1. Every month we put a U2 fan in the spotlights, the fan of the month May of 2024 is user Flyguy69. Read along for the interview we had with this U2 fan.

    "When I saw Bono leap into that no man's land between the stage and the audience to rescue a girl who was being crushed up against the barricades by the Wembley Stadium crowd, and then dance with her, cheek to cheek, before millions of people, my heart went with him. It was a stunning, spectacular, glorious and a galvanizing moment in rock history, and one that I pray I’ll never forget."

    Tell us something about yourself, who are you and what do you do for a living?

    I am a lapsed Irish-American Catholic of Co. Wicklow ancestry on my father’s side, but born in Brooklyn. I was unceremoniously uprooted (without my consent) and transplanted to New Jersey at the age of 3. From there, raised on AM radio by parents steeped in Korean War-era tunes via WNEW 1130 (“the place where swing was born, the home of Lena Horne”), which left me wondering if I’d sonically calcify into adolescence having only heard Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, and/or Glenn Miller at home during my formative years. Oh how wrong my thinking was, for thanks to serendipity - and a 1130 station DJ who hosted an on-air trivia contest that used The Who’s intro to “Baba O’Riley” as a cue to announce their winners - I quite by accident stumbled upon/discovered WNEW’s across-the-dial sibling, 102.7 FM in NYC … and the rest is history.

    That said, and thanks to Daltrey and Townshend’s anthemic fugue breaking me out of my folks’ post-WWII soundtrack - not to mention late exposure to bands like Springsteen & his E-Streeters, The Ramones, The Stones, The Clash, and The Police - I think I ended up pretty well-rounded musically, to say nothing of a true blue fan of alt, punk, funk and rock.

    Professionally, I’m a former / recovering print and broadcast journalist who - despite many years of both non-stop excitement/mild success - wasn’t very cutthroat, and ultimately began to have a terribly nagging feeling that he wasn’t doing much good for the world at large as a member of the so-called Fourth Estate. So, I left America’s mass media racket (and just as it was turning truly divisive, as luck would have it) to become a full-fledged high school English teacher, a profession which - outside saving lives - I easily credit as having had the most positive influence in my life so far. Beyond that, I think of myself - to quote Bono’s famous quip in describing his own persona - as “a nice bunch of guys.”

    How did you become a fan of U2, tell us how it happened?

    Was introduced to U2 by my FDNY uncle, who sneakily slipped a cellophane-wrapped cassette of BOY into my Christmas stocking one morning in the early 1980s. When I popped it into my faux Walkman later that same day and pushed PLAY, my brain caught fire. It was not, however, until one sweltering hot day in the summer of 1985 - when I was working at a state park as a lifeguard that a torpedo-buoy touting cohort snuck a portable black-and-white TV into the rescue station where we all huddled around to watch U2 perform “Bad” live from London during our break - that I became a devotee for life. When I saw Bono leap into that no man’s land between the stage and the audience to rescue a girl who was being crushed up against the barricades by the Wembley Stadium crowd, and then dance with her, cheek to cheek, before millions of people, my heart went with him. It was a stunning, spectacular, glorious and a galvanizing moment in rock history, and one that I pray I’ll never forget.

    What does your U2 collection look like? What kind of stuff do you have and how is it organized?

    ‘Scattershot’ is not the right word. ‘Thorough’ is more accurate, and ‘completist’ at its core. It comprises all the essentials across every audible medium (vinyl, cassette, CD, and MP3/FLAC), some rarities, and pretty much everything that is only just now being released digitally (which I do find frustrating, if only because I already possess the digital versions and refuse to repeat spend on such things). My frustration is that I own a few very valuable personal gems here and there, but I am not so convinced others would see them similarly. I am also not so fanatical as to be wallpapering my domicile and/or publicly cosplaying as my favorite band member (although I did do the latter for Halloween way back in 2004 … and I don’t think anyone knew who I was).

    Does anyone in your family or one of your friends like U2? If so, did they introduce you to U2, or did you "convert" them?
    My wife has been a fan almost as long as I have been, though she is much more reserved in her devotion, even skeptical of some of the band’s most recent work, which I find healthy if only because it keeps me grounded. Many of my friends - or at least this is what I’d like to think - have been swept up in my enthusiasm for the group, though I’ve no doubt their respective appreciations differ from my own.

