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This morning I had a stray thought: what would John Lennon have done if he’d survived? Where would he have gone? Now don’t get too excited: I was all set to write a big long thinky post about this, but today has been nothing but furious fingers typing typing typing, so I will keep it short, and let the commentariat do the opining for me.
In Life After Death for Beginners, my novel about a Lennon-like character who survives an assassination and has to find out who shot him and why, I put the main character here in Santa Monica. I am not serious about that, but I think it makes sense for several reasons. First I genuinely do think that John Lennon liked the sea, and liked it here—there’s a lot to like—especially back in the 70s-80s when it was a sleepy little beach town. (Plus, in LA they know how to treat rich people. There’s a reason all the petro-rich Iranians came in the 70s and 80s; the Westside’s a sweet place for exile.) Second because he would be far away from all the people who’d he’d known and associated with for the five years previous. And finally, because I was so goddamn sick when I was writing it, it was impossible for me to travel for research. So I was writing what I could write.
But the real Lennon? I don’t think he would’ve stayed in New York City, not for a second. His love of NYC seemed to stem from being able to move around like a non-famous person, and that would’ve been impossible. (I think he would’ve been gratified by the outpouring of love; for a bit.) He didn’t like nightlife; he didn’t seem to want to associate with the old pals. But he did like to travel, had been to Bermuda in 1980, Japan several times (dig this neat page), and planned to visit the UK in 1981.
My guess is he would’ve hightailed it to Japan, for two reasons: Yoko, and no guns. The rigidity of Japanese society would’ve felt like safety to him, and he would’ve been able to spot a bonkers Caucasian fan coming a mile away. However, I think that eventually the isolation of being a foreigner in that country would’ve gotten to him. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d done a blend of what George and Paul did.
George picked basically one place, FPSHOT, and made it his castle. Behind those walls, he was famously prickly/uninterested in housecalls from random fans (and can we blame him)? But as his own near-miss with an assassin eventually showed, that strategy has flaws. (Actually, I don’t think Friar Park had a wall around the property until 2009. Very different from These United States; in the US, the wall is the point.)
Paul, on the other hand, has many houses—London, Scotland, Beverly Hills, Arizona, Long Island, add more in the comments—so he effectively lives everywhere…and nowhere. In the end—by age 79—I betcha that’s what John would’ve done. Been seen places occasionally, living the private jet, private club, cosseted multinational life of the very wealthy. We’d have seen photos of him at weddings, graduations, and so forth. Elton’s wedding in 1984; Cyn’s funeral. But unlike Paul, I don’t think he would be spotted bopping around Beverly Hills.
What do you think?