06.22.2019
Bruce Springsteen
Western Stars

I haven't listened to enough latter-day Springsteen albums in my life to properly place Western Stars into context. To be totally honest, I haven't even listened to enough old Springsteen albums to do so either. Still, I am shocked—shocked—at how good about half this album is. This is some of the most beautiful music I've heard all year. "Hello Sunshine" floored me when it first circulated online earlier this Spring; I listened to it about 10 times that day and it hasn't lost a bit of its power today. "The Wayfarer" could've been an all-timer tune with the E Street Band in the 70s, but works just as well in the rhinestone cowboy context of this record sung by a very different kind of 70's Bruce. "Drive Fast," "Stones," and "Somewhere North of Nashville," "Chasin' Wild Horses" and the title track "Western Stars" all cover similar acoustic ballad territory but are equally powerful. "Sundown" is corny but hearing Bruce belt the chorus like the finale of a Grand Ol Opry Vegas revue is riveting.

The rest of the songs are awful.

Truly. The gap between the good stuff and the bad stuff on this album is unlike anything in recent memory. Clearly some of these tunes were recorded at different sessions with different producers and different musicians, and it shows and it's a bummer. It's crazy to say a 2019 album by a nearly 70-year-old Bruce Springsteen inspired by Glen Campbell and George Jones and 1960s California country western pop ballads could've been one of the best albums of the decade (and his career?). It could've been the anti-Cash: aging icon makes an album about the pain of being an aging icon, except instead death and despair it's sunshine and hope. Like I said, the good songs here are fantastic. But if he just could've hooked up with the right producers and collaborators to fill this thing out—Van Dyke Parks? T Bone Burnett? Brandi Carlile? Owen Pallett? Matthew White? Dare I fucking say Jon Brion?—this could've been a head-spinning album. At the very least someone should've told him not to put "Sleepy Joe's Cafe" on there.


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07.07.2019 - by Steve
Captain James CrabhouseBaltimore
Steamed crabs

Ate a bunch of crabs. Had to tear their guts out and stuff. It was a primal experience and the crab tasted good. Got a little tired of it though.

07.07.2019 - by Steve
Boog's BarbecueBaltimore
Barbecue pit beef

Camden Yards is a very important ballpark, in that it changed the way that every ballpark since has been designed and built (for better or worse, but I'll go ahead and say better). It's still a great place to watch a baseball game, and a charming piece of architecture, even if it's been copied and and bettered in many ways in ensuing years. I like Camden Yards.

Boog's Barbecue, found out in right field in the alley by the iconic warehouse, is in its own way a very important food stand. It's become tediously normal now, a stadium showcasing unique local foods and restaurants rather than simply offering hot dogs and nachos, but in the early 90s Boog's was one of the first. Every time a TV announcer talked about how beautiful Camden was, they'd always mention Boog's. Or laugh with each other about how "Boy I can't wait to get some B-B-Q before this game is done!" It became a thing.

Beyond that, I don't have a whole lot to say about Boog's, but it was actually pretty good. I was prepared to be fully underwhelmed, because that's usually how things work, but no, it was very satisfying. So go to Camden Yards, it's still great. And get some Boog's.