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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spitzer by day, Springsteen by night

Hectic day Monday between Albany and New York City.

Not for Eliot Spitzer. For me.

My cell phone rang about 8 a.m. It was my friend Lisa, who lives in suburban Albany. She asked if I wanted her ticket to the Bruce Springsteen concert that night on Long Island because she had developed a scheduling conflict and couldn’t go.

Of course I wanted it! (I’d been trying to get a ticket the conventional way, but the show was sold out, and TicketMaster hadn’t released any extra seats in the days leading up to the concert, as it sometimes does.) Just one problem, though: I was in Kingston, the ticket was in Albany, the concert was on Long Island, and the clock was ticking.

Lisa offered to drive the ticket down to me after her work day ended. But the earliest she could get to Kingston, she said, would be 4 p.m. That meant I’d have to get from my house to the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale in just over three hours (to have enough time to park and still be in my seat for the 7:30 concert start), and I’d have to deal with New York City-area traffic in the process. That was cutting it too close. So we made plans, instead, for me to pick up the ticket from her at a store near Thruway Exit 25 (the one closest to her job) during her lunch hour.

I left Kingston at 11:15 a.m., got to our meeting place about 12:30 p.m. (by which point this was starting to feel like a drug deal or a ransom drop), got the ticket from her, chatted for a just a few minutes (because she had to get back to work and I had to get to Long Island), then high-tailed it south on the Thruway.

I was back at the Kingston exit about 1:30 p.m. -- leaving me just enough time to stop at home, eat a quick lunch, shower and find out our governor had been caught paying for a high-priced hooker — and I was back on the road around 2:30, heading south to Long Island.

Ordinarily on a trip like this, I’d fill my car with the sounds of the musician I’m heading to see, And, believe me, I tried. I had every Springsteen CD that I own tucked into a carrying case, and I fully intended to spend the 2-1/2 hour ride listening to some of my favorite tracks.

But I guess I’m a news junkie first and a music buff second, because I just couldn’t pull myself away from the constant coverage of the Spitzer scandal on WCBS-AM. It was equal parts political intrigue and salacious soap opera, and I didn’t want to miss a minute of it for fear that something huge (like Spitzer resigning or being indicted) would happen without me knowing about it.

(Ironically, I had a similar experience 11 months ago. I was on my way to the same arena for an Islanders-Sabres NHL playoff game when the Virginia Tech massacre happened. Needless to say, I didn’t listen to much music in the car that afternoon, either.)

I also spent much of my Monday drive chatting on my cell phone (yes, I have a hands-free ear piece) with the amateur political commentators in my life — most notably my mother, my college roommate Gil and my friend Kevin on Long Island, who I was stopping off to see before the Springsteen concert. All agreed Spitzer is done as New York’s governor, though Gil tried to make the argument that Spitzer didn’t do such a terrible thing because prostitution should be legal. (Just one problem, Gil: It’s not legal; and the governor — our former law-and-order attorney general — knew he was breaking the law.)

At this writing, Tuesday afternoon, Spitzer’s fate still hangs in the balance, though it’s obvious his days in politics are numbered. I presume he’s just sorting out the formalities of resigning and passing the torch to Lt. Gov. David Paterson, and perhaps he’s trying to make a deal with federal prosecutors under which he’ll plead guilty to some minor charge to make the criminal aspect of this go away. But no matter how you slice it, Spitzer is done in politics, as he should be.

Springsteen, on the other hand, is nowhere near done as a great live performer, and he put on another outstanding show. (I say “another” because, as my regular readers know, I’ve seen him once already on this tour, and now 11 times in all.) He cranked out 24 songs — including three of my all-time favorites (“Adam Raised a Cain,” “Because the Night” and “Jungleland”) — in a two-hour, 35-minute set. Not exactly the 30-song, three-hour sets of his heyday, but he kept the Long Island crowd on its feet and cheering for most of the night nevertheless.

For those who care about these things, here’s the set list:

Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Adam Raised a Cain
Gypsy Biker
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Incident on 57th Street
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home

Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

And one more thing. Next time Gov. Spitzer thinks about paying $4,300 for a prostitute, perhaps he should consider the obvious alternative: For that money, he could buy tickets to about 45 Springsteen concerts.



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