Tuesday, May 13, 2014


In the spring of 1984, I was at just the right age to be swept up into the Born in the USA album madness. Yes, album. It was vinyl and I loved it. I listened to it again and again. I liked it enough to dig through the new-to-me albums that Springsteen had already released. I loved them too.

Then, in the late fall of 1984 something incredible happened. We got concert tickets. I went with both of my brothers and Brian from across the street to see Springsteen play the Hartford Civic Center. The seats were on the floor and the show was fantastic. This was 30 years ago, and I still have vivid memories of the night. He opened with Born in the USA, Badlands and Out in the Street. Before playing Glory Days, he told a great high school story about staying out all night Friday playing in a band only to be woken out of a deep sleep early in the morning because the baseball team needed another player (he fell asleep on his feet in the outfield and missed a fly ball). One memory of the show outshines the others.

Springsteen concerts back then were about 4 hours long with an intermission. About halfway through the intermission, some guy about 3 rows in front of us got it in his head that the people not sitting on the floor should do “The Wave.” So he’s yelling at people that stayed in their seats during the break, and pointing here and there and he finally gets a few people to do it and a smattering of people in one row do The Wave for not quite the length of 1 section of seats. Reinvigorated by this small success, he starts it up again and this time a thin slice of people do The Wave through about two and a half sections. He keeps at it, more people on the floor are trying to get the attention of the people in the seats going and a few rows of people are do The Wave around half of the Civic Center. And then magically, these 3 or four rows participating in this guy’s madness make it all the way around the Civic Center. They’re cheering, everyone on the floor is cheering and then EVERYONE in the seats is doing The Wave. It is thunderously loud and I’m standing in the middle of thousands of people doing The Wave. After 3 or 4 full Waves around the Civic Center, all the lights went out our, the stage lights came up and Springsteen was center stage playing the opening of Cadillac Ranch. I still smile thinking about it.

Tonight will be the 5th time I go to a Springsteen concert. I’m not sure I’ll be thinking tonight’s show 30 years from now, but I’m really looking forward to going...sitter comes in less than 2 hours.

Post Show Update: The show was a lot of fun. Have you ever seen the documentary Springsteen and I? The film documents how Springsteen's shows and music have impacted fan's lives. My favorite story in the movie is Philly Elvis (the story really starts around:2:30 in this clip). Anyhow, this guy dressed up as Elvis gets onto the stage with Springsteen and basically lives a dream.

I haven't been to a show since 1999. At some point in the past 15 years, people started bringing signs with requests. So the lights come on and Springsteen starts looking over the requests. He gets passed  a Mother's Day request for a selfie with someone's mom, there was a whole letter asking if she could dance with him if the picture wasn't an option. So Springsteen starts singing "Save The Last Dance For Me" and brings the mother up and dances with her. We got to watch this lady's Philly Elvis moment. The show has been over for a little over an hour. I'm sure everyone this lady knows has heard about it already. Also three little 11 year olds had a sign requesting Seaside Bar Song. Seeing as they knew the song (released 30 years before they were born), he couldn't turn them down and they came onstage to dance too. Although their dance was more of a jump, so Springsteen started jumping too.

The only thing that way to have made the show better would have been if I got to pick the playlist. Although he played Badlands and Thunder Road which were both on my wishlist.

I'd go again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Farewell, Janice

Back in the spring of 2000, money was pretty tight because we were bought a house at the end of May and our wedding was set for mid-July. In searching for a veil to go with her wedding dress, my wife was pretty disappointed with the selection and that selection started at just under $200. In stepped our friend Janice. We knew Janice had gone to school for fashion, but had no idea that she had made many wedding veils. So Amy and Janice went off to a fabric store, bought about $20 worth of veil making stuff...I headed off to Sears and bought the cheapest lawn mower I could find and named it The Janice L. Commemorative Lawn Mower or Janice for short.

Janice has been a trusty lawn mower. She has always started. A few times, she needed a little prodding but that was operator error. Lawn mower tip: air actually needs to flow through the air filter for the engine to run. Janice has a little engine priming button with a sticker that tells you to press 3 times before starting. I think the sticker is missing a 0 and should read 30 times. After 30 or so presses of this magic button and a few pulls, she starts and will run until her tank is empty. I bet she would start today if I tried. But I haven’t tried.

Over time, the elastic in the after market bagging attachment I eventually bought became permanently elongated. For the past three years, I have used vise grips to keep the clippings collector closed. It was kind of a pain in the ass, probably looked a little funny too. Then, in the middle of last summer, the plastic safety shield that protects your shins from being impaled by twigs and small rocks broke off. I didn’t see a way of fixing it. I only got hit in the shins a few times last year, but it hurts like a sonofabitch when it happens. I hate to do it; I have to say good bye to Janice. I am going to literally send Janice to a farm upstate. My father-in-law expressed interest in her. Not sure if he will fix her up and pass her on, just use her engine for something, or let it collect dust in his huge barn o'stuff (most likely).

I checked mowers out at Home Depot, Lowes and Sears. After some hemming and hawing, I got this:

New Janice. I just mowed the lawn for the first time this year. New Janice’s bag collector is infinitely better and there is no engine priming. She just starts on the first, almost effortless pull. And when I was done mowing the yard, I didn’t reek of exhaust. Changing the height of the mower deck is much easier and it has large rear wheels. A salesman told me that the larger rear wheels make it easier to turn and I thought he was full of shit and just trying to up-sell me, but it’s true. I think New Janice and I are going to get along well. Hopefully for at least the next 14 years.