No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Highway Is Alive Tonight

June 25, 2018

Bruce Springsteen 

The Highway Is Alive Tonight

June 2018

The reason we came to New York City in the first place was to see the Bruce Springsteen on Broadway show at the Walter Kerr Theater. I had signed up for the ticket lottery when the shows were first announced and been shut out during the first two onsales, but the third time, when the run was extended, I received a text informing me that I had 30 minutes to order tickets ( a two ticket limit) so I did just that. That was last Fall and finally the date of the actual show had arrived.

The show is being staged in the relatively tiny Walter Kerr Theater which seats just over 700, making it the most intimate Bruce Springsteen show and hottest ticket in America at the moment. Scalped tickets have been selling for upwards of $5,000.00 and when the lottery tickets do go on sale, they sell out in mere minutes.

Since the theater is literally right next to the Crowne Plaza hotel where we were staying I had a couple of opportunities to go watch Bruce arrive at the theater, each night he pulls up in a limo and steps out, stopping to chat briefly, sign autographs and pose for photos with the fans, many who have waited for hours for his arrival. Thankfully I did not wait at all, just walked down from our room and out just in time for his arrival to grab some pix, then it was back inside until just before the 8 PM curtain.

The show was spectacular, having seen Bruce around twenty times previously over the years, this was completely different. Like a private performance and story time with the Boss. The setlist was limited to 16 songs (usually there was 15), but the two hours is made up with intimate stories of his life, career and how he came up with various songs. It definitely has a theater quality about it and it was truly wonderful.

The show is basically a two hour musical and autobiographical storytelling journey through his life and career. Solo and with only an acoustic guitar and a piano (He is joined on two songs by his wife Patti Scialfa). There’s no intermission, and the show is divided into two parts. The first traces his life from early childhood through his days leading bar bands in Asbury Park, New Jersey. “My Hometown” is an ode to his hometown of Freehold, while “My Father’s House” and the rarity “The Wish” (a song about his mother) offer him a chance to speak about both of his parents in loving but clear-eyed detail.

About halfway through, Springsteen abandons a strictly chronological structure, and turns to a more thematic approach. A mournful version of “Born in the U.S.A.” gives him a chance to state, once more, that the much-misunderstood smash is a “protest song, a G.I. blues.” He moves over to the piano for “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” to speak about his E Street bandmates, giving special attention to his bond with the late Clarence Clemons. “I still carry the story the Big Man whispered in my ear and the Big Man in my heart every night when I walk onstage,” he says. “Clarence was elemental, a force of nature in my life.” No members of the E-Street band are included in the show itself, but ironically, Max Weinberg was in attendance, watching the show only a few seats over from Kathy and I.

He has been sticking to a mostly scripted setlist since beginning the residency on Broadway, but Kathy and I were fortunate to be there for the first time he switched things up. In protest of the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the US border, he took a special moment to make the statement below before launching into a heartwrenching version of “The Ghost of Tom Joad”

Here is a transcript of Bruce Springsteen's remarks at the show we saw, prior to adding "The Ghost of Tom Joad" to his setlist.

“I never believed that people come to my shows, or rock shows to be told anything.
But I do believe that they come to be reminded of things. To be reminded of who they are, at their most joyous, at their deepest, when life feels full. It's a good place to get in touch with your heart and your spirit, to be amongst the crowd. And to be reminded of who we are and who we can be collectively. Music does those things pretty well sometimes, particularly these days when some reminding of who we are and who we can be isn't such a bad thing.

That weekend of the March for our Lives, we saw those young people in Washington, and citizens all around the world, remind us of what faith in America and real faith in American democracy looks and feels like. It was just encouraging to see all those people out on the street and all that righteous passion in the service of something good. And to see that passion was alive and well and still there at the center of the beating heart of our country.

It was a good day, and a necessary day because we are seeing things right now on our American borders that are so shockingly and disgracefully inhumane and un-American that it is simply enraging. And we have heard people in high position in the American government blaspheme in the name of God and country that it is a moral thing to assault the children amongst us. May God save our souls.

