Saturday, December 08, 2018
Chris Jordan, Asbury Park Press
December 7, 2018
The Netflix version of "Springsteen on Broadway" might be even better than the Broadway version.
The song “Long Time Coming” is performed and only rarely did attendees of the hit “Springsteen on Broadway” get to see it live. It was not played in the show except for the few times when play co-star Patti Scialfa wasn’t there.
It’s included in the filmed Netflix version of “Springsteen on Broadway,” which premieres 3:01 a.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 16. If nothing else, its inclusion is worth seeing even if you’ve seen the play live.
More: Bruce Springsteen on Broadway: A magical run comes to a close
“This is the final days of Patti’s first pregnancy. I receive a surprise visit from my father at my home in L.A.,” says Springsteen in the introduction of the song. “My dad, never a talkative man, blurted out, ‘You’ve been quite good to us’ and I nodded that I had, you know. He says ‘I wasn’t very good to you’ and the room just ... stood still.”
The Boss starts to tear up. He wipes his eyes. The exchange is taken directly from his memoir, “Born to Run,” and it’s one of the most moving in the book.
Frankly, it’s a surprise that it wasn’t included in every performance of “Springsteen on Broadway,” but here it is in the Thom Zimny-filmed Netflix version, and the story is better for it. It serves as the perfect denouement of the relationship between Bruce and his father, Douglas Springsteen, who passed away in 1998.
It closes the narrative started in “My Father’s House” earlier in the play.
“To my shock the unacknowledgeable was being acknowledged,” Springsteen says. “If I didn’t know better I would have sworn an apology of some sort was being made.
“And it was.”
“Here in the last days before I was to become a father, my own father was visiting me to warn me of the mistakes he had made and to warn me not to make them with my own children.”
Douglas, at that moment, sought to free Bruce from the “chains of his own flawed behavior.”
“It was the greatest moment of my life with my dad and it was all that I needed,” Springsteen says.
“Springsteen on Broadway” didn’t need the “Long Time Coming,” or its introduction, but its inclusion makes a sublime work of art even better.
More: Bruce Springsteen: Hope to tour 'soon' with E Street Band but not in 2019
Zimny films the music play, which features Springsteen reciting passages out of his book and performing his songs on acoustic guitar and piano, largely unobtrusively. There are no attention-grabbing fast cuts, jarring angles or extreme close-ups. He pulls back, and lets the spray of Natasha Katz’s lighting set the mood. Desert yellows for “The Promised Land,” deep reds for “The Rising.”
“Springsteen on Broadway” is the story of working class kid from Freehold who grew up next to a church, loves his parents but has a difficult relationship with his father, loves rock ’n’ roll but has trouble making it because his Jersey Shore is the “(blanking) boondocks!”
He surmounts the challenges, and finds love and fulfillment with wife and bandmate Patti Scialfa. Zimny does wonderfully frame the Bruce and Patti songs, “Tougher Than the Rest” and “Brilliant Disguise,” finding at mid-range the artistic and heart-struck interplay between the two artists and lovers.
If you attended the play, you might notice that the audience for the Netflix shoot, which was an invited crowd, to be a bit quieter, a bit more subdued than the normal crowds at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Applause for the E Street Band members names that Springsteen mentions seems a bit less spontaneous.
The Netflix version was shot over two performances in July. As such, “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” which replaced “Long Walk Home” on June 19, is included. The filmed version clocks in at about two and half hours, longer than the two-hour length of the play when it debuted on Oct. 3, 2017. Lines were massaged and jokes coaxed a bit over the months, which extended the running time.
More: Bruce Springsteen at Stand Up for Heroes: 4 songs, 2 duets and 2 naughty jokes
Oh, it’s very funny. The Boss can tell a joke.
Take the audition for a music bigwig at the Student Prince in Asbury Park in the early ’70s.
“I got off the bandstand, the guy walking up to me and looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said, 'You guys are the best unsigned band I’ve ever seen,'” deadpanned the Boss. “Then he slept with my girlfriend and left town.”
