On Saturday morning, I was feverishly riding my spin bike to my usual destination, Nowhere, when I observed that the sky outside was a vibrant blue. The temperature that day eventually reached a high of 53. If one disregarded the piles of dirt-stained melting snow, the weather was spring-like and perfect for a genuine lame adventure featuring my favorite band, the Beatles. The evening before I was quaffing suds and chowing down bar snacks with my pal, Coco.
Me: What do you think of the Beatles?
Coco: Ugh. I think, “My parents’ music.”
Earlier that week I mentioned the Fab Four to my bud, Milton.
Milton: If I hear any more about the Beatles, I’m going to become a serial killer.
Milton is sick of the avalanche of stories and specials commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles coming to America this month. The combination of common sense and self-preservation suggested that I resist asking either of my two closest friends to join me for a visit to the New York Public Library for the Performing Art’s exhibit, Ladies and Gentlemen … The Beatles! It runs through May 10 and the price is my second favorite four-letter f-word: free.
This exhibit is a touring exhibit (it opens in Minneapolis on June 5) so it may eventually head to a city near you. It was curated by the GRAMMY Museum. It is a treasure trove of Beatle history, artifacts, memorabilia, videos, interactive stops (none of which I participated in because they required wearing communal headphones that activated my inner germaphobe), an opportunity to take a recorded drum lesson from Ringo (I passed) and a living history booth where visitors are encouraged to record their Beatle memories. No way would I subject myself to the humiliation of admitting on tape that even though I was born with a tin ear and can only drop a tune, I fantasized about being a Beatle myself.
Something I learned from this exhibit that I didn’t know before, was that George Harrison, accompanied by his brother, Peter, had visited the US for a few weeks in mid-September 1963. At that time, the four band members were taking a vacation. Paul and Ringo hightailed to Greece. John and his wife, Cynthia, bolted to France. George visited his sister, Louise, who was living in exotic (cough) Benton, Illinois. While there he bought a Rickenbacker guitar.
Before returning to the UK, George visited New York City, and was able to pound the pavement in pre-Beatlemania anonymity.
Something else that I found interesting is that although it was teenage girls that initially went hysterical over the band, the artifacts on display were from vast Beatle collections maintained by Beatle worshipping guys in their fifties and sixties. I don’t know what this means, but I am sure some of you, my more intrepid followers, might be pregnant with opinion about this. Eventually, the program for this exhibit might be considered a collector’s item. It is also free.
When I attended, about half the crowd was composed of boomers in their fifties and sixties, waxing nostalgic, but I didn’t see Coco’s parents. I overheard a few of the more demented ones softly humming the Beatle songs playing on the sound system. There were several members of the younger generation soaking it in, too. A popular spot for parents to take pictures of their small fry was in front of a typical Beatlemaniac’s bedroom back in the day.
I shot a few hundred photos with my iPhone, but most did not turn out very well. Naturally, that does not stop me from posting the best of the worst here as a small sampling of what’s on display. Thimble-sized spender me enjoyed this exhibit so much, I was compelled to stuff a Washington into the donation box upon exiting. If you’re in or near New York City, I urge you to visit this really big show. It rates the Lame Adventures greasy fingerprint seal of endorsement.