Saturday, December 03, 2005

Thoughts on the 12/2/05 Trey Anastasio Show

Fri 12/2/05 - The Warfield - San Francisco, CA

Here's the setlist:

Thoughts on the Music and the Band

First of all, you have to understand that I am very analytical when it comes to shows like this. I hadn't seen Trey since Phish broke up, and the only Trey music I'd heard this year was the very first show of 2005 from Burlington, VT which I didn't think was all that great. Therefore, I went in with pretty much no expectations.

All in all, I was pleased with the show. We had great seats -- very low on the balcony and the sound was pretty good. Trey's vocals were muddy at times, but upstairs at The Warfield can be like that. One bummer was that we were so far left that we really couldn't see Jen and Christina (who were toward the back of the stage, stage right.)

Musically, there were some great groovy moments, and overall Trey seemed to be enjoying himself. The new rhythm section (bass/drums) was very tight and funky, and the second guitar gave Trey some space to jam out while still having an additional rhythm layer. At the same time there were some sleepy moments where Heather and I were sitting down, talking quietly, wondering what the hell Trey was thinking. :) Maybe it will grow on me, but I just don't understand "Shine." There just doesn't seem to be much to it.

Also, I can't stop wondering if Trey is on something. At one point when he was talking to the audience, he couldn't stop playing with his arms and his sleeves... that is, he was very touchy feely (with himself!) -- I really have no idea... maybe this is just who he is now... I haven't talked to him since The Lemonwheel, so what the eff do I really know? But it seemed like he was on some kind of ecstasy-type drug.

On the humorous front, Trey butchered the Bitch lyrics pretty bad, and this was even with the lyrics sheet in front of him. Right before the tune started, he waved someone over and asked for something... within seconds, the roadie put a sheet of paper down on the floor -- didn't help :)

The acoustic section was great... I wished it was longer, but Loving Cup was a nice treat. Someone threw a cup at him while he was doing one of the acoustic tunes (Waves?) and he totally went off on him. He started yelling about how fucked up it was that people throw shit at him -- apparently it's happened a lot this tour. At the culmination of his tirade he screamed "FUCK YOU" to the guy, and the crowd went absolutely nuts. After the acoustic section he went up to the front of the stage and talked briefly to some people in the front row (presumably the cup thrower). Wacky.

The Mickey/Billy appearance was really fun. When the first few notes of Goin Down The Road started, I got REALLY excited. All of these tunes had good energy and were fun to see/hear, but they were plagued with musical blunders... again, call me Mr. Analytical, but how much can a song groove when the bass player doesn't know it!? This guy was reading a chart for Eyes, and he still couldn't follow along. The jam before the second verse was cut short because he didn't know to alternate between E and Bm, and he basically didn't play during the entire second verse. On the one hand, it astounds me that Trey would employ a bass player who has never heard "Eyes Of the World," but on the other hand, I guess it makes sense: Trey wants a rhythm section that could play with Herbie Hancock -- these guys could probably pull that off. Phil couldn't and Mike (Gordon) probably couldn't either.

Casey Jones was a little better. The bass player stood next to the other guitarist and learned the song (on the fly) by reading the fret board. Trey's vocals and soloing were great on this tune, but again, having some of the band members not comfortable with the tune was a slighter downer. e.g. at the end of Casey, when the chorus keeps repeating, there's a Bb inserted before the F which really adds some power. Trey was doing that, but the bass player couldn't pick it up, so it sounded messy.

Three interesting People experiences

During the opening band, Heather and I hung out with a group of younger heads. These kids were around 20 and 21. It was so interesting to me talking to these kids... they never got to see Phish (let alone the Dead)... they were looking for drugs I had never even heard of. Made me think back to when I was 20. In 1991, I saw 18 Dead shows and 18 Phish shows. It was probably the best single concert year of my life. And like these kids, drugs were part of the equation: shrooms, acid, whatever. Not every show, but certainly a few. These kids didn't have a care in the world and they were so psyched just to be seeing Trey. Fascinating how different life is at age 20 vs. age 35 :)

Heather went up to find her seat, while I stayed down on the main level chatting with these heads. When I went upstairs, I bumped into someone in the balcony lobby I couldn't believe was there. I had to do a triple take, but yes, it was Adam Bosworth. Some computer types are Phish heads, but I couldn't believe Adam was one of them -- if he were, I'm sure we would have connected on the musical level during our overlap at BEA. He was with a small group of folks who looked like old school deadheads. Some of them had been seeing Phish since Phish's first or second tour in California. Turns out this was indeed Adam's first Phish/Trey experience. I'm very curious what he thought of the show and how much of it he actually remembered. :) Care to comment, Adam?

Lastly, a couple sections to our right, Chris Kuroda was doing the lights. For the first time in years, I couldn't bust his balls about the Eagles beating up on the G-men. It's always good to re-connect with folks from the early days. Chris did a great job and seemed to be having fun -- especially on the dead tunes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Finally, a decent investment

The last 3 or 4 years of my life have been one big shoulda-woulda-coulda -- well, with respect to financial decisions, that is. Sure I shoulda sold BEAS in 2001 and bought that condo on Stanyan and Beulah, but life goes on and it could be a lot worse. The rest of my life has been pretty darn groovy.

