The Great Went

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As a sequel to the Clifford Ball, the Great Went was held in August 1997 at the former Loring Air Force Base (now the Loring Commerce Centre) in Limestone, Maine. (A third sequel, The LemonWheel, was held in August of 1998.) The name of the event comes from a line in a David Lynch movie, Fire Walk With Me, which is itself a reference to an episode of Twin Peaks. This is as far north and east as you can get and not be in Canada, in a beautiful area, in blueberry (and black fly) season.

Great Went events included:

  • Almost 500 minutes of music, in 6 sets and 2 encores. (8/16 I-115:40, II-68:27, III-58:36, E-13:12; 8/17: I-77:01, II-94:54, III-57:11, E-12:01 -- thanks, ZZYZX!)
  • The world's largest fire truck hosed down thousands of fans as they raced in Saturday as the gates opened. (Picture forthcoming; I need to scan it.)
  • Disco: From roughly 2am to roughly 3am on Sunday morning (the night after the first of the two shows), a "disco" (more like a Euro-techno rave) was put on at the left entrance to the concert area.
    • As Luann Abrahms explained (8/28/97), "the band had a huge trailer with a lighting rig on it, set up with what Trey had called 'lots of crappy 70's keyboards.' They dug up every Moog and Korg antique they could find for this. Jon's was full of drum patches, Mike's sounded relatively bass-like, and Trey and Page were sharing a couple of more multipurpose synth set-ups. There were strobe lights and a disco mirrored ball, and smoke pouring off of this big semi. ... Musically, it sounded like they were going for a techno/industrial kind of thing, but since Fishman would rather die than be trapped in a 4/4 beat, it kept veering into weirder and weirder territory. Every once in a while, one of them would say 'Shake it baby' or 'Groove on it' or something, which would then get sampled and stretched into the rest of the groove. It wasn't 'Phish', I guess, but it was fun, and a great addition to the party atmosphere.".
    • Small cards advertising/announcing the event foretold that it would feature MC Neoncellgap* (from New York City), Groomed Ink (from Shenectady, NJ), DJ Lemore Lalip (Oak Bluffs, Minnetankwa), and DJ Heavy P (Meatcamp, NC). Bill Hance pointed out that, "MC Neoncellgap is an anagram for Page McConnell [and MC Neon Gell Cap], and Groomed Ink is an anagram for Mike Gordon. I'd assume, then, that Fish is DJ Heavy P, although Trey introduced him at the end as "Jacques, the Gay Sailor." (Note the relevance of Jaques below.) Also, Chris Wicklein posted 10/28/97 that the name MC Neon Cell Gap was first used in the Letters section of the Nov. 1994 Doniac Schvice. In other nickname thoughts, Trey is listed as Herr Necklace (with a fabulous hair necklace) in the liner notes to Slip Stitch and Pass, and Fishman is known as Henrietta and dozens of other names.
    • Jon Weber adds, "for anyone who got a "disco" rave-style handbill at the Went -- if you trim down the left side about an eigth of an inch, it works perfectly as a j-card for your dat of the set (w/ "disco" sitting on the spine)."
    • The "disco" set (2am after the first night's show) is online at http://eyes.jeffdell.com, taped and uploaded by Adam Shiffman.
  • Side stages: On both days, the Gordon Stone Trio performed near the non-profit tent (Gordon Stone performed on Rift) and the Beatroots Gypsy Caravan performed on-site.
  • Posing nude: Approximately 1,100 people posed nude on Sunday morning as part of a fifty-state tour by Tunick. Tunick was to send participants copies of the print, but according to Tim , "The mailing was done by Phish. The return address was theirs, and the note was signed 'best wishes, Phish management'.". Though some participants were disappointed that the prints they received were creased and folded (ouch), those were reportedly the only prints made. (Tunick was arrested Sunday 4/25/99 in New York City for organizing a mass nude photo in the middle of the streets of Times Square. Reported in the New York Post, according to A.J. Abrahams.)
  • Fire breathing: During the third set of the second night, someone was "blowing"/"spitting" fire balls about 40 feet from the stage, in the middle of the audience. This may have been planned and intentional, and the event was on the large video screens right on cue, but there were reports of security chasing the fellow.
  • Stage banter, from the Went and elsewhere.
  • Orchestra: Twenty members of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra performed on Sunday, in the village area from 1-3:30 and on-stage (between Phish sets) 5:15 - 6:30. Following a Debussy String Quartet, the orchestra played Stravinsky's "Histoire du Soldat" (or "The Soldier's Tale"), and then Debussy's "Claire de Lune" (as a glider flew around, and then off into the sunset.) If you enjoyed the Stravinsky piece, suggested (8/28/97) checking out Zappa's version on Make a Jazz Noise Here. (Thanks also to Guy Stevens and John Clancey .)
  • Radio station: The analogue to Ball Radio was be 89.1 FM WENT. The WENT radio station featured traffic reports on the way in and the way out, two archives shows hosted by Kevin, an hour of Grateful Dead, Saturday morning jazz, and (hosted by Shelly Culbertson) a collection of originals that Phish has covered, among other shows. Jim Raras reported this first show (8/15/97 6pm-8pm) setlist:
    Bathtub Gin 8/16/96 I Clifford Ball, Plattsburgh AFB, Plattsburgh, NY
    Halley's Comet -> Alumni Blues 8/17/89 III, The Front, Burlington VT
    Spock's Brain 5/16/95 Lowell Mem Aud, Lowell, MA
    Reba 5/16/95 Lowell Mem Aud, Lowell, MA
    Fixin' To Die 11/19/94 Soundcheck IU Bloomington Aud, IN
    Dog Log 10/14/95 Soundcheck Austin Music Hall, Austin, TX
    Swing Low Sweet Chariot 8/29/87 II Living Room Ranch, Shelburne, VT
    The Curtain Width, 8//29/87 II Living Room Ranch, Shelburne, VT
    Gamehendge Narration -> Divided Sky 11/15/91 I Trax, Charlottesville, VA
    Camel Walk 7/25/88 III Nectar's, Burlington, VT
    Harry Hood 4/18/92 II Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA (free show)

