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"But it wasn't the songs that were the attraction. It was the energy and commitment to performance that were fantastic even then. Bono would run around looking for people to meet his eyes." — Paul McGuinness, on U2's early days

Subscriber Gifts: An Immodest Proposal



It’s hard out here for a U2 fan. We are ever on the defensive. When new people come into our lives, we must endure with good humor the inevitable “What music do you like?” question. We must say things like, “No, they are not the guys who did ‘When I Ruled The World,’” and, “Yeah, but if you make a mistake using a delay pedal, the mistake will just keep repeating, so you actually have to be really good,” while shoving our brains back into our skulls with our bare hands.

Do U2 appreciate what we do for them? Hard to say. They seem to assume we’ll re-subscribe to U2.com every year—because hope springs eternal in the human heart—and we don’t want to be caught without presale codes.

And they send us gifts. Oh, the gifts. Posters that have to be custom-framed at great expense. Vinyl for people who don’t have record players. DVDs for people who only want Blu-ray. CDs for people who do have record players. And now? In the Year of Our Edge 2020? Another DVD!

Seriously, are U2 huddled in a thatched cottage somewhere on the Dingle Peninsula, warming themselves over a peat fire? Who on earth do they think they’re dealing with? It’s not 2016 anymore. We want that Berlin show downloaded directly into our brains. Bono is friends with both Bill Gates and Tim Cook. Surely they can make this happen!

But because I have no doubt whatsoever that U2 will actually read this, I’m going to make a suggestion of my own: hey guys, why not have different levels of subscriber gifts for different levels of fans? It’ll be easy!

Behold these fresh, bold concepts:

Premium-Level Gifts, for the Fan Who Has Everything:

Option 1: Your favorite movie, lovingly recreated for Blu-ray, DVD, VHS, Betamax, LaserDisc and all available streaming services (because of course you have access to them!) starring actual members of U2. Totally rad facial de-aging technology available upon request. You can choose who plays which character!* Selections include, but are not limited to:

The Irishman (obviously)
Star Wars: A New Hope
A Clockwork Orange
A Hard Day’s Night
Little Women (*Amy will be played by Larry)

Option 2: A high-quality audiobook, which Bono has recorded whilst reclining on a sumptuous rug beside a roaring fire in a storm-swept castle. Selections include, but are not limited to:

James Joyce’s Ulysses
The Collected Poems Of William Butler Yeats
20 Love Poems And A Song Of Despair by Pablo Neruda
Fanny Hill: Memoirs Of A Woman of Pleasure
Call Me By Your Name
The restaurant take-out menu of your choice
Any individual volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica

Option 3: For fans who prefer more traditional gifts: a “You Rock” gift basket from Harry & David®, featuring chocolate-covered cherries, raspberry galettes, baklava, and a reusable chalkboard bearing the message “You Rock!”, hand-delivered to your home or office by the entire band. (The band is not required to interact with you once the basket is in your possession, though Adam will smile).

Secondary Level Gifts (for the economy-minded fan):

Option 1: Custom-blended “It’s A Religious Experience!™” U2 Show Incense. Developed by a team of clergy, chemists and members of U2’s crew, this incense recreates the holy aroma of spilled beer, skunky weed, and the sweat of the guy you were stuck next to in the GA lineup all day (incense wafter and sticky arena floor not included).

Option 2: For those who prefer to stay home and complain about the setlists: enjoy a Periscope-quality download of the Joshua Tree 2017 show of your choice, dominated by the cheerfully off-key singing of a fan who always adds a “THREE hundred!—whoops” to “Bullet The Blue Sky.”

Option 3: Finally, for a mere $10 and the remote possibility of a second-day presale code, you can own a 4.5-inch chunk of an eXPERIENCE+iNNOCENCE rail that you could never have hoped to touch when in use. Choice of main stage or e-stage. Both come fully loaded with Jet-Set Fan DNA, and make great paperweights!

Thanks for for reading, U2! Should any of these gift ideas strike a chord with you, please feel free to contact me directly so we can discuss intellectual property concerns, compensation, etc.

One last thought, just for the fans: not to get “political,” but if the format of this year’s gift is really an inconvenience for you, consider enriching the patrons of your local public library with a donation of your unusable DVDs. People in my city borrow armloads of them every weekend.

(Thanks to Brad Rose for the fabulously grumpy Astrobaby graphic.)

©@U2/DeGenaro, 2020