Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 09, 2005

Lennon

"Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. … I don't know what will go first—Rock and Roll or Christianity. We're more popular than Jesus now. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."

A decent walk from my place is the Reeperbahn. At the beginning of their career they played for a few month at one of the clubs there. Their old hairdresser still has the autographs hanging in his shop.

I was a bit too young to really get the early records. Later, during some interesting travels with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, I started to understand relativity.

The music was part of my personal revolution. The White Album is one of my treasures. His portrait is one of the most intense photographs I know.

Annie gives a precious intense view on him in her comment:

---

by annie

i was stringing popcorn unsuccessfully, it was before i knew dayold popcorn strung better. i heard it over the radio.   

when i was ten i thought i might marry him. i belonged to a fan club and got the records before they were available at the record stores. there was a section between the living and dining rooms w/sliding doubledoors, a closet area w/the record player. my only record. i would dance for hours to the same songs.

one of my fondest memories is my father bringing home 2 tickets to the cow palace. by the time we went his leg was in a cast. i left him immediately once they appeared and ran to the stage. i was one of the first and as a result was directly in front of him, a crowd pushing against my back, security guards in front. the dress i had made for the occasion got ripped. they stopped the music and said they wouldn't continue unless we calmed down. i was 11. my first concert.

we spent one christmas in lake tahoe, i got frost bite. the revolver album came out. i understood what he meant in norwegian wood, after close scrutiny.

i met john lennon. really. it was when he and yoko came to the bay area to concieve, something to do w/a healer or acupuncturist in sf. would have been summer 71 possibly 72. about 9 months before sean was born. they rented my friends house. i was the nanny/babysitter. it was a house fashioned out of the wood from an old bridge on lovell avenue in mill valley. i spent days cleaning making it just right. we had to remove all the childrens drawings from the walls. and place a television across from the bed. i placed a ceramic bowl i had made for them and filled it with figs, i assume they took it, it wasn't there when we returned. i also left a detailed map of one of my favorite intimate places to go for a walk where they would not be distirbed. my friend rosa, who owned the house, her 4 children and i were going to mexico while they were there. by then i was not the same 11 year old girl. i had been altered thru teen years of herman hesse, peyote, dylan and his music. and the 60's.

that night listening to the radio, first that he had been shot, then the finality. everything flooded back to me. the figs, if they ever followed the map. feeling so very small and looking in his eyes. this is a very private memory, i don't know why i am telling you now. it's not exactly a secret, but nothing i usually share.

Posted by b on December 9, 2005 at 20:38 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Thanks for sharing that annie...

Jerry Mazza: On the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's assassination, imagine …

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 9 2005 21:51 utc | 1

That was a beautiful reminiscence, annie. I am loathe to talk about my memories of J.L. after that, but I'll set down a few, knowing that I won't reach annie's level.

I can't say that I had quite the same crush on him as annie had, being a guy and all. But I do remember our 8th grade English teacher giving us a very high tech assignment for 1969. We were to split up in pairs and interview a famous person from history; one person acting as the famous person, the other as the interviewer. People were interviewing Washington and Franklin, Shakespeare, Edison, and the like. We interviewed John Lennon, interspersing clips from a real interview, lyrics form his songs, and us attempting to imitate his classic Liverpudlian accent in our squeaky twelve year old voices. I can still remember the whole interview by heart. We were, naturally, the heroes of the class, almost like minor celebrities ourselves for a few weeks: junior Beatles.

That summer, at camp, we would hold seances in the dark listening to Revolution #9. I think it might have been the first time I held a girl's hand.

Whenever a new album would come out, my best friend and I would retreat to his bedroom and listen over and over, discussing and analyzing every song. I think we listened for almost two days straight after the White album came out. The thing is, and one reason why the music was so great, is that despite the fact that we were kids, it holds up just as well as adults. Few things do in life. Especially heroes.

Later, during High School, perhaps 1973 or so, we used to go down to the East Village after class. Lennon was going through a particulary ugly period where he would get stoned out of his mind on Heroin and hangout at this famous used clothing store we frequented, I can't remember the name, but I think it was on the Northwest corner of 2nd Ave. and either St. Marks, or 9th Sts. It was a garish two-story affair, with full glass corner windows and Indian scarves hanging from headless models. He would perch on a stool by the front door, with a pulled down cap and his trademark dark round glasses nodding gently, almost a piece of the scenery, and then pounce on every cute young thing that went by. He hit on a number of my friends, though they were all too young and too innocent to take him up on it--I'll bet they are kicking themselves now. Well, we all have ugly periods in our lives when we do things we are not proud of; I am no better. But it is far tougher when you are that famous and can't hide.

