Exhuming Bob 31b
Victor Maymudes’ Another Side Of Bob Dylan
A Stranger Came Walking…
This book is actually written by Victor’ son Jacob Maymudes, since Victor died a couple decades ago. The tapes Victor recorded appear to be heavily edited while Jacob is defending his father against Dylan. In such a situation the temptation to rewrite as well as editing might be too strong to resist. It would have been better to have used the full transcripts as spoken.
Jacob has really written a biography of his family focusing on his dad’s relationship with Dylan. It is a bittersweet tale while Jacob has written a very readable and pleasant little volume. He captures well the personal tragedy of his father.
In this part of the review I will concentrate on Tapes 2 and 3 of Victor’s aural memoir.
After leaving Bob in 1962, almost ’63, Victor took up residence in Yelapa, Mexico a village of 300 at the time with a half dozen Hippies lounging about. Today, let us say, it has been discovered. Yelapa is in Jalisco State of which Guadalajara is the capital and Puerta Vallarta the main tourist destination. Yelapa is on the southern end of the 7th largest beach in the world. Undeveloped when Victor stayed there it is well developed now. Victor doesn’t explain how he knew of this, what he considers, a terrestrial paradise, but he stays there until…
One day just before sun down, I was laying on the beach with Tom Law, one of my great friends, who would later became the road manager for Peter, Paul and Mary. But at that moment He was sitting up watching the Mexico sunset while I lay with my feet in the warm glow of the sand. A stranger came walking down the beach toward us. There was nobody else in sight….The Stranger stopped in front of us and asked, “You guys know this guy, Victor Maimondez?” mispronouncing my last name.
Tom, who was always cautious and protective of me, squinted up, “Yeah, maybe. What do you want him for?”
The stranger said, “I have a message for him. From someone named Bob Dylan in New York City. He wants Victor to come back. They’re going on tour.”
Like something out of the Twilight Zone isn’t it? If it happened, it happened. Who am I to say differently.
Victor returns triumphantly as Dylan’s tour manager. Grossman grant’s Victor the magnificent salary of 65.00 a week. Victor was ecstatic. Heck, even I was making twice that in 1964 although I’m sure I wasn’t having as good a time.
Tape 3, Chapter 3 is a very long chapter of thirty four pages covering approximately eight months in 1964. These boys were certainly living an action packed life as the events covered may be the central part of Bob’s 1960-66 career.
Victor arrives back in LA on November 22, 1963 just in time for the Kennedy assassination. Victor is an authentic voice of the period. His thoughts are representative of about half the people at the time While time has sanctified Kennedy’s memory at the time about half the people were relieved to be rid of him. I was in that half.
Victor’s voice however is phrased in the spirit of the times. It brings the period back in high relief.
In February Dylan, Paul Clayton, Pete Karman and Victor took the well reported cross country auto tour from NYC to SF with Victor doing most of the driving. Today they probably would have used an SUV but theirs was a more modestly sized station wagon.
While Victor adds a few new details his relation places the story in more human terms than other accounts. He and Dylan were outraged at the Kentucky miners’ plight and the civil rights situation in Dixie so they decide on a drive through for a look see.
The key points are Dylan’s visit to Carl Sandburg in Asheville and the visit to New Orleans and the drive from Denver to SF.
Victor’s account of the Sandburg visit makes more sense than other accounts I have read. Rather than a cranky reception for this unannounced visit as often reported the boys were met cordially by Mrs. Sandburg who went to get her husband. Sandburg himself was in his late eighties and apparently frail, tiring easily. According to Victor he spent about an hour with the boys then tiring returned to the house.
According to Victor Paul Clayton smoothed over the situation while Pete Karman boorishly tried to brush Dylan aside to monopolize the interview.
For those who for one reason or another are vague as to who Carl Sandburg was his date are 1/6/1878-7/22/67. He gained fame for what is called his poetry, not only fame but he bagged two Pulitzer Prizes and his biography of Abraham Lincoln netted him another.
