So yesterday I went on a Springsteen fan site discussion board, and posted a comment to probably a handful of crazy Bruce Springsteen fans like myself because I was angry about some things said by Victor Fiorillo in an article called
"Why I Hate Bruce Springsteen
" Now, I wasn't mad about the things he said about Bruce Springsteen. There are plenty of people who hate Bruce. My dad makes fun of him all day long. Whatever. My dad appears to suffer from Reason #5, Victor (I know YOU'RE watching). And I too think the song Philadelphia is pretty weak compared to many other Bruce tunes.
I was upset about this: "As far back as the 1970s, Bruce Springsteen was sporting an earring, making millions of working-class grunts think they had the right to do the same. Men with earrings would become an unfortunate trend that lasted far too long, and one that has seen an unfortunate but slight resurgence in recent years
. When in doubt, fellas, skip the stud. And men who wear gauges, I’m not talking to you. You go right ahead with your bad selves. Same goes for anyone who wears a diamond-crusted grill. Everyone else, don’t do it."
That paragraph is so loaded, and forgive me for reading it so closely, but I'm a writer and hold other writers responsible for every key stroke, especially if they publish as professionals. This paragraph in my opinion thinly veils a desire to utter "white trash" but knows it can't. And perhaps I would be over reading this, if I saw it as a stand alone piece. But there's back story to this. Recently Victor wrote on page 72 of the December 2011 issue of Philadelphia Magazine a list of “THINGS WE NEED TO GET RID OF” and The Mummers
were on that list. That's like saying Mardi Gras should be gotten rid of in certain southern cities. The Mummers parade is a New Years Day celebration run by clubs of working class men that prepare all year. To say that Philly should get rid of the Mummers is to say let's forget that this place is populated by "working class grunts." So I was destined to over read this paragraph, because the original Mummers situation infuriated my FB husband and many other artists and political activists I know in Philadelphia. Conrad in his anger at this Mummer's comment went down to the magazine's office. Victor hid and refused to speak to Conrad and then had him escorted out of the offices. The police that got Conrad became extremely sympathetic to him when they heard why he was in there because, well, they're Mummers. They even said they would take Conrad down to some of the Mummers club houses, so he could let them know what the magazine had to say, but that police rules wouldn't allow it. The Mummers are important to a working class identity in Philadelphia.
So when I saw this paragraph in light of the Mummers situation, I got all English teacher on it. First, if you go to the Oxford English Dictionary, which traces the history of the word grunt,
you find the following definitions among others:
1. The characteristic low gruff sound made by a hog; a similar sound uttered by other animals. a. A similar sound, uttered by a human being; sometimes expressive of approbation, or the opposite. †In early use, a groan.
b. U.S. slang. An infantry soldier.
Originally, a junior assistant to a worker on electricity or telephone lines (= ); hence, any unskilled or low-ranking assistant; a general dogsbody; (somewhat derogatory) a labourer or proletarian, a nobody; spec. in N. Amer. Mil. slang, an infantryman, common soldier. colloq. (orig. and chiefly U.S.).
4. attrib. in sense (freq. as grunt work), usu. designating a low-ranking but necessary occupation or task considered dull, menial, or undemanding. colloq.
So, you see, grunt
carries a kind of history that equates certain people to hogs and this equation has much to do with class and the idea that if you belong to the working class you are a "nobody," i.e. you don't have the right to exist in a social sphere. Interesting too that Victor sees the working class as needing to be given "the right" from Bruce Springsteen, as if the working class didn't have any freedom or thinking power of its own. And Victor is here to police that right. Thank God because without Victor, who knows what the working class might don to a Bruce Springsteen show.
Interesting too is Victor's exceptions for "grills" and "gauges." Now all of this with the jewelry is what they call metonymy in English class, where a part is used poetically to represent the whole. Earring stud = white working class male. Grill = African-American male or female. Gauge = white hipsters (the supposed 'creative class'.) Victor doesn't want to piss off anyone black because then he has to deal with race and that's too much trouble. And he doesn't want to offend any hipsters, you know, because Victor is hip. And they are future subscribers to Philadelphia Magazine.
So I vented about this on an obscure fan site in a more heated way than here. I mean, my comments weren't exactly public. And after I vented on the fan site, I saw that the other fans didn't take all this so seriously and I realized I was reading it against the Mummers situation. So some dude used the wrong word on his blog. Cool. I'm with you. But given the Mummers comments, it seemed that this class stuff might be less of an accident. But I decided to cool my jets. Victor has class issues, but I've got better things to do with my day.
