Tuesday, July 04, 2006

23 Roads to Mythville
An apocalyptic journey across America and meditation on the imposition of order in space, both cyber and dirt real. By experiential author Douglas McDaniel, who explores the mysteries of American networked life. Read more

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Ipswich at War
A few days after Sept. 11, 2001, poet and essayist Douglas McDaniel moved to Ipswich, on the North Shore of Massachusetts. A collection of poems from that period of fear and anxiety, as well as the polemic essay, "Media Arts and War."
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Glasnost Lost
As an act of defiance after the botched election of 2000, experiential author launched himself into a journey into the underworld of American life, or, what he calls: The Science of Descent. Read more

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Godz, Cars & Cannon
Experiential author Douglas McDaniel launches drives into the networked thickets of American life, looking for signs of myth and romance in the age of automotive machines.
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Many Moons the Mythville: The Collected Road Poems
Poetry written during a 10-year span of criss-crossing America in a roving-eye view of the turn-of-the-century landscape of Mythville, or, as the author puts it: "It's all a bunch of Mythville." With work from four separate books by Arizona-based author and poet Douglas McDaniel, the bard-inspired voices of Milton, Blake and Yeats, as well as the saturnine streak of early beat poesy, ring through this collection of poems and essays. From the southwestern deserts to the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, "Many Moons to Mythville" is a foot-to-the-floor blast through the mythical roads of American life.
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Human Search Engine

The journey continues as the quest for myth in an age of information overload leads to online life as an editor for Access Internet Magazine. A story about all human search engines as they chase the ghost in the machine.
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William Blake in Cyberspace

Experiential author Douglas McDaniel takes on the visionary art and poetry of William Blake, comparing an otherworldly worldview to that revolutionary, romantic era to our own wild, wired, mythic world.
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The Kachina's Son

Poems about the Four Corners area written while author Douglas McDaniel was living in Telluride, Colorado.
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The Road to Mythville
A collection of poems on the new millennium in America, drawing from decade of bouncing across the country as a journalist and Kerouac-style poet, from the Southwestern deserts to the shores of New England and back again.
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Tuesday, November 09, 2004


By Ian Anderson

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the downfall of the Hippie Days. The clash of cultures between sleepy Isle Of Wight residents and the great unwashed hordes who descended on the Island's green and pleasant pastures was a sight to behold. Well, the music fans may not have been unwashed when they left for the long weekend but by the end of the Festival, there was something in the air!

I personally had a good soap and scrub before climbing aboard the Trislander, a small commuter aircraft with an unlikely three, even smaller, engines, for the brief flight from somewhere in the South of England.

We were joining Jimi Hendrix to close the three day festival and things were getting out of hand for Rikki Farr and the organisers of the event. The demands for free entry and a general grumpiness on the part of the disillusioned hippies had brought about chaos and violence on the fringes of the crowd. Tiny Tim had wanted the money up front. Joni Mitchell had broken down in tears on stage. Jimi wasn`t a happy bunny. I don`t know if we were ever paid but it wasn`t important.

Having done a few shows with Jimi during the last couple of years, we were well aware of his highs and lows as a performer. The Hendrix crew and our roadies had the (by then) customary battle to set up their respective band's gear first since neither act wanted to follow the other and close the show. Our roadies, with perhaps a little less equipment to wrestle with, won and we took to the stage amidst much tuning up and kerfuffle. Not the best show of our lives but a landmark gig in terms of just BEING THERE.

This was England's Woodstock, but with the unraveling of the ideals of the last few hippie years. Our manager, Terry Ellis had pleaded for calm backstage. Rikki Farr pleaded for calm at the back of the enormous crowd and beyond the rapidly disintegrating barriers. I silently pleaded with the Gods of Tunefulness that Martin and Glen could align themselves with the grand piano and agree, if temporarily, on the precise nature of a concert C.

Murray Lerner`s cameras were rolling as they had been from the beginning of the event. The whole documentary of the Isle Of Wight Fest is a magnificent treat. A brilliant snapshot of the time. Get a copy while you can. It is a perfect companion piece to this Tull set. We were just a tiny part of it all.

Funny how a drum solo could seem so fleeting in 1970. Funnier still how time flies except when you are listening to the same drum solo 34 years later. Not to mention flute solos, piano solos and guitar flights of energetic and electrical fancy. Boy, did we drone on. But there are some magical moments, nonetheless. Largely unedited for this record and DVD, the music stands as a testimony of the good, the bad and the noisy -- all of which defined the early period of Jethro Tull. No Prog Rock here: just the frantic and enthusiastic roaring of Gibson, Fender, Marshall, Ludwig and whatever brand name passed for a flute at the time.

