Collier’s Weekly: Five Things to Do Now That You’re Not Seeing Springsteen

The Boss will be delayed, so here’s how to have a Springsteen-themed week without a pair of marathon concerts.
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If you’re like me, you’re despondent.

This was the week we were going to spend with the Boss, after all. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were coming through for a pair of shows at PPG Paints Arena, the first local appearances by the rock icon since 2016. Unfortunately, Springsteen is a bit ill; the band delayed its September concerts, reporting that the frontman was suffering from symptoms of peptic ulcer disease.

Given Springsteen’s famous health regimen, on-stage endurance and Jersey grit, we’re sure that the shows will eventually be rescheduled. But that does us no good this week; many of us have a few nights to fill.

Here are five good ways to at least partly make up for the lack of a “10th Avenue Freeze Out” this week.

See two other septuagenarian icons.
Springsteen wouldn’t have been the only legend in town on Thursday night. Comedy trailblazers Steve Martin and Martin Short will bring their cheekily named tour, “You Won’t Believe What They Look Like Today,” for an appearance at the Benedum Center; they’ll be joined by Jeff Babko and the Steep Canyon Rangers for an evening of comedy, music and a bit of vaudeville-style flair. Reviews of the pair’s frequent jaunts are glowing, and it’s an opportunity to see two of the most significant names in comedy history — and, yes, two of the Three Amigos — live and in person.

Hang out “here, darlin’, in Youngstown.”
In 1995, Springsteen released “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” a haunting and plaintive acoustic album. It featured the tale of a laid-off steelworker in Youngstown, Ohio: “From the Monongahela Valley to the Mesabi iron range / To the coal mines of Appalachia, the story’s always the same / Seven-hundred tons of metal a day / Now sir, you tell me the world’s changed / Once I made you rich enough / Rich enough to forget my name.” While the song does not paint the nearby city in positive light, it’s worth a visit; may we suggest Westside Bowl, a funky alley known for trivia, karaoke and live music?

Eat a hot dog for the Boss.
You don’t look like Bruce does at 73 without eating pretty healthy; the famously fit performer maintains a responsible diet and light weightlifting routine to stay in shape well beyond his “Glory Days.” He maintains, however, that an indulgent treat now and then is OK — and he loves a boardwalk hot dog. We’ve got any number of places for a great dog in town, but here’s a dark horse candidate that can also help you welcome fall: There are some surprisingly sturdy franks at Page’s, and they recently rolled out their autumn menu. Before the South Side stalwart closes down for the winter, get a hot dog for Bruce and throw in some maple soft serve while you’re there.

Go for a Springsteen-style drive.
Sturdy, fast muscle cars driven by devil-may-care Jersey youths play a prominent role in the Boss’ lyrics, so take your free night and point your machine toward the horizon. Now, we certainly don’t encourage a particularly speedy drive — don’t get a ticket because you’re emulating “Born to Run,” please — but at least inch toward the limit while cruising the left lane of, say, Interstate 79 North. In a few short hours, you’ll arrive at Presque Isle and can pretend, somehow, that it’s the Jersey Shore. Sara’s Restaurant closes for the season this week, so go get a hot dog. It’s not “Thunder Road,” but it’ll do.

See Bruce’s buddy light up the Hard Rock on Wednesday night.
Longtime Springsteen collaborator Joe Grushecky will play the Hard Rock Cafe in Station Square this Wednesday night — an occasion that certainly would’ve been filled to the rafters with speculation that Bruce might pop in late in the set. With Springsteen not in town, let’s not overlook the Jersey Sound bona fides of Grushecky and his mighty Houserockers; anyone who has listened to the Springsteen-produced album “American Babylon” knows that our local boy is a legend in his own right. Let’s show we don’t need the hint of a celebrity appearance to support a Pittsburgh icon.

Categories: Collier’s Weekly