Poster Story: From the Laundry Room and Beyond!

springsteen darkness lounge

I was in Music World, a really cool record store in a mall in Meriden, CT. They used to carry lots of import LPs and 45s, so I could keep up with Bowie b-sides and the like.  It’s where I got the first few Sex Pistols singles with the picture sleeves.  They also had a huge section of cutout LPs for $1.99 and $2.99.  You could take a chance on things at that price, and that’s how I discovered things like “Hokey Pokey,” by Richard & Linda Thompson, and Brian Eno’s “Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy).”  It was so great to have a place like that, complete with chatty well-informed hipsters behind the register just 20 minutes from my house.

Get to the point Bill.  So one day in 1978 I was leaving the store when I noticed a cart full of rolled-up posters that were waiting to be hauled off to the dumpster by the mall staff.  They were all rolled up so that the image was on the inside, so all I saw was white rolls of paper.  Except that one of them curled up at the edge, so that I could see a few inches of…a pattern that looked familiar.  A wallpaper pattern.  I walked over and took a closer look.

Yep, it was a 4-foot by 4-foot promotional poster for the then-new Darkness On the Edge of Town LP.  Over the sound of my pounding heart, I heard myself ask if that stuff was trash, and if so could I take something.  They said go ahead so I grabbed the thing and headed for the car.

When I got home, I unfurled it and found that I’d brought home TWO copies of the poster.  I got on the phone to my friend Joe, who’d turned me on to Bruce years earlier, and offered him the spare copy.  I’ve moved who knows how many times since then, but everywhere I’ve called home has featured the Darkness poster on the wall.  The corners are filled with holes from all the tacks I’ve pushed through them, but I couldn’t care less.  It’s not as if I’m ever going to part with it.  Joe and I are still good friends, and his copy has followed him to all the places he’s lived too.

Bill Conlon

Bruce Darkness Poster

I also in 1978 acquired a similar large Darkness poster, about 3′ by 4′, soon after we moved into the house we still inhabit. I had it hung up prominently, but my wife, long before she became She’s the One, was fastidious to a fault. She quickly taught me not to leave a sock out, even in the bedroom. This was the first house for both of us and she had a well developed, and quite good, sense of tasteful decorating.

I was told the poster had to be moved to a less visible spot. I put it in the laundry room. I admit it dominated the laundry room. For about a month. One day I entered that room, an act which she also was teaching me to do with increasing frequency, and something seemed not quite right. The poster was gone. And not just from the laundry room. As it turns out, from the face of the earth.

This is still a sore point that comes up every once in a while. She admits she made a mistake, claiming she didn’t understand how a “poster” could mean so much to me.

The incident did give me license to put “anything” Bruce related in my office, without sanction, for the next 32 years. I doubt if she would have done something like that before we were married, but then, I hadn’t discovered Bruce until a few months after we were married.

Bill, if you die first, can I have your poster?

John Athens

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