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"When you're in a band you can party much longer than anyone else in your generation can." — Adam

Column: off the record..., vol. 6-199

@U2

(Matt McGee is taking a few weeks off. Marylinn Maione fills in with this week's OTR.)

First, I'd like to thank Matt for allowing me to fill in for him. Queen for a day!

Current Events:

I'm looking forward to the Grammy Awards on Feb 8th now that it's been announced that U2 and Mary J. Blige are teaming up again. I love her fiery rendition of "One" and I bet the boys all stand up a little straighter when she's around. Maybe someone will force Larry to get a haircut for the occasion.

Recently, Bono's been receiving various accolades for his extracurricular activities outside of U2. The Nobel Peace prize nomination, an offer to run the World Bank, and his turn as one of Time magazine's "Persons of the Year" (with his buddies Bill & Melinda Gates) are a few of the loftier choices. My favorite has to be Q Magazine's Man of the Year (Jan '06), because of the leadoff for the article, which I can't quote here. (We're a family-friendly web site!) I doubt that the Church of Religious Science read Q before their magazine, Science of the Mind, bestowed upon Bono their Spiritual Hero of the Year award. I'm sure he appreciates the absurdity, along with the praise.

The @U2 party was an opportunity for me to meet most of my illustrious colleagues for the first time. I was the guest of a fellow @U2er/Portland resident, and as she drove me around her lovely city, we listened to "Mercy" over and over again at my insistence. I didn't know the song, but I was instantly smitten. I read here that the song was the last one cut from HTDAAB. The song bumps along, bouncing full speed over a dirt road of rambling lyrics and loose drumming. It's what "Vertigo" could have been, a song that has substance and is still able to blow the roof off. It's U2 as pure jam-band. What a sweet, serendipitous surprise when Zoo Station took the stage at the @U2 party and played "Mercy" during their set. In Q magazine Bono wonders why the song "A Man and a Woman" isn't known to anyone but U2 fans, saying, "That's a great U2 song." Sorry Bono, I disagree. I'm wondering why "Mercy" didn't make it onto HTDAAB, especially after hearing it live. Infinite thanks to Zoo Station for proving what a great song it really is.

Rant:

Despite the awards, Bono's an easy target for criticism, which usually starts with "Celebrities should stick to what they know." I've always hated this argument because it makes no sense to me, especially with the success that he's had in getting concrete results. A columnist in our local paper went so far as to say "it's dangerous" for celebrities to think they understand politics. If people can teach gorillas to smoke and use sign language, why can't a rock star talk about debt and trade agreements? I think celebrities are the perfect politicians. They have no constituents to answer to, no "payback" for votes or party contributions to worry about, and they use their own money to fly around to make speeches or meet with world leaders. Actually, our own leaders could learn a few things about diplomacy by watching that rock star work a room.

Does your day job have to dictate all the other facets of your life? Venus and Serena design their own clothes; Madonna did some "acting" and is now writing children's books. I just read an obituary for an IRS agent who would go to people's homes to audit them, and leave them laughing because she was also a professional clown. Although there may be varying degrees of success among two-timing celebrities and average Joes, I say more power to you! And to all those armchair critics and philanthropists, I say get off your arses and do something! Anything!

Let's hope there are no "costume malfunctions" during the Super Bowl Halftime show featuring the Rolling Stones. It's creepy just thinking about it! I'd like to send a big shout-out to my hometown boys, who will crush the Seahawks, 27-10. (I'm taking it easy on you, Matt. Don't want to bite the hand...)

@U2/Maione, 2006.