Monday, November 5, 2012

The sustained relevance of Sprinsteen and sustained irrelevance of the Bills

                “We’re a band that you can’t separate from the Jersey shore – still basically a glorified bar band . . . at your service.”
-                                       Bruce Springsteen, between songs at the Blue Cross Arena, Halloween night

Five days after The Boss rocked the old, concrete War Memorial in Rochester his music continues to play over and over again in my head. Especially the poignant songs about the storm-ravaged state that shaped the artist and the man.

I can hear Springsteen belting out Atlantic City and that haunting lyric, “maybe everything that dies some day comes back.” And as I listen, I can see the desperation on the faces of the thousands whose lives have been forever changed by Superstorm Sandy.

I can hear the sadness in Bruce’s voice – and the eternal optimism. I couldn’t help but fight back tears when he sang “My City of Ruins.” He told us Halloween night that he originally wrote that soulful song about Asbury Park 25 years ago, in hopes that his adopted home town would one day bounce back from urban blight. “And we are very proud to say over the past decade, it has risen up and recovered in a way I wasn’t ever sure I’d see in my lifetime,’’ he said into his mic. “And it WILL do so again.”

I first became familiar with “My City of Ruins” from Bruce’s “Rising” album, which was released about a year after 9/11. When I hear the song, I immediately think of New York City coming back after the devastation of the terrorist attacks. I think of people’s amazing resiliency and perseverance in times of tragedy.

Springsteen was at the top of his game in Rochester. During the three-hour, 26-song concert, he blended solemnity with impish fun and some of the most compelling music ever written to produce – as he always does – a performance that continues to resonate long after the last chord has been struck.

I first saw Bruce and the E-Street Band perform in another old, concrete War Memorial – this one in Utica – back in 1978.

Maybe we ain’t that young any more, but three-and-a-half decades later the Boss of that glorified bar band from Jersey still knows how to evoke deep, lasting emotions through his music and his words. And those lyrics and melodies are even more relevant, after the catastrophe of Superstorm Sandy.


Talk about difficult segues, I’m going to try to transition from the sustained relevance of Bruce to the sustained irrelevance of the Buffalo Bills. You can read a more detailed account of my thoughts about yesterday’s 21-9 loss to the Houston Texans at WROC-TV’s website,, but here’s my take in a nutshell: After a dozen seasons without a playoff appearance, moral victories just don’t cut it anymore for Bills fans.

 Buffalo seems headed to yet another 6-10, 5-11, 4-12 – take your pick – season.

 Chan Gailey, sadly, is 13-27, and looks very much like a clone of Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron – take your pick.

 Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t have the arm to get it done, and general manager Buddy Nix appears to be striking out more than a post-season A-Rod when it comes to draft picks. Sadly, it appears that it will all have to be blown up again.


If Upstate New York sports fans are looking for something they can count on, head to the Carrier Dome again this winter to watch the SU basketball team. Despite losing three players to the NBA draft and another significant starter, the Orange are reloading rather than rebuilding.

 I think sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams is going to have a break-out year and I think senior guard Brandon Triche is going to become a major scorer, now that he no longer has to defer to upperclassmen.

 I’m not saying Syracuse will match last season’s 34-3 record and Elite Eight appearance, but they will be very good and very entertaining again.  

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