Miss You Clarence

On a warm August night in 1985 at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium, I was part of an audience that experienced Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band on their Born in the USA Tour. A teenage boy who had never been to a concert before and had some interest in Rock N’ Roll became an addict.

As the next year of my life proceeded, I became an aficionado of all things East Street. I bought every album, got my hands on boot legs, and memorized the lyrics to many songs.  My weeks began and ended with the band. On Friday afternoons, I would take my older brother’s aged 8-track, put on headphones, lie in bed, and consume Born to Run. From what became my favorite song – Thunder Road with its talk of love and escape to the final strands of Jungleland a tale of a small town night blending love and violence, I listened. With the last of Bruce’s wailings, my eyes fell asleep and my week was over.

The music has continued for me in to my adulthood as I’ve been to 15 (or so) concerts since that fateful night in August 1985. While in college, I stood in line at midnight to purchase the twin release of Lucky Town & Human Touch, I carried mix tapes in my rucksack throughout my traveling days, I spoke about it with my wife on our first date, and I helped BR (my older son) memorize the first stanza of Thunder Road. Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band’s music has been the soundtrack to my life.

Today, June 18th marks a sad day for those who are part of the Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band and us, its extended members. Today marks the one year anniversary of the passing of a core member of the band, saxophonist, Clarence Clemons. As he is still on my mind, what follows below is a piece I wrote about his passing shortly after his death. The music has continued for me in to my adulthood.


I miss Clarence Clemons. He died last week, and I never met him.  I have no idea if we have anything in common. Did he prefer vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry ice cream?   Who was his favorite football team?   Did he enjoy reading Fitzgerald?  Was he a winter or summer person? Did he prefer cats or dogs?  I don’t know.  I know nothing about his personal life. I am not certain if I would have recognized him walking down the street.  Yet, I miss him.

Clarence Clemons was famous to a certain segment of the population.He was part of something that was truly meaningful. As the saxophone player for the “E” Street Band, he was seen by millions of people who watched him perform on stage. I am one such person. I love Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band. They performed the first concert I ever went to.  I’ve seen them from the second row, I saw them multiple times in a week, I saw them when I was a teenager, when I was in college, when I was married, and when I was a father.

As I contemplate why it is I miss Clarence – he wouldn’t mind me calling him by his first name–a couple of ideas come to mind. There is the tangible reason. He brought a certain sound and style to the band that I truly enjoyed. I am not sure how the band will sound the next time I see them, assuming there is a next time.I don’t want to consider that they will not tour again, but I do know it will be different. However, the emotional reasons are greater. The band has always seemed like they were more than just a musical group. It’s as if they were friends who were part of a brotherhood. Listening to their music, and going to the concerts made it feel like I was in on their special bond.They wanted people to hear their music, sing the lyrics, and I wanted that too. I was a quiet, shy kid. This relationship was easy, and I felt good about it. I recognize this may sound crazy, but for those of us who are Springsteenfanatics – even fanatics of other musicians or sports teams – it might sound right.  There is something comforting and special about being part of this slightly odd relationship.

Clarence Clemons was not the first member of the “E” Street Band to die. I was sad when Danny Federici (organ, glockenspiel, and accordion player) died a couple of years ago. However, this is worse. With a second band member passing, it feels like it is only a matter of time till they are all gone. When I first saw the band, I was 15. They played a song called Glory Days. Prior to playing the song, Bruce said he was getting older, and he was about to turn 36.  The crowd was completely enthralled and starting chanting, “No, no,” when he said he was old. We wanted to let our hero know we felt he most definitely still had it. Now, Bruce at 36, me at 15, and that concert, seem like a million years ago.

My parents were big fans of movies and television and loved to see the actors and actresses. Anytime they would see one of the stars, they would first comment on how they looked and by that they meant how well they aged, or how not-so-well they aged. One time, Mom finally said to Dad, “You know Carl, we’ve gotten older too.”  I know just what she means. I miss you Clarence Clemons.


