I've never really been a big fan of The Boss. Back in the mid 80's, I liked the Born in the USA album. But for the last 20 years, I never paid much attention to his music. Cousin Mike refers to his voice as sounding "perpetually constipated." Until this weekend, that consensus seemed good enough for me.
If you ask me, "Saf, have you ever seen Springsteen?" I'd be inclined to lie. Why would I lie about this? To be honest, I have no idea. I lie about other trivial matters as well. Have I ever been to a Sonic fast food restaurant? Have I ever been to London (technically yes, but I was only 13 years old and it was just Heathrow Airport)? It's been so long since Consol opened, I might start lying about having seen a Pens game at the new arena. Fortunately, with the NHL lock-out and all, this hasn't come up in normal conversation. You get the drift. But like I said, it's almost always trivial shit. This weekend the Springsteen lie would finally... die.
Saturday morning I got the call. "I scored us free tickets to the Obama rally / Bruce Springsteen solo acoustic afternoon performance at Soldiers & Sailors Hall. Doors open at 2pm. If we get there by 3, we should be just in time."
For those unfamiliar with this venue, it's a spectacularly archaic building on the University of Pitt campus. In 2011, I seriously contemplated the concept of "tarring and feathering" televangelist Benny Hinn at this very same location. Fortunately for the both us, he canceled the faith healing services. Nobody knows exactly why he scrapped the miracle crusades. I sometimes pray that I was a contributing factor.
So we got there about 3:15 pm. Surprisingly, security seemed nonexistent. Nobody even asked to see our tickets. We opted to stand on some steps in an outlying area to the right of the stage. Obama had an inspiring, polished video on the screen. "Fired Up! Ready to Go! Fired up! Ready to go!" He'd be well-advised to take a look back at his 2008 campaign and assume a more passionate, speaking role (from a motivational perspective) in the 2012 race. Not sure if he has enough time. Looks like the rest of the election will coincide with Frankenstorm. This would require a more serious, muted approach.
I wondered if the crowd would sit or stand during Bruce's show. He came on stage and everyone jumped to their feet. For the duration of the show, the crowd on the floor would stand and those in the balcony would stay seated. I've always been fascinated with crowd reaction. I remember a 1989 King Diamond encore at the South Hills Theater in Pittsburgh that completely silenced the crowd. Of course, he did finish the show with the murder of his grandma. Not exactly an uplifting closer.
So Springsteen came out and sang a few songs...
- No Surrender
- The Promised Land
- Forward and Away We Go
- We Take Care of Our Own
- Thunder Road
I'm just not too hip on solo acoustic stuff. It's usually kind of a downer. Plus, you've got to contend with that wailing, ill-miked harmonica. Very screechy, makes you wanna chew on tinfoil while simultaneously shaving your head with a cheese grater (Sam Malone - Cheers). All in all though, he was "fine."
Oddly enough, the highlight for me was Gigi scoring this box of free pens.
"She's a Bic bad ass." (Say it like Forrest Gump would say it). And she also snagged me a Pitt-Temple ticket from earlier in the day. I will tack it up in the downstairs bathroom where strict rules regarding "event attendance" are neither acknowledged nor enforceable (as opposed to upstairs bedroom).
Upon our return to the North Side cottage, the cats had experienced a violent upheaval. When I use the term "upheaval," we're not talkin' revolts or insurrections. I'm referring to the "heaving up" of cat vomit. A few blogs ago, I spoke about E.V.S., or if you will, empathic vomit syndrome. It's the ability to vicariously experience the pain of others as the purging process unfolds. Anyway, there was cat puke everywhere. Floor, blanket, laptop (some vomit actually seeped into the keyboard). Fortunately, none of my belongings were impacted. I think Gigi got a little irritated. While I played on facebook in the living room, she was relegated to vomit detail. And when I use the term "play on facebook," that's exactly what I mean. I left all kinds of LOL and haha haha comments and even a few ♥ symbols. I was laughing hysterically like a little school girl. It's just what I do. It's who I am.
Somehow, Gig persevered and threw a Red Baron pizza in the oven. Mild peppers and chopped cloves of garlic were added. But unfortunately, she burned her hand clearing out a pan from the oven. So 25 minutes later following a spirited vomit cleansing, she lamented, "The pizza's burnt. It's ruined." Truth be told, the pizza was fine.
