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-- Bono, in Paris, on Jacques Chirac, 1995

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Column: off the record..., vol. 16-707

@U2, January 24, 2016
By: Tassoula E Kokkoris


off the record, from @U2

Can you believe it’s been 10 years since RED began? Seems like just yesterday Bono and Oprah were heading down Chicago’s Magnificent Mile for some retail therapy to benefit the “new” organization, and now it’s been a decade.

In case anyone is wondering if these humanitarian efforts of Bono’s do any good, here are some fast stats about what RED’s achieved since its inception:

  • Money raised = $350 million
  • Lives impacted = 60 million
  • Percentage of donations that go toward Global Fund Grants to fight AIDS = 100

The grants provide antiretroviral medication to keep HIV from growing and multiplying in an infected individual, and to prevent HIV from transferring between mothers and their newborn babies. When the campaign began, 1,500 babies per day were being born with HIV; now that number is 600. I don’t know about you, but that progress makes me want to go shopping. Featuring everything from kitchen spatulas to lip balm, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

And if you missed the video of Bono’s remarks in Davos on Friday, the video of him delivering them can be found here.

Speaking of RED, by the time you read this, a winner will have been chosen for the Central Park bike ride with Bono via the charity website Omaze. If you’re not familiar with the site, it pairs regular people with celebrities for one-of-a-kind experiences, all to benefit a nonprofit organization of the celebrity’s choosing. Of course, Bono chose RED. I can’t help but wonder what the conversation will be like amongst the lucky pair that gets to spend that time with him, considering how much of a Chatty Cathy he is. It also got me thinking about other opportunities for contests that the band could provide, if they were so inclined…

Take Tea with Adam Clayton

Since Adam is famously loyal to Ireland’s own Barry’s Tea, I think it would be a lovely idea to propose he host a posh afternoon tea in Dublin. His charity of choice in the past has been the Walk in My Shoes organization, which promotes mental health — it would make a worthy recipient for the proceeds.

Learn a Song in The Edge’s Music Lab

The Edge is often referred to as the band’s scientist, so maybe he can teach an aspiring guitarist how to play one of U2’s songs. Heck, if he’s feeling super-generous, he could even gift him or her a new guitar (God knows Bono hands them out like candy). The proceeds would no doubt go toward helping Music Rising, the nonprofit organization he co-founded to help musicians in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Stroll Through a Motorcycle Museum with Larry Mullen Jr.

It’s a well-known fact that Larry loves Harley-Davidson motorcycles, but has he ever toured the official Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin? If he’s the collector that he’s rumored to be, he’d probably love to see the artifacts, and would most likely be able to host his contest winners after hours so they’d have the place to themselves. If it happened, my guess is that he’d put the funds toward promoting motorcycle safety, like he did a few years back in this PSA.

I’d certainly contribute to each for a chance at these experiences. Perhaps the folks at Omaze will see this and ring the lads to see if they’re interested.

On a more serious note, it’s been a rough few weeks of loss in the entertainment industry. I happened to be in the U.K. on business last week during the aftermath of grief, and nearly every pub or shop I entered was playing David Bowie hits. Like so many, I don’t want to let go of him. Seeing his face on every magazine and hearing people of all ages sing along to songs 20, 30, 40 years old — it moved me.

As I made my way through my own grieving process, I did what I’m sure many others also did. I read volumes of tributes by everyone from Bono to Jennifer Connelly. I scoured my old vinyls and cassettes of his music and played my favorites. I pulled up clips of the U2 360 tour and watched the intros where the band enters the stage to “Space Oddity.” I rewound the “Cedarwood Road” clips from the Innocence + Experience tour and froze it on the spot where Ziggy Stardust peeks out (note: it seems quite haunting in retrospect). And I cried for a man I never met — never even saw live in concert.

In the midst of me cycling through a series of random YouTube videos, I stumbled upon a gem that I’d never seen: Bono and The Edge performing Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” a few years ago with legendary producer Nile Rodgers. It’s blurry and jumpy, but wonderful all the same.



I’m so grateful to Bowie’s widow, Iman, for posting the last photo that was taken of him, capturing his joyous spirit. Our special Starman, forever swaying in the serious moonlight.

Any opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of @U2 as a whole.

(c) @U2/Kokkoris, 2016.

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