Wisconsin Students Share a Brew With the Boss at Kerry Rally

Times Staff Writer

The residents of 508 W. Washington Ave. were already pretty psyched when they realized that a massive rally with Sen. John F. Kerry and Bruce Springsteen would take place on their street Thursday afternoon.

When the rock star’s trailer parked in front of their house, 21-year-old 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.”

On his way back to his trailer after playing a short set for 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.


Springsteen and his wife, Patti Scialfa, 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 Kerry spoke onstage 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,” added 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,” said 21-year-old Emily Fischer, who had just finished a French test on campus when she called home and heard about the surprise guest. She ran back, and caught the last five minutes of his visit.

The roommates, all devout Kerry supporters, said 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 though 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,” roommate Vivian Intermont added. “I called my mom already. She was like, ‘I don’t believe it!’ ”