This image contains coded patterns which mystically herald the coming of the Apocalypse or some crap.
Island Packet (Stolen Hastily From November 2009) — ‘What do you think about this 2012 madness?” Paul Mitchell asks me via the newsroom’s instant-message system earlier this week. Paul Mitchell is a line of high-end hair care products, but he also is an actual human person who works in the newsroom. At one time Paul, being of a considerably younger vintage, failed to correctly identify Bruce Springsteen on the television. Illogically, we’re friends anyway.
The movie looks like silliness, I reply, but on the other hand, “Independence Day” was a pretty great movie in which many objects were indiscriminately exploded, such as the White House and Lone Star from “Spaceballs,” so it might be fun.
“Not the movie,” Paul says, an icy fear creeping noticeably into his online voice. “All I gotta say is I’m panicking if that mess comes my way in three years.”
Paul was, I surmised, referring to the Mayan prophecy that says the end of times will take place in the year 2012. It’s also the hook of “2012,” a new movie by destroyed-landmark fetishist and director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) that stars John Cusack, both of whom, it turns out, appear in a strong percentage of Mayan prophecies. In their lore, Cusack is actually immortal.
Thrilled and honored to contribute to the relaunched — and slick-looking! — official site of Bruce Springsteen, as part of a team that includes such Bruce luminaries as Chris Phillips, editor of the legendary Backstreetsmagazine, Caryn Roseand Glenn Radecki. The site’s a treasure box for Bruce fans and features blurbs for albums, tours and videos, which feature my contributions throughout. If you’re interested, I also wrote a handful of band bios, including those for Springsteen, Stevie Van Zandt, Nils LofgrenandSoozie Tyrell. Check it out!
Twice now, through no appreciable talent or skill of my own, I’ve been lucky enough to fly to New York City— at not very many moments’ notice — to stalk Bruce Springsteen. I did it last year when he performed on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” thanks to the success and unprovoked generosity of an old friend who books the musical talent and is inexplicably gracious to inveterate obsessives. On that first tripa buddy and I found ourselves, suddenly and without adequate warning, in a conversation with Bruce Springsteen about children, parenting and the community of siblings, a three-minute galactic improbability that sort of resulted in the birth of my second son. (Long story.)
I did the same last week (fly to New York, not have a son), due to a second lightning strike of luck and babysitting, and found myself once again in the lobby at 30 Rock swarmed by a buzzing mass of Bruce people and happily dazed tourists. As it turned out, one of the swarming people in our ticket line looked a lot like Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers, a band that I’ve stalked a fair amount as well (my Billboard review of “I And Love And You,” and me interviewing them at Bonnaroo in 2010). You know that thing where you stare at somebody like an idiot, trying to see if it’s really that guy, but you can’t tell, and the wifi doesn’t work so you can’t Google image him so you stand there like a hopeless yokel until someone else confirms the identity for you? You do? Great.
The show, of course, was a delirious joy. Springsteen made a babushka joke, which, as a dutiful Slovak, I’m pretty sure was written just for me (thanks, Boss). The ’80s-bandanna/LMFAO sketchwas a perfect sequel. There was a bit during a commercial break in which the zipper on Springsteen’s black leather jacket got stuck, and the short version is for three minutes off-air two women struggled to free a fake-panicking Bruce Springsteen from his clothes while Jimmy Fallon impersonated Bruce’s preacher-man persona and the Roots laid down what I think was polka music. I very much enjoyed writing that sentence.
Swarm of the Plaid People. From left: myself, Ben French, Bruce and Jonathan Cohen.
On about a dozen occasions in just under five minutes, it becomes clear that the person talking to me is Bruce Springsteen. This, in case you are wondering, never stops feeling like getting walloped by a large rolling boulder, or shoved into an above-ground pool filled with half-melted ice cubes. You would think that after some time your brain would become used to realizing it’s maintaining eye contact with Actual Bruce Springsteen while simultaneously attempting to convince your hands to stop shaking like that, but curiously this never occurs. The net effect is that every few minutes I realize, for what seems like the first time, that I’m engaged in a real conversation with Bruce Springsteen and it would be best for everybody if I didn’t throw up or try to hug him.
