Saturday, October 22, 2005

Me. Bono and Backpack Lady

      On a chilly fall night on Oct. 21, my world, that of Bono and a fan whom we shall refer to as Backpack Lady, all collided on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
            In order to avoid burying the lead, I will state up front: Bono stood right in front of me. Close enough so that I could look at his adorable stubble on that pronounced chin. “I love you, but not in a creepy way,” I said.  He put his right hand on my shoulder and squeezed as he chuckled. So we had our moment. Yippee! I waited 23 years for that! It was worth it.
            But back to the beginning.
            Bono was the guest speaker at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia on Oct. 21 to discuss his non-profit, DATA, which is devoted to ending global poverty and the spread of AIDS, especially in Africa. He was also awarded with the International Statesman Award.
            In the early1990s, I worked at WAC as a program assistant and Claudia was one of my bosses. On Friday, she got to accompany Bono throughout the evening. Even better, she got to introduce him.
            “I’ve been following U2 for a long time, but I never thought I’d be opening for Bono,” Claudia quipped to the crowd.
            The speech was at the impressive Irvine Auditorium on the campus of the Penn,  where Bono was awarded a doctorate in law in 2004 during Commencement.
            “Lawlessness, is more like it,” Bono said. His favorite part of the 2004 visit to Penn’s campus was draping a statue of Ben Franklin in leather.
            “I though the Fly shades looked really good,” he joked.
            There were about 1,200 people at the Irvine Auditorium, including 100 Penn students who won their tickets in a lottery. Tickets ranged from $75 to $495. While I did not attend the expensive dinner, let’s just say I dropped a chunk of change on this event But it is okay, since the money was going to DATA, which stands for Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa.
            I sat in the 15th row on the right hand side, with Bono at the podium on the right. My friend Phyllis, a fellow fan, sat in the balcony and we could wave back and forth. But not during Bono’s speech. Some things are sacred.
            When Bono came out on stage, my first thought was: “Hey, he IS short.” And then I thought, “Hey! He is HOT.”
            Bono was wearing black jeans, those clunky, four-inch thick leather shoes that are his favorites, a black jacket that looked designer, black shirt, rose-tinted shades and a silk mustard-colored tie that looked like he had tied it himself. It was rather askew. I don’t think he wears ties all that often and clearly his wife was not there to fix it for him.
            He actually seemed a bit nervous at first, even with the standing ovation he received from the crowd.
            “It’s not supposed to be a rock and roll show,” he told the crowd as he urged them to sit down.”
            He apologized for being nervous.
            “I’m not used to speaking to crowds of less than 20,000,” he said.
            Bono joked that the speech would be “Bono unplugged, or worse, unstringed, or unhinged.”
            “I’m hallucinating. Bruce Springsteen on stage again,” he said, making reference to the Boss’ appearance at the U2 concert on Oct. 17 at the Wachovia Center.
            Bono shuffled a sheaf of papers and searched for some water on the podium. My heart stopped. When I worked at WAC, it was my job to put water on the podium. I know someone had put it there, but for a brief moment, I felt responsible and wanted to rush up with my bottle of water. But he found it. Whew.
            Eighteen months ago, DATA launched the One Campaign to fight against “stupid poverty.”
            Soon more than five million Americans will be members of Te One Campaign, “which makes us bigger than the NRA,” Bono said to applause.
            “We don’t carry guns but we do mean business,” he said.
            He referenced Live Aid in 1985 and Live 8 in 2005, both in Philadelphia. On July 2 of this year, we watched musicians like Jay-Z, Will Smith and Kanye West dance and sing on television. But what they were really doing, Bono said, was “pushing, cajoling, intimidating elected leaders.”
            The purpose of Live 8 was to raise awareness of the July G-8 summit, held at a swanky golf course in Scotland. World leaders like George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac met to discuss world trade. They were, Bono said. “the guys with the bling.”
            But he chided the leaders for the choice of location for the summit.
            “To discuss the world’s poor, let’s meet in a golf course in Scotland. Brilliant.”
            Bono, who was quite soft-spoken during his remarks, praised the leaders for agreeing to write off a large portion of the debt of some of the world’s poorer nations. People who are HIV positive in many poor countries are now getting anti-retroviral drugs to combat the disease, he said. But it will take much more effort to help all the people in need.
            He praised two divergent groups: ACT-Up and Sen. Rick Santorum. The two could not be farther apart in politics, viewpoint and approach. But if those two can work together, he said, so can we.
            Bono told the crowd – a portion of which were business people – that the notion of a rock star “prattling on about politics” may seem off.
            But songs have always been a protest medium, he said. Especially the blues, which he called a direct complaint line to God. Many musicians mean well, but are guilty of “youthful indiscretions,” Bono told the crowd to much laughter.
            Growing up in Dublin in the 1970s, Bono listened to the Clash and other punk groups. To him, the music was “an alarm” and it woke him up. The music, he said, sounded like revolution.

