Monday, April 2, 2018

Great Moments in Springsteen Cinema History: Ready Player One

If you haven’t heard, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One is chock full of 1980s pop culture. This includes a host of instantly recognizable Top 40 pop songs from the decade. But then suddenly, surprisingly, amidst the traditional tunes, appears none other than Bruce Springsteen’s “Stand On It” – a lesser known b-side to "Glory Days" that was apparently released on the soundtrack to the Danny Devito comedy Ruthless People before also appearing on Tracks.

How did Spielberg choose this song – of all Springsteen songs, of all '80s songs – to feature in the movie? There’s plenty of evidence of Spielberg’s appreciation for the Boss. Whether it’s red carpet photo bombing, opening night seats at Springsteen on Broadway or vacations in Naples, Italy (with Daniel Day-Lewis in tow – imagine the conversations the three of them were having!). I like to imagine this was Spielberg’s first chance after decades of admiration to fit a Springsteen song into one of his movies, and he decided to use it as an opportunity to bring more attention to one of his personal favorites. Perhaps “Hungry Heart” or “Glory Days” would have felt too obvious for a Springsteen fanboy.

This is the beauty of the Bruce Springsteen catalogue. Beside the iconic pop hits, there’s a treasure trove of decade-specific songs just waiting to be rediscovered. I’d wager that the majority of Ready Player One audience members this past weekend were likely to hear “Stand On It” and recognize it as something distinctly created in the '80s without even noticing it’s Springsteen. Maybe you'd recognize his voice, but it sounds pretty different than his big hits. I like to think a contingent of that audience scrolled through the soundtrack listings and with pleasant surprise, developed a new appreciation for Springsteen.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Springsteen's purse form!

In our never almost-ending quest to bring you all the random Springsteen-ness from across the globe, here is a Springsteen purse:

Found in a random store in New Hope, Pennsylvania, this Springsteen purse stands out among other rock legends such as Kiss, Prince, Queen, and Jack Skellington.  

I did not buy it.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Legends of Springsteen's Legendary Super Bowl Picks!

Sure, this blog is just sputtering along, with only a handful of posts the last six months.  But, never fear!  We're back, with what you've all been craving: our Super Bowl picks!  Let 'er rip:

OB: Patriots 34, Eagles 28 (Overall 3-3)
Rory: Patriots 23, Eagles 20 (Overall 3-3)
Steve: Patriots 45, Eagles 7 (Overall 3-3)

There you have it.  With a combined record of 9-9, you can take those picks to the bank.  Or don't take them.  Let's end with something by quasi-related:

Enjoy the big game!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Hidden Bruce in Bally's Atlantic City!

(Click to embiggen!)

Theme park goers may be familiar with the concept of "Hidden Mickeys" at Disney parks.  Basically, the theme park designers hidden Mickey heads throughout the park, only to be spotted by the most eagle-eyed Disney fanatics.  Well, I think I may have found the first every "Hidden Bruce", in none other than my favorite stomping ground, Atlantic City!

Just look at the glorious mural above!  That, my friends, is located in Bally's, just behind Harry's Oyster Bar, brightening an otherwise dank hallway where casino-goers wait for a shuttle to Harrah's.  This glorious mural/potential back tattoo features many legends of New Jersey enjoying the Atlantic City beach, from Frankie Valli to Shaquille O'Neal.  And, who are those two handsome gentlemen bopping together in the lower left?

Why, it's our boy Bruce, and....Bon Jovi I want to say?  Judging by his appearance (as well as Shaq's Lakers jersey), I'd date this work of art as going back to the late 90s/early 00s.

Either way, I want this hanging on my wall.  And as my permanent Christmas card.

As I've clearly run out of things to write about on this blog, I will keep an eye out for all the "Hidden Bruces" I can find.  You're welcome.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Review - Springsteen on Broadway

Well, I did it.  I was one of the lucky few selected in the lottery to attend Springsteen On Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in town.  Honestly, I didn't tell many of my friends I was going in the weeks leading up to it, for fear of jinxing it.  It was also the first time in my fandom that I felt nervous about seeing Springsteen, due to the exorbitant price of the tickets (I can only imagine how those who resorted to StubHub must have felt dropping well over $2,000) as well as seeing Springsteen in a completely new environment.  Up until this point, the smallest venue I've seen Springsteen at is the PNC Arts Center, which has a capacity of 17,500.  At the Walter Kerr Theater, Springsteen would be playing to a crowd roughly 1/20th the size of that.

I purposely avoided any articles about the show.  I wanted to go in cold.  So, if you feel the same way, I won't be offended if you turn away now.  I don't plan on going into "spoilers", but I respect you all enough to give you fair warning.  My major questions were:

  • What would Springsteen do?  It is Broadway, after all.  Would it be a solo acoustic set?  Would he treat it like a concert?  Would there be huge dance numbers with a full ensemble?
  • How would the audience react?  Would they be shouting "BRUUUUUUCEEE"?  Would little girls climb up on stage to sing "Waitin' On A Sunny Day"?  Or, would I be surrounded by Rich Uncle Pennybags types - classy theater folk who are just there to be seen?

Arriving about an hour early, I settled into the "cheap" seats and admired the view.  Any concerns I had about the seating in the theater instantly vanished.  As I could hear the conversations of people in the front row, it dawned on me that this would be the closest I've ever watched Bruce live (save for a brief moment where he popped up on a platform near me at Giants Stadium).  And yes, this photo was technically "illegal", as the security guards asked everyone not to take photography in the theater.  However, this rule was about as enforced as the jaywalking laws are in the nearby Times Square.

