Inside the headquarters of Vanity Fair magazine, it's an amazing thing to watch Bono, the rock star and philanthropist, interact with the magazine's editor, Graydon Carter.
It is a romance of sorts -- the editor and the rock star, both at the top of their games. The editor is as highly regarded in his field as the rock star is in his, and they're working together to produce the July issue of the venerated magazine. (Click here to visit the Vanity Fair Web site for much more on this special issue.)
Carter, the legendary control freak, has handed the reins of his magazine to the rock star … well, sort of.
For the first time in Vanity Fair's history, Carter has decided to let a guest editor work alongside him. Both men say the arrangement is authentic, not a mere publicity stunt. Bono assigned many of the stories, and the rock star has also rolled up his shirt sleeves and edited them as well.
"It was my idea," said Bono. "I think if I wasn't a singer in a band, I probably would have been a journalist."
The star said he has always been a storyteller, and in this instance, the story he wants to tell, and the story he has been telling around the world, is about Africa.
For the past decade, Bono has worked tirelessly to get the world's attention focused on the problems plaguing the continent of Africa. This means getting the world's major economic powers to cancel much of Africa's debt.
Bono, who has also raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the needy, said to really help transform Africa he knows he needs to open minds. Hence, the job at Vanity Fair.
"I said I want to do an issue about Africa where the sense is Africa: an opportunity, Africa: an adventure," he said. "Not just a burden, which is the way people normally see it."
"Africans themselves wince, understandably, when they see pictures of their brothers and sisters with flies buzzing around their face," he continued. "They're very noble people, very proud people, very entrepreneurial people."
So, is the pen more powerful than the stage? Bono believes we need both , but has used his rock concerts to spread the word about the dire conditions facing Africa today.
"I think, strangely, the one that irritates me the most is that there are 3,000 Africans, mostly children, going to die today of a mosquito bite. Malaria is the No. 1 killer in Africa. Do you know what it would take to fix that? A net. A bed net. It costs hardly anything," he said.
"Why aren't we doing this?" he asked? "How much are we spending on defending people, defending ourselves against people who hate us? There's so much we can do to stop people hating us and start them admiring us. A continent behaving like an island is a very dangerous thing."
That specific issue will not be dealt with in the magazine, but AIDS will be. Bono has been a leading advocate for the global fight against AIDS.
There are incredible pictures on the cover of this issue of Vanity Fair -- 20 covers, to be precise -- all shot by legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz. The covers feature Barack Obama, Oprah, Queen Rania, Jay-Z, Bishop Tutu, Madonna, to name a few. Even President Bush, of whom Graydon Carter has been frequently critical, appears on a cover with Condi Rice. That was Bono's idea.