Me, Bono and Backpack Lady

(PART 2)
In 1984, he took part in Band-Aid, the African relief effort started by fellow Irish musician, Bob Geldof. The Live Aid concerts of 1985 followed and Bono’s life was forever changed.
            In the summer of 1985, Bono and his wife quietly took a trip to Ethiopia to visit the poor. The children gave him a nickname, “the girl with the beard,” because of his sparkly earrings.
            "Ethiopia didn’t just blow my mind,” he said. “It opened my mind.”
            On one of his last days there, a father tried to give his infant son to Bono. He asked him to take the baby to Ireland and raise him. If he stayed in Ethiopia,  the father knew his son would die. Bono had to say no. It is a feeling he can’t ever forget. And in that moment, he became a rock star with a cause.
            Today, children in Africa die of malaria, the AIDS epidemic is sweeping the country with more than six million people dying every day.
            “This is not a cause,” he said. “This is an emergency.”
            History will judge us, he told the crowd, by how we treat Africa. No where else in the world would such poverty and illness be allowed to exist. If we don’t value the lives if Africans, he said, why should they value ours?
            “This is not about charity,” he said. “It is about justice.”
            Providing aid to Africa is not only the moral thing to do, he said, it is the smart thing to do. Poverty breeds despair. Despair breeds violence. Violence leads to terrorism.
            More than 40 percent of Africans are Muslim. A better world, is a safer world, he said. The United States is not the most popular country in the world right now, he said. But we can change that by becoming a leader in African relief.
            Bono loves the States he told the crowd. He has read the Constitution. He has been to Independence Hall. But power brings responsibility.
            In 1780, Benjamin Franklin went to Ireland for three months, he said.
            “He went to Scotland too, but who cares,” Bono said to laughter.
            Franklin was distressed at how the English oppressed the Irish. So instead of the government of Ireland inspiring the United States, it was the other way around. The Irish and Americans are very alike in their compassion and ability to give.
            Despite the tsunami, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, we must give more – to Africa. Every generation has its struggle, he said. This is ours.
            “We are being watched. By history and by God.”
            His speech made me want to get involved, spread the word and be accountable. I am glad I went. I am glad WAC asked him to be a speaker. So cool.
            After Bono was presented with the award, several hundred people in the crowd walked a few blocks to the University Museum for a cocktail reception. I was wearing black beaded shoes, a black dress with a floral print, eye shadow, curled hair and a whole lot of Beautiful perfume. I was ready.
            Inside the museum, I got a beer (in an elegant wine glass) and sought out the hors d’oeuvres. Crab and briein phyllo dough. Yum!!! I had a few of those. Near me stood a woman, in her late 40s or 50s, with a backpack and clutching a sheaf of papers.
            The waiter tried to offer her a crab snack.
            “I am not here to eat!” she snapped at him.
            Unable to control my curiosity and because I am a nosy journalist, I had to ask: “So why are you here?”
            “To give Bono these papers” she said, clutching white paper in a blue binder.
            “What is it? A subpoena?” I asked.
            “No,” she said, looking at me as if I were crazy. Uh huh. “Someone has to be in charge. His management company knows about this!”
            O-kayyyyyyy, I thought and moved away. I later found out that this particular fan has a Bono altar, to which she prays, and thinks that Bono’s managers are evil and she must get him away from them. I have no idea what the papers said but I don’t believe she ever gave them to him. I also don’t know what the heck was in that backpack.
            More hors d’oeuvres, but this time weird eggplant on lettuce leaves. Bleh.
            I talked with Marie, a recent graduate of Temple University, who works as a cancer researcher and wants to be a doctor. We  both wanted to get more beverages but were afraid to move in case Bono came out and we missed him.
            About fifteen minutes later, the waiter came out with chicken-on-a-stick! Yes! I scarfed up some and was busy gnawing away when I noticed that Bono had come out all the way on my left. Shoot! There were a lot of people between me and him.
            The guards made a human barricade and forced us all behind their arms. I took my chicken with me and stood right behind the guard. I think his arm was on my chest, but not on purpose.
            I realized that Bono, led by Claudia and flanked by his bodyguard, was working his way down the line. And I was in the front! For once in my life, I was in the right spot!!!
            He got closer. And closer. Grown men and women all around me started going a little nuts. There was shoving! Hey people, this is not a mosh pit!
            Claudia was saying sternly, “No autographs! No autographs!” But some people still shoved paper at Bono and he still signed some.
            He got closer. Wow. It was weird to see someone I have watched so many times since 1983, but this time he was RIGHT NEAR ME.
            His stubble looked adorable. His chin is pronounced. His hair is thick and lovely. I wish I could see his eyes through his shades. I LOVE HIM!!!!!
            He got very close. The couple behind me shoved a photo at him and shouted something about their wedding or his wedding and the “Unforgettable Fire” album. I have no idea. He snatched the picture and looked at it.
            “You can keep it,” they said. Uh, okay.
            He is in front of me. RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Time stood still. I looked at him. He was grabbing hands and pieces of paper. I must say something. I must seize the moment. This is what came out of my mouth:
            “I love you, but not in a creepy way,” I said.
            He looked back at me, put his right hand on my right shoulder and squeezed it while he held it there for a moment. He chuckled as he walked on. I HAD MADE BONO LAUGH!!!!!!!!!!!! On my right, a couple shoved a copy of the “War” album at Bono for his signature. “No autographs!” Claudia scolded.
            Off to my right, I saw Backpack Woman with her glasses glinting in the light. Luckily, she looked a little bit further in the back. Bono walked on and then into the fancy dinner. And that was it.
            Sigh. I will never wash my shoulder again. But I will work to end poverty and AIDS in Africa. And so should youJ

