Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tramps Like Us

The E Streeters got to spend the night with the inspiration for their name last night, when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band came back to town for a raucous night of rock and roll at the TD Garden in Boston.As most of you know, our Bruce roots date back decades, some of us following him back to the 1970s, and his earliest appearances. Many of us now have surpassed the half-century mark in the number of shows we've experienced. He's been part of bachelor party weekends, and night-before-wedding comings of age.

Along the way, we've picked up numerous fellow believers, and most encouragingly, the next generation of fans, our children.

Last night, a number of us met up for dinner in the North End before the night's exhausting setlistIn celebration, we raised our glasses to the shows of days past and those yet to comeThe night marked Christopher's first-ever concert, therefore obviously his first-ever Bruce show, and to commemorate the occasion, we brought in an accordionistAnd knowing Andrew's penchant for all things Godfather, he quickly broke into a rendition of a theme from the Godfather, prompting my son to invoke Marlon BrandoInside the Garden, before we parted ways, one last shot with our man from Across the Pond, Martin Brewer. The consummate music aficionado, My Favorite Martin is always a walking adrenaline rush to catch up with via Springsteen showsInside the halo at the Garden, a father-son rendition of the famous Boss and Big Man cover from Born to Run, complete with leather jacket and stylish chapeauAnother father and son tandem makes their debut at a Jersey Devil's concertWe had E Streeters spread out everywhere in the Garden. Mike and Marcia sat on Nils' side of the house. And here's a picture of Barry, John, and Scott! See them?Where the hell does a 62-year-old man get the kind of energy that Bruce leaves out there every night? Here's hoping we've got a modicum of that pep when we reach that markAndrew, basking in the greatness that is a Bruce concertSo get this, with pics via http://www.backstreets.com/ and various twitter and tumblr accounts, Bruce decides to do some wave-riding through a crowd of thousands, and in the process, doesn't miss a note of Wilson Pickett's 634-5789 (Soulsville U.S.A.)This, from a guy who climbed into the balcony and balanced on some piping over the audience at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem earlier this month. Here's a bird's eye view of last night's wave ride back to the stage. That's Bruce splayed in the center of the pic. Un-freaking-believable.Like Bruce, many of us just stand in awe at his antics and ability to deliver night-in, night-out. Last night's show featured the return of oldie Thundercrack, the song the band used to close out their sets in the 1970s.Little Steven was Bruce's foil, once again, albeit in a somewhat reduced role. Special moments, also, to mourn deceased E Streeters Danny Federici and Clarence "The Big Man" Clemons. I must say, by the way, that Clemons' nephew Jake is coming into his own as a righteous saxophonist, and earning himself the moniker of the "Little Big Man."And finally, a couple more pics via Facebook for a heartwarming story out of Boston.Carter Berhhard of Mansfield is a five-year-old boy suffering from spina bifida. He idolizes Springsteen, and has wanted to meet him since he was three.

Before last night's show and during the sound check, Springsteen spent about an hour with Carter and his sister Sky, thanks to the efforts of the Make a Wish Foundation.Carter's favorite Bruce song is Waiting on a Sunny Day, and Springsteen played him his own private rendition of it, along with Tougher Than the Rest, before giving him a guitar signed by the band. The Boss also included Sunny Day in last night's set list.
Waiting on a Sunny Day, indeed.

So you're scared and you're thinking maybe we ain't that young anymore?

Show a little faith, there's magic in the night.

Thanks yet one more time, Bruce. See you this summer?

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hungry Gamers

Another year, another 20 miler along the eastern seaboard with the Eastern States 20-mile race, this year with an alteration for the start, cutting out the Maine portion and adding a loop through Portsmouth, N.H.
Here's some of the E Streeters, three shirts to the windMaking his return to the E Streeter running fold, and carrying the weight of the team at the front of the pack was Mike GilmoreRyan, lost in deep thought, as he eyes up his competition in the high school auditoriumHere, Ryan shows everyone what the ultra marathoners use for a pre-race regimen. Gatorade should endorse this guy, because he used just about all of their products for this race.At the starting line, a woman stepped forward, eager to take the picture of the four horsemen. More on her later.Barry gives me a thumbs-up, but that's because it was still early onTommy was a monster out on the course, which thankfully, this year, was devoid of the wind that has made it so miserable in past years.Barry and I ran most of the race together, wise-cracking and trying to keep things light. Not everyone seemed to understand our humor, though. Some of the women tended to run faster as we came along, so they should thank us for their fast times. By the way, speaking to one of the billboards along the course - how can there possibly be 78 flavors of fried clams?Running through a painful foot injury, Ryan managed to trudge forward and finish strong.No competition for me taking this state line. Probably because there was no one else nearby at the time.And Ryan takes his own state line in the process, again, uncontested. Sadly, this year would not include a stop at Christy's pizza for Ryan for his shot of Coke.Post-race, as we scraped the salt from our faces and froze in the now-chilling temperatures, suddenly we heard a squeal as the woman who took our picture at the start saw us all together and remarked how impressed she was by our finishes! And to cap it, she recalled that one of the four of us was a smart-ass. Any bets on which of the four she was referring to?All in all, a pretty good prep run for Boston. But we can't let this blog pass without recognizing the true star of the day, Tommy's wife, Anne. She was a rock star out on the course, leapfrogging all along, waiting at key point with drinks, oranges, changes of clothes and words of encouragement.

