Saturday, August 07, 2004


Return of The Boss

This is a monstrously cynical poster from Shuteye Town 1999.

ROCK AND ROLL. We know we said we'd keep track of the credentials of the Bush-bashing celebrities. But now The Boss is taking to the campaign trail, and we just couldn't be happier for him. No, we didn't even check to see if he ever graduated from high school. He probably didn't, but we don't care. He's the big guy from New Jersey, and Philadelphia has adopted him too. When he performed, all the tragic Eagles and Phillies fans always came in droves and somehow intuitively understood the blue collar despair of his songs. It was just a perfect fit somehow.

So we're not going to be objective about his renaissance as a warrior in the battleground states for the Kerry campaign. It's just so completely and utterly cool. Last week he was an irrelevant artifact of rock history, blow-drying his vanishing hair in hopes of postponing his consignment to greybeard pop dinosaur status; this week he's a valiant, socially conscious mega-millionaire who knows that the only salvation for America lies in the platitudes of a multi-mega-millionaire who isn't even from New Jersey but from Pennsylvania (by marriage anyway). How great can American democracy get? Shades of "Born to Run." Now he's going to run all over the USA performing a handful of songs in between the genius contributions of James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, and ticket prices will be so incredibly affordable for all the kids who never would have been able to come up with the scratch for a four-hour performance by Bruce and tycoon E-Street band members like Max the millionaire drummer and clothhead Stevie Van Zandt, the second -- no make that the fifth -- coolest guitarist to take the stage even after he got fat and far too old to carry off his sartorial trademark. It's all just so great that we have to apologize for abandoning our usual hard-edged rationalism. We're fans. Forgive us.

GO BRUCE! Sorry. We should be more restrained. But the truth is, we always looked up to Bruce as a philosopher. How could anyone know more about political science than a semi-literate from Asbury Park who became a millionaire before he reached the age of 21? We've never stopped admiring his ability to cram unscannable syllables into depressing melodies that persuade his loser audiences of his commonness, which is as stark and ineradicable as a tattoo. Who can quarrel with a populist hero of this magnitude, and how low do you have to be to point out that he's spent his entire adult life shuttling back and forth between mansions in Beverly Hills and Rumsen, New Jersey? Who else would be in a better position to persuade the rest of us poor slobs that the only guy who can lead us ordinary folk properly is a billionaire gigolo who spent 30 years imitating his average-joe mentor, John Fitzgerald Kennedy?

Another triumphant tour, but one that's democratically on the cheap. Another few months of demi-divinity. Fantastic. Who needs a decent album? When you're The Boss, all you need is the next excuse for recruiting a new generation of fans. We're willing to predict, right now, that Bruce is even going to survive becoming truly bald. That's how great he is. No retreat. No surrender. Only bucks. Right on.

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