Springsteen Gives the Tampa Forum a Boss Night

“This train,” Bruce Springsteen sang, “carries saints and sinners. This train carries losers and winners. This train carries whores and gamblers. This train carries lost souls.”

All were in attendance on Saturday night, when he and his E Street Band came into town. With over 240 songs in my repertoire and having seen seven shows already, I felt pretty prepared for my eighth. My mom dwarfs me. She’s been to over 50 shows, as a journalist and as a fan. This show though, we knew would be different for both of us. Clarence Clemons, the band’s saxophonist and fan favorite, died last June.

Fans everywhere were discussing via blog posts and Youtube comments whether Springsteen was going to muster up another full band tour without a best friend, epic soloist and charismatic personality at his side. A key difference between Springsteen fans and other fans is the longevity. When Clarence Clemons died, fans from the beginning (Springsteen’s first album,Greetings From Asbury Park, was released in 1973) may have seen him perform between 15-100 times or more. There are extended family members you don’t see 100 times for three hours at a time over the course of 40 years. That’s what this felt like to my mom and me. Like a distant family member had passed away. So that was the big question: How do you replace a sound and sight valued by so many while sticking true to your band’s persona and yet not trying to forget “The Big Man”?

Their solution worked to perfection. They recruited Clarence’s nephew, Jake Clemons, to play sax for the Wrecking Ball tour. They also added a four piece horn section to compliment him as well as three more backing vocalists, nicknamed “The E Street Choir.” All in all, there were 15 people on stage during Saturday night’s show which was moving and exciting at different points in the show. In terms of my experience, I wonder if I’ve ever had as much fun at a Springsteen show as Saturday night. It had been almost two years since my last one, and I wasn’t sure how he was going to feel. Now 62 years old, I expected some more frailty and a more somber “Boss.”

Instead, he played a two and a half hour show without a break, crowd-surfed and toyed with the crowd through all of it. The most touching moments were the times when he would ask the crowd to make noise for Clarence or remember an experience. Sometimes it felt like a concert and sometimes it felt like a soulful funeral.

I’ve always felt like a Springsteen show is like a fountain of youth. No matter how poor you feel that day or week or year, he can go up there and show you that if he can do it at his age, you can dance a little bit too. My mom recently had both of her hips replaced so this was like our coming out party. When Springsteen began Dancing in the Dark, both our eyes lit up. It’s a corny song but it’s a fun highlight on an otherwise mostly dated Born in the USA album. I hadn’t seen her twist like that in years. Modern medicine is an amazing thing.

Although I like the majority of Wrecking Ball, I wonder how much of the crowd was familiar with the new album. When he played the singles, they seemed interested and excited but when he went into deeper album cuts, they seemed to be anxious and a bit more timid. He was forced into sandwiching each of the new songs with a pair of crowd favorites which worked successfully, though I wonder how happy he is doing that. He’s always enjoyed playing his new material though it admittedly doesn’t carry the same punch as Born To Run or Thunder Road.

It’s so tough to put into words, exactly what a Springsteen show feels like. It’s truly more of an experience than anything else. I keep trying to explain to my girlfriend, who’s never been, exactly what’s so different about these shows compared with other artists. There are three main differences:

One – You learn something. Either about yourself, about Springsteen, or about other people. Most times, for me, it’s been a blend of all three.

Two – Pat Riley. At 25 percent of the Springsteen shows I’ve attended, I’ve spotted the Hall of Fame basketball coach in the crowd. It gets me very pumped up to see him singing along to “The Promised Land” with me.

Three – The man has a goal. He states it every show. “To tell a story,” he says as he introduces every member of his band. That story is usually worth hearing. To me, it’s been worth hearing quite a few times.

This article was originally published in The Minaret and can be found here.

“Lax Bros” Work to End “Lax Bros” Label — April Fools

For the April Fool’s Day edition of The Minaret, we put together a special, fake edition of the newspaper that’s meant to satirize and kid about many of the biggest stories of our year. Since the sports section has focused so greatly on lacrosse, I found it only fitting to focus my satire on a title given to the stars of UT’s newest sport. Here it is.

Over 500 lacrosse players, hailing from all over the state of Florida, gathered in Vaughn Courtyard on Monday afternoon for a common cause: to eliminate a phrase from the everyday student’s vocabulary.