Hysterically, at race's end, several other runners saw her - known to them only as the woman in the Irish knit sweater - and labeled her the best fan out on the course, and a welcome sight to all of them as they trudged along! Thanks again, Anne, proof positive that we couldn't do these insane runs without the support of our loved ones and the extended E Streeter family!

Three weeks to the Boston Marathon!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Irish Glory Days

St. Patrick's Day weekend, a favorite among the E Streeters, and this year was no exception for a plethora of reasons.

First up, was a strong 14 miler by the Marathon Men, taking a new loop around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, a stretch we don't normally get to see during the Boston Marathon. Not because we're delirious, but because the course circumvents the scenic waterway. Here's the four Reservoir Dogs out there on Saturday.The scenic loop was a welcome addition to the Heartbreak Hill stretch, if only for the change of scenery
And there, way, way, way, off in the distance (that faint shadowy shape in the upper left corner) is the finish line for Boston. Seems pretty far to me.Tommy is pretty damn excited to have made it to the top of Heartbreak HillThe Scanlon men have got smiles on their faces now atop Heartbreak Hill, but check back on April 16, it's sure to be a different expression for the camerasThe Dawg Days are over for this pairRyan is practicing some of his patent wall mounts, preparing for the big day, and taking in the sights at Boston CollegeLater in the day, it was off to Groton for a tremendous corned beef dinner at Scott and Sue's, not to mention a killer game of Apples to Apples, won handily, I might say, by Heather. Here's the founders of the feast themselves
A rare moment. Akin to capturing Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster on film, here's the only known photo of the only two men left in America who aren't on Facebook
Indeed, back for the St. Patrick's weekend is the Wild French Rover himself, Tom Beaupre, who wasted no time lacing up the sneakers to join the E Streeters on a jaunt through Pawtucketville on Sunday morning. Mike made his return to the fray for this outing, as well as Carlos, doubling up his distance with an easy trek from the wilds of Tyngsboro on the front end
Not much to say here. Unbelievably, these two road warriors met for just the first time ever today. And just as unbelievably, one of them took this town line in Dracut. You figure out which one.The run was an historic one for the E Streeters, for reasons that can't necessarily be disclosed on a family blog. Suffice it to say, it was a trip down memory lane. Here, we pause to reflect on fallen soldiers from the winter of 1980, and the rise of Old Faithful. No, nay never, no more. The High Life, indeed.
A few minutes later, with Springsteen's Glory Days blasting from the running ipod, Tom and Mike reenact their days of running from the law at the University of Lowell. Over to their left is a gymnasium where Tom "Automatic" Scanlon made free-throw history.
And there, just a few blocks away, stood the three-tenement on Crawford Street, home to many an E Streeter chess club meeting. Or something close to that. Amazingly, the sidewalk outside the three-decker is still stained with urine and littered with broken glass and discarded beer bottles, nearly 30 years later. Somewhere, someone is still looking to collect from Scott for all those unpaid parking tickets.And finally, back at the ranch, the group is exhausted from stopping by so many of their old haunts. Great to have a mini-reunion of the Eight Nice Guys for the Irish festivities this weekend. We'll do it again next time Punxatawney Tom comes back to town to defend his town line title.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Getting Our Irish On

Sunday was the 32nd running of the Hynes 5 mile road race, and yes, some of us have been there since the beginning! This race is one of Greater Lowell's best, and served as part 3 of the Wild Rover racing series, capping off a terrific trilogy of weekend runs! Here, the Return of the Fellowship of the Two Towers greets runners at the start.The inspirational Hoyts were on hand to help charge up the crowd. Alas, John was not available to take photos at the start. (He'll be there later, though, silently watching the aerobars roll past him.)Two thumbs up, two fingers up, it's all good. Two titans, nonetheless.Our tribute to Springsteen while awaiting the starting gunHundreds showed up to run under cloudless skies in warm temperaturesAndrew always knows where the cameras are waiting. In this case, John, not with his RunCam, but his tripodHe makes a point of giving John the shoutoutCourtesy of Ted Tyler at http://www.jimrhoades.com/ Barry bites down and forges aheadHalf a mile later, and he's still got the thumbs up, this time for JohnApparently, I don't have the energy for a thumbs up, just a fist pumpTom Hildreth just looks pissed off that John is shooting pics and not running the raceInbound at the cemeteries, Andrew is ready to make his final kickBut not before asking "why me" to the running godsAfter a quick wardrobe change, Barry is about to head past George's Deli without stopping, if you can believe thatAt this point, my ipod was playing less-than-inspirational running songs for me. The Moody Blues? Seriously?!?Second time around, Tom can muster a smile for Piekos.Into the finish gate, Andrew's eyes are on his timeBarry's got his victory cap on, and rightly so, posting his best five-mile race time ever!And I'm giving an accidental thumbs up. It wasn't intentional.Two of Andrew's favorite girls are waiting for him at the finishSame goes for meAndrew and Mary get a medal for being the cutest couple at the raceWe couldn't do the runs and races without our fabulous support staffAnd once again, placing in his age group (27th overall runner out of 917 runners) my 18-year-old son captures YET ANOTHER beer mug. He's got quite the collection, that boy.Great job by race organizers, and congratulations on yet another successful Wild Rover series!