Resist the urge to get overly angry today. Resist the urge to polarize so much that we are unable to work together and make alliances and see whatever it is that our possibly fascist new administration is plotting. Don’t fall prey the polarizing rhetoric on social media and the news. Stay focused on love, see with the eye of your heart, and keep aware of what the hell is going on. Make calls to politicians and the White House, but just turn a deaf ear on the endless arguments that permeate all media. I find that twitter is a huge huge mistake right now. Just allows too much immediate reason for anger and division. Stay away, my friends! Have a beautiful day – don’t forget, it’s still a beautiful world.
Uma, over and out.
I just wrote a post about Bruce’s show last night and then…oh, it’s too hard to explain, but basically I accidentally deleted it. So. Let me try again. I’m simultaneously jealous as hell and super happy about the show in Jersey last night. The man (and his band) is (are) super human. Seriously. At almost 67 years old he set and broke longest show records with each of the three shows in this Jersey run over the past week. Last night timed out at 4 hours 1 minute – second longest show of his career and longest USA show. And it’s not just quantity. The setlists of all three shows were pretty phenomenal — last night, however, blew the roof off. And there wasn’t even a roof to start with. He pulled out rarities and oldies and specials and…I mean. WTF. Rather than sink into jealousy and regret along with thousands of other fans, I’m consciously choosing to celebrate instead. And be grateful that I get to see him yet one more time this Saturday in Virginia Beach. It’s unlikely to be a show anywhere close to what he’s done in his home state these past three nights. But anything is always possible at a Bruce show. That’s part of the magic.
1. New York City Serenade (w/strings)
2. Blinded By The Light
3. Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street
4. It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City
5. Spirit In The Night (w/ Rickie Lee Jones)
6. Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran cover, sign request)
7. 4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy) (sign request).
8. KITTY’S BACK (sign request)
9. Incident On 57th Street (sign request)
11. PRETTY FLAMINGO (Manfred Mann cover)
12. Atlantic City
13. I’m Goin’ Down
14. Darlington County
15. Working On The Highway
16. Downbound Train
17. I’m On Fire
18. Hungry Heart
19. Out In The Street
20. LIVING PROOF (first performance since 2009, dedicated to his son, Evan)
21. Candy’s Room
22. She’s The One
23. Because The Night
24. The Rising
26. SECRET GARDEN
28. Born To Run
29. Dancing In The Dark
30. 10th Ave. Freeze-Out
31. Twist & Shout (The Top Notes cover)
32. Glory Days
33. Shout (The Isley Brothers cover)
34. Jersey Girl (Tom Waits cover, with fireworks)
The impossible happened. I met Bruce.
The entire circumstance of how it happened seems incredibly random and completely perfect. Here’s the story.
I live in Asheville, NC, which is about 9 hours from St. Louis. I had been thinking about adding the Sunday, March 6 show to my itinerary, but I fluctuated a lot. Finally, I woke up Saturday morning and thought, what the hell?! Of course I’m going! So, in a whirlwind, I found a GA ticket on the BTX ticket exchange site, arranged for friends to come stay with my cat, and hit the road.
I lucked out and got in the pit through the wristband lottery. I was not one of the first ones in, but because I was on my own, I managed to get up pretty close. In the line before we got in, I met some great fans, including Scott Williams, the guy who danced with Bruce in Cleveland.
As usual, it was a great show. You might have heard some about it, like the guy, Tom England, who got to go up and play and sing Working on the Highway with Bruce and the E Street Band. Which was REALLY AWESOME! I met some cool folks around me and had a fine time. I’ll have a post with just pics pretty soon, but let’s get on with the important part now.
After the show, I took my time leaving. I had been thinking about maybe trying to hang out where Bruce would be leaving from and catch a glimpse of him as he left. I bought some (yet more) merch (they have these cool fabric patches now) and was literally one of the last people to wander out of the building.
There was a driveway right next to the venue, which I had seen before the show and which seemed likely to be the way in and out for artists. I wandered over and one lone guy was standing there. Who? None other than the infamous and aforementioned Scott Williams. I joined him and he told me he had been down below and that Bruce’s security guy told him to wait at the top of the driveway and that Bruce would be coming out soon. GREAT, I thought. Maybe I will see him!
As we waited and chatted, a family joined us also. Mom, Dad and two daughters. One black SUV came up and as they waited to turn out of the driveway, we saw it was Max in the front passenger seat and Garry in the back. It was confirmed because there was a piece of paper taped to the side of the vehicle that said “MAX and GARRY.” I stepped forward and grabbed it.
