Bono & AIDS
BONO & THE TRUCKERS . . . The question of the day about a week ago was why the rock star Bono wore his hat when meeting (inside the building) with the Sun-Times editorial board about AIDS in Africa. His sidekick for the day, the actress Ashley Judd, also wore her hat. But she had slept on her hair -- a solid eight hours, she told the reporter. So she had an excuse: you don't go around with your hair a mess if you live at least partly by your looks.
Bono is another story. Unless he was ashamed of his hair too or has no hair at all and is ashamed of that. He wouldn't be the first of his species to feel that way.
He was barnstorming the Middle West in a bus to tell people about black Africans dying of AIDS, with a view to their doing something about it. For instance, he told truckers in Davenport, Iowa, they can help deliver drugs and vaccines to African truck drivers, half of whom he said have tested positive for HIV. Having delivered this message, which was almost certainly news to his listeners, he bought a peanut butter-Oreo cookie milkshake and left. The truckers went their way too. Will they and Bono ever meet again?
THE HAT . . . Among ideas promoted by Bono, we may be sure there was not one about imposing protectorates on countries whose governments are quite a problem when it comes to helping their people. Historian Paul Johnson, knowing too much for his own good, has suggested that for all of black Africa. Would he like to ride with Bono?
Whatever Bono was suggesting, the whole experience proved too much for Ashley Judd, who in Chicago wept to tell about suffering and death on the Dark Continent. In fact, she had to leave the room at the church where they were detailing the situation to supporters and reporters, returning to the bus.
The hat business is something else. Judd is cute in hers, as she looks cute however she dresses, is my guess. And another question: why does she requires two last names? Or two names, period. One is enough for Bono, whom I keep calling Sonny, after the late legislator and husband of Cher who went with two names, though God knows Cher doesn't.
OUT-BILLYING BILLY . . . It's all show-biz, of course, and we love it. But what are the Sun-Times and its religion reporter doing on this bus tour through darkest Iowa, and before that Nebraska, with Indiana yet to come, telling us what this excellent rock star says about health conditions far, far away? Does Bono know something about the publisher that he promises not to tell if they put him on page one? We should let that thought perish, no matter what's been happening in New York, where the Times is or was flogging the Augusta golf club story.
But not to be allowed to perish is yet another question, which I put to myself: Has the world stopped and kicked me off? This entertainer with lotsabucks is travelling the world (not stoned, which is a plus), getting a cabinet officer (who just resigned) to dress funny with him in Africa, getting the president (who didn't) to sit and talk with him on camera, preaching how to be Christian with a view to a health crisis in a part of the world whose middle name is crisis?
And getting people pumped up, at that. If Ashley Judd had to retire in tears, it was not so with 2,000 Wheaton (Ill.) College students on the day of Bono-in-the-hat on page one. "If these are religious folks," Bono said, referring to these students at an evangelical-Christian college, "I want to redirect them to the fire that is in the gospels." He was the man who would be Billy Graham in Billy Graham-land.
And by gum he did it. These folks turned out religious after all, "screaming, clapping . . . standing and howling for Bono and his band of humanitarians," the reporter tells us, not a one of them apparently wondering what God hath wrought in this latter-day Billy Sunday (ex-White Sox player turned preacher) with his answer for AIDS in Africa. God bless them, God bless Bono and his band, God bless us all. It's show biz, we love it.