“Springsteen on Broadway” is leaving town. The last performance is Saturday, Dec. 15. A soundtrack will be available from Columbia Records on Friday, Dec. 14. In 2019, Springsteen will be working on “various recording projects” but there will not be a tour with the E Street Band in the new year, according to a statement he released on Dec. 4.
“Springsteen on Broadway” was an extraordinary experience. It now lives forever.
Chris Jordan: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @chrisfhjordan
By: JAY LUSTIG
December 7, 2018
Since October 2017, Bruce Springsteen has been singing his songs and telling his stories, five nights a week, in one of the most intimates venues he has performed in since becoming a star in the ’70s: Broadway’s 948-seat Walter Kerr Theatre. But the film of the show, which will debut on Netflix Dec. 16, feels even more intimate.
Obviously, it lacks the jolt of excitement you get from seeing a performer such as Springsteen in the flesh, and hearing the music as it’s being played, in front of you, in the same room. But director Thom Zimny compensates by filming much of the show in extreme close-up.
You can see every line and crease in Springsteen’s face, and notice every slight change in his expression. You’re right with him, every step of the way, in a way that you aren’t, even in a theater as small as the Walter Kerr. You hang on every note, every beat, every deliberately delivered story. And so, it’s ultimately a slightly different but similarly fulfilling kind of experience.
If you’re reading this, I assume you know the basics of the show already: 16 songs, including both greatest hits (“Born to Run,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “Thunder Road”) and less widely known gems (“The Wish,” “My Father’s House”), with simple piano, guitar and harmonica backing. Patti Scialfa sings and plays guitar on a two-song segment, “Tougher Than the Rest” and “Brilliant Disguise,” but other than that, Springsteen is alone on the set, which has a brick wall in the back and is pretty much empty except for the instruments and some equipment cases.
Following the lead of Springsteen’s 2016 autobiography “Born to Run,” “Springsteen on Broadway” basically tells the story of Springsteen’s life, from boyhood to maturity, with long monologues between many of the songs. I’ve seen only one of the shows live — a preview, in October 2017 — but can say that the show changed substantially from when I saw it, to when the Netflix special was filmed (in front of invitation-only crowds on two nights in July).
Some lines were cut out; other were added. The stories grew and evolved, as you would expect them to. There are two songs in the special that were not in the show I saw in 2017 (“Long Time Comin’,” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad”), and one song that I heard then (“Long Walk Home”) is absent.
My main criticism of the show, from 2017, remains: The first half of the show is extremely powerful, with lots of vivid stories about Springsteen’s childhood and young adulthood. In the second half, though, the stories get more perfunctory, the mood more philosophical, the autobiographical elements more sketchy. The subject matter, as on “Land of Hope and Dreams,” is more abstract. “The Rising” is performed without any introduction at all.
The second half is still great, but not as stunning as the first half is, with its richly detailed portraits of Springsteen’s mother and father, and the Freehold that he grew up in, and his early days as a struggling musician.
