Saturday, March 8, 2008

Weekend in Montreal

Let me just mark this space here. I have a lot to write about, in the meantime. Stay tuned.

Mr. Bruce Springsteen and the Culture of Rock and Roll Dorkiness

This is late, so let me get right to it.

It's a bit of a long story, involving too many tickets, a lost wallet, sick children, and a slice of pizza. Suffice to say that its the second of March, 35 degrees American outside, and I am sitting high above and behind Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, stretched out among a few seats, with no one to dance with.

The last time I saw Bruce was in Ottawa, if you remember, and that was with my new friends, Jimmy and Gary. Now, sitting alone among 16,000 fans at the Bell Centre, I know no one.

At a certain age, you stop lining up early outside for tickets to your favorite band; you stop living your life around their schedules. Not so Bruce fans. As I'd been explaining to someone, if you have any obsession, no matter how cool it may seem—golf to tattoos to rock and roll—you walk a fine line between cool and dork.

In trying to buy tickets for the Montreal show, I strode deeply through Springsteen fandom, encountering people with CyberNoms like JaneyFreehold, Born2Rn, RosalitaSanDiego, KyleWilliam456—obscure references to characters and titles and places in the Springsteen ouevre. Kinda like Star Wars, but with leather jackets and jeans.

And very close to obsessive dork. But hey, then what am I? I try hard not to ever become so obsessed by anything it takes over any aspect of my life. But we all have our obsessions. I'm no different.

Having said all that, I can appreciate Springsteen from a fan's perspective, and from someone who knows what he is and what he isn't. Here's a guy who had every dream come true in his life, someone who can tell his life story and your life story better than you can. Someone obsessive about controlling every aspect of his career. Fans know that.

He is not the Messiah. And I would never let a celebrity tell me how to vote.

But we look for ourselves in the artists we admire, they say what we can't say. It's why you send a song to someone to tell them that you love them.

When he speaks to a larger American picture in his work, it strikes a chord in people. Simple ideas—decency, goodness, the power of rock and roll revival, the best in people—come through, but not as Pollyanna. It's delivered loud with blazing guitars and pounding drums—like Steinbeck through a Fender Twin.

This wasn't the best Springsteen show I had ever seen. That will never happen again, and I'm okay with that.

But high above the stage, as the house lights went up and everyone gleefully sang along on "Dancing in the Dark," and did that little dance like in the video when they were 20, I remembered why he means a little something to me and so many.

"...And when they said sit down, I stood up, ooh, growing up..."
—You Know Who

Monday, March 3, 2008

First Things First, Or How it Be to Be Me

Tonight's entry begins back on Wednesday evening--deadline night. In order to send the latest issue of the Arroyo Seco Journal (my other day (Check it tonight, not right now)to the printer, the cover has to be created and finalized by John, our art director.

So there I am at his place Wednesday night. My MacBook has been acting funny for the past few days every since he placed a folder full of fonts on my desktop, and I loaded some of them. Chaos has reigned since then. But we're trying to go to press at midnight, so I'm being extra careful with it.

So there we are. I at my laptop, writing some final stories and he on his, creating the cover. At just about 10:30, the cover is finalized and approved for uploading to our printer's FTP service. I'm just gonna head home and finish two more sections and lay out the art news. We wont make midnight, but we will make 8 a.m., which means we make our on-street schedule.

I get home, fire up the MacBook, and nothing....just a blinking clock. Not good. There isnt' even enough time to go, "SweetBabyJesusagogoOnaFreekingDirtBike, IcantbelievethisishappeningtomeAGAIN!" I have to get the paper to the press and get on a plane.

I cruise into the nearest Kinko's, pray they have the proper system available, and start working immediately. I'd saved all of the week's work on a flash drive, fortunately, so I had only to finish the remaining pages, and I was done. But this requires critical thinking at 2 in the morning. I, um, did the best I could.

By 7a.m. I was headed home, pages safely sent to the printer. Now the sun was up, and I am wide awake, on the phone to Don, my mac guy.

"Dude!!," I said.

"I can be there in two hours,"he answered.

