Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Bruuuce!!!

Bruce Springsteen is my all time favorite artist. My family and friends might think I'm a bit obsessed with the Boss.  I like to think I'm just a passionate admirer.  A friend once asked me how I became a believer of  Bruce.  I tend to believe that the Bruce seed was planted in my head in 1985.  My brother had the Born in the USA album and I do remember singing along to Dancing in the Dark and Glory Days. I fondly recall the both of us lip syncing to the song We Are the World repeatedly. It was always fun to mimic Bruce's raspy voice.

   I feel though that the first time I really discovered Bruce Springsteen and his songs was 1995 when I purchased his Greatest Hits CD.  Listening to his hits made me want to buy all his previous albums which I did.  I would listen to Born to Run over and over. When Bruce sings, "Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend, I want to guard your dreams and visions"; Oh how I wished to be Wendy and drive and drive to anywhere but where I was at that moment. The pounding beat of Badlands makes me jump from my seat every time I hear it. There's that verse in No Surrender, "We learned more from a three minute record baby than we ever learned in school"; I wondered how did Bruce know what I was thinking?  His writing captures how I feel on any given day.

    Hearing Bruce's songs on a CD or Ipod is great but hearing them live in concert takes it to a whole other level.  There is nothing like a live Bruce show. He and the mighty E Street Band know how to rock. They put it all out there. Their energy is infectious. There's a moment in the Reunion Tour (1999) when Bruce is "preaching" and he says "I can't promise you life everlasting. But I can promise you life right now." Isn't that what it's all about? Being in the present moment?  When I'm attending a Bruce show that's how I feel.  I feel in the moment and there's a special sense of connection with everyone around me.  We're all there for the same purpose.  I've been lucky to attend 16 Bruce concerts in my life, most of them in Boston.  In honor of Bruce's birthday here are my top five favorite Springsteen Boston shows:

5.  August 24, 1999, FleetCenter. My first ever Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band show.  It was overwhelming and exhilarating at the same time. When the lights went down and the crowd started chanting Bruuuce I knew I was in for an experience.  Hearing all the songs live gave them new meaning. A highlight for me was when Bruce sang Bobby Jean, one of my favorite songs.  I didn't want the show to end. I was hooked and officially became a Bruce follower right then and there.

4. October 28, 2005, FleetCenter.  Devils and Dust Solo Acoustic Tour.  Loved hearing Bruce share some personal stories.  I was captivated when he spoke about growing up Catholic which led him to sing Jesus was an Only Son. Brilliant.

3.  October 2, 2002, FleetCenter.  The Rising Tour.  First time hearing the Rising songs live. The Rising is a tremendous song. When Bruce sings "come on up for the rising" there isn't one person sitting. Twenty thousand people standing and singing and feeling it.  Awesome.

2.  November 19, 2007, TD Banknorth Garden. The Magic Tour. (Danny Federici's last full show with Bruce and the band before succumbing to cancer in 2008) I waited in line for two hours before showtime at the box office hoping and praying for a ticket.  I had been at the show the night before and I craved  more. The wait paid off because I scored a seat just ten feet from the stage. I could see the sweat just pouring from Bruce's face. The highlight of the show was hearing the band play Sandy, E Street Shuffle and Kitty's Back; all these songs showcased Danny. It was a poignant and truly special night.
1.  September 7, 2003, Fenway Park. The Rising Tour.  Bruce and the band at Fenway. Really what more can I say?  Fenway is like Boston's Cathedral and hearing Bruce at Fenway was like a spiritual experience.  Never before did I feel so present and in the moment.  Born to Run, Thunder Road, Jungleland...that's the holy trinity right there. City of Ruins, Seven Nights to Rock...I could go on and on.  It was a wondrous evening of pure rock'n'roll.

Happy Birthday Bruce.  Can't wait for the next tour....see you on up the road.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Got Milk?

