Bono’s First Day

It’s true: Bono is The New York Times‘s newest (occasional) op-ed columnist. Kevin Nguyen reports on Bono’s first trip to The Times Building in Manhattan.

Monday Bloody Monday (too easy?)

10:00 a.m.
When I—Bono of the rock band U2—arrive at The New York Times Building, I’m greeted by bespectacled man wearing an awful tie.

“I’m David Brooks,” he says.

I introduce myself: I’m Bono. Of U2. The rock band. Winner of 22 Grammys. That’s more than any other band ever.

“I know who you—”

But more importantly, I’m known for my humanitarian work. I help only the most desperately helpless.

“Well, you’ve come to the right place,” David says.


10:10 a.m.
David explains: all that’s left of The Times is a handful of columnists, supported by several hundred unpaid interns from journalism programs around the country.

I try to lighten the mood by asking what’s wrong with the elevator (EL-E-VA-TOR!). He misses the joke, and says it was too expensive to keep running.

Note to self: send David Brooks eight copies of All that You Can’t Leave Behind and one DVD of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.


10:30 a.m.
I meet some of the other columnists in the break room.

Thomas Friedman compliments me on my sunglasses. And shirt. And pants. (Later, David explains that Tom just tells everyone what they want to hear.)

Frank Rich also seems pleasant, but for some reason, his hands are covered in mayonnaise. He scurries back to his office where David says he’ll probably wolf down six BLTs.

The smirking, sexy redhead introduces herself as Maureen Dowd. She asks me if I’d like to have lunch with her and slips me her number.

I also meet David Carr, and when he speaks, I ask him if he’s slowly dying.


11:00 a.m.
David Brooks takes me down to Human Resources to fill out some paperwork. He explains that the entire department was laid off, and that the operation is being run by Kenny, an intern from Northwestern University.

“You need to fill out a W-2,” he says.

I ask him if that’s supposed to be a joke.

He explains that a W-2 is some kind tax form, which I have to fill out in order to be paid.

I explain to David that W-2 sounds like U2, my rock band. We’ve won 22 Grammys.

“Yes,” David says. “That’s funny.”


12:00 p.m.
Maureen and I have lunch.

“Can I call you Bunny?” she asks.

I tell her how Sinatra influenced me–like Frank, I do everything my way. Like, when I founded the advocacy group ONE, they wanted to call it TWO, but I said that it would confuse people who associate the number two with my rock band, U2.

“Can I call you Bono Bear?”


1:00 p.m.
I pass by Paul Krugman’s office. According to David, Krugman hasn’t emerged from his office since last October. Rumor has it that he’s building a depression-proof fallout shelter for himself and his seventeen cats.

“Even before the financial crisis, he only left the office to smash pumpkins that he’d labeled ‘bipartisan,’” David says. “It’s probably what scared Bill Kristol into leaving for The Washington Post.”

What gives him the right?

“Well, he won a Nobel Prize last year.”

I tell him that I was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, 2005, and 2006.

“But you never won?”

Note to self: send Paul Krugman one of my Grammys.


1:30 p.m.
I return the W-2 to the intern in the Human Resources Department.

The intern glances at the form.

“You need to put your full name on here.”

But I did.

“No, Bono is not your full name,” he says, and hands the form back to me.

I scratch out Bono, fill in my name, and hand it back.

“The Edge is not your name either.”

Okay, if you’re so smart, what is my name?

“According to Wikipedia, it’s Paul David Hewson,” Kenny says, checking his computer monitor, “although it also says you make your wife and family call you Bono as well.”

Yes, I’ve seen Wikipedia before. Who do you think wrote the “Humanitarian work” section of my entry?

Kenny hands me another form. “Since we’re donating your pay to a charity of your choosing, you need to fill out the organization’s contact information on this form.”

I hold my pen like I’m stabbing the paper, and write AFRICA across the entire page.


2:00 p.m.
Maureen takes me to her office, and we make love on top of a stack of chick lit. She takes me to a place called vertigo.

I was pretty drunk when I wrote that song.


2:03 p.m.
Maureen puts her clothes back on, and tells me to leave her office.

“If you don’t come crawling back to me, it’s because you fear intelligent women.”

Note to self: Maureen Dowd is crazy.


2:04 p.m.
I return to my office, take a few belts from a mayonnaise-covered whiskey bottle Frank Rich apparently left on my desk, and write this.

Kevin Nguyen is a founding editor of The Bygone Bureau. His only marketable skill is an above-average knowledge of European geography. He has been useless since the introduction of the atlas in 1477. Reach him by email or follow his Twitter account.