11 a.m. He arrives, and reveals that he has forgotten a critical tool ("Your brain?", I offered, politely, under my breath.) "I'll be back in an hour," he assures me.

He is climbing the stairs to my apartment at 1 p.m. After about an hour of "tsk tsk," and "thatsfunnyhmm," I ask him if he has a loaner computer. He says his are all out with customers, but he knows where I can rent one."

"Call him right now."

3 p.m. I'm headed for Westwood (Imagine trying to drive to Laval from, let's say, Verdun, at 5 p.m., Montrealers), directly through the heart of afternoon traffic and moving deep into rush hour.

At 4:25, I am walking out of the store with another Macbook Pro, and headed up Sepulveda Blvd. north to the 101 east to the 134/5 interchange, onto the 5, to the Glendale Freeway north to the San Fernando road exit, up San Fernando to Cypress, up Roseview to the very very top, then Avenue 37, and home, with barely enough time for a shower and a dash to the airport. A 22 mile trip in about 3 hours.

Long Beach Airport is uncrowded and peaceful an hour before my flight. My bags (and guitar) are checked curbside.

Looking forward to a long dark, sleepy night, I am blazing awake until we embark at Dulles Aiport in Washington D.C. Another hour for the New York flight. I shoot a couple of video segments, we board the plane, and we are at JFK in about 11 songs.

I shared a car service into Manhattan with my two new friends, Crystal and OhMan,WHAT is her husband's name? They were traveling to NYC to help empty a friend's apartment after her father's move to LA. Long story, kinda. (They'll read this and send me an--oh wait, no they won't, but I'll get to that.)

I can't check into my hotel until noon, so I wile away the hours in a Starbucks on West 56th, watching the city's work force straggle in and walk out awake.

I stroll around Midtown for an hour or so, forgetting what real cold feels like. It's about 12 degrees, and the wind shoots through my clothes like an X-ray. I buy warmer gloves and ear muffs, and at about noon, I'm sitting in the "O" of that "L O V E" sculpture on 55th and 6th, having a hot dog and a diet coke (It's the little things, mon amis.)

By 1:30, I am in rapid eye movement, and do not anticipate any movement for several days. Alas, I am awake at 8 p.m. I board the F Train down to the Village in search of pizza. As I emerge from the West 4th Street Station, a gentle snow begins to fall, and the natives are giddy. Actual snowfall in the City is relatively rare, and the world feels like a happy place.

I found pizza on Carmine Street, in Little Italy, read the NY Post, like a New Yorker, yo, and then got back on the train. I exited again at Times Square, and barely recognized it from the 1986 version I'd been familiar with. No one brushed past me, whispering "Smoke? Smoke?," all the porn shops were gone, and the city that once looked to me like it was about to slip off the worn veneer of civilization was shiny and new again.

By now the snow had turned to rain, all the photos I took were wet and blurry, and it was getting late.

Ah, but by midnight, I was out again. My brother, in New York for three days on assigment for NBC Sports, invited me out for a late something.

We met like tourists at the Carnegie Deli, had strangers take our picture, planned my sister's surprise birthday party, then said our goodbyes. I headed back to the hotel full to the brim with every tiny, happy thing that pizza, falling snow and family fills you with.

(Oh, and why won't Crystal and her husband e-mail me? Because, dear friends, when I arrived in Montreal, I realized that I had lost my wallet. Along with the credit cards, license and all the rest, Crystal's card was in there. THAT is one more blog entry.)

Next: "Mr. Bruce Springsteen and the Culture of Rock and Roll Dorkiness." Only at, Montreal's Best Choice for Quality Low-Cost Entertainment at Work.

How YOU gonna act?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hey Monkeys, I'm back!

13. 5 hours on a train, only to lose my wallet. I promise to update this as soon as I can get VideoTron to answer their phones, and turn the Internet on in my lovely apartment. You know that coffee place on St. Laurent and Prince Arthur? That's where I am. OK, see ya tomorrow. ;-)

OK, OK, you got me. I FORGOT how cold winter can be.
What the F, David Blaine??