A few minutes went by, and we saw another SUV leave and in that one we caught a glimpse of Bruce’s guitar tech, Kevin.
Another minute or two. And then…the magic started. The security guy directing traffic in front of the driveway into the main street called over to us, “HE’S COMING!” Which alone was pretty cool, right?!
We looked down and saw two more black SUV’s coming up the driveway. The first one passed us by and made a quick turn into the street. We couldn’t see who it was, and they were turned away from the window. But who cared, because the second SUV was pulling up next to us, the passenger window rolled down and Bruce just sitting there with his arm resting on the door, waving to us. The backseat passenger window was also down, and Bruce’s security guy was there.
And now, things get pretty fuzzy for me. What happened next was SOMETHING like this…
He says, “Hi guys. How you doing?”
We surge forward, but I hang back behind Scott because he’d been there first, and besides I have always felt (as I’ve written before on this blog) that I’m invisible to Bruce and that even when I’ve been at the front of the stage, I’m not one of the ones he ever notices. So even as this amazing thing is happening and Bruce Springsteen is RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, I’m thinking I’m not going to get to talk to him, he’s going to talk to the other people and then drive off and I’ll be invisible as usual.
So the family talks to him and Bruce sees Scott, and says, “Hey, it’s the dancing man!”
The family does the selfies. Then Scott gives Bruce some gifts he had brought for him (nice job, Scott!) and they do the selfies.
And then I’m holding my breath, is this my moment? I’m restraining myself from lunging at him, wondering what to do, sort of realizing that I’ve got no idea what the hell to say anyways, and
Bruce Springsteen looks right at me, reaches out his hand toward me and motions me forward. Are you kidding me? HE SEES ME!
So any kind of self-restraint is over. I ungracefully spring forward, grab his hand and his arm and lean part way into the window and the babbling commences:
Ohmygod Bruce Ihavelovedyou FOREVER
(Bruce: Well thank you)
(Bruce: You are)
Thank you thank you thank you
(Bruce: You’re welcome)
Can I take a selfie?
Fumble fumble with phone, drop my poster tube, Scott picks it up, I’m still babbling:
Bruce, you sound horse, I’m worried about you
(Bruce: Well I really appreciate that)
Bruce, take care of yourself
(Bruce: OK, thank you, I will)
I’m slightly aware that people are smiling at my complete goofiness, possibly even laughing, but it’s absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to regain any composure or presence whatsoever and I’m laughing at myself also.
I get the phone in place and we look at the camera, I’m pretty much out of my body by this time, but I’ve got some awareness that his arm is against my arm, I’m freaking TOUCHING BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. I snap the picture.
And then I say, “Can I kiss you on the cheek?”
Bruce leans the side of his head slightly towards me, motions at his cheek and says, “Yep, there it is, go ahead.”
Seriously. I’m not making this shit up. That is what happened. He said that. I started cracking up, it was SO FUNNY! And SO AWESOME!
So I kissed him on the cheek.
And then he waved to us all, said goodbye, and off they drove.
I started twirling around the grass on the side of the driveway and screaming and shouting OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT JUST HAPPENED! and the sweet family and Scott and I just were laughing and talking to each other and it was so amazing.
Turns out the family are the O’Connors from Chicago: Ben, Julie and daughters Brennan and Delany. Here’s all of us (Scott, too).
And here’s the super cool amazing pic that Ben snapped of me and Bruce.
Holy Shit. It happened. I’ve got the photo evidence.
How do I feel? Still amazed and blessed and super grateful. Also, I feel only more determined to manage to meet him again and this time I’m going to be more prepared. Let me tell you, if you want to meet someone who seems unreachable, whether it’s Bruce or someone else, get ready. Think about what you want to say or ask, what you’d like to have with you to give to them, what you want to be sure to not miss. Because I was so absolutely positive I could never meet him that I never put any time into preparing and although I have no regrets, I do sort of have that one regret. That I wasn’t more ready.
For one thing, I’d love to tell him about this blog. I’d love to give him a bit of my writing about what he’s meant to me. I’d love to be better practiced with the camera phone. All that shit. I don’t even know what-all. But, my friend, I’ll tell you this for sure—I’m gonna be putting some serious energy into preparing for the next time the impossible happens, and I get to meet Bruce Springsteen.
Little Steven, Miami Steve, guitar player in the E Street Band, star of Lillehammer and The Sopranos, incredible musician, and founder of the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation.