So we gathered up our shit and literally choppered into the Moors church parking lot in the hood. It was pretty crappy out. Sometimes this type of weather aids the ticket acquisition process. People are less likely to stand around and haggle. They just dish them off. And dish 'em off they did. With the assistance of this innovative front/back sign...
Gigi secured two freebie printouts (face value - $98 each) to the soldout show. She snagged them in about 7 minutes from a middle aged couple who were more than happy to assist. I liked the "straightforward begging yet sophisticated/deferential" tone of the sign. I usually just scribble "I want a free ticket." I could see how the random passerby might think that's a bit crass.
We journeyed inside and found some "overhanging bar stool seats" in the 100 level behind the stage. This is quickly becoming my favorite place in the arena (for completely sold out shows) because you never have to worry about people showing up and claiming their seats. Plus, you can sit or stand whenever without people bitching. And you don't have to worry about seat encroachment from concert-goers in the 300 lb. range. We saw a man fitting this description (a drunken young Pitt student I named "Disheveled Oaf").
Anyway, the actual concert was far better than I envisioned. The energy level was tremendous as Springsteen and his entire entourage took the stage. I'd forgotten that Silvio Dante (Tony Soprano's consigliere, little Steven Van Zandt) would be on hand. And I had forgotten that Clarence Clemons died last summer. A few songs in, they played "The Ties That Bind." This has always been a favorite of mine but I never knew it was a Springsteen song. I've never given it much thought. Towards the end of an almost 3 hour set, local balding rocker, Joe Grushecky came out on stage for a cool rendition of "Glory Days." All in all, I wouldn't say I was blown away... but I was definitely impressed and I promise to NEVER AGAIN make fun of Springsteen or his ardent fans.
While exiting the arena, Gigi scored a freebie Wrecking Ball Tour t-shirt from a "Donnie Brasco-like, law enforcement officer operating under deep cover"... aka a "t-shirt cop." And she also snagged us some his and hers t-shirts from a box near the concessions. Much cooler than a $40 concert t-shirt.
And I snagged this monster Washington Redskins officially merchandised umbrella from a bin of confiscated property deemed dangerous by Consol security
which I left on the porch of local Redskins enthusiast Jon R. It's in good condition with a retail value of roughly $25.00 (or whatever the going rate is for unnecessary crap like that which the NFL sells to its dutifully trained minions aka "fans.")
The next morning, I cruised down to the Redskins game. As expected, tons of no-shows (62,371 out of 65,050). Way to go Steeler nation! Only about 3,000 no-shows. The weather was balmy and it would later become rainy and semi-miserable. Good football weather. With minimal effort, I accumulated 3 free tickets with the help of another "I WOULD LIKE A FREE TICKET" sign. I kept one for Gigi who would eventually join me near the end of the 3rd quarter. And I sold the other one for $50. Sure enough, two undercover vice squad P.P.'s (Pittsburgh Pigs) saw the transaction as it was unfolding. The one charged the scene and was very accusatory and aggressive. His partner was agitated, but exhibited a little more restraint. After a 5 minute discussion with regard to the crime of the century (selling a single, 500 level ticket for $30 below cost), they finally decided it was time to move on. But they did take down both of our addresses. That's fine though. Everyone has my address these days (FBI, DHS, FCC even the DOE (Dept. of Education). They just wanted to strike the "fear of god" into both of us. Since I don't believe in imaginary deities and have very little concern for the Pittsburgh police department, I left the scene feeling relatively unscathed.
Despite the unusual bumblebee throwback uniforms which will be re-pollinated at an upcoming Baltimore Ravens night game, the Steelers cruised past the "Wash Redfaces."
In my Odd, Oh Biography, I reference an all-time favorite/historic quote in the 8th chapter entitled "Sports"...
"If that boy billionaire thinks he can shut me up, he should stick his head in a can of paint." - Steelers announcer Myron Cope, after Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder sent someone into the broadcast booth during a game to tell Cope to stop referring to his team as the "Wash Redfaces" (2000)
Interesting weekend. I went from one extreme to the other. Lying about having previously seen a Bruce Springsteen concert to seeing him twice in the same day. Not bad.