WELL, HERE we are, right here in River City-on-the-Potomac, with just about everybody waiting for the Music Man, as excited as Iowa schoolboys hearing the first brassy notes from way down Main Street. People who said nothing ever happens in Washington in August didn't take account of the year when Bruce Springsteen would begin his national tour here.
On a Monday morning a couple of weeks ago, the tickets went on sale, and what seemed to be about 8 or 9 million people picked up their phones at the same time to try to place orders. In large sections of Greater Washington one couldn't even get a dial tone. Since then some people fortunate enough to have gotten tickets have put them on the market at prices up to $2,500 a pair.
Clearly expectations are high, perhaps overinflated. Not that Mr. Springsteen is to blame. People have been behaving like this for a long time -- if not since Alexander the Great's Asia Tour then at least since the nicely recorded All-Gaul Tour by Julius Caesar and his bands.
Earlier in the summer Mr. Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A. Tour" of Europe took the place by storm, causing some people to believe the rising generation there was turning west to the land of baseball and Big Macs. "Young people here love America, and they like to identify with it," said a young American woman working in a Paris pizzeria where videotapes of White Sox and Cubs games are played. "You ask young people where they want to go and it's always New York or Los Angeles." If they do come here, we hope someone can explain the infield fly rule to them.
Mr. Springsteen is admired for his intensity and seriousness; he once canceled a Washington concert because he didn't think he was artistically ready. He can rouse a crowd as well as William Jennings Bryan (The Cross of Gold Heavy-Metal Tour, 1896), writes his own stuff and doesn't resort to affectations that make him an abomination in the eyes of people over 45. Everyone appears to like him or at least to be neutral on the subject.
Whether the passage of his tour will have any lasting effect on this city's consciousness remains to be seen. (Anyone paying $2,500 for a couple of tickets might hope so.) Frankly, we think Mr. Springsteen devastated Washington about as much as can be done when he took away its dial tone on a working day.