He was a Civil Rights activist gaining an award from the NAACP. Dylan’s interest stemmed from is 1927 collection called The American Song Bag. The volume was very successful and extremely influential. Pete Seeger was said to swear by it and if I am not mistaken Huddie Leadbelly Ledbettor memorized a great deal of it.
I managed to pick up a copy at an estate sale for a couple bucks. it is a fairly amazing collection of what might be called folk songs. Lots of tunes from the turn of the century and some earlier stuff. Midnight Special, Frankie and Johnny, the backbone of the Sixties repertoire. Words and music, nice collection.
Bob said he wanted to talk to Carl about it. Pete Karman got in the way.
Victor gives a nice tribute and portrait of Paul Clayton who he admired as a great folk figure although time has now passed him by.
The next stop was New Orleans which holds no interest for me although the stories are well told while being well known.
The inner dynamics of the car with Karman being the trouble are well known. Apparently Suze Rotolo included him, probably as a chaperone to make sure Bob didn’t stray too far. Strange attitude for a Communist girl. When they reached SF Karman was given a plane ticket and sent back to NYC. Karman was replaced by Bobby Neuwirth who would himself replace victor as Dylan’s confidant. Neuwirth fit in where Karman didn’t. But then as a friend of Suze’s who forced him on the trip perhaps his quality of mind was more equal to hers.
After returning , in May of ’64 Dylan left for England with Victor in tow. This was the English trip that formed the material for the film Don’t Look Back. Unless the tape is edited too heavily by Jacob one would gain the impression that it is just Bob and Victor on this trip. There is no mention of Grossman or Baez, the movie or even the famous scene at the Savoy, no Lennon, no Beatles, no nothing but Bob and Victor. One gains the impression that Victor is in love with Bob, practically man and wife.
After England he and Dylan make Bob’s trip to Greece. There are some interesting details here. According to Victor Dylan wrote the whole of Another Side Of bob Dylan in Greece recording it without practice on returning to New York.
There is no mention of Nico here for whom Dylan wrote I’ll Keep It With Mine at this time. Victor excludes anything except what he and Bob were doing while Victor is guiding Bob and showing him the world.
They then return to NYC
March 23, 2011
Exhuming Bob XXIX: Dylan And His Blonde Problems
An Examination Of Temporary Like Achilles
Temporary Like Achilles is another ’64-’66 piece. It has the feel of being improvisational, out of focus. I believe it is a companion piece to Visions Of Johanna while it might be connected to Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.
Dylan always said that he had no physical relations with the song’s subject Edie Sedgwick. I’m certainly in no position to say but if this song is accurate then Edie for some reason played the virgin for him. Either that or because she represented his mother to him it would have been an incestuous situation. Edie did say she was pregnant by Dylan but then she says that she was in the psycho ward and that the doctor’s held her down and aborted the baby. Of course she must have been delusional at that time having over dosed on amphetamines. God, how she punished her mind. I’m of the opinion that she probably was not pregnant by Dylan although there may be hospital records.
If one takes the last verse first:
Achilles is in your alleyway
He don’t want me here, he does brag
He’s pointing to the sky
And he’s hungry, like a man in drag.
How come you get someone like him to be your guard
You know I want your lovin’
Honey why are you so hard.
Warhol, the man in drag is obviously Achilles, perhaps meant humorously. Achilles of course lived a short but glorious life. Warhol is temporary because Dylan is moving in on Edie.
In answer to the refrain ‘you know I want your lovin, honey why are you so hard’, it is probably that Edie wanted to marry Dylan but in the way of women wanted to pose as a virgin so as to come to him pure.
When she was at Harvard in Boston she was known as a premier fag hag. The men she knew were all gay so one presumes her chastity was safe there. Of course, Andy Warhol, known here as Achilles here was gay. Insofar as she associated with Andy, and he apparently really was smitten by her, as close to being in love as he could get with anyone, as he put it, her chastity was safe with him too. Perhaps that is why Dylan has Achilles in Edie’s allegory, near but not close sexually.
