Mondauk Common:
Michael-Patrick Harrington's Blog

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beatles meet

One ought to sink to the bottom of the sea, probably, and live alone with ones words

“So I have to create the whole thing afresh for myself each time. Probably all writers now are in the same boat. It is the penalty we pay for breaking with tradition, and the solitude makes the writing more exciting though the being read less so. One ought to sink to the bottom of the sea, probably, and live alone with ones words.”

Virginia Woolf

A Writer’s Diary, ed: Leonard Woolf



We Learned More from a Three Minute Record than We Ever Learned in School

Click HERE to read Phil Gianficaro’s article on Bruce Springsteen idolatry from The Intelligencer newspaper (serving Bucks and Montgomery counties, suburbs of Philadelphia).

Here is what I think:

Regarding Mr. Gianficaro’s article:…People are only timing the recent Bruce Springsteen shows because one might break the record for the longest E Street Band concert (and the one on 9-7-16 in Philly did, as far as US shows go) – it’s just for fun. But the writer is not into Bruce, so he sees idolatry instead of loyalty, a golden idol instead of the Boss of a family that extends from the E Street Band (which includes his wife and his best friend) to all the happy people in the audience. His concerts are like religious revivals, and, yes, many of his fans are hardcore fanatics – just like fans of an endless number of acts. But we’re all here for a good time; we’re here for the 3 or 4 hours that will transport us out of our mundane or perhaps miserable lives; we’re here to listen & sing along to the silly songs, the topical songs, and the songs that can break your heart. As one of the hardcore fanatics, I can say that I don’t worship Bruce; I might idolize him somewhat, but I realize that like Elvis Costello, U2, Stephen King, Howard Stern, Martin Scorsese, Metallica, and countless others, he worked hard to get where he is, starting from the bottom. There was no silver spoon or American Idol. And like many of the people I mentioned, Bruce believes that he works for a living (though obviously, he doesn’t ever have to play again), and he loves his work and continues his artistic journey despite having to fight his clinical depression. That’s something to admire – a work ethic. In many of his songs, he tries to become the characters: the rundown losers, the guy patching your roof, and, of course, a boy and a girl in a car and a road that seems like it’ll never end; it’s clear that he respects them all, from the deliriously happy to the desperate and the hungry – and us. I can respect that the writer is not into Bruce & the band – there was a time, long ago, when I wasn’t. But we’re not there to praise the man (okay, maybe a little); we’re there to give ourselves a little bit of praise. These songs have become our songs after all, and they are frequently about us. Bruce invites us into his family – he spends much time slapping and shaking hands while he sings; he crowd surfs and runs through the crowd at the tender age of 66; he lets children take a shot at singing the chorus to “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” whenever he plays it; he grieves with us as images of the departed Clarence and Danny fill the screen; and he invites people to dance on stage with him and the band during “Dancing in the Dark.” Although we get to lose ourselves for a couple of hours, what we’re losing is the 9-5 grind, the wheelchair, the nasty boss, the horrible home life, the missed opportunities – and what we get to do is remember our victories, we get to realize that we’re collectively celebrating and the person standing next to us is part of the family, and we get to immerse ourselves in the healing power of ROCK’N'ROLL!

As Bruce sang on Wednesday night: “We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school.” Reflective or not (for me it is), the truth is in the pronoun: we.



Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band live at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia 9-7-16

Last night, my mom, my sister Kathie, & I saw the 2ND LONGEST Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band show ever: 4 HOURS & 4 MINUTES! 34 songs!

(The longest show ever was 4 hours & 6 minutes.)

New York City Serenade [with strings]
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City
Growin’ Up
Spirit in the Night
Lost in the Flood
Kitty’s Back
The E Street Shuffle
Incident on 57th Street
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
The Fever
No Surrender
The Ties That Bind
My Love Will Not Let You Down
Death to My Hometown
Jack of All Trades [with strings]
American Skin (41 Shots)
The Promised Land
Hungry Heart
Darlington County
Working on the Highway
Downbound Train
Because the Night [co-written w/ Patti Smith]
The Rising

Streets of Philadelphia
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Bobby Jean

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Patti Smith at the Free Library of Philadelphia

Beth Meier and I saw had the privilege to see the great Patti Smith at the Free Library of Philadelphia. She sat for an interview (with a clueless moderator) and gave a brief reading. Fascinating! This was part of the book tour for her 2nd memoir, M Train.

Actual photo from the event (shot by Beth, who besides being my great friend is also my copy-editor):

patti smith free

John Irving at the Free Library of Philadelphia

Last night my mom and I had the privilege of watching John Irving, the greatest living fiction writer, be interviewed and give a reading from his new book, at the Free Library of Philadelphia. An amazing night. Sadly, there wasn’t a signing, but it didn’t really matter. Just to be in the same room as one of my biggest idols, listening him talk about the craft, was astounding.

Irving wrote one of the greatest novels ever (it’s my favorite novel), A Prayer for Owen Meany. His new novel, Avenue of Mysteries, was just released.


john irving big