Reports from behind the lines in the Coventry 'Green-Zone'

Day 1 - Wednesday
Day 2 - Thursday
Day 3 - Friday
Day 4 - Saturday
Day 5 - Sunday AM

Greetings from behind the lines.


It was nigh on 5 O'Clock and people were ready
for the band to start playing. They were packed
in around the stage and on up the hill. This was
it. The final gig, forever. (well at least until
the 'Big Reunion Tour' in, oh let's say 2009)
The band took the stage.

They started their opening number. Within 20 seconds
there was a visible haze of smoke rising about the
mass of Phishheads in front of the stage.

People were movin, and groovin. But I'd had enough.
I started for the gate and headed home.

Hey what do you want from me. I told you I'm not
a fan. Of the music. I didn't feel like hanging
around anymore.

I KNOW it was there last gig forever.
But if I'm not a fan of the music why would
I stick around and listen to it anyway? I guess
it's kind of like the mountain climbing Zen Buddhist
who has the strength to turn around 50 feet from
the summit of Mt Everest and head back down.

Except, hey wait a minute, I don't need any strength
to do this, hey I'm tired, exhausted, I want to go home.
I'm not here for the band. I couldn't name all 4 of them
if my life depended on it. And the music is just
boring to me. I don't get it. Like what's with that
"Summer's comin and I'd like a review" thing they
played to death on the radio last year. It drove
me nuts. Although I think it was a solo effort by
the Trey guy. Still I found it annoying as hell.

Maybe it's like opera and classical music and ballet.
I don't take the time to learn about it so therefore
I don't know enough about it. But who has time to learn
about Phish's music? It's 20 years too late.

So quit buggin me. I'm going home.

Actually I do like their latest single "The Connection"
They're playing the hell out of it this summer
on the radio. And I still like it.

So I headed out the gates and tried to decide how
I was going to get home. It was 6 miles back on the
pavement down RT. 5. The shortcut through the woods
required retracing my steps through the campsite and
I just couldn't bear the thought of treking through
the mud again.

As I was trying to make up my mind this group
came up to me and asked the best way to get
back to their vehicle down in Irasburg on RT.5
(I guess they'd had enough also, see it's not just me)
I told them to head south on Airport Rd. and keep
going till they hit RT. 5. After I thought about it
a little I decided to go the same way. A nice slow,
long walk through the cool evening to untangle my brain
would be the perfect ending to the day.

OK just one more thing before I leave the site here.
Earlier as I was watching the crowd enter the concert
site through the gates I was surprised to meet someone
who I know. Viola Poirier is Chairwoman of the Coventry
Village School Board, of which I am also a member. Now I
love Viola. She is just great to work with. She's smart,
and she keeps an eagle eye on the school budget.The town
knows that with Viola at the helm they can sleep well at
night knowing that we are not wasting their tax dollars
up at the school. But Viola has had a problem with this
whole Phish shindig all along. She was not happy about it.
At all.
And she let people know about it too. So imagine my surprise
when I turn around at the concert gates, and there is Viola,
inside the concert venue, and she's smiling. I was so
flabbergasted that I rushed trying to take a picture of
her and it didn't come out. 200 pictures of Phishheads,
and mud, and the one picture I would give my eye teeth for,
Viola Poirier, inside the gates of the Phish concert, with
a smile on her face, doesn't exist.

So, I am making the following picture public. It was the
next picture on the card. I would like to state here for
the public record that Viola Poirier, chairwoman of the
Coventry Village School Board was inside the Phish concert
gates after the band had started playing their first song
at the 5PM sunday set. She was leaning against the metal
fence that was just to the right of the yellow tractor.

And she was smiling.

So now it's finally time to make my way home. I'm totally
beat. My face is red with sunburn. I can still feel the
strawberry smoothie in my belly. But it's time to move on.
I start walking south on Airport Rd. towards the 4 corners.
Up until now this has been a tightly controlled road.
I feel like I'm walking in liberated territory.

Once again the road is packed with vehicles. I'm making
my way along the side of the road when a pickup truck pulls
along side me and the guy asks if I want a ride. I say
"Sure. Thanks", My old hitchhiking instincts taking over
I swing the passenger door open, slide onto the seat and
close the door. The driver says "I'm charging $15 a ride".
There was a brief pause. I angled my body around so he
could see my t-shirt and I said "Hey, I live here." He looked
back at me and said "but I'm charging 15 dollars."

There was another brief pause.

Then I said "OK thanks anyways I'll try my luck hitchhiking"
I hopped out. He backed up away from me towards the airport
and I kept walking home. I mused a bit, and then it hit me.
Now here was an opportunity to see how other locals really
felt about our much heralded 'small town community values'
Could a resident of Coventry, Vt get a free ride home from
his neighbors, in his hometown, on the final night of the
festival (especially if he looked like a Phishhead?
Looking forward to my newly found sociological investigation
I kept walking south waiting for the next encounter.

I can't say that I really came up with a final answer to
that question. 2 minutes later the same guy comes back,
stops beside me and says "Get in, I got 2 kids from Maine
in the back who paid your fare." Sure enough, there's 2
kids sitting in the back of the truck getting their $15 ride.
I hop in with them happy to enjoy some more Phishhead
conversation and at least partially happy that my
neighbors are willing to give a local a free ride
at the expense of some foreigners from Maine.

My neighbor dropped me off back in downtown Coventry
and I paid him the $15 bucks anyway saying thanks for
the free ride. It was just a test to see if we were
really all in this thing together or not. He said he
was just trying to pick up some extra bucks just like
everyone else. Then he took off back up Coventry Station
Rd. to find some more fares.

I started up RT. 5 for the final 1/4 mile of my
trip. John Miller and friend stopped on the road
and we chatted for about 15 minutes about the whole
ordeal. We both felt the emptiness on Saturday when
the last of the long line of cars had passed through
the village. John is also especially pained that The
Bunny will be leaving us soon. 'They played Coltrane'
he said lovingly.

I walked back up the now empty highway, and back
up our empty driveway. It was cool and quiet. Karen
and the kids weren't home yet. I sat down outside
in a chair with a bottle of Long Trail and I turned
on the radio to listen to the end of the first set.

I still didn't get the music.
But somehow I was missing all those people.