Like the Who, Tull gave out the white heat energy which overcame occasional technical imperfections. Like the Moody Blues, Tull gave hints of more sublime and classical alternatives. Like Tiny Tim, Tull provided a hint of vaudeville and music hall vulgarity and foppishness. But there was no one like Jimi……… His last major gig on planet Earth began shakily and I could see he wasn't having a good night. With a new band and determination to find new beginnings to his music, Jimi had to bow to the crowd pressure to play his usual hits.
I left after two or three songs for the mainland and the rest of my life. Jimi left us for good a few days later. So let's dedicate this record and DVD to the man who wasn't exactly my pal, but would certainly have become one if he were alive today.

Ian Anderson is the leading light of Jethro Tull (No, that is not his name, jeez, after 34 years you`d think people would start to get the point). DLM

Monday, August 30, 2004

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Friday, January 04, 2002

All is Unfair
For North Shore
Media Arts in War

By Douglas McDaniel
Mythville MetaMedia

If the medium is the message, then the date, Sept. 11, is the portal where we pour all of our pain to put it on digital display.

The message is our mantra, our artistic Alamo. And here at the new front of the new war, the bleeding hearts and artists are shaken and stirred like all of the flags waving in the breeze.

“Since Sept. 11,” says Ron DiRito, a teacher at Montserrat College whose specialty is art and media and its context and meaning in society, “I don’t think (people who live elsewhere) understand what it’s like for us.

“I think the rest of the country doesn’t have the same kind of …,” he pauses, looking for ways to explain how it feels to be at the front of this new war, then, completing the thought: “ Everybody in New York understands it better than other people in the rest of the country. The physical distance changes our perception of something. There is this overwhelming sensibility.”

The convergent media’s use of Sept. 11 or the American flag has become nothing short of a patriotic duty for muckrackers of all stripes, for performance artists, for poets (heroic and tragic), for the political satirist who struggles with their his conscience about the very concept of humor, for humorists gone soft on grief, for photographers looking for some outlet, some relief. For artists returning to the simple and beautiful things, if only to remember. For their patrons, who seek out beautiful things, if only to remember.

The date, Sept. 11, flows like water, a shorthand sound byte not heard since getting revenge for Dec. 7, 1941 made vengeance for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor a national rallying cry.

Go ahead. Run “Sept. 11” in a search engine. Run through the links, click through the streaming media of shock, horror, and yes, nationalistic fervor bound to (what it believes to be) justice and (unbelievable) vengeance. Expressing oneself in this way, in times of mass hypnotic states of hysteria, war, famine and scary bad TV, well, is as necessary as alcohol at a shotgun wedding.

As they say, the medium (Or, the media) is the message. So is writing the date, Sept. 11. On posters, stamps, newspaper supplements, whatever we, the expressive, can get our hands on.

But is that the most responsible way to express oneself on the big blank page of life during a time of national trauma, and yes, tight security? The convergent media paradigms are all in sync with the Union at War. Why egg it on?

What if you are a dissenter? A starving artist who prefers to recall other dates such as Dec. 13, 2000 (the day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled dimpled chads null and void to end the last presidential election), or, Columbus Day, except not as a celebration of the discovery of the New World, but as a Native American directing our psyches toward a day of national shame?

Better think twice before you conjure the image, the number, the symbol, whatever. First figure out if it’s naughty, or, nice. Think twice before you type. Try to understand if your multi-media memento is at the service of vengeance, tragedy, pain, or, worse yet, your very self destruction.


Seth Butler, out of a concern for air pollution on North Shore of Massachusetts and a need to burn film for a photo essay for a class at Montserrat, loaded a roll of film and fired.

He pointed his weapon, a truth-telling device, at the churned and weathered brown spires of the Salem Power Plant. Since photos never lie, or, at least, a picture beats a thousand words, he figured in some small way the images might flesh out of the mystery and wonder of the place. He thought the suspected poisons made possible on a daily basis by the plant might be explicated by his pictorial essay, and through this kind of truth we might all be saved from this inconvenience, or, at least, that we might all enjoy some breathtaking pictures of the alleged poisoning taking place.

Butler intended to document the power plant as an environmental problem, a typical topic for artists. In fact, such satanic mills have been fodder for artists since 18th century William Blake, for overly expressive protestors as far back as the original Luddite, Ned Lud, and perhaps even before. Power plants and factories will always be great targets for interesting photos. Or, just targets, anyway.

