The Late Movies: Springsteen's Last Stand

Philadelphia recently said goodbye to a beloved institution when the Wachovia Spectrum closed its doors forever on Halloween night. Before the 42-year-old arena's final event (a four-night stand by Pearl Jam), Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band set up shop at 3601 S Broad St. and bid farewell to the first arena they ever played (opening for Chicago in 1973) and one of the first ones they ever headlined (1976) with four shows spread over two weeks (the 13th, 14th, 19th and 20th). Here's the highlight reel.

Seaside Bar Song

The band kicked off their first night in town with "Seaside Bar Song," one of the best Springsteen songs to be left on the editing room floor (it was recorded in 1973 during the The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle sessions but left off the album).

When You Walk in the Room

The following week at Show #3, at my first show in the bunch, they opened with a cover of The Searchers' "When You Walk in the Room." Every other show I had seen on this tour started with the shotgun blast of Max Weinberg's "Badlands" drum fill, so I was a bit taken aback. Still a great song, though, and a hint at more wonderful covers to come.

I Wanna Marry You

During almost every Springsteen show, there's a point where Steven Van Zandt leads the band through an instrumental vamp while The Boss roams the stage collecting song request signs from the audience. One sign that Bruce pulled and showed to the audience on night #3 read, "Nellie, will you marry me?" With all eyes in the house on him, the guy who made the sign got down on one knee in the pit and presented Nellie with a ring. She said "yes," and Bruce was left wondering what do to because the other side of the sign read "Two Hearts," which the band had already played early in the show. "I Wanna Marry You" was the perfect song for the moment, and went off without a hitch, considering that the band hadn't played it together since 1981.

All Shook Up

I suppose the next best thing to seeing Elvis live is seeing an Elvis impersonator backed by the E Street Band. There was a guy in the pit decked out in late-era Elvis jumpsuit-and-cape glory, and Bruce was powerless to deny the King's request for a run through "All Shook Up." Bruce eventually pulls the guy up on stage and lets him take the mic, and Elvis basically steals the show from there.

Home Runs and Hungry Hearts

Allow me to jump back in time a little bit. While I wasn't able to go to all four of the final shows, I did get to see both dates at the Spectrum way back in in April, which were supposed to be the last Springsteen shows at the time. I'm happy to have squeezed a few more shows in at the arena, but April's concerts would have been worthy finales. Not only did Bruce dedicate "Thunder Road" to recently departed Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas and summon Harry's voice for a great intro...

...he also dove into the audience so his mom could join him in singing "Hungry Heart."

Now (jumping forward in time again) if you're familiar with 80s music videos and Springsteenian tradition, you know that in the Brian DePalma-directed video for "Dancing in the Dark," Springsteen pulls a young Courteney Cox onto the stage and dances with her, and he usually brings a young female fan onstage for a dance when the band plays the song on tour. Of course, at the last Spectrum show, everyone is wondering who's going to get the last dance in this holy house. Well guess what? That Mrs. Springsteen sure knows how to cut a rug.

Spirit in the Night

Towards the end of show #4, Bruce pulled out all the stops. Original E Street drummer Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez joined the band for "Spirit in the Night." The highlight of the song is arguably the smile on the kid whose hat got borrowed (and miraculously returned) by Bruce.

Higher and Higher

This was it. The highlight of the show. The highlight of all four shows (I didn't even need to see the first two). The highlight of the tour. The finest E Street moment, one could argue, since they reunited 10 years ago. Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher" (the very song that brought the Statue of Liberty to life in Ghostbusters II and helped save New York City). After a minute of tinkering, the band works out the main parts and runs with it for almost 10 minutes of key-changing, hand-clapping sing-along joy, and Philadelphia is a better place for it.

And then Spectrum said goodnight...

See Also: '60 Springsteen Facts for Bruce's 60th Birthday'

Big Questions
Why Does Turkey Make You Tired?

Why do people have such a hard time staying awake after Thanksgiving dinner? Most people blame tryptophan, but that's not really the main culprit. And what is tryptophan, anyway?

Tryptophan is an amino acid that the body uses in the processes of making vitamin B3 and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. It can't be produced by our bodies, so we need to get it through our diet. From which foods, exactly? Turkey, of course, but also other meats, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, dairy products, eggs, chickpeas, peanuts, and a slew of other foods. Some of these foods, like cheddar cheese, have more tryptophan per gram than turkey. Tryptophan doesn't have much of an impact unless it's taken on an empty stomach and in an amount larger than what we're getting from our drumstick. So why does turkey get the rap as a one-way ticket to a nap?

