Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Light In The Attic

I am not referring to the Shel Silverstein collection of the same name. But it is a wonderful book nonetheless. Rather, I am referring to the latest bit of incremental progress on the long road to transforming my "fixer-upper" into a mansion of exquisite charm and taste.

I am now officially in Year 4 of living in (or, perhaps, living with) my Columbia Heights home/project/nemesis, and I have shared that space with my lovely fiancee for close to a year as well. There is a theorem that says that you will gradually accumulate stuff to fill the space in which you live. This has always proved true in my own life, as I am a hoarder.

The Project

Just over two years ago I first addressed this problem in the only rational way: by expanding the space available to store things. This involved putting in a staircase so I could access my attic more easily than by hoisting myself up through a crumbling hole in the ceiling of one of the closets. Since I only have three closets in the entire house, one of which is too small for any useful purpose, this inefficient attic access method also served to reduce my available storage space, since I couldn't really use the closet as long as I had to go through it to get to the attic.

Two years later, over the weekend, I got around to putting some lights up there. Now I can see without a flashlight or an extension cord from the 2nd floor of the house! Since it was about 130 degrees up there while I was working on Saturday (when the mercury outside reached 95) I had the roof hatch open too. This reminded me that the roof hatch thingy had seen better days. Probably about 50 years ago. It was crumbling to dust, so I also rebuilt that thing to ensure that water and rooftop prowlers stay out. All in all it was a fine day in the attic and I now have improved my ability to store things that I have a 10 percent chance of needing in the next 10 years.

The Reward

That was Saturday. Sunday I headed off to see my favorite band Phish in Hershey, PA with a friend. In order to justify this, I need to explain to you that I have been a fan for 20 years as of this September. That means that I am not:

  • A stoned college student and/or drifter
  • Asking people on the way if I they can "kick me down" some change for gas and/or tickets
  • Going to be checking out from society until Phish finishes their tour

On the other hand I am, probably, still:
  • Clinging desperately to some vestige of carefree, bygone days
  • Willing to drive long distances and deal with much inconvenience to see three hours of music from a bunch of guys who are still wearing the same tee-shirts they were in 1986. The setlists haven't changed much since then either.
  • Convinced that it is worth every bit of the money & effort.

It was a fun time. Hershey, by the way, is decidedly not intended for pedestrians. The hotel I stayed in was, as the crow flies, about one mile from the stadium, pictured above. Seemed like a no-brainer to walk in instead of dealing with a massive parking lot situation. That walk involved walking on the edge of a quasi-highway for a mile. Then, the actual road into the park has no sidewalk or shoulder for a stretch, even though it's right in the center of town! Luckily there wasn't much traffic at that point so it wasn't especially scary but really quite baffling how difficult it was to do what seemed entirely reasonable and sensible.

The stadium, by the way, was half-empty - certainly a change from bygone days when you had to work every angle you had just to get a ticket. I thought, perhaps, this meant that Phish has finally been around so long that some of their fans are dying off due to old age. You know, the ones who were already old when they were deadheads back in the 80's -- those guys could easily be in their 60s by now, and anyone born after 1980 probably thinks of Phish as some kind of curiousity from a bygone era.

But the crowd was a lot of young people, and everyone seemed to be pretty into it. That is, it wasn't like a bunch of college kids just came to the show because there was nothing else to do that night. I talked to a few people who were old timers, sure, but they were not the rule.

Anyway, the light crowd made for a great experience. You could easily move anywhere in the venue, and even though it was a pretty big place, it felt much more intimate. The sound was great (as expected), and people were up to their usual standards of friendliness with complete strangers. Like someone just handed me a bottle of water at some point - which was much appreciated, as it was damn hot out there.

The put on a fantastic show. Interestingly, they didn't play a single song written in the last decade -- actually nothing that came after the album "Billy Breathes" which was released in 1996. The fact that I really liked this conclusively identifies my as a curmudgeonly old-school fan who still thinks of songs from "Billy Breathes" as "new songs." That made the show very much a time warp. I doubt it was intentional - I don't think Phish analyzes their own sets that much - but it was a rare treat.


lacochran's evil twin said...

Did I see you on The OCD Project?

The problem with fixing A, is that suddenly it makes B (right next to it) look shabby, and C (just opposite it) look completely wrong.

Best never to start.

Erin Skelly said...

I hope you enjoyed the concert! Having grown up in Hershey (I live in DC now), I must point out that the stadium and your hotel were not in Hershey proper - Hershey is actually very pedestrian-friendly, and downtown is rather quaint with wide, tree-lined boulevards and lots of sidewalks. If your hotel was a mile away from the stadium, I'm going to venture that you stayed at the new Marriott off Rt 39, the Comfort Inn by Rt. 322 or the Hilton Garden Inn. Most of these hotels have shuttles that go to and from the park, and you possibly could have saved yourself the long walk! None of these roads are intended to be pedestrian thoroughfares, but residents are completely used to tourists walking along the shoulder, so I want to assure you that you were perfectly safe. If you go back to Hershey again any time soon, I will be happy to pass on any helpful travel tips! (For example, I know where you can park conveniently for a concert and not have to pay exhorbitantly.)

Jamie said...

@Erin, absolutely enjoyed the show.

The hotel was on Hampton In on Chocolate Blvd, and we went in via Park Road I think. Park and Chocolate seemed pretty much to be "downtown" but then walking in on Park things got weird, and then we had to kind of double back around the amusement park on another giant road.

Anyway it's no big deal - just typical suburban america configuration. Downtown itself is perfectly walkable, but getting between various hotels and the attractions that are all within a couple miles has only occasional sidewalks and few direct routes.

I don't think of a mile or two as a long walk, especially if it saves me waiting in traffic before & after an event. The whole point of staying at a hotel in town is to avoid that, for me, anyway. But obviously most other people do think that since we saw very few others walking around before or after the show, outside of right downtown!