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< beck | ford >

It's a day like any other, attached to a set of numbers marking a passage of time from an arbitrarily-picked point, albeit a rather loaded and controversial one.

I was never a big fan of "Auld Lang Syne"; my New Year's Eve songs of choice (back when I acknowledged such a thing) were The Stooges' "1969" and "1970" (Hi, Dave!), so I've posted the lyrics. Not deathless masterpieces, either one. For good measure, I added T.V. Eye, just to keep the "redeeming social value" quotient at its lowest.

I've just done some nodekeeping. Now I think I'll go cower in the igloo for a while.

"Why?"

Our Kozmo movies just arrived. My company gave me a bottle of Champagne and a number of friends will be coming by.

I can't think of any place I'd rather be :)

I do feel a little bit of awe though, this is a momentous occasion in history, and we're getting to be a part of it.

I wanna be home to call my mom at midnight, she says she used to day dream as a little girl about the year 2000 and how she'd be 79. She never imagined she'd make it to that far flung future time. I think it's awfully cool that after 2 heart attacks in the past year she's gonna make it.

To hell with the doom and gloom, forget the FUD, this is a great day to be alive.

Lack of sleep over the past few days finally caught up with me. Woke up at 1 p.m. and all I wanted to do was stay in bed until tomorrow. But remembering my self-imposed task of unofficially documenting New Year's Eve-related happenings here, crawled out of bed and at 4.30 p.m. went to see what was happening down at the Opera House.

There were streams of people making their way there by foot; and when I arrived, was stunned to find several thousand already in its environs and at Circular Quay and outside the Museum of Contemporary Art. There were also many hundreds on the other side of the Harbor, near the Bridge. Also a few thousand boats moored in various parts of the Harbor. All these were the good spots for seeing the fireworks.

Wandered around for a few hours taking photographs and mingling with humanity in an atmosphere of suppressed anticipation and excitement.

Then walked back to the city center and had a burger at a Burger King clone on George Street. Saw a line of people waiting for Planet Hollywood to open its doors. Came back to my home-away-from-home and looked out from its heights at the Harbor, which was a sea of illumination; and on its southern shores, east of the Opera House, were massed crowds. Apart from the panorama of lights from boats, and of houses, apartment blocks and hotels facing the water, the summer's evening was lit up by camera flashes like a non-stop chain reaction.

By this time I was in the company of somebody I was in lust with...(a discreet interval passes). Had a nap for a coupla hours, then woke up, had a shower; and saw in the New Year in pyjamas...(cont'd)

Spent most of the day watching television, for the various celebrations around the world, showing how pathetic my life (or lack thereof) really is.

Damn, the Eiffel Tower was amazing to watch, however, with all the lights and fireworks.

It's kind of amazing that I'd spend all day watching so many incredible celebrations around the world, and then we get to America, where the celebrations ranked only above Newfoundland and Bethlehem in the excitement factor.

Everyone else did it better. England. France. China. Greece. Egypt. Australia.

At least we can say they put in to these celebrations as much effort as most Americans put into things.

Made a trip down to New Orleans just for this? I'm sitting in a hotel room with my girlfriend and three other friends, Isaac, Rob, and Shawn. I am dead tired. We had, last night, driven all the way from Northern Illinois, near Rockford, since about 4am. We got in town about midnight, December 31st, 1999, checked into our price inflated hotel room in the French Quarter, and fell asleep, dead tired.

Now, though, I'm watching New Year's celebrations from all around the world. Right as I wake up, Moscow is celebrating. Peter Jennings is yammering on and on and on about peace and love and in a few hours, it'll hit New York. We stay in the hotel room long enough, we watch a Parade. The past year is identified as a dead man, who's funeral procession passes right in front of our window. People lean against our window. I'm setting up the laptop that I happen to own so that it can connect to my friends AOL account at the local phone number. I check my e-mail over the 14.4 modem, telnet access, trying desperately to avoid surfing the web over such a line. I e-mail my parents, and my girlfriend's parents, and tell them we are here, in our hotel-room, and now that Moscow's midnight has passed, and the world hasn't blown up, I'm able to slightly relax.

I am thinking about the 4x pay I would be recieving right now if I were at work, making sure that the Y2K bug wouldn't destroy anything.

We leave for dinner after watching Paris celebrate the New Year. The Eiffel Tower fireworks looked neat. We stop at this little joint next to Twin Sisters restaurant, I eat red beans and rice, and a Pepsi, no ice. It is not bad, but it ain't good, either.

We leave the joint, and outside, we hear alternating chants of football teams. I don't know exactly who. Appearantly, the Sugar Bowl is in New Orleans in a few days.

The feeling of inevitability is approaching. And, to be honest, I am a trifle worried about things. I am expecting disaster, I am hoping for it, secretly, hoping that I will not have to actually deal with real life. The world will end, I'll miraculously escape injury, and be a chosen one to start a new civilization.

That doesn't happen.