The Went was reportedly the top-grossing concert of the summer, pulling in $4,337,184 (though at least that much reportedly was spent on the entire affair.) Garth Brooks ($1,478,160. Sacramento, Calif. Aug. 14-18) was a distant second. Attendance estimates range from 65,000 (said the Washington Post) to 70,800 (said a local paper). Brian Hamel (Loring Commerce Center Director) was quoted as saying "the Great Went went great!" James A. Yeager reported a rumor that the relevant parties "signed a contract for 2 more years", but nothing official has been announced or reported.

There are some photographs on the Web in various places, and a few articles, as well as sound clips (including 8-16-97 II and III).

On a random note, Eugene Kogan posted his "funny results from [an] AltaVista search on 'the great went': Historians know that Alexander the Great went on to Babylon after subduing Egypt and at the age of 33, indulged himself in a great drunken feast with his generals and died of a combination of malaria and acute alcoholism."


The Site: Loring Commerce Center

Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME, (latitude 46.95, longitude 67.88) was closed during the last week of September 1994. Prior to that time, and for at least two decades, Loring was the northeasternmost continental storehouse of nuclear arms. It was also a research site, for various purposes including observation and intelligence. At least one (early-1980s) Loring pilot developed specialties in remote sensing and space physics, and a number of Space Warning Squadron and Space Wing personnel were based at Loring. Additionally, the AFRAT (Air Force Radiaton Assessment Team), which responds to and assesses nuclear accidents and threats, was based at the Armstrong Laboratory which (I'm pretty sure) is on the base.

There was a rash of UFO sighting on the base, by military personnel and others, in October of 1975, just after similar sightings (and an abduction) at Brunswick Naval Air Station in southern Maine, and just prior to similar sightings (in November) at bases in North Dakota and Canada.

Two landfills on the site were declared Superfund sites in 1989. (A 1994 decision saved millions of dollars by keeping toxic waste on the site rather than shipping it offsite.) The landfills were (funded to be) capped, but the base remained classified as a radiation contaminated site, perhaps as recently as April 1996. An August 1996 document indicates that the full cleanup cost for the site would be over $141 million.

When the base was closed, 1326 jobs were lost and, of those, only 144 recovered. A $6,189,000 renovation planned to turn the base into a Job Corps Center; that project, focusing on seven buildings, was expected to be completed in October of 1996.

See also: site plan and event layout
The Great Went in Twin Peaks

The most common understanding of The Great Went is as a reference to the dancing/party scene of the David Lynch film Fire, Walk With Me. Indeed, Kristen Godard contended that this scene was the theme of the Great Went weekend: "We should all go watch that scene again, but the drinking, the dancing, the laughing, fire, etc... Definitely 'where' we were being put."

But the mention of "The Great Went" in this scene was, itself, a reference to another scene. M.T. Wentz is a restaurant critic (and mother of diner owner Nora) mentioned in the second episode of the second season of Twin Peaks (also referred to as "The Great Went"), and this character is referenced in the movie Fire Walk With Me (based on, following, and "explaining" (ha!) Twin Peaks).

Source scene: Richard posted (3-12-97 to Phish.Net this account of the name: " The term "The Great Went" is used in the David Lynch movie, TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME. For those of you who have seen the movie---Jacques (the fat Canadian bar owner) refers to himself as THE GREAT WENT in the bar scene where Laura Palmer and her friend Donna get all drugged up and freaked out. Really intense scene-----> Loud music, strobe lights, the works. The words spoken in this scene are actually shown in subtitles because the music in the bar is so loud. I have cut and paste a clip from the actual scene below. Check it out:

