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Old 04-24-2005, 08:27 AM   #1
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Best Review of the New Book on Bono

This review rocks! Hope you like it.

Bono baptism: New book creates convert, fosters respect

Last updated: April 24th, 2005 08:23 AM

“Celebrity is ridiculous.” Bono says. “It’s silly, but it’s a kind of currency, and you have to spend it wisely.”

Yea and verily, oh brothers and sisters, I come before you today a changed and humbled man, saved from eternal pop culture damnation. I have seen the light – and it turns out to be spotlight shining down from cathedrals, er, arenas all across America.
For it is time I make my testimony. Time to accept Bono as my personal savior.

I resisted the truth for years. I had always thought Bono, the lead singer of U2 (which opens a two-night stand at Seattle’s KeyArena tonight), was the epitome of the self-absorbed, egotistical, messianic and pretentious rock star who dabbles like a dilettante in global affairs merely as another way to puff up his sense of self-importance.

From the start, I liked the music. But not the musician. Those wraparound sunglasses. Those Christ-like onstage poses. The giant video-screen close-ups. Those pressing-the-flesh photo ops with everyone from Nelson Mandela to George W. Bush. Those music videos with fans literally genuflecting. All that turned me off. Bono seemed to be trying just too hard.

I blamed U2’s hard-core fans as much as I blamed Bono. On Tuesday, I bet there were a few Bono worshippers who were truly surprised when the white smoke wafted from the Vatican chimney and it wasn’t Bono who appeared on the balcony dressed in white.

Snarkiness, not affected earnestness, is what I want from my rock stars. That, and cranking out tunes with catchy riffs and some nice harmonies. Sometimes, I just wanted to scream, “Just shut up and play ‘Bullet the Blue Sky,’ will ya?” We expect a certain amount of indulgence in our rock stars, but Bono was pushing things.

I was not alone in my Bono bashing. The brilliantly satirical newspaper, The Onion, once ran a list of “eight things Bono’s been up to.” No. 1: “Tirelessly dedicating self to ending Third World debt, no matter how many magazine covers he must appear on in process.”

All that has changed now. I am a Bono convert. Seriously. I respect his humanitarianism. I accept his preening and self-righteousness. I even can overlook the too-cool shades.

Credit – or blame? – should go to a new book I picked up the other day, “Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas” ($23.95, Riverhead Books). I almost didn’t make it past the cover jacket, which shows a close-up of Bono in one of those savior-like poses, fist raised in righteousness, visage a study in sacredness.

But I went ahead and opened the book and started reading. It’s a 323-page Q&A between Assayas, a French journalist, and Bono. And I’ll be damned if Bono didn’t come off more self-aware than self-absorbed. He has perspective on his life and his place in the world, seems sincerely fortunate to have the platform he has and recognizes he sometimes can be off-putting.

Maybe he’s always been like this, and I just hadn’t noticed. Admittedly, I hadn’t immersed myself into the gospel of Bono before reading this book.

What helped change my mind was Bono’s candor. Asked whether he thinks it’s a sad commentary on society that it takes a rock star to get politicians thinking about hunger in Africa, Bono said: “You know, celebrity is ridiculous. It’s silly, but it’s a kind of currency, and you have to spend it wisely. And I’ve learnt that much. …

“I see the embarrassment, excruciating at times, of ‘Rich rock star works on behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable.’ I mean, it’s a very embarrassing photograph. Yet, you can’t deny who you are. And if I gave all my money away, I’d just be a bigger star. (Laughs). Right? … I can use this ridiculous thing called celebrity to the advantage of these issues. That’s the only qualification I need. I’m there, I have the loud-hailer, and I’m gonna use it.”

Assayas, Bono’s interviewer, is a close friend, but that did not stop him from grilling the rock star. At one point, he asked Bono if “the money you have might lead you to develop very unrealistic views about the world. Don’t you tend to forget about the problems that an ordinary person has to face in an ordinary life?”

Bono presents a cogent argument: “But which reality am I not in touch with? You’re working on behalf of a billion people who live on less than a dollar a day. Isn’t it more important that I’m more in touch with their needs than the normal Western life you describe?”

The guy makes a lot of sense. He could be using his celebrity to buy more islands in Fiji or something. He truly seems to want to do good. And I respect that.

No longer will I take Bono’s name in vain.

Sam McManis: 253-274-7380


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Old 04-24-2005, 09:48 AM   #2
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Hi Jamila,
Please only post in one forum.. thanks!!
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