Blacksburg & :Lane Stadium in the Godlight

This Sunset beautiful picture of Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia as the Hokies line up against Boston College is one of the top 100 Sports Illustrated images of all time.  What a tremendous moment the photographer captured during this Football game.  Blacksburg is in the God Light all the time, and was especially this evening.

Taking a 10 year old to see Bruce Springsteen

It's just like the Mastercard commercial:   Tickets, 304.50 ... Parking ...23.50 including %$#@#$ Ticketmaster's convenience fee and surcharge.... (gawd I HATE ticketmaster) ...3, bottles of water 10.50 ...the look on my son's face with his fist pumping and singing Badlands --- PRICELESS. 

Springsteen  shouts out to the NOT sold out crowd in the John Paul Jones Arena "Is there anyone here seeing the E Street Band for the first time ?"   My son, 10 1/2, raises his hand. 

My wife Melissa and I had sworn two years ago at the JPJ that it was the last time.  My 10th, her ....almost as many times seeing the "heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, history making, nerve breaking, Viagra-taking, love-making -Le-gen-dary E - Street - Band!"  But now the band was back and Mr. Springsteen, after the loss of Clarence Clemmons, had put together a 20 piece band that was putting some of the most legendary shows, even by Springsteen standards, night after night after night.  Bruce is 63, and still jumps the piano, plays for 3 hours a night, and now includes a few emotional rememberances of Clarence in each show which culminates in a video tribute right after the part in Tenth Ave Freeze Out that mentions that "the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band."   Fans clap and scream and shout their appreciation of ...what was for me, one of the guys I spent the 10 best nights of my life. (not including things like the birth of my son, the day I got married, the day Virginia Tech played in the national championship etc) 

Yes, for me, since the first time I heard Rosalita, or the first time I heard WLS and John Landecker in Chicago play Born To Run on my little red transistor radio, or the first time I heard the Born To Run album complete from the first strains of Thunder Road to the last wail of Jungleland, I was hooked and destined to follow along with Bruce and his band and his music and lyrics in the sidecar of my life.  And perhaps it was on April 22, 1976 in Burruss Hall in Blacksburg on the campus of Virginia Tech that Bruce was solidified as my musical commandant, or perhaps it was when standing in line after middle school at Squires Hall waiting in line with others who had camped out for days for tickets, when they announced "this concert is sold out ...but we have gone to Heironimous in Roanoke for a handful of tickets," and enough people left to guarantee me genuine tickets to my very first rock and roll show.  How does a 13 year old afford to go?   Tickets were only...ONLY...4.50 (students and dates).  So we went ...we were amazed ...and I was spoiled.  The best concert artist that there ever was or ever will be was my first.  And after four encores, playing Twist and Shout for the only half the audience who had stayed but would NOT let him leave, and being carried off on a stretcher, Springsteen ...music, lyrics, band, and performance, were as ingrained in my soul as anything.  And growing up without a predominant male influence, I'd say that I was ripe for a hole to be filled ...and it is and will be for life with the music of Bruce.

And ten times before ...on the Born to Run tour, the Born in the USA tour, the F Street Band tour, the Risin Tour (where I first dragged my wife to NJ to see the legend and nearly screwed up our good thing for being a bit toooooo enthusiastic...story another time), and the Magic tour.  Now, for the Wreckin Ball Tour, it was the three of us. 

So it was on this evening in Charlottesville that I wanted to share what has made me so very happy so many times.   You may ask if a 10 1/2 year old has knowledge of the music ...the answer is yes.  E Street Radio from Sirius is constantly on in the car.  And we listened every morning as every track of Wrecking Ball was revealed one every day before the album came out.  And we heard the Apollo show as a family with a Friday night party in the living room.  So, yes, he was familiar with the music. 

The first surprise of the night was that the tickets, in the lowers and in row C, well it turns out row C is the front row.   When someone said "you are in our seats," I was like "no ...this is row c," and she says "no ..this is row E, row C is down there !"  This was important because our son has Aspergers and we tried to prepare him as best we could with all the negative things that could happen so we wouldn't have a meltdown.  One was that someone would inevitably stand up and block his view...but in the front row, that would not be a problem. This was a HUGE win.

And in a three hour show that included things die hard fans would appreciate and casual first time fans would adore, there were moments that Bruce delivered, unforgettable moments that the crowd delivered that night that I'd put up against any concert crowd I'd ever been a part of, and life memory moments of seeing my wife and son drinking it all in.  Just being there, being a part of it, being in it with my son, it was about the greatest night of my life. Whatever crap day to day life can deal out, one night can make it all seem worthwhile.

