like any good businessman, he heaped praise on his loyal fans who attend multiple concerts, listen with the wonder of a child’s mind, and form a sense of community with him and his band. (He did not mention his own battle with drugs and participation in rehabilitation.)
How do we resolve these apparent contradictions? One way is to acknowledge the power of money fans bring with them — to smoke, ingest, inject and rain on local and not so local (one arrested drug merchant was from Florida) business folk. Another is to attribute to art the capacity to transcend and transform, especially if aided by chemical supplements. We leave it to you, gentle reader, to decide how to interpret this rich tapestry of local life.
We thank local civil servants for cleaning up most of the physical garbage left behind by the Phishees.
Zlata and Forman Phillips
Media’s noisy cameras a major distraction at ballet
I was interested to see the amazing photographs of the beautiful performance by the New York City Ballet in the July 10 edition, and concur with your July 10 editorial that it is sad that there is only enough interest in ballet hereabouts to pay for part of a week of performances.
The opening night was nothing short of spectacular, and a real treat.
Back to the pictures: there was only one thing that spoiled the performance for me and a fair number of other attendees, and it relates to the activities of your photographer and a number of her professional colleagues.
The press corps were allowed to situate themselves by the control pit in the middle of the auditorium for the opening two dances. Everyone nearby could not avoid being aware of the constant clatter of their noisy cameras, akin to a very loud swarm of cicadas. To this extent I would guess that at least 50 or more attendees, sitting in seats that cost $75 to $80 each, had the early part of the program ruined.
We all realize the need to achieve publicity for the New York City Ballet, but SPAC management and the local journalists need to be aware of the collateral damage that occurred due to the decision to allow these people to use such noisy equipment squarely in the middle of the audience.
When aiding victims, our own must come first
When Gov. Cuomo announced that the disaster areas in New York state would (probably) not receive federal funds, I was thoroughly disgusted — not at Gov. Cuomo, but at our federal government [July 9 Gazette].
How many countries receive money from the United States? Too many. The people, not just from New York but other states, need money to get their lives back on track, whether its from flooding, fires or whatever other disasters that have struck so frequently of late.
It’s about time we put our country first.
Mea culpa doesn’t cut it for Spitzer and others
Mea culpa, Mea culpa! This is your apology, and you, Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner and Kristen Davis [the madame who supplied Spitzer with prostitutes] think you have the road paved to re-enter or enter the political arena [July 8 Gazette]? You have added another huge black mark to the state of New York, not to mention the shame you brought upon your families and, yes, constituency.
How dare you have the arrogance and audacity to believe you deserve or are entitled to a second chance.
Every single politician is usually held to a very high standard. Spitzer, Weiner and Davis chose to diminish themselves, and probably for the most self-serving reasons. Davis should try to understand the psychology prostitution and how it equates to low self-esteem, self-hatred, drug addition, sexual abuse, and often murder. Take a look at criminal records and you may understand.
Forgive these three? My opinion said nay. Second chances require a sincere apology. I read no sincerity, but I did envision power and dollar signs. Very sad if any of this fiasco comes to pass.
Mary Ann Bruno
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