Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bruce Springsteen "Thunder Road"

PJ is taking some time off for the birth of his second child. Guest Blogger (and Dad) Bill Eville, former mvyradio employee, freelancer writer and Vineyard resident fills in.

I had been off-island for a few days and reunion was in the air when Hardy and I prepared ourselves for our next evening in the man, man-cub cave. Cathlin was at work, my two year old daughter, Pickle, asleep in her crib, and the guys ready for a night of Springsteen and spear building.

Concert video - check. Cardboard - check. Glue and construction paper - check. Blue duct tape. Blue duct tape? “Hardy, do we really need duct tape?”


Okay, blue duct tape - check.

I had selected the DVD that came with the re-issue of Bruce’s "Born to Run" CD. The box set came with a concert video which took place in 1975 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. I had bought this box set in 2005, but hadn’t had time to watch it yet. Such is the life of a parent.

“Okay, this is a very important singer,” I said to Hardy as I fumbled with the remotes. “He’s from New Jersey, not far from where your parents grew up.”

“He’s important because he lives in New Jersey?” Hardy asked.

“Well, there’s more to it than that. But let’s just watch for now.”

I turned off the lights and lay down on the floor, my arms encircling an inflated IKEA hedgehog. Hardy rode on my back his breath soft on my ears. Bruce came on stage, his face illuminated by an eerie blue light, and opened quietly with "Thunder Road." All was well for awhile. I was in the basement with my boy watching one of my heroes. I felt a lump in my throat, a feeling I have grown comfortable with, mostly because of its ubiquitousness, as I travel the road of parenting. Then Hardy began to squirm.

“Hey dad, Bruce said something about a killer in the sun.”

“Hey dad, Bruce said something about ghosts in the eyes.”

“Hey dad, Bruce said something about people screaming your name in the street. Why are they screaming his name in the street? Hey dad, I’m scared.”

I stood up and turned on the light. Bruce and the band seemed smaller now, more remote. “Is that better?” I asked. Hardy smiled. For awhile we listened to Bruce while building a spear. During "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" we cut the shape out of cardboard. During "Spirit In The Night" we glued on red and black construction paper. And during "Lost In The Flood" we wrapped the handle in blue duct tape, making it stronger and giving it a better grip. After we finished with the spear and Hardy brandished it menacingly at the E-street band for awhile, he turned and picked up his toy bow and arrow. He started twanging the string of the bow loudly.

“It’s like an instrument,” he said.

I felt an impulse to tell Hardy to be quiet. I had turned the lights on, lessening, I felt, the impact of Bruce’s performance. I had helped build a spear too. Now I wanted to listen to Bruce again, give him our full attention, and for Hardy to do the same. That is what we came down into the man cave to do. But then I remembered some advice I frequently turn to for parenting. It is something I learned in Improv class. In Improv there is one major rule. Say yes to everything. It is harder than you think.

I apologized to Bruce and grabbed the first thing I could reach - two large wooden chickens, a mama and a baby - and began knocking them together. Suddenly, Hardy and I were part of the band, as essential as the Big Man. Thonka, thonka. Twang, twang. Thonka, thonka. Twang, twang.

“Hey dad,” Hardy said. “Obi Wan Kenobi just walked on stage.” It was the bass player, Garry Tallent, looking extra shaggy and wearing what did look like a billowy cloak.

“You’re damn right he did,” I yelled. Hardy and I were running around the basement now, as frantic as Bruce himself, kicking bookshelves, upending stools, and not even worrying when the easel fell to the floor with a crash, markers and paintbrushes, a cup of water too, splattering everywhere. Darth Vader, Sponge Bob, Dora, Phoney Bone, the Lord of the Locusts, heck I was ready for anything. I was with my boy, saying yes, and making chaos. Jersey style.

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