The Boss Protocol

Goffredo Puccetti

December 2018

Francesca looked surprised. 
I had to explain:
— Look, we are going out this weekend so the apartment is empty, right? And this friend of mine is coming to Paris on his Moto Guzzi and he needs accommodation so I told him he could stay at our place.
— Ok, then, but who is he again?
— Massimo, I met him at the Moto Guzzi gathering at the Stelvio in July.
— Do you know him well? Is he someone we can trust, a nice person, I mean?
— Of course I know him well, very well! 
And then I think I paused for a while, as I realized that I barely knew Massimo.

I knew he had a Moto Guzzi. Good. A Moto Guzzi California. That’s very good.

But I suddenly realized that I only met him for a couple of hours in a bar full of motorcyclists, and that was months ago.

Still, here I was, ready to give him the keys of my apartment.

Why was I so sure I could trust him? Well, I think it was because of Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen in concert.

Photo credit: Goffredo Puccetti.

That was the main topic of my one and only conversation with Massimo. He loved rock (good), he loved Led Zeppelin (excellent) and he loved Bruce Springsteen (perfect). Now, I am not saying that it is a particularly intelligent thing to do, to let people in your house just on the basis of their musical tastes, but that is more or less what I did. And, when Springsteen is in the mix, that’s almost an infallible recipe for trust.

I am confident that there must be a considerable number of Springsteen fans who are actually very bad people (especially among those who praise Working on a Dream, never listened to Darkness on the Edge of Town, and refuse to admit that Devils & Dust is a pain in the neck), but I am still impressed by the number of long-lasting friendships that were sealed in my life because of a smile or a nod to some music in the background.

That’s what Springsteen means to me nowadays: it’s a test.

Again, most definitely not scientifically sound, arguably quite idiotic, but this “Boss Protocol” is something that I keep using from time to time. Kind of a compatibility test, you see: imagine we are at a party, and I’ll propose a toast to “‘tramps like us,” and you’ll see me scanning the room for the segue: “baby, we were born to run.”’

That’s what Springsteen means to me nowadays: it’s a test. I know beautiful people who put pineapple on their pizza and lovely human beings who happen to disagree with me on which one is the best TV series of all time (Fawlty Towers, obviously). Someone who is very dear to me never liked Frasier. Some of my best friends ride BMWs, and I’ll even add that I have excellent relations even with people who prefer Starbucks to Italian espresso. But the circle of friends to whom I relate when we discuss San Siro 1985 (Can you? Can you? Massimo was there, you see?) or what Nils did to the guitar part in “Youngstown” on the Reunion Tour …  well, that’s a more restricted club. You see, it’s not all the time, it’s not with everybody that I ask myself: Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?

Trailer for Springsteen on Broadway film.

Source: Netflix.

Time to end these notes. My dear reader, in case you have not been lucky enough to be a Springsteen fan, here my heartfelt and very Googleable wish for you:

Maybe you’ll be out there on that road somewhere
In some bus or train traveling along
In some motel room there’ll be a radio playing
And you’ll hear me sing this song.
Well, if you do, you’ll know I’m thinking of you and all the miles in-between
And I’m just calling one last time not to change your mind,
But just to say, I miss you baby, good luck, good-bye, Bobby Jean.

Goffredo Puccetti is Assistant Professor of the Practice of Visual Arts at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Springsteen on Broadway, shot during the singer’s sold-out run in New York, airs on Netflix starting December 16.