Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sorry, Bono; I gave at the office

This is officially a completely incoherent rant. Just letting you know.

I bought my first U2 cassette in about 1984, I think. I can’t say that I was there at the very beginnings of the band, those early days of “Boy” and “October”. I came on board as “War” was making the rounds of alternative radio, back when you still had to be part of the avant-garde alternative and NuWave crowd listening to college radio and reading import copies of Smash Hits from the UK in order to hear who U2 was. Not long after, “The Unforgettable Fire” came out, and U2 was still a secret more or less. Then 1987 arrived…

I can still remember where I was the first time I heard “Where The Streets Have No Name”, the first track on “The Joshua Tree”. For some reason I had the local rock radio station on (WHEB) instead of the college station (WUNH) and I was getting dressed for school at about 6:30 on a crisp early March morning. The DJ said it was the new one from U2 and that really perked my ears up as this was the first time I’d heard them on a regular commercial station. I thought it was great and knew it was gonna get huge.

Gone was Bono’s mullet, in was a swaggering polished look and within weeks U2 were the biggest band in the world, selling over 25 million copies of the album. That was also probably the last world tour of theirs that I could have afforded to go to. 
Hmmm, 130 bucks a ticket back in 2001. And in 2009 it was still almost 60 bucks just to STAND in a crowd way the hell back from the stage.

I’ve seen many of my “essential” and favorite bands live throughout the years, mostly in my younger years when I had fewer financial responsibilities and when concert tickets were only twenty or twenty-five bucks, and if you got really good seats you paid fifty. I’ve been fortunate enough to see The Cure a couple times, Erasure four times, and Depeche Mode three times. Never did get to see New Order or Pet Shop Boys, but I did get to catch REM once. That about covered those favorite bands from my teen years, except for U2. 

In many cases I just wasn’t located close enough to a venue they were playing at on their tours, but in more & more cases as time went on, I just simply couldn’t afford it. It’s commonplace now for their tickets to go on average for over a hundred bucks a pop for anything not in the nosebleeds a mile from the stage. 

While one could always state the obvious :“Well hell, Steve, you could still be at the show for 50 bucks”, but if the only way I will see anything going on up on stage is to watch the giant monitors with some assclown’s head in the way, I may as well have just stayed the hell home & waited for the concert DVD so I could watch it in Dolby on my 46” flat screen and pause it when I have to pee, and only pay 20 bucks for the disc.

I guess when you’re the biggest band in the universe, there’s a lot of pressure to put on a huge, decadent, grandiose spectacle of a stage show. (One of the best shows I’ve ever been to, however, was Erasure’s 2007 show in Orlando at the Hard Rock; with a small stage & a capacity of 3000 people.) The 2009 tour for U2, the 360° Tour, featured this giant Claw Stage with three 164-foot tall Claw apparatus things that cost about 35 million dollars each, with 72 separate subwoofers and needing between 120 and 200 trucks (seriously) to carry about all their crap. 

It was estimated that each day of the tour, show or no show, it was costing $750,000 a day to operate. In an interview given about 33 shows into the tour, their manager Paul McGuinness estimated the group had spent more than $64 million so far entertaining fans up to that point in the tour. He told Britain's The Sun newspaper: "The engineering problems are enormous and costly. Whether we're playing or not, the daily overhead is about $750,000. That's just to have the crew on the payroll, rent the trucks and everything else. There are about 200 trucks in total, including merchandise and catering." And while they hadn’t really yet turned a profit by the end of the tour it was expected that they’d do so handsomely.

Well, hell, I’d expect so, when the average ticket was a good $125 in stadiums holding over 60,000 people. And trust me, concert t-shirts ain’t cheap. They’ll run you at least $30 a piece (though some $20 shirts were available), and an outrageous $30 for a tour program booklet, and then you have other goodies like $50 fleeces and $65 hoodies. One enterprising soul looked at the tour date at the University of Virginia stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia and found that while the official ticket price range was $30-$253 via the thieves at Ticketmaster, the going rate from ticket broker scalpers for a general admission ticket on the field was from $699 ( to $1600 ( In comparison the cost of a season football ticket for the Virginia Cavaliers was at the time $269.00. 

NOTE: It’s already a rip to have to pay all the extra fees associated with Ticketbastard, but then a-hole ticket brokerages get involved and buy up huge chunks of available tickets and then ass-rape desperate fans by charging insane prices for tix. It’s not just for U2 tickets, either. I saw people getting hit for $1200 a ticket on the last Depeche Mode tour.
The official U2 jet
So we have now established that Mister Bono Vox has money flowing out of most orifices, despite the costs involved in making albums and putting on concert tours. 

Fast forward to last month when Facebook went public on the stock exchange.

