Monday, March 21, 2016

Rules for Fans, Especially Under the Age of 18

Ok...I'm going to be "that person." You know, the negative Nancy or Debbie downer who ruins what was meant to be a "feel good story" for music fans everywhere. Though most people I know think the story "Bruce Springsteen writes school tardy note for young fan" is wonderful, I don't. Hear me out.
The upshot: a fun and unique part of any Springsteen concert is the creation of signs from the audience. These typically feature requests and dedications. Wit, wisdom, and wishes are made known. They combine flash and faith, hoping that The Boss will notice and respond. And Springsteen's recent stint at the LA Sports Arena was no exception.

A 9-year old fan wrote a sign that said "Bruce, I will be late for school tomorrow. Will you sign my note?" Not only did Springsteen sign a note, he let "his people" know that he wanted to meet this young man and his father back stage to give it to them.

First, let me speak by way of analogy. I have a personal credo: no one under the age of 18 should ever be allowed to sit court side at an NBA game. One of the things I love about basketball is just how up close and personal fans sit with the bench, other coaches and the action on the floor. However, these seats cost THOUSANDS of dollars. If a 13 year old boy or girl sits court side, what more do they have to look forward to? How or when does it get better than that? I suppose I can make an exception for the retiring of a jersey—pending that you are the offspring of said athlete—but honestly, a young kid isn't concerned about seats in the way an adult often is. And that's a good thing!

Like all analogies, this one is also limited. These seats didn't cost as much. Father and son's seats were $175 face value (each). They did luck out in terms of location. So let's give them props for that and for being prepared. 
Second, as much as I LOVE the fact that the Boss is rockin' for 3 hours and 30 minutes, I don't think a 9-year old should be at his concert. I don't.

I remember when Springsteen came to the Oakland Coliseum (outdoors) during the height of the Born in the USA tour. It was 1985 and he was selling out to crowds of 30 to 40 thousand on a regular basis. I was all of 11-years old and I remember wishing and dreaming that I could go. But I was doing that in a way that an 11-year old does. At that age, our imaginations loom large and part of me wanted to grow up so badly, but his show is an adult experience. Springsteen sings of adult themes, especially on "The River."
“By the time I got to ‘The River,’ I think I noticed that the things that bind people to their lives or their commitments — family, love — I wanted to imagine and write about those things. I wanted to make a big record that felt like life—like life for an E Street Band show. I wanted the record to contain fun, dancing, laughter, jokes, politics, sex, good comradeship, love, faith, lonely nights and of course tears. " —Bruce Springsteen. 
I get it. Taking your child to a concert, especially their first one, is an exciting experience. And the Boss won't live forever. But I'm going to push for something different. Have a dance party with your kids in your home. Rock out in the car. Kareoke?! But taking your child to a concert that is a treat for adults?  As they say—it doesn't leave much for the imagination. Let those events come to them in due time. 
My brother Mark, 3 years older than me, much to my chagrin did get to go. Our family was friends with these "cool parents" one of who worked in the music industry. Mark, who was almost 15 got to go with them....but he also did yard work for them to pay off the ticket that summer. It made for a great story and fun memories. It also made him prove how much he wanted to go. I'm sure Xandi did too. But there's a difference between somone who's about to be a freshman in high school and a fourth grader.

Third, please don't let your child dictate when they will be late for school. For me, being tardy only occurred pending an accident or mishap. It was never scheduled or planned based on something like a concert or movie from the night before. I work with said students who try to tell me what they are going to do and I aim to help them reframe some language. Asking permission and some humility is a good thing. Please note: Springsteen wrote that he "may" be late for school tomorrow. I can appreciate that.
Last winter, I met up with my friends and their kids to watch the SI girls' basketball game. Their daughters picked their "favorite players" and after the game, we got to meet those females athletes and talk to them. It was equally exciting for my students to be the person a youngster looks up to. I remember feeling that same way when I was little and yet I don't remember what—if any criteria—I used to determine the player I liked best. I have a feeling it was the girl who played the same position I did, the girl with the prettiest hair and the one who smiled a lot. That's what I enjoyed when I was 9-years old....that and staying up until 9 pm to watch M-TV videos.
The cost of the SI ticket? $5.
Springsteen: $175.
Concession cost at SI: $2-$5.
LA Sports Arena: $8-25. 

Bedtime post SI game: 9:30 pm.
Post-Boss time: 1:30 a.m.

It must be hard to determine what's appropriate for kids these days. I also know neither father nor son regret the decision they made. It's another chapter in their book of Springsteen. Bottom line, that is what really matters. Springsteen was instrumental in making that happen...and as always, much more! This negative Nancy, Debbie downer can agree to that. 

Photo Credits
Bruce with Xandi

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