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december 8th

I almost forgot the date.

My annual John Lennon post, repeated for you viewing pleasure.

Or not.

December 8, 1980

When an event happens that shapes your life, or plays a significant role in it, you tend to remember every little detail of the moment it happens. Twenty-one years ago last night. December 8, 1980. I was in my bedroom, lying on the bed with the headphones on, listening to WNEW. It was Jim Morrison's birthday, and the station was running a two hour special devoted to him. I was obsessed with Morrison at that time, and was taping the special I was listening. I know I was wearing an old Led Zeppelin t-shirt and sweat pants and I was writing a poem as I listened to the radio.

My room faced the front of the house, and the Christmas lights that hung from the roof glowed red and green and white over my bedroom window. There was a decoration hanging on the window; a big white star made out of plastic pieces melded together. The colors of the bulbs outside made the star look psychedlic. I had smoked enough pot that night to stare at the star for a length of time, imagining the colors blending into one another. My concentration would be broken every now and then by headlights beaming down the street, and I would run to the window and peer out. We were waiting for my cousin Michael, my favorite cousin, to arrive by car from Florida. I was anxious to see him and disappointed that each susbequent headlight did not belong to his car.

All the while, Jim Morrison's life story played out in the background, and I stopped looking down the street for my cousin at some point and started paying attention to the radio. I remember it was late, probably close to 11:00. I may have drifted off at some point and I was jolted fully awake by a shaky voice announcing that someone tentatively identified as John Lennon had been shot outside the Dakota apartment building in New York City. I waited, nearly numb, hoping for more news. Soon after, it was confirmed. I went inside to tell my parents, but they already knew. I think they announced it on Monday Night Football.

I was never much of a Beatles fan. But sometime in high school I went through a hippie phase and took a liking to John Lennon and his ideas. The fact that he spoke out for peace and died so violently was one of the first things that struck me when I heard the news.

The event didn't change my life the way it did the lives of Beatles fans. It didn't impact me in quite the same way as someone who was mourning Lennon the man, or the music he created. I mourned something else. I think up until that point, I still had a sense of innocence about me. I was still naive about the ways of the world. I was still all about peace and love and tranquility. I assumed the rest of the world was too. I thought we could all live in harmony and love one another and make the world a better place for future generations.

Something happened to me the night John Lennon died. I lost a lot of that idealism. I couldn't get past the fact that someone who was so fervent about living peacefully could have his life taken from him in such a way. I couldn't fathom that something like this could happen. How did we let our world get to this point, that people could just walk around murdering one another?

It was then, that very night, that my eyes opened to a new vision of the world. When Lennon died, whatever was left of the peace movement died, too. I dropped my peace sign mentality some time after that night. I gave up and gave in and became cynical like every grown-up I knew. It wasn't all because of Lennon; there were other things that lead up to it also. But the death of John Lennon - the murder of John Lennon sure as hell played a very significant role in shaping my psyche for the rest of my life.

That, more than anything, is why I remember every little detail of that night. Somehow I knew, I felt it in my gut the moment I heard the news. I knew that I would never be the same again. I ingrained that moment in my brain somewhere, marking it down as a "this day in history" of my meager little life.

21 years now that I'm a cranky bastard.

[Originally posted December 9, 2001]

Comments

Spot on, Michele. Spot on.
'cept for the names are changed, that was my 'sperience 'zactly..........

That month, there was an extensive interview with John Lennon in Playboy. Really, really long. Barbara Bach on the cover. Took me forever to find the bunny. (It was in the stars.) Read the interview & was thinking a lot about it -- having been a huge Beatles fan about five years earlier. I was glad he'd made a comeback.

I found out in homeroom. It was very depressing. No damned reason except there was a sociopath on the loose.

It was twenty three years ago today...

I was twenty four years old. The primary reality of my day to day existance was the universal collision of youthful ideals and the harsh realities of real life. I had a "good" job that I hated…

More: http://www.edthibodeau.com/nonplussed/2003/12/imagine.html

Lennon was unquestionably a good musician and songwriter, but was somewhat of a hypocrite, in my view. His most famous song, "Imagine" says at one point "imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can". Well I think I, and most other average folks have a much better idea of having no possessions than a gazillionaire living at the Dakota. He was certainly no "man of the people", he was a rich guy living a rich guy's life. I lost a lot of respect for him when he published that song.

I never got the whole John Lennon thing. I thought his solo music was mediocre, and all the peace protest shenanigans with him and Yoko I considered to be the theatrics of a sincere but terribly naive entertainer.

No, my big reality check came several years later, with the downing of Korean Airlines flight 007 by the Soviets in 1983. It was then that I fully realized that all the talk coming from the various voices I'd been listening to among the Christian Left was just a bunch of horse manure. There were always going to be good people and bad people, and the most effective way to deal with the bad ones was to either kill them, or become so powerful that they would think twice before messing with you. Appeasement and "detente" led nowhere.

Beautifully written, Michele. I felt like I lived it with you.

I was 23 when John was murdered. Your last two paragraphs could have been written by me. My favorite shirt has his self-portrait on the front with parts of Imagine written on the back. "Give peace a chance - let the world live as one." I doubt that will ever occur considering the world's current state.

john seemed to have alot of issues and the way he portrayed himself to the world seemed to be quite different than his real nature behind closed doors. i forgive him for that, though. it took me awhile to accept my dark side. i think if john were alive today he would have evolved into a much more authentic person.

John Live arround us, He is eternal, and never die.