So then I go to class and come back and there are emails saying there are more comments on the fan site discussion board. VICTOR HAD FOUND ME!
My original post was this:
by LostButNotForgotten on Mar 28, 2012 9:54 am
This elitist from Philly Mag has already said that the Mummers should leave Philly and now writes an article on how awful Springsteen is. He simply hates the white working class. Funny, because he was at the Zoe Strauss opening at the PMA and likes to kiss her ass in the magazine. Yet, Zoe is all working class Philly. Gave a talk on Springsteen at the museum. And loves the Mummers. If you have the time and energy, send him hate mail. He is part of that class of people that comes to Philly and continually complains it's not NY. I mean, if you write for Philadelphia Magazine, shouldn't you be informed on the city's deep history with Bruce?
This guy makes me crazy. http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_p ... ringsteen/
Then I wrote this in response to a fan's comment:
THE FAN: usbomb99 wrote:I actually found that kind of funny.
Yes, you are having the more sane reaction. I had to go back and fix typos because I was livid, when I wrote the post above. It's just that some friends of mine have had previous snotty encounters with him. And now he touched my territory. I am cooling my jets, though...
BUT THEN VICTOR WROTE THIS:
by suggarillo on Mar 28, 2012 10:25 am
Um, first of all, I never said that the Mummers should leave Philly. Secondly, I don't hate the white working class, of which I am decidedly a part. (Family of four, one income, you get the idea... no 1% going on here.) Thirdly, I was not at the Zoe Strauss PMA opening. Fourthly, Zoe Strauss is actually mad at me because of an article I wrote about a New Orleans photographer who said she plagiarized his work (clearly untrue). Fifthly, I never complain that Philly is not new york. I am a huge Philly booster. I just hate Bruce Springsteen.
But Victor also sends me a PRIVATE MESSAGE. I mean, can he Bully me a little more? ME
If you hate Bruce so much why are you on the fan board? You should write about things you love. It would make your life easier.
Sent at: Mar 28, 2012 10:33 am
You need to fact-check your comment. I did it for you, if they ever approve my comment. You got, oh, at least 3 obvious things factually wrong. And who are these "friends" of yours?To Which I Responded Privately, not realizing it was VICTOR yet:
Re: Fact-check much?
Sent at: Mar 28, 2012 1:25 pm
What's not factual? My friends are the poets CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock and Zoe Strauss. Google them. And why does this need to be private messaged? Put it in the thread.
And then Victor disappeared. And I thought how weird all of this was and wrote this on FB:
Then on the Board itself I wrote:
by LostButNotForgotten on Mar 28, 2012 1:40 pm
And if you are going to PM me to ask me to fact check things for a posting on an obscure website discussion board, you should fact check your blog posts done as part of your job in journalism. Patti Scalfia for instance became Bruce's wife because they fell in love after she became a member of the band. And Jake Clemens is in the band because Bruce and he spent a week watching Clarence die. Bands are usually groups of friends. The E Street Band is not the equivalent of a government post. And how is Bruce responsible for the beaches and governor of NJ? That's like saying he's responsible for the poverty in America.
I mean, if you can have your aesthetic opinions, then I can have mine. My ideas about you and your writing are as relevant as your thoughts on Bruce Springsteen.
Am thinking how weird it is that the journalist Victor Fiorillo wrote an article today called "Why I Hate Bruce Springsteen" and then went on an obscure fan discussion board and found my angry post against the article's offensive comments regarding class and then publicly and privately wrote to attack me. Huh?And then Victor wrote this this morning.
Now notice he takes on my much more theatrical FB husband, but doesn't address his weird response of hunting me down on a fan discussion board. Oh and it seems that he already blocked me from making comments on his blog.
Now Victor, if you are going to write shock jock pieces, at least have the ovaries to get into a real discussion with me or not care what people write on the web. You clearly want to portray yourself as the sane one, but HUNT READERS DOWN WHO DON'T AGREE WITH YOU. You are a coward and are covering up your own strange behavior by focusing on Conrad's anger. You obviously can't take what you dish out. You are a bully in khakis.
Oh and I hear Bruce was awesome last night. That is all.