Steven Van Zandt is the man. And I MET HIM at Louisville.
It wasn’t any big amazing synchronicity. I donated a relatively large sum of money to his foundation and in exchange I got a seat ticket, and admission to a meet and greet. Also was able to bring my friend, Britt. That’s me on the left.
It was a total thrill to be there. We were all gathered in a private room with a complimentary bar (I don’t drink, so I had a cranberry juice fizz) and a view over the river. We all hung out for about 15 minutes after we got into the venue and then Stevie showed up. Early, apparently. He just sauntered in, and Michael-Ann, the awesome woman who runs the meet and greet at each show was like, “Steven! What are you doing here?!”
He just smiled at her and went to sit at the bar, waved his hand and said, “go ahead, organize, I’ll be here having a drink.” It was hysterical!
So she organized us into a line and he came, and we all shuffled through, had a brief exhange (“Hi how are you? You’re awesome, thank you.”), a quick picture snapped by their photographer, and then it was over. He said, “have a great time” to each of us after our picture. We all stood around watching other people get their turn.
After we all got through, he took time to talk to a teenage girl who was there with her father and wants to be a rock and roll music writer. It was really great to see him there talking to her. He was very encouraging and it seemed like by the end they were talking with Michael-Ann about getting the young woman in touch with the executive director of the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, which was really exciting.
He is just as normal and down to earth and cool as you would expect him to be. It was worth every penny to meet him and it really helped shake me out of the blah I was feeling in the last post.
Getting in to the pit was a sort of surprise bonus and it worked out GREAT for me and Britt. We ended up close to the front in front of Stevie and Patti. The show was awesome. Another post coming real soon with some details on that and a BUNCH of photos.
I lost the pit lottery at both shows. Dammit. At least at Sunrise I was on the front of the GA rail, and we missed by less than 50. But at Atlanta we were practically dead last. I have to admit that I take it personally. Is it really random, chance, luck? When I keep meeting people who seem to almost always make it into the pit?
I know that I shouldn’t complain, I’m lucky and blessed to even be able to see him at all, let alone get GA tickets, let alone FOUR shows. But, I can’t help it.
Well, anyway. Here are just a few pics from Atlanta.
My travels have been uneventful, mostly lonely and not so much fun. During the journey, on planes and in cars, I’ve realized that being a fan includes a certain amount of misery. It’s got a lot in common with unrequited love. You’re somewhat obsessed with someone who doesn’t even know you exist.
There’s this longing, which feels ridiculous, to just meet the guy. But that wouldn’t be enough either. I’d want to be invited to Christmas. Or at least have the chance to sit down and just talk with him for a couple hours.
But, hey. Whatcha gonna do? Just keep on going to shows and trying for the pit and sometimes making it to the front of the stage. Listening to his music, letting it touch you, staying in touch with your bruce buds and the Facebook fan group…and hoping that nothing happens to upset things for a long long time, so you get at least a bunch more shows in. Because the unthinkable just can’t…happen.
Grappling with all kinds of things these days. Mortality, mine and everyone’s, seems to be at the top of the list.
This post has no point. Just a ramble. I’m sitting in Louisville right now.
Aaaaaaand…some news: I decided to spend some money and donate to Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation and get a (really good) seat, and get to meet him. Tonight. So…more on that next post.
Religion. Spirituality. God.
We are religious, or we are not religious. We are spiritual, but not religious. We are atheists. We are agnostics. We pray to Jesus, our savior. We pray to God. We pray but not to anything. We go to church. We meditate. We do yoga. We travel to an ashram in India. We join a church. We move to a new church. We tell our children some version of what we were told. We try to say it like we mean it.
But…what IS it that drives us to these things, whatever they may be, that come under the category “religion.”
What IS religion? What IS God? What IS spirituality?
Having spent a lifetime concerned with this, focused on this, in one form or another: studying it at university, esoteric schools, hindu gurus, yoga, finding teachers and leaving teachers, meditation, now…I find it more and more to be, um, well, mysterious, frankly. Vague. Unclear.
I notice that we humans seem to have a tendency to corral ourselves into belief systems, (whether traditional or new age), into concepts of what God is or is not, what to believe or not to believe, what our life “means,” and other such burning situations that come under the category of Spirituality and Religion.
Because aren’t they just a way to separate ourselves from each other? And what do we know, really?
