BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Finally, John Penley’s message about the Sphere has gotten through to someone — Bono!
Apparently, the U2 singer has been “Starin’ at the Sun,” as in The Village Sun — or at least the newspaper’s article about the Sphere.
Penley recently posted our article about the new immersive venue (“Sphere and Loathing in Las Vegas: Ex-East Village activist fears gigantic ‘gentrifying’ orb”) on the Facebook page for “U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at the Sphere.” Two days later, he noticed it had snagged a like — by none other than the Irish supergroup’s crooner.
“I said, ‘Oh, my God! I think it really is him!'” Penley said.
The post also got a love (heart sign), again apparently by Bono, though under his given name, Paul David Hewson, a private account.
The Bono Facebook page seems to be authentic — despite not having racked up the requisite horde of followers yet. It sports the same profile photo as the Bono Hewson Facebook page, which has previously been cited as the singer’s official FB account. This new profile was launched just a week ago, on Sept. 30 — which makes sense, given it was the day right after the band kicked off their Sphere residency with their first concert there.
Meanwhile, Penley holds no ill will against Bono and his band, noting, “You gotta understand — he has no idea what’s going on around here. They have to play that show every day of the week for three months. He’s not aware — he doesn’t have time to look around.”
The former East Village rabble-rouser, who moved to Vegas three years ago, warns that the state-of-the-art, James Dolan-owned entertainment arena will gentrify his low-income and working-class neighborhood, Paradise, which is just two blocks from the Sphere.
Penley believes that a lock and chain recently put on his housing complex’s front gate — making tenants have to go around the long way through a dangerous parking lot to get in — is part of an effort to get tenants out, so the place can be converted to market-rate. Management has also told tenants to take in their chairs and plants and not leave anything outside their homes — another sign in his view, that things are afoot.
The activist predicts the illuminated orb’s upscaling impact will be similar to the Barclays Center’s effect on Downtown Brooklyn.
Feeling he can read the writing on the Sphere, Penley is getting ready to move, though doesn’t want to divulge where publicly, fearing the alt-right or even his current landlord will harass him.
In addition, things could get rocky for the Sphere — and all of Vegas — soon, the admitted news junkie notes, if 60,000 hospitality workers in Sin City go on strike.
Talks between the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the casinos and hotels have not been going well, Penley reports.
“If they strike, that’ll shut down Las Vegas and also the Sphere,” he said. “The unions are saying, ‘No progress.’
“I think he’ll be supportive of the strikers,” he said of Bono, “because of their politics.”