I admit that the title of this post is premature. Next Saturday, October 9th, would have been John Lennon’s seventieth birthday. I find this incredible, but when I consider how much middle age female Viagra (Aleve) I pop, it does make sense that half the members of the Beatles are now septuagenarian – a word I can spell, but cannot pronounce.
When Ringo Starr turned seventy last July 7th, his milestone rated morning talk show and evening news mention. He wanted his fans to say, “Peace and Love,” at noon as a birthday gift, as if uttering that trite utopian phrase would have an iota of impact on relations between the US and Iran. During Ringo’s magical moment, I was in the process of disemboweling the office copier and predominantly thinking, “War and Hate.”
John Lennon’s milestone touches me far more. I loved John Lennon. I do feel genuine affection for the other three Beatles, and I felt sad when George Harrison died, but John is by far my all-time favorite Beatle.
My sister, Dovima, was a Paul McCartney fan. She wished that he was our brother, something that never made an iota of sense to me. If Axel, our actual brother, wished that one of his sisters were Raquel Welch, he kept it to himself.
I had no desire for John to be my brother. Although my attraction to him was not sexual, I was drawn to his music, wit, charm, and especially, his irreverence. In 1966, when he made the faux pas of declaring that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus Christ, that rang true to this Catholic schoolgirl and atheist-in-the-making. I was a hardcore Beatle believer, but religion thoroughly bored me. My inability to memorize Catholic prayers earned me solid three’s in Religion (four was the equivalent of a failing grade), but if Sister Mary Angry had ordered me to recite every word of every Beatle song, I would have delivered that recitation accurately and with confidence.
I thought John was the coolest person in the world. If I could have been born a Beatle, I would have wanted to be John, but I suppose what I pined for more than anything in my youth was to be that elusive fifth Beatle. I knew this was unrealistic since I possessed zero musical talent, but if they ever needed a moppet that could play a mean triangle, albeit off-key, I was ready.
Soon, two new films about John will be released. One is an excellent documentary packed with rare footage and audio about Lennon’s years in New York. Appropriately it is titled, Lennon: NYC. Milton and I saw it when it premiered at the New York Film Festival where Yoko was in attendance.
Our friend, Judy a.k.a. The Grande Enchilada, also attended this screening. Milton and I agree that her review of it is spot on. Check it out here.
PBS is going to broadcast Lennon: NYC on the American Masters series on Thursday, November 22nd at 9 pm. It is also going to be screened for free at the Rumsey Playfield in Central Park on Saturday, October 9th. Doors open at 6 pm, and the screening starts at 7 pm.
Following the screening of Lennon: NYC there was a Q&A with director Michael Epstein and producer Susan Lacy. As the Q&A was winding down, an audience member, whose name I believe was Dense Bonehead, demanded to know why this documentary only focused on Lennon’s life in New York City. He was confounded over why it excluded coverage about Lennon’s years in Liverpool and completely baffled over why there was little allusion to what the Beatles accomplished in the Sixties.
This query from a muddled mind leads me to the second film about Lennon, a dramatic biopic called, Nowhere Boy, that opens in New York on Friday, October 8th. It is entirely set in Liverpool providing Mr. Bonehead with a hearty fix of early circa 1950s John Lennon. It explores his relationship with his free spirited, but troubled mother, Julia, and her grounded sister, Mimi, the strict aunt that raised him. For anyone unfamiliar with Lennon’s youth, this film will seem like a revelation, but it’s not in the league with nuanced, less paint-by-numbers, cliche addled biopics, such as Walk the Line or Ray.
If Mr. Bonehead sees Nowhere Boy, he might gripe to the director, Sam Taylor-Wood, about why she did not show any footage of John’s later years in New York? This prompts my Sigmund Freud side to cry, “What do Beatle fans want?”
I know what this Beatle fan wants, and that’s to hear the music. One devoted Beatle fan here in Gotham City is an infamous busker named Zack Heru. Zack can frequently be seen indulging his love of the Beatles as he sings the band’s catalogue in the Fourteenth Street subway station tunnel between the Sixth and Seventh Avenue lines. He has been doing this for at least ten years. He told me that singing in this tunnel is his job. I asked if he earns enough to support himself. He answered, “I make enough to get a hotdog.” I always enjoy hearing Zack play the Beatles music whenever I’m in that tunnel.