As there was rivalry between Dylan and Warhol for Edie it follows that ‘he don’t want me here he does brag.’ The line
would point to the situation as it stood in August or September of ’65. He’s hungry like a man in drag may refer to his homosexuality which prevents him from satisfying his lust I don’t know why he’s pointing at the sky but Dylan says disgustedly ‘how come you get someone (a fag) like him to be your guard. Dylan was known to be macho at the time.
The first verse points to a period perhaps November-December of ’65. Dylan, of course, married Sara in November of ’65 so that at this point Dylan would be playing with Edie as perhaps he thought she was playing with him before.
Standing on your window, honey
Yes. I’ve been here before
Feeling so harmless
I’m looking at your second door
How come you don’t send me no regards?
You know I want you lovin’
Honey why are you so hard?
Here is a reference to Dylan and Edie’s first meeting in December of ’64. And then in March Chuck Wein introduced Edie to the Factory although she had met Warhol a couple weeks after Dylan in January of ’65. Dylan may have been too busy at the beginning of ’65 to actively pursue Edie, he also did have to pay attention to Sara who he was courting at the same time, plus engagements and whatever.
At any rate Edie teamed up with Warhol from March to about December of ’65. At that point Dylan who was wooing Edie and Grossman his manager were promising to make Edie a star at something. If as a star, she couldn’t sing, but then that didn’t stop Dylan from having a career.
Now, Andy had been trying to make Edie his movie star. According to Ronnie Tavel who scripted many of Andy’s movies Andy saw Edie as his ticket to breaking into Hollywood. That was one of Andy’s chief ambitions that was never realized. Tavel says that he and Andy used to coach Edie in her lines. When time to film came she always dosed herself with amphetamines before hand and, of course, uncoached herself. Thus in Andy’s account of his appearance at the psychiatrists’ banquet in January of ’66 he remarks that it was futile for Dylan and Grossman to work with her because she was unable to concentrate long to get anything done. Edie wouldn’t work hence no career. Andy might have been able to get her something if she had. He sounds rueful and hurt.
So in late ’65 this was Dylan’s second attempt to connect with Edie.
The second verse:
Kneeling ‘neith your ceiling
Yes, I guess I’ll be here for a while
I’m trying to read your portrait, but
I’m helpless, like a rich man’s child.
How come you send someone out to have me barred:
You know I want your lovin’
Honey, why are you so hard?
Kneeling ‘neath your ceiling fits in with standing in your window and looking at your second door. Kneeling ‘neath your ceiling is probably somewhat like Paul Simon’s ‘One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor or Tony Orlando’s Stomp three time on the floor. In other words Dylan is in the room beneath Edie unable to get to her unless she calls him.
Thus the addendum to verse two:
Like a poor fool in his prime
Yes’ I know you can hear me walk
But is our heart made out of stone, or is it lime
Or is it just solid rock?
In other words Edie knows he’s down there pacing anxiously back and forth but a hard hearted woman she refuses to call him to her, stomping three times on the floor.
The fourth verse:
Well, I rush into your hallway
Lean against your velvet door
I watch upon your scorpion
Who crawls across your circus floor
Just what do you think you have to guard?
You know I want your lovin’
Honey why are you so hard?
The ardent and frustrated would be lover can’t breach Edie’s window, door. ceiling, hallway, velvet door. The scorpion/circus reference escapes me except that Edie may have appeared to be leading some circus life as does Ophelia in Desolation Row.
Apparently this was a throw away song for Dylan as other than recording it he has never played it in concert. It was one of my favorites on the album however. Perhaps after Dylan’s motorcycle accident the song became irrelevant to him. Too topical, not universal enough as was its counterpart Visions of Johanna.
As far as Blonde On Blonde goes I’m tentatively of the opinion that Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 refers to Edie and his mother. The only reference to Sara in the album would be Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands.
Your secrets are safe with me, Bob, of course you don’t have anything to hide.