    The group enters a large room with the filthiest wall to wall carpet imaginable. In the back corner is a small stage. On it a three piece HELL-METAL BAND is building up toward oblivion. The LEAD SINGER is dressed in a buffalo skin complete with at least half the buffalo head and horns. He wears spray painted, day glow orange cowboy boots. Some HALF DRESSED GIRLS and COWBOYS are dancing to the band. In darkened corners away from the stage other groups are racing the band to oblivion. Laura leans over to Donna noticing her shocked look. LAURA: Don't expect a turkey dog in here. Jacques Renault comes up to the group. JACQUES: Hey, slow pokes, guess what There's no tomorrow. He grabs Laura up and gives her a big, sloppy wet kiss. JACQUES: Baby, you know why Cause it'll never get here. LAURA: Hey, Jacques... JACQUES: (slurred) No "Jacques". I am the Great Went. LAURA: (for Donna) I am The Muffin. JACQUES: And what a muffin you have. The two truckers laugh with Jacques. He mimes a gun with his right hand and pointing it to his forehead pulls the trigger with a weak, slack cheeked puff sound. JACQUES: (slurred) I am as blank as a fart. Laura winks at Buck as he SECRETLY drops a red depth charge into Donna's beer. LAURA: Hey, Donna, chug-a-lug.

"The Man In Black" clarified via email (3-12-97), "The Great Went is what Jacques Renault called himself in Fire Walk With Me (the TP movie) when he was drunk and stoned in the Pink Room."

Why the Great Went Jimmy posted (3/13/97): "One possible explanation is that I think Twin Peaks is still heavily played in Europe. [Note: It was run in full in parts of Europe, including Amsterdam and France, during a period overlapping the spring 1997 Europe tour.] You can also catch it on Bravo from time to time." Jimmy added thse important thoughts: "Just a word of advice, watch episodes in order or you will be lost and think that the show sucks and also the movie. If you ever plan on watching all 25 hours of the show do not watch Fire Walk With Me until after you have seen all the episodes."

But in that scene, Jacques was, in fact, wasted, practically falling over, slobbering, yelling. The nickname The Great Went is not just something random he yelled out -- it refers to a scene in the diner, in one of the early episodes of the television series Twin Peaks (after which the movie was made). In that scene, there is fear about the arrival of I.M. Went, aka The Great Went, a feared restaurant critic.


The Geology of the Went

Martin Acaster posted (4-4-97 14:17:40) to the Phish.Net a wonderful "Geology of the Great Went":

The geology of the gorge post made me do this

    Geologic Setting and Tectonic History of The Great Went

The site of the Great Went, Limestone, Maine is underlain by rocks of the Hurricane Mountain Formation. The geology and tectonic history of the Hurricane Mountain formation was summarized (Boudette, Boone, and Goldsmith, 1989) for a field trip I attended at the 81st annual meeting of the New England intercollegiate Geological Conference. The Hurricane Mountain melange (Boone, 1989) represents part of an accreted wedge of carbonaceous, sulfidic scaly metapelite and metasiltstone which is charged with blocks and rafts of autoclastic and exotic rocks). Localized occurrences of different exotic lithologies along the strike of the Hurricane Mountain Formation suggest that subduction may have been oblique, and that strike-slip faulting within the forearc environment or arcward of it, brought different provenances into the zone of active fragmentation where gravity-driven submarine slides were incorporated into the growing accretionary wedge.

The Hurricane Mountain Formation retains a rather consistent structural thickness of 900 to 1000 m throughout the lobster mountain anticlinorium; this thickness probably is largely a product of Penobscottian, rather than Acadian deformation. The structural relationship of the Hurricane to the underlying, less deformed aguagene volcanic Jim Pond Formation is essentially a fault contact, involving break-up and olistostromal emplacement of Jim Pond greenwacke, quartzite and volcanogenic rocks in a matrix which is increasingly composed of siltstone protolith structurally upward into the Hurricane in the southwest part of the Hurricane Mountain Belt (Boudette, 1978).

To put this another way. ...About 600 million years ago this part of Maine was lying at the bottom of a shallow sea between a volcanic island arc and the continental margin of Laurentia (what is now referred to as North America). The Phish that lived in this sea were frequently Buried Alive or Drowned in submarine landslides caused by the numerous earthquakes that rocked the area. The unfortunate Phish were often Swept Away down the Steep slope that was formed by a Wedge of sediments that were being scraped off the top of the slab of oceanic crust as it was forced underneath the volcanic arc. Once the slabs were subducted they would usually Split Open and Melt. Soon they would once again belch forth from the mouths of a volcanic Mound or a Rift on the continental margin. Frequently this resulted in a Fire On The Mountain or a Fog That Surrounds the island arc itself. The Aftermath of all this was the formation of the Hurricane Mountain Formation. All Things Reconsidered a Day In The Life of a Cambrian Phish was Blue and Lonesome. If I Could have been there then would You Enjoy Myself as much as you will at the Great Went

See also, What does Loring think of Phish fans

Other Went Web Sites

For more information see any of the following web sites of interest:

 

Thanks also to Brer .

"Coming home to place I had never been before was easier than I expected, if I even thought it possible. It was the land that did it first, before the people added a final dimension that made me know I had found something unexpected and rare.""
-- Charles Jones, A Separate Place"



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