Currently, Bruce Springsteen is talking to my friend Ben and I about parenting. I was introduced as having come to New York City from South Carolina, and Springsteen mentions how he just moved his daughter to Duke, and as someone who has equated Duke with cartoonish supervillainy since the early ’90s, I note that in talking to Bruce Springsteen for 14 seconds we’ve stumbled into the only topic on which I’ve ever really disagreed with him.
Ben (who is executive producer at RollingStone.com) mentions the pocket-sized baby girl his wife delivered two weeks prior, and this redirects the conversation into the kind of small talk you might have at the play gym, about how one day they’re newborns and the next day you’re moving them into a dorm and sweet weeping Jesus I’m talking to Bruce Springsteen about children and family units and how he and Patti — it’s strange the conventional role she plays in this particular narrative — enjoyed and facilitated their kids’ closeness. I should make clear that I’m completely paraphrasing this part, as obviously I have zero recall of the words Bruce Springsteen actually used when he was talking to me — for all I know he could have been reciting detailed schematics of the Starship Enterprise in Farsi — but I got the gist of it, or at least more than I would have thought I could while concentrating on not babbling like a drugged maniac.
It's shocking how little effort was required to find this.
GateHouse — The boy has gotten up twice tonight so far, unable to sleep due to concerns that Cat Heaven and People Heaven are entirely separate places.
But before we discuss how I’ve managed to defuse the situation with some serious ninja-level Ghost-Cat Fathering Awesomeness, a little background:
My son would very much like to get a pet, specifically a cat, which he has judged far superior to a dog based on both slobber volume and evidence provided by the film “The Adventures of Milo and Otis,” which, in his defense, makes a pretty compelling case. But sadly, Dad is allergic to cats — not, mind you, in the way that makes Dad a little snuffly, but in the way that makes his esophagus constrict like he’s being Force-choked by Vader for saying something snippy about his big stupid battle station with the gaping security problems. Believe me, if it was just a matter of knocking back some sinus pills to ensure my son’s joy I’d pop them like Rush Limbaugh on prom night, but I’m stuck.
Paste — Bruce Springsteen’s most recent eyebrow-removing live documentary is evidence that the aging process may be purely theoretical. “IS THERE ANYBODY ALIVE OUT THERE?” he shouts all of 12 minutes into the show, throwing down the gauntlet to the behemoth Hard Rock Calling Festival audience with a crazy-eyed boxer’s glare that’s part statement of purpose and part f*#&-you to the AARP Magazine cover. London Calling: Live at Hyde Park then explodes open with its ace in the hole: Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt tearing into the Clash like two scuzzy-looking punks thirsting to prove themselves, which is, of course, profoundly insane: By the time London Calling was shot in June 2009, Springsteen and the E Street Band, most loitering around the parking lot of 60, were firing on all cylinders, inventing more cylinders and then firing on those too, laying waste to festivals and towns huge and small with three-hour sweat-fests highlighted by nightly Stump The Band requests delivered via creative poster boards (the DVD’s: the Young Rascals’ fest-ready “Good Lovin’”).
Pictured: Some dude tumbling backwards into a pit of what is essentially post-Count Chocula milk. (Photos by Jon Fletcher/Florida Times-Union)
GateHouse — The best part of finishing the vigorous and extremely pinheaded activity known as a Mud Run is not the getting filthy on purpose, the feeling of accomplishment or even the extremely satisfying kick of getting to run a grown-up obstacle course: It is discovering the scope and volume of material that can be stored, and subsequently removed, from the human ear.
Not everyone is going to want to read the following paragraph, such as my squeamish cousin, who has been known to experience waves of nausea at the mention of blood drives, or my even more squeamish brother, who has a fear of bodily humors of such significance that I used to literally chase him around the room with one of my son’s freshly soiled diapers: “Ewwww look Dave touch it touch it touch it,” I would taunt like an incredible jerk, while highly enjoying the squealing noises he would create as he huddled, shivering and alone, behind the papasan chair. (This has, incidentally, been Dave’s greatest concern in the health-care debate: Will injuries sustained by fainting when confronted with poop be covered?)
