"The Fly is Blues and Gospel, Heaven and Hell. The Fly can see both sides but he isn't quite sure which one he's on."
Buzz Outdraws Bono at Disneyland
April 26, 2001
This is a story about one of the most surreal moments of my life.
I skipped the 3rd Anaheim show tonight because the missus and I wanted to take Sean, our 3-year-old son, to Disneyland. This will probably be our last visit to SoCal for some time, and between all the other family and friend commitments, Disneyland was a today-or-never proposition. (There was no vote. It happens today.)
After a late lunch at Redd Rockets Pizza Port in Tomorrowland, Sean was ready for an afternoon nap. My wife wanted to go on Space Mountain, and the rest of our party had things they wanted to see, too. I volunteered to push the rent-a-stroller around the park until Sean fell asleep. He did almost immediately after we all separated, so it was just me walking slowly, pushing the stroller, when who do I see before my very own eyes?: Bono, Ali, the kids, a nanny, and 2 other adults in their party. Bono is literally walking into Tomorrowland as if he were your average Paul Hewson from Placentia (town in Orange County). I suspect that no one in the melting pot that is a Disneyland crowd had a clue who he was. And why should they? He was dressed in olive, army-style, khaki pants, a black and yellow shirt, and the same black shoes he wears during the show. Hardly the stuff of rock star day wear! Ali, it should be noted, looked as winsome as ever, but also appeared just as frazzled as any other expectant Mom would look while toting three kids -- four if you count Bono -- around Disneyland all day.
My first thought: "Holy shit, that's Bono. At Disneyland."
Second thought: "What the @#!$% are they doing here on a show day?" And I couldn't help but recall the conversation from Tuesday in the GA line where I took a little friendly ribbing for skipping the 3rd concert in favor of Disneyland, then suggested that if I was smart, I would've gone to Disneyland on the band's off-day since that's probably where Bono and Edge would take their families.
Third thought: "I guess I was off by a day."
So with time to kill while the rest of my party was off doing their own stuff, I let curiosity get the best of me and followed about 20 yards behind the Hewson family as they headed toward the same Pizza Port where we had just finished eating. I never had the urge to go in again -- that seemed like it would be crossing some line.
Sudden thought: "Shit, I'm wearing an @U2 T-shirt. This is going to be way too noticeable."
So I decided to go back to what I was doing before, heading out of Tomorrowland while Sean catches some zzzzzzzzs. That plan was screwed up immediately when the entire Hewson contingent, plus a Disneyland employee who appeared to be serving as a guide -- who was not present before -- walked right past me. (I guess they didn't like the idea of spending $4.99 on a slice of pizza.) Bono was looking the other way, speaking with the "guide." Ali actually looked at my T-shirt and then at me as the entire group coasted right on by. (Mind you, I was walking/pushing *very* slowly to aide in the napping process.)
Latest thought: "This is too @#!$% bizarre for words."
Bono had passed close enough to reach out and tap him, but I'm kinda pleased that I resisted the urge. It's the age-old fan debate -- do you interrupt during a family moment? Maybe if it were just Bono and Ali, I would have. But not with the kids. Couldn't do it.
I continued on my path out of Tomorrowland, and I'm sure I instinctively started walking/pushing at a greater pace. It was pretty obvious my path was the same as Clan Bono. I took a photo of Bono from behind, figuring I'd need some proof for the rest of my group to believe a single word of what I'd be telling them when we all met up later in the day. (But I only had one photo left on the current roll of film -- and no extra rolls -- and those pix often don't get printed. Ugh.)
As the Hewsons left Tomorrowland, again about 20 yards ahead of me like before, this scene played out: Some guy earning a mediocre hourly wage in a Buzz Lightyear suit on the right signing autographs for and taking pictures with 20-25 fans, at least 75% of whom were in their teens or older. Bono, arguably the world's greatest rock star and certainly one of the richest, walking by completely unnoticed on the left, surrounded by no one. I wish I had a video camera to save this for all-time posterity: Buzz outdraws Bono! Film at 11!
I let myself fall even further behind the family, but continued in the same direction all the way to the front of the park. I watched as they walked out the main exit, still unnoticed by anyone inside or out. Amazing. It occurred to me that they must really enjoy being able to do something like this without being noticed and/or approached.
I looked at my watch. 2:45 p.m. Sound check at the Pond just around the corner. At least Bono was likely to draw a crowd there! Meanwhile, I headed back toward the main park. When Sean finally woke up, we got Buzz Lightyear to pose for a picture with him. Guess I picked the right day at Disneyland after all.
© @U2/McGee, 2001. All rights reserved.