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"It's about the right to begin again. The right to be free of your past. That's grace. So, yes, you can write lyrics about debt relief."

-- Bono

@U2 home page

Column: off the record..., vol. 1-1

@U2, September 02, 2001
By: Matt McGee with Answer Guy


Welcome to the inaugural edition of off the record..., @U2's new column which will appear on the site on a regular basis. What will the column be about, you ask? Not sure myself, but the idea is to have a place to share news, rumors, thoughts, comments, and ideas that just don't seem to fit anywhere else on this 80MB monster we call @U2. It's also where we're introducing you to the Answer Guy. "AG," as he's become known around the home office, promises to find answers to those U2-related questions you've always been afraid to ask. Got a question for the Answer Guy? Email him today!

Off with the horns, on with the show...

Bob Hewson's funeral generated more than few emails to @U2, as well as plenty of discussion on fan mailing lists such as Wire and Exit. A lot of the discussion was about the appropriateness of the wire service photos which showed Bono, Larry, and the other pallbearers carrying the coffin out of church after the funeral Mass. I understand and respect the opinions of those who found those photos appalling, and had those photos never seen the light of day I wouldn't have raised an eyebrow. But to accuse the media of overstepping the boundaries of decency and good taste is taking the argument too far.

Bono sang several months ago at the funeral of the artist Balthus. Photos of Bono at the funeral, as well as other photos of the funeral itself, appeared on wire services. Photos from Paula Yates' funeral last year were also distributed across the wire services, including one of Bono (and Ali, if I remember right). Same with photos from Michael Hutchence's funeral back in '97 -- lots of photos on the wire services. Funerals have been covered as news for a long time; this isn't something new.

Bono is an extremely public figure. He appears with Presidents, Popes, Premieres, and every other kind of statesman. He speaks at the U.N., he speaks at the G8, he gets profiled by CNN, interviewed by Fox News, BBC, etc. And he happens to be the most visible member of the most visible rock band in the world right now -- the rock band that was about to play what is likely the most visible concert in the world this year, covered by more media than any other concert of 2001, on the day after the funeral.

When the father of that singer dies, and when the funeral happens the day before that concert, and when the singer and the band serve as pallbearers, it's news. As best I can tell, the media did what they were allowed to do: stay outside the church and do their job. Can't see how there's anything wrong with that.

Our friends at have recently posted an article detailing dates for the 3rd leg of the Elevation Tour. Count on these dates being very accurate, as they match very closely with rumored and tentative dates we've seen and heard about over the past couple months. But don't book your flights and hotel rooms just yet. Back in January we received a list of the 1st leg dates about a day in advance of the official announcement. That list (which admittedly could have been a couple days old) included a show in St. Louis. The official list of tour dates that published on the day had no show in Saint Louis, leading me to suspect that the show was dropped at practically the last minute. So nothing's official until it's official. Mark your calendars for next Tuesday, September 11th. That's when we'll see the official 3rd leg dates.

My favorite paragraph from all of the recent concert reviews appeared in the Financial Times on August 23rd. Peter Aspden wrote this in a review titled "Teetering on the edge of ponderous":

There is a simple reason that U2 can make the casually patronising claim that they are "reapplying" to be the best band in the world: they know that they can wring more emotion from a five-minute song than most rock acts can manage in a whole tour's-worth of tantrums and tribulations. In truth, they have no rivals and they know it.

Looks like we have the MTV Video Music Awards right around the corner. I'm figuring U2 will perform "Stuck in a Moment" during the show since that's the just-released U.S. single. But as loud and up-tempo as the MTV awards show is, I can't help but wonder if they'll do something to liven the song up a little bit. I have no idea what it could be, but I remember back in the early '90s when R.E.M. performed a medley of their then-current single, the tortoise-like "Everybody Hurts," with the more up-tempo rock of "Drive." And even though I have seen exactly three music videos over the past 12 months ("Beautiful Day," "Elevation" and that Lady Marmalade thing), I'm figuring "Elevation" has to pick up at least 1-2 awards. Surely the competing videos in those categories don't all have giraffes, do they?