As the night goes on, I notice it is getting rowdier. As we walk down Bourbon Street, someone throws a string of purple beads down. They hit my face, stinging, fall to the ground. My girlfriend picks them up, puts them over my head, doesn't notice the red mark under my beard. I kiss her.

The night is progressing quickly. I've seen more bare breasts tonight than I've seen in all the porn I've ever seen. The depravity is slightly depressing. I hear a lot of men yelling "Show Us Your Tits," and women oblige. I have a digital camera. My friend has a video camera. He's intent on capturing beauty on film. I don't know what I'm intent on. Luck? Prestige? "Oh, look, here's a picture of the boobs of the green haired girl I saw on New Years." I don't understand my own actions. My girlfriend glares each time I catch a blurry picture on my camera. I don't even bother to aim, really. The camera doesn't even come close to my face.

Midnight is getting closer. New York, Washington DC, etc. had already celebrated. I make my way with my girlfriend towards the Mississippi River, and above us, the Ball is above an old brewery converted into a mall. We're on the Mississippi for New Years, 2000. We are there, but everyone's watches around us read different times. There is no countdown. The ball drops. I am kissing my girlfriend, and now it is . . .

Date of the world's best New Year's Eve celebration: the Phish concert (though "concert" is too minor a term...event maybe?) at Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in Florida's Everglades.

The first set began in the late afternoon and ended after sunset with a raucous, anticipatory After Midnight. Then the wait began; 80,000 people staking out some ground in front of the stage, maybe catching a little sleep. The previous night bore witness to a gargantuan three-set extravaganza followed by all-night partying. Some strength had to be saved for what was to come.

Namely, the Midnight Set. The set. Midnight to sunrise, nonstop. A seven hour ecstatic musical celebration of existence.

You shoulda seen it.

The band's fear that this show could never be topped is partially responsible for their current (as of 7/2/01) hiatus.

Here, then, is the setlist for the entire day:

12-31-99 Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, FL
Set 1: Runaway Jim+, Funky Bitch, Tube, I Didn't Know*, Punch You in the Eye, Bouncing Around the Room, Poor Heart, Roggae, Split Open and Melt** -> Catapult, Get Back on the Train, Horn, Guyute, After Midnight*** (1:46)

Set 2: #Meatstick^ -> Auld Lang Syne, Down with Disease -> Llama, Bathtub Gin^^, Heavy Things^^^, ^^^^Twist Around > Prince Caspian > Rock and Roll, You Enjoy Myself%, Crosseyed and Painless, The Inlaw Josie Wales%%, Sand -> Quadrophonic Topplings%%%, Slave to the Traffic Light, Albuquerque, Reba, Axilla, Uncle Pen, David Bowie, My Soul, Drowned -> After Midnight reprise, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Bittersweet Motel, Piper** -> Free, Lawn Boy, Hold Your Head Up > Love You%%%% > Hold Your Head Up, Roses are Free, Bug, $Also Sprach Zarathustra > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Meatstick$$ (7:45)

+With marshmallow war, lots of balloons, and aerial tortillas. *With Fish on vacuum. **Unfinished. ***First time played; J.J. Cale cover from the album "Naturally" (best known for the Eric Clapton version).
#Set begins around 11:35 pm with Father Time on stage pedaling away at a stationary bike, powering a large clock, with the sound of the gears on the PA (possibly a Siket Disc track?). At approximately 11:50 pm, Father Time collapses from exhaustion and the clock stops. At this time, with appropriate sound effects, a large fan boat entered the field from halfway back, stage right. Soon the sides and top of the fan boat were blown off to reveal the band riding in the hot dog from 12-31-94. The hot dog approached the stage as the band threw leis and other goodies into the crowd. Once the hot dog reached the stage, the band disembarked carrying several meatsticks. They fed these to Father Time, reviving him to drive to clock to midnight.
^Instrumental version, with the band picking up the song from a pre-recorded version played during the hot dog ride. ^^With vocal jam, as Trey, Mike, and Page sang the notes as they played them. ^^^Recorded live for ABC's Millennium coverage; Trey instructed the crowd to chant the word "Cheesecake" after the song (instead of applauding), in an attempt to confuse TV viewers; Trey introduced the band for the recorded footage and offered a message of peace and harmony for the world ("The right lane is for driving. The left lane is for passing. So stay in the right lane unless you're passing."). ^^^^Preceded by "Meatstick" tease (possibly as Central Time hit midnight). %With "Cheesecake" vocal jam. %%Trey solo acoustic. %%%With Mike holding up a voice box, repeating the phrase "Quadrophonic Toppling." %%%%With Fish on vacuum; Fish introduced Page before the song, and Mike and Trey afterwards, and the band as "Phish 2000." $Preceded by a tease of the "Harry Hood" intro
(Note from QXZ: The Harry Hood start was not a tease. Fishman, forgetting that the song had been played the day before, began Harry Hood. Trey had to shake his head at Fish violently to get him to stop playing it). $$No encore; post-show music was the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun."