Which, for Butler, age 22, became part of the problem.

After Sept. 11, as a he snapped on the lens and took in the fall New England air, he looked at the monumental smokestacks, trying to see what the relationships were between himself, the lens and the world at war----not so much the brother-against-brother battle, but the man-against-nature war.

“I was just struggling with how to deal with it,” he says.


What is the most appropriate way to express oneself on the big blank page of life during a time of national trauma, and yes, tight security? Indeed. Most just shot and fired, and we are still only trying to figure out what the right questions are.

The bombardment of the global media, crashing all day, all night upon the New England shores, lighting up the giant video screens of Times-Square (still standing) and the pubs of London (last time checked), and yes, your living room, is an overwhelming streaming media of war-time news.

Montserrat scrambled to a response with a big blank page, inviting others to scribble on their own.

“When all of this happened,” says Jo Lennox, publicist for Montserrat College of Art, “we put a huge piece of paper on the wall and called it ‘The Wall of Expression.’ ”

Most people just planted on flag on everything they could see and thus, found their grief and anger and patriotic duty satisfied.

Others saw all of those flags and wondered, what is the message in this medium? We were shaken and stirred, yes, but were we really in touch with the way the symbols were connecting to our psyches?

“I went up to the police officer out front of the plant, gave them three IDs, and warned them that I was shooting photos for a project,” Butler says.

Butler isn’t stupid. He thought he’d received permission, at that point, since he was on public property. So he just started firing away with his telephoto lens. After all, the guard at the gate said sure, whatever.

“But then this guy pulls up,” another security guard, Butler says. “I just wanted to do my work. They told me I had to leave.

“They watched me leave and get back into my car.”

As he moved on into an intersection, at a speed of 15 miles per hour, the legal limit, a white unmarked van sped in front of Butler’s vehicle and slammed on the brakes. “He must of have going thirty five when he went by me and stopped,” he says.

“These serious looking cop gets out and says, ‘Some people want to talk to you.’ ”

Another police car pulled up, and then another. The local arm of the North Shore committee of public safety at war was coming down on Butler like something out of a Raymond Chandler novel.

“A large black SUV with tinted windows pulled up next. I kept my hands in clear view,” he says. “I had the film …,” he laughed nervously, visibly shaken, as he spread photos of American flag imagery upon a table in the media lab basement at Montserrat.

“I was in possession,” he admits, “of concealed film.”

We have more question than answers now. Other than a feeling that Cold War-style sentiments have returned, it has become impossible to gauge what’s happening to artistic expression since Sept. 11. All that we know is something that’s a close kin to post-traumatic stress disorder is being transmitted through all media, from the political satire of David Letterman to the mega-bombastic sequel to the classic post-apocalyptic thriller coming to any theater near you.

To the episodes of “Survivor.”

To every creative impulse that every tried to be a light in the darkness; to all those media images that are flowing through us now.

How do we respond?

How do we deal creatively with our own struggle to find the appropriate voice?

How do we know the right thing to say, when we see death, so much death?

He do we contend with what David Byrne of the Talking Heads once anticipated in “Life During War-time”:

“Ain’t got no speakers
Ain’t got no headphones,
Ain’t got no music to play.”

For all practical intents, seemingly, the latest CD by Madonna is rendered not so much obscene but most certainly oblique. On the surface level (which really the only level you can really make money in the entertainment business) it’s a commercial question. What are audiences looking for?

As John Kimball, director of the North Shore Music Theater, remarked shortly after Sept. 11: “We will be more focused on what’s important and be more patriotic.”


After his 45-minute roust, Seth Butler, spurned photojournalist, put aside his Greenpeace passions over the Salem power plant, and started taking photographs of American flags.

But rather than puffing up his frames with a patriotic fervor, his eye seemed to be finding something else. An irony. A horror. A beauty. A terror. And more than anything else, a sense of alienation.

“For the first time in my life, I was feeling like a stranger in my own country,” he says. “They basically insulted me. They asked me why I wasn’t in Vermont (where he used to live). I was being very open about the whole thing. I was being very civil about the whole thing.

“I’m trying to deal with an event, a problem, over air quality, carcinogens, a serious matter. I ended up being shut down. I tried to work from farther away, and ended up trying to look at it in different contexts.

“But never did I think that I was going to run into the FBI as a college student.”


As Boston political satirist Jimmy Tingle put it, in a post Sept. 11 performance at the Wingate Street Micro Theater in Haverhill, “everything has changed.”

