In recent decades, the price of a college education has increased to the point where it has become a genuine national crisis. Entire generations are saddled with debt, while celebrity parents are facing criminal prosecution for gaming the system to get their unqualified kids into colleges. The entire institution of higher learning in America is looking more and more like a dubious scam. But at least America’s college students are learning about truly important things. For instance: Phish.
This past weekend, Oregon State University hosted the first conference ever to be dedicated to the iconic Burlington, Vermont jam band. As Live For Live Music reports, the conference was the brainchild of assistant philosophy professor Stephanie Jenkins, who says that she’s been a Phish fan since 1995 and that she went to her first Phish show in 2003. (A side note: How are you going to be a Phish fan for eight years without going to any shows? Isn’t the live show the entire point?)
The idea of the conference was to explore Phish’s music, culture, and philosophy. Speaking with NPR, Jenkins says, “The Phish community, for me, has created a space of freedom or what Foucault will call a heterotopia — another space.” Meanwhile, musicologist Jacob Cohen says, “Why study Phish? Why study anything?” Why indeed.
The conference included panels, an exhibition fair, an art show, and a screening of the new Phish fan documentary We’ve Got It Simple. In related news, we at Stereogum are bitter that nobody invited us out to discuss Phish ice cream flavors.