But here are a few things I learned in the Post-Mud Run Ear Cleanout And Block Party 2010:
The human head is capable of way more storage than you might suspect.
If you have, hypothetically, larger-than-average ears, one of which is tilted at an angle that’s been noticeable since your kindergarten pictures, they will serve as a direct funnel for airborne dust particles.
While OK in most cases, there are instances in which the Q-Tip is a pathetically insufficient cleaning apparatus; this job in particular felt a little like what it would be like to use them to wash your boat.
Yet this is part of the gloppy aftermath of the Mud Run, which athletes, runners and people who have things wrong with them engage in, on purpose, when they feel that races are more fun when you might also contract dysentery.
To stop those monsters, 1-2-3 / Here's a fresh new way that's trouble-free / It's got Paul Anka's guaranteeeeeee
Island Packet — So they opened a Dunkin’ Donuts in Beaufort. I know they opened a Dunkin’ Donuts in Beaufort because I have been pleading for it, because I have bothered the business reporter about it for months with the fierce relentlessness of the tiger, because I lived for a short while at the work site, having built a lean-to out of whatever discarded items I could scrounge up — tires, playground equipment, THANK YOU VERIZON FOR YOUR ROCK-SOLID SPONSORSHIP signs — and waited patiently, living there for months, like the “Into The Wild” guy except less in search of pure personal revelation and more of things filled with jelly that leave your face a swamp of icing.
I did this not necessarily just for the donuts, but also for the majestic moment when I could walk through that door, into that breathtaking wonderland of dough and sprinkles and future heart concerns, and order a Large Coffee With Cream And Sugar, which represents the pinnacle of human achievement as it pertains to coffee and, as a bonus, arrives in a cup the approximate size of a container ship (with a Large Coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, one could, very easily, caffeinate a horse).
Now, I understand that some of you may be wondering what could possibly be worth getting this worked up about, but you are wondering this only if you’re the type for whom coffee is a fleeting pleasure, rather than something required by your addicted, shattered DNA if you hope to consider getting out of the bed in the morning. If this is the case, we have little in common.
GateHouse — People ask me why it is I am pulling for the New Orleans Saints today instead of my near-hometown Colts, and there are many reasons, most of which are comical and dumb, but here’s the main reason I am rooting against Indianapolis: They sit down at Bruce Springsteen concerts in Indianapolis.
Much has and will be written about Indy, which, to many New Orleansianians, went from a pleasant, corn-smelling spot on the map last week to a rival arch-nemesis empire that must be vanquished (however unlikely this is gonna be) this week. There have been snarky remarks about its status as a large suburb, its sudden obsession with the tenderloin and the lively diversity of its thousands upon thousands of Chili’s restaurants. And there have been jokes about Peyton Manning, a pleasant-looking sort who apparently plays football if he’s not plugging products on television, which happens almost 20 minutes every day.
But I will not join in the seasonal-affective piling-on, for a very good reason: My friends will be mad at me, and I like getting calls on my birthday. It is a perfectly lovely place, except for the thing about the Bruce.
Get a good look, because this is as close as you're getting to an Eggo until June.
GateHouse — Well, it’s over, there are no more waffles.
I am going to pause for a moment to let that news sink in and give you the time, if you are so moved, to kill yourself, because this waffle fiasco is pretty definitively the worst thing to happen to our collective breakfast-related condition since the lunchtime mauling of Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird in that panther cage (he was so young, and chocolatey). Sure, the recession has brought all manner of terrible things to America, including rampant unemployment, obscene corporate bonuses and like 35 weekly hours of Jay Leno, but this is the first time in the modern American economic model that a slowdown has proven so protracted and severe that it has wiped out a breakfast food outright. (And I don’t mean to be alarmist, but I’m also hearing pretty stormy things about muffins futures.)
I'm a a writer for such outlets as Men's Health, South Magazine, Nickelodeon's NickMom.com, Billboard, brucespringsteen.net and Paste, a syndicated humor columnist for GateHouse and a father of two (the younger of whom has been personally approved by Bruce Springsteen) on the coast of South Carolina. Even longer bio/clips.