Bruce Springsteen (on being born a 99% American)

Springsteen is singing in my living room. The album art is very 1980s, and Bruce looks like a boy, but he was writing and shouting like a man. It’s a pop-cult quote o’ the day!

Five years in China was five years removed from my modest collection of vinyl records and my turntable. Even on summers home, which gave me access to Hewitt’s Dairy and good chocolate and real hamburgers, yes, and libraries and bookstores, too, there was no listening to the old records because our home was rented out. I don’t have much of the collection that I had as a kid and as a young man, and (mainly) thank goodness and improving taste for that. (Divorce helped, too.) No John Denver, no Grand Funk Railroad, no diminishing returns of obsessively buying every progressively more disappointing Chicago album and only belatedly accepting that they’d left their soul in the ’60s.

I play through what’s left, though, and I’m about three quarters of the way through listening to the whole cabinet. After bouts of Talking Heads and Steely Dan, and a week of playing The Atlantic Family Live at Montreux – the Average White Band and a host of other jazz players blowing their brains out, fine stuff that doesn’t age for me at all – I flipped this morning to what is probably one of my bride’s earliest LP purchases, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA. The title song slays me.

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Sweet Teeth and Faulty Scales: Hitting Two Hundred

LOOK-BACK: 200 FOR THE 2000s.

Five years in China, partly ’cause I walked everywhere and pounded basketballs on car-free pavements, helped me climb down from a high-level status I’d never asked for and never fully believed. When I went there in 2009, I was still tipping my bathroom scales a little too ferociously. In Dalian, it was a lot harder (or, in a few cases — I’m looking at you, Haagen-Dazs! — the price tripped my cheapness alarm) to get sweet treats that met my lofty Canadian-consumption standards. Summers back home were exercises in box-ticking (can’t get that in Dalian, gotta do it now!). Um, and in not exercising that much. My personal record: one summer, in our seven weeks home I put on seven kilos — 15 pounds!

So now we’re back for good, and this summer’s victory is that I’ve kept my balance, dietarily, and though I’m not where I’d like to be, I’m still well under the critical threshold that so alarmed me at the beginning of my Chubby Decade, towards the end of the 20th century. The piece below, another one that pre-dated this website and never saw the light of readership day, was my reaction to realizing I’d hit 200 pounds. The words below were indignant and disbelieving, fun to read years later, and pretty much useless in getting me to actually do anything about the ballast I was packing. Not right away, anyhow.

Two hundred?  Now that’s just a lie.  Hah!  Hah!  says I to myself, it’s an el cheapo scale, and besides, it was on a carpet, and shoot, it’s been cold and I’ve been sick, and besides, hey, I like to eat, it’s not like I drink or smoke so I deserve the occasional treat and I just need to get working out a little more regularly and by the way, I’ve never cracked two hundred and I still have pretty good moves for an old guy…

Okay.  So this new level of larditude is not exactly one of the “firsts” I’d envisioned for the (pre)Millennial Me. Plea-bargains and pitiable denials aside, one nasty bit of gristle in the stew of midlife is unrequited affection:  I love ice cream but it doesn’t treat me right.  (There, I’ve said it.) 

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