    When you're forced to leave to a deserted island and you can take only one U2 album with you, which would it be?

    Assuming the deserted island has an unlimited power source (I’m guessing solar-based) and a good sound system? THE JOSHUA TREE, easily.

    What would you like to ask U2 if you got the chance to?

    Well … in the interests of full disclosure, I am a former writer for the now-sadly defunct fansite @u2.com and have - separately if somewhat ancillary to that - had the great fortune and pleasure of (a) meeting / interviewing Bono on two separate occasions, as well as The Edge (separately, for about 10 minutes) … and got to meet/speak to Larry briefly as well. Adam proved to be far more elusive, though not intentionally so. That having been established, if I could get them ALL together in a room, a la Zane Lowe, and ask them anything? The question would probably be: “Over the course of your amazing careers as a band, you’ve all had ups and downs, hits and misses, gains and losses. Having said that, and looking back, have you guys ever stopped, sat together in a room, and told each other how much you love and appreciate each other? Or is that still not a very Irish thing to do?”

    Did you ever have a special U2 experience like a live concert? Can you tell us something about it?

    Back in 1997, a very dear friend of mine (Caitlin, I love you) called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to go see U2 privately rehearse for the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Not being congenitally insane or a foolish snob, I naturally said yes. On my way into NYC - and to this day, I don’t know what fueled my impulse to do any of this - I brought along my copy of a then-POP-era PROPAGANDA, then stopped at a CVS on 6th Avenue and bought a disposable camera and a Sharpie, thinking:
    “Who knows? I might get lucky.”

    I met my pal at RCMH, where we each received a VIP guest pass/badge and were ushered into the main hall (this is the night before the actual MTV telecast, mind you) and not only saw the band arrive (we were up front and center row at the time and unfortunately asked to relocate, presumably because the band didn’t want the distraction of geeked-out fans in their faces; we eventually settled in the back) but watched as they ran through “Please” three times with Joe O’Herlihy on the mixing desk, each of us noting with amazement how, with each run-thru, Bono’s voice actually got better. After the band left the stage, Caitlin and I chose to walk up toward the front again and then exit through the side doors onto West 51st Street. As we went, Caitlin - a notorious practical joker - tugged on my sleeve and whispered ‘dude, Bono’s coming up right behind you.’

    Me, not believing her, sarcastically replied: “Yeah, right, Cat. ‘Bono’s right behind me.’ Sure.” A millisecond later I hear, in that unmistakable Dublin purr: “Mmmm.” I spun around, saw himself standing there in the RCMH side exit in his full=tilt POP era glory (black leather military jacket, red lensed Mikli shades, camouflage military cap, platform Bunker boots), and immediately handed off my knapsack to my friend, and extended my hand.

    Bono - who, by now no doubt, could easily spot and size-up a truly starstruck fan from a mile away - took a bold, Bunker-booted step forward, gently lifted my shaky mitt into his a la that old school “thumbs-up/you’re my brother” style handshake, pulled me close, and said warmly:

    “What’s up, man? How are ya?”

    (stunned silence)

    To describe myself as ‘gobsmacked’ in that moment doesn’t come remotely close to being accurate; all I can say - in my own defense - is that despite my telling myself, for countless years prior, if I ever had the good fortune to meet the man face-to-face, I wanted so much to say the following: “Bono, it’s so good to meet you, and I’ve always wanted to tell you that you and your band have been playing in the cinema of my head ever since my ears were old enough to first hear you. You mean the world to me, thank you so much for all the happiness and music … etc etc.”

    Instead, I somehow mentally reverted to a pre-teen moment in time when I’d undergone a tooth extraction and my mouth was rendered so numb with Novocaine that all I could manage was: “Hey.”

    It didn’t matter, though. Bono was not only gracious enough to sign (and create a memorable doodle inside) my PROPAGANDA, but also pose for a photo with me (all credit for that goes to Caitlin, who thought fast on her feet, took my disposable camera and snapped a pic while I, so gleeful in my nerd-out, slipped an arm around him as the shutter clicked) before he turned, gently tugged on the lapels of my jacket, and said with a knowing but easy smile:

    “Y’alright there, man? Take care, OK?”

