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"As a performer, I understand it takes a picture of me with the Pope or a president to get debt cancellation onto the front pages. Otherwise it's just too obscure a melody line." — Bono

atu2.com

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SPOILER: This is a TL;DR kind of column. As it’s my last column for atu2, I hope you’ll indulge me. Thanks in advance. Also, to answer everyone’s key question: we are in excellent standing with the band, band management, band record label, other fan websites and other entities FULL STOP. The shuttering of atu2.com is not a result of any bad relationships with anyone, any demanding or forcing an ultimatum. It was a deeply personal decision by the site’s owner and nothing more than that.

For a quarter century, atu2.com has provided U2 fans, academics, music industry professionals and the occasional business executive with commentary, analysis, humor and history centered on four men hailing from Dublin who make music that changes the world. I am proud our site provided such a rich and robust historical record for enthusiasts and educators alike. I am proud it supported an energetic and engaged community, especially in our forum. I am especially proud of the fact that we all volunteered our time to do so.

As you know, atu2.com is a volunteer-driven fan site. It started out as a hobby and still is one as we wind down the site. Matt McGee started his U2 fan site 25 years ago, which morphed into atu2. We all chose to volunteer here out of a love for U2 and to have fun with friends. Many of us expressed our fandom through our work on atu2. In total, over 90 – yes, over 90! – people volunteered their time and talents to provide content on the website:

Beth Austin / Xavi Balart / Kellam Barta / Brian Betteridge / Gary Boas / Fernanda Bottini / Lisa K. Brown / Scott Calhoun / Mike Camp / Teresa Cook / Laura Coutinho / John Cropp / Michael Cummins / PJ DeGenaro / Kevin Dolph / Keir DuBois / Kelly Eddington / Scott Ellinwood / Christopher Endrinal / Chris Enns / Kelly Eskridge / Suzannah Evans / Braden Farmer / Nicole Ferguson / Carol Foster / Maddy Fry / Eric Gifford / Aaron Govern / Jessica Guadiana / Jessica Hartzfeld / Joe Hebert / Arlan Hess / Thomas Humphreys / Jessica Hurwitz / Kevin Hutchinson / Kenny Irwin / Matt Jaeky / Chris Jenkins / Kerry Jones / Tassoula E. Kokkoris / Steve Lawrence / Karen Lindell / Peter Longworth / Marylinn Maione / Jill Marino / Ben McCarty / Allie McClaskey / Alan McConnach / Matt McGee / Liseth Meijer / Mason Merritt / Jeff Muir / Donal Murphy / Becky Myers / Tim Neufeld / Arienh O'Connor / John Osborn / Laura Page / Robert Palacios / Angela Pancella / Stephane Pancrazi / Iidaliisa Partanen / Scott Perretta / Ross Perry / Jason Peterson / Amy Pflughaupt / Anna Roberts / Jamie Rodriguez / Drew Rogers / Phil Romans / Brad Rose / Ian Ryan / Aaron J. Sams / Mariana Santana / Jacki Saunders / Todd Shimizu / Collin Souter / Sabina Sulat / Jennifer Tomooka / Khoa Tran / John Tuohy / Marty Venturo / Wendy Vissers / Michelle Watson / Rashas Weber / Jo Whitby / David Whitt / Geoff Wilson / Lisa Zeitlinger / (Forgive me if I missed someone – my sincere apologies.)

Each of these fabulous individuals contributed to a legacy that informed, educated and shaped the U2 fan experience for a generation. I still cannot grasp the idea that our work here shifted the relationship between a global fan base and the band. When you’re in the forest, sometimes you don’t notice the trees. Just recently someone pointed out the immense impact this site has had through the collective effort of the team as it connected fans through both discourse and disco – the message and music. One of the earliest U2 album advertisements featured at the Little Museum of Dublin said “U2 is making people very talkative,” and I believe we exemplified that statement. To all who have given so bigheartedly to atu2.com, THANK YOU!

I would also like to thank the countless readers who generously donated to our site to defray the costs of running the site. Your support allowed us to remain online for as long as we did. We could not have lasted 25 years without you.

