Every few months, a stranger approaches me on the golf course to discuss something I’ve written. This makes me anxious, because (a) these folks typically disagree with the column in question and (b) I’m usually about to miss a 5-foot putt I need to make par.
These moments always make me glad that I am in no way famous. Because fame, especially today, seems like one of the worst afflictions imaginable.
Take, for example, the week Bruce Springsteen just had.
On Super Bowl Sunday, The Boss was riding high, the star of a new Jeep commercial entitled “The Middle,” which aired to massive acclaim.
Personally, I found the TV spot weirdly hypocritical: Springsteen, who’s politically as left as a hooked six-iron, had spent most of the past four years viciously attacking President Donald Trump. So, Jeep chose him to hawk SUVs by inviting America to reunite as a country?
“All are more than welcome to come meet here in the middle,” was the ad’s basic message.
Then came Feb. 10, when news broke that Springsteen had been charged with drunken driving in his home state of New Jersey. Suddenly, Bruce was in the middle — of a complete cluster.
The New York Times wrote several hundred words about Springsteen’s arrest. It made headlines and newscasts around the globe. By afternoon, Jeep had pulled the TV spot off the internet, saying: “it’s … right that we pause our big game commercial until the actual facts can be established.”
Speaking of the actual facts, we’ll find those out should Springsteen’s case reach trial. But what’s out in the public domain thus far underscores how lousy fame is.
According to a spokesman for the National Park Service, Springsteen was arrested on Nov. 14 in the Gateway National Recreation Area near Sandy Hook along the Jersey Shore. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area.
“Springsteen was cooperative throughout the process,” according to the NPS statement.
My first take was, wow, Bruce must have been pretty wasted to rack up three counts like that. You have to figure — and I’m not saying this is a good thing — that a celebrity like Springsteen, a guy who’s a god in Jersey, Mr. Born To Run, must get kid glove treatment when he does something wrong.
Apparently not so here.
Thursday, the Asbury Park Press reported Springsteen’s blood alcohol level at arrest was .02, or one-quarter of Jersey’s legal limit. Of course, that’s “according to a source familiar with the case.”
That source could be a cop or clerk with access to the incident report. Or it could be Springsteen’s PR machine spinning the narrative favorably.
Or it might be a music industry pal, like “the source close to Springsteen” who chatted with the New York Post Feb. 11. In that version of events, Springsteen was riding his motorcycle when he was spotted by fans.
“Bruce stopped, took ... pictures, then a fan offered him a shot of liquor, which he took while sitting on his bike, which was stationary,” the source told the Post. “Park Police saw what happened and they immediately pulled Springsteen over as he drove away.”
Therein lies the price of fame. Free drinks are few and far between for we mere mortals.
Then again, if we do get pulled over and fail to walk the line or we blow a .02, it doesn’t make news worldwide. No one puts out a press release. And our friends don’t abandon us like Jeep leaving the scene of Springsteen’s possible noncrime.
You’ve heard the saying before, I’m sure. In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. Feel free to have my time. I’ll pass.