Friday, December 8, 2017


On the night of December 8, 1980 my son, eight months old at the time, was asleep in his crib, my wife—now ex-wife—was out with a friend and I was...well, I don't recall what I was doing.  Maybe working on a script (I don't write much at night these days, but in '80 all-nighters were still commonplace) or just puttering around the apartment.  What I do remember is the phone ringing, some time after ten o'clock:  It was my  friend Karen Berger calling to tell me that John Lennon had been shot.  "Is he okay?" I asked.  "He's dead," she replied—and it was clear from her tone that she knew it was true, but couldn't digest that awful reality.

I got off the phone, switched on the television—and the global mourning ritual soon began.  At first I was taken aback by the public displays of grief.  Strange as it sounds, my connection to John Lennon—to his extraordinary life and music—ran so deep that his death felt profoundly personal.  It was as if I'd lost one of my dearest friends.  I couldn't quite wrap my head around the fact that millions of people around the world had lost one of their dearest friends, as well.

Perhaps it wasn't so strange at all.  Lennon lived his life openly, nakedly; raw emotion poured equally into songs and interviews.  This was a man who, almost compulsively, shared the deeps of his heart—the highest qualities and the lowest—seemingly without reservation.  I'm sure that quality was hard for some people to take, but that's what drew me to Lennon, almost instinctively, from the first time I saw John, Paul, George and Ringo perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.  I crave honesty, the raw core of the soul, in art —and John Lennon delivered that in spades, first as a member of the Beatles and then, with even more soul-baring honesty, in his solo career.  A career I'd expected to follow for many more years.

"He's dead."  Those words still resonate in my mind and heart.  Thirty-seven years ago?  It feels like thirty-seven minutes.


  1. It is also my grandfather's sister's 99th birthday today.

    It it is the anniversary of NAFTA being signed into law... which had a devastating effect on the country's manufacturing sector.

    1987 saw Dec. 8 as the day the U.S. and Soviets reduced their nuclear arms.

    Lincoln offed amnesty and reconstruction to the South on this day in 1863... following the first year of northern victories.

    Nixon Declared Vietnam would be ending on this day.

    It is also the day FDR asked Congress declare war on the Empire of Japan. In doing this, a generation was forged in flames as the U.S. entered the largest loss of life in human life in history, sacrificing their youth, innocence, and even their lives, the Great Depression effectively ended by the manufacturing sector being amped up for war.

    The U.s. was at best the deciding factor in the war (it wasn't... Russia Oliver Stone), and at worst a Major contributing factor.

    From that war many lives may have been lost, but a safer world was born. A Society that more widely rejected dictatorships, that had more of a responsibility to its people, and valued diplomacy over aggression. And a world that had not had a major power engage in war since the 1940s.

    After ending the slaughter of innocents in Europe and slauhgter, and sexual enslavement by Japan, the major world forces became more engaged in the aid of other countries tragedies.

    The attempt to fight back Communism after the war created the idea of fighting oppression with foreign id, thus preventing it from coming to pass and avoiding war all together.

    Which of course brigs us to yesterday, Pearl Harbor day. The day that lived in infamy.

    When my Grandfather was home from Northwestern for his sister's birthday, and he and his brother heard over the radio about the attack. With in a year, both were in the United States Military.

    December 6, saw the ratification of the 13tha amendment, which had been approved in April... I believe April, maybe February.

    That ended the practice of legal slavery in America, offering teh promise of America to even more people, who had previously been denied it.

    I don't know why we are taking about historic dates, but it sure is fun.

    1. I guess you've just launched the Creation Point version of THIS DAY IN HISTORY...

  2. I hate this day.

    How I wish John were here today, right now, when we need him. But as John himself didn't want to be pigeonholed as a savior, I'll do better than wish for that, and simply try to live my life as honestly & creatively & authentically as he did. If we really needed heroes & saviors, the best place to find them is in the mirror I think. Maybe the only place.

    Kids react to the Beatles:

    1. "Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters," is a Dylan line that Lennon liked to quote. And yet he always stood as an example, not because he was some saint—as some like to paint him (nor was he the demon others want to paint him as)—but because he was such an honest human, grappling so publicly with the issues that both plague and ennoble us all.

      Thanks for checking in, Tim, and for the link!

  3. I think that there are people that cross your path that have a profound impact on your life. Even if you have never met them it's what they present to the world that brings out a kindred spirit that has a positive effect on you and the way you experience your life. Sometimes, you get lucky and you get to meet them and they sign your cherished, dog eared copy of Moonshadow for you. Other times that doesn't happen, but it's like they are right there with you and when they shuffle off this mortal coil you are as sad as if it is a close friend. Time works in funny ways. We're told it has a linear structure, but I find that it tends to shrink and expand at the slightest whim. Have an excellent week, sir.
    My sad one is always the film director Jesus Franco. And his lovely wife Lina Romay who shares my birthday. Those make me sad every year.

    1. Yes, it is strange how people that we don't know can impact our lives in that way. When I got that Lennon phone call, I really felt as if my close friend had died. Perhaps it's because music, all art really, is so direct, so revealing of the artist. We connect with them on deep levels through their songs.

  4. I was in First Grade when Lennon was murdered. We used to do this "class-sharing" exercise before our day started in school where our teacher would ask us about any news. I remember sharing with the class that Lennon was killed. It's one of my earliest/clearest memories.

    Being in First Grade in 1980 means I was born after the Beatles had broken up, but I was raised in a home where they were played prominently. I could name all of their albums, and recognize their covers on site by the time I was five.

    If we dwell on the negative, we think of all the music/art we were robbed of that Lennon could have accomplished in those remaining years. However, if we focus on the positive, we can appreciate all of the wonderful things he accomplished in such a short life.

    All of my children listen to and enjoy the Beatles, and I think they will be a band that lasts through the ages. That is all thanks to Lennon and his vision. Although December 8th is a sad day in history, it gives us time to also reflect on Lennon's contributions, and I am grateful for that.

    1. I totally agree. When you look at his life and all that he accomplished in 40 short years—as an artist and as a human being—it's really quite astonishing.

      But wouldn't it be nice if he was still here with us?

  5. i always love this scan of the radio dial from that night -

  6. Just watched this on TV, wonderful documentary. We grew up with The Beatles.

    1. Yes, it's an excellent documentary; and some of the footage was later used in the equally-wonderful documentary about the making of the IMAGINE album, GIMME SOME TRUTH.