Column: off the record…, vol. 12-502

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off the record, from @U2
Have you lost your U2 mojo? Are you ill? Have you gone away to dream it all up again?

These are all questions I’ve received from @U2 readers in the past year, since I’ve been less active on the site. The short answer is no, no and no.

Now for the long answer:

When I first contributed to the site in 2004, I was a full-time fashion writer for a company I’d been with for five years. I had a lot of freedom in my workday, and few commitments on evenings and weekends. This afforded me the time to become more active on @U2, and I soon became a news writer.

A year later, I began managing the @U2 Calendar, contributed to the monthly podcasts and added “News Hunter” to my list of titles on the site. In 2007, I changed day jobs (PR this time) and began to oversee the former @U2 Facebook group. In 2008, I assumed the responsibilities of the @U2 Assignment Editor—and yes, that was in addition to all of the above (except the podcasts, which ended). Of course, I also acted as a regular reporter/blogger. I was a busy bee.

But my day job was driving me nuts and my unhappiness was taking its toll on my relationships, my health and my finances. So I finally had the courage to leave that toxic environment and return to full-time writing. The catch? My new day job is in the financial industry (where I have no prior experience) and the commute is 90 minutes each way. Yes, each way. So for the past nine months, I’ve been learning my audience, spending a lot of time on freeways, and—thankfully—loving my new role.

Unfortunately, that has forced me to sacrifice many of the hours I used to spend posting news, writing essays and reporting from U2 events. But I promise you: I’m not going anywhere. I still manage the calendar, I still write features when I can, and for the Love of God, I have not lost my U2 mojo.

In fact, I don’t quite get people who say that they’ve lost theirs.

I remember when the final leg of the U2 360 tour rolled around. I’ll admit, I didn’t go to nearly as many shows as I have in the past, but friends I’d had for decades who used to be blazing with passion for the music were hemming and hawing about going to even one show. I just didn’t get it.

I fully understand the drama that can occur in fan/friend circles. And I’m completely aware that one album may appeal to someone more than another. But to not want to hear the music live? That’s a tough one for me to digest. I tried to think back to a time when I would have rather done something in place of going to a U2 show and it just doesn’t exist. No matter what is going on in my life, no matter what other bands I’m into (I do in fact listen to other bands), I’ve never had a time where I’ve removed U2 songs from my iPod or avoided going to shows (if I’ve had the means).

Really, were you ever a true fan if you can so easily be “done” with the band?

I’m fascinated by hard-core fans who all-of-a-sudden stop listening—and even more intrigued by those who come back after such a crises of faith. Has this ever happened to you? If so, share your story in our forum.

When Edun debuted in 2005, the fashion industry was aflutter with what a clothing line co-founded by Bono would become.
Early reports of its launch focused on the environmental (organic cotton; vegetable dyes) and humanitarian (fair trade with Africa) aspects of the concept. Its name, Edun, was taken from the organic food company, Nude, in which Bono and his wife Ali (who co-founded the line) invested.

Reaction from fans was mixed: Many were upset the clothing was expensive; others praised the label for its honorable practices and imaginative designs.

I was fortunate to get to know the brand well as the Edun campaign lead at my former job. Creating ads for one of the few U.S. retailers that carried the products allowed me the chance to really see the intentions behind the venture. I can assure you, they were nothing but noble.

Yet the brand struggled—through numerous creative and leadership team changes, the look of the fashions varied dramatically from the initial offerings and the prices didn’t come down. In 2009, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) purchased a 49 percent share of the company and a new designer was brought in to raise the profile of the line. This March, Edun will launch its first official full ad campaign in magazines such as Vanity Fair and the Sunday Times of London. The core of the photographs feature images of the models with African butterflies, which symbolize “duality and transformation,” said Ali in a recent interview.

I sincerely hope the transformation is a success. To check out the newest looks, visit

Wim Wenders is a name that most U2 fans will recognize. He's an acclaimed German writer/director who has collaborated with the band on several occasions, including directing their videos for "Night And Day," "Stay (Faraway, So Close!}" and "The Ground Beneath Her Feet."

Now, he's been nominated for an Oscar for his new documentary Pina 3D, which pays tribute to a celebrated German choreographer (who suddenly died in 2009) with glorious dance performances and interviews with members of her company. On Friday, Wenders presented the movie to a sold out crowd in Seattle and I was lucky enough to be in attendance.

The film is stunningly beautiful and I couldn't help but notice some of the shots (especially the ones where you can see the audience watching the dancers along with you) reminded me of U2 3D. It was no surprise that when asked how he decided to shoot the film in 3D, a mention of U2 3D was the first thing out of his mouth.

"When I saw U2 3D, I realized it was possible. The technology was there. We could make this work."

I asked the director if his relationship with U2 allowed him any personal insight into how Catherine Owens made U2 3D, and if he took any direct inspiration from that film.

He responded yes, and that Owens had far greater challenges in making U2 3D because the cameras had to be placed on the stage where the music was being made, which meant they were constantly vibrating. She had major issues getting the images of the four band members to stabilize. When filming dance, that's not as much of a problem.

Wenders went on to say that he greatly appreciated Owens pioneering digital 3D in the way that she did so it was already there for him when he decided to pursue the Pina project.

Around that time, someone in the audience shouted that they couldn't hear our conversation very well and missed the name of the U2 movie we were referencing. Wenders deadpanned: "It's called U2 3D. GENIUS title."

I can't wait to see what project he tackles next.

Yesterday, singer Whitney Houston was laid to rest; another immense talent gone way too soon. Since just about every major musician has a U2 connection in their past, I searched for any evidence of a partnership with Houston, but couldn’t find one. What I did discover was a mash-up of sorts, called “Take Me To The Clouds Above” by a British band called LMC. The song is a cover of Houston’s “How Will I Know” with samples of U2’s “With Or Without You” sprinkled in the background. I can’t say I’m a fan, but if you’ve never heard it, have a listen.

And Whitney, rest in peace.

©@U2/Kokkoris, 2012.

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