    All throughout my walk back to the Port Authority and back to New Jersey, I felt like kicking myself, wishing I had been more articulate, wishing I had just said what I wanted to say instead of going near-mute with disbelief …

    But then again, and thanks to Caitlin (a former MTV employee and someone who’s been around more rock 'n roll celebs than I could ever shake a stick at) I also heard her words in my head, reassuring me before we said goodbye in midtown:

    “No, no, no, DUDE. Stop. Are you kidding? He totally liked you. I could tell.”

    Sadly, I’ve not seen Caitlin in years, but in my heart of hearts, I do like to believe - in that utterly unforgettable, post-starstruck moment - she was right.

    What are your hopes and expectations of a future U2 album?

    “Hope”. Man, if that ain’t a thing with a lot of feathers on it. As for “expectations” … I mean, I really don’t know. At this point? Given the goodwill they already have in aces and kings with hundreds of thousands of fans like me, my greatest hope is that every member of the band is as happy/content as they could possibly be with each other’s talents to just let it all hang out on their next LP. I’d love it if they took a page from R.E.M.’s handbook and didn’t chase the charts, because that’s where they always seem to aim for the hardest. Don’t get me wrong: radio/chart hits are wonderful, but statistically, they’re also few and far between for many acts of U2’s age and legend. Am I saying it’s not possible? No, but maybe … I don’t know, they can just relax a bit and maybe experiment a bit more with something truly out-there-on-a-limb loud and raucous, as their status would obviously allow. Beyond that, I’m praying I’ll one day get to hear SONGS OF ASCENT (although if my compass is correct, I have a feeling that one has all the earmarks of being a “swan song” type album; the last studio LP we’ll ever hear from them), not to mention some iteration of the sessions they recorded with Rick Rubin at Shangri-La (assuming those aren’t one in the same with SOA). I’d also love to hear (if they exist) some of the many outtakes/excerpts they reportedly have from the ZOOROPA sessions, which were rumored to be plentiful at the time of the LP’s release in 1993.

    How different is U2 compared to other artists that you like?

    Like so many others out there who are aurally immersed in the soundscapes of both the 20th and 21st centuries, my musical palette is pretty diverse … and I credit the diversity of that palette (and its expansion) to my having discovered the primary sonic colors of U2, who over the years extolled and endorsed the virtues and talents of dozens of other artists whose respective geniuses either inspired their own continued creativity as a group, or who they - in many cases - ended up connecting to/collaborating with at some point themselves. For me, one of the best parts of being a U2 fan has always been in those moments when I find my own tastes - which run the gamut from Tom Waits and Wilco to Nirvana and Neko Case to PJ Harvey and Post Malone to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Billie Eilish - intersecting with or running parallel to the band members themselves. For example, knowing Bono loved such long legendary performers as Sinatra and Tony Bennett made me grateful to my own father for having exposed me to them for so long in my childhood, not to mention all the other connections he's written about here and elsewhere … everyone from INXS and Iggy Pop … Bowie and Bob Dylan … to the poetry and lyrics of Patti Smith and Allen Ginsberg … (and don’t even get me started on The Edge’s enthusiasm for Jimmy Page and Neil Diamond or Adam’s affection for MC5 and Suzi Quatro, let alone Larry’s love of Stan Getz and Sandy Nelson). All of those intrinsic, previously unknown connections make me feel like I not only fell in love with U2 for all the right reasons, but because there’s still something to them, as fans of music, that strikes at common ground, something deeper and unspoken that unites all hearts and souls. Is that a sappy saccharine sentiment? To some, maybe. Still, it’s how I feel today.

    What are your hobbies and interests away from U2, musical or otherwise?

    Well, writing for one thing (gee, can ya tell?), especially fiction and poetry whenever I have a spare moment away from grading essays on social justice and Shakespeare. Lots of books being consumed and collected here by day, along with beaucoup film watching by night, and the occasional sketching / drawing jag in between. Separate from those endeavors, I spend most of my time studying new ways to make things known to those who find it hard to know, and the rest in the company of my lovely, good-humored wife and pets, and cooking/eating Italian food while occasionally sipping the odd whiskey or tequila.

    So flattered to have been asked all these things, given that no one else really has before ... but as any U2 fan knows, we all have our raves and faves, and this site is one of those places where you can always click 'n find folks with a lot to say about both. So thank you, U2start! Y'all are a fine frenzy. O
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