In the late seventies and early eighties, John and Yoko, and later just Yoko, were customers at my O.G. food store on East Sixth St. They were very strict about eating O.G. food, with a macrobiotic bent, having their own farm and personal farmer upstate. We filled in during the winter. Everyone knew who they were when they were in the store, but people were polite and just went about their business selecting vegetables: We had many famous customers, though they were by far the most famous. They would talk music if another musician came in, John Cage, or Leroy Jenkins, or someone. We played it straight too, adding up the bill, making small talk about recipes. What can I say? I mostly remember they bought a lot of kale, collards, lots of daikon, and one 4 lb. chicken a week. A medium hen for Thansgiving.

My best friend and I grew apart over the years. But the night Lennon was shot, he called. We stayed up all night on the phone, talking, reminiscing and crying together--about John, our dashed hopes for a reunion, and our own lives, which had also not gone altogether as planned. Slowly a sad, cold grey light slunk in from the skylight above, revealing the tragic truth of the day: It was the end of an era.

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 9 2005 23:15 utc | 2

"The Long And Winding Road"

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Leads me to your door


The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day
Why leave me standing here
Let me know the way


Many times I've been alone, many times I've cried -
Anyway you'll never know, the many ways I've tried -
But still they lead me back to the...


Long, winding road
You left me standing here
A long, long time ago
Don't leave me waiting here
Lead me to you door


Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long, long time ago
Don't leave me waiting here
Lead me to your door

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 10 2005 1:16 utc | 3

Thank you, annie and Malooga, for sharing those wonderful memories. I, too, grew up during the Beatles era. I remember their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, even though I couldn't hear the music over all the screaming. My sister and I always fought over who got to cut out and keep articles in the paper about the Beatles. I even made a little Beatles diorama with painted acorn heads, pipe-cleaner bodies and paper guitars.

At the time, I regarded Paul as my favorite because, in my twisted pre-teen logic, Paul and I shared a special bond in our left-handedness. However, I always sensed a deep and somewhat dark intellegence in John that intrigued me.

When John was murdered, I felt a profound sense of loss, almost as intense as the loss I felt when my own father passed away unexpectedly six years earlier. The posts by annie and Maloogs have brought back some powerful and bittersweet memories, which I very much appreciate.

Posted by: Joe F | Dec 10 2005 1:21 utc | 4

c/Maloogs/Malooga/
Just washed my fingers and can't do a thing with them.

Posted by: Joe F | Dec 10 2005 1:25 utc | 5

I was reflecting on the futility of it all. I had fled to a cottage we had on an island in NZ and had taken a friend with me who didn't seem to be on the same wavelength. It seemed there was no awareness that I was attempting a complete withdrawal from everything including sexual politics. My friend left after a couple of days and there I was on my todd for 6 months wondering if I could find that line between loneliness and solitude.

The radio was my only contact with the world because although there was a shared phone connection (a party line it was called), using it depended upon rousing the wife of the island shopkeeper, a woman who resented having to move her ass for anyone much less some odd looking chap who always wanted to make calls long after decent people should be sitting around the piano with their families belting out jesus' greatest hits vol 7. There was no power on the island either so use of the radio had to be strictly rationed lest I had to trek four miles each way to buy extremely toxic batteries at an extremely inflated price.

OK so after a hard day wandering through the bush looking at trees so old they had become a complex and independent eco-system, I came home to start a fire and cook up some dinner, my only company was the two old nags who insisted that tenants take up porridge for breakfast. This so they could enjoy the leftovers. They also functioned as a wonderful alarm clock. Lightning (a blatant misnomer) would stick her head through my bedroom window and snort, slobber and neigh at me until I got up and made us all breakfast. Yet another digression.

I switched on the radio as I started the fire to roast a few vegetables in the camp oven. The news came over that John Lennon had been shot that day.

It kinda took the wind outta my sails.

It would have been several years since I had seriously listened to any of the Beatles' music, which was unsurprising because it had been several years since any of them had produced any serious music.

I stopped preparing the fire and instead reflected upon my introduction to the world John Lennon habitated. It must have been 1963 which made me 9 and we had some cousins over to visit. The cousins were classic examples of the weird divide between personal and professed politics. I mean the kids were fine one of them still remains about my staunchest family friend but their parents had a weird dissonance.

