Neither Here Nor There

An airport is nowhere
which is not something
generally noticed

yet some unnamed person in the past
deliberately planned it

and you have spent time there
for something you have done
which you do not entirely remember
like the souls in Purgatory

you sit there in the smell
of what passes for food
breathing what is called air
while the timepieces measure
their agreement

you believe in it
while you are there
because you are there
sometimes you may even feel happy
to be that far on your way
to somewhere

— "Neither Here Nor There" by W.S. Merwin

October in New York City

From the wilds of Midtown to the Upper East Side through Central Park and then Chelsea. Friends! Art! Everything!

Wait there’s more

This is going to be an all-Bruce couple of weeks because I have literally (LITERALLY) nothing else to blog about. Tough luck, nerds. 

I like this pic of Bruce because he looks so happy. Also he makes a dude wearing necklaces look not as dumb as I suspect it might be. I'm not a fan of neckwear in general on anybody so admittedly I am not the right judge for this. Still, case closed. Verdict: not guilty.

I like this pic of Bruce because he looks slightly confused about how to be a guy standing around a table right in front of another table bearing autumn gifts in a mass market retail establishment. The wide open yet clearly confining space of this Barnes & Noble maybe isn't his natural milieu. Props on his chosen author costume, however. He wears it everywhere, like a melodious Steve Jobs.

I like this pic of Bruce because he's wearing his reading glasses and looks like a hip granddad reciting from a sacred text to a vase of tulips. The tulips, enrapt, stretch out to the sky: "Sing it, Grandpa!" "Shhh, I'm reading," he says, not unkindly. "Shut yer yaps."

I like this pic of Bruce because somebody Harry Potterfied him and he looks like an actual wizard. A merry, avuncular wizard. A wizard with an axe! be continued!

What I’ve learned about Bruce Springsteen from “Born to Run” (a working list)

  • Bruce can really write! This book is 500 pages long but it moves with the brisk cheer and confidence of a seasoned storyteller plying his well-worn trade.
  • Bruce is very earnest and thoughtful but is able to laugh at himself, which is my favorite quality in people and the famous. He puts a lot of time and effort into figuring it all out but knows in the end we die anyway. For Bruce, as for all of us, it's about the journey, not the destination.
  • Bruce could write self-help books for those who are lost at sea in their own lives. Apart from rocking, his real talent might be turning lemons into lemonade. (I haven't reached the part where we deal with his depression. As of Chap. 24 we're still On the Way Up. He's only 24 years old.)
  • Bruce is a workhorse. Some of us may wonder how others reach the top of their game, and he comes right out and says it: you can never stop trying to be better. There's something to learn in every success and every failure.
  • Bruce looks for the best in others. I have yet to meet an asshole in the pages of this tome. I'm sure they exist but so far Bruce and I have let bygones be bygones.
  • Bruce looks for flaws in himself. When he finds one he attacks it with the methodical precision of a veteran carpenter operating a pair of needle-nose pliers, or a carpenter ant hauling a meatball up a mountain. Staunch!
  • This is not your typical rock star memoir: no drugs, no booze, not much sex. Bruce would likely have qualified as “a horndog” back in the day but seems like he was a gentleman about it (he seldom names names). Mostly he comes across as the CEO of Springsteen Enterprise, LLC, a small family concern operating out of a threadbare suburban garage where nobody is sure who is paying the gas and electricity bill this month. (I'm only up to the release of "Greetings from Asbury Park." So far there aren't a lot of clams to go around.)
  • Nobody flew on airplanes in the 1970s. When he visited his parents in California, he had to drive across the country with his bandmates (without knowing how to drive).
  • Once on the way back east they stopped on the side of the road in Arizona "for a piss break" and accidentally left the dog behind. They had to drive two hours back to find it. I'm heartened to know there's a little Clark Griswold in Bruce Springsteen and that he once rescued a dog from some miserable desert fate.
  • After a trip to Tijuana with his father: "Through using the same facilities at the apartment, all I left behind for my pops was a case of crabs I picked up somewhere along the way. Good-bye, son, thanks for the memories."
  • While auditioning singers for "The Bruce Springsteen Band" (pre-E Street): "I even spoke on the phone to a high school–age Patti Scialfa, dispensing the fatherly advice that this was a traveling gig and it'd be best for a young lady to stay in school." He was 22 years old at the time.
  • Bruce has a strangely formal-cum-casual writing style that mimics his conversational style—there's something in his sentence construction that tends to dodge left when you expect it to go right. He's fulsome and expansive and a little anachronistic; even the raunchy stories are relayed with the wry grin of a courtly gentleman shaking his head at his own youthful exploits.
  • Bruce is a good guy
  • Bruce is a square
  • be continued!