Thanks to the Helping Phriendly Book (http://www.phish.net/hpb) and the Mockingbird Foundation for the notes.
Of all the nights to get all tuckered out (okay, well, zonked) at the Critical Mass and have a little nap from 9 pm until... oops, 2 am: this had to be it.

Eschewed the company of friends to attend two parties which I slept through so I got no party, friends and the sleep wasn't too good either (nightmarish - something about being taken hostage after being given a warning not to be somewhere.)

It all ended well enough, though: lousy food at an all-night restaurant, a friend who hadn't had a chance to wear her New Year dress, running around on an ice rink, hiccup cures and, well, Metallica, which wasn't so good but I got to shake the car with my headbanging so surely that counts for something.

in our last episode... | p_i-logs | and then, all of a sudden...

Here's my plea for sympathy: I had plans to attend a huge party with lots of Celtic musicians, a host with good taste in booze and plenty of Irish dancing. On NY's eve eve, I started coughing and couldn't stop, was diagnosed with an acute sinus infection, acute bronchitis, and had a fever of 102 in spite of ibuprofen. The codeine cough syrup which I was prescribed wasn't enough to get me high, besides I felt too miserable to even want to be high, so I eschewed any alcoholic accompaniment. The only good thing was that my doctor is a friend, so the prescriptions were gratis samples, although I did have to go to his house to pick them up.

1999年12月31日

New Year's Eve in Osaka was more or less my first. I was sixteen years old, and in the last four months I had seen gobs of baby fat disappear from my face, felt urges of sex and power tools rumbling in my heart, and smelled a million and one shades of love blowing in the ever-colder air of the endless city.

I met two of my friends at Juso that afternoon. We had a late lunch at the McDonald's over the Hankyu tracks, and then caught the next train to Umeda. The station was busy, but not like it would be during rush hour: we beat through the thin crowd easily to get to the Midosuji line, and then transferred our way westward to the bay.

At Tempozan, the three of us each bought a liter can of Kirin, and our buzz began following us down the street to the Kaiyukan, where the sun was hanging low in the sky like a giant Japanese flag that had been accidentally thrown in with the colored washing. Our friends were all there, dancing by the railing, young, free, and wicked, living for the day as the sun went down and the day turned into night.

We filled up the better part of a subway car heading back from the port to Umeda, and ate dinner in a ramen joint somewhere underneath the JR tracks, surrounded by red lanterns and ever-milling crowds.

I didn't notice her until I was halfway through my bowl. She was wearing a black sweater under an ash-gray overcoat, with a little silver cross perched on top of her (ack! you're looking at her) breasts. It wasn't a Japanese body, but it was definitely a Japanese face.

Before I could say anything, she smiled, and for a moment, I hit an intense state of Zen. Maybe it was the beer. More than likely, it was her cheeks flaring up, her lips placed just right in the middle, her eyes twinkling from black to white. We talked in English for the longest two minutes of my life, and I found out her name.

We passed back through the Hankyu station as Boris Yeltsin was resigning on CNN.

At the club, I finished a glass of iced Jose Cuervo and moved to a screwdriver, and when I went back to our table, lathered in bags and coats, she was sitting there, alone. She asked for a sip of the drink: I gave it to her, and she came close to spitting it out. So we sat for an eternal thirty seconds, and then I finally asked her to come to the dance floor with me. Holding her hand came close to feeling like an orgasm, and walking with it felt like gliding. Again, maybe it was the alcohol.

We never really danced. Instead, we held each other, in the middle of the floor, and rocked with the beat of the music. If we were a sculpture, our title would be "White Couple At Prom." Her hands at my shoulders, mine around her waist, as time drug out, as the year passed into the night.

The smoke started to get to us, and so we pulled our way out the door, and hung a left around the corner, strolling through the cold, abandoned heart of Osaka, hand in hand, only speaking small talk between long gaps of silence.

By the time we got back to the club, it was almost midnight. The champagne was flowing, and as the cups passed into our hands, I threw them aside and kissed her. No pretext, no planning: a move straight from a Hollywood screenplay. She smiled at me again, with deep, sad eyes, and then turned around and left.

I followed her out to a foot bridge beneath the Shin-Midosuji, where she was leaning against the railing, sobbing. For a moment, I couldn't believe how beautiful she was, even curled up and with her face hidden. My hand touched the small of her back, and she apologized, and buried her face in my chest as I stroked her hair and asked myself why.

We sat on the curb for the next five hours or so, and at some point I managed to ask her why. She said she was sorry, that she couldn't have a boyfriend.

Everyone started heading to Osaka Station as the sun was beginning to come up, and half an hour later, we were sitting by the inner donjon of Osaka Castle, facing the eastern sky and watching for the rising sun over the hills. One of my Japanese friends said that we should each make a wish as the sun came up.

It came up, and I made my wish. "Never let anything go away. Only let it begin again."

I rode the train straight to Himeji that morning, by myself, thinking all the way. Thinking about her. Thinking about her some more.

But the sun kept coming back up, and I never kissed anyone again... for a very long time.


< what came before - what came later >

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