One of my favorite roles here on staff is being the official “Party Girl,” and as the hostess with the mostest, I found such joy seeing everyone attend our various parties over the years. From the “Bomb Squad” of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb listening parties, to pre-tour get-togethers ahead of opening nights, and our infamous 10th and 20th birthday celebrations, we were able to offer a fun night out to reconnect with friends and debate each other about the band. To all the bands who played our events, we are grateful to you for donating so much of your time and services. I also want to point out that almost every event we held raised money for the African Well Fund. Because of generous atu2 readers, we donated more than $10,000 to the African Well Fund over the years at our events. Thousands of people have access to clean water thanks to you all. That is another legacy to be proud of.

I think this is probably the best time to finally clarify a couple of myths about the site:

1) Matt and I have never – and will never – be married to each other. His lovely wife Cari will make sure of that, as well as my patient husband Steve. Matt is my brother from another mother, and I am his sister from another mister. We met through Wire back in the mid-1990s while I was finishing my journalism degree in college. We hung out with other U2 friends in Las Vegas for the start of the PopMart tour, and then he asked me if I’d like to put my journalism degree to use for the site. I figured, “I’ve got nothing else better to do. Sure!” That’s how I began volunteering my time here.

2) About that 20th Birthday Party - during the Vertigo Tour’s third leg, I handed out invitations to U2’s road crew for our 10th birthday party in Portland. I managed to even give one personally to Paul McGuinness and had a lovely chat about it with him. Fast-forward 10 years and I remained persistent. I did send a short note to band management with the invitation after Bono said the band was available to play weddings and bar mitzvahs. One thing led to another, yadda yadda yadda, and suddenly we were gifted with an unbelievable memory and a story for the ages. I am grateful to all who made it happen, as well as overjoyed so many could be there to experience the memory of a lifetime.

Many of you have expressed disappointment and dismay about the winding down of atu2. I would like to point to what R.E.M. did in 2011 in “deciding to call it a day.” This has been a hobby Matt maintained for over a quarter century, and even when he stepped back a little over a year ago, he let us stay in the sandbox a little longer. He mentioned in his announcement that this has been a difficult year, and it certainly has for many of us in a variety of ways. We are grateful for the tremendous outpouring of well wishes from around the globe over the past few days. We recognize that we have been your go-to destination for information and community, and it has been an honor to hold that place in your browser for as long as we have.

Although atu2 will be going away, plenty of other fan sites are available with outstanding content and fan connection. Our friends over at U2songs.com, U2Tour.de, U2gigs.comU2BR.com, U2Start.com, U2Place.com, U2Valencia.com, U2Australia.net, u2.se and U2EastLink.com are just a handful of awesome sites run by fans who also volunteer their time out of love for the band and the fan community. As Matt said in his announcement, some of our content will live elsewhere as well, so bookmark U2Conference.com and AchtoonBaby.com.

In the next couple of weeks, we will deliver some podcasts with staff members’ favorite memories of their time here, so be on the lookout for that as well.

On a very personal note, my 20-plus years here have been two of the best decades I could ask for. I have lifelong friends because of this site (staffers and folks met at our events). I got married and had two children while on staff here. I’ve covered everything from Mortgage Bankers Association and Salesforce conferences (how very rock ‘n’ roll, huh?), to band performances at beach houses, theaters, stadiums and everything in between. I’ve tried to serve as an advocate on behalf of the fan community on many occasions, which sometimes got me into a heap of trouble. Through it all, I hope my work here has fairly represented the fan experience. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the fan community through atu2. You'll be able to find me on Twitter through my @U2isABLE handle once the site goes dark, and I'll be over in Zootopia sharing some thoughts as a casual fan.

Finally, a huge thank you to U2 and their management for everything over these many years. To Martin and Sebastian especially - I would like to say a special thanks as I know we kept you on your toes more than you would have liked, so thank you.

I don’t see this as a goodbye; I see this as a ‘til next time.

(c) Lawrence / @U2, 2020

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