It seems to me that mistrust grows bigger and bigger in me all the time. Mistrust of anything outside of my own heart and mistrust of any idea, institution or teacher.
And at the same time, paradoxically, TRUST grows bigger in me all the time. Trust of my own heart’s knowing and my own path unfolding and what my gut tells me is true. For me.
As Vanessa Stone says, “Your Life, exactly as it is, is the perfect prescription for the evolution of your soul.”
I’m on it. What about you?
Show #1 of The River Tour. The pics aren’t so great because I was kinda far back. But I needed to illustrate the post with SOMETHING! Hope these at least give a bit of the energy of the night.
It was…breathless, breathtaking, big, heart-rending, deep, crazy, sensational, love-full, loud, fun, funny, laughing, crying, whispering, dark, bright, open, streamlined, full-on, full of memories, a gift, light for the heart, soul-lifting, essential, best ever.
The heart of rock and roll is the heart of us is the heart of Bruce and we all wish we could be the one to sit in his dressing room after the show, after his shower, sip the whiskey, hear his thoughts. How it went. What he thinks. What he feels.
Because he’s so. Darn. Friendly. When you see him on stage, him and the band, you see his humanity. You see the little errors, the stumbles in their communications, the moment when he’s making sweet to Patti after singing “Crush on You.” You notice Stevie remind Bruce early on in the show to turn around and sing to the people in the limited view seating behind the stage. When Bruce nods, turns, motions to rest of the band, and they walk back to play to that crowd behind them, and then the fans back there rise to their feet and the roar of their appreciation swells up so loud–when all that happens, it’s like your heart, which you thought was pretty big to begin with, is going to burst out of your chest.
Most of us couldn’t really exactly explain this magic that is Springsteen. You can watch the Springsteen and I movie to see people trying. And doing a fair job, really.
But I’ve been wondering about it lately.
I was watching people at the show. In the GA line outside before doors opened (pretty cold), on the floor before the show (jostling for position), during the show (faces in rapture), after the show (high-fiving their friends, reliving moments in words).
I was trying to guess what Bruce means to them. Why do they love him. What can they say? How do we say it?
I am trying to say it.
Words can’t do it.
Nothing can do it.
It’s the language of the heart.
Long time, no write. But Bruce is back now and it’s time to pick up the pen. Or the keyboard, as it were. (BTW, try clicking the photo above to see all of Bruce.)
I sit at this very moment in The Coffee Tree Roasters coffee shop in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. I am staying in an Airbnb nearby. And we are T-minus 6.75 hours til official showtime for the tour opener. By the time I post this, obviously, it will be less! (And if you reading in the future…well, it’s T-plus, I guess.) I will be there – if all goes according to my evil plan, I will be elbows on the stage, but even if not, I’ll be pretty damn close.
So. What have I been up to for the past forever time since I last posted? And even before that (because Goddess knows I have still not made this blog what I wanted it to be)? My original vision for blog was a place for me to write about following Bruce, yes. But also to write about anything in the entire universe that matters to me: what I think and what I feel and what might somehow reach out and touch someone else. YOU.
Well, I tell myself: no worries. As many wise ones have said, the past is dead, the future unwritten, and all we have is the present. Here and now, in the present, my heart still beats and my mind still thinks and my hands still type and this old macbook still works, SO, here I go.
Quick recap. My recent life in a bullet list:
And that about brings us up to date.
I will see you tomorrow, with photos from the front of the stage, if lady luck is with me.
I have a confession to make. This is especially being posted for any of my friends of all ages who are still struggling with addiction and alcoholism.
When I was 17 years old, my boyfriend bought us tickets to see my idol, Bruce Springsteen. It was amazing. I couldn’t believe we were going. It was absolutely the most exciting thing that had ever happened in my life, even more exciting than my first horseback riding lesson, or my first blue ribbon, or anything. It would only be my second rock and roll concert and it was going to be the amazing, incredible, inspiring Bruce at Madison Square Garden.
The day finally came. We boarded the train in Katonah, NY in the afternoon. Being the partier that I was, we had to have something to drink. So David (who was over 18) got us a box of wine at the liquor store by the train station. A BOX. We started drinking as soon as we sat down on the train. The ride was about an hour long. We would have landed in the city right near the Garden. Should have been easy peasy. But…I don’t know what happened. I have no idea. Because we both drank so much wine on the train that we blacked out.
