POSTED ON MAY 14, 2008:
Vote 'Yes!' on the U2 Tax!
The city, county and dog catcher are all asking for taxes, so why not one that's a "sound" investment?
I want to start off by saying that, in the off chance the opening act for the BOk Arena turns out to be somebody like Janet Jackson or, heaven forbid, Britney Spears, all of us at the Urban Tulsa Weekly will move.
Seriously, we mean it.
We'll all close up shop and relocate our families and become the "Urban Wichita Weekly", "Urban Springfield," or something.
And we'll take all of our local news and event coverage, Michael Bates, News of the Weird, Ask a Mexican, Live Music and Events listings, and every other weekly staple of Tulsa's intellectual diet with us.
We'd probably be a little irked, too, if Miley Cyrus or some other trendy-for-the-moment bubble-gum act turns out to be the chosen one.
We're not sure, yet, how we'll vent our frustration, but we promise, it'll be ugly.
Obviously, we need a really good act on September 1 to set the tone for the life of the BOk Arena and to let the world know that we have the Madison Square Garden of the Midwest.
To really establish ourselves as an enduring national, or international venue, we need an act with enduring national or international standing.
And it can't be anyone with local roots, either. Just accept this as a rule.
For instance, if we were any other city in any other state, Carrie Underwood would be a perfectly acceptable opening act for such a venue, except that, well . . . no offense to Carrie, but she's an old hat in these here parts.
I happened to have gone to college with her and saw her perform plenty of times before she became "Carrie Underwood," the brand name.
So did a lot of other people around here.
For someone like her to open, it would give the impression that the BOk Arena is a small pond where big fish with local roots come to play when they want to reconnect with their humble origins.
The same goes for Garth Brooks and his wife, The Flaming Lips, Hanson, Vince Gill, Toby Keith, or any other Okie who's made it big. The collective vibe from such an ensemble show, which is certain to sell out, would be a lot less valuable than the gate receipts. What it would do is send a message that the local folks here in T-town finally got ourselves a big-time arena, goldangit, and we're downright proud of it. So, ya'll come out to the next show down here on 2nd Street, ya hear?
Instead, we need someone who's only reason for coming to Tulsa would be to play in a venue with greatness to match their own. We need to be bigger than some conventionally spun, home-grown howdown.
Also, someone who tops the charts today and only today wouldn't do, because we want an act that will be remembered for years and years to come, and it remains to be seen if many of today's top acts will stand the test of time.
Sure, Coldplay or Maroon 5 or Linkin Park would draw crowds, sell tickets, put on great shows and be talked about for at least a couple of weeks, or months, but how do we know any of them aren't the next Creed?
If the BOk Arena had opened, say, around 2001, Creed might have seemed a plausible choice to open but, well . . . 2008 tells a different story.
Had they been chosen to set the tone for the BOk Arena, it might just be seen as a step in a one-hit wonder's journey to obscurity during their 15 minutes of fame.
But then, there are a lot of immortal bands out there with established greatness and international renown that also wouldn't be good choices.
I, for one, would love to see Styx or Eric Clapton or the surviving members of Led Zeppelin at the BOk Arena, but not on opening night.
While their greatness remains undiminished with time, their relevance, on the other hand, does not. If one of them were to be the opening act, it might look like the folks at the BOk Arena were struggling to find a decent act, but could only get A-listers from yesteryear.
While we pondered the dilemma over coffee in the UTW Mothership's break area, Keith Skrzypczak, UTW's founder, editor and publisher, suggested U2 is the only choice for an opening act.
And we all agreed, and not just because he signs our paychecks, but for all of the aforementioned reasons as well.
First, U2 is awesome. Second, U2 is timeless.
Also, while they haven't had a hit in recent memory, they're still relevant, largely as a result of their front man's tireless efforts to rid the world of extreme poverty and hunger. We hear they have a new album in the works and are planning a tour.
But, there's a hitch.
Sure, we want the image of having the Madison Square Garden of the Midwest, but we don't have that image yet.
We kind of need U2 to come to town to establish us as such.
But, because we're not there yet, it might be hard to get U2 to come to town.
Bono's not going to take time away from saving the world unless we can make it worth his while. The band has played here before, but that was long before he invented wrap-around sunglasses.
So, to solve this chicken and egg dilemma, we propose a seven-year, countywide 4/10-cent sales tax, to raise $282 million to be donated to world hunger relief in exchange for U2's performance at the BOk Arena (we'll issue some bonds or something so Bono can have it all up front).
We call it the "U2 tax".
Hey, everybody else is asking for taxes, but this one would sail through, raise the dough, bring the band and get international attention.
We might even get George Kaiser to match funding and coax the surviving Beatles to reunite as an opening act.
Bono, The Edge, and the rest of the gang wouldn't be able to resist, and we'd have some of U2's mojo rub off on Tulsa, thereby attracting the most sought-after acts, thereby attracting the most sought-after crowds, thereby attracting the most sought-after downtown development to accommodate and capitalize on the influx of people.
When the Performing Arts Center opened 26-something years ago, the opening show featured Ella Fitzgerald--a big band diva, swing era icon whose presence endowed the facility with an international cache, setting the tone for the world class acts to come.
Opening with U2, the world's greatest rock band, would do the same, bringing international attention to Tulsa and our iconic arena and setting the stage for booking internationally renowned acts for decades to come.
And so, with the revitalization of downtown in high gear, all of Tulsa would begin marching forward into a second Golden Age. Money will grow on ice storm-impervious trees, the waters of the Arkansas River will rise and turn blue, and we'll finally have enough money to fix our streets and bridges.
And then, maybe, Creed will reunite and play at the BOk Arena.
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