I’m still up. I had to get the Google kids in their downtown loft to launch our (RED) Ads by Google before management changed their minds. In Silicon Valley, they don’t wait for Monday morning to fire you.
Once the first red-text ads went live, automatically transferring 40 percent of the take directly to Global Fund financed grants in Ghana, Rwanda and Swaziland, those crazy, oversexed Googlers began cheering and turned out the lights and cranked up the stereo. Before I could get a report on how the ads were doing, they were dancing on desktops and stripping and spraying each other with Silly String. Why spoil the fun? I found a big spot lamp in the corner of the darkened loft, turned it on and walked around shining it on them, just like I did to Edge in Rattle and Hum. Who knew the geeks could be so sexy? There’s some video you can see if you know the right login on YouTube. I don’t have it.
I slipped out before the inevitable blogger backlash to the ads began. I walked to Polk Street, where Adam our bassist had taken me twenty years ago to see the runaway kids and tranny hookers. They’ve cleaned it up a bit. When I got to the nicer, yuppier part — Polk Valley, they tell me it’s called now — I stopped cold. From outside one of the clubs, I could hear a live band playing inside. You’re not going to believe me. Gene Loves Jezebel. For real. On Polk Street. In 2007.
The tragedy was there was no line at the door. My bigger problem was I don’t carry cash. Jesus didn’t. Plus it gets me out of picking up the check all the time. But I couldn’t get in, because the way fame works is that when I walk up to the Red Devil Lounge on Polk, people look right at me and my clothes and my sunglasses at night and the last thing their brains will conclude is hey, it’s Bono. Their reaction is a more pragmatic get lost, junkie. And that’s before they find out my pockets are empty.
But as the Googlers say, I’m feeling lucky. Who comes around the corner but my big-headed buddy Nick Denton from New York. He was just as shocked to see me as I was to hear Gene Loves Jez, who at this point had just launched into “Twenty Killer Hurts” and I really, really wanted to be inside. Denton carries plenty of cash, so no problem.
I went straight to the front of the crowd. If you could call it a crowd — I counted 79 people in the room. Jay Aston looked down at me between songs and said, “Hey bud, Bono called. He wants his shades back.” Huge laughs all around. See what I mean? Sometimes that’s for the best. I danced to “Over the Rooftops” with a gorgeous, vivacious redhead who runs a dot-com now but had a huge crush on Jay when she was twelve. Denton hid at the back but still got mobbed by dorky bloggers who want to be the next … uh … the next whoever his big star blogger is right now.
After the show, I talked Top of the Mark — where they do recognize me — into staying open for Jay and Nick and me. We sat looking out over the city and the bay at 1:30 a.m. I ate at least twenty petit fours and downed six double shots of espresso to stay awake. I should have gone for seven.
Denton says Silicon Valley is like New York. Both build elaborate worlds around what people are willing to believe. Their true product is imagination. At least until the ground shakes, or the towers fall. And then people pick themselves up, shake off the dust, and start all over again. No, he didn’t really say that. Truth is he’s in town because he’s got some dirt on the brat who runs Facebook that’s just — I know this is turning into a theme — too good to believe. Hoo boy, and I thought the Googlers were freaks.