The tone is often somber, but occasionally very funny as well, as in this description of the difficulties Springsteen faced as an aspiring rock star who happened to live in the New Jersey “boondocks”:
I’ve already played in front of every conceivable audience. I’ve played firemen’s fairs, midnight madness supermarket openings. Drive-in movies, in front of the concession stands, in between films. I’ve played … coffeeshops, bowling alleys, trailer parks, roller rinks, VFW halls, CYO canteens, the Elks lodge, YMCA gymnasiums, hockey rinks, county fairs, carnivals, high school dances, weddings, fraternity parties. Bar mitzvahs! Soul revues! Battle of the bands! Sing Sing Prison! And Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital! Send me your murderers and your maniacs, and let me entertain them, all right? That’s what I do.That’s all true. It’s all before I was 23 years old, and I’m frustrated. I listen to the radio, and I think I’m as good as that guy, I’m better than that guy. So why not me? Answer: Because I live in the fucking boondocks. … There is nobody here, and no one comes down here. It’s a grave. There was no Jersey, Jersey, Jersey Shore, Jersey Almighty shit. I invented that!Before me, Jersey was Jerserkistan. Jerserkistan! One of those little -stan things that nobody knows a fucking thing about. And New York was a million miles away. …So who was gonna come to the Jersey Shore, to discover the next big thing, in 1971? You’re correct. No-fucking-body. …I had one shot. My girlfriend at the time did me a great favor, brought a guy who had a successful recording band down to the Student Prince … in Asbury Park to discover us. We got up on a little stage, in a club that fit 150 people. It was about half full. And we played for this guy like we were at Madison Square Garden, with everything we had, all night long. We played five sets, from 9 p.m. till 3 a.m.At the end of the night, soaked to my bones, I got off the bandstand. The guy walked up to me, he looked me in the eye and shook my hand and said, “You guys are the best unsigned band I’ve ever seen.” Then he slept with my girlfriend and left town.That’s the end of that story.
The last “Springsteen on Broadway” live show will be on Dec. 15. The two-CD Springsteen on Broadway soundtrack album will be released on Dec. 14, and “Springsteen on “Broadway” debuts on Netflix at 3:01 a.m. ET Dec. 16, and will remain streamable there, indefinitely.
Friday, December 07, 2018
Thursday, December 06, 2018
By Larry Elder
December 6, 2018
As with the passing of former President Ronald Reagan, the media are in full praise mode following the death of former President George Herbert Walker Bush. Where were they when the one-term President needed them? In Reagan's case, even his haters grudgingly acknowledged the overall success of his presidency. As for Bush 41, the media's praise of Bush's "grace" and "class" serves to indirectly to attack President Donald Trump by showing the contrast between the two Republicans' styles and characters.
But what did much of the liberal media think and say about Bush at the time?
When Bush announced his intention to seek the presidency in 1988, a Newsweek cover story showed the former New Englander navigating a small boat -- get it, he's elite -- with the caption "Fighting the Wimp Factor." Wimp? Bush joined Navy on his 18th birthday, serving in WWII as the Navy's second-youngest aviator. He flew 58 combat missions, was shot down by the Japanese and was rescued by an American sub.
When he ran in 1988, his resume included almost seven years as Reagan's vice president, two terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, director of central intelligence, head of the Republican National Committee, ambassador to the U.N. and de facto ambassador to China, in addition to being a decorated WWII fighter pilot. President Barack Obama was apparently unimpressed: In 2016, he said, "There has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton."
Despite Bush's mind-numbingly impressive credentials, he somehow found himself tagged as insufficiently macho. In 1997, Evan Thomas' Newsweek wrote: " Bush suffers from a potentially crippling handicap -- a perception that he isn't strong enough or tough enough for the challenges of the Oval Office. That he is, in a single mean word, a wimp." The year before, Republican pundit George Will called him a "lapdog." A Washington Post editorial now praises Bush. Yet neither the Post nor The New York Times endorsed him for president in 1988 or 1992.
In fact, during his presidency, The New York Times aided and abetted the narrative of an elite "out-of-touch" patrician. During the 1992 election year, the Times ran a front-page story about a President so clueless about the life of the average American that he was unfamiliar with the supermarket checkout scanner. But the story was fake. A National Grocers Association systems analyst, the man who showed Bush the scanner, said: "The whole thing is ludicrous. What he was amazed about was the ability of the scanner to take that torn label and reassemble it."
Black Democrats like Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., called him "racist." In 1992, Waters said: "(Bush) is a mean-spirited man who has no care or concern about what happens to the African-American community in this country. I truly believe that."
Bush stood accused of racism for "using" the infamous Willie Horton ad that ran during the 1988 campaign, even though his campaign had not produced the ad. Furthermore, the issue of his opponent Michael Dukakis' Massachusetts furlough program was first brought up by Dukakis' Democratic rival Al Gore. Under Dukakis' program, Horton, a convicted murderer, committed rape while out on furlough.
