27 March 2008


"You Enjoy Myself" by Phish which clocks in at 9:50

There are those of you reading this site who likely (really) enjoy making fun of Phish. The mere mention of the band probably makes you laugh loud judgmental laughs "Phish? ha ha HA!" you say. I'm sure you enjoy yourself making phun fun of Phish. And why not? It is a fun band to make fun of; what with their aimless jazz-brunch influenced noodling and nonsense lyrics and white-kid-with-dreadlocks audience members... Phish symbolized the Starbucks generation of "hippie" music lovers and carried a legion of mind-scrambled fans around the country with them for 20+ years, nearly single-handedly defining/soiling the term jam band for an entire generation. Making fun of Phish is like shooting fish in a barrel. Which is why that's exactly not what I'm here to do today. Instead, I'd like to make fun of fish. Don't worry, it's not like I'm going to hurt their feelings.

If that fish in the picture above could speak, what do you think it would say? "Tzaruch shemirah"? Me, I'm guessing something along the lines of "you enjoy myself to eat, please don't eat myself!" Look at it. It looks like it's talking to the photographer; and, it's fairly adorable. And fish aren't anywhere near "cute" or "adorable". But that one is. And I could totally see cuddling with it or having a nice broken English conversation with it. Phish, er fish, would be all "you wash your feet in my water drive me into a frenzy," or whatever it is they say. But fishes can't learn things like how to complain about dirty water, or language, or anything... can they?

This just in:

Scientists are testing a plan to train fish to catch themselves by swimming into a net when they hear a tone that signals feeding time.

If it works, the system could eventually allow black sea bass to be released into the open ocean, where they would grow to market size, then swim into an underwater cage to be harvested when they hear the signal.
Seriously?! Fish will just, catch themselves?? Goodbye fish farms, expensive nets and lures, goodbye to an entire industry of fishing, goodbye to lazy days on the lake... hello Fishchurian Candidate?!? Here fishy fish fish, we've programmed you to respond to this one specific frequency, go forth now and "live" in the wild and we'll just vibrate the water when we're hungry, k? Okay, byeee fishy! (Really?)
"It sounds crazy, but it's real," said Simon Miner, a research assistant at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Wood's Hole, which received a $270,000 grant for the project from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Miner said the specially trained fish could someday be used to bolster the depleted black sea bass stock. Farmed fish might become better acclimated to the wild if they can be called back for food every few days.
Something tells me that spending $270,000 plus to "specially train" the fish to do everything but cut themselves into little cubes, cook themselves, and jump right into our mouths might drive the cost of dinner up a bit, no?
The bigger goal is to defray the costs of fish farming, an increasingly important source of the world's seafood. If fish can be trained to return to the farmer after feeding in the open ocean for several days, farms could save money on feed and reduce the amount of fish waste released in concentrated areas.

The key question for fish farmers: How many fish will actually return, and how many will be lost to predators or simply swim away?
Shit. I didn't even consider that some other hungry mouth might want to eat our brainwashed bass. Can't we train some dolphins to act as sheepdogs or something?
Previous experiments have used sound to train a fish to feed — similar to what Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov did in his famous dogs that salivated at the sound of a bell, expecting food.

In Japan, scientists have used sound to keep newly released farmed fish in certain areas, where they could be caught in traditional ways.

But no one has ever tried to get fish to leave and return to an enclosure where they can be scooped up.

The project began last summer using 6,500 black sea bass, a stout, bottom-dwelling fish that lives between Florida and Cape Cod and in the winter is generally not found north of New Jersey. The species grows up to 3 pounds and 20 inches long and has a thick, white flesh that can be filleted for broiling or cut into nuggets for frying.
Ah, there we go, fish nuggets! I thought something was seeming very McDonald-y about all of this anyway. So what, McDonald's is going to start training the animals they cook/serve to respond to "buh da buh ba ba" the same way they've trained Americans? "Buh da buh ba ba" - feeding time - "I'm lovin' it, let's go home"? Seems quite an involved process to go through just to get some fish nuggets for the masses when your average fish is willing to be caught with not much more than a stick, some thread, and a worm on bent metal. But anyway, I thought that fish couldn't even remember anything for more than a second anyway? You know, the little plastic castle is a surprise every time...
Miner said the first objective was to see if the fish could truly be trained. He got his answer after keeping the fish in a circular tank, then sounding a tone before he dropped food in an enclosed "feeding zone" within the tank that the fish could enter only through a small opening.

