Papa says he knows that I don’t have any money

Wandering minds tend to arrive at guilty conscience conclusions if there is nothing to otherwise engage them. Such is the state of my mind on a Monday morning back at boring job. I’ve just realized that during the joyous three months I've spent building this blog into its present state, I’ve failed to mention my childhood and adulthood hero in any form other than passing mention. Shame on me. So now I'm condemning myself as ungrateful and planning a homage to make up for it. There's really no excuse for this oversight. Maybe I’m taking subconscious anger out on him for not making enough of a difference in his bold endorsement of John Kerry, but that’s not fair. He did all he could. I should be blaming myself, because what the hell did I do? I didn’t even mail in 20 bucks. So fuck me…never blame Bruce Springsteen. He can do no wrong in my book. He is my hero. And heroes should get first-class honorable mention in my blog, because however tiny the circulation, my respect for the Boss is immense, a daily part of my existence that never seems to waver from its prized corner in the back of my mind. I always seem to trip over my own music taste and fall. I care too much and fall into the traps of bands that claim to be about more than fame and desperate exposure. But just like in my love life, if I’m not vulnerable to making all the wrong mistakes, I’m also missing out on the good things out there hiding, waiting to be found and written about and exposed with the same passion that John Landau used when he proclaimed Springsteen’s name synonymous with the future of rock and roll.

Just listening to Springsteen’s sophomore album The Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle fuck up its batch digitization into my computer is frustrating enough because it's a sign of technology's inability to adapt to the slightest human error. But I’m not too surprised by this well-worn CD’s multiple scratches and jumps because after all, it has gotten a lot of action throughout the past ten years. While Darkness on the Edge of Town is still undoubtedly, unhesitatingly my favorite Bruce album , I feel I always have to justify my reasoning to other Springsteen enthusiasts. It’s getting easier with every new fan I meet, because for whatever reason they all tend to agree with me. Maybe I’m meeting more 20-something Baby Boomer I-grew-up-with-Darkness-growing-out-of-my-ears children of the early-mid ‘80s…God knows there aren’t enough of them in Los Angeles, which might be reason enough for me to flee back to the east coast someday. I still think back fondly to the time when the Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle first started really getting more play than Darkness, back in college, when I first discovered that I'm not a total freak - there ARE other people (and - newflash - they're way cooler than I am, Frannie's old boyfriend Mike and Scott/Sean's brother Dave, I'm talking to you) with bona-fide Bruce Springsteen appreciation ingrained in their DNA.

Josh was the first Springsteen fan (my age) I had ever met. He is responsible for reintroducing me to an album I had up until then known as the “'Rosalita' Album" as something so much more than a song about a bad boy trying to make good with his good girl's family. It's an uncanny but fortunate coincidence how Josh and I initially connected. In a university with upwards of 10k undergrad, he accidentally ended up in classes with me each of the four years we were there, from Italian class freshman year, to film studies class sophomore year, to the study abroad in London junior year, to African American studies circa. September 11, senior year. We didn’t plan this, but it worked out in our favor. I remember him so well - I kind of had a crush on him, but he always had a girlfriend (they’re probably married now), and I had a boyfriend most of the time. I can still see his eyes light up as we discussed the structural similarities of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” to the Beatles’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun” completely high off of weed I bought from the pizza guy at the diner where I had waited on other stoners earlier that day on 4-20-2002. Anyway, our Springsteen connection started when we were fortunate enough to be sitting next to each other one snowy Tuesday in late fall of 1999 as we heard about the next class screening, Terrence Malick’s 70s movie, Badlands. Upon hearing the name of the film we automatically, uncontrollably both broke out into song, each of us coining different verses under a soft whisper as the professor droned on. Suddenly, we looked at each other in challenging shock, as if to say, “what the hell are you doing with those lyrics committed to the brain?”

As it turned out on the excited, mile-a-minute Springsteen-fueled talk on the way back to the dorms, his favorite album was not Darkness but the Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle, and his favorite song was not “Thunder Road” but “Incident on 57th Street.” I was fasincated. Somehow my dad's favorites never made it beyond "Rosalita," so I was excited to see what I'd been missing. When I got back to my dorm the first thing I did before heading to homework-land was play “New York City Serenade” on my stereo, letting its gorgeous piano intro drown out the day’s stress buildup. Thankfully my roommate was not back from dinner yet and I could bask in the kind of song appreciation that demands the highest volume level. “So walk tall…” I listened closely, “Or baby don’t walk at all…” I noticed the mastery of intertwining commentary storytelling, an intricate scene alternating between second and third person, meditating not only on the surrounding sounds and sights of the but also on a perspective that glorified the realistic grittiness of America’s biggest, most complex and lively city. Although he predicted in Spring 2002, the last time I saw him, that the Fugees would put out another album before Springsteen, I forgive him for failing to forsee The Rising. Josh was, and probably still is, a class act. All the Springsteen fan guys I've known throughout the years are class acts. I should know - I was raised by one.

I think my mom got really lucky music taste-wise when she married my dad (well, they ended up producing my sister; they both should feel lucky), but unfortunately, like John Landau, Dad stopped looking for the future of rock and roll when he found Springsteen, as though the Boss was the pinnacle of rock. Was he? Well, sure. He might as well have been in 1976, the year they were married, also the year my dad saw him in concert for the first time. While the impending fetus of my sister was as good a reason as any to call a shotgun wedding, by the force of their union they effectively became a Springsteen fan collective, my dad’s records calling my attention long before I had even come into physical being in my mom’s tummy. They were blue collar back then, moving from Portland to small town Spearfish, South Dakota, where Dad used his law degree to get a job at the local saw mill. I’d like to think that Springsteen even had a slight hand in the events leading up to my conception; after all, it was newly 1979. Darkness was out, The River was soon to follow, and my parents were still crazy kids, back in Portland after realizing that Midwestern small town life was not all it was crack up to be. Come to think of it, they weren't much older than I am now. There supposedly wasn’t even a scientifically explicable chance of in hell of my mom conceiving any more offspring after my sister was born (and even Cari was a totally unplanned miracle pregnancy that was a surprise to logically-thinking medical professionals at the time – my mom was a nurse back then). So I like to thank my existence to the combined forces of my parents’ love and Bruce Springsteen. I like to attribute my ability to write and write and write without even coming close to running out of ideas to the inspiration of Bruce Springsteen's examples and writing theories of his own. And I owe my hope in someday finding a partner in crime who shares my Springsteen fan freak affliction (especially in regard to the Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle, thank god) to Josh. Even though you probably won't ever read this, I hope you are happily married to your college sweetheart, working as a widely circulated bona fide college sports commentator, and still appreciating our favorite musician and hero as much as I am. Cheers...


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