April 7, 2010
Conversations With Robin
Conversations betwen R.E. Prindle and Robin Mark
Concerning certain musical questions.
I was born in Dixie
In a boomer’s shack
Just a half mile from the railroad tracks
My daddy was a Fireman
And my mama dear
She was the only daughter of an engineer.
I’m one of those who had to flee the South to escape the degrading slave economy. Off to bloody Kansas where we fought the Slavers to make K a free State. Of course after the war I fled Kansas, as who wouldn’t, for greener pastures. Did you ever wonder why Baum told Dorothy You’re not in Kansas anymore? What a drag it would be growing old in Kansas.
Of course, I always remember the Song Of The South and Uncle Remus with great fondness being a sentimental Alabaman. The real Alabama exists only as a figment of the imagination while the prewar Alabama is the dream. The South shall rise again and trample the Puritan bastards. You can feel it happening.
Nazis? There never have been any American Nazis except in the imaginations of Communists or Jews. In the twenties Communist became a dirty word but they had no counter name until the Fascists arose in reaction to the Commie finks. Then in the late twenties, early thirties the Commies were able to polarize American society by calling former ‘Red baiters’ Fascists.
Calling Americans Nazis is a Jewish thing that arose in the late fifties and early sixties when Jews wanted to stigmatize persons they found objectionable. Nobody in their right mind pays attention to this Jewish-Commie garbage. Sorry to have so say this to you because I know how sensiteeve you are to Jewish criminations.
But, if you will be archaic, a religious anachronism, there’s little that can be done about it. Always best to be scientific and discard the useless past.
What’s happening with Expecting Rain? I checked the message boards but couldn’t find anything. I’m not signed in. Did you?
Just remember one takes invective lightly. I apparently blew them out with the Warhol thing but that’s an expected reaction. Guilty of it myself when someone hits me with something new that turns out to be true no matter how preposterous sounding. Give ’em time to digest and come around. They will, they have to because I gave them some accurate history.
As far as the UofO I know I’m guilty of heresy but Toynbee is a great master of history, per se, interpretation is something else. By the way A Study Of History is not ‘a book’. It’s a massive twelve volume, six thousand page masterwork. I didn’t just pick up a few facts but in depth studies of what Toynbee considers civilizations, all the way from the Eskimos to the Chinese and all stops between over 10,000 years of history. It’s an amazing product of one human mind. Better than 3000 mikes of LSD for expanding the mind. Hits about that hard too.
The problem with Cal State was that as ex-high school teachers the ‘profs’ were used to dealing with immature sixteen year old minds. By the time I got there I’d been in the service for three years, in the work place for four. So, you know, a certain amount of incompatibility. In other words, I had the abrasive personality they thought, not them. Besides I was pretty tightly wound back then. Same way today, I see no reason to talk to anyone who sleepwalks.
Another interesting story is that after Kennedy was shot, being in an ‘intellectual’ atmosphere I was going around saying that Robert was up next basing my opinion on the Gracchi of ancient Rome. I don’t suppose any of those Bozos had ever heard of the Gracchi. Anyway they turned me into the FBI and the next thing you know I’m talking to three- one, two, three- Agents. Wanted to know how I knew about it like maybe I was one of a team of assassins. I don’t think they’d ever heard of the Gracchi either. Seemed kind of disappointed after my historical lecture. Didn’t have to be so insulting though. They called me I didn’t call them.
Second entry 3/07/10
OK Robin, I’m going to talk about Albert Goldman now and I don’t want you to come unglued. The guy does seem to have some interesting facts, if they can be relied on. What do you have on Parker’s setting Elvis up with the draft board?
And then, Larry Geller. Elvis’ regular hair dresser Overbite or Orifice or whatever can’t keep his appointment; Geller is sent over from Jay Sebring’s salon. Sebring is Streisand’s hair dresser. Are we making any connections yet? Could Streisand have wanted to sack Elvis but not know how to go about it. Too much of a condescension for her? Did she want to corrupt him? Anyway substituting Geller for Orifice is an obvious power play. Sebring just told Orifice to take a hike, he was out.
