Monday, November 23, 2009

Incident On 33rd Street


Who the fuck is Spanish Johnny?

A question for the ages. Difficult to answer, if not impossible. Though, I gave it a shot last August. I explained the name was based on the lead character in Bruce Springsteen's "Incident On 57th Street," perhaps my favorite song of all time. I also went on to confess that I've spent the past quarter century chasing Bruce all over the goddamn world in a vain attempt to see it performed live. I had accepted the fact that it was not meant to be, that the window to see "Incident" was closed.

Johnny was wrong.

Two weeks ago, at New York's Madison Square Garden, I not only saw Bruce play "Incident On 57th Street," I saw him blow the fucking doors off the building—and blow out that closed window, too.

In your face, God!

And by God, I don't mean Bruce—though he is and always will be my one and only God.

(Note to my three loyal readers: I know you come to Johnny expecting—nay, demanding—filth and fury. Please indulge me this one time. And guess what? Odds are, this post will still end up with its share of offensive and disgusting prose. It's all Johnny knows.)

Since my post last August, I'd seen Bruce live three more times and had given up on seeing "Incident." (This included a show this past May where Bruce was given a handwritten sign from an audience member reading, "INCIDENT," only to decide not to play it, after all. Devastating. It was like having Megan Fox coyly lift up her skirt, spread her long legs wide open, and seeing a miniature Bruce Springsteen inside her beautiful vagina, holding a tiny handwritten sign reading, "INCIDENT," but deciding to play "My Hometown" instead.) Then, this summer, Bruce announced that he'd playing specific albums in their entirety during the remainder of his 2009 Working On A Dream Tour. Unsurprisingly, the albums he'd chosen were Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge Of Town and Born In The U.S.A. Not "Incident's" album, 1973's The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle.

No way would he ever play that.

Johnny was wrong. Again.

(Though, chronologically speaking, this 'wrong' took place months before the earlier-mentioned 'wrong,' so the 'again' should really be retroactively applied to that one, right? Fuck, I'm confused. If only Megan Fox's beautiful vagina was here to clear up this mess.)

On November 3, Bruce announced he'd be playing The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle in its entirety on Saturday, November 7 at Madison Square Garden.

Holy fucking shit.

That gave me four days to get tickets. To a sold-out show. One that was easily the toughest Springsteen ticket of the past decade.

Holy fucking shit.

Johnny was getting into that show. How Johnny was getting into that show was another story. A minor detail. "Incident," for the first time ever, was guaranteed to be played on November 7 and Johnny would absolutely be there, even if Al Qaeda released a tape to Al Jazeera promising to detonate the Garden smack in the middle of Bruce's guitar solo.

If only Megan Fox's beautiful vagina was here to help me procure tickets.


Not now, sweetie. I've got more important things to worry about.
Okay, maybe one quick bang. Let me just get my coc--oops.
Jeez. What a mess.
Does that count? That counts, right?

Shit. (Thanks for nothing, Little Spanish Johnny.)

Beautiful as it may be, Megan Fox's vagina was no help in getting tickets. So I turned to the next best thing: My former arch-enemy, Mega Superior Gold, aka MSG (how aptly named), aka the villain longtime readers know as Nobes. Johnny and Nobes searched high and low for seats, wheeling and dealing with a rogue's gallery of vermin, aka the lowliest lifeforms on the planet, aka Springsteen ticket scalpers. Picture the creatures from the cantina in Star Wars (NERRRRRRRRRRD!!!), but driving Camaros and wearing Drakkar. These motherfuckers were trying to gouge us left and right. So we turned to a much more reputable source, Craigslist—a great site to find tickets and/or Boston-area women you may be interested in slaying.

We quickly found a great pair for a fair price. But, there was one catch: They were eTickets.

You know, the kind that allow you to print out 50 copies on your printer and sell to as many wide-eyed dumbasses as you like?

Still, they seemed our best—if not, only—option. I insisted on meeting the seller in person. The fact the seller was a Jewish woman made me feel better. (The name was a dead giveaway.) Does that make me anti-Semitic, sexist or just plain naive?