Let the service begin

Helena Fitzgerald on Bruce and dads who love Bruce:

Bruce doesn’t play Thunder Road until it’s almost midnight. Thunder Road is a perfect song, a thing in which one small stupid experience expands out to contain all the loud inarticulate things that make us human to one another. As sound it is irresistible; I want to grow up to be the part where the whole thing kicks in at 1:13 on Thunder Road. A few thousand Dads turn their faces to the light and roar about a nighttime drive a teenager in New Jersey once took with a girl named – of course – Mary. My feet hurt and I want to go home, but I’m swept along in it, in the sense that faith might not be a fiction, the sense that we can all for a few moments be dads, and that the big, simple, obvious things might also be the things that are good. 

From Born to Run, chapter 1 ("My Street"):

When it rains, the moisture in the humid air blankets our town with the smell of damp coffee grounds wafting in from the Nescafé factory at the town's eastern edge. I don't like coffee but I like that smell. It's comforting: it unites the town in a common sensory experience; it's good industry, like the roaring rug mill that fills our ears, brings work and signals our town's vitality. There is a place here—you can hear it, smell it—where people make lives, suffer pain, enjoy small pleasures, play baseball, die, make love, have kids, drink themselves drunk on spring nights and do their best to hold off the demons that seek to destroy us, our homes, our families, our town.

Weekend @ the New Yorker Fest

To say that I needed the last three weeks to happen at exactly this time and in exactly this way would be a wild understatement. I dig so far into myself during the summer that by the end I can't see anything clearly. I know it's coming and I know why it's happening but that doesn't make it easier, or go any faster. I can't look past it or reach through it: all I can do is wait. My only coping mechanism is to burrow all the way in, which means I lose all perspective along with my sense of humor, and when it finally passes—when that first clean blast of air hits on that first cool morning—it honestly is like a 70-pound weight lifting off my shoulders. So to finally share these long good days with dear good friends makes up for months of holding my breath and praying. And to spend this weekend at the New Yorker Festival listening to smart interviews and thoughtful conversations—followed by meandering walks up gray city streets marked by an already passing season—was for me not only invigorating but truly, madly, deeply essential. 

Yes to all of this

I cry at this for the same reason I cry at parades: it's a communion of feeling in physical form. Of course that's the same kind of reactive sentimentality that's often exploited by fascists and idiots, so I unleash it only for small-town marching bands and synchronized dancers in tight colorful pants. In this case I say yes to the dance and yes to the pants and yes to the spirt of people who will move us forward.

From the Washington Post:

She put the word out on Instagram and Facebook seeking dancers. She videotaped herself dancing the steps, and texted it to the dancers who’d replied. Many are professionals. A few came from Broadway’s “Fiddler on the Roof” and the Martha Graham Dance Company. Some came from as far away as Toronto. Assorted “dance enthusiasts” joined in–dentists, other artists and little girls fresh from soccer practice.

A blog’s a blog’s a blog

I spent more than an hour last night cooking up a batch of these ground turkey meatloaf muffins, which were decent enough on the fly but have subsequently hardened into flavorless, brick-like structures that could be used to jack up a car during a tire heist (see also: Charlie's Angels famous fighting muffins). I'll be honest here and state for the record that I believe ground turkey is at best a sincere mistake on behalf of nutritionists and fat-free nutjobs, and at worst a hoax on the people perpetrated by the pigs and cows of America. I have never before participated in a conspiracy theory but am determined to get to the bottom of this one. My soon-to-launch Turkey Scam! Facebook Group will blow the lid off this in no time, so stay tuned—we will need all the Likes and Angry Faces we can get.

Unrelated but important: here's a very literal video interpretation of my favorite Bob Seger song. Bob Seger is a noted streaming service holdout, which is an artistic stand I deeply respect but is also what makes the following not only possible but inevitable. I don't care what kind of mood you're in, this video will improve it by 800,000%. Trust me: what Bob Seger sings, the eyes of your heart will feel.