LOOK AT THIS MAN
Everyday I receive some variety of teasing about my Jersey life. It somehow blows away the minds of transplants from Wisconsin and other netherworld states like South Dakota that people can be this comfortable with being so out there. We do it big in Jersey and either we go in hard, or don’t go at all. While most others pussyfoot around the point, we’re ready to square up with that bitch any day, at any time. Jersey has also had an amazing amount of musical talent and influence bubbling out of our borders. Not bad for a state that so many people have endless things to say about but wouldn’t have the balls to live one week in. No fallacy there, you learn quickly: in Jersey only the strong survive.
On Friday I saw one of our gods in action on his home turf, Bruce Springsteen. As a kid I was oblivious to how culturally significant Bruce was to NJ, all I knew was his tunes were catchy, heartfelt little bastards. Revisiting his catalog a few years ago I was struck by the quality, consistency and diversity of his songwriting. I even discovered his credit to one of my fave Patti Smith songs, “Because the Night.” My adulthood crush began to blossom, we’re talking a working class man who embodies every pain and struggle of life, turning them into one hit cathartic tune after another. What a fantastic specimen of a man, not to mention his show stopping tricks and stamina that puts even the most vibrant 21- year-old to shame. He’s a viable candidate for babe of the year, every year.
To say that Bruce is a performer does the reality no justice, the man is a motherfuckin ICON. Watching him live gave me a cohesive understanding of his audience – anyone who likes to sing along, enjoys a well written song and embraces the shameless Jersey way of dancing like there is no one watching. Kids singing boisterously alongside parents who had ingrained these tunes into their skulls since birth, it truly was moving to see the religious experience it was or many. As someone who spends half my life watching live music I forget what a real experience a show can be for people. It’s that one night out that they blow money like it’s water but is worth every day’s wait and penny. I miss that feeling sometimes, but Bruce brought it home. For almost 3 hours straight, only interrupted by unanimous chants for Bruce which began to sound like a blanketing “booooo,” Bruce put on a SHOW. Seamlessly jumping from piano ballads to guitar worship, he commanded attention of every body in that arena. At one point he even took a stab at comedy, declaring “I can be charming when I need to be,” spitting out one charming line after another. Bruce is the product of limitless talent coupled with no holds barred showmanship, he really does what needs to be done to get the job done right. Anyone who wants to challenge how hard working, soul bearing yet manly as fuck a Jersey charmer can be can look right to Bruce, he is the PAPI CHULO.
With that said, I think my years of experience have showed me that unmistakable charm is one of the most endearing qualities in Jersey guys. A killer smile and smart ass remark can go a long way, pick up a guitar and it’s over for me. Intelligence and sarcasm are panty droppers. Jersey is a working class state and most of us do not come from the land of silver spoons, even as kids we learn how to hustle, make money, rob hookers, deal with tragedy and of course, charm until you can’t charm no mo. Nothing hotter than a Jersey charmer, trust.