Me on Lennon on Huffpo

Michael Gerber
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Lennon newsweek cover december 22 1980

Lennon on the cover of Newsweek, Dec. 22, 1980.

Guys, just wanted to let everybody know that an essay I wrote on the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder–and what I plan to do to commemorate it–is up at The Huffington Post.

Welcome fellow Dullblogger Devin McKinney to The December 8th Project!

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  1. Avatar Cara wrote:

    Congrats on a great piece… and on HuffPo, no less! And I commend you on the project and your part in promoting non-violence.

    John’s murder inspired me to get involved in the gun control issue oh so many years ago. I would make phone calls, stuff envelopes… I even collected signatures on Venice Beach one Sunday afternoon. (Part of me was hoping the FBI would start a file on me like they did on John… I was young and foolish.) And I had a bumper sticker on my car that would attract a lot of horn honks and middle fingers… all this while putzing around the Fairfax District. Imagine if I had lived in Burn-Your-Blasphemous-Beatles-Albums Land!

    Now, as middle age has snuck up and settled in on me, it has become almost a chore to remain actively involved. Giving money seems the most convenient way to remain an activist. But things have started to change this year, or so I thought. For a while I was crediting the 30th anniversary for inspiring me to actively take up the cause of peace again, until I realized that I had never really abandoned it. My entire career has been dedicated to the principles of social justice and non-violence, and I have John Lennon to thank for that.

    I was born into and grew up in an era of great social and political change, with many people to learn from and admire. But no one spoke to me quite the way that John did. No one articulated the message more clearly and with so much wit, compassion, and intelligence. No one was as real.

    I thank John for his many gifts. But the one that means the most to me is his inspiration.

  2. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Cara, that’s a superb post. My cat just died, and tomorrow’s the 8th, so I’ll have to leave it at that for the moment. But thanks.

  3. Avatar Wolynski wrote:

    Will go to HuffPo to read your piece.

    Sorry about your cat.

    Highly recommend the Harry Nilsson documentary – lots of Beatle content (and Monty Python).

    Never liked Harry’s songs – too jaunty. The Beatles had a jaunty/music hall element in some songs, but their range was much wider.

    Still, Harry sounded like a really interesting character – what a life.

  4. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Thanks, Wolynski.

    That’s a great doc, isn’t it? Quite agree about Nilsson–it can be a bit cloying to me–but at its best there is an undefinable, undeniable Beatley-ness to it that I just love.

    My love of The Beatles is, I’ve found as I age, love of a certain flavor of culture that has ebbed since…Satire Boom, Beatles, Nilsson, Python…we all know it when we see it, right?

    Hope you like the piece.

  5. Avatar Wolynski wrote:

    Read your piece on HuffPo – wonderfully written and, sorry, I disagree with almost everything.

    I love the Beatles for their music – it’s ONLY about the music (and their cheekiness), but Lennon’s bed-ins for peace were ridiculous, self-serving and sanctimonious.

    I listened to Barry Obama very carefully when he was campaigning, so therefore I knew it was an awful day when he got elected with the help of Goldman Sachs. All that bullshit about electing a black man is reverse racism, but sure made the useless liberals feel good about themselves – and that was the intention.

    John Lennon was for peace. And, pray, who exactly is for war except those who profit from it?

  6. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Woly, it’s late and I’m tired, but it strikes me that your dissatisfaction with Barry O. would be something that Lennon shared.

    I say specifically in the piece that the MSM’s reading of Lennon’s political importance–that he made the world safe for celebrity sanctimony and self-indulgence–was at variance with his constantly stated belief that individuals must act on their own behalf, not wait for a celebrity or a President or a Pope or a guru to come fix everything for them.

    If you thought the Bed-Ins were goofy, I agree with you; and that by far the most extraordinary aspect of JL was his music, I agree once again. But for good or ill he remains a political figure to many people, and as such I thought it was important to reiterate that his message was a populist, individualist, self-empowering one–the opposite of waiting for an Obama or a Kennedy…or a Lennon. Seems like you’re implying something similar, but as I said I’m bushed.

    As far as the importance of a black President, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. Acknowledging that, given the horrific treatment of blacks in this country, electing a black man as President is a powerful symbolic step forward, isn’t reverse-racism. It’s simply saying that in our current country, race exists; as does gender and sexual orientation and all that. That’s not the totality of it–I don’t like FDR because he, like me, was disabled–but I personally take a small victory in the expression of diversity. That lasted me 24 hours. Then I started wanting Barry O to be an advocate for the people who elected him, not Goldman Sachs.

  7. Avatar Cara wrote:

    “I am like a chameleon, influenced by whatever is going on.” –John Lennon

    Wolynski, Lennon was keenly tuned in to his times. He absorbed everything and then reflected it back to us, communicating a message that was uniquely his but also universal at its core. Many who are cynical about his peacenik image make the mistake of equating him with a committed political activist, which he certainly was not. (He only temporarily fancied himself as such… but then again, he also went through a phase when he was convinced he was Jesus. Oh, those kooky artists…) He was more like a pundit and a conflicted idealist than a mass movement leader.

    And yes, at its core, Beatlemania is about the music. But you yourself stated that you appreciate the cheekiness, so you also recognize that their greatness transcends just their songs. They were/are cool as hell.

    Mark ~ I’m with you on the Satire Boom thing… today’s humor is generally more ironic or in-your-face than truly satirical. Very few funny people challenge social norms anymore, at least in a witty way. (There are those who do, but not many…)

    Sorry about your cat. 🙁

  8. Avatar Cara wrote:

    OOOPS! Sorry I called you Mark, Michael! (Not the first time I’ve been guilty of that…)

  9. Just saw this post, and the HuffPo article, just now, in 2016. Looks like we’ve made a lot of progress since then. More people are armed than ever, and we haven’t had a massacre of five-year-old children since…oh, wait, no, I forgot, “My second amendment rights are worth more than your dead child” — that’s what we say now, over and over, until it sinks in.

  10. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    Wolynski said “All that bullshit about electing a black man is reverse racism, but sure made the useless liberals feel good about themselves”
    I’d like to respond with this:

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