Monday, November 5, 2007

Ask Her If She Likes Baloney

Hard to talk about Bruce without getting emotional; maybe there's no need to, anyway. Argument is calm and rational, but some things plunge beyond argument into the substrata of health and disease, meaning they organize your soul. Bruce is one of these things for me.

Like many romances, ours begins with a drought: specifically, the chunk of eight or so years that I lived between the ages of six and fourteen, when my family moved from Brattleboro, Vermont to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to Lusaka, Zambia. The capital letters are just distracting: the most important part about where we were was that it was Not America. So, as the law of supply-and-demand dictates, we were raised under the banner of what I still flatter myself was a very peculiar Not Americanism.

Flash forward to my junior year of high school, when the walls of the schizo-edenic East Coast boarding school I had been languishing in since my parents moved to Egypt exploded, literally exploded, or rather inverted, figuratively inverted, to a sort of Deep Space Opera I later learned to call Bruce. This was Born To Run, the album that he called "My Shot at the Title." I decided immediately that I would like it.

(I don't know about you guys but for me, this is how liking things has pretty much gone my entire life. I decide for whatever reason that I like something, and then I make myself like it until I really do like it. Eventually, I'm so caught up in whatever it is that the delight can be described as "spontaneous." Will feeds delight feeds will feeds delight, back and forth like a Miranda July Poop Vortex.)

These days I'm on the downward spiral of my Bruce obsession - but I still think that he has important things to teach us. For example, I could ask you what you know about your own disease - the real disease I mean - and you probably wouldn't be able to tell me anything. But one way to know your disease is to see it reflected in another man so persuasively and completely that you feel a sort of intuitive sympathy for him. You think "I want to get away from this person," and at the same time "Maybe this guy will know what I'm talking about." You're fascinated, in other words, or repulsed, or whatever.

Bruce is rotting: grandly, operatically, and right before our eyes. If a Dylan withers and a McCartney ferments, then a Bruce rots, because he's an American and has spent his entire life running in two directions: mythical past and mythical future. Like all good Americans, he is a prophet of Not America, meaning he's never found rest and never will, and this is what makes the rot so disgustingly visible, like a bad sunburn, or male pattern baldness.

Apocryphal, but true, story: I once saw Bruce Springsteen's penis or at least a shadow of it, while weight lifting in downtown Boston. I'd gone to his concert the night before and was wearing my newly bought "Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band" hat, and it was early enough on a Sunday morning that there were only three other guys in the whole place: the owner, a trainer, and a guy who looked a lot like like Bruce Springsteen. Actually, this guy looked so much like Bruce Springsteen that, after he'd finished his workout, I followed him to the bathroom, Sharpie in hand, and prepared to take my chances.

The bathroom was cool and white, and filled (I immediately noticed) with a sound like a waterfall gushing over rocks. It was a mighty sound, a sound so intense and vigorous that at first I thought someone had turned all the faucets in the bathroom on at once, as a sort of paean to Bruce. As I cleared the corridor, however, I saw that this noise was being made, not in honor of Bruce, but by him! Bruce Springsteen, peeing (I include this for Seth)! And not any pee, but one filled with anguish and a low lament - the kind of pee that makes you glance over from your own place and consider, seriously consider, asking the stranger next to you if he's okay! A pee of terror and loneliness, the likes of which I had never heard before, and hopefully never will again...the pee of Job in the wilderness, or Jonah in his whale. A wild, hortatory pee.

When I closed the door Bruce re-sheathed himself and zipped up. "Excuse me," he said, shouldering his way past me. For a few long minutes, I seriously considered tearing the urinal off the wall and enshrining it in my bedroom.

Of course he was pretty cooked by "Tunnel of Love" - and that was the late '80s, before I'd even hit double digits. Now he makes albums called "Magic," and asks us to "Rise up" - a song that, more than any of his others, I like to play while running, writing, or taking a particularly difficult shit.

Anyway, after Bruce had left, the owner of the weight-room and I watched him walk away through the second-story window. I'd gotten my autograph, but I still wasn't satisfied.

"I saw The Edge once, in a pool hall," the owner said.

For some reason, I felt very jealous about this.


The Man Who Couldn't Blog said...

It looks like our little Happy Cobra/Seventh Draft e-book now has some additional participants, if they want to contribute.

And, really, does Seth? Possibly, Josh should just submit something by his uncle.

I just can't stop eating Greek food these days, gentlemen, and I really don't know why. I'm back from my lunch run, gyro in hand.

(Okay, not in hand. I can't type with a single hand. In any circumstance.)

It's a "spicy" gyro, which confuses me. He asked if I wanted it "spicy" and I panicked and said "yes."

And then, tonight we're going out to a local Greek restaurant—me, the girl, and her family.

This seems odd. So much Greek food.

Last night I was doing the dishes and it occurred to me that I feel the same way about writing as I feel about the dishes. I hate them both until I am doing them, and until after I have done them. Up to the moment I stand over the sink/keyboard, to hell with both activities. I would rather not. But then. The little push. Off I go. And I could continue for hours on end.

There are only so many dishes, though. The stories go on forever.

Please tell DJ Alex that I will expect him to play Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music at the dance. And Love Child by Diana Ross and the Supremes. And possibly Cannibal Corpse.

Josh said...

I also find doing the dishes an oddly soothing experience. I imagine I'm a farmer rummaging around inside a cow's vagina, just biding my time until suddenly, out pops a beautiful, dewy-eyed, adorable baby cheese grater!

(hope I have my anatomy right on that one...cow's don't have four vaginas, do they?)

A recent email from my uncle, by the by (introductory salvo: "Bruce is gay") includes:

" any event no one's listening anymore. so there's your real problem. you could come along and blow the doors off poundeliotjoyce like they were tin-cylinder edsels & there would hardly be a ripple. its absolutely phenomenal

the world's attention has become decoupled from its primary purpose, or from the factual reality of its own human nature, if you will. and this was sublimely explained & predicted as far back as burned-up mutton."

Josh said...

Uncle Screwtape on the Bruce post:

"i had to take a slight run at bruce because of the simple fact that i, like many of 'my generation', got steamrollered by the bud [dolan**].

>>>once your immune receptors have been imprinted with the stearic chemistry from that transcendental headwater, the downstream disciples are splintering drips beside an ocean. i mean, "gates of eden"...who could come up w shit like that!!?? nobody. forget it...

tho' for all i know **dylan mighta been a big fan of the boss....he does freakin cadillac commercials these days...(also victoria's secret...bobby's no dummy...

thus to my mind: not so much a criticism of anything brucean as it is endemic to the colossal commodification of everything sacred which has queered the entire social communication apparatus and swallowed entire Kingdoms of Experience whole, spitting them back out as fetid, rasty chunks unfit for a brakeman's piss

the truly gruesome fact of the matter is, its all been a bad repetition SINCE "positively 4th st."..just another set of x, y, zenerations iterating, recycling, reborn to rerunning old tired tapes, etc...there hasnt been any new artistic information in 40 yrs...just this increasingly tapped-out fact we seem -as a country anyway- to be back in that exact same psychic space...a phony baloney war raging in the background, corporate master control run riot, while everyone just stares numbly at the cathode the scene in fahrenheit else to explain the persistent relevance of stuff that shoulda rotted & fallen off so many windy moons ago...leggo m y eggo...

say if the beatles had never been, & came out new tomorrow, would they take over the world all over again??? i guarantee you "IF SO/FACTO" that is beyond comprehension...& it should be like ice water to the balls of any heir to the creative wooden ships that brought such dutch schpruuengenschtines to this shore in the first place

>>> we have got to wake up!!! ATTENT!!!"