Sunday, December 27, 2009

Darkness Revisited

Lately I have been listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town album a lot, partially because I haven’t in a long time, and partially in preparation for its upcoming re-issue. These are songs that have never left his live sets since Bruce first played them over thirty years ago. They have stuck around because they are songs that continue to resonate not only in his own life, but in the lives of his audience. After all, he continues to play them night after night not only because he particularly favors them but because they garner a certain audience response. And rock’n’roll is show business, after all.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

What Lies Beneath

I know my grandfather’s name was John Edward Peters and my grandmother married him because he was a good dancer. He liked to party, but he had a dark side too, a side that remains a mystery. He, like many, lost a large fortune after the stock market crash of ’29; he married my grandmother not long after. My grandfather never recovered from the loss, and his black moods and drinking increased until finally my grandmother threw him out; she eventually divorced him when my mother was five or six years old.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

Well, it’s another Thanksgiving and today we are all spending time with friends and family, eating and drinking far too much and reflecting on our many blessings. For me, it’s been a strange, disturbing year for many reasons, and yet I still feel fortunate.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mental Health Will Drive You Mad

The latest news concerning Lindsay Lohan—that her father is using voice mails she left for him as proof that he needs to forcibly commit her—is evidence of many things, not the least of which is that for the mass audience that consumes this sort of drivel, mental health issues are nothing more than entertainment fodder, something to be vaguely amused by as they peruse their daily doses of Twitter, Facebook and whatever other passing fancies that are nothing more than a momentary distraction in their humdrum lives.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Just Another Saturday Night

I have never really had much imagination when it comes to Halloween costumes. Mostly just bought a cheapie mask at Sears or some such. Nor have I ever really had much enthusiasm for the holiday beyond the obvious candy windfall. These days, like many things in our Modern World, Halloween has become competitive to the point of ridiculousness. As in, how obscure/trendy/ironic can you be and still have people know who you are? Just having a well made costume and a well thought out idea isn’t enough anymore. And if you’re in a major city and are of the female persuasion, there is, of course, the mandatory (and completely unimaginative) sexy fill-in-the-blank costume outfitted by your favorite lingerie store. If you’re in the ‘burbs, however, it’s all about documenting said event by taking endless photos of your adorable kids that no one else really wants to see and then following behind them while they’re out collecting treats with a cooler of cheap beer (my guess—Coors Light). If you’re somewhere in the middle, having a Halloween party is the way to go, which is cool except for usually I have to work on Halloween night and am too old and tired to want to do anything afterward. So this year, like most, I busied myself with a classic movie on TCM, a strong drink and some wonderful scented candles while my more creative and talented friends lit the night with their imaginations.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sense and Colonel Brandon

I somehow got away with not reading any Jane Austen until I was out of college. Don’t really know why; I guess she didn’t appeal to me until I was old enough to have had some of the life experiences she dealt with in her amazing novels. In the last ten years or so, however, I have grown fond of Ms. Austen and her cavalcade of characters: the righteous Mr. Darcy, well-meaning Emma Woodhouse, mischievous ne’er do wells like Wickham and Willoughby. But lately I am especially enamored of the saintly Col. Brandon of Sense and Sensibility fame.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

God's Driftin' in Heaven

At one time missing a Springsteen show at The Spectrum would’ve been unthinkable to me, but lately it just hasn’t seemed to matter that much. Not even the fact that last night was the last time he’d be playing there—for real this time—made a difference to me. He could play my dream set list and I’d still feel there was something missing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Know Thyself

My mom doesn’t know who her father was. Not literally; he did live in the same house with her and her mother and older brother for a brief time. But he was never there much, she was really young when he left, and he never really had much to do with her anyway. So though she knows his name and dimly recalls his appearance, she can’t really say that she ever really knew him.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Like a Bridge

A couple days ago they were handing out free promo CDs at work, which they still do on occasion (yeah, believe it or not there are still labels out there and they still manufacture actual CDs), and I came across Live 1969 by none other than Simon & Garfunkel. I couldn’t believe a) that something of that magnitude had come out and I didn’t know about it (it was actually released in April) and b) that no one else had already absconded with it. I mean really, people, Simon & Garfunkel. I know it was a long time ago and all, but geezus, at one time they were as big as The Beatles here in the U.S.


