It was a perfect day in New York, probably one like Vernon Duke might have experienced that inspired 'Autumn in New York,' a song that outdid the reality except on a day like today. Soft warm winds blew across my cheeks like baby's kisses, coming to rest on the crowds that huddled and tour-bussed and pointed across the street to the Dakota, where John Lennon was shot. It would have been his 70th birthday had it not been for Mark David Chapman who made him even more immortal than his music might have, elevating to myth his celebrity, one of the last true celebrities before the Crappy Age of In Touch and the obsessed American public who follow the Snookis and Shtunkies and any of the eeeeees(who ARE these people?) who waft across their TV screens and into their empty lives. I do hope there is an Afterlife, so John can see how loved he is, how much he contributed, and how he is celebrated in the true sense, without having to Dance with the Not-Really Stars, There are events all over New York to honor him, which we can all do by trying to be better human beings, use our gifts to the max, and try not to get shot.
I met John Lennon in LA when he was in his most melancholic/alcoholic pit, separated from Yoko and suffering visibly. He was at a party at Jack Haley, Jr.'s with Harry Nillson who was playing pool and also drinking a lot, on one of those Saturday nights when the bright people(which there actually were some of in the borderline-and-full-celebrity set) would gather in the hilltop house of Jack who was a quick wit and smarter than most people knew, in spite of his later marrying Liza, and sit around a hugh felt-covered table and out= wisecrack each other, kind of a West Coast would-be Algonquin. There were a lot of laughs and plenty of grass rolled into joints by Jack's butler, Clarence, and whoever was in town and had no place better to go, which a lot of smart and semi-glittery people didn't, would come and enjoy the evening, And there, very drunk and 'morose, but unmistakably special was John.
Overcome with admiration and wanting to lift him, I told him how much he had given the world, what his music had meant for everyone(naturally I represented everyone) and and and and and. With hooded eyes he looked at me after my loving barrage, and said "Gwen, if you really loved me, you'd stop talking.' (That's my son's favorite story.)
Not long after John disgraced himself at Tommy Smothers' opening as a single at the Troubadour, drunk and heckling him in a venue stocked with Tommy friends and admirers, wearing a Tampax under his hat that drifted down whitely over his nose. Tommy was tolerant, but not so Tommy fans, who erupted finally with rage, and passed Lennon out on a sea of uplifted arms, like a cork bobbing on the ocean, dumping him on the sidewalk outside. It was a very sad moment, one I hoped he wouldn't remember.
I'm glad he got back with Yoko because he really did adore her, no matter what the rest of us thought. And she has done a great job of keeping him alive. What a shame the world didn't.