There was a lot of press there to cover the event including NBC-10 and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Rick Springfield coming back to "General Hospital!"

Oh my, oh my! Dr. Noah Drake, a.k.a. '80s heart-throb Rick Springfield, is returning to Port Charles on Dec. 2 to begin four appearances on "General Hospital."

How I loved him in the early 1980s. Anne, Karen, Patty and I would rush home from school to watch "General Hospital." Those were the good days - of Luke and Laura and Rick and Monica (and Alan).


Monday, October 17, 2005

U2 in Philadelphia. Oct. 16

 In the middle of last night's concert, somewhere around "One" or maybe "With or Without You," I realized that I was completely and totally happen. You can't ask for more than that from a U2 concert. Thanks again to Jenny for getting me the ticket:)

  To begin with, BONO IS HOT! I know that I always knew that, but Whoa Nelly! I realized it during "With or Without You," which was one of the many, many encores. Bono brought a young woman up onstage and held her close the whole song. She clung to him while he had one arm around her and the other arm on his mike. At the end, he knelt down and kissed her hand. Oh my.....
  They did THREE encores. In fact, I thought the show was over and then they CAME BACK. They played "Yahweh," and led into "40." Sob. It was so perfect. You know, it is fitting that Larry is the last U2 member left on stage at the very end, because he created the band.

  Bono dedicated "Stuck in a Moment" to Michael Hutchence and said he always thinks about Michael this time of the year.

