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 Prophet Bruce Springsteen

“The type of fame that Elvis had, and that I think Michael Jackson has, the pressure of it, and the isolation that it seems to require, has gotta be really painful. I wasn’t gonna let that happen to me. I wasn’t gonna get to a place where I said, ‘I can’t go in here. I can’t go to this bar. I can’t go outside.’… I believe that the life of a rock ‘n’ roll band will last as long as you look down into the audience and can see yourself, and your audience looks up at you and can see themselves—and as long as those reflections are human, realistic ones. The biggest gift that your fans can give you is just treatin’ you like a human being, because anything else dehumanizes you. And that’s one of the things that has shortened the life spans, both physically and creatively, of some of the best rock ‘n’ roll musicians—that cruel isolation. If the price of fame is that you have to be isolated from the people you write for, then that’s too fuckin’ high a price to pay.”

-Bruce Springsteen, 1984

Franken-Pish

My Neosporin-improved nose.

My Neosporin-improved nose.

If you’ve seen me the past few days, you’ve probably asked me (or at least yourself), “What happened to your face?” Or, in Lily’s case, “Did you get rhinoplasty?”

I didn’t, in fact, get a nose job. (And if I had, I wouldn’t have picked the schnoz that’s currently stuck on my mug.)

No.

I got hit in the face by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Here’s what happened. I was sitting at work on Monday morning, minding my own business. No wait! I was actually creating a spreadsheet of the myriad Christmas gifts I’d bought for my loved ones! Being a total angel!

…Little did I know that a 3 lb. picture of the Art Museum (with Salvador Dali’s creepy face emblazoned on the Rocky Steps) was ricketing and rocketing above my dome.

The rogue poster.

The rogue poster.

So I’m happily checking off what’s been ordered, what’s been delivered, and doing some charitable brainstorming. Should I get my niece Chase an artist’s easel? Or a mini piano? How about a classy coloring book?

Next thing I know, some gargantuan thing hits me square in the face!

Clang

Clang

And I scream, “AH F*CK!”

Right in the kisser

Right in the kisser!

I started to well up like a baby while I inspected the damage. One, because it hurt, and two because, why me? On a Monday? Trying to be a good kid, employee and family member?

But now, it seems, I’m cursed. Suddenly, I’m the klutz with the Rocky scar on her nose who injects “Are you looking at my nose?” into every conversation. And the very next day, I caught a cold that sidelined me for the entirety of this very festive week. Sucks!

But there’s a whole nother component to my trauma.

I love Philadelphia! It’s my profession! My livelihood! My rock! And now Philly’s smacking me in the face? What the shit!

Since I was born four days after the Sixers won Philly’s last World Championship in 1983, I spent 25 hard years blaming myself for our championship drought. Now that the Fightin’ Phils are officially the world’s best, is this Philadelphia’s way of continuing my curse?

My battle scar doesn’t look quite as bad as it did a few days ago. I put some Neosporin on that shit. But I’m still wondering, what’s the cosmic relevance of Philadelphia/Rocky/Salvador Dali crashing my face’s party?

Stop punking me, Philly. I love you.

Yahtzee!

Over the course of my reading life, I’ve come to enjoy book reviews. Especially the post-factum reading of such reviews, where I finish the book then pit my observational skills against those paid to have them.

For instance.

For instance.

Unfortunately, my review-reading life has had some hiccups. Some incessant, ugly and Brave New World-esque hiccups. I’ve stumbled upon a few phrases — let’s call them “Woefully In Tandem” — that appear in most reviews. They almost always consist of three things: an adverb ending with –ly, a pretty blah adjective and a conspicuous lack of substance.

The two words always come pointlessly side by side, like a new shirt with spare buttons you’ll never use, or a new email program with a “Welcome!” email you’ll never open.

And so, here is my Phrases I Can Do Without List, Book Reviews Edition:

  • achingly beautiful
  • strikingly powerful
  • brutally honest
  • utterly original
  • heartbreakingly tender
  • heartbreakingly real
  • uproariously hilarious
  • touchingly hilarious (what does that even mean?!)
  • emotionally wrenching yet intellectually rigorous (I found this the other day. This is a special case. The alliterative pairing of “wrenching” and “rigorous” is actually quite appealing to me; I’m nutty about alliteration. But it’s still a double whammy, so it’s doubly woeful. F- !)
  • a dazzling tour de force (Another special case, since it takes a different form. But it’s everywhere! Everything from The Prince of Tides to Where’s Waldo? has, at one time or another, been called a “dazzling tour de force.” When I read these words, I think of the Eiffel Tower, or maybe Princess Di, or maybe the jewelry and crowns that come with the Pretty Pretty Princess board game. But most decidedly NOT a literary masterpiece!)

