Tuesday, April 28, 2009


It's hard to imagine now, since he's one of the biggest names in music today, but when I first started listening to Bruce Springsteen while growing up in New Jersey in the late 1970s and early 1980s,his name was just as likely to cause a debate as it was to elicit accolades. Hell, for a time there people spent a lot of energy debating who was better, Springsteen or Bon Jovi. I don't hear that argument so much any more.

Springsteen rocked the other night at the XL Center in Hartford. The theme of this tour is bringing rock back to the stage, and that's just what he did. From the opening "Badlands" through the closing "Rosalita," he had everyone in the place geared up for a good time. So what if he's almost sixty years old, the first time I saw him was almost 30 years ago, and there were a lot of people there with gray hair (not me) and their teenaged children, it was simply a great time.

Here's what one reviewer had to say.

Friday, April 24, 2009


The first time I saw Bruce Springsteen was 28 (yikes!) years ago when he opened the then-called Brendan Byrne Arena at the Meadowlands. My friend's father had some kind of in with the governor, which meant my friend had tickets to every one of the six shows the Springsteen did.

I don't remember much about that show, except that we had great seats and a great time. Growing up in New Jersey, Springsteen shows were a rite of passage and pride. And since Bruce was from New Jersey and his drummer went to the same high school that I did, and I got those first tickets for free, I figured I'd have many more Bruce shows in my future. In other words, I took it too much for granted. Sure, I went to other Bruce shows, but I haven't been to one in a long time. How long? Let's put it this way: the last time I went to a Bruce concert, we used matches and lighters to signal for an encore.

Tonight I'm going to see Bruce at the XL Center in Hartford. I. Can't. Wait.

Monday, April 20, 2009

These Days

Today is Patriots' Day, a holiday I never celebrated growing up because I grew up in New Jersey and which I'm still not celebrating because I had to work today. Patriots' Day commemorates the opening battle of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Patriots' Day is also the day the Boston Marathon happens.

This year, Patriot's Day falls on April 20th, which happens to be the anniversary of the shootings at Columbine and Hitler's birthday.

I knew all of that before, but what I didn't know before is that 4:20 is code for "time to smoke pot," so I guess today is smoke pot day, though I won't be taking part.

I also learned that yesterday, April 19th, which is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, is Bicycle Day. When I first heard this, I thought it was kind of neat and I was happy that I'd picked up my bike fresh from its tune up at the bike shop yesterday. But then I subsequently learned that Bike Day has less to do with bikes than it does with LSD, as it marks the first recorded acid trip, which was taken by a man riding a bicycle.

I learned that little bit of information from Tom Devine's blog, which I read after seeing Tom Devine on the Northampton Bike Path on Saturday, which was the Annual Clean Up Day on the bike path. He was there to pitch in; I was only using the path to jog.

I don't know Tom Devine personally, only by reading his blog, and I thought about stopping and saying, "hey, you're Tommy Devine," but I was sweating and feeling guilty about not being involved in the clean up, so I didn't. I kept on jogging.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Feudin' and Fightin'

The slow arrival of spring may have something to do with it, but I'm feeling a bit down and drained of optimism even as the days grow longer and the flowers begin to poke their heads through the soil. Spring is supposed to be about renewal and hope for brighter days ahead, the annual opportunity to shake off our winter sloth and enjoy being outside and sharing in the comfort of friends and neighbors. This year it feels like everyone's coming out swinging.

We've got the BID going on in Northampton, which is now the focus of a lawsuit. It's already been the catalyst for several theatrical protests downtown and the source of open friction between new Mayoral candidate Bardsley and Mayor Higgins at the City Council meeting where the BID was approved.

With Bardsley now running for mayor, battle lines are being drawn and the rhetoric is beginning to heat up.

And then there's the ginormous budget gap the City faces, to the tune of $6 million or so. To close it, something drastic needs to be done, something that will include laying off dozens of city workers (police, fire, teachers) and an override of some size to be determined. Of course, the override will be another source of debate, given the City's history of not passing overrides in general and the razor-thin margin by which the last override was defeated in 2004.

What has me down is not the tremendous amount of turmoil we seem to find ourselves in but the inevitable bickering and fact-twisting and inflammatory rhetoric that will undoubtedly accompany each of these issues. Now don't get me wrong, I relish a good debate as much as the next person, but what I don't like is when I see people doing or saying anything to ensure that their side wins, or at least to ensure that the other side doesn't win. If you've been paying attention, you've probably noticed that this has already begun.

Of course, the current economic crisis doesn't help matters; I'm sure that plays into my mood. If you look at pictures of people taken during the Great Depression, you don't see many of them smiling. I used to think that was because people just didn't smile that much in pictures back then and because, let's face it, they didn't have much to smile about. Now I'm wondering if it's just because they were so pissed at each other all the time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Whatever you do, don't make him mad!

Check out the wild face painting my son got on Saturday. That's some quality work.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Training is Fun

Today I realized that there can be an advantage to exercising early in the morning because there are usually fewer people around to see, or in my case hear, you make a fool of yourself.

I left the Y just before seven this morning, having finished my workout. I headed to my car in the parking lot, unlocked the door, and slid into the driver's seat. Well, "slid" might be a tad too generous a word, because I didn't slide so much as I struggled to get into proper position. And as I did so, I let out a mortifyingly loud groan. There was only one other person in the parking lot and she didn't react, but I think it's because she was being polite, or maybe because I'd frightened her too much.

I guess the workout was a tad harder than I thought it would be.

But it will help me prepare for the Fourth Annual Franklin W. King III Run for Kids, which takes place at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 3rd. Kids races start at 9:15, and a 2-mile walk begins at 9:30.

This run begins on Gothic Street, turns right onto Main Street, and then onto Elm, around Childs Park, down Prospect to Trumbull, and then back onto Gothic Street, finishing in front of The People's Institute, which is the beneficiary of the race proceeds. This is the same route the race has used since its inception, and the route the Hot Chocolate Run used prior to this year. But with one notable exception: this course is a certified 5k course, which means it has been properly measured to ensure that it is, indeed, five kilometers. Now, the certified course is actually about 100 yards longer than the uncertified courses used in years past (the starting line is pushed back to make up the difference.) That means it'll be a real challenge to see if I can beat my personal best, which isn't really a personal best because it wasn't on a full five k course. Which means I've never run a full five k race, since every five k I've done has been on this course, with the exception of this year's Hot Chocolate Run which I walked with my five-year-old son.

It's enough to make a man groan.

If you're up to the challenge, you can register on the morning of the race at PI.