I don’t know what was better last night: seeing Bono join Wyclef Jean on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” or Ethel Kennedy boogie with Wyclef on stage to an extended version of “Guantanamera.” Each was kind of outta sight.
Even weirder: all this took place in front of right wing antagonist Bill O’Reilly, who seemed be betraying his public persona by digging the whole deal. He bought a whole table ‘ eight seats ‘ at the Chelsea Piers dinner for the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation Ripple of Hope Award. That’s right, RFK, one of the most famous liberal Democrats in history, a man who would be appalled by O’Reilly’s nightly shredding of Barack Obama and his policies.
Maybe O’Reilly wants to switch places with Lou Dobbs and go to CNN!
The dinner honored both Bono and Wyclef Jean of the Fugees for their humanitarian efforts around the world. But the room was full of the kinds of people O’Reilly eviscerates over and over on his radio and TV shows. Dinner guests waited to see if the combative host would cross paths with Alec Baldwin, but the latter was a no show. He may have been stuck shooting “30 Rock.” But actors Matthew Modine and Gloria Reuben showed up and helped out with a portion of the show. Peter Gallagher was emcee for the evening. Charles Grodin was in attendance, too. So was Harry Belafonte, the anti-thesis of O’Reilly. Weird!
The night’s speakers ‘ musicians! ‘ were eloquent. Bono, who has the Irish blarney and a gift for extemporaneous gab ‘ told the wealthy crowd at Chelsea Piers how he ‘ as a Dubliner ‘ idolized the Kennedy family. “They’re our royal family,” he said, a rebuke to Britain’s royals.
Wyclef, who was honored for his massive humantarian efforts in Haiti and Africa, responded how he’s idolized Bono and U2 as a kid. He talked about growing up in Haiti until the age of 10 with nothing, and how he and his family fantasized about coming to America. He said sometimes he and his brother tried killing birds in Haiti with slingshots to get dinner. Then he did some clever free-style raps supporting Obama and civil rights. O’Reilly must have been popping the Mylanta over at his table!
During a pause in Wyclef’s poignant speech, Unik Ernest, the Haitian fundraiser and famous event organizer, shouted something in jest, in Haitian, startling the corporate audience of donors. Wyclef got a kick out of it. What did he say? I asked Unik: “I said, Stop your crying! And let’s have some music!”
By the way, Wyclef”’ the underrated genius musician of hip hop ‘ will release his new album next April. He’s still on Sony/Columbia, although the label may not be aware of it. They’ve never done much for him. If you’re new to the Wyclef world, go on amazon.com’s MP3 Music downloads, and make an album for yourself of “If I Was President” ‘ which will give O’Reilly quite a headache, “911,” “Gone ’til November,” “Two Wrongs (Don’t Make a Right),” “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill),” “Take Me As I Am,” “Heaven’s in New York,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and of course,”Hips Don’t Lie” (with Shakira). That’s an excellent starter package!