Researchers played the tone for 20 seconds, three times a day, for about two weeks. Afterward, whenever the tone sounded, "you have remote-control fish," Miner said.

"You hit that button, and they go into that area, and they wait patiently," he said.

Miner is now trying to figure out how long the fish remember to associate the tone with food. He feeds the fish outside the feeding zone without a tone for a few days and then tests if they will still head for the feeding area when the tone sounds again.

Some fish forgot after five days. Others remembered as long as 10. Miner said the strength of memory seems tied to how long the fish are trained.
This is getting ridiculous. It's like a science fiction version of the Tootsie Roll Pop question: how much money, how many years, will it take to raise fish nuggets, only to potentially lose them to freewill and/or other predators?
Scott Lindell, the project leader, said losing fish is a concern. But the savings of using the trained fish and the AquaDome is potentially huge: Even if only half the fish come back after reaching market size, the operation would be more profitable than current methods. The dome, for instance, is 10 times cheaper than a standard aquaculture sea cage.

Miner said real answers won't start coming until the fish hit Buzzards Bay this spring. "There's probably 18,000 ways for it to go wrong and only one way to go right."
Stupid fish. That's why I imagine their English to be as broken as the lyrics of the song posted here - they can't even learn to enslave themselves! Unlike, say, Phishheads, who never had any problem mindlessly responding to whatever (strange, off-key, odd, or atrocious) sound/cover version the band produced. Year after year after year. Those Phishheads must feel pretty lost right now. All jumping up and talking about trading tapes for veggie burritos whenever they hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner or see a trampoline or meet someone named Wilson... Hey, let's make nuggets out of them!

Phishheads, phishheads, roly poly phishheads; phishheads, phishheads, eat them up yum!

*above photo from HERE

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EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Green Day - "Homecoming"
Billy Bragg - "Joe Hill"
Van Halen - "Year to the Day"
Kraftwerk - "The Telephone Call"
Neutral Milk Hotel - "Oh Comely"
George Gershwin - “Rhaphsody in Blue"
Múm - "Smell Memory"
Tool - "Lateralus"

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.


Anonymous said...


Great post. This is a really excellent idea for a column.

Anonymous said...

in the song they sing "wash uffize drive me to firenze" NOT "you wash your feet in my water drive me into a frenzy"

Anonymous said...

I have a pet fish (siamese fighter named Garp) and he is no silly fish. When he hears me walking through the door, he swims as fast as he can to the top of the bowl and when i put food in his water, he jumps!! If you put something next to bowl that he doesn't like the look of, he gets all huffy and puffy about it. He has a lot of character and if i could, i'd cuddle him just a little. Fish are great pet alternatives in the city - better than keeping a dog cooped up all day in an apartment.

Anonymous said...

you WOULD link to some ani difranco lyrics. but i don't come here for the music, but for links to of fish saying the end is nigh.

Anonymous said...

um, anonymous #1, i'm pretty sure the misquote of the phish lyrics was intentional. you know,a play on words. a pun of sorts. as in, this is what a "fish" would say... not a "phish".

Anonymous said...

phish truely is ice cream for the ears! i was hoping for a 27+ minute tweezer or stash but yem is cool. can cash or trade for a ride to the deer creek show?

Jimmy Mac said...

hi-freakin-larious. i'm an apologetic former phish-head myself, wasting too much time on a whole lotta nothing. i see the phish phaithful have come out in defense of their beloved band, that's both sorry and funny. i guess they didn't read your entire article. their attention spans must be mush from all the ecstasy...

Hippie said...

Where do you get your self-inflated feeling of superiorty over other musical listeners. Who are you to judge what is good music and what is not? Are you basing your judgements on the accuracy of the performer in a live setting, the technical difficulty of the music being played, the over all connection between each member, their individual abilities within the piece, or are you just another pompus ass out to bash on a band that you have probably heard two songs from out of their upwards of 500 song catalogue. It's people like yourself who damage the creativity that is able to expressed in this world with your un-substantiated insults to a group of people that would laugh at you if you ever attempted to legitamately argue your point of view. So, sit in front of your keyboard and think up some more aimless put-downs while you listen to your favorite Garth Brooks album. I myself am going to go appreciate the amazing round between piano and guitar that Phish accomplished in the song Reba. Go take a music class you dummy.

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