I was incredibly nervous heading over to meet her. And, yes, I honestly believed the homeless man in front of our meeting spot was going to walk up to me and say she couldn't make it so she sent him instead. Then demand that I give him my hard-earned money. Thank God, I was wrong. Again. (Ahem. Oh, for crissake. Who gives a fuck where the 'wrong' or the 'again' should chronologically be? Enough already! It wasn't funny the first time!) Fortunately, she arrived at the same time and seemed perfectly normal and, more importantly, trustworthy. After consummating the deal—to answer your question, Yes, we fucked—I walked away feeling 99% confident the tickets were legit. But, fuck, I could not shake that last 1% of doubt. For all I knew, she was just the pretty face of some sleazy Israeli or Eastern European crime syndicate taking advantage of desperate Bruce fans up and down the East Coast.

The only way I was going to find out the truth about the tickets was by handing them to the ticket taker on November 7.

How I got through the remainder of the week, I'll never know. Let's just say, no one should ever drink that much Orange Julius. When the night of the show finally arrived, I had butterflies the size of pigeons in my stomach. Nobes and I approached Madison Square Garden, tickets in our hands, hearts in our throats.

Nervous as schoolgirls, we headed for the entrance gate. Were we holding hands? Hard to remember. And impossible to prove. After waiting in an impossibly long line, the moment of truth arrived. I avoided the usher's eyes and handed over my sweat-drenched ticket, which may have looked like a plain 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, but was the golden ticket to me. Provided it worked. The usher held his scanning gun over the ticket's bar code for what seemed an interminable amount of time.

Fucking Eastern Europeans. They fucked us, I thought.

I will find them and cut out their spleens. No, better yet, I will discover what artist they long to see—Yanni? The Jonas Brothers? The Yanni Brothers?—then create counterfeit tickets to sell to them at a ridiculously high premium. Then I will cut out their spleens.


No red flags, no nothing. Just one short, beautiful beep. I walked through the gate and was inside Madison Square Garden.


I felt as happy as if I'd just double-teamed the Doublemint twins while eating a bowl of chocolate peanut butter Haagen Dazs—not even caring that the Doublemint twins were now 73-years old.

The Garden didn't carry chocolate peanut butter Haagen Dazs, so I settled for a hot dog, pretzel and, oh, about half-a-dozen beers. Before I knew it, the lights went down. "Good evening, New York City!"

Whoever told you Nobes and I were still holding hands was lying.

As Bruce—holding his trusty Fender and looking cool as all fuck—opens with the rarest of rarities, "Thundercrack," I know this will be a night for the ages.

The first hour of the show goes by in a blur. Then I hear the opening piano notes of "Incident," ten songs in, and I feel like my heart is going to burst. Were their tears flowing down my face? Please. I'm not some sort of pussy. Okay, maybe I am, because fuck if I wasn't overcome with emotion. And to those who think that sounds a little ridiculous, I say this: You should be so lucky. Seriously. To have something that meaningful in your life is a blessing. (Granted, for the prior 25 dry years, I felt it was a curse.)

Ten minutes and thirty-one seconds later, culminating in a truly stunning guitar solo, it's over. As the band segues seamlessly into "Rosalita" (just like on the original album), I find myself jumping up and down, screaming—as much to Rosy's opening riff as to the fact that this self-imposed anchor has been lifted off my shoulders. To this day, the moment still feels surreal, like I watched myself watching it. After waiting so long for something you want so badly, odds are, it won't live up to the hype. This did, and then some. Johnny's white whale had been slain on a night that would never be topped.

That is, until the next night.

When I returned to the Garden and saw Bruce perform "The River" in its entirety, blowing the fucking roof sky high and my mind right along with it.

Thank you, God, i.e., Bruce.

* * *

"Incident On 57th Street," 11/7/09, MSG (partial clip):

"Incident On 57th Street," 11/7/09, MSG (entire song, but lesser quality video):



Thursday, November 19, 2009