Johnny America


Au­gust 11th, 2003: The Day Bruce Spring­steen Ran Out of Inane Child­hood Sto­ries to Talk About Be­fore Start­ing a New Song


Good evening, good evening. I re­mem­ber stand­ing on the cor­ner of Kingsly Ave. and I was just 17 years old and man it was hot, and there were these girls ly­ing out on the beach. So fine man, and you know just out of my reach. We used to call them Pret­ty Flamin­gos, you know. Like one of the guys would come by and I’d say hey Clarence, check out those Pret­ty flamin­gos and he’d say some­thing like “Shut the fuck up Bruce.” HeHe­he, but that was Clarence man, HEhee­he­HE. Any­way, my old man wouldn’t let me have sug­ar as a kid and he’d al­ways be yelling at me, “Bruce” he’d say “I bet­ter not catch you with any sug­ar.” You know? He’d be down in the kitchen eat­ing his baloney and cheese on white bread and I hear him yelling up to me, “You bet­ter not be eat­ing any god damn sug­ar up there.”

And there was this old place back then, that we used to play at called the Gaslight, it ain’t around no more, and man we’d be there ’till four in the morn­ing some nights you know, just play­ing. They had this Mr. Softy soft serve ice cream in the back. Man, some­times it be all I’d think about. Mr. Softy man, I just couldn’t get him out of my head. Both fla­vors man, vanil­la and choco­late. And there was this bin with that stuff you put on top, Jimmy’s. We used to call them Jimmy’s but I’ve heard them called sprin­kles too. Rain­bow Jimmy’s man HeHee­he. And I’d be play­ing up on stage with the guys but I’d be think­ing, you know, maybe I could just sneak a cone you know, the old man wouldn’t find out. Or maybe, just maybe, I could stick my head un­der the tap and Steve could pull the han­dle, I wouldn’t even need a cone.

But I nev­er did it man, I nev­er did it. I al­ways thought the old man would jump out from some­where, you know, no mat­ter how late it was. I kept think­ing he’d just pop out of nowhere and stab me in the neck with a Spork and yell “I told you no god damn sug­ar, kid.” You know what a spork is Clarence? It’s like spoon and a fork to­geth­er in one uten­sil; it’s good for eat­ing chili and stew, HeeHeehe.

So around this time we start­ed mak­ing a lit­tle mon­ey with the band and I got my first car, a ’57 Chevy, thir­ty miles high­way, and a Hurst on the floor. It had Flames on it and every­thing, man it was hot! Twen­ty five city. And once I got that thing go­ing man I just drove and drove you know, I didn’t care where I was go­ing. Days went by, I’m telling you, I just drove, did­n’t stop for any­thing, not gas or food, I didn’t even stop for the bath­room, I just went in the car. Hee­he­Hee. So I found my­self at this lit­tle ice cream place in the mid­dle of nowhere. And I just knew the old man couldn’t find me out there. And I went up to the la­dy at the stand and I said ‘I’d like a Mr. Softy’ and she said to me, she said ‘son, the ma­chine’s broke.’ This song’s called The River.

Filed under Fiction on May 22nd, 2007

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Reader Comments

Bill wrote:

Just aw­ful

Quentin wrote:

I’m a big-time Bruce fan, but this was hi­lar­i­ous! Nice job. I think some of my fel­low Bruce tramps will en­joy it as well.

Phil Mihaels wrote:

In­stant classic.

Quasimodo wrote:

“Re­mem­ber me?” Would­n’t know ya if I fell over ya. De­cid­ed­ly, “no.”
I liked the Spring­steen piece so much, I can’t be­gin to tell ya. Hee­hee­hee. Stand-up com­e­dy with­out punch­lines. Cool, man. I mean, it’s like chew­ing with­out swal­low­ing, or –hee­hee­hee­hee­hee– ****ing with­out com­ing. Ahaw-ahawhaw. Ya know what I mean (wink-wink, nudge-nudge)? ‘Nough said!, ‘nough said. I can like re­al­ly re­late to The­Boss be­cause like you know… We used to check out pret­ty girls, too. We used to call them “babes”…
But se­ri­ous­ly, folks, that’s not what I came here to talk about. I came to talk about yer car­bon foot­prints. Car­bon foot­prints — yeah! How many of you know what that is? Car­bon foot­prints… Well, if you could get 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the high­way from a ’57 (undis­closed mod­el) Chevy, — if you could get 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the high­way from a ’57 Chevy, let’s just say Impala–
Cho­rus: IMPALA –
ya re­al­ly could just dri­ve with­out stop­ping for gas or food — ’cause ya’d be dreeeamin’! Ahaw-ahawhawhaw!!
Any­ways: [clears throat] speakin’ of chewin’ with­out swal­lowin’, well: like when I was in the 7th grade, man — hey! Lenny, like re­mem­ber the 7th grade? –
Cho­rus: [laugh­ter con­not­ing that, yes, in­deed, the au­di­ence vague­ly re­calls the 7th grade]
[sa­vor­ing the mo­ment of shared re­gog­ni­tion] oh, man, don’t get me start­ed! [shuf­fles mic stand around the stage] Well, like this one time the teacher came up to my bud­dy Ral­phie, who was just chewin’ away on his JuicyFruits — ‘mem­ber JuicyFruits?
Cho­rus: [laugh­ter con­not­ing that, yes, in­deed, the au­di­ence vague­ly re­calls JuicyFruit gum]
Yeah. We used­ta chew that gah­bidge all the time — and — ahawhawhe­he­heh… the teacher puts out her hand and says to Ral­phie, “Let’s have that gum, Mr. Haskell!” So, like Ral­phie takes the gum out of his mouth and like puts in in ‘er hand!! Hee­hee­hee. He puts it in her god damn hand, fer chris­sakes!! Any­ways, this next song’s called, “Mr. Softy Re­mem­bers When He Was Young an’ Hard Blues,” A‑one and-a-two…

Anonymous wrote:

Per­fect — I think I heard that sto­ry in 1979 — he was done with the “draft” sto­ry by then …

Jon wrote:

Per­fect … re­strained and dead on. I’ll re­mem­ber this one.

Ben wrote:

Very fun­ny and more than a lit­tle clever 🙂

Pete wrote:

Just god aw­ful is more like it.

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