There's the beautiful quote by Dr. King that says the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. Now, there have been many, many days of recent when you could certainly have an argument over that. But I've lived long enough to see that in action and to put some faith in it. But I've also lived long enough to know that arc doesn't bend on its own. It needs all of us leaning on it, nudging it in the right direction day after day. You gotta keep, keep leaning.
I think it's important to believe in those words, and to carry yourself, and to act accordingly. It's the only way that we keep faith and keep our sanity.

I've played this show 146 nights with basically the same setlist, but tonight calls for something different...”

- Bruce Springsteen

David Bowie Is

June 24, 2018


David Bowie Is

As our time in New York City wound to a conclusion, there were a couple of special exhibits that we really wanted to see, as it would most likely be our only opportunity to see these traveling exhibitions that happened to be in the city at the same time as we were there. One was the traveling exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum called, “David Bowie Is” which is a retrospective of the late singers life and career. The other exhibit was based on the beloved television series “Downton Abbey”, which was making its NYC stop of a world tour taking the sets, costumes and more around the globe.

The Brooklyn Museum is the final stop of a world tour that took the “David Bowie Is” exhibit to a dozen museums around the world. Since first opening at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in March 2013, the exhibit has been seen by more than two million visitors, most of whom it seemed picked the very day we were attending to show up, as it was totally packed and somewhat warm in the exhibit.

In spite of the crowds and heat, the show was totally amazing, featuring over five hundred objects from David Bowie’s massive archive. He apparently kept everything as there were notes and drawings from his childhood right up to the Blackstar era that he had just completed upon his death. To even begin to go into all that the show included would be impossible as it was massive and almost overwhelming. 


Perhaps the highlight was the collection of original costumes, stage sets, instruments and more from his many diverse and groundbreaking tours and shows. The curators of the show had unfettered access to Bowie’s massive archives and they did a masterful job of presenting a great overview of the creative genius that was David Bowie.

Perhaps the most surprising things we saw were a collection of Bowie’s original paintings, he was a gifted painter and I am not sure that I was really aware of that. His handwritten lyrics, notes on stage sets, drawings of his album covers and more all suggested just how involved he was in every aspect of how his image was presented. There were literally hours of audio and video that accompanied the show and you could literally have spent an entire day in the exhibit and not truly seen everything.

One of the cooler things about this particular stop were the items selected specifically for New York that showed the singer’s connection to the city. For example the stage backdrop and costumes from Bowie’s title role in the Broadway production of “The Elephant Man” were on display along with many more NYC specific items that were not featured in any of the shows previous stops.

The other exhibit we saw was completely different, but no less impressive. The “Downtown Abbey” exhibition had taken over a building on West 57th and featured incredible complete sets, costumes, scripts and more from the hit TV show. I had not really watched much of the show that Kathy is a big fan of, but I must admit after seeing all the detailed work that went in to creating the period piece drama gave me a much greater appreciation for it and even made me interested in checking it out.


The meticulous detail of the sets and costuming are truly incredible and the interactive three floors of exhibit does so much more than just show the items from the show, but serves as a history lesson about the time period that it takes place in, making the exhibit interesting for even those like me who are unfamiliar with the show and its characters. 

As a visitor, you get an upstairs/downstairs look at the fictional Crawley family estate, walking through re-creations of sets that take you into the kitchen, servants' hall, Carson's pantry, Lady Mary's bedroom and the dining room. More than 50 costumes worn by Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith and other stars are on display. They include Lady Mary's and Lady Edith's wedding dresses, Mary's Season 2 two proposal dress and Rose’s royal presentation dress.

For our final evening, prior to heading out to see Bruce Springsteen, we decided to explore the Times Square area right around our hotel. We had walked through a lot, but never really taken the time to look around much. The huge, multi-leveled M & M’s store was just across the street. We had been in their similar store in Las Vegas, and went in to marvel at the huge place dedicated to a single type of candy.


We also visited some of the tacky NYC gift shops that litter Times Square where every sort of tacky NYC souvenir can be purchased in abundance, they have these type of shops in every tourist destination, including Key West, but now we were the actual tourists so we checked them out. There were also a number of shops dedicated to Broadway itself, selling various items related to Broadway shows past and present.