Mr cousin was a GP in a district with very low socio-economic outcomes and a very high proportion of people of non-European races. Chiefly Maori and 3rd generation Chinese, although the Pacific Island population was just starting to grow.

He would drag himself outta bed in the middle of the night to deliver babies for a family that would never be able to pay him but who would at some stage drop by his surgery with a sack of potatoes or a box of fish and the news that they had named their son after him.

A born lefty? No! Both he and his wife, who was my blood relation, espoused a mixture of Brit style ultra-conservative politics intermingled with Presbyterianism of the sort that had the Scots the engineers of the 'White Man's Burden' a century before.

Mrs cousin was walking past the 'record player' when she picked up the sleeve of an E.P.(extended play disk) entitled 'Please Please Me'.

"What a motley looking crew" she exclaimed tossing the sleeve back onto the cabinet before we went through the interminable farewells that such family gatherings demanded when boredom had finally overcome the titillation of gossip.

As soon as they left I dashed back to the record player and picked up the EP in question. My eldest brother had bought it the night before (friday late nite shopping. One day a week when you could buy things after 5.30pm). "The motley crew" looked interesting, most especially their hair which was nothing like the greasy cliche that most 'popstars' had been wearing since I had slithered onto this mortal coil.

I put the record on and turned it up so I could indulge my preferred indoor pastime, which was leaping about the living room in time to the music without my feet ever touching the floor. Sofa to easy chair bounce! Bad-oom, easy chair to coffee table leap, Bad-ing, "please please me whoah yeah like I please you-ooh-ooh!

Door swings open to the entreaties of a mother with steam exiting the ears. She was already un-nerved by the stress of entertaining the rellies. Especially rellies that never commented upon her unwillingness to take vacuuming, baking, and mopping the floor seriously enough but who always managed to slip out some comment oozing with false sympathy and disdain. So she really let it rip at me before retreating back to the book she was reading to blot out the memory of the visit.

"Neat" I thought to myself (I'm not kidding, before cool and far-out became common currency kids did say 'neat') " 'They' hate it and Ma reckons it's a cacophony. That'll do me cause it sounds pretty good." With that I resolved to stop taking my regular trips to the barber and thereby introduced myself to the world of resistance and conflict.

I had few allies but they were interesting. Kevin who was in my class at school was the son of a US serviceman based in NZ during WW2, and what most of the NZ population disparagingly referred to as a 'war bride'. He had been dragged back to NZ by a mother unable to endure the isolation of outback Ohio any longer. So of course Kevin had to endure the isolation of provincial New Zealand, being perpetually referred to by one and all including the teaching staff as 'the yank' and hearing behind his back whispers of his grandfather's illegal bar during WW2 (A sly grog joint) where he allowed his daughters to get far too friendly with 'The Yanks'.

"It was practically a brothel" some of the neighing stickybeaks would exaggerate. Yeah right a brothel where the blokes had to marry the workers pre congress. I can see that taking off. Twenty years before these same suburban stickybeaks would have been angry that they weren't getting any attention from the heroes who had come to rescue them from 'the filthy jap' 'Our boys' were already busy getting their asses shot off by Germans. The Brits had saved us the trouble of declaring war on Germany in 1939 by doing it for us. Not that our 'leaders' complained, they would have thanked the chinless ones for giving NZers the opportunity to sacrifice NZ men and resources. I'm not exaggerating here, when I was young NZ was still paying Britain back for the money it had to borrow to fight alongside the Brits in WW1. They hadn't even begun to pay the interest on the WW2 loans from England. In both cases we had to borrow from the Poms because Brits were unable to pay us for the food we were sending them!

Anyway once 'our boys' got home and discovered that some yanks had put their feet under a few kitchen tables the 'heroes' became pariahs. You know what they say, "one day a rooster, the next a feather duster."

Jeez that was a big digression. Anyway Kevin had also resolved to let his hair grow. This was probably because he figured the bully passing himself off as our teacher was already giving him such a hard time that things couldn't get any worse, as much as wanting to keep up with fashion.

Things never seemed to be so bad when you copped a hiding for 'forgetting to go to the barber' as instructed the day before, if you had a mate there with you 'getting the strap' too.

The irony was that we had gone to the barber the day before. That was my other conspirator in what everyone referred to as 'looking like a girl'. Paddy was an Irishman who took time out from accepting bets on horse races and selling condoms, to cut blokes hair. Like most NZ barbers of the period he had a sign up saying "No fancy haircuts' but when Kevin and I entered his shop he would greet us with "Aha here come the Beatles" and then he would slip us in ahead of all the blokes who had given the visit to the pub a miss that day to get the regulation tonsure. "They have to get back to their homework" he would mutter by way of an excuse.

