June 16, 2004

Baki Baki

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2004

30 Dec 2003... Miami, FL

My friends from Japan, Emi and Junko, were stuck in the upper deck behind the stage. The girls had spent the entire first set of Phish in no man's land. After a quick phone call from Zobo during the set break, I decided that I would be the hero, and rescue them from their horrible seats. Zobo had fourth row seats and I was stuck up in Section 403 with Bruce, the Grateful Dead guru, who flew in from New York City that afternoon for his first Miami Phish show. Rounding out the peanut gallery were my buddy Byron, the ragin' Cajun from Louisiana who I knew from my days following Galactic through Colorado with Angela years before. I had bumped into a very drunk Byron in the men's room hours earlier. We were also hanging out with my Wisconsin friends, Astrid and her cousin Sadie, a couple of amicable, pill-popping, blondes that I had met in Alpine Valley that previous summer. We didn't have the best seats in the house, but we were having a hell of a lot better time than Emi and Junko. Our section was laid back and full of people partying down fairly hard. We did not have a monitor or security person posted at the gate checking tickets. It was a free-for-all. You sat where you wanted and I had an entire row to groove, party, smoke, and dance. We had plenty of room for the Japanese girls.

I was well past pixelated, heading into the depths of sozzledness. Looking back, the third night (out of four Phish shows) represented the most loaded I had been my entire time in Miami. I was so far gone that I was noticeably slurring my speech. My scribbled notes looked more like Egyptian hieroglyphs than the markings of a semi-sane and not-so-sober man. Bruce had befriended a trio of high school girls from Virginia in front of us, who had snuck in a fistful of hashish. They were colorful skirts and hugged each other every forty-three seconds. We smoked a mixed bowl of Miami Crypies and hash. I almost choked because the hit was so harsh. It snookered me up pretty good. I chugged two beers during the epic first set, in addition to snorting two grams of Molly in the bathroom with Byron just before the show started. I was slipping and sliding physically and mentally the entire night. Never mess with a man on a mission, lost in the fuddled reality between sobriety and utter madness.

During the first set, Phish performed eighty minutes of some of their best stuff post-hiatus. Every song they played, I wanted to hear. It kept getting better and better. From the rare Oblivious Fool to the special Strange Design to a rocking and ass shaking 2001 and the ultimate fan favorite Bathtub Gin... I was loving every second.

I scribbled down Emi's section number on my right hand in blue magic marker. Zobo wanted to make sure I knew where I was going. I didn't have a clue, but I had 421 written in big marks. I luckily found the section, stumbled out, and whirled around when I heard a high pitched squeal of "McGrupp!"

Emi and Junko were waving their hands. In almost perfect English Emi described her fear of heights. The view from behind the stage was partially obstructed by the lighting rigs. I told them we had space and they agreed to come over to my section.

"Baki baki," I whispered into their ears. They giggled and covered up their mouths, like all Japanese girls do when they laugh.

Loosely translated, baki baki meant... "I'm pretty fuckin' wasted, dude!"

For the rest of the show I'd randomly turn around and shout out, "Baki baki!"

Emi always quickly responded, "I know. McGrupp is baki baki every moment."

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

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