Bush, pressured by Democrats and some in his own party, broke the famous pledge he made at the 1988 Republican convention: "Read my lips. No new taxes." NBC News' Andrea Mitchell now says "breaking that pledge showed the character and resolve of the man." Similarly, Newsweek's Thomas now calls the broken tax promise an act of "courage." But asked in a 1992 press conference whether he considered breaking the pledge "the biggest mistake" of his presidency, Bush said, "Well, I don't know about the biggest, but yes ... I'm very disappointed with Congress." At the 1992 Republican convention, he apologized for breaking the pledge. James Carville, Clinton's lead campaign strategist, called it "the most famous broken promise in the history of American politics."
Did reporters reward Bush for his tax concession? Hardly. A poll of Washington, D.C., reporters found that, in 1992, 89 percent of them voted for Bill Clinton. Only 7 percent voted for Bush.
In October 1992, according to Investor's Business Daily, over 90 percent of the economic news in newspapers was negative. At the time, the economy was well into a recovery, on its 19th consecutive month of growth. Yet much of the business news was sour. In November 1992, Bill Clinton won. That month, only 14 percent of the newspapers' economic news was negative. As recently as 2012, a PBS documentary repeatedly insisted Bill Clinton inherited an economy in "recession." In fact, the GDP in Bush's final quarter grew 3.8 percent.
When son George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000, mom Barbara Bush expressed surprise. "You're not going to like this," she said, "but my gut feeling is that all the media is against George, Republicans, any Republican." Indeed. From that very media, currently fawning over a man they now call a "statesman," George Herbert Walker Bush deserved better. Much better.
From Hegel to Woodrow Wilson, its philosophy has always led to the dehumanization of others.
December 5, 2018
— J.R.R. Tolkien, “Mythopoeia”
Just as the progressives of today have no real sense of where their progress might or should lead, they have even less sense of their origins. Progressivism, as understood in the last several centuries, originated in the thought of the Prussian philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) and his contemporary Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814). As with all Prussians and most philosophers, Hegel’s and Fichte’s thoughts were complex and varied, not easily reduced to a quick soundbite or even a few sentences. Still, the progressive understanding of them is surprisingly simple. Drawing their own ideas from—and frankly distorting—the ancient wisdom of Heraclitus, the two Prussians believed that life moves forward through the struggles of societal forces. The forces that dominate most aspects of society, Fichte labeled the “thesis.” Those who opposed those forces, he called the “antithesis.” In their struggle—through and by which neither would wholly win—emerged a third thing, the “synthesis.” The synthesis, once arrived at, quickly became the thesis, opposed by a new antithesis. And the cycle started all over. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
By Ann Coulter
December 4, 2018
The press in America is even worse than we imagine. We sense that they're biased and stunningly incompetent. They are those things, but so much more. Our media's version of the news is mathematically and precisely the opposite of the truth.
The death and burial of George H.W. Bush is only the latest example.
In the puffery and revisionism that accompany funerals, the man who gave us David Souter, an unnecessary war, tax hikes he promised not to impose and the Americans With Disabilities Act (aka The Destruction of Small Libraries Throughout New England Act) has been elevated to saintlike status.
But the one incident the media decided to excoriate Bush for was, in fact, his finest moment: the Willie Horton ad.
If we let the media get away with this, they will have once again redefined what constitutes acceptable discourse in America and cemented the notion that our political process should never be soiled by such a campaign ad -- the one thing Bush got right in his entire public career.
Far from representing the "low road," the Willie Horton ad was the greatest campaign commercial in political history. The ad was the reason we have political campaigns: It clearly and forcefully highlighted the two presidential candidates' diametrically opposed views on an issue of vital national importance.
Bush's opponent, Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, had championed a self-evidently insane criminal justice program that provided prison furloughs to first-degree murderers.
