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"A game like chess suited me because I was able to put everything from my mind and work with something abstract." — Bono

Column: off the record…, vol. 12-537


off the record, from @U2

It's hard to believe it's been three years this week since our @U2 staff made the pilgrimage to visit The Joshua Tree that was featured in U2's iconic album photos. However silly it may sound, it was one of the most spiritual journeys I've ever taken.

A tense anticipation was present during our ride to the tree. We constantly checked the GPS for time estimates, listened to music from the album and snapped photos of the beautiful scenery we passed at every curve.

A brief stop for lunch and then group photos at Zabriskie Point only intensified our excitement. We were closing in on the Promised Land -- breathing the air of God's Country.

I wrote about the experience in an earlier piece for the site, where I described the silence that took over upon arrival:

I'm not sure exactly what happened, but we all suddenly quieted down, our hearts pounding as we walked the unclear path. The land was commanding its respect and we were gratefully obliging. Once the artifacts (U2ube, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" plaque, etc.) and the actual relic were in view, we all politely took turns approaching it. Some of us signed the notebooks other fans had begun in the time capsules, others touched the tree gently as if it were a holy site. We may have all teared up. It was as if the 20-something ghosts of U2 were there with us, shivering as they posed for photos, exploring the desert on their own for the first time.

I'll never forget how those emotions came to the surface, and I'll always be grateful to have experienced them among some of my closest friends.

For those who want to learn more about Joshua trees (who knew you could roast their seeds and eat them?), visit this page from the National Park Service.

I've said it many times before, and I'll say it again, there is simply nothing like seeing a U2 movie on the big screen.

Sure it's great to be able to wear out DVDs and Blu-rays of the material in the comfort of your own home, but it's such a different vibe when you're sitting in a room full of U2 fans.

I was lucky enough to experience this again recently when a local theater showed Rattle And Hum on a random week in October. I blogged about that here.

Are any of you out there as excited as I am that the next U2 Conference is approaching?

The last event, which was held in 2009, featured meaningful presentations from notable guests such as Anthony DeCurtis and Neil McCormick. Furthermore, it was a great chance for fans to connect, make new friends and celebrate all things U2. For highlights, check out the 2009 recap page

The conference in April will include a keynote speech from NPR's music critic Ann Powers, and is being presented in conjunction with the popular Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Some sessions will be held there; the remainder of the program will take place at the Marriott Key Center in downtown Cleveland.

The event organizers issued a Call for Presentations last month. If you'd like to present during the event, the deadline for abstracts is Dec. 1. Learn more about submission guidelines here.

Our @U2 team will also be programming a popular audience track of sessions. Please visit this page if you're interested in sharing ideas for that. 

We sincerely hope you can join us next spring!

And finally, since we're well into October, I thought it was time for a viewing of this classic:

© @U2/Kokkoris, 2012.