A triumph of moronism, the book A TINY SPACE TO MOVE AND BREATHE (notes from the fall, 1997) compiles a series of essays about Phish and their fall 1997 shows so profoundly asinine that they undermine the foundations of pedagogy, betraying the futility of educating idiots like author Walter “Waxbanks” Holland in the first place.
In all seriousness, one of Phish.net’s most eloquent and respected contributors has written and self-published a book that over the course of 201 pages is at least as much about himself as it is about Phish. And this is a refreshingly good thing. Much like listening to “The FLeezer,” reading Mr. Holland’s opus is a journey that, at times, imaginatively opens the mind and challenges one’s assumptions, not simply about Phish, but about the interpretation of Things in general. A TINY SPACE is autobiographical, quite personal (at times even uncomfortably so), and philosophical, with quotes of passages from a variety of poets and authors and musicians interspersed throughout its prose.
Yes, Waxbanks reviews the highlights of fall 1997’s shows in this book. These reviews constitute its major artery, as expected. And you’ll probably largely agree with Mr. Holland's opinions about Phish’s music from that amazing creative period in the band's history (some of which are on this website in the form of show reviews or Forum posts), as I tended to do. But far from just another book about Phish, A TINY SPACE largely reads like the diary of a thirty-something, MIT-educated, Phish-fan-dad who (for the most part) isn’t concerned about what the book’s most likely audience might think. Indeed, the book insults Phish fans now and then, though we are never maligned as much as the book’s author, who is secure and honest enough to be almost as self-critical as he is self-aware.
A TINY SPACE also unrepentantly criticizes (or snipes at) Deadheads who became Phish fans (like me), as well as the members of Phish, Phish’s music, and Phish’s songwriting, including the song “Bathtub Gin,” which “in all seriousness, [is] one of the worst songs ever written,” Mr. Holland contends. Simply put, every Phish fan -- heck, every music fan -- will find something to dislike in this book. But, thankfully, the point of A TINY SPACE is not about pleasing anyone, but rather “of course” more about “multiple mindframes at once” (as stated in footnote 36 on page 78). The book’s deceit (a Phish book?) is perhaps its most compelling conceit, because if you’re discursively skipping in, out, and through simultaneous, “multiple mindframes” along with the author, you’ll inevitably visit some brilliant places, Phishy or otherwise, regardless of whether you care a whit about Phish’s music in fall 1997 or, for that matter, Mr. Holland.
I have spent a not insubstantial part of my life listening to and thinking about Phish's music. A TINY SPACE -- even if only for moments or minutes at a time -- made me (re)consider perspectives on Phish’s music and history, and myself, in an entertaining way. I hope it does the same for you as well. You may purchase it here, for yourself or as a gift for the Phish fan in your life.
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