One of the murderers let out under Dukakis' program was a career violent criminal, Willie Horton. In 1974, Horton sliced up a 17-year-old convenience store clerk, Joey Fournier, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, after Fournier had already handed over all the money. He then stuffed the boy's corpse in a garbage can. That wasn't Horton's first offense: Years earlier, he'd been convicted of attempted murder for stabbing a man in South Carolina.
No sane person would have allowed Horton to take a breath of free air again.
Horton was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, which was the maximum possible penalty, inasmuch as Gov. Dukakis had vetoed the death penalty. The whole idea of sentencing first-degree murderers to life without parole is that they are never supposed to be let out of prison. But under the weekend furlough program lustily promoted by Dukakis, Horton was released.
On April 3, 1987, months after running away from his most recent furlough, Horton broke into the Maryland home of Cliff Barnes and his fiancee, Angela Miller, and waited for them to return. When Barnes got home, Horton lunged at him, dragged him to the basement, tied him up, and spent hours torturing him, slashing him and jamming a pistol butt in his mouth and eyes. He told Barnes he planned to hang him and watch him die.
Five hours later, Barnes' fiancee came home. Horton left Barnes bound and gagged in the basement, went upstairs and repeatedly raped and beat Miller, as Barnes listened helplessly from the basement.
Twelve hours after he had first encountered Horton, Barnes managed to escape. When Horton realized Barnes was gone, he stole the couple's car and led police on a high-speed chase before finally being captured -- again.
The Maryland judge who sentenced Horton refused to send him back to Massachusetts, saying: "I'm not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released."
The following year, Michael Dukakis offered himself up to be president of the United States.
Dukakis was directly responsible for Horton's release -- as well as the release of hundreds of other murderers, many of whom went on to commit similarly heinous crimes. Even Dukakis' own Democratic legislature in liberal Massachusetts had tried to reverse a state Supreme Court decision granting furloughs to first-degree murderers.
But the Greek homunculus vetoed the bill.
When Horton's survivors Barnes and Miller tried to meet with Dukakis after their ordeal to ask him to rescind the furlough policy, he refused to see them, arrogantly announcing, "I don't see any particular value in meeting with people." This marked the first time the media supported a politician's refusal to meet with victims of one of his policies.
What could be more central to a presidential campaign than an ad highlighting how Bush would handle criminal justice issues versus how the elected governor of Massachusetts was at that moment handling them?
Liberals' response was to accuse Republicans of racism because Horton was black, knowing full well that the GOP would have given everything it owned for him to have been white. But it was too important an issue to ignore just because the poster-boy for Dukakis' insane crime policies happened to be black.
Bush's ad was so "racist" it never even showed Horton's picture. Instead, white male actors were shown passing through the "revolving door" of criminal justice.
(An independent group unconnected to the Bush campaign produced an ad seen by 16 people showing Horton -- appalling the press by using his mug shot, rather than his First Communion photo as prescribed by The New York Times' standards and ethics policy for black criminals.)
Liberals smugly cite Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater's deathbed apology for the Horton ad. Yes, he hoped for a nice obituary and didn't want his kids teased at school, so he said whatever his captors wanted him to say. (By the way, it didn't work.)
Just like Atwater, the reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for her articles on Horton disavowed her own reporting, after going through the media's re-education camp.
You don't have the right to "apologize" for something you did that's not factually incorrect.
The Horton ad was the highest, best form of political campaigning, serving to illustrate stark differences between the candidates on an important policy issue. People should have won awards for that ad. Instead, it became one of the stops on the left's Via Dolorosa of Racism. Idiot Republicans are ashamed of it, thinking the best response is to say: Al Gore brought up Horton first!
Yammering morons don't have any argument against the ad, other than feigned outrage. You're seriously defending the Willie Horton ad?!
Yes I am! It demonstrated that Michael Dukakis should have never been anywhere near a position of power, least of all, the presidency. What's your argument against it?