1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Freeze Out
Seven days before the start of my sophomore year in high school, my family was homeless.
Oh, I don’t mean that the way it sounds. It wasn’t like we were living out of the back of our Pink Cadillac, freshening up in the bathrooms of Esso gas stations. No. What I mean is that at the end of my freshman year, we vacated the house where we lived during that school year, visited friends for several weeks (surprise!), and then moved into a two week end-of-summer bargain rental where we sent our Greetings from Asbury Park.
When that lease expired, my family – father, mother, 5 kids, 1 dog, 2 cats – would be moving to another yet-to-be-disclosed location.
We weren’t house-less. More accurately, we were home-less
And no matter how often we relocated – a dozen times in ten years through eleven towns, seven school districts and from coast to coast – it wasn’t easy, but I’d take those days back in a heartbeat. Because I noticed that no matter where we lived, the citizens of this nation had something you don’t see much today: Passion
In the 1960s and 1970 - every single day – people were standing up for what they believed in, marching and protesting for equality or civil rights or against the war.
What was interesting is that the media – our public airwaves - actually covered these actions. The people’s voices were reported.
Where is that passion today? I feared the answer to that question. And then I saw Bruce Springsteen’s interview in October on 60 Minutes:
"We’ve seen things happen over the past 6 years that I mean I don’t think anybody ever thought we’d see in the United States. When people think of the American identity, they don’t think of torture, they don’t think of illegal wiretapping, they don’t think of voter suppression, they don’t think of no habeas corpus. No right to a lawyer. You know…those are things that are anti-American."
The mainstream media’s goon squad - in their zeal to deter any and all criticism of this administration - immediately began their assault.
Monopolistic Clear Channel dusted off their 2003 internal memo – which came to light in senate hearings on radio consolidation during the Dixie Chicks boycott – that threatened: “Just wait and see what happens if Springsteen tries this.” They sent an order to their stations not to play any songs from Bruce’s current album.
Other critics lamented why Bruce changed from singing about people’s personal struggles to Washington DC politics.
Everyone knows that people’s personal struggles have nothing to do with DC politics.
Some columnists stated that even his songs regarding war weren’t political. They were about the soldier.
Of course. There is absolutely no relationship between war and soldiers fighting halfway around the world in lands where they don’t speak or understand the language, culture, or history, with their fingers on the trigger of a Colt XM 177.
I mean how can someone with only a high school diploma, and from a small, blue-collar, working class American town – whose classmates were deployed to “fight the yellow man” in Southeast Asia in the prime of their lives - know anything about the big issues? Stuff like that never shapes your life. Instead, it takes a Yale University and Harvard Business School graduate – worth millions of dollars - to adequately express the intricate relationship between the common man and the common man in fatigues.
Even (the character) Bill O’Reilly (plays) got on the bandwagon calling Bruce un-American and a pin-head. Of course O’Reilly relied on his usual specifics to dispute Springsteen’s comments: “We don’t torture. It’s bull.”
There you have it. Prove positive.
(By the way, why is it after I watch O’Reilly I crave a bologna sandwich?)
My favorite criticism came from Tommy DeSeno, an Asbury Park attorney who wrote in his column for The TriCity News: “Bruce, DC politics isn’t your skill. When the subject was music, you spoke majestically. You were Shakespeare”. An interesting analogy indeed - especially considering that this author of Henry VI also wrote: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
Bruce, you might decide to take the (right) hint and forgets all this political stuff. It can get you into a whole mess of trouble. Consider the words of Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara, a man who spent over 70 years tending to the impoverished citizens of his nation. He had the audacity to speak out against censorship, torture and killings. He implored the Catholic Church to move beyond charity for the poor by tirelessly advocating for fundamental social changes like land ownership: “When I fed the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked, ‘Why are they poor?’ they called me a Communist.”
I’ve got that home-less feeling again: This is America?
Still, I’m hopeful that Bruce’s observations stir a passion in our citizens that proves to be Magic-ally delicious.