Why Geller? He’s an esoteric who captures Presley’s mind with what an ignorant Goldman thinks is rubbish. So Goldman, Streisand, Geller are Jews. Sebring probably although I’ve never considered him. So, whether you like it or not the Jew-Goy thing is operating.
Now, Goldman constantly denigrates hillbillies, rednecks, Southern people and the South in general. Very irritating to an old hillbilly like me, dare I say Goldman is a bigot? Let us then conclude that Goldman represents the attitude of at least the Hollywood Jews. So, Geller is there to play with Elvis’ mind. Take over, take charge. I’ve been through this myself.
According to Goldman Geller introduced Elvis to 24 esoteric titles among ‘hundreds’ of others that Elvis is said to have read while reading many of the 24 two or more times and making a 25th title The Impersonal Life his Bible.
As it is I’ve read many of the 24, in fact, I’ve read nearly everything Goldman implies he had read implying he is one hell of an informed guy. I’ve read the Golden Bough twice, all twelve volumes or whatever and some of those three times so it may be said that I can walk in Goldman’s path. I know what’s being said here. Generally speaking this is a very good list of esoterica, classic but good. Unlike the nut Goldman who doesn’t believe the Gnosis is religion, I know it is, but it is religion and you know my views on religion. The Gnostics were a part of history and thus cannot be dismissed or ignored. I find it hard to believe a hard partyer like Elvis had the patience to plow through Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine by Madame B. Each is 1500 large pages long and requires a historical background to put it in perspective. Elvis couldn’t possibly have had that, nor did Geller.
The Urantia Book is a massive, large page 2500 page mind scorcher than can double as science fiction. It is a really interesting scientific/religious volume but once again it requires real concentration and then some, but a real mind boggler. Drugs and partying? Well, we’re all different but such a reading regimen seems a stretch.
And then the list contains some wonderful stuff by Manly Hall and his Philosophical Research Society. You’re down there so you could drop into their book store and library. Hall is a good writer and is as well versed as any in esoterica. Short books, no problem for Elvis.
Max Heindel is not so smooth but his Rosicrucian Society is terrific. The Cosmo-Conception is worth reading and even think about. His outfit is still down in Oceanside by San Diego is you want to drop in on them. It would be worth it. I’ll have to check out a couple items on the list like The Sacred Science Of Numbers. Numerology is an important historical study.
Over all a fine list of esoterica but I can’t believe Elvis actually read it all plus hundreds of others. About the time Geller came into his life he was down to ten years or less remaining. I can’t even believe that Geller had command of this stuff. He couldn’t have been that old while at 50 pages a day some of these books take a couple months to read. Seems like Geller was being provided titles by an organization like the ADL where scholars have organized all this stuff. It’s just to unreal to believe Geller had even heard of all these titles, most of which are really obscure.
I have to believe that something is wrong here. Goldman is either just showing off his knowledge or he’s flat out lieing.
Since this stuff is anathema to his Jewish sensibilities, the reason he objects is that the books give no precedence, no pride of place to Judaism, in fact, tacitly dismiss Judaism, Goldman is probably putting Elvis down although inadvertantly paying him one hell of a compliment. If Elvis could get through the Urantia Book he is one hell of a guy which is an inadvertant compliment to myself because I have.
Anyway The Swami chapter was very interesting. Applying your Elvis erudition what do you think?
April 3, 2010
Mourning Becomes Yoko Ono
The Passing Of John Lennon Part III
When John Lennon met Yoko Ono he knew very little of art and nothing of the New York art scene. His high school years had been spent in open and futile rebellion; the next few years had been spent only in the German underworld with no time for cultivation. From there he went into the whirl of the Beatles years so one might say he had been in cultural suspended animation for all his adult life.
