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Willie and Bob go to Brockton?

This Sunday night, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson will perform together at Campanelli Stadium, in Brockton. Brockton! My hometown! The place I fled when I was 17! The city where tough girls gave blowjobs for 75 cents apiece in the public-school bathrooms back in 1992! Bob and Willie ó live in Brockton!

If you grew up in Boston or San Francisco or even a nondescript suburb with functioning traffic lights and fewer than 50 boarded-up buildings, Mr. Tambourine Man and His Band rambling into your hometown wouldnít be such a monumental occasion. But Brockton isnít exactly the Hamptons; nor is it even as pleasant as Worcester. Itís a city where headlines like MAN SHOOTS GIRLFRIEND, THEN SELF arenít rarities (Associated Press, July 8) and where my old junior high was under investigation for possible involvement in a prostitution ring last month (Boston Herald, June 2). And for the most part, the place is a cultural void: last year, mixed-media artist Matthew Ritchie used the Brockton Holiday Inn as a muse for his first major solo show at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston ó the Boston University grad said the motel was one of the blandest structures heíd ever seen.

Brocktonís claims to fame include heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano ("The Brockton Blockbuster"), middleweight extraordinaire/wife beater Marvelous Marvin Hagler, baseball-glove inventor William H. McGunnigle, and a guy from NBCís Average Joe: Hawaii. But few famous people come through the municipality. Even the Boston Bruins wouldnít send their marquee names; the only hockey player I remember signing autographs at Brocktonís Westgate Mall ó by the customer-service desk at Bradlees, no less ó was a fourth-line defenseman imported from Czechoslovakia whose name sounded like a coughed-up loogie. Once, a mulleted, preĖFull House John Stamos appeared at Westgate, and my older brother swears he saw the Ramones at Brockton High School in the í70s. But when I was growing up, there was enough trouble staffing the local Friendlyís, never mind attracting stars.

So to me, itís pretty weird that Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson will be at Campanelli Stadium on Sunday. Sure, the B-52ís just played there last Thursday with the Scissor Sisters. And yes, Bill Murray owns the Brockton Rox, the minor-league team based at the stadium, which more than likely explains why all these acts are booked in an industrial city 45 minutes south of Boston. (Which is really bizarre, too.) But itís still Bob Dylan. And itís still ... Brockton.

Issue Date: August 6 - 12, 2004
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