The World’s Weirdest Group Hug: U2, Big Pharma, Broadband Cable Providers, Youtube & Me!

December 27, 2009
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I live in Pasadena, a sunny Southern California city known for hosting the annual New Year’s Day Rose Parade, and a college football Bowl game which follows. I live dangerously close to the Rose Bowl, a massive outdoor stadium which seats 100,000 fans, and hosts the annual game, the local UCLA Bruins, and various other events throughout the year.

 

In my short decade in Pasadena, residents have become increasingly, shall we say, irritated with loud rock concerts, soccer hooligans and general mayhem resulting from drunken crowds staggering around the Bowl, so it’s not surprising that a recent crack-down in evening events and a strictly enforced noise ordinance have meant that little much fun has happened at the Rose Bowl since the Stones and Pink Floyd raised hell in 1994.

 

So, imagine how THRILLED I was when I learned back in April that U2—yes, Bono, Edge, Clayton and Mullen—would be gracing a stage just a stone’s throw from my house. I bankrupted myself on tickets, and started the countdown.

 

All went according to plan until the day of the event, approximately 6 hours prior to show-time. I was listening to the strains of the sound-check from my backyard (trying to

I live in Pasadena, a sunny Southern California city known for hosting the annual New Year’s Day Rose Parade, and a college football Bowl game which follows. I live dangerously close to the Rose Bowl, a massive outdoor stadium which seats 100,000 fans, and hosts the annual game, the local UCLA Bruins, and various other events throughout the year.

 

In my short decade in Pasadena, residents have become increasingly, shall we say, irritated with loud rock concerts, soccer hooligans and general mayhem resulting from drunken crowds staggering around the Bowl, so it’s not surprising that a recent crack-down in evening events and a strictly enforced noise ordinance have meant that little much fun has happened at the Rose Bowl since the Stones and Pink Floyd raised hell in 1994.

 

So, imagine how THRILLED I was when I learned back in April that U2—yes, Bono, Edge, Clayton and Mullen—would be gracing a stage just a stone’s throw from my house. I bankrupted myself on tickets, and started the countdown.

 

All went according to plan until the day of the event, approximately 6 hours prior to show-time. I was listening to the strains of the sound-check from my backyard (trying to explain how “U2” was different from “Me Too” to my three-year-old) when it happened. I became suddenly, unfailingly, painfully ill. All at once. Like being crushed by a truck.

 

It didn’t matter. I’d waited twenty-odd years, and I was not going to miss this show. So, I staggered to the event. Literally, staggered. I sat on the ground, head between knees, waiting for a queue of 20,000 ticket-holders to snake their way to the entrance. That took over an hour. I shivered as I waited in a concession line for a bottle of water and pretzel, listening as the Black Eyed Peas took the stage. I felt so awful by the time I crawled to my seats, that I clutched the aforementioned pretzel so hard it was reduced back to dough.

 

I managed to hang in there until U2 took the rocket-ship-shaped stage looking like black specks in the distance—not before announcing what I knew already. This event was being streamed live to 16 nations representing every continent on Youtube.com. We, the mass of humanity in the audience, were instructed to sing-along, look happy, dance “loudly” and show our utter devotion to the band, all in the name of solidarity and world peace. I squeezed my pretzel harder, and remembered my 10Mb/s connection at home. I had my first thought of joining my estimated several-hundred-thousand peers—watching through the assistance of three content-delivery-networks to reduce traffic interruptions—from the comfort of my home.

 

Without question, the band is a collection of rock icons. They sounded incredible. They looked cool. But, I’m getting ill-er (if that’s a word) by the moment. And, the man next to me is dipping his French-fries in Sriracha “Rooster” Sauce, making matters worse for me all the time. I had to leave… and now.

 

So, with tears in my eyes, I staggered back home. It’s a lonely walk when your favorite band is playing in your back yard, and you’ve ransomed your child’s college fund for tickets. I made it back to the house, opened the windows and heard “One” wafting clearly through the night sky.

 

Then, I flipped open the laptop. Audio was delayed a few seconds from what I could hear happening out my window, but I could see—I mean actually see!—Bono leaping around like a man half his age. Then, I launched Twitter, allowing its real-time feed to complement my broadband viewing and backyard lullaby. As wistful as the comments made me feel, I felt like my U2 experience had not only been saved from certain disaster, but was some how richer. I was hearing, seeing, and chatting with friends at the venue from the comfort of my own bed. I wanted to embrace Charter Cable, technology innovators of all kind, and big Pharmaceutical all in the world’s biggest group hug.

 

Then, I shut off the lights. I think I dozed off to the sounds of “With or Without You” floating through my window. Another case of technology saving the day. Now, it’s time for a visit to the doctor!

 

Colleen Quinn

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