Dancing In The Dark (and in the Club)

On June 4, 1984 (otherwise notable for being first birthday), Bruce Springsteen released his chart-topping album Born in the U.S.A. With it, he secured his biggest hit ever, “Dancing In The Dark.” Nobody didn’t like that song!

However, many modern-day Bruce puritans say that “Dancing In The Dark” is anti-Bruce, his one screw-up in a career otherwise loaded with integrity and artistic vision. To these people I say, get over yourselves! A great pop song is nothing to sneer at. It takes genius to craft something so catchy, even if nobody knows what you’re singing about. (This is a song about soul-crushing isolation, of course; in this regard, it’s like “I’m On Fire’s” little brother who’s everybody’s favorite when they’re little kids, but while big bro goes on to be covered by every artist from Tori Amos to Johnny Cash, little bro isn’t really taken seriously as an adult.)

As the story goes, in an effort to appeal to a younger and more diversified set than his standard 35-45 year-old, whitebread audience, Bruce released a “Dancing In The Dark” remix–otherwise known as the 12″ Extended Dance Remix–fully equipped with glockenspiel, backup singers (not Patti Scialfa, which maybe hurt her feelings?), a doubled-up Bruce reverb effect and what sounds like a drum machine. The end result is way more “Always Something There To Remind Me” than Nebraska.

There are several things I love about this remix and its accompanying video. (None of them are Courtney Cox.)

1) The kick-off to the remix. “Phil Collins Drum Fills” is what Rawle calls them (he loves drum fills). I keep thinking it’s going to be “Some Like It Hot” by Power Station.

2) Bruce does some dancing. Now, Bruce can play a mean guitar, he can slide across an entire stage, and he’s jumped off every piano in America. But can he dance? The better question is, should he dance? Oh, but it’s cute to see him try.

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The Postcard Project

My summer of puttering around the house has led to several hands-on projects, some involving a hammer and nails, one (nearly abandoned) involving yarn and knitting needles, and a few other collage-type endeavors involving scissors and tape. My favorite, and most sentimental, of the projects dealt with twine, paper clips, velco strips and a few intercontinental trips: a postcard chain, draped across the kitchen windows! (With our courtyard’s palm tree as a backdrop, I simply must add.)

I know my handiwork isn’t much to look at. But reminders of friends, family and all these world-wide experiences make doing the dishes a real treat and give a globe-trotting feel to the kitchen and everything we cook in it.

I first got the postcard chain idea from Real Simple. But my local grocer didn’t have old-school clothespins, as the magazine suggested using, so I improvised with paper clips and hanging-down twine to give the staggered effect.

The only drawback of the postcard assembly line is that the sun’s shining directly on the actual notes on the backs of the postcards. So in an effort to not lose them forever, I’ll reproduce them here, starting from the young-buck days and working up to the here-and-now.

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From Erin D. in San Diego (June 3, 2003 – the day before my birthday and no shout-out?!):

Mary,
I wanted to say that I like how we’ve become book-sharing friends, in a way. Maybe someday we will found a book club. I hope so anyway. In any event, traveling rocks. Isn’t it strange that Jersey Deuce’s Pish [the trio of Erin, our friend Kristin and me] will be all over the place this summer? Okay, here’s the expected part – I’m in S. Cali near my hometown of San Diego, where we’ll camp tonight. It’s wonderful. I feel at home.
LOVE, Erin

[I remember Erin telling me about Everything is Illuminated that summer. It remains one of my favorites; who knows what-all I suggested in return. In any event, we did found a book club…only took us 6 years to do it.]

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