Courtesy of Postcards |
Phish Fans Blame Phish for Parking Lot Busts
By Phil Maggitti
HAMPTON, Vir. - Irate Phish fans blame the band for turning the parking lots outside the Hampton Coliseum into a police state last weekend. The Vermont quartet, who hadn't performed in public in more than four years, launched a reunion tour in Hampton with sold out concerts last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
|A Phish fan sparks one under the watchful gaze of a narc at Hampton.|
The reunion parade was rained on, however, by the arrival of two hundred police in full riot gear, many of them dragged along by snarling German shepherds who looked as if they hadn't been fed in a month. The security force prowled the parking lots outside the coliseum all weekend in search of trouble, which they found to the tune of 194 fan arrests, $1.2 million in confiscated illegal drugs, and $68,000 in ill-gotten cash.
"I never saw anything like it, man, even in Hershey (Pennsylvania)," said Phishhead Jerry Anderson, 31, who was attending his 117th Phish concert.
"I talked to at least a dozen people who had been strip searched by the cops."
The searches, reputed to have numbered in the hundreds, were conducted in specially designed Port-o-Search units, the latest technology in the war on drugs. Look for one at a concert near you this summer.
What really has Phish fans' corduroys in a twist is the news that the drug Nazis who were busting skulls and peering into body cavities had been hired and paid for by Phish.
"That's a totally bogus thing to do," said Jared Kuznitz, 27, from Long Island, New York.
|"OK, miss, come with me. I'm going to need to strip search you.|
"Phish said the cops were there to bust unlicensed vendors, but they were all about busting people with drugs, not some dude selling grilled cheese sandwiches out of his van."
"I think it was a set up, and I blame Trey (Anastasio, Phish guitarist)," said Mr. Kuznitz' friend Allyson, who declined to give her last name or present age.
"Ever since Trey got busted two years ago, he's been acting creepy. It wouldn't surprise me if he cut a deal with the cops--they let him off light and he lets them troll for drugs at Phish shows. That sucks!"
In December 2006 Mr. Anastasio was arrested in Whitehall, New York, at 3:30 a.m. after a patrolman had noticed him driving the wrong way backward down a one-way street. Mr. Anastasio subsequently failed the Gamehenge field sobriety test, and a search of his black 2004 Audi yielded three bags of prescription drugs--the painkillers hydrocodone and Percocet and the anti-anxiety medication Xanax--all of which had been prescribed to someone named Wilson, who lives in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Anastasio later spent several days in jail.
Like other Phish fans, Mr. Kuznitz believes the smoking pipe pointing to Mr. Anastasio can be found in the band's set lists at Hampton.
|Trey Anastasio (right) and Mike Gordon enjoying a laugh at their fans' expense.|
"Look at opening night, man. They played 'Sample in a Jar' and 'Stash' early in the first set. Those were messages to the cops, congratulating them and telling them to keep up the good work."
Mr. Anastasio was reached by cell phone at his compound in Vermont, where he is working on his latest solo project, an album of instrumental versions of The Carpenters' greatest hits. He said it was time for Phish fans to grow up. He also defended the band's decision to allow only Phish Phood products to be sold in parking lots on this summer's tour.
"This isn't 1995," said Mr. Anastasio. "The days of a thousand barefoot children dancing on the lawn are history. We're in our forties now, and we've got to think about our families' security in this down economy.
"I've got two daughters, and I wouldn't want either of them selling crappy sandwiches to dodgy-looking people in the parking lot to scrounge up enough money to get to the next show. If Phish Phood can prevent that happening, then I'll know I've done the right thing while making an honest buck. Meanwhile, I'd suggest that people who come to see us be sure they're wearing clean underwear."
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