Annnyhoooo, right before my bike trip (see previous blog post) I decided to go short on some "housing bubble" stocks: the home builders, the lenders, etc. This was my first time shorting, so I didn't risk very much, but every little bit counts, right? And one day housing prices will actually come down and I'll need to buy, so I'm trying to save all I can.

My original plan was to stay short on these for the duration (i.e. through the bubble deflation.) This morning though, at around 7:20a PT, while I was drinking my coffee, checking email, and reading the Philly Sport section, on a whim, I decided to cover five stocks. I really don't know why I did it. I guess there had been so many down days recently, and again the market was down (though moving up a little bit.) I was looking at an average of about 20% return on these investments if I covered, so I bought back my KBH, TOL, LEN, and LEND (I'm still short on FNM and my DSL). Oh, I also covered my XMSR which moved from 37 to 30 over the last 2 weeks or so, but I used this morning's dip load up on SIRI. (going long)

Later in the day, I saw that the entire housing sector had been downgraded, and I figured I'd made a mistake. But what's done is done -- shoulda-woulda-coulda.

Then suddenly, for no apparent reason, the market (housing stocks included) went bonkers. Look at these intradays:

TOL closed up 5%!

Why? Who knows... but for once in my life, I actually timed the market pretty well. Now of course, the question is, when to go short again? Oh yeah, these pigs are going down -- there's no doubt in my mind -- just look at how far off the yearly highs some of these stocks are -- but you gotta play the bounces, right? So we'll see what happens tomorrow and then roll the dice again. Six months from now, when FNM is at 25 and KBH is at 50, I don't wanna say shoulda-woulda-coulda, you know?

What stocks will I be shorting in the near future? I'd say
any of these are good candidates.

For more on the Bay Area Housing Crash, see patrick's links.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

jg's new gig - spikesource

I leave for my big bike trip around the canyons tomorrow and when I get back I'll be starting my new job at SpikeSource, a small startup delivering services on open source software. Two months off is enough for this cat. Time to get back into it. I'm really jazzed about working in such a small company, and it's a very interesting space. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about spike.

One other note: I'm still in the "pro-bubble" camp. If it hasn't already, housing will peak soon and then start to pull back. Even a "leveling off" will likely be the catalyst for a more serious downturn. Why? Well, when the flippers realize that flipping won't make ya shit if the market is flat, then they'll stop flipping. Investors who buy condos sight unseen will find some new place for their fickle investments causing supply to rise and making downturn even more severe.

To that end, I'm currently short on the following stocks: LEN LEND KBH TOL DSL and FNM. I got into most of these about a week ago, but I think there's still more downside on many of them. See the "Bay Area Housing Bubble" link on the right for more. What are some other "housing bubble stocks" to consider shorting? Here are a few: BZH, CTX, GP, HOV, PHM. Just watch out for the dividends :)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

One From The Vault

Anyone reading this probably knows I'm a big time deadhead. It's hard to believe it's been this long, but Tuesday August 9, 2005 was the 10th anniversary of Jerry Garcia's death.

It was also a day I will never forget -- as I got a guided tour of "The Vault" from Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux. You may have seen the article featuring David and GDP mixer Jeffrey Norman in the New York Times on Wed. 8/9.

It borders on cosmic that this was the day I went to Navato to see this amazing space.

This whole thing came about because my friend Jian had interviewed David last year for his radio show on CBC. David offered to give him a tour of the studio and the vault whenever he came to San Francisco. As Jian was in town this past week, he asked if I wanted to come along.

Above is a picture Jeffrey, Jian, and me in the mixing studio. Jeffery was in the process of re-mastering the 1969 Fillmore shows which will be released in a big box set later this year. Amazingly, these shows were recording in 16 tracks. Apparently only two 16-track Ampex machines existed in 1969, and the Grateful Dead used one for that Fillmore run.

The vault contains every piece of Grateful Dead (both audio and video) material that exists. There are analogs, DATs, reels, film, 1", 2", you name it. Truly an amazing experience for someone who loves the Dead as much as I do.

Now, if I can only find a way to see the video hilighted in green above :)

Monday, August 01, 2005


Heather and I finally got around to seeing Million Dollar Baby last night. I went in fresh... I knew it was supposed to be great and was about a girl boxer, but that's about all I knew. I didn't even know Morgan Freeman was in it, but I guessed that after about 20 seconds of narration.

I suppose I agree with this guy's yahoo review Yes, the acting (of the three main characters) was good, the lighting, the camera work -- all that stuff -- was great, but so what? The story was weak and the last half hour was painful to watch. Leave it to Hollywood to throw you a fastball up-and-in that you can't possibly spin away from in the 8th inning. Booooo. At least in baseball you'd get awarded first base. What do you get here? You get to feel like shit for a half hour.