As part of a performance, serious even for a satirist in less apocalyptic climes, he read from a poem he had written in reaction to Sept. 11, “911: Prayer for America.”

There’s a hole in the tip of Manhattan
A hole in the soul of America
A hole in the center of our psyche
A hole in the foundation of our confidence
There’s a hole in the faith of our country
That fills churches in search of our God

In the time since Tingle wrote poem, several months after Sept. 11, there’s a shaky sense of assurance. After an alleged victory over the Taliban, citizens have crawled out of the foxholes and sleepwalk right back into the malls. Sunday’s gladiatorial epic, otherwise known as the NFL, is storming into the playoffs, and the media-flat map of the Stars and Stripes is becoming less ubiquitous.

Also, this: Anything that strays from a patriotic vision is likely to be, with the force of a fully diligent flight crew, wrestled to the ground and whisked away. At least until things quiet down.

At first the consensus among local arts folk was that, perhaps, everyone had seen enough violence in the media. That was at least the sentiment immediately after the attacks exploded so cinematically onto the real world’s stage. But while it was hard to know what to feel, the natural inclination toward unity, even for writers, artists, musicians and other performers, even they seemed to join up and salute to the brave new paradigm: grieve now, but kick ass later.

Oh sure, there was that initial sense that pyrotechnic violence on theater and television screens was a thing of the past.

“A lot of people had the same impression, that (the World Trade Center attacks) seemed like Hollywood, not the real thing,” says David Goss, director of fine arts at Gordon College.

Prior to the terrible events of that day, and the subsequent season of terror that followed and continues, he says the main concern for the planners of fall concerts might be quality, recognition, publicity, recognition, ticket sales, recognition, who might get top billing, and oh yeah, recognition.

But now, everything has changed.

“People are feeling uneasy about what they once considered to be so exciting,” he says.

But is Hollywood really ready to fess up, since Osama-style violence is only the copycat caricature of three, hmmm, maybe four late ’80s get-the-terrorist films, two of those starring Bruce Willis. Are post-Sept. 11 tastes no longer able to stomach the video violence?

Yeah, right.

You only need to consider the many years of conditioning that enabled us to stomach a totalitarian storm of escapes into Star Wars, hobbits at the gates of doom and pre-teenage detective wizards, the sinister but delightful Monsters, Inc., The Sopranos and on into the phantasm we go. All of those things were planned months, years before Sept. 11. Mass media culture is only starting to catch up. The masses still eat it up.

In this global mythic village, the plastic monsters and war toys are as real, within the own scale, as anything you can find in the jumbled up world. Just another mask for our national fascination with violence, which is still, quite surely, anything but satiated.

And it’s only beginning: Coming to a theater near you ---- a lock-step, achy breaky heart sort of thing, with the marketing strategy already set for a plastic neo-Bill Murray doll, a necessary evil to promote a generic pull-up-your-bootstraps-at-the-boot-camp sorta flick. With real napalm, and, real renegades to storm the unsafe gates of the Republic.
Our sense of freedom and free expression, in every aspect of our daily lives, from Paris to Portsmouth, is dizzy. Especially so for those of us in the curious position of being at the seacoast front of a new kind of war when the media buzzword, “terror,” is the message, and the enemy could be just about anyone.

“We have learned to tolerate each other better,” DiRito says. “But on the other hand, there is that thing going on, you don’t know who to suspect. This is still relatively trying to be understood. I don’t think we have processed it culturally and socially.”

Surely, self-expression is a window, but to what? Not much has been improved upon Plato’s belief that art is an imitation of life. Surely, self-expression is a window, but to what? Yeah, Aristotle could follow it up with improvements in classification, thus giving birth to criticism. But even after Sept. 11 artistic expression on the front of the North Shore, or within the deepest safe bunkers of Middle Earth, the response will be as varied as those who interpret life and throw it onto the “Wall of Expression.”

North shore music theatre is lame-o and, as a result, such pandering will continue to draw a larger audience than say, the performance artist who waves a pirate flag on his front lawn to protest the war. Jimmy Tingle will continue to walk a tightrope. Seth Butler will be daring until he no longer grieves.

As the times call out for artists with an eye for hypocrisy and the erosion of our civil liberties, extreme times such as these bring out the best of what we are, and also the worst.

Until we get our answers, we might all look back to Easter Sunday in 1916, when a small contingent of Irish patriots (today we might call them terrorists), took over a post office and ended up dying in a martyrdom of British bullets and fire. The poet, W.B. Yeats, reflecting on the shock waves the event created in Irish society, wrote the following: “All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.”

