I just had the ultimate boomer moment: I booked a colonoscopy for the same day that I had tickets to see Bruce Springsteen. For real. And lest there be any question about my priorities, I was able to convince the doctor that any early detection of colon cancer wouldn't be harmed by a week's delay.
You see, Bruce is coming to town, and he and I go back a long time. I used to catch his midnight sets at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park before he became a superstar and before I became too old to remember anything that isn't written down on my wrist. Wrist-writing is kind of a boomer tattoo; it is our iPhone calendar reminder for when we misplace our phones. I fully expect to see Bruce take a discreet glance at his own left wrist Friday night at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. No way he can remember the set order any more. And do you really think it's a coincidence that the older he gets, the more it sounds like he's mumbling the lyrics? He's just run out of room on his inner arm.
Yes, my life and Bruce's have long been intertwined. In fact, his boot once knocked over my beer when he leapt over the Stone Pony's bar to fetch himself a cold one during a break. I think he apologized; truth is, I don't remember that either. I do remember Patti's icy stare though. Very territorial lady, that one.
At the time, I worked at the "Asbury Park (NJ) Press," where we covered Bruce the way the "Washington Post" covered Watergate. We had a squad of reporters who documented The Boss' every move and I was the team's leader; I was the Bruce editor. (I believe my official masthead title was something more staid than "Editor of Bruce," but given the era it could just have easily have read: "It's Time To Promote A Woman, So Let's Grab Ann.") But I rose to the challenge and brought passion to my job.
As Bruce editor, I once produced a four-page advertising-free section to kick off one of his concert tours; it wrapped around the front page of the newspaper. When newspapers do that today, they get written up by the Newspaper Police and are called shameful names, accused of shilling for advertisers. That one? It won all kinds of prizes for innovation and it's probably enjoying a brisk after-life as a collector's item on eBay. I do recall how my special section broke all kinds of circulation records that day and a couple of press guys or delivery drivers got in trouble for selling them for $10 a pop on the street. Sorry, but I long ago washed the details off my wrist.
Being Bruce editor, I also had a seat on the paper's editorial board, otherwise known as the Department of Most Gravitas at any news organization. They had seriously smart folks there who pontificated about failing schools and the destruction of the environment and then there was me -- opining about whether Bruce should have married Julianne Phillips. It was actually on that very occasion that I penned the famous-in-my-own-mind line, "You could hear the sound of hearts breaking along the Jersey Shore," which, for the record, a top editor here at "The Huffington Post" says is information that belongs at the top of my resume. Maybe, if I can remember where my resume is.
[CLARIFICATION: Ann Brenoff was the very hands-on editor of the story where that sentence appeared, but Wally Patrick, now a New York Times copy editor, was the reporter who had the byline. They have different recollections of who came up with the phrase, but both agree that 30 years was a very long time ago.]
For almost a decade, my life was Bruce-centric. I regularly heard him play in venues large and small, knew the lyrics to every song, and sat in a cubicle at work surrounded by Bruce paraphernalia and photos. I even wangled an invite to a Thanksgiving dinner in Monmouth Beach N.J. where Big Man Clarence Clemmons -- may he RIP -- brought the pie. I still have the stained paper pie doily in a frame somewhere in the garage.
When my husband married me, he understood that we would need to cut our honeymoon short because Bruce was playing in Los Angeles. Concert tickets were our wedding gifts to one another and we drove straight from the airport to the Staples Center. In exchange for extracting this commitment, I had to agree that we would postpone the ceremony altogether if the Cubs were in the World Series. I figured I was making a sure bet.
But this Friday night, it's time to pass the torch. We are taking our two children to their first rock concert: Bruce, of course -- and no colonoscopy was going to get in the way of that. Truth be told, my 11-year-old son isn't all that keen on Bruce's new album, "Wrecking Ball," and my 14-year-old daughter prefers to listen to Taylor Swift. But I'm hoping the first few bars of "10th Avenue Freezeout" will turn their heads around. I'll be sure to take some notes, you know where.
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