What Is Gamehendge?
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Gamehendge is the mythical land in which The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday (Trey's senior project at Goddard College) takes place. It is also a colloquial nickname for that project. Further, it is used as a characterization of some shows. When songs from the project are performed live, accompanying narration often (e.g.) details the transportation of the audience "to" Gamehendge. Some fans speak of "going to Gamehendge" with reference to attending a show, somewhat independent of whether any songs from the TMWSIY project are or were actually performed. Some of the narrations explain how to "get" to Gamehendge -- for instance, the "Vibration of Life" (a seven-beats-per-second rhythm more than a song) may be one path, and a Dentist's nitrous oxide was a route 7/8/94.
The Gamehendge tale is what Trey wrote as his senior study at Goddard College. Many Phish songs are part of this story, which is narration interspersed with songs. The story concerns the aging Colonel Forbin, in a suburban town in Long Island, who one day finds a door to another land while walking his faithful dog McGrupp. Stepping through this door, he finds himself in Gamehendge, a land of vast green forests and a huge mountain. (According to 11-15-91, the rhombus is also in Gamehendge.) Gamhendge is inhabited by the Lizards, who were a simple people who lived in harmony with nature and each other, as taught by the Helping Friendly Book, the book containing all knowledge and "the ancient secrets of eternal joy and never-ending splendor." A man named Wilson arrived in Gamehendge and lived among the Lizards, learning all about them. Since they were trusting people, they welcomed him as one of themselves. He took advantage of this, however, and eventually took the Helping Friendly Book, used it to enslave the Lizards, and hid the book away in a tower. ... At the time that Colonel Forbin enters Gamehendge, when the story as told begins, the lizards are living in bondage to the evil Wilson, and are plotting a revolution. We learn about various figures in the revolution (Tela, Rutherford the Brave, Errand Wolfe, Roger; Mr. Palmer, the accountant, who is killed by the AC/DC Bag, a robot; et al.) Eventually, after hanging out with the revolutionaries (particularly Rutherford and Tela) and learning their good and bad points (some contend, as the thesis suggests, that Tela was a spy for Wilson; ZZYZX insists otherwise), Forbin decides to get the Helping Friendly Book back and free the Lizards from Wilson's tyranny. He climbs the mountain to meet the great and knowledgeable Icculus, the prophet who wrote the Book, or at least whom the Lizards prophesize wrote the book, since no one has/had actually seen him. At the top of the mountain, Forbin speaks to Icculus, who sends his friend the Famous Mockingbird to retrieve the Helping Friendly Book from the tower where Wilson has locked it away. He then presents the book to Errand Wolfe, who immediately uses it to take over Gamehendge, captures the Famous Mockingbird, and has the Sloth kill Wilson. As Icculus had warned Forbin, with the help of the Book "a tree of knowledge in your soul will grow/And the Helping Friendly Book will plant the seed/ But I warn you that all knowledge seeming innocent and pure/Becomes a deadly weapon in the hands of avarice and greed." The revolution is thus destined to fail by its own successes (ala Orwell's Animal Farm), so enjoy it all while you can! ;-)
See also, the Wikipedia page on Gamehendge, including a list of 20 Gamehendge characters.
Don't miss the relatively hidden Gamehendge art.
By the way, at one point some Phish.Netters were going to make a Gamehendge mobile for Eliza, with llama, lizard, fish, Marley (lab), antelope, possum, horse, sloth, weasal, mockingbird, ewe, chimpanzee, mouse, mule, crab (in my shoemouth), owl (buffalo bill), pig (guyute), dog and cat (harpua and poster nutbag), whale (gin, coil, sanity), two-toned multibeast (tela). A box of stuffed animals were given instead.
There are at least seven Phish songs that are not part of the original TMWSIY project but are related to Gamehendge and the saga that takes places there, including "McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters" and (according to the liner notes for Picture of Nectar) "Llama".
as to what influenced or inspired those seeds, fans have discussed a variety of other mythical youthful stories, chiefly:
- C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia (Chris Wicklein noted 9/1/97, "Similarities include the possibility that Gamehendge is a religious metaphor (ZZYZX) and the fact that Forbin steps through a doorway to Gamehendge like the wardrobe which led to Narnia. The song Prince Caspian demonstrates that Trey has some interest in C.S. Lewis's work.");
- George Lucas' Star Wars, though also Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and others.
Trey and Tom Marshall paid tribute to Lewis' series with the song "Prince Caspian" (debuted 6/8/95), the name of the second book in the series. (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the first, and most known, book of the series.) No tribute (yet?) to Star Wars, but Henrietta has sung a tune from Disney's
"All knowledge seeming innocent and pure becomes a deadly weapon in the hands of avarice and greed."
-- Trey in "Col. Forbin's Ascent"