America is that terrible beauty now.

One other thing is likely as we fly, trying still to latch our windy emtions to the solid earth, into the New Year: Artists, when suppressed, will either whither and cease, or, if they have any gumption at all, will try even harder to break through the wall. Which means we are about to experience a wave of strident expression that hasn’t been seen since the 1960s.

“This was history. I didn’t want to give up,” Butler says, his hands still shaking, tears welling up in his eyes, as he tried to explain how it feels to be rousted by the Man while taking photos. “Somebody needs to be working, recording. The war and hypocrisy doesn’t stop, and I’m not going to either.”

Of the flag photo project, a follow up to his season of hope, terror, frustration, whatever, Butler has decided to call the series “Tattered.”

A terrible beauty is born.

Douglas McDaniel is the publisher of Mythville MetaMedia , based in Haverhill. His has a new book of poetry, “The Road to Mythville,” is available online at iuniverse.com and amazon.com. He can be e-mailed at mythville@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Art of War:
U2 Goes to War

By Douglas McDaniel

We were late on the way to my first U2 concert and we still had a long way to go. My wife (back then) was pregnant with my son (he's 16 now). The Toyota Corolla charged hard down into the desert valley of metropolitan Phoenix, and then further south into the desert, toward the out-of-the-way Compton Terrace venue, a dusty outdoors amphitheater on an Indian reservation near Casa Grande. Then, the announcer on the radio gave the warning about the traffic jam for the U2 concert. I decided to go past the venue's off- ramp exit and further out into the desert, intending to outflank the sheep who didn't know any better.
So I pushed the engine. The little station wagon going into a starved whine. And then, the engine blew. White exhaust from the hood, an awful sound of deaccerlating tin and grease, the car now still, the motor a smoking ruin. A casualty of war.
Without much thought, we left it out there beside the tumbleweeds, where the streets really have no name. Turn away from life, from death, Yeats would have said: "Horseman, pass by." The wreck was our monument to our brand of fanaticism for U2, but also, our frailty. We got to the show in plenty of time, afterward hitching our way back to Phoenix in the back of a pickup truck, energized by the post-punk vibe of the show, a not-of-this rock'n'roll world sensibility that lasted longer than the ride home, maybe a decade or more.
Now I am in Ipswich, a harbor that usually seems far from the weary world. But no more. We are at war now against an invisible enemy and U2 is coming around again (Oct. 30, in Providence, R.I.). But in a time when such frivolities are plain to see, the show is still the only one worth the risk of another lost compact car. At no time, with the world at war with an invisible foe, has U2 seemed so worth the mere sacrifice of an engine that's only good for puttering around. Indeed, U2 is a call to embrace the world and swallow it whole, regardless of our petty concerns.
I just feel like I need the optimism, that's all.
But wait. This is a rock band. Not a religion. Even if it was frequently said during the 1980s that a U2 concert was what church should be like, the band is really just a highly potent form of social, political and spiritual information packaged for popular consumption. They were closer to "the War" in Irelance, and we just listened in from the suburbs to imagine what it felt like. But now it's here. Now we know.
With each tour, they got closer to this realization: Rock may not save the world, but a churchy riff that could set off earthquake alarms (something that actually happened, in Italy, during the 1980s) certainly might move it along. And by the 1990s, when the world wasn't saved, and their impact on pop culture had become diffuse, they melted into the stew, a mere self-parody of what they once were: "The Batman and Robin of rock'n'roll," as Bono once claimed.
Ah, Batman and Robin----in the guise of Bono and the Edge----were a wonder to behold 16 years go. Not so much for the portentous message of such agit-prop anthems as "Pride (in the Name of Love)," but more for the way the band's charismatic singer handled the audience, which in the early part of the show was out of control. Remember, in those days, if you didn't go to a concert wearing bleak chic black, well, you had no business banging your head in the valley of the punk. More than 25,000 people were surging toward the stage, pushing and shoving, because punk is an anxious music, and anger is just a part of the dance.
The crowd was so large, and the setting was so toxic, the band was reportedly floored by the suddeness of the event, and what it meant for the future of the band. The surly mob was just waiting to explode at the first chiming gong of "Sunday, Bloody Sunday." Instead, the band simmered rather than burned. Bono entreated the crowd to be cool, telling us, "Nobody gets hurt at a U2 concert." There was this sense of compassion for the crowd, and a fear for what the band was creating.