Yoko Ono since 1960 had been engaged in the New York avant garde art scene. She was au courant when she left for London in 1966. Hooking up with Lennon she began to educate him according to her understanding of art. By the time the Ono-Lennons arrived in New York in the late sixties that scene was dominated by the POP art of Andy Warhol while the world both she and Lennon knew in 1960 was unrecognizable. Yoko wasted no time in ingratiating herself with Andy but not the factory. After he was shot in 1969 the old Factory disappeared and after his recovery Warhol began a new life. It is possible that she tried to establish
contact with him between ’64 and ’66. She did know warhol’s associate, Sam Green, from her first days in the Village in 1960.
By the time of her return to NYC Yoko had achieved world wide fame by using Lennon and his fame in their charades for ‘Peace.’ Now she had the perfect entree to enter Warhol’s circle. Warhol was a sucker for celebrities, he did Lennon’s portrait, so he was flattered when Yoko asked him to introduce she and John into society. If Warhol could pester, Yoko was unstoppable. While Andy wasn’t exactly persona gratis at that time he was thick with Sam Adams Green who did have entree to society. Between the the two of them they set up a party to introduce the Ono-Lennons.
John was, of course, no Mick Jagger. While Mick adapted himself quickly to the demands of his fame and moved easily in society, John was awkward being out of the element of his self-styled working class hero. Yoko, too, was no mixer so at the party Yoko and John sat silently in a corner as though in one of Yoko’s bags watching the party goers.
It might be apropos to point out that Jagger and Warhol were fairly close. Jagger was one of the few people attending Warhol’s funeral in Pittsburgh while Bianca was in Warhol’s entourage in the eighties. Warhol also painted a portfolio of Jagger pictures that today command healthy prices.
Yoko still persisted with Warhol but Andy having been disappointed once was not up for it twice. He distanced himself from the pair describing them to Sam Green as boring. An ultimate putdown.
Initially the Lennons lived in the Bohemian scene downtown. Mickey Ruskin, the owner of Max’s Kansas City, described the Bohemian scene thusly: the well-to-do Bohos, the middle and the lower class. Those associated with the Kettle of Fish and its environs of which Dylan was a member were of the lower class while the Kettle of Fish itself was owned by the Mafia. He believed Max’s was in the middle. John and Yoko first lived in New York in the West Village at 105 Bank Street next door to Yoko’s her, John Cage. They took over Joe Butler’s apartment, he formerly the drummer of Lovin’ Spoonful so Ruskin would have classed John and Yoko as haut ton beatniks.
At any rate they soon left those environs to migrate to the Upper West Side where they secured apartments in the famous, or soon to be famous, Dakota. It was then that their NYC life took its definitive form.
I have been to NYC a few times so that I know the general layout and have some feel for the place but I have by no means an intimate knowledge so essentially I’m working from maps. I know where MOMA and some few prominent art landmarks are from experience but not that many.
At any rate the Dakota is a famous landmark.. Acceptance as a tenant is by committee approval. John and Yoko were strenuously vetted but finally admitted. They took over actor Robert Ryan’s apartment #72. If you have seen the movie Rosemary’s Baby the camera pans past apartments 71 and 72. No filming was allowed inside the Dakota so while the exterior shots are authentic the interiors were shot on sets. Thus the apartment of the Satanists is a fictional 7E. The apartment next to it in which the young couple resided may have been number 72. The man of the couple who was an actor sold his wife’s body to Satan as the carrier of his child for success in the theatre which he was granted. Thus the Ono-Lennons moved into an apartment closely associated with devil worship, the occult and witchcraft.. This will become more important as Yoko associated herself with all three. In fact, Yoko through John Green would have been familiar with the Yoruban Santeria religion that she in all likelihood would have reverenced. The Spirit Foundation that she established is concerned with the preservation of just such tribal institutions.
These are magnificent apartments that I presume Rosemary’s Baby duplicates. Huge fifty foot long living rooms as part of a ten room apartment. The Ono-Lennons would soon own both 71 and 72 lacking only the fictional 7E while having a Studio apartment as well.
