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Photograph by Todd Inoue


Et U2?

There on the horizon—Gwar iPod ahoy!


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'These hippies love us," Bono murmured to the Edge, who stood next to him onstage last week as applause echoed through the California Theatre on South First Street in San Jose. On the other side of Bono stood Steve Jobs, who had just finished announcing several new products, including Apple's U2 iPod and the complete U2 digital box set with more than 400 tracks—a set soon available at iTunes for a $149 download.

"Broadband is required," Jobs geekily joked.

Bono went on to expound about how technology has influenced the evolution of music. "Technology has always changed the way music is experienced," he said. The Edge added that when he first realized folks were using computers to store all their music, he knew the entire system of media distribution was changing. He said he was glad that digital downloading came from a technology company as opposed to the recording industry.

"I don't think the industry could have done it," he mused.

Bono laughed at the fact that folks in the industry are still calling themselves "record executives." He's right on that point. The crumbling institution known as the recording industry has no idea what to do about the changing landscape of media distribution. Then along comes a band of U2's stature championing the whole thing, and it throws yet another knife in the industry's back.

Apple and U2 have cultivated a relationship ever since the very beginning of iTunes—no surprise that onstage Steve Jobs declared them the greatest band alive today. Bono pronounced that the job of art is to chase ugliness away and that Apple has a poetic side to its technology, as they make some really beautiful-looking computers.

Of course, some people prefer the ugliness, and we'd never want to chase it away. Art is about embracing the ugliness, for crying out loud. If we want to take an old Black Flag record, burn it onto a CD and blast it from our homemade Linux machine—one featuring a power supply duct-taped into the case—then we will do so.

Then came the music as the mates performed two songs from the new album, due out this month. We never envisioned walking a block and a half from our office to see the Edge play piano in front of the media hordes and Apple employees. Bono promised that next time we see them, the rest of the band will be there.

Outside in the hallway, Apple product demos took place, Apple employees doled out U2 posters and security guards pranced around in Apple windbreakers. Biter now eagerly awaits the Gwar iPod, the Jim Nabors iPod and the Merzbow iPod. That would be poetic technology at its finest.

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From the November 3-9, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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