“I just like, I don’t know,” said Johnny Goons, a junior midfielder from the University of Florida. “I, like, wish people understood us. I wish we were, like, normal students too. I’m just so freaking sick, like, ya know? I know I’m totes jacked and built but, like, I’m a student too.”

“I’m not, like,” he added, “just a ‘Lax Bro.’”

The term ‘Lax Bro’ has been gaining more and more attention at UT as the school added lacrosse in the fall and began playing games this spring. What started out as an endearing joke about smelly, sweaty, athletically-gifted young men has turned into something more; it’s turned into a derogatory comment about smelly, sweaty, athletically-gifted young men. The team though, is making a stand.

“We know we’re better looking than you,” said Ben Buffington, UT’s fourth-string goalie, during Monday’s rally. “But does that give you the right to call us names? Just cause we’re sexy and sometimes smell funky and all live in McKay doesn’t mean you can, like, label us and stuff.”

In a poll recently conducted by The Office of Kind-of Rude But Mostly Accurate Statements, ‘Lax Bro’ came in as the most commonly used relatively rude title in McKay and Smiley halls as well as the Boathouse. It came a close second in Austin Hall next to ‘Sloppy.’

Monday’s protest came in reaction to Friday’s match against Witchington Crater Valley State College when a female student held up a sign that read “I Love Lax Bros. See You Later! Stadium 919A.” Following the room number, there was also a winking smiley face.

“I don’t really get the big deal,” said Freddie Juanjie, a sophomore business major. “Seems like she wasn’t insulting them. It just seems like she was DTF.”

To these young men though, Monday’s speaking out was just the beginning.

“I appreciated her offer dude but I just couldn’t get with a chick who was gonna, like, show zero respect,” said Joey Bigurms, UT’s assistant to the assistant captain.

“This is gonna be, like, a long fight. I know my friends have been like ‘oh, ok, we won’t say it anymore.’ So obviously, you can tell from that, it’s gonna be a long battle. There’s gonna be guys who are gonna be mad and there’s gonna be chicks who aren’t gonna get any. We’re not gonna stop though. We want to be normal students who just, like, happen to be jacked and live in the same dorm.

“I’m not just a ‘Lax Bro,’ he added. “I’m also an annoying college freshman.”

This article was printed in The Minaret on March 29.

Spartans Battle Grand Canyon, Time Change

Andruw Jones is batting .400 this season. | Samantha Battersby/ The Minaret

An eleven-inning win that stretched deep into Saturday night ended, daylight savings time stole an hour, and before they knew it, Sunday morning was upon them.

The NCAA top-ranked University of Tampa baseball team won two games in just over 14 hours last weekend, separated by a few precious winks of sleep. UT Head Coach Joe Urso was frank about the challenge.

“It was a tough turnaround,” he said. “The alarm went off real quick.”

The Spartans took two of three from the Grand Canyon Lopes, losing the opener of the series 3-1 on Friday before sweeping the final two.

Saturday night was the kind of evening that can build a team’s momentum heading into conference play.

Tampa starter Sean Bierman threw six innings while walking just one and striking out six. The Spartan defense though, wasn’t as prepared as he was. They committed six errors in the game leading to three unearned runs, all charged to Bierman’s line.

Tied 6-6 through nine, the game went into extras. In the top of the eleventh, Grand Canyon managed a pair of runs off Mike Adams sending the middle of Tampa’s order up in the bottom of the inning with the task of crossing a pair of runs; they found themselves more than up to the challenge.

Jake Schrader hit a tying two-run double after a walk and a hit batter, and Adam Pendleton knocked a single into rightfield to help the Spartans walk-off.

“It showed a lot of character on our part,” said outfielder Andruw Jones, who scored the winning run. “But if we play a better game, don’t make as many errors, we should never even be there.”

The rest of this article can be read here as originally published in The Minaret.

An Exciting Time

I’m hanging out, watching the Seattle skyscrapers turn grey from these inevitable Washington clouds. I’m blasting Alkaline Trio, getting ready to see the Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, before these next three days that will be filled to the brim with journalism.

I find it appropriate that I’m launching my online portfolio while I’m here, at the Associated Collegiate Press’s National College Journalism Convention. I’m feeling pretty well about lots of things that are happening right now; it’s truly one of the most exciting times in my life.

I hope you enjoy what you read and be sure to contact me with any inquiries about anything.