We did the "OOOH" grunt in the opener Shackled and Drawn.  I sang the opening verse of Hungry Heart with the crowd and my son joined in for the chorus as best he could.  We were reverent in rememberance of Clarence and Danny during My City in Ruins where the spotlight shone on the place on the stage where they both would have been had they lived.  We watched in awe at the newfound chemistry between Bruce and Jake Clemmons during Spirit in the Night, with my son screaming "ALL NIGHT" with all of his voice and calling out "I love you Bruce" during one of the quiet parts.  We enjoyed the children of Waitin on a Sunny Day sing along while I wondered if my son thought he could have done better.  And though were were all so exhausted but still exuberant, we fist pumped and sang along with Badlands, realized an answered prayer when he closed with Land of Hope and Dreams, and with the lights up, danced til after 11pm during the encores of the showstopping Jungleland, Born To Run, Seven Nights to Rock and Dancin in the Dark.

And then ...finally....Tenth Ave  ....with the tribute to Clarence....where you give whatever you have left in your body to hollar and scream and REMEMBER Clarence Clemmons. 

One final bow, a trip to Sheetz on the way home, and a 2am bedtime for the boy while my wife and I marveled at how well he did on such an important night to me ...I may never be prouder.

I was at work but am told in skipping the next days school he slept til after 1pm.  A Springsteen show can knock you out like that.  The next day at work I was a zombie, but it was worth it. 

Don't know ...after 11 times...if I will ever go back to see Bruce again.  It would be fitting to just let that one be the last hurrah.   It's freakin expensive and after all the concerts I've been to, albums, cassettes, 8 tracks, singles, books, music sheets, posters and DVD's I have purchased or that have been purchased for me as gifts, I feel like I probably have furnished at least a corner of one of his mansions.  But it led me to that night ...that amazing night in Charlottesville.



Remembering Neil Armstrong

Who is the most famous person on this planet ? It should have been Neil Armstrong. It was for a week or so in 1969, but after that, not so much. I loved and admired the Apollo astronauts and the whole world watched the grainy video from the moon and heard "Thats one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." It's been portrayed on Tom Hanks "From the Earth To The Moon" that one of the reasons he was chosen to be the first was because he might be the least likely to seek his fame and fortune from the event. He was noted to be shy and shunned the spotlight. But Man has looked at that moon since we lived in caves. And every generation of man looked at that moon and said "I wanna go there." And thought..."If someone ever goes there, they would be the most famous person on earth...for the rest of their lives." I always thought that Neil should be more famous than he is. There is a high percentage of school children who do not know who the first man to walk on the moon is. Amazing. What a hero ...and truthfully....all those men at NASA who got Neil Armstrong where he went.

The Tax Calculator from Obama Campaign

If you are middle class or close to it, it looks to be true that side by side in comparison, if Obama can get his policies through congress, or if Romney is elected and gets his plan through, the savings on taxes alone from a bonafide so called tax and spend democrat, will be a tax cut ...if not a massive tax cut ..for the middle class.   If you want to see what the estimate is for YOUR family, enter your income and dependents into the Tax Calculator.  Now, the key as to whether or not you get your tax cut has more to do with whether or not congress is willing to allow this for you and your family.

Imagine by John Lennon as sung on American Idol by Joshua Ledee Rant

Imagine, By John Lennon post Beatles, was once again, for the umpteenth time in my life, held up to the world by a christian, in this case American Idol's Joshua Ledet, as a song where Jennifer Lopez as judge, shortly after his return home segment had him singing in church, identified as Joshua was "preaching."  I have been bothered by this for a long time so now I am going to vent.  I LOVE John Lennon music, during and post Beatles.  I cry when I think of what Mark Chapman took away from us that fateful night in New York.  The words to this song, printed below, are beautiful, heartfelt, and honest ...and SO SIMPLE and easy to understand.  Like All You Need Is Love, its just so simple to say it, rhyme it, and put a beautiful piano melody and John's lovely voice to exemplify it.  But please people, this is NOT a song that has anything to do with religion of any kind, and in fact sets forth in it's first verse, that to get to it's conclusion, that the world should be as one, we apparently have to imagine *(and one would think participate in) a world with no religion.  It's just that it's not "easy if you try," nor will it ever be. 

Imagine is the beautiful song and the most touching song we could ever think of to imagine a better world without selfishness and governments who send their young to die in wars between governments that have little if anything to do with the heart beating inside the soldiers body and the family who may have to bury him.  IF the world is to be as one, lots has to change and that is not foreseeable in anyone living today's lifetime.  In fact, the only hope for that possibility, dare I say, is an earth shattering RELIGIOUS (dare I say CHRISTIAN) common experience.  Those of us who know God in any way through any religion, know that world peace in our lifetime is hopeless without His intervention.  Love the song, sing the song, believe in the dreams of John Lennon and everyone ever touched by this song.  But never say to a christian that it's like preaching. And the bottom line is this.  Not only is a song that I love (in it's proper context) is a song that I would characterize as the Atheist National Anthem.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace


You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one