Before the show started, I made sure to thoroughly empty my bladder, as I did not expect there to be an "Outlaw Pete" pee-break.  During this time, I scoped out the merchandise.  They had standard Springsteen event goods - t-shirts, hoodies, and posters all in the $40 range.  I opted for the Springsteen tumbler you see above, which came when you ordered a beer/wine/cocktail.  For $15, I justified it as $10 for the cup and $5 for the beer.  But, after you spend as much as a flight to Los Angeles on a Broadway ticket, it basically seemed free.

Anyway, onto a formal review of the show:

To answer the first question - what would Springsteen do?  Well, Springsteen delivered a two-hour, 15-song acoustic set that was ostensibly his autobiography adapted for the stage.   As in his four-hour concerts, Springsteen covered a wide array of topics - from family, to love, to politics, to the meaning of life, all underscored by the one unifying force that had brought this all to him: his music.  For those who love Springsteen's speeches during his concerts, this is the show for you.  You'll hear stories that'll make you laugh, that'll depress you (wryly acknowledged by Springsteen), and that'll inspire you.  While I won't go into the specifics of the setlist (I'm sure it is online by now), there is not a clunker in the bunch.  The setlist has been excellently curated, perhaps the best sequential ordering I've seen at any Springsteen event.  The songs compliment the stories, and bridge the gap from one subject to the next.  You know certain hits will be played no matter where Springsteen shows up, but there were a couple of newer songs that were appreciated by this young(-ish) fan.

To answer the second question - how would the audience react?  While there was a couple of hobnobbers there, I'd say the fan lottery worked, as the place was filled with Bruce die-hards.  I had to go by myself (I couldn't get two tickets to the same show), but I was surrounded by other single-concert goers, as well as friendly, excited fans that were just as curious as I was about what was going to transpire.  The newness of the experience could be felt by all - it was Bruce's second night after all.  The audience wasn't sure when to laugh, or sing-along, or dance in the aisles (I'm not sure if Bruce knew these answers either).  But, overall, it was a fantastic energy and a fantastic crowd.

I've seen it said that this is not a concert - it's a show, and I absolutely agree.  While it is only about half the length of a normal Springsteen concert, it does not feel short.  You may not be physically drained from standing and dancing, but it plays with your heart all night.  I really don't need to tell you that you got to see this show - it feels like rubbing it in at this point.  But, I will do my best below to help you feel the experience.  The following photos are: the stage post concert, Springsteen and Patti leaving the theater, and the Playbill (you can click them all to embiggen).  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

R.I.P. Tom Petty

Yesterday, the music world lost yet another legend in the great Tom Petty.  While Petty is known for working with tons of other musicians, like Stevie Nicks and the Traveling Wilburys, there is surprisingly very little crossover between Petty and Springsteen.  However, I did find this photo and clip from a No Nukes benefit concert they did together in 1979 (but you can't really see Petty in the video).  With Springsteen on Broadway debuting tonight, I believe it is safe to assume the performance will include some tribute to Tom Petty.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Great Moments in Springsteen Transportation History - The E Street Shuttle

Last weekend, I had the privilege of going to a lovely wedding in central NJ.  While I've recently moved to Bruce's old stomping ground, there's still plenty I have yet to experience in the 732 area code.  You can feel Bruce's influence throughout the area, from the music, to the style, to, apparently, the modes of transportation.

Yes, indeed, the shuttle that serviced us from the ceremony to the reception was none other than the E Street Shuttle.  This retro-style shuttle got us around Ocean Avenue in style.  It had an amazing sound system, complete with vintage record players (which I have to assume is for when the shuttle is stationery).  With cold beverages and comfortable seats, I'll have to keep this shuttle in mind for future events, such as a bachelor party, trip to Atlantic City, or going to the post office.  Seriously, I want to go on again.

Thanks for reading about a bus named after a Springsteen song.  I know it's just a bus named after a Springsteen song, but, you know, it's a bus named after a Springsteen song!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Great Moments in Springsteen Television History - Sealab 2021

After last month's 30 Day Challenge, I was pretty burnt out on Springsteen.  Even the announcement of Springsteen on Broadway didn't inspire me to get back on my Springsteen fanblog game. (Mainly because this ticketing system seems doomed to fail.  Don't say I didn't warn you! Don't you dare say it!)

So, what have I been doing with my summer?  Re-watching Sealab 2021.  A cartoon that has somewhat been forgotten over the last 15 years, Sealab 2021 was one of Adult Swim's first original shows, along with Aqua Teen Hunger Force and The Brak Show.  It was created by Adam Reed, who would go on to greater success with the hit show Archer.  However, those early Adult Swim years left a strong impression on many people around my age, as the shows introduced many of us to the strange, experimental comedy that can be done with almost no budget.

When re-watching any show from your past, it'll be impossible to escape the nostalgia.  Even though I'm watching these Sealabs as I'm getting ready for work, I'm still transported to being a 17-year-old staying up disturbingly late on Sunday nights to get a glimpse of this bizarro show.   There are tons of quotes that instantly come rushing back, though I haven't thought about them in over a decade.  When I saw the above clip, I was shocked by how clearly I remembered it, yet can't believe I haven't written about it on this blog before.

In this episode, the Sealab gang is trapped in a closet.  That's all you really know.  And, Captain Murphy (voiced by the late, great Harry Goz) fights back against a subordinate trying to give him orders, asking if Bruce Springsteen should find a new nickname.  Unfortunately, this was met with blank stares, as the crew doesn't know who Springsteen is.

This episode aired April 7, 2002, so just a bit before The Rising was released.  So, perhaps it was conceivable that in 19 years, people would forget who Springsteen was.  Fortunately, Sealab's prediction was wrong - given his sustained popularity in the 21st century, I doubt a Springsteen reference will fly over anyone's head in four years.