It seems that Bono was an early investor in Facebook. His investment firm, Elevation Partners, bought 2.3 percent of the social network juggernaut for $90 million in 2009. So when The Book went public, Bono & Co. pulled in about $1.5 BILLION with a Capital B. Of course, Bono downplayed this, as the money will be split among various investors and partners associated with the group. It should also be noted that Bono would not be allowed to sell all of his shares at once, and he has said that money raised from his investments will largely be directed to his philanthropic work in Africa.

And that brings me to his charity. And kinda to the meat of what the hell I started to write this article for…

Bono isn’t shy about wanting all of us to toss our pennies into his hat to help all the poor, downtrodden wretches in Africa. He tells us to donate mosquito netting to save poor babies from malaria and “death by maw-skee-toe”, pleading with us from behind his rose-tinted sunglasses. There’s the famous meme poster about Bono calling for silence in the stadium and clapping his hands every few seconds and saying that every time he claps his hands a child in Africa dies. He’s been on board the Africa Train since the early days, when U2 gained a huge audience after their amazing performance at Live Aid and lending his vocals to the Band Aid single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Bono pleaded with us all to buy red cell phones and red iPods through the (product)RED movement that was rife with criticism over how it handled donations.

With help from Bill Gates, Bono’s ONE Campaign continues to guilt us into handing over our money to people in Third World holes who, despite almost a hundred years of folks from the western world trying to help them out, still crap in their drinking water, live in dirt and have babies they can’t support, all of which in turn gets blamed again on the western nations who allegedly keep them downtrodden whilst stealing their land and resources. Look; we can’t always be the bad guys. Eventually you gotta help yourselves. The irony is tasty like UNICEF porridge—evil westerners cause the strife but only westerners can save you….go figure.

Meanwhile the richest dude after Paul McCartney has a giant charity that isn’t a charity.


Okay, here’s ONE’s mission: To fight extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and educating policy makers about the importance of smart and effective policies and programs, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. ONE also works closely with activists and leaders in Africa to address structural issues, such as debt relief, trade investment, and good governance, that are essential for countries to lift themselves out of poverty.

Sounds like sunshine & rainbows, don’t it? Raising public awareness usually means showing infomercials of starving kids covered in shit & flies during dinner hours on TV and then more or less telling us that if we don’t send money we’re all bastards because you can feed an entire village on thirty-five cents a day. (Providing the corrupt governments don’t steal the food & supplies, or drug-addled warlords chewing khat leaves don't steal the supplies, or a rival tribe that likes to hack your tribe to pieces with machetes doesn’t steal the supplies after hacking up a village or three….while corrupt ineffective U.N. types stand idly by wringing their hands and demanding the United States clean up the mess.

I’ve read somewhere that you should look into how any charity you might be interested in doles out its grants and exactly how much of the money it takes in goes to overhead like salaries and how much actually makes it to the needy recipients. Last year, Kanye West closed down his self-titled foundation after it was revealed that while he brought in over $570,000 in 2010, all of the money went to paying “administrative fees,” and none of it was disbursed to the needy. Wyclef Jean was slammed when it was discovered that, instead of helping the people of Haiti his fund had pissed away millions. Charity Navigator, a nonprofit group that oversees this sort of thing, suggests no more than 15 percent of a charity's cash flow should go toward administration or overhead and that if a charity has 30 percent or more of its funds going toward administrative fees or overhead that charity has troubles. 

The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance is a bit more forgiving, recommending charities spend at least 65 percent of their total expenses on actual program activities. 

But seriously, think about it; if you thought your donations were going to save starving children, wouldn’t you be a bit peeved if your money was actually going to pay someone’s six-figure  salary, throw lavish parties to “raise awareness” and get peoples’ pictures in rags like People or Rolling Stone, or to fly influential types around the world on a private jet? 

Bono’s group (which he has always said is a marketing or lobbying campaign – thus distancing it from grant giving charity rules) had an interesting year in 2010. Total revenue for the year was $18,738,485 (down from $35,212,269 in 2009) – with 55 percent, or $10,464,935, going to “salaries and other compensation.” Only $1,356,706 was paid out in grants, with $11,249,753 going to “other expenses” like 12 percent – or $2,338,966 - for travel, $2,620,148 for unspecified service fees, $1,202,212 in information technology and $828,804 in office expenses. So out of 18 million dollars brought in, only a little over 1 million went to actual direct grants to those poor, starving, AIDS-riddled, mosquito-bitten victims of western rape & pillage.

ONE claims it is a non-profit advocacy organization, kind of like a marketing campaign, not a grant giver – so therefore it should be held to different standards. Of course.

