Together We Ride

We all want those big moments. The “aha” moment, the moment when we see the light, and the moment where everything makes sense. To quote Bruce Springsteen, “some people spend their whole life waiting for moment that just don’t come. Don’t waste your time waiting.”

Recently I wrote a post entitled “The Fearful Rider.”  The post focused on the challenges I have been facing as I try to teach my son, BR, how to ride a bike. It has not gone particularly well. He is struggling, and I am struggling with teaching him. I have not ridden a bike for years – just a couple of times since I was hit by a car as an 11-year-old boy.

BR had been bicycling around the block showing halting progress. He was mildly interested at best.  After a week of practice, he spent a week at his grandmother’s house. Upon his return home, he had no interest in practicing again, and I had no interest in fighting him.  Things were at a standstill.

Then, I came up with an idea.  And BR bought into it. I suggested we ride a tandem bike together when we were on vacation. I figured that when this ride went well, BR would feel comfortable and confident to ride on his own. It was my intention to get him to practice as part of this upcoming ride. That, unfortunately, did not happen.

When we got the Jersey shore, BR asked me about when we are going to go on a bike. His fear seemed to have completely evaporated and was replaced by excitement. I was thrilled. I had grand visions of BR and me gliding along the boardwalk.  We would be basking in the ocean breezes. We would engage in intermittent chatting about how great it was to be together on a bike.

On Wednesday morning, after we woke up, we had breakfast (we skipped the PED’s – save ‘em for the Tour De France). It was a beautiful morning –humidity free and cloudless. We got to the bike rental place at just after 8:30, paid for and received a bike, and strapped on our helmets.  By this point, I was nervous. Yes, I was nervous about BR. However, I was even more nervous about myself. After all, I had not been on a bike for years. Now, not only was I getting on a bike for the first time, but I was putting my own son’s safety at risk. Maybe I could not ride a bike anymore. Was the saying you never forget how to ride a bike true?

Well, BR and I were given the green light to ride away. It was not steady going. We decided to walk the bike up the slope to the boardwalk. We got to the side of the boardwalk and got back on the bike again. We wobbled. Each BR shake or jerk shook the bike. We almost fell. But we didn’t. We stayed upright and bumped along.  We struggled on the turns.

As BR and I rode, I realized that I felt comfortable. I enjoyed riding. I did not forget. What about BR? “We should do this again, this is easy,…”    Later on after two stops, BR was ready to hand the bike in early. “My legs hurt, I’m tired, sorry for jerking the bike.”

So, BR and I rode a bike together. It wasn’t perfect. The ride didn’t change everything and make BR  eager to ride a bike himself. However, he enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it. We both conquered some of our fears. That is a moment worth savoring.

Top 40 Kids

A good education, nice friends, and a healthy diet…

The answer is: “What do parents want for their children?”

Sure, education and all that other stuff is important. I suppose. But, there is something else I want for my children. I’ve tried to guide, model, encourage, and reward. What is this thing I am referring to, you may wonder? Well, I’m talking wise musical choices.

I’ve had this on my mind since BR was born, 8 years ago. I wanted to inculcate him into the finer things in life. For my wife and I, that means the music of Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band. Those of you who read this blog know how I feel Bruce and the band (only one more month till the concert). Anyway, don’t we all want to expose our children to the things we enjoy and hope that they will share this enjoyment? I know it’s not just me. My blogger friend over at Life Takes Over ( literally had her children on her lap as she was listening to a favorite album. Who needs bedtime?

While I appreciate Life Takes Over’s direct approach, I’ve tried to be more subtle. And I was having success. BR really started getting into music when he was about 5. He would request that I turn on the radio in the car. As I flipped through the stations, I’d ask him;

“You like this song?”

“Do you like it, Daddy?”

“Ehh. Not one of my favorites.”

“Yeah. It’s just okay.”

This process would repeat itself till we found a song I liked. BR would announce afterwards that he liked the song as well. So obedient then – sigh.

During those “Glory Days” (Springsteen song title – subtle, right?), BR, SJ, (my 5.5 year-old) and I would have dance parties while listening to Springsteen’s greatest hits album. Those of you who know me well can pick yourselves off the floor – yes, I danced. BR memorized the first stanza of “Thunder Road” – my favorite Springsteen song. He wanted to learn the words – I was just there to facilitate. The musical indoctrination was going very well.

Times have changed.

I’m not sure when it happened or why. BR tolerated Springsteen, but he wanted something else. He turned into a – drum roll please – a top 40 kid. When I flipped through the dials and asked what he liked, he had a strong opinion, and my opinion no longer mattered. He wanted dance music, pop music, etc. Katy Perry seemed to be a particular favorite of his and the song “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz made his blood pressure rise.

My obedient boy was no longer. And he took his little brother SJ with him. I’m losing them. Now when we are in the car, the first thing BR asks is for Mom’s “music player” so he can plug in and tune us out. I am quite certain he is not listening to Bruce Springsteen.

Shall I adjust?

This summer the boys are hooked on “Call it Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen and “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction. I’ve heard the songs more than enough times. Both songs are catchy and singable. I’ll give them that. Razza frazza. My musical tastes might even be getting more diverse as their tastes grow.

I just hope my children leave a little room for Bruce as well. After all, I am trying to raise them the right way.


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.








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.