The urge to snooze is more the fault of the average Thanksgiving meal and all the food and booze that go with it. Here are a few things that play into the nap factor:

Fats: That turkey skin is delicious, but fats take a lot of energy to digest, so the body redirects blood to the digestive system. Reduced blood flow in the rest of the body means reduced energy.

Alcohol: What Homer Simpson called the cause of—and solution to—all of life's problems is also a central nervous system depressant.

Overeating: Same deal as fats. It takes a lot of energy to digest a big feast (the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3000 calories and 229 grams of fat), so blood is sent to the digestive process system, leaving the brain a little tired.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at

More Details Emerge About 'Oumuamua, Earth's First-Recorded Interstellar Visitor

In October, scientists using the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope sighted something extraordinary: Earth's first confirmed interstellar visitor. Originally called A/2017 U1, the once-mysterious object has a new name—'Oumuamua, according to Scientific American—and researchers continue to learn more about its physical properties. Now, a team from the University of Hawaii's Institute of Astronomy has published a detailed report of what they know so far in Nature.

Fittingly, "'Oumuamua" is Hawaiian for "a messenger from afar arriving first." 'Oumuamua's astronomical designation is 1I/2017 U1. The "I" in 1I/2017 stands for "interstellar." Until now, objects similar to 'Oumuamua were always given "C" and "A" names, which stand for either comet or asteroid. New observations have researchers concluding that 'Oumuamua is unusual for more than its far-flung origins.

It's a cigar-shaped object 10 times longer than it is wide, stretching to a half-mile long. It's also reddish in color, and is similar in some ways to some asteroids in own solar system, the BBC reports. But it's much faster, zipping through our system, and has a totally different orbit from any of those objects.

After initial indecision about whether the object was a comet or an asteroid, the researchers now believe it's an asteroid. Long ago, it might have hurtled from an unknown star system into our own.

'Oumuamua may provide astronomers with new insights into how stars and planets form. The 750,000 asteroids we know of are leftovers from the formation of our solar system, trapped by the Sun's gravity. But what if, billions of years ago, other objects escaped? 'Oumuamua shows us that it's possible; perhaps there are bits and pieces from the early years of our solar system currently visiting other stars.

The researchers say it's surprising that 'Oumuamua is an asteroid instead of a comet, given that in the Oort Cloud—an icy bubble of debris thought to surround our solar system—comets are predicted to outnumber asteroids 200 to 1 and perhaps even as high as 10,000 to 1. If our own solar system is any indication, it's more likely that a comet would take off before an asteroid would.

So where did 'Oumuamua come from? That's still unknown. It's possible it could've been bumped into our realm by a close encounter with a planet—either a smaller, nearby one, or a larger, farther one. If that's the case, the planet remains to be discovered. They believe it's more likely that 'Oumuamua was ejected from a young stellar system, location unknown. And yet, they write, "the possibility that 'Oumuamua has been orbiting the galaxy for billions of years cannot be ruled out."

As for where it's headed, The Atlantic's Marina Koren notes, "It will pass the orbit of Jupiter next May, then Neptune in 2022, and Pluto in 2024. By 2025, it will coast beyond the outer edge of the Kuiper Belt, a field of icy and rocky objects."

Last week, University of Wisconsin–Madison astronomer Ralf Kotulla and scientists from UCLA and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) used the WIYN Telescope on Kitt Peak, Arizona, to take some of the first pictures of 'Oumuamua. You can check them out below.

Images of an interloper from beyond the solar system — an asteroid or a comet — were captured on Oct. 27 by the 3.5-meter WIYN Telescope on Kitt Peak, Ariz.
Images of 'Oumuamua—an asteroid or a comet—were captured on October 27.

U1 spotted whizzing through the Solar System in images taken with the WIYN telescope. The faint streaks are background stars. The green circles highlight the position of U1 in each image. In these images U1 is about 10 million times fainter than the faint
The green circles highlight the position of U1 in each image against faint streaks of background stars. In these images, U1 is about 10 million times fainter than the faintest visible stars.
R. Kotulla (University of Wisconsin) & WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Color image of U1, compiled from observations taken through filters centered at 4750A, 6250A, and 7500A.
Color image of U1.
R. Kotulla (University of Wisconsin) & WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Editor's note: This story has been updated.


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