Calling Susan Lucci

Last night was an amazing night. Dashing in a tux with alongside my wife in her striking auburn Donna Karan gown, we walked the red carpet. Lightbulbs flashed, interviewers were everywhere, and the fans were delirious.  And the after parties, well I don’t kiss and tell. Suffice to say, the tabloids will be buzzing this week. Glorious, it was just a glorious night.  Now, I had my speeches prepared.  Humble, humorous, hip, I had it all going on.  What, pray tell, you may be thinking was going on? Well, I had been nominated for two more blogger awards – the Sunshine Award and The One Lovely Blog Award and last night was the Blogger Awards. As noted above, the award ceremony was posh. You didn’t hear about it? That wasn’t a dream was it?

Let me first answer some questions associated with the awards.  Here goes:

Favorite Number: 7. Not so original. Truthfully, it doesn’t mean all that much to me.

Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: Yoohoo. Chocolate milk – yum, yum.

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook. I am not so into it but have never even been on Twitter.

My Passion: Sports.  I am currently sports depressed. Darn Philadelphia teams.

Favorite Pattern: The patterns of nature. Patterns in the sky, on leaves and the bark on trees, for example.

Favorite Day of the Week: The Sabbath. I enjoy the serenity.

Favorite Flower: Marigolds. I don’t know many flowers but I bought these at the flower show on a 2nd grade trip for my mother. I was a good boy!

One of the awards instructed me to note: Seven Things You May Not Know About Me. So, here goes 7 more.

1. The first song I ever memorized all the words to is Meeting Across the River by Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band.

2. Batman is my favorite superhero.

3. The first time I really thought I wanted to be a writer was after completing John Updike’s Rabbit series.

4. I love snow (even more so when I was younger).

5. I always wanted to be 6’2’’. I would have settled for 6’3’’ or 6’4’’. I’m 5’11. Oh well!

6. I don’t enjoy scary movies.

7. I am not good at learning languages.

Now let me tell you about My Nominees. I’m going to note 7 as it is my favorite number. The first two are the people who gave it to me. Thanks so much to both of you.

1. marymenkedick.wordpress.com

2. denobears.wordpress.com

3. parentingisfunny.wordpress.com

4. clotildajamcracker.wordpress.com

5. livenowandzen.com

6. slapppshotblog.com

7. fullofsmyles.com

I have now been nominated for 4 awards. I am 14 short of Susan Lucci who was nominated 18 times before she won. So, there is hope for me. I’ll see you at the awards show next year.  Get your formal wear ready.

Dinner With the Clampetts

It was new money, oil money, dirty money that led the Clampetts to pack up their truck and head to Californy. Anybody of a certain age either saw the original show (it ran from 1962-1971) or the reruns. Jed and his family were simpletons with crude backward ways. However, the Clampetts were decent moral people and a little smarter than Mr. Drysdale and the slick city folk gave them credit for. Despite all of this, there is no denying they were like fish out of the water.

SY, my younger son, attends two different preschools – in the morning he attends a religious preschool, and in the afternoon, he attends public school. This week is graduation week. My wife and I are very proud of SJ and wanted to celebrate this momentous occasion. So, I decided to take my family out to dinner. Now, this is a very big deal for us. Prior to this most recent occasion, we have gone out to eat together just one time. ONE TIME! We get take out once a week, and my wife and I go out to eat occasionally but as a family it has been only once.

There are many reasons for this infrequency. Firstly, I don’t love going out to eat. I know some people love going out to eat – my mother, for instance, thinks it’s the greatest luxury. Now, if I had cooked as many meals as she had for a family of six, maybe having someone waiting on me would mean more. My mother has conveyed to me that the joy of going out stems from being waited on and the relaxation that goes along with that. So my wife and I have always had the thought if the point of going out to eat is to relax, why bring the children? They don’t know how to relax without a television or some other form of entertainment. Therefore, when my wife and I do go out to dinner, it is alone and peaceful.

However, between SJ’s graduations, BR’s big day at school (an author celebration where each student read something they wrote aloud, and a competition where the 2nd graders defeated the 8th graders) and me completing another school year, we had a lot to celebrate. So, off we went.

SJ choose a restaurant that serves bagels and pizza – two foods the boys generally eat. Before we left, SJ kept requesting a snack. Though we were going out soon, he is not especially reasonable when it comes to food. So I gave him a snack and figured he would be calmer and refrain from constantly telling me he’s hungry. The first thing the boys saw when we entered the restaurant was the drinks, and of course, they wanted soda. We rarely let the kids have soda during the week, so this was a treat. After we placed our order at the counter, for BR a bagel and fries and pizza for the rest of us, we found seats in the corner and sat waiting for our food. The boys were content to sip their sodas (they had already mouthed the bottles while waiting for me to open them) as we waited for our food.