Well pardon me, but had I known I would've had to deal with that I wouldn't have rented it. If I want to see Clint, Morgan, or Hilary, there are plenty of great titles out there. I find it hard to believe not one of the critics slammed this thing, but I guess nobody wants to say anything bad about Clint.

Pbbbft. Lame.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Billy Bitz and the Hazeltones

One of wildest and weirdest yeP! shows ever had to be the quasi-rock-opera "The Shot: Billy Bitz and the Hazeltones vs. Big Faddy" which was performed as the 2nd Set of the 10/30/96 Iron Horse show in Northampton, MA.

This show has been recently seeded on etree's bit torrent site. Click here to get it. If you need the bit torrent client (or info), see the Bit Torrent FAQ.



Saturday, July 23, 2005

Hockey is back!

The lockout is finally over and I couldn't be happier. It's interesting to see that things we knew had to happen like a salary cap (with a corresponding salary cut across the board) actually did happen. Too bad it took a year.

People will probably bitch and complain about all the new rule changes, etc. but as I much as I hated the year off, if that's what it took to get the game fixed, so be it.

The biggest rules changes are:

  1. Shootouts after OT - no more ties: This is awesome. Who the hell wants ties in sports, anyway? A regulation tie will still earn a point to the eventual loser.
  2. Offsides changes: No more red line (wrt the two-line pass) and tag-up: Time will tell on this one. It seems like it will be great since it will pretty much kill the neutral zone trap which not only made hockey boring, but it also brought the Stanley Cup to the hated Devils -- well, Marty Brodeur helped there too. I always liked "tagging the blue line" to keep a play onside, so I welcome back this rule. The big question will be: will it be possible for coaches to figure out ways of exploiting these rules to eff up the game (like the Devils did with the trap).
  3. Goalie Trap Zone: This will prevent good puck handling goalies to act as a 3rd defenseman. I'm not sure I like this rule, but it's definitely consistent with all these offensive-minded changes.
  4. Schedule Changes: Looks like teams will play their divisional opponents a lot more. This is a great change. While my Flyers won't be coming to San Jose as much, they'll be playing the Devils, Rangers, Pens, and Ice-landers 8 times each. Rivalries will be renewed all over the league (think DET/COL) and travel will be cut down for the Western Conference teams.

Now let's talk about Sidney Crosby. Who? Yeah, that's right, there's a new star ready to emerge in the NHL. Will he be as good as Mario or Wayne? Too early to tell, but this kid is the real deal. The NBA got LeBron, now the NHL will get Crosby. Too bad he's going to the Penguins.

Onto the Flyers... looks like they're in great shape. They are buying out LeClair and Amonte's contracts which should give them room to make qualifying offers to their eight restricted free agents and begin negotiations with their unsigned rookies, most notably Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

Hockey has always been my favorite sport. Football has taken the spotlight since my Eagles have been so good recently, but come April and May, my life has always been hockey hockey hockey. Here's to a good 2005-2006.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Biking biking biking

I've gotten a lot more into biking over the last couple weeks. I suppose you could say I'm quasi-officially training for the 9 day bike trip I'm going on in late August. Some of the days are 80+ miles of biking, so I better get in shape.

In the last week, I've done this Marin loop 3 times. I bike from my apartment through the presidio over the bridge and then the loop as shown below.

Click here for a bigger satellite image of the route. By mid-August I need to be doing this 5 days a week.

I even got myself a pair of those dippy biking shorts with the padding for your crotch. Clearly a case of function over fashion.

On Saturday, I rode halfway up Mt. Diablo with w/ Beatty, Scott and Paul. This ride completely kicked my ass. A 2000+ ft climb with temps hitting the 90s by the time we got there. I can't imagine ever being in shape enough to ride to the top, but who knows. There are some definitely insane bikers out there -- gives me a whole new appreciation for the Tour.

The ride down the other side was amazing. You are basically coasting (and braking) for about 10 minutes. Awesome.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The best part of time off: YOGA

I'm not the most flexible guy in the world. In fact, when I first started practicing yoga (almost two years ago) I couldn't even come close to touching my toes. Until I really loosen up, I can barely do it now.

In the past, it's gone in waves (sometimes twice a week, sometimes twice a month.) But now that I have some time off, my Anusara practice with Stacey at yoga tree is really picking up. I went three times this past week and plan on doing the same next week.

If all goes well, I'll get up to 4 times a week by the end of the month -- maybe more!

Yoga has been great for me: for both body and mind. Heather got me into it because of my back, posture, and inflexibility, but now I'm into it for so many more reasons. I highly recommend it to just about anyone.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Me, Zeke, and Elvis

I never had pets growing up, but now I can't imagine living without cats. It is truly unbelievable how much I love these little furballs.


I have to post something to kick off this blog, so I'll write about my favorite Yiddish word: mishagas

According to the common yiddish words site mishagas means "craziness." But it's really much more than that.

It's like craziness, absurdity, insanity, stupidity and bedlam all rolled into one. And you can use it for just about everything.

Q: Did you go to the Haight St. fair?
A: No way, I can't deal with that mishagas.

There are other great common yiddish words, but none quite as useful as mishagas.