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"I think this record is just as innovative as Pop, it's just that the thing we're pushing to the forefront is the chemistry of the band playing together, and I think that is why people are referring back to earlier projects." — Edge, on All That You Can't Leave Behind

Vertigo 2005: Book 'Em, Bono

Bono joins author Michka Assayas for a book signing in Boston
"Stop calling me. Stop calling me. I agreed to the book. Now look at me, I'm at book signing, for goodness sake!"

That's how Bono kicked off today's book signing with author Michka Assayas, author of Bono: In Conversation, at a Barnes and Noble book store in Boston.

Rumors began circulating Monday night about Bono joining Assayas today. I thought, That can't be true, but then again, you never know with Bono! So, when it was all confirmed through U2.com this morning that it was indeed happening, I grabbed my trusty @U2 staff T-shirt and made my way to the bookstore.

At 9:30 a.m., there were only two people the queue for the 1:30 p.m. book signing. A mere two hours later the orange event wristbands were gone and there were 150 excited fans lined up behind red velvet ropes ready to go in. So many showed up that Barnes and Noble representatives started handing out an additional 150 blue event wristbands with a caveat: The likelihood of this group getting their books signed was next to nil. Loyal fans didn't seem to mind.

The rules: Everyone in line had to have bought a copy of the book. There was a two-book limit. And no memorabilia was allowed to be signed at the event.

By 1:00, all orange-wristbanded people were brought into the store, bags checked and stored. They waited patiently for the event to start.

All major television and print media outlets were there from Boston, plus one U2 fan site, and we were all escorted to the "Self-Help" section of Barnes and Noble. Local TV reporters passed time by flipping through the current entertainment magazines, also waiting patiently for the event to start.

Given the conditions outside -- a spring nor'easter storm is currently hitting Boston -- it was surprising that the event started only 25 minutes late. An announcement over the store's intercom system told us Bono had arrived, and then Bono himself spoke to the crowd via the intercom phone. He walked in front of the television cameras, explaining why he came out to do the book signing. He then handed the phone to his friend Michka, who explained a little about how the book was written. After that, Bono shared a few sound bites with the television news cameras and reporters. He told them it was great to be back in Boston, and how he was looking forward to his stay in the city.

And then it was on to the job at hand. The guests of honor were brought to a back room area with a green pipe-and-drape backdrop and a display of the books, and the signing began.

My media work done for the day, I was lucky enough to join the book signing line. At the table where Bono and Michka signed each book, I mentioned to Bono that I understood what the "Uno, dos, tres, catorce" meant at the beginning of "Vertigo" -- that it was a tribute to Steve Lillywhite's production of U2's first, second, third and fourteenth albums. Bono looked up at me with stunned enlightenment and then smiled as wide as a Cheshire cat. He said, "That's the best explanation yet!"

My books signed, reality then settled in and it was time to leave. I had to go back to the gig that pays the bills. Bono would have to do the same a little while later. I had been gone from the office for a while, so there were many questions about my whereabouts. I had to be honest, because with all of the television cameras there, I was bound to show up somewhere on tonight's news. Better to own up to playing hooky than to have to explain it the following day.

I hope that all orange wristbanded people got their books signed -- and I trust that Bono didn't get "fired from his job," as was suggested at the start of the event.

More information: @U2 photo set on Flickr

© @U2/Lawrence, 2005.