Boston is known for the Freedom Trail, Fenway Park, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Cheers and a host of other popular attractions but one of my favorite landmarks in Boston is the Hood Milk Bottle.  The Hood Milk Bottle has been around for as long as I can remember.  Located in front of the Boston Children's Museum, the structure stands 40 feet tall.  I love how we have this giant milk bottle just a few steps away from where the Boston Tea Party took place. Not sure if our founding fathers had this in mind but somehow it all works.
    Now obviously this bottle isn't filled to the rim with milk but it does serve as a snack shack offering such treats as ice cream, hot dogs, sandwiches and other beverages.  It's a quirky landmark that I enjoy seeing everyday and I'm happy it has a home in Boston.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Go see The Town

    Now I am no film critic by any means but I love going to the movies and I especially enjoy seeing movies that were filmed in Boston. Some of my favorite Boston flicks are The Departed, Good Will Hunting, Next Stop Wonderland and Gone Baby Gone.  (I've got The Friends of Eddie Coyle and The Brinks Job in my Netflix queue as I've been told that those movies are pretty good too).
   Today I've added The Town to my list of favorite movies.  I give it 3 and 1/2 dunkies. (see my rating system below)  Ben Afflek directed and stars in the movie. He plays a Charlestown townie who falls in love with a hostage from one of his bank heists.  While the romance aspect of the movie sort of ties everything together it's the bank robberies that had me on the edge of my seat.  The car chase scene that takes place in the North End is intense and the fact that the thieves don creepy nun masks just heightens that intensity.  The climatic scenes filmed at Fenway Park also had my heart pumping.
   I think all the actors do a fantastic job with the Boston accent.  They sound natural and don't fall victim to that Kennedy cadence that sometimes sabotages Boston movies.  Jeremy Renner plays Afflek's buddy in crime and he is terrific.  He's a bundle of energy just ready to explode.   Afflek is really good acting wise but it's his directing that's spot on.  He definitely has a knack for capturing the authenticity of  Boston's neighborhoods, flaws and all.  So my final word: go see The Town!

Rating System

 4 Dunkies-Wicked Awesome; Add to DVD Collection

 3 Dunkies- Wicked Good

2 Dunkies-  I’d rather be at Fenway during a rain delay.

1 Dunkie- I’d rather be stuck on the Red Line during the morning commute.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Boston Ahts Festival (that would be art to you non- Bostonians)

Every year the city of Boston hosts the Boston Ahts Festival and every year I say I'm going but I never do. Well this year I actually made my way over to the festival and I wasn't disappointed.  First of all, you can't beat the location.  The festival is located at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.  Columbus Park looks over Boston Harbor and is just blocks away from the North End (hello BOVA Bakery; see earlier post) and it's across the street from Faneuil Hall Marketplace. 
     The Boston Ahts Festival is an opportunity for local artists to present and sell their works such as photographs, paintings, sculptures, clothing and jewelry.  It's obvious these artists put their heart and soul into their works and it's inspiring to see their creativity.  The Festival also has a performing arts aspect to enjoy.  During the three day festival many local bands, dance companies, poets and musicians will be performing.  I was lucky to see upcoming band Air Traffic Controller rock out on the main stage.  They are hugely talented and I look forward to hearing more of their music. 
     All in all the Boston Ahts Festival is a fun take and it's a great excuse to check out the city's many talented artists.  The Festival is open Sept. 10-12.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sit back and relax

     Looking for a place to sit back and relax outdoors?  Head to the Institute of Contemporary Art located in the Seaport District.  The ICA has a boardwalk that wraps around the museum. The rear of the ICA has a large bleacher area that overlooks Boston Harbor and is open to the public.  It's the perfect spot for a lunch break or any break for that matter.  If contemporary art is your thing then take the time to check out the exhibits inside.  The collections are quite eclectic. Plus it's fun to ride the museum's glass elevator! Enjoy the view at the ICA!

The ICA is located at 100 Northern Avenue.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pastries and more....

     I have a wicked sweet tooth and I love visiting bakeries in and around Boston.  My favorite bakery in Boston is BOVA located in the city's North End.  The North End is known for bakeries like Mike's and Modern but I think BOVA is just as good. If you want to go off the beaten path and avoid some of the crowd on Hanover Street then head to BOVA.
     BOVA has a terrific selection of cannolis, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, cream puffs and my personal favorite whoopie pies.  The whoopies pies are huge and filled with fresh whipped cream.  Delicious!  BOVA also sells fresh baked bread, savory subs, calzones and pizza.
   One of the best things about BOVA is that it's open 24 hours every day of the year. Yup, that's right, it's open 24 hrs, everyday. Not too many establishments in Boston are open 24/7.  So for locals and tourists alike, be sure to visit BOVA Bakery.  You won't regret it.

BOVA is located at 134 Salem Street. (corner of Salem and Prince streets)