Oh man I’m irate. This stuff is like a literary game of yahtzee. You can keep rolling, but you still only got six sides to a die.

Roll out the filth!

Roll out the filth!

Google “heartbreakingly tender.” What’s heartbreakingly real, to pick from the list, is that thousands upon thousands of reviews use this broke-ass verbal tandem. At this point, it’s watered down like an hour-old scotch on the rocks, and I want a fresh glass!

Now, take “achingly beautiful.” Reading this, you should picture the reviewer sitting there in his specs and corduroy blazer, clutching at his heart with a grimace on his face while little cheeps of heartbreak escape his lips.

You know what I hear? The tip-type-type of computers all around some stuffy room, intermittently interrupted by the soft thud of suspendered men slapping each other’s backs.

You know what I see? The same gray-ass cloth wall that I see in my cubicle. Beautiful, my left foot!

“Now,” I can picture Managing Editors everywhere saying, “wherever you can compact genuine, strategically constructed and meaningful thoughts into two words, the first word ending with –ly and the second being a hum-drum word that any asshole can drop into a review — well that would be best for our publication.”

It is sick!

So I ask, What ever happened to the beauty in the verbosity? Do these reviewers have shortcut keys on their keyboards for the Woeful group, just as I use F1 for the em dash? Once they got their writing jobs, did they flush their love of language down the drain along with their stash?

No whammies no whammies -- DOUBLE WHAMMY!

No whammies no whammies -- DOUBLE WHAMMY!

And where am I going with this? Who knows. I just think that it’s important to know the meaning of what you’re saying and writing, to not just fill white space with empty words. You could probably save yourself some air and, potentially, some trouble if you say what you mean and mean what you say. And, if you avoided my list, you could score some creativity points with yourself, too.

[Parenthetically, I grew up in a house where we were taught (and yes, this is sick too) to economize our language. My dad would ask, “Why didn’t you finish your dinner?” and I’d respond, “The reason why is—“ and he’d say, “That’s redundant. Just say ‘The reason is’ and be done with it.” The best part of these grammatical debates is that the subject matter was often forgotten and I wound up not having to eat shit I didn’t like. Sometimes.

Another one: My dad and I call each whenever we hear someone say, “I could care less” because, c’mon a**hole, you’re saying you actually do care and you don’t even know it!

It’s a dorky lifestyle, but it’s my lifestyle and this is my blog.]

But back to the review bit — please, just spice it up. Give me something utterly original.

And hey! I always welcome suggestions for the Woefully In Tandem list. It’s always gratingly gratifying (another one!) to find a new set, like seeing Jose Reyes wag his finger after hitting a dinger that didn’t really matter in the long run. But that’s a rant for another day.

I love Lesley, and Lamp

A special conversation with Lesley, who is my favorite

Lesley: I am going on south beach, am doing well today except whatever sauces were in my salad today
me: me too i think. i had fruit for breakfast and a salad for lunch
but tonight i am having indian and wine. so there, as they say, goes that
Lesley: owww indian
me: owww? yousa weirdo
Lesley: oooooops, i mean does it matter how you spell like noise expressions
me: what?????? like onomatopoeia?
(are you impressed that i spelled that correctly?)
Lesley: well then what does it mean
me: it means words that mean sounds, for instance, OINK or BAM
words that ARE sounds, rather, and are defined by the sounds they make
Lesley: oink
me: right

WTF Anthropologie?

Now, I love Anthropologie as much as the next girl suffering from delusions of what she can / cannot afford. But ever since I subscribed to their eNewsletter, I’ve come to realize that their copy writer must be the craziest devotchka in town.

For starters, note how the “travel trinkets” from South Africa and Swaziland crept into the hearts and minds of the Anthro staff.

Travel trinkets? This, to me, reads like they’re pigeonholing two entire countries into an “Ooga Booga” parade. Those Swazi are just so cute with their trinkets and all.

Secondly, she takes on a Bridget Jones writing tone with this gem:

A design-y element! “Attention to detail” my left foot.

And finally, Miss Anthro falls just shy of Wordsworth-caliber with this little ditty about worm breath:

Mayhaps I’m just jealous because, as it happens, I have the same job as this virtually veiled mistress of literary missteps, but without the “bird’s tongue” wardrobe perks. Iunno.

About a Meal

“Whole fish,” read the menu, “with mango salsa and broccoli.”

“Well that sounds superb,” I thought. “But whole fish…whole fish…they can’t mean bones and all,” I reasoned with my appetite, “because that would just ruin it.”

Here’s a classic example of Pish de Luxe not asking a question she doesn’t want the answer to.

The point is, if you’re afraid something is true, odds are good that it is. I find.

Goddamn… they even fried the tail. Pobrecito.