He had witnessed the scenes of our mothers trying to drag us into his establishment so was aware of our disdain for the electric sheep shears laughingly referred to as hair clippers that were the main tool of the exponents of the 'short back and sides' school of barbering. So after combing out out locks and waving a pair of scissors somewhere in the general direction of our heads he would accept a shilling from each of us and with a "There ya go as neat as a pin" would send us on our way accompanied by the chortles of the waiting customers. "Jeez Paddy just as well. I really thought I was gonna be late home on haircut night and in trouble with 'her indoors' again. I didn't realise you were only gonna pretend to cut those nancy boy's hair"

Many years later on a trip back to NZ I bumped into Paddy on a bus. I said gidday and reminded him of the Beatle haircuts which he had managed not to give us all those years ago and Paddy laughed and nodded. We yarned on for a while before the penny dropped. Old Paddy was as camp as a row of tents and if we thought we were being brave standing up to authority by growing our hair imagine the risk Paddy was taking by indulging our weak attempt at resistance by helping us. Homosexuality was still illegal in NZ not to mention that the bulk of Paddy's income was derived from taking illegal off track bets. The barbering was more of a front than an income. I always wanted to ask him why, he had firmly knocked back others requesting 'fancy haircuts' yet Kevin and I got them without even having to ask. I never did though. I'd sensed that he might find the question difficult to answer himself. And just to satisfy any passing homophobe's curiosity, no Paddy never laid a finger on either of us, in fact he was just as grumpy and hungover with Kev and myself as he was with any of the other kids who sought to make his life miserable with pranks between the hours of 3.15 and 5.00pm after which the men arrived for their haircut on the way home from work.

The sound of the telephone ringing jolted be back from my reverie. Two shorts and a long ring. Yep that was for me. Who would be ringing at that hour? It was 'S', the English lady who lived with her Canadian bloke and their kids further up the valley. She was in tears after hearing the news of John Lennon and asked me if I would come over for dinner and to keep them company on this worst of all nights. I agreed and then she said something which made me realise exactly how serious the whole tragedy was. She told me she had invited the American couple who lived in a boat shed down on the beach as well.

Living the isolated alternative lifestyle was not only extremely stressful from trying to feed a family when no one has any cash, the isolation leads to little things getting blown out of proportion. I don't know exactly what had happened a couple of winters before. Something about firewood which was the local currency was the best I could work out. There was lots of seafood out there to provide protein and the soil was rich and ready to grow anything. Although the lack of efficient transport made commercial agriculture unviable, growing enough food for the family was a doddle. In fact the only thing any of my neighbours needed money for was for small amounts of portable energy i.e. fuel for the chain saw, batteries for the sounds (the problem was rectified later that year when we clubbed together to put a tiny hydro plant on the creek) and cash to buy rice which was the preferred way of imbibing carbohydrates. All of these Celts from all over the globe forgoing perfectly good potatoes for rice?

I suspect that the neigbors grew a little pot to cover the few hundred dollars cash they needed each year. Certainly that night some extremely strong but mellow puff was holding us together between bottles of carrot, parsnip or plum wine which S would brew up between having children, doing the laundry, and cooking the best vegetarian food I have ever tasted.

I reckon that has to be the reason that so many of these idyllic lives in the country, getting back to nature, eventually failed. The blokes had a great time hunting, fishing, and building 'extensions' to the house. Meantimes the women had to keep up mid-20th century women's output with 19th century tools. Somehow the pollution caused by that chain saw (used to cut back immature scrub but still interrupting the natural cycle of the bush) was less polluting than laundry powder or dish detergent so clothes and dishes would be washed with homemade soap.