"I don't know what Michael would have thought of the reality TV show," Bono said. "He might have liked it."

  The concert began with "City of Blinding Lights" with Bono giving shout-outs to Philadelphia. He mentioned how the city sponsored two Live Aid/8 concerts and how the city's DJs were among the first to play U2 on the radio. When the band first played Philadelphia, it was to a crowd of 50. The next show was for 500. Then 5,000 and then 50,000.

  U2 played "Electric Co." and "The Ocean" from their first album. I must say, I had absolutely no memory of "The Ocean." But it was nice to hear.

  During one of the songs (maybe "Love and Peace") Bono brought a little boy named Owen on stage. The boy held Bono's hand and walked him around the ellipse.

  "Thank you for walking me home, Owen," Bono told him at the end of the song.

  Bono took off his sunglasses for the song about his Dad. God, Bono looks hot when he is sincere. He put on a cowboy hat for a new song, "Fast Cars." There was a guy in a cowboy hat a few rows in front of me who was waving his own hat around. Perhaps he thought Bono could see him.

  Incidentally, sitting next to me were a dad and his sullen-looking early teens son. The son sulked through the whole show. The dad kept looking at him like, "HELLLLO. This is a U2 concert! It IS cool." But of course the teen did NOT think it was cool, precisely because his dad did. Sigh.

Monday, October 10, 2005

"Good Night and Good Luck" by George Clooney

I can't wait to see this movie, by my Fantasy Boyfriend, George Clooney. It is all about Edward R. Murrow's news broadcast about Sen. Joe McCarthy. Here is the official website. It is playing in NYC right now and will come to Philadelphia on Oct. 14.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

A sure sign of the apocalypse

Katie Holmes is pregnant with Tom Cruise's baby.

Discussion topics: Did they actually have sex in order to get pregnant? What if she gets post-partum depression? Does this mean it is not a publicity stunt and that their love is true, real and tangible?

Nah, probably not. But I hope the poor girl doesn't get PPD because all she will get is a fistful of vitamins and a treadmill.

My head may explode from the excitement!

George Clooney will be on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Thursday night. Followed by U2 on "Late Show with Conan O'Brien!!!!"


Sunday, October 2, 2005

A lovely interview with my pretend boyfriend, George Clooney

Here is an excerpt from the article in The Washington Post:

"In person, Clooney, who is 44, is a surprisingly unextraordinary presence. He's handsome, certainly, with that nicely graying head of hair and a smile so devilish that you almost expect a glint of sunlight to bounce off his teeth. There's an attractive energy about him, too; he talks and moves about quickly. But movie cameras and magazine covers do funny things to people. In Clooney's case, they bulk him up and make him seem taller and sturdier than he is in person. His head, slightly large for his frame, settles into proportion on camera. In person, he's thinner than you'd expect, almost delicately boned (he gained 35 pounds for a recent part, but dropped all of it by "working out and not eating")."

I like all of that except for the weird comment about his large head. What?

Saturday, October 1, 2005

"In Her Shoes"

I saw a sneak preview of the new movie "In Her Shoes," starring Cameron Diaz,  Toni Collette and the wonderful Shirley Maclaine. It is the story of two sister from Philadelphia and their grandmother in South Florida. Go see it! I urge you. The actress playing the elderly and snarky Mrs. Lefkowitz deserves an Oscar.

You all know that I am a big fan of Jennifer Weiner's novels. Weiner is a former Philadelphia Inquirer author who switched to creative writing with her first novel, "Good In Bed."

"In Her Shoes" is her second novel and the first to be made into a movie. Yes, it is a chick flick but guys will like it, too. Plus, Cameron Diaz spends part of the movie either in her underpants or a bikini. So that is a plus for the guys.

Bring tissues. I cried through a bunch of the movie. But in a good way. It is not like anyone dies.Even Mrs. Lefkowitz, who looks pretty darn old.

The movie was shot in Philadelphia and the city looks great. Another section of the movie was shot in a retirement community in South Florida and from my years of living down there, it is spot on.