Kathy McKiernan, ONE's press secretary, told “We do not solicit funding from the general public or run programs on the ground. ONE fights extreme poverty and preventable disease by raising awareness of these crises and their solutions, and by pressing policymakers both in the US and around the world to support smart, effective programs that save lives and stabilize communities. So we are part Brookings Institution, part AIPAC and part the NRA for the world’s poor. (Note: gotta make sure the US is influenced because they expect America to babysit the world)

But…ONE had booths set up at the concerts on the 360° Tour to get people to sign up, join them, donate, etc., so isn’t that soliciting direct funding from the people most likely to give?

You’re saving these people by raising awareness, huh? I guess all those people slapping pink breast cancer ribbons on everything from measuring cups to frozen dinners to toilet paper aren’t really trying to SELL MORE PRODUCTS by latching on to a trend, either. “I’m fighting breast cancer by eating a Twinkie with a ribbon on the box”. 

More from ONE:
“Our staff is the primary tool through which we do our work. Just as a newspaper’s budget would show a large percentage devoted to staff salaries to fund the work of reporters, editors, researchers and more, ONE allocates a significant percentage of its budget to enabling the organization to have the staff necessary to do our programmatic work. ONE has more than 120 staff operating in 8 offices around the world. We are specifically funded not to be a grant-making organization. The only exception is our ONE Africa Award, a prize given each year to a grassroots organization in Africa. On travel expenses, in addition to staff travel to the continent of Africa, ONE runs a half-dozen listening and learning trips to Africa each year so that we can show groups of influencers how poverty and disease are impacting people in the world’s poorest countries, how people in those countries are fighting back and how American-supported programs, such as PEPFAR or the Global Fund, are making a difference."

Well, that’s because most of those INFLUENCERS are the PROBLEM, dearie. You ain’t tellin’ ‘em anything they didn’t know when they woke up. They LIVE THERE. Half of them are keeping the poor downtrodden so that they can stay in power and continue to be INFLUENCERS.   

So you send people to Oompaloompaland, Africa to see The Great Boomdweezi and throw a huge lavish party, so he can say sure, bring in a few planeloads of rice and some water treatment machines, and then he has his thugs steal the food and massacre the schmucks who show up for water.

You’d be better-served by buying sniper rifles & taking out the corrupt leaders, in my snarky, jaded, cynical opinion. Make sure you buy yourself some $300 Emporio Armani sunglasses first.

Oh, and while we’re bursting bubbles, how about the massive carbon footprint generated by a world tour as massive as a U2 event?

According to the Belfast Times, U2 was reportedly producing up to 20,117.5 tons of CO2 in 2009, equivalent to flying the band to Mars in a passenger plane. That’s approximately 457.2 tons a show, going by the tour average for each show. According to U2 guitarist The Edge, the band purchased carbon offsets to account for the tour’s ecological impact. That’s celeb-speak for “We paid off some Al Gore-owned scam artist company to buy imaginary carbon credits so we could feel less guilty about all the fuel & electricity consumed on our tour by believing someone is planting trees to soak up carbon dioxide.”

Live Aid was over 25 years ago and those people still don’t look any better off to me after BILLIONS in relief donations. Charity begins at home, people. Why don’t we help our homeless veterans and wounded warriors and let Bono spend that billion dollar Facebook windfall on whatever he wants.

In his Man of Peace Award acceptance speech in 2008 at the Nobel Summit, Bono mentioned that “…the US gun lobby spends nearly 200 million dollars a year making sure that you can’t get elected if you support gun control”. Hey, Bono, it’s a RIGHT guaranteed to our citizens by our CONSTITUTION. I own a firearm and have never shot anyone, and with all my Army training by your standards I am Death Incarnate. And if you look around, areas where people get murdered the most by guns in this country are places where Liberals have enacted gun control laws to keep citizens from exercising their right to defend themselves, but hey, look at the United Kingdom: the average citizen in the UK doesn’t own a gun but STABBING deaths are rampant.

I found this tidbit at
*In or about 2006, there were about 60 million people in the UK as a whole, including Scotland.
*In England and Wales alone — discounting Scotland — there were over 163 thousand knife crimes.
*By the end of 2006, there were more than 300 million people in the US as a whole.
*In the US as a whole, there were fewer than 400 thousand gun crimes.
*In the UK, based on these numbers, there was one knife crime commited for every 374 people (rounded down).
*In the US, based on these numbers, there was one gun crime committed for every 750 people — less than half a gun crime per 374 people (about 0.4987 gun crimes per 374 people, actually).
*That means that, based on these statistics, you are more than twice as likely to be a victim of knife crime in the UK as you are to be a victim of gun crime in the US.

I don’t see anyone trying to ban knives anywhere in the world.

Again, go spend your billions on whatever you want, but stop asking me for money and stop trying to make me feel guilty for living in a country with electricity, running water, free elections, and the right to keep & bear arms.

1 comment:

jay son said...

where the singers have no shame