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To Bruce, Or Not To Bruce

I’m tired of Bruce Springsteen. There. I said it.

His show on Broadway dragged on for so long that even he seemed bored by himself. His concerts are getting repetitive. And if you’re looking for someone in his seventies still making great music, grab some Paul McCartney. Bruce’s Western Stars is middling by comparison.

BUT … and there had to be a but … I just bought an MP3 of a concert known as the Pièce de Résistance that Bruce released on his website, and it reminds me why I stuck with him for all these years. It’s a show held on September 19, 1978 at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ.

I remember it vividly — not because I was there, but because it was Bruce’s first live appearance in three years. After being sidelined by legal fights, he’d just come out with Darkness on the Edge of Town and WNEW-FM, the cool station in town, was broadcasting the show live. 

I was 16 and listening in my room in Queens. Everyone I knew was tuned in that night. It was like Elvis’s ’68 comeback special. The E Street Band was chomping at the bit to tear through the new material — future classics like Streets of Fire — for the first time live. They played like they might not get to play for another three years.

I got chills hearing Bruce break out of an eight minute version of Spirits in the Night to ask the standing room crowd, “How’s everyone been out there? Long time no see.”

That was forty-one years ago. I was welcoming him back. Weirdly, listening to it fresh after all these years, I feel like I’m welcoming him back again. It’s worth a listen here.

On Sonny Liston, Non-Sports Sportswriting & Confederate Monuments

CoastLine: Shaun Assael On Sonny Liston, Lennon Lacy, And Confederate Monuments



Sonny Liston, heavyweight boxing champion in the early 1960s,  died near the beginning of 1971.  The reason listed on the death certificate:  natural causes.  But nearly 50 years later, the question of whether he was murdered is an open one for some.  It’s a question Shaun Assael set out to answer with his book, The Murder of Sonny Liston:   Las Vegas, Heroin, and Heavyweights. 

Lennon Lacy, a 17-year-old West Bladen High School football player was found dead, hanging by belts from a swing set four years ago.  Local authorities determined Lacy’s death a suicide.  But family members and the NAACP alleged it was murder in the style of a lynching.  Shaun Assael set out to investigate the story.  Two years after Lacy’s death, the U.S. Justice Department issued its own determination – affirming the conclusion of local officials. 

Just last month, Glamour Magazine published a story entitled, The Secret Fight to Save Confederate Monuments.  The byline:  Shaun Assael.  There are a few threads here with which one could weave a theme, but we’ll leave that bit of business to Shaun Assael himself, award-winning investigative journalist, reporter for ESPN for 20 years, author of four books, and a man who describes his instincts as always leading to crime and politics, despite his twenty years in the investigations unit at ESPN.

Read more at Coastline


Listen: Ring Tones

Episode 2: Award-winning author, journalist and investigator Shaun Assael joins the pod to discuss “Pariah: The Lives and Deaths of Sonny Liston,” a documentary developed from his book “The Murder of Sonny Liston: Las Vegas, Heroin and Heavyweights.” Immerse yourself in latter-day Las Vegas, learn how the infamous heavyweight champ shuttled between two worlds and delve into the craft of storytelling.

Ring Tones