Monthly Archives: July 2002

It was 1985 and I hated Bruce Springsteen

Local musician and editor of the Philadelphia Weekly Joey Sweeney recalls 1987 in Salon

In the 1980s, after the “Born in the U.S.A.” juggernaut has run over the entire United States, it is as easy as it will ever be to misinterpret Bruce Springsteen. Although this is probably not what is on my mind when I see Bruce Springsteen in the flesh for the first time. What probably is on my mind is something pretty harsh, for I am now 13 years old, have discovered the willy-nilly world of punk, post-punk and the accompanying disdain for all that has gone before. Karen Akers and I are in the stands at JFK Stadium on a late-September night, tiptoeing on the bleachers so that we can see U2, nearly 100 yards away as the crow flies. Karen is goth before goth is goth — Siouxsie hair, blue-black lipstick and nails, and so on — and this is also that strange moment when U2 are playing stadiums and can still be considered alternative.

In the fall night, we are exhilarated — not only by the band, which is already playing stadiums and will soon be even bigger than that, but also by the fact that we were almost crushed at the gates of the show, on the way in, like English soccer fans. We’re happy to be alive, but when Springsteen comes onstage to perform the Ben E. King classic “Stand By Me” with U2, it is like someone has farted in our sleeping bag. For this is the era when as much as he doth protest, the Boss was in his darkest hours of synthesizers (and not even the cool kind that OMD used) and jingoism, mislaid or not. It is all I can do not to boo him, because I am a teenager now, and that vulnerability and sincerity that Bruce so naturally tapped into feels like a kind of death. Everything is affected cynicism now, and I believe that Bruce has no place here, onstage with my avowedly political and anti-establishment Irish band. And playing that corny song to boot! Send him away, the creepy Little Lord Fauntleroy inside me intones.

For me it was 1985. I was thirteen myself then. And listening to Black Sabbath. Ozzy. Metallica. If it had synths, it was compromised. If it was on the radio (like U2), well it wasn’t any good. James Hetfield had scrawled on the back of his Gibson Explorer the words “Kill Bon Jovi”. I understood them :) Back then, I really hated Bon Jovi too. “Pop metal” we called it.

Man was I closed minded! It took a few years but my mind opened considerably. It was probably Guns N’ Roses that did it for me. They were undeniable. And yet, still popular. “Pop metal” didn’t seem so bad to me any more. And I listened with new ears all sorts of music. Bon Jovi especially. I became a fan. As a teenager, the band’s songs had all sorts of relevence to me. Some of their songs seem custom written for my relationship with my wife to be.

Well I was 17, and a new aquaintence of mine, one that would become a good friend (yes it’s you Steve.. if you’re reading this), introduced me to the Springsteen album “Nebraska”. Just like Sweeney, it was my first apartment.

Joey Sweeney is standing in the living room of his first apartment, a hovel in South Philadelphia that is, at this moment, completely dark save for the blue light of the television and the snow reflected in the night outside. He is on mushrooms. Between the TV and the snow outside — from a blizzard that only subsided in the last 18 hours — there is an otherworldly glow and when he remembers this, even to this day, he still cannot remember if he is alone in the room or not. On the stereo is a record he rescued just days before from the dollar bin at the Book Trader — “Nebraska.” And if the cover image of bleak, high, lonely plains beyond a windshield suggests his soul, when he places it on the turntable and turns it up, it sounds like that even more so.

Joey Sweeney has been doing a lot of drugs lately, because it is the early ’90s still (and the late teens, still), and, well, it just seems like that’s what people are doing. He listens to “Nebraska” all the way through. That dull fire-alarm whine of the harmonica resonates with him to a degree that it feels like all he has ever known. When it is over, he just sits in the room, listening to the hail on the snow and the red light changing outside the window and he feels as bleak and as exalted as he ever has.

It had that same effect on me. Thanks Steve.

Getting HTML text with timeouts rediculously hard in Java

Creating a web crawler in Java is easy – if you don’t need to set timeouts shorter then the defaults. Here is a JavaWorld article and a Sun Developer Connection article on doing just that. But the moment you do require control over timeouts… ouch does it get confusing. Note that this post covers version earlier then 1.4.x.

Here goes some of the major issues I’ve found: 1. The HTTP enabled classes do not expose a timeout property setting method. 2. The lower level socket classes do expose that method, but require a crap load more programming to utilize. This great JavaWorld article covers that approach. Run it on this site though and watch what happens. 3. Trying to hack your way to a timeout with the HTTP classes and threads exposes a registered bug – the HTTP operation may not properly close.

Anyway, after much searching, jGuru pointed me towards Jakarta’s HTTP Client. I recall reading about it over at rebelutionary. But guess what? After who knows how long digging I discovered the timeout property was not exposed in the last release build. Ok I figure, I’ll go grab the latest nightly build and cross my fingers. Now some undocumented depencies are exposed. You will need to download and install the Jakarta Logging Component and Sun’s Java Secure Socket Extention to get it to work.

I could have written the low level Socket code…. but there is a strong part of me… the lazy programmer in me… that believes in never re-writing the wheel. I knew there had to be a set of packages that would allow me do this with as little as possible coding. By finding those packages, especially from a reliable source such as the Apache Jakarta project, I can have a higher degree of confidence in what I’m putting together. And oh yes… just write about 50 lines of code :)

Anyway… anyone else with these findings or did I just take a walk I didn’t need to?

This is the true joy in life

George Bernard Shaw

This is the true joy in life – that being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. That being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for it’s own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it to future generations.

That quote is scribbled on a piece of paper in my wallet. Been there for a long time. I havn’t found my purpose yet. But man do I feel blessed.

In that spirit I want to send some shout outs.

Please say a prayer for Garret and his family.

Send supportive e-mails to Rogi and Dave on their struggle with smokes. It’s way harder then most people realize.

Go to MP3.com and listen to a great band, a rocking song, and support one of my friends, Mark. The song is about to crack MP3.com’s top 50!

Send a supportive word to Meryl who survived Blogathon!. You can still donate to her very worthy cause.

Very importantly – The Sleeping Angels fund has placed it’s first headstone for a child who didn’t have one since February 2001! I am so proud of my brother and his family. How they are channeling their son’s passing is inspirational.

The world can be a horrible place – but this time a 7 year old inspires

Time’s deserving person of the week is 7 year old Erica Pratt. A girl that has inspired many in the city and out here in the blogging world. Her strength will be remembered for a long time by many.

There’s much more to this story. The Inquirer reports that the Suspected kidnappers, family have web of ties.

As Acel Moore says

Unlike recent kidnapping cases in Utah and California, this crime suits its surroundings.

She had to learn at a very young age how to watch for herself when away from her grandmother, and thank God for her grandmother’s love and care.

No, this posting is not a return to my past blogging velocity. Still lots more moving to do, and I like my time away from the web, with my friends and family.