Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Meeting with The Boss, A Springsteen Odyssey, Song 2

A Springsteen Odyssey is an ambitious effort to tell the story of one Springsteen concert, from one fan's perspective.  What makes it ambitious is that it is twenty-six parts long, one part for each song played by Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band that night, with each song helping to tell one part of the story.  Taken as a whole, they provide a comprehensive picture of a fan's relationship to an artist and his music, but each part also stands completely on its own.  This is part 2 of 26.  You can read part 1 here.

“One, Two, Three, Four!” Weinberg picks up The Boss’s count with the drumbeat and then, after a trip and a tumble around the drum kit, the rest of the E-Street band comes spilling in behind him.  It takes a moment, but only a moment, to place the song. 

“No Surrender” from Born in the USA. 

The song feels a bit sluggish at first, kind of sloshy.  It strikes me that the band needs a little time to tighten up and find its groove, the same way a team of horses might need a minute or two to establish a unified rhythm, to work out the relationships and the timing between themselves.  Of course, I know next to nothing about horses.  Or bands, for that matter.

Well, we busted out of class
Had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three-minute record baby
Than we ever learned in school…

Springsteen’s voice makes the drastic transition from the soothing lullaby of “Surprise, Surprise” to the rasping, tobacco-spitting vocals of this song seamlessly.  The band, however, still feels to me like they’re trying to warm up while they catch up.

Well we made a promise
We swore we’d always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender…

The sensation of being slightly out of phase dissipates, but despite that my anxiety level is rising.  They’re well into the song by now, and so far my reaction has been a big, fat…


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Grapefruit Picking

This one's for my dad, whom I love very much...

Grapefruit Picking at my Father’s House (After a Rainy Day and a Cold Night)

Dressed for cold
bird bath ice-filmed
we gather the typical implements:
ladder, gloves, empty boxes and plastic buckets
and the long, red-handled pole
with the wire basket
and grasping prongs
bent inward like a shark’s
backward row of teeth
for plucking the fruit
and catching it
before it can fall
and split
and be

The sky beyond the tree
Is evangelical blue
the fruit is the yellow
of crayon suns
the tree is deep green
and dark with shade
and rounded
like a cave-hole
its bowed form
by its own

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Just having a little Fun.

Congratulations to Fun., who won two Grammys Sunday night.  They won for Best New Artist, and for Best Song of the Year for “We Are Young.”

Just how young are they?  Rumor has it that after winning their awards, they bumped into veteran rocker – and inveterate practical joker – Neil Young backstage.  Seeing their Grammys, Neil casually mentioned how the phonograph-shaped statuettes were actual size, and that if they wanted to, they could chip off the golden coating, and play records on them.  

The trio was later seen at the Warner’s after party, scraping the awards with swag bottle openers, and accosting music industry insiders and celebrities alike to find out if they “had any vinyl in their pockets.”
Seriously, congrats to the band, and especially Nate Ruess, who grew up in Glendale and went to Deer Valley High School.  There is a rumor floating around the internet that Nate and I attended Brophy Prep together; but both the New Times and The Republic confirm that he attended Deer Valley, while I attended Brophy.  In completely unrelated decades.

However, it’s possible I delivered the mail once or twice to his house back when he was still practicing in his garage, and I was delivering the mail to the box at the end of the driveway.  Not that I’m claiming all the credit for your success, Nate.  Maybe three percent, no more.  Alright, make it two.  What’s that?  Oh, so that’s how it is?  Fine, be that way.  I always liked Neon Trees better anyway.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Destructapalooza! '13

Here at the thunderstrokes home base, we held our 2nd Annual Destructapalooza! celebration just prior to the Super Bowl last Sunday. 

Tbf’s of the blog probably remember last year’s event.  Resulting as it did from a moment of sheer inspiration, we never gave it an official name; instead, it was typically referred to as “that thing where we smash the gingerbread houses with the bowling ball.”  If you want, you can read about that first one, and watch some video of it, here. 

This year, we gave it a much shorter, ultra-retro-cool moniker, because once you’ve done it two years running, it’s pretty much on its way to becoming an annual tradition, and as such deserves to be officially recognized with its own registered and trademarked name. 

Encouraged by the phenomenal response of the ten family members and friends who took part in the festivities last Sunday, we have decided the time has come to turn Destructapalooza! into a mainstream cultural event.   We have a national expansion plan ready to roll out, and have retained a high-profile marketing company to help increase our brand awareness.  If all goes well, by the year 2023 Destructapalooza! will have passed Festivus as America’s 47th favorite annual celebration. 

We envision Destructapalooza! as becoming the crowning glory of a new holiday which puts a bold exclamation point at the end of the winter holiday season.  As it stands now, the holidays are just allowed to trail off indeterminately, like an old cat looking for a place where it can quietly die alone.  Everybody is forced to decide on their own when they consider the holidays to be over.  Sure, most people are ready to put the season behind them right around New Year’s Day, but you also have those who wake up on December 26th and strip their homes of all Christmas ornamentation faster than the Grinch stripped Whoville.   And what about those people who refuse to acknowledge any end to the holiday season, and keep their trees up in their living rooms year-round, and turn on their outdoor light displays when they think nobody else is watching?

Friday, February 1, 2013

and he happens to be...

Imagine a man who has had a singing career, highlighted by singing the National Anthem before Super Bowl XX in 1976, an acting career that has spanned forty years, appearing on TV shows ranging from M*A*S*H to Touched by an Angel, made some 60 appearances as a guest on The Tonight Show, and spent five years working as a special correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America. Would you listen to what a man like that has to say about living a passionate life?

Imagine a man who graduated from Harvard, has written several books including a memoir that was made into a feature film (for which he also composed much of the music), and has spoken about his life to hundreds of thousands of people.  Would you listen to what a man like that has to say about living with purpose?

Imagine a man who has met and learned from Hellen Keller, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Muhammad Ali.  Who has run the NYC Marathon, golfed Augusta, and been enshrined into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.  Would you listen to what a man like that has to say about meeting challenges?

Alright, admit it; you have no idea who I’m talking about, do you?

That’s okay.  Truthfully, I didn’t know any of this stuff either before I picked up a copy of his book.

Imagine that the man who has done all these things is blind, and has been almost since birth.  Would you be interested in hearing what such a man has to say about living a fulfilling life?  

Me too.

The man who happens to be blind is Tom Sullivan.  If you are a child of the 70’s, or even the 80’s, you undoubtedly have seen him.  He was ubiquitous on television during much of that time.  There he is.
Told you you'd recognize him.
Here's what he looks like these days:

In addition to appearing on many popular series in those decades, he was also a very frequent visitor on the talk show circuit:  Dinah Shore, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, and of course, the king, Johnny Carson.  He did them all.  Even co-hosted with Douglas for a few weeks.

But I remember him particularly from one of his sitcom guest-star roles.  He played a blind businessman on an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati.  The character, and Mr. Sullivan, have been lodged firmly in my brain ever since.