U2: 360

U2 360: The Mattnificent Tour, U2009-U2011

U2 360° Journal > Mein Gott!

Mein Gott!

There are several instances during my travels I can look back on and distinctly remember thinking, "My God, what have I gotten myself into?"

That time back, during The Young Mattopia Jones Chronicles, when I got off the train in Krakow, Poland, in the pitch black and frigidness of a late night in January.

Ditto that when I stepped off the train in Bratislava, Slovakia, and was greeted with Cyrillic signage leaving me without a clue about what to do next.

Of course, just about every moment I spent in Morocco qualified as a "My God, what have I done?" moment.

More recently, I remember getting off the train in San Sebastian, Spain, during the Vertigo tour and seeing signage that wasn't quite Spanish. It threw me for a loop. Thank goodness, outside the train station, there was one posting on a pole that was universal: Somebody had U2 tickets for sale.

Even last year, I was wondering what the heck I was thinking when I arrived in Cairo. Running through the parking lot to an exchange booth late at night, being tisked-tisked for attempting to trade in a worn down bill. Then the shuttle driver, briskly moving between lanes, advising me that two things are required to drive in Cairo: 1. A strong heart and 2. Closed eyes.

Mein Gott!

Well, while getting the Mattnificent Leg of the 360 tour put together, I can say it's the first time I've ever sat in my La-Z-Boy and wondered aloud, "My God, what have I done?"

Even by my own standards, this trip is ambitious.

But it'll also be fun. And, from a certain point of view, the timing is perfect.

Yes. There's a global recession. But that'll turn around.

The thing that's been weighing on my mind more, though, is life itself. Take a look back at the last few months and tally up the famous and well-to-do who've passed on far too early: Natasha Richardson, Danny Gans, Farah Fawcett, Fred Travalena, Billy Mays and, of course, Michael Jackson. It's depressing to think about how they've already passed on. Farah was perhaps the most expected, given her battle with cancer. But Natasha? That sucked. Totally unexpected. Same for Billy Mays.

Michael Jackson? Well, he died way too young for sure. But he was surrounded by "yes men" who no doubt contributed to his undoing (the same can be said of the undoing of major corporations like J.D. Edwards; "yes men" are evil in any circumstance). And Jackson himself was complicit in his own sketchy, confused public image by planting rumors about his hyperbaric chamber and bid for the Elephant Man's skeleton. That's not to mention Bubbles the Chimp, the masks, the veils, Neverland Ranch and all those unromantic entanglements.

At least Ed McMahon and Karl Malden had long lives.

The thought from all this is to simply seize the day. Make it happen. Life is short.

And, in a nod to "my band," I'll do some more experimenting with technology while on the tour.

Returning from Cairo last year, I wanted to find a better way to take notes on the fly. The voice recorder trick wasn't quite the right answer. I had it in mind to get a BlackBerry and I held out for the Bold's release before taking the plunge in March. That idea was well settled before BlackBerry became the tour's sponsor. I found Vlingo for BlackBerry (a highly recommended piece of free software) and via Vlingo's voice recognition capabilities, I'll attempt to send updates from the road as Bonoholic at Twitter. And then there's all sorts of productivity tools I hope to take advantage of with the BlackBerry while following "my band" through far off lands.

While I dabble with the handheld technology, U2 will have their fabulous 360 Claw... or spaceship... whichever term you prefer. They are, of course, working on a much bigger scale of technological experimentation and innovation than am I.

It calls to mind when I joked with Wally Pfister, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer of The Dark Knight, about how, while he experimented with large-format IMAX cameras (which probably wouldn't even fit in my car), I was going to experiment with the Canon G9 (which fits in my pocket) and video record portions of our interview.

It's all a matter of scale.

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