It's that holiday time of year again, and in the spirit of Oprah Winfrey's "Favorite Things," I would like to offer a few of my U2-related favorites.
Starting my list is Natalie Baker's history of Wire. Wire was my first online connection to the U2 fan community. Starting in 1988, I would send postcards and letters to fans who posted in Propaganda's Grapevine section. Most of my part-time job income went to postage in those days. Six years later, that income went to paying the hourly rate to AOL instead. Some of my dearest friends, not to mention my husband, came from the early days of Wire. It was through Wire that I met M2 and became involved in @U2. Most of my adult life has been shaped because of that list and I will be forever grateful to it. Wire is definitely one of my favorite things.
Another one of my favorite things is AMP Visual's Stealing Hearts At A Travelling Show. I bought my copy when it first came out and it's served as a great reference for me. Luckily for fans, AMP Visual found a few spare cases of the book in the company's office and has decided to offer them up for sale. AMP Visual was even kind enough to send a couple of extra copies for us to give away on the site. Stay tuned for the next giveaway opportunity. In the meantime, check out what's in the book. If you're at a loss for a holiday gift for that U2 fan in your life, this book would be perfect!
Another perfect holiday gift is Achtoon Baby prints. Kelly Eddington has offered some of her favorites (and mine too) for fans to purchase. I have "Punk Rock On Venus" currently hanging on my U2 wall in my home office and it brings me joy each time I see it.
Back in 2006, Kelly was also nice enough to provide our readers with a Li'l U2 calendar. You can download the images and add them to a 2013 downloadable calendar. Li'l U2 is the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks, Kelly!
I think I can safely say that live U2 is definitely one of my favorite things. Earlier this week, Wolfgang's Vault added U2's Boston Garden performance from Sept. 18, 1987, to its list of U2 concerts for download. While the site charges a membership fee, the $$5 download is worth it for the soundboard-quality recording.
For those who might be wondering why this site is able to do this, our best understanding is that Wolfgang's Vault pays royalties of some sort to the artist. William Sagan runs the site, and a few years ago he bought Bill Graham's private collection of old concert recordings for $$5 million. He then launched the site to spread that music to others who wished to hear it. U2 fans debate whether these recordings should be classified as "official" or just another bootleg. You can join in this discussion in the @U2 forum.
I can safely state that a majority of die-hard U2 fans would pay for concert downloads if U2 offered them. Recently, Robbie Williams offered this to his fans through Concert Live. Fans were sent an email a few days prior to his sold-out three-night engagement at the O2 Arena encouraging them to pre-purchase an "Instant Live Album" of the show at a mere 20 pounds (approx. $$32) plus shipping. While I'm not sure how "strictly limited edition" the three CD sets are, I couldn't help but snap up a copy of one of the nights. I hope we see something like this in the future for U2 concerts.
After all, it's only going to be harder to record these concerts yourself now that Sony has decided to discontinue the handheld tape recorder next year. Even though it's an old-school way of doing it, that was my first foray into the U2 live recording community in the early '90s. I learned a valuable lesson: You can't sing along while you're trying to record. It ruins the recording. Live and learn.
Just a quick update about the upcoming U2 Conference in April: The popular audience and academic call for papers deadline has been extended until Dec. 31. It's not too late to submit your presentation idea to the organizers. We hope to see you there!
And finally ... ZooTV wasn't just a tour, it was also a three-part television series that aired on MTV in 1997 that challenged its viewers to believe "everything you know is wrong." These episodes haven't been seen since, but thanks to an enthusiastic fan and YouTube, you can watch them once again. Enjoy!
ZooTV television series:
Have a great Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year!
'Til 2013, y'all...