Springsteen Drops in for Kerry Rally?and a Beer

Los Angeles Times, 2004-10-28, by: Matea Gold
The residents of 508 West Washington Ave. were already psyched when they realized that a massive rally with Sen. John F. Kerry and Bruce Springsteen would take place on their street this afternoon.

When the rock star's trailer parked right in front of their house, Danya Bader-Natal ? one of the seven University of Wisconsin seniors who live in the gray wooden house-scrawled a message in green marker on a flattened box and hung it from their second-story balcony: "Bruce come up for a beer."

"We thought he might see it and laugh, but we definitely didn't think he'd actually come over," said roommate Vivian Intermont.

On his way back to his trailer after playing a short set before a crowd of 80,000 people, the singer pointed at the sign with a grin. And, much to their shock, he took the students up on their invitation.

Along with his wife, Patti Scialfa, Springsteen clambered up the stairs, tripping over a jumble of computer cords stretched across a doorway, and joined the roommates and their friends on a balcony cluttered with beach chairs and boxes of artichoke pizza. The stunned students handed the rock legend a bottle of Capital Amber and for the next 20 minutes, he hung out with them as the Democratic candidate spoke on stage down the street.

"We were trying not to act too star-struck," said Jen Garfield, a creative writing and environmental studies major from Chicago.

"I didn't know who to look at: The Boss or Kerry," said Erin Prendergast, a forest management major from Milwaukee.

Springsteen spent most of the time leaning on the balcony railing, listening intently to Kerry's speech, but before he departed, he posed for photos and signed several "Kerry-Edwards" signs.

"I'm going to remember this the rest of my life," swore Emily Fischer, 21, who had just finished a French test on campus when she heard about the surprise guest. She ran all the way back, and caught the last five minutes of his visit.

The roommates, all devout Kerry supporters, insisted that their encounter with Springsteen did not let them lose sight of the day's broader message.

"This is really for Kerry," Garfield said. "This is for politics, and this is to take our country back."

And while they professed admiration for the Boss, the college seniors are not exactly the rock star's most fervent fans. When asked to name their favorite Springsteen song, the young women looked at each other blankly and dissolved into embarrassed laughter.

Finally, Prendergast saved the day. "Well, everybody knows, 'Born, in the U-S-A," she began singing.

"He's like a wise old guy that our parents listen to," Intermont added. "I called my mom already. She was like, 'I don't believe it!'"

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2004-10-28 West Washington Avenue, Madison, WI