Within a minute of the food arriving, it began – the burping, that is. Not just a little ‘excuse me’ burping. It was table-shaking, glass-rattling, turn your head and look at the classless people in the corner burping. They must have burped 20 times in the 20 minutes we sat there. The boys actually tried – somewhat – to cover their mouths but their hands never seemed to get there in time or were not sufficient to stifle the monstrous sound. Thankfully, fighting was kept to a minimum – only one kicking match under the table which turned into ‘I hate you’ and my wife and BR switching seats. Then BR picked up a fry from the floor and ate it — “Why not? No one stepped on it!” he explained as my wife told him he should not eat food off the floor. Couple all this with my children’s inability to master an inside voice and it is no wonder the restaurant was near empty when we left.

As we left the restaurant my wife tossed over her shoulder, “The Clampetts are leaving now.” The boys said thank you – hey even the Clampetts had morals – and SJ asked can we go out again to a restaurant that has Coca Cola. I’m not sure I can handle all that relaxation.

Sometime Shy

When I was in college, I used to be one of the guys that hung around the keg. It wasn’t because I was some crazy beer guzzling get out of my way must have beer now kind of guy. No. While I enjoyed the beer, the bigger reason for my chosen location was my shyness and hanging by the keg allowed for easy conversation and generally happy people. I have always considered myself shy and still do to this day. It’s not one of my traits I am particularly proud of and it’s not easily changed. So, when people used to give advice, “Just go say hi to her,” it was not so simple.

I believe in irony. I think G-d has a devilish sense of humor (ironic – huh). The irony is that as a blogger I put personal information, thoughts, feelings etc. out in the blogosphere that anyone can see. In fact, the more people that see it, the happier I am (you have my full permission to forward this to someone else or to reblog it. Really, it’s fine. Go ahead.). I can’t tell you how many times I wrote something and my wife will say to me, “Are you sure you want to say that?” or a friend will say afterwards, “I don’t know if I would have shared that.” I just kind of smile and say, “Why not?” It’s not so personal. Yet, on the flip side there are plenty of people who I see whom I would never even have thought to have shared the information. It’s as if I have a different personality on line as compared to my ‘real life.’ I think this is true of many people – hiding in the virtual world.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying I was nominated for an award. I’d like to thank the academy. Actually, it’s not that award but instead is the Versatile Blogger award. I wonder about these awards. I keep seeing people get nominated but don’t know who is actually winning them and what that means. It seems more like a way for us bloggers to tell each other that we enjoy their blogs. I’m cool with that. Though again, I feel a little shy about being nominated. The rules include saying 7 things about myself — which I do with every entry — yet to say it here feels awkward. Man, I got issues. Anyway here goes:

1. I think peanut butter should be a separate food group.

2. I am a big Springsteen fan.

3. My favorite season is fall.

4. I can’t draw.

5. I wish I had a full head of hair.

6. I think the last episode of Seinfeld is underrated.

7. I take pride in my role as a father.

I hope you said the list quickly. Shy thing, you know. Anyway, it feels odd to try and find 7 things that somehow convey who I am. Alright, enough of this. Now, I would like to nominate 15 bloggers for the award – each of whom I enjoy reading. The first two are the bloggers who nominated me. Thanks Patricia and Raani.

1. patgarciabookreviews.wordpress.com

2. raaniyork.wordpress.com

3. robertjhorton.wordpress.com

4. allthingsboys.wordpress.com

5. linneann.wordpress.com

6. lostandforgotten.wordpress.com

7. emeraldpie.wordpress.com

8. perfectlyimperfectmomma.com

9. elskenewman.wordpress.com

10. dearoptimists.com

11. blog.shoesonthewrongfeet.com

12. momopause.wordpress.com

13. jessieclemence.com

14. somethinglikeaduck.wordpress.com

15. insanityofmotherhood.com

I hope to get much more practice getting nominated and receiving awards. I will have to come up with some catchy stories and be more magnaminous. Any tips anyone? I’m getting too old to stand by the keg.