December 2005 Archives

Quit moaning about Bono, thank him


By Brendan O'Connor

NO DOUBT the usual cranks and begrudgers will be bitching about Bono over the Christmas. "Man of the Year?" the taxi-drivers will say, "Time fecking magazine? I'll give him Man of the Year. And Time magazine. It's far from it he was reared."

It's easy to have a pop at Bono. It's practically an instinctive reaction at this stage. "Oh, he might fool that crowd of Yanks at Time magazine and that George Bush fella, but he can't fool us. We knew him when he hadn't an arse in his trousers."

Frankly, that kind of thing reflects more on the people who say it than it does on Bono. Because, if you think about it, Bono hasn't actually done anything wrong. And it's not as if you could disagree with most of his causes. He's often compared to Jesus, in a negative kind of smart-arsey way. But, in fact, he is a bit of a Jesus - though in a good way.

Whatever your personal opinions about Jesus, it'd be hard to disagree with most of his messages: Don't kill people and be nice to the poor and so on. And Bono is pretty much the same. The message is inherently sound: Cure Aids, be nice to black people and eliminate poverty. You can't fault that kind of thing.

And in fairness, his heart seems to be in the right place. There are people who claim that he does it all as a big PR thing to sell even more records, but that doesn't really stack up. If anything, the preaching is probably putting people off the records.

But for the other members of the band it has a musical benefit. Larry Mullen broke ranks recently to say it was handy when Bono headed off out of the studio and let them get on with theirwork. He'd go off and meet George Bush or whatever and they'd get on with making the album, and when it was all nearly ready he would come back in and do his singing thing.

"Time" Taps Bono



by Gina Serpe

Time is on Bono's side.

After a whirlwind year--the Live 8 organization, a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, flirtation with the World Bank, an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and album chart domination--the U2 frontman has a new item to tack on the old CV.

He has been named one of Time magazine's "Persons of the Year," alongside fellow do-gooders Bill and Melinda Gates.

"For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re-engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are Time's 'Persons of the Year,' " the magazine said.

The trio was honored during a year of tremendous worldwide charity-giving, said Time, citing the South Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina as primary causes for donation. But the Bono-Gates troika went above and beyond the call of duty.

"Natural disasters are terrible things, but there is a different kind of ongoing calamity in poverty and nobody is doing a better job in addressing it than Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono," said Jim Kelly, Time's managing editor.

The humanitarian rocker was singled out for his participation in reducing global poverty and improving overall world health, issues which came to a head during the G8 summit in Scotland this summer. Bono met with several world leaders to address the problems.

The Rock Star's Burden



Hale'iwa, Hawai

THERE are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of one at the moment. If Christmas, season of sob stories, has turned me into Scrooge, I recognize the Dickensian counterpart of Paul Hewson - who calls himself "Bono" - as Mrs. Jellyby in "Bleak House." Harping incessantly on her adopted village of Borrioboola-Gha "on the left bank of the River Niger," Mrs. Jellyby tries to save the Africans by financing them in coffee growing and encouraging schemes "to turn pianoforte legs and establish an export trade," all the while badgering people for money.

It seems to have been Africa's fate to become a theater of empty talk and public gestures. But the impression that Africa is fatally troubled and can be saved only by outside help - not to mention celebrities and charity concerts - is a destructive and misleading conceit. Those of us who committed ourselves to being Peace Corps teachers in rural Malawi more than 40 years ago are dismayed by what we see on our return visits and by all the news that has been reported recently from that unlucky, drought-stricken country. But we are more appalled by most of the proposed solutions.

I am not speaking of humanitarian aid, disaster relief, AIDS education or affordable drugs. Nor am I speaking of small-scale, closely watched efforts like the Malawi Children's Village. I am speaking of the "more money" platform: the notion that what Africa needs is more prestige projects, volunteer labor and debt relief. We should know better by now. I would not send private money to a charity, or foreign aid to a government, unless every dollar was accounted for - and this never happens. Dumping more money in the same old way is not only wasteful, but stupid and harmful; it is also ignoring some obvious points.

Today, U2 band members were awarded Amnesty International's highest human rights accolade -- the "Ambassador of Conscience" Award for 2005.

"U2 have sung themselves to where great singing comes from, that place where art and ardency meet in the light of conscience," said Nobel Literature Laureate Seamus Heaney, upon hearing of the award to U2 band members Bono, Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. Adam Clayton and manager Paul McGuinness.

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan also praised the work of the band and their ongoing commitment to human rights and Amnesty International, which stretches back over 21 years. "On the day when human rights are being celebrated around the world and Amnesty International launches its first global music venture 'Make Some Noise', U2 is being honoured with this year's 'Ambassador of Conscience' Award," said Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

"From Live Aid in 1985 and Amnesty International's 1986 'Conspiracy of Hope' tour, through to Live 8 this past July, U2 has arguably done more than any other band to highlight the cause of global human rights in general and Amnesty International's work in particular. Their leadership in linking music to the struggle for human rights and human dignity worldwide has been ground-breaking and unwavering. They have inspired and empowered millions with their music and by speaking out on behalf of the poor, the powerless and the oppressed."

U2 to Play Second NZ Concert


U2 are to play a second concert in Auckland next year after tickets to their St Patrick's Day concert sold out in record time on Monday morning.

All 38,000 tickets to the Irish rockers March 17 show at Auckland's Ericsson Stadium sold out in just an hour and a half.

The second concert will be on March 18 at Ericsson and tickets will go on sale on Monday December 12.

Tickets to the first concert went on sale at 9am on Monday and while the ticketmaster website dealt with heavy overloading hundreds of fans tried for their tickets the traditional way, lining the streets in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Real Groovy manager Steve Richards - a ticketing agent for the concert - was amazed by the response.

"It's been crazy with a huge queue around the block of Real's pretty amazing," says Richards.

Tickets with a face value ranging from $99 to $199 sold are already being sold on auction site Trade Me for $3000 and climbing. That has angered many fans.

"The tickets have all sold already and I've only just got here - whatever the time is - and they're gone," said one of the unlucky fans to miss out.

But things turned out better for some fans who lined up all night to get their hands on the priceless tickets.

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