And U2 has definitely carried that opinion of themselves from time to time during their career. Here is a passage from a 2001 article published in Time Magazine called "Bono And U2: Can Rock 'N' Roll Save The World?"
What's most surprising about U2's comeback is that the band hasn't toned down its idealism to fit today's junk-rock, glam-rap times. In fact, the performers have amped it up. During the North American leg of the Elevation tour, the band showed footage of Charlton Heston defending his views on firearms followed by stark footage of a small child playing with a gun and violent scenes from Vietnam as a sarcastic introduction to the song Bullet the Blue Sky. The new album, All That You Can't Leave Behind, takes its title from a song dedicated to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Burmese resistance leader Aung San Suu Ki, and the liner notes urge fans to remember victims of Sierra Leone rape and war crimes and to support Amnesty International, Greenpeace and the children's charity War Child.
One certainly can sense that you are always in the presence of something very important with U2. We're not talking about just another rock 'n roll outfit here, but rather the highly amplified conscience of the Western world. At $120 bucks a ticket of course, which does not include the souvenir tee-shirt.
So it must have come as something of a shock to U2's most loyal and true believing fans to have read the following in Saturday's edition of the Los Angeles paper the Daily News:
U2 guitarist sues over building homes on Malibu ridgeline - A world-famous guitarist with a reputation for backing environmental causes has filed suit against the California Coastal Commission, charging that the agency improperly turned down a request to build a series of five houses on a prominent ridge overlooking Malibu.
David Evans, better known as U2's "The Edge," and several business associates filed four lawsuits late Friday.
Evans had asked to build five houses on a ridgeline adjoining public parkland, overlooking the Malibu Pier. Although opponents said the five houses would be visible from Point Dume to Venice, The Edge had worked with environmental planners to design homes that he said would blend with nature.
The Coastal Commission's executive director called the plan "the worst" project he has seen on the coast in 30 years, and the commission rejected it by citing several violations of the state laws that protect California's coastline.
The Edge's spokeswoman, Fiona Hutton, said in a news release Friday that the government "is now denying these families the right to use their land. When we buy property zoned for residential use, we expect to be able to build a home," she said.
One would hope that such heavy-handed and oppressive government actions will not leave these families homeless and out in the streets.
The Edge had previously spoken out about his plans for building homes on this ridgeline high above one of America's most exclusive communities. And he has always claimed that he would only build with the greenest of standards in mind. A comfort to those who care, I'm certain. So what exactly is it that The Edge is hoping to construct up there? Here an ABC News report on the lawsuit describes his plans:
The proposal called for five multilevel homes of up to 12,786 square feet to be built on 156 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains. Project designers said the homes would have the top green building certifications and the guitarist himself said the mansions would be some of the most environmentally sensitive in the world.
Somehow the notion of a 12,786 square foot mansion being "environmentally sensitive," and in a world class kind of way no less, does seem like something of an oxymoron. And apparently the Sierra Club has sensed the clash of values in such a statement. This from an e-mail alert sent to their list of concerned environmental activists:
The project did not involve just a handful of allegedly "sustainable" mansions. It involved a 7400' long access road with grades as much as 19% that would climb from sea level just east of Malibu Lagoon to elevations of 1000' to 1700' above sea level on what the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy described as the most prominent coastal ridgeline in the Santa Monica Mountains that is visible from sites all around the Santa Monica Bay.
The project would also involve an 8000' water line extension that would climb the north slope of Saddle Peak (2805') and then drop down to the site. As the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy pointed out in its testimony, the project is situated in the heart of a 2920 acre core habitat area that would be cut to pieces by the road and water line. It's also in an area that has burned over seven times since 1942. Mitigating this fire hazard would require major destruction of designated Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area under Section 30240(a) of the Coastal Act.
Here in Sierra Madre there is a term for people who would build ridiculously huge homes and developments in a way that offends the sensibilities of those who actually care about the place. Usage that first arose from opposition to a pro-predatory development blog called "Downtown Dirt," which in time became shortened to just "Dirt." A four letter word that is now often used to describe those who would build with only self-interest and greed in mind, and with utter disregard for all community standards, concerns and wishes.
So the question must now be asked. Is The Edge a Dirt?