For $2, your Northeast Ohio Video Hunter found pure joy at Goodwill last night. No, this has nothing to do with videos, broadcasting, electronics, or any of the crap I usually cover, but I’m a diehard Bruce Springsteen fan and it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want.
An old school Bruce Springtsteen carnival mirror prize! It sat, sad and alone, with the other miscellaneous goods that made up the “knick knacks” section, but this was so, so much better than candle holders and novelty statuettes. Generally, you’d win these things at, say it with me, carnivals, should you perform whatever feat a rigged game called for. There seem to be a few pin-prick holes in the graphics, so maybe it was won by throwing darts? That’s what my patented NEO Video Hunter deductive reasonin’ is telling me, at least.
This is clearly from the Brucemania days of the mid-1980’s; the red & white stripes and headband are dead giveaways this is Born In The U.S.A.-era Bruce. Not quite my favorite Springsteen period (that probably goes to the Darkness On The Edge Of Town and The River-eras of his career), but certainly his biggest. It’s impossible to overstate how huge Bruce Springsteen was in the mid-to-late-80’s; The Born In The U.S.A. album and tour were massive. Springsteen never had a wider audience, though this has had the unfortunate side-effect of creating a bunch of stuck-in-1984 fans that refuse to give anything else he’s done since a listen (seriously, during his 2012 Cleveland concert, some joker directly behind us bitched and moaned nearly the entire time because Bruce wasn’t playing songs he recognized. The only time he did shut up was when an older song he did know was played. If this clown would have shut his mouth for even a moment, maybe he would have realized what an amazing show Bruce was putting on. But, I digress).
Now, as far as I can ascertain, this is a carnival mirror prize, but it isn’t like most carnival mirror prizes I’ve seen online. Typically, carnival mirror prizes would feature an image over mirrored-glass (hence the term “mirror prize,” dig?), placed into a cheap, usually cardboard, frame. If you can peel your eyes away from the admittedly cluttered spot I decided to take this picture, you’ll see that my Bruce Springsteen thing lacks a frame proper. Rather, it’s under glass, which is duct taped to a piece of cardboard. Furthermore, the image (which isn’t mirrored in any way) doesn’t appear to be a part of the glass, but rather a plastic-graphic sandwiched in-between the glass and cardboard. So, while I’m thinking this was a carnival mirror prize, it may have been some other kinda-related promotional item. I seem to recall stands that had these pics hung on the back wall, and you could pick which one you wanted to be airbrushed onto a shirt. Maybe this comes from some guy making bootleg t-shirts outside of whatever venue Springsteen happened to be playing at? Whatever it was originally intended for, this was almost certainly not sanctioned by Springsteen or his management.
No doubt about it, this thing is cool. Yes, joy can be had for only two damn dollars.
(In the interest of full-disclosure, I would have had absolutely no clue what this might be if it weren’t for a helpful article on one of my very favorite sites, Dinosaur Dracula. The proprietor of that fine site wrote an article all about carnival mirror prizes, and it’s thanks to him that I even know to call them “carnival mirror prizes”. You can read that article here: http://dinosaurdracula.com/blog/carnival-mirror-prizes/ ).