Two other things were worth remembering. The first was the way a fully realized "Bad" seemed to exorcize all of the angst out of the throng. The second was the way Bono tried to look 25,000 people in the eye.
Bono looked me in the eye for the first two shows of the "Joshua Tree" tour. Truly, a moment of arrival for the band, which made the cover of Time Magazine that week in the spring of 1987, but Bono lost his voice the first night of the tour after falling off a stage and injuring himself during rehearsals at the Arizona State University Activity Center. So, the first night of the tour begins, with the Edge firing off wristy chords on "Where the Streets Have No Name," Bono opens his mouth to the microphone and, ugh, nothing, not even a hoarse shout, just a sick, gasping sound, almost worse than the fearsome death wrattle of my poorly oiled Toyota.
Rather than retire backstage with an excuse, perhaps even a press release, that tickets can be reimbursed at the following locations ... the band pressed on while Bono simply allowed the audience to sing almost all of the songs for him. Once more, the potential of those anthems were more fully realized. U2 was a shared experience. We were in touch, through the ringing chimes of that guitar, the world-class bass and drums, of the earthquake building beneath our feet.
That gift for a kind of stripped-down charisma and apocalyptic poesy, set in a backdrop of the bone dry, creosote-soaked music inspired by Joshua Tree National Monument in Southern California, all connnecting, in a communal way with an audience who is right there with the band, is the best of what's left with me now in Ipswich.
My gas tank is not ready yet for the drive. In these times of war and increasing scarcity, a long haul for a concert seems silly, if not downright dangerous. But U2 tours have a way of filling the tank and pushing its fans along. Especially the Zoo TV tour, ahead of its time in terms of its multi-media message of technological convergence for pop's sake. Multiple screens big as houses. Quaint old cars, right off the autobahn, hanging from the top of the stage lights (now on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio). And more than that, the main event of each song, the Edge's axe as an earthquake alarm.
By then, Bono had declared himself to be an alternative guy who was not interested in cowing the masses. He covered his eyes with sunglasses, smoked cigarrettes on stage and sang about the thievery and anguish of the poet in "The Fly." He was seduced on stage by a belly dancer during "Mysterious Ways," since his jaded realism was telling him, perhaps, that the goddess was the mother of both love and battle. He crowed and croaked about lost love, despite it all, in "Until the End of the World." This was a band that was not only feeling its Batman and Robin, but also accepting its Joker and Mad Hatter.
Prior to the most recent tour, it had become an inevitable part of the pop process that the band would continue to conceal itself behind the pseudo-magical gloss of the pyrotechnical fluff. That was the 1990s, in a nutshell. Such was the case when they showed up at Foxboro Stadium, during the 1998 "Pop Mart" tour, beneath the shadow of a giant golden arches and a great big sequined lemon. Even it the tour attempted to approximate the work of Andy Warhol or Marshall McLuhan, U2's message within that medium was a colossal disappointment and more than enough proof they were mere rocker mortals, as opposed to revolutionary angels, after all.
But for the best bands, it's also a part of the pop process that once the dizzying aspects of success peters out with inane, ill-advised experiments in personal deconstruction, the good ones will once again return to the basics. They had been bad. Very bad. Even their accountant told them so. And now, after a couple of years of pennance, the band returned to the stage with a minimal stage setting and a reliance on music alone. With the new material of "All That You Can't Leave Behind," there's not necessarily a more venomous approach to the problem of getting heard these days. That is, they are not rocking harder than ever. Indeed, the band has mellowed into a kind of self-assurance of sonic simplicity, but that has allowed Bono to exist within that space to create some of his most profound and personal work.
After a decade of excess, U2 is going to war with messages of stripped-down efficiency in the music, and a confessional tone in the lyrics. Now the war has come home, I'm curious to know just how eye-to-eye Bono and I will be.
And my old Toyota, well, 16 years ago my dad and I returned to where the streets had no name, out in the desert. He just shook his head and cursed the culture that placed so much importance on a mere rock band. But with the ubiquitous quality of "It's a Beautiful Day," I got a feeling he gets it now. And here, take my car, I offer it in sacrifice to the rock'n'roll war lords of this world, or, any other.

Douglas McDaniel is a freelance writer, poet, playwright and philosopher based in Ipswich, Mass. His new collection of poetry, "The Road to Mythville: Poems 1990-2001," is available as a print on-demand book at www.iuniverse.com. He can be e-mailed at dlmtel@yahoo.com, or, visit his Web universe at http://mythville.blogspot.com/.