08/08/11 Casserole

Instead of banter on about the events at the Stock Exchange today, I’ll start by sharing with you a recollection of this day, 13 years ago…it was the summer of 1998.  This night and the next (8/8 and 8/9) were highlights of my youth…a seemingly ordinary experience turned transcendental.  It’s nice to take a step back, forget about the bullshit and think about something positive…thinking about these nights never fails to bring a smile to my face.  The events may seem mundane…but they are seared in my memory forever.

It was a typical east coast summer.  The air, thick with humidity, cicadas doing their thing…sometimes we’d get storms.  Jim and I drove from Raleigh, north through Virginia to that our destination in the populous part of Maryland.  It was a Saturday, and there was lots of traffic.  At our destination, we had nowhere to stay.  We had planned on camping, but it was getting late, so we scrapped that plan in favor of trying to find a cheap-ass motel.  Time was getting short, as we had a destination  and our presence was required by 8:00 PM.  We never found a motel.  I’m not sure how many of you have been to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, but there is a shopping mall across the street from the venue.  Jim and I decide: “what the fuck”,  park the Accord outside of Sears and walk across the street to see the show. 

This was Phish, this was the Summer of 1998.  The band was crushing fun new covers every single night.  In Alpine Valley on August 1, it was Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” and “Been Caught Stealin’” by Jane’s Addiction.  August 3rd in “Deer Creek” was “Rhinoceros” (Smashing Pumpkins), 8/6 – Atlanta: Runnin’ with the Devil.  I have always maintained that Phish is the world’s greatest cover band. 

On this night Merriweather was ripe with energy…Jim and I had a bad spot on the lawn and it didn’t matter.  Due to our tardiness, there was no time for “pre-game festivities”.  We were clear-headed and ready.  Phish sounded great. 

The show shifted gears midway through the first set during the Allen Toussaint/Robert Palmer cover “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley”.  The band crept along into a staccato/feedback loop that focused the energy of the crowd into a white-hot point that just erupted with the opening notes to “Guyute”.  Here I could be seen jumping up and down, screaming “YES!!!  FUCK YES!!!” and looking like a prime candidate for an IV sedative.  “Possum” is a song that Phish loves to close a set with.  This version was not noteworthy, other than it didn’t close the set.  Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” (another first time cover) was what the band chose to send us off with.  The crowd energy was palpable. 

At set break Jim and I tried in vain to move closer…it was no use, the lawn was a sardine can…we needed to locate objects to gauge our positioning in case we lost contact during the second set.  We struck up a conversation with two dudes who were going to be selling burritos and ‘brownies’ after the show.  They described how they were able to finance their entire tour on this venture.  I was all of 19…so I thought this was a great idea.  It never came to fruition.  The dudes were cool…as is the case with almost everyone I’ve associated with in the Phish scene.  We have our moments. 

“Cavern” was a strange choice to open the second set.  The theme from 2001 aka “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, the version from the incredible movie “Being There”, followed.  In the Fall of 1996, Phish had started experimenting with taking this song further ‘out there’.  From it’s debut in 1993, the song was almost exclusively played at the start of the second set and would usually segue into a more improvisational piece (“David Bowie”, “Run Like an Antelope”, “Tweezer”, “Mike’s Song”).  Summer 1998 probably saw the highest quality versions of this song, and Merriweather, while not the best, was above average.  This was one of the few shows that I have been to where I felt better (physically and mentally) late in the second set than I did at the outset of the evening. 

Later on Phish played Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” (which wasn’t a complete surprise because they played it in Ventura on 7/20 and Jim and I also heard it being sound checked in Atlanta two days earlier).  My embarrassing behavior continued during the encore, as I once again was found jumping around when the first notes to “Sabotage” (Beastie Boys) rained down upon the crowd. 

We were pumped.  Best show ever (it wasn’t, but it felt like it).  The band was connecting with the crowd, they were on fire and were really bringing it. 

Soon, we realize that we have nowhere to stay.  The decision was made to get in the Accord, get the hell out of the mall parking lot and start driving to Virginia Beach.  We were about 30 miles from our spot outside Sears listening to a tape of the first set of 10/21/94 when the clock struck midnight.  To be continued…


The watchlist is cancelled for 8/8…why even bother at this point.  Pretend that there was a blizzard today, and all events have been cancelled.  The forecast is looking pretty shitty, so I wouldn’t expect much in the coming days.  I’m all cash and currently not looking to maneuver my way around 16 inches of snow in my rear wheel drive sedan.


Speaking of being in all cash.  I closed out my call option positions in $D and $MCD today (Monday).  I was able to get a fill of 0.60 (0.7) on my $D Oct. 50 calls and 0.95 (1.17) for my $MCD Sept 87.5 calls.  Booked two more losses.  Yeah, so what else is new?

Industry Standings

Conclusions: Tobacco is currently less fucked than every other industry.  Food and Beverage sucks the second least.  Utilities finally felt the hammer drop today (see: my $D shakeout).  There are no “safe havens” in stocks right now.  My advice: either go to all cash and keep an eye on things, or prepare to allocate a small amount of risk to short the shit out of any bounce.  That’s where you are going to make/not lose money right now.  Anyway, here are the standings:

Rank Industry Score Change Weekly
1 Tobacco 6.03 0.71 3.27
2 Food and Beverage 4.31 0.84 2.88
3 Utilities 2.60 0.08 1.44
4 Telecommunications 1.31 0.30 1.61
5 Financial Services 1.18 -0.14 0.52
6 Retail 1.03 0.27 0.48
7 Internet 0.41 -0.37 -1.53
8 Computer Hardware 0.08 -0.09 -0.25
9 S&P 500 0.00 0.00 0.00
10 Leisure -0.03 -0.18 -1.42
11 Diversified Services -0.46 -0.33 -0.02
12 Consumer Non-Durables -0.54 0.11 0.06
13 Drugs -0.72 0.30 -0.54
14 Wholesale -1.02 0.26 -0.13
15 Insurance -1.42 -0.70 -0.51
16 Computer Software and Services -1.43 -0.43 0.03
17 Consumer Durables -1.45 -0.36 -0.61
18 Real Estate -2.20 -0.95 -2.73
19 Energy -2.26 -1.31 -3.80
20 Transportation -2.43 0.18 -0.15
21 Media -2.45 -0.51 -1.75
22 Chemicals -2.60 -0.94 -3.82
23 Specialty Retail -2.65 -0.77 -2.44
24 Metals and Mining -2.75 -1.09 -3.35
25 Banking -2.76 -0.91 -2.16
26 Aerospace/Defense -2.96 -0.16 -0.64
27 Health Services -3.02 0.38 0.68
28 Conglomerates -3.61 0.16 -0.80
29 Electronics -4.26 -0.27 -1.80
30 Automotive -4.65 -0.73 -2.16
31 Manufacturing -5.95 -0.66 -1.82
32 Materials and Construction -6.27 -0.30 -2.51

As always, if you like what you read here, feel free to follow me on Stocktwits.

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