That's all for me. See ya next time. Now batting: the Answer Guy.

I want to make you a question: Has there ever been a U2 member with the name of Patrick Smith? At least, I don't remember any other former member than Dick, Edge's brother.

I'm from Mexico and there's a guy named Patrick Smith who claims to be a former guitarist for U2 and has a band called DBS or something like that. Do you know anything about this guy? I'd be glad to know. Thanks a lot.

-- Donald

Dear Donald:

I want to make you an answer: To the best of Answer Guy's recollection, Patrick Smith has never been an official member of U2. In the late '60s, however, he was thought to be both the eighth Beatle and the twenty-ninth member of Santana. Reports of him being a member of Simon and Garfunkel and Smith were never substantiated.

I love getting your newsletter. I can't wait to check my mail every morning to see what's going on in U2's side of the world. It's amazing how "up to the hour" your news comes in. I always know what's going on, never a dull moment. Thanks guys! Keep up the great work!

I'm wondering, do you know what Bono's approximate IQ is? I've read that Bono said that The Edge has an incredibly high IQ. I don't know if Bono has ever disclosed his IQ, or an approximation of it.

-- Mary

Dear Mary:

We love writing our newsletter. We've been called "up to the minute" but we'll also accept "up to the hour".

Your question about Bono's approximate IQ is a sticky one. Answer Guy has in his hands an advance copy of the forthcoming Simon and Schuster book by author Dr. Meredith Bishop entitled Noggin: Your Head Is Big, But Is There a Brain In It?: A Neurologist's Guide to Famous People and Their IQs. As you would expect, the members of U2 have an extensive entry.

As you stated in your letter, according to Bono, Mr. the Edge has an incredibly high IQ. Dr. Bishop puts forth the pioneering notion that his powerful brain is actually responsible for his faster-than-normal hair loss. According to Dr. Bishop:

"...what was once thought to be an old wives' tale or propaganda from the Bald Men of the World support group, may in fact have scientific merit. The Edge (ne' Dave Evans) is a case in point. He was actually considered a bit slow while growing up in Dublin, but we now believe this to be a by-product of his humble upbringing. As U2's fortunes grew with each successive album and tour, Mr. the Edge had more money to spend on books and computers and the inevitable jump in his IQ soon followed. This is why we see the hairloss begin at about the same time The Joshua Tree was released. Mr. the Edge has such a voracious appetite for knowledge, that his brain needs a constant supply of blood to keep functioning. Most of this blood never reaches his scalp. His scalp receives a very small portion of this nutrient rich blood, causing his hair follicles to die and his hair to thin."

Groundbreaking work by Dr. Bishop. But turning to your question about Bono's IQ, the facts are much murkier. We know that his intellect is strong enough to keep him informed on world events. He hasn't, to my knowledge, been kicked out of any of the high-level meetings he's had lately with world leaders. But then again, exactly how smart is Jesse Helms? Before you fill out Mr. Hewson's Mensa application, keep in mind that his brain may not be all its cracked up to be. For example, he has trouble remembering which huge-rock-star clich he used in which interview. This leads to a number of uncomfortable situations, such as when he says "It's a lot like landing a 747 on your front lawn" when discussing famine with a rebel leader in Somalia -- a man who's never seen an airplane and can't understand what Bono is talking about. Under the savage grilling of Mike Wallace, Bono once nearly had a breakdown, muttering "pontiff and pop star / pontiff and pop star / eat the monster before it eats us / thanks for spending your hard earned / it's great to back in your city / we're reapplying for the job." Bono's handlers quickly ended the interview.

So Mary, I can accurately pinpoint Bono's IQ at between 67 and 208.

Have a question for the Answer Guy? Email today:

[Disclaimer: All questions taken from legitimate emails. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Prices subject to change. Void where prohibited. Objects may be closer than they appear. Parental guidance suggested. Contents under pressure. Your mileage may vary. Do not write below this line. If condition persists, see a doctor.]

@U2, 2001.

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