I have a vague memory of stumbling down a street in NYC, with our arms around each other. The next thing that I knew, we were walking down the train tracks somewhere north of White Plains. We still had our Bruce tickets. We had never gotten to the show. Somehow we got back on the train headed north, but we had missed the last train that continued all the way to Katonah. I don’t remember how we got home. It was the worst thing in my life, when I realized that I had missed Bruce. It went from the best thing in my life, to the worst thing in my life. In a moment. Miserable, wasted, still drunk, coming out of a blackout, throwing up on the train tracks, yelling at David – I wanted to die.
It took me another 15 years or so to fully admit that I was powerless over alcohol. That’s the sign of a true alcoholic.
But the saddest part of the entire story, for me, is what I just realized today as I told all of this to my Bruce bud, Britt Nelson. It took 27 years for me to finally go to see Bruce (Oakland Coliseum, 2007). And another 6 years after that before I really let myself reconnect completely to how important he was to me.
In recent years (as most of you know), I have returned full force to my love for Bruce. But it has been a bittersweet journey for me because I’ve realized how much I missed. Bruce has been totally amazing all these years, but I just wrote him off when Born in the USA came out. It’s only this year, during tour, that I really came to see that BITUSA is actually an incredible album. Now, four of my favorite Springsteen songs are on that album (My Hometown, No Surrender, Downbound Train, Darlington County). And as I’ve toured around, meeting people who had been following him for decades, I’ve mourned all that I missed. I’ve asked myself why I turned away from him.
Today I realized that the day I missed Bruce when I was 17 years old because I drank too much was more than a bad drunkalog story. It was a pivotal moment in my life. If I had made it to that concert, the experience of seeing him live would almost certainly have been a life changer. I would have kept seeing him. I would have given Born in the USA all the extra time it needed for me to come to see it’s wonderfulness. I would have kept listening to and buying each of his albums, instead of catching up in 2014. I would have seen him live on each tour. I would not have missed the Seeger Sessions, or Devils and Dust. I would have heard him sing This Land is Your Land live. I would have heard Tracks and Human Touch and Lucky Town when they came out. I would have followed his life and his work and his gifts. I would not have missed more than half his career.
I am grateful beyond measure that something brought me back to Bruce in time to see all these shows, in time to catch up while he (and I) are still in concert condition. But I regret so much all the time and adventures that my drinking stole from me.
If you are drinking or drugging or otherwise letting an addiction keep you from what you love, please…stop. Get the help you need. Reach out. Don’t wait. Admit you have a problem and let yourself find the solution. It’s out there. I promise.
In mid-August, I (temporarily) moved to Kauai. I’m not sure I’ll be here very long, but I have not blogged in a while so I thought I’d check in. I moved here because a friend of mine was dying and I came here with him and his family. To be part of that. The invitation was there, and I responded. It was intense. The whole experience from start to finish was intense beyond my ability to describe. Perhaps some day I will try but somehow it seems right to let it remain unwritten.
I am lucky that I work remotely. So I can literally live anywhere. As long as I have internet. So, why not live on a beautiful island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?
We all go on Crushing Crickets
I am 9 again
Summer has made my skin 3 shades of darker.
They were still using pebbles in the playgrounds.
They were still trying to get kids to play nice, but not trying hard enough.
9 dollars an hour, for them, is not enough to care.
The YMCA staff half listens to the wine in our throat as we hunger for inside air.
There are a swarm of crickets
Clustering against the window sills and jumping from the roofs.
We stomp out their annoying calls and make our own kind of music.
Mom picks me up, and cries me home.
She showers off the musk.
Makes a mistake with the meal and pays with an apology.
She lost a game I have not tried to play.
There is still cricket legs mashed into my soles.
I am 9, dark and naive
I am 15 when I finally learn who made a cricket out of her.
I still wonder why she continues to be silent.
Shasparay’s Bio: Shasparay is the 2014 #2 female youth poet in the world. In 2013 she was deemed the #2 ranking youth poet in Texas. Shasparay was born in Texas. She represented Austin Texas in an international competition, Brave New Voices, with They Speak Youth Slam’s 2013 team. She co wrote, acted, and directed “WHITEWASH”, a short film made by Queer Youth Media Project. She is a human rights activist, and volunteers with the Amala Foundation regularly. This is her first published work.
Shasparay’s first book of poetry, “Say it with your Chest” was published by Red Orchid Publishing this year. It is available for purchase here.
She is also expecting to go on a poetry tour with her book and spoken word talent, if she can raise the funds to sustain her on this journey. Please considering donating to her Go Fund Me campaign.