Oops, sailed off track again. That night the two families who had once been firm friends but who had let some silly hassle come between them re-united, as an outsider I found myself privileged to be there. We fell about in a bit of a maudlin yet sadly joyful state. Pissed as newts and stoned as wombats it seemed the only way to mark the end of something none of us could describe.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 10 2005 1:57 utc | 6

annie & malooga

when people here tell their stories - it is a form of celebration of one another & the communities we came from, are in & which we are building

i never find them paranthetic to the larger issues - on the contrary - they help me refine those issues

& importantly it is a way of not forgetting

my memory of the beatles are profoundly filtered by the overty i was borne into & & with the exception of the yardbirds, mahavishnu orchestra or jimi hendrix passed me by. i was listening then to what was called the popular song movements in greece & latin america

maria farandouri, petros pandis, daniel viglietti, mmercedes sosa, victor jara, the parra family

then as now i needed their hearts - & that music connected with the passion & wonderment i knew was in my heart. i am sure without them - today i would be some bitter history professor making regular pilgrimages to the chinese comrades

strangely political music made me more human not less - i think because there was always the tension between its power & its innocence, its passion & its vulnerability

i have istened to that lusic now for over 30 years & in the darkest moments - it continues to teach me of contexts & of communities

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 10 2005 2:07 utc | 7

I was not a big fan of Lennon when he was alive, but his assassination hit me hard. Now they are killing the poets, I thought.

Posted by: lb | Dec 10 2005 2:16 utc | 8

& you too debs & your glorious songs

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 10 2005 2:17 utc | 9

Lov-er-ly, Debs. Nice to see you back.

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 10 2005 2:31 utc | 10

i'm glad you're back debs.
and wow, i never expected , oh... thanks

Posted by: annie | Dec 10 2005 3:35 utc | 11

b. i have the rollingstone w/that cover, priceless

Posted by: annie | Dec 10 2005 3:58 utc | 12

Cheb Khaled and Noa - John Lennon's 'Imagine' sung in Hebrew, Arabic and English.


Imagine!

Posted by: 3afwan | Dec 10 2005 8:59 utc | 13

This is nothing on the same level - but I had the pleasure of being in his company only once - in 1966, at a concert at DC Stadium - this was pre-Ticketron and the tickets had a picture of the Beatles printed on them

I saved that ticket for over twenty years, and carried it in my wallet - I would tell people, "I saw the Beatles in concert, and the ticket was personally autographed after the show" - when they asked "who signed it" I told them to turn it over and see

It was MY signature on the other side

Then in the late 1980s my wallet was lost or stolen

It was later that I read Albert Goldman's biography - it definitely emphasizes the "feet of clay" aspect

I once performed "Imagine" on the piano in front of several hundred people - I am a very amateur musician but I got the idea they liked it

and later I wrote a rap rhyme - it went like this:


it a great life
rat a tat tat
enjoy yourself
and like it like that

groove widda riddum
boppin downa block
move you hands and feet
as you go hip hop

smile at your neighbor
smile at the sky
life is a blessing
why ask why

energy moving your
flesh and bones
this is your life
this is your home

something good happen
maybe soon
maybe next week
maybe next june

don't use a weapon
let go of strife
enjoy yourself
it a great life

Posted by: mistah charley | Dec 10 2005 14:13 utc | 14

great posts, thanks

The Lost John Lennon Interview (Dec. 8, 2005):

http://www.counterpunch.com/lennon12082005.html>Counterpunch

I first heard the Beatles on radio.

I was a very young teen, a child really, hitchiking alone, in England, scared but determined. The couple who picked me up did not want to talk and had the radio on. I don’t remember the song - since, I have tried to look up what it could have been, without success - I was so electrified the words and music went straight to my heart and were not processed consciously in terms of titles, words, tune, etc.

Posted by: Noisette | Dec 10 2005 16:56 utc | 15

mistah charlie, i love your rap!

That summer, at camp, we would hold seances in the dark listening to Revolution #9. I think it might have been the first time I held a girl's hand.

hmm, an incredible malooga moment

Posted by: annie | Dec 10 2005 17:10 utc | 16

mistah charley

that't frank capra meets dr dre

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 10 2005 18:55 utc | 17

Posted by: annie | Dec 10 2005 19:08 utc | 18

tomorrow never knows"

Turn off your mind, relax
and float down stream
It is not dying
It is not dying

Lay down all thought
Surrender to the void
It is shining
It is shining

That you may see
The meaning of within
It is being
It is being

That love is all
And love is everyone
It is knowing
It is knowing

That ignorance and hate
May mourn the dead
It is believing
It is believing

But listen to the
color of your dreams
It is not living
It is not living

Or play the game
existence to the end
Of the beginning
Of the beginning
Of the beginning
Of the beginning
Of the beginning
Of the beginning

Posted by: annie | Dec 10 2005 19:09 utc | 19

I wanna hold your ha-a-a-a-and, I wanna hold your hand....

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 11 2005 5:16 utc | 20

happy inside

Posted by: annie | Dec 11 2005 6:45 utc | 21

The comments to this entry are closed.