How time flies, and how tastes change. Funny thing is, theirs is the type of music that is so unique that they really were and are their own genre—to me, they exist out of time just like Dylan or the Fab Four or Beethoven—so in my mind, it’s not a question of being in or out of style. It’s about total frickin’ genius. And this particular CD—an assemblage of selections from various dates on their 1969 U.S. tour—is just stunning. They're at the height of their powers, their voices at their pristine best—the harmonies that are at once so complex and so intertwined it’s as though you’re listening to one voice instead of two; they know each other so well, complement each other so perfectly. And the material, which is culled from their first three albums as well as from their forthcoming masterpiece, Bridge Over Troubled Water, is just stellar. It’s all there, from the whimsical “At the Zoo” to the tuneful “59th St. Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” to the profoundly moving “Sound of Silence.” Listening to these songs and these voices again, I am instantly transported back in time to when I was five or six years old. All of this was brand new then, and in a time of chaos and bloodshed, of assassinations and unrest, riots and war, these songs, this music—so soothing, so literate, so biting and true—were just what we needed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Au Revoir, Les Giants

So that’s it for Giants Stadium, and for the epic event known as “Bruce at The Meadowlands.” Over. Done. No more. And not only was I not there, I wasn’t in contact—The Twitter, The Facebook, The Blackberry—with anyone who was. And you know what—that's just fine with me.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

In Memoriam

Arlington Memorial Cemetery is one of my favorite places to visit in my beloved hometown. Today, for the first time in a very long time, I visited the cemetery grounds with my mom. She doesn’t go often; it’s always very emotional for her, and so we try to make it a special occasion, to really give it our full attention when we go. It was a typical fall day in DC—warmer than you dressed for, but not as humid as it has been only a few weeks before. We like to walk rather than taking the ever-present Tourmobiles; you see more that way, and anyway we were stiff from being in the car for a while. But everything in Arlington is uphill, so it takes a while to get to the spot we like best: the front lawn of the Lee Mansion and the JFK gravesite just below.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Slow Down, You Move too Fast

Ok, I know I’m not Miss Cutting Edge. Never have been. As a matter of fact, I would say that if life were like a vacation getaway, I’d be not the young painfully hip trendies with the “Let’s Go” book under one arm and a backpack over the other, I’d be the person in sensible shoes and slightly unkempt but comfortable clothes perusing the Frommer’s guide whilst trying not to spill coffee on myself.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


Ok, true confessions time. I know the previous post was more than a little self-pitying; so sue me, I’m in that sort of a mood. But I do believe in telling the whole truth—well as much as is relevant, anyway—and the whole truth in this case is that I haven’t been a terribly good friend to my Springsteen fan compatriots of late, either. So asking people to contact me out of the blue about a particular event when I haven’t written, called, emailed, or texted myself is perhaps a bit much.

I have been remiss, and for that I am sorry. And truthfully, it would’ve been a tossup as to whether I would’ve gone to the Costello taping anyway being as my bestest friends Maybe Pete were having their CD release party at the exact same time.

I guess what I’m trying to say is there are two sides to everything, and I’m constantly looking at the glass half empty side. Sorry ‘bout that.

[But really, were y’alls phones and ‘puters not workin’ last week or what? ;) ]

What's So Funny?

I just finished watching the recent film version of the Edith Wharton classic The House of Mirth which, for those not familiar, is the story of a woman’s slow decline from the heights of Gilded Age New York society into poverty, addiction and eventually, death. It’s a story that might happen to anyone: a person who is industrious, intelligent and attractive endures a series of setbacks that, taken one at a time might be relatively insignificant, but experienced in rapid succession, they become so overwhelming that he or she loses heart. The courage and self-confidence required to rise above circumstance are gradually eroded as the person is swept downward by an inexorable tide of tragedy. In Wharton’s novel the woman—Lily Bart--is forced to repeatedly demean herself in order to survive, and the friends and relatives upon whom we all depend in times of trial grow fearful of the social repercussions of associating with a “tainted” woman and begin to distance themselves from her as she sinks lower and lower. At length she is offered assistance, but it is too little, too late.



It’s Friday night, the first Friday in October, and somewhere a couple hundred miles or so to the northeast Bruce is about an hour into the second of five shows at Giants Stadium, the soon-to-be-demolished monstrosity just off of Exit 16W on the New Jersey Turnpike. I should be so upset that I’m missing it, that I’m probably going to miss the entire stand—the Last Hurrah at the fabled venue. I should care—I’ve loved Bruce, lived for him since I was a teenager—but instead I feel nothing at all.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I don't know what is going on out there in the world right now, but I feel like I have to say something about some of the comments I've heard both about the Roman Polanski thing and about Mackenzie Phillips' recent admission of incest with her father in her new memoir, High on Arrival.