Being now permanently settled Yoko having access to John’s superb income began to spend it. Of course, she virtually cleaned out department stores on her buying binges, any girl’s dream. But, she also began to buy heavily into art and antiques as investments. This brought Warhol’s friend Sam Adams Green into a close association with her. Rich society women were Sam’s forte. He has an interesting story. He was actually descended from the second president of the United States, Samuel Adams. He arrived in New york in 1960 about the same time Andy Warhol was trying to establish himself as a fine artist and Yoko the same. Warhol of course began as a commercial artist doing shoe ads but in 1960 he changed the emphasis of his career.
In the fine arts field one of the first gallery people Andy met was Sam Green of the Green Gallery. Different Green, Sam only
worked there and shared the name. He and Andy hit it off. By 1965 Green was associated with the art department of UPennsylvania where he staged a Warhol exhibition in the same year. From there he gravitated bck to NYC where he began a career as art consultant to rich women on both continents. They liked him. Through the socialite Cecile Rothschild he was introduced to Greta Garbo with whom he was sort of a trusted companion for 15 years.
He was very knowledgeable about art as an investment traveling between Euorpe and the US advising socialites on the most investment worthy art. He apparently derived a more than comfortable income from his efforts. He was a trusted advisor of Yoko. Some say that he and Yoko’s Tarot reader, John Green, who would enter John and Yoko’s life at about this time, combined to bilk Yoko for overpriced objects. This presumes that both men were dishonest and that Yoko was a fool. As Yoko’s investments have prospered I think we can dismiss the latter, although Yoko did take pride in being able to spend vast sums. She would have taken pleasure in overpaying.
Rather I would say that Sam Green was a very knowledgeable expert whose task was to find art that would appreciate in value. Thus the question is did he perform that function and the answer is, yes. Yoko’s acquistions increased in value far above her purchase prices. I think it is unfair then to say that the Greens bilked her. Surely the laborer is worth his hire.
Now, Sam Green as her agent had to buy the items he acquired for her. Being knowledgeable as to who in society wanted to sell what at distressed prices he may have made some excellent buys that he then tacked on his margin which of course meant that he sold to Yoko for ‘more than they were worth.’ But, heck, even Christie’s and Sotheby’s take twenty per cent each from the buyer and seller. That’s a forty per cent surcharge. However Sam served his function of providing investment pieces so I see no evidence of bilking.
Sam Green also formed a close, probably romantic, liaison with Yoko that persisted until after John’s death. Another art dealser she became close to was a Sam Havadtoy with whom she subsequently lived for twenty years beginning immediately the day after John’s death.
Now the men Yoko associated herself with were all effetes, that were either emasculated when she found them or who she emasculated. Strangely Lennon was the strongest of the lot. Both her first Japanese husband and Tony Cox appear to have been heterosexuals but both Sam Green and Sam Havadtoy were dependent homosexuals. With Havadtoy Yoko may have had her ideal relationship. He was thoroughly emasculated while with the fortune Yoko inherited from Lennon he was totally dependent on her. The classic toy boy a couple decades younger than herself. He, by the way, after his twenty year stint as live-in retired to Hungary with an abundant palimony but he isn’t talking.
In my reading of the situation then, a not particularly compliant John became somewhat of a liability to her, especially as he began to reassert himself with the return to the recording studio in 1980. The problem has the surface appearance of separating the man form his money and discarding the man.
Yoko began building her entourage, Sam Green, John Green, Sam Havadtoy and her various occult people with what appears to be an admiration for and some sort of connection with Andy Warhol. Sam Green and Havadtoy would be a troublesome presence in Lennon’s life during the recording of Double Fantasy while he does not appear to have been enchanted with the Warhol connection
As has been mentioned Yoko became involved in occult practices. She did practice hypnotism on Lennon and was an adept at suggestion which is the essence of hypnotism. Thus on the one hand she suggested forcefully to May Pang that she take up with Lennon while it is probable she hypnotized Lennon into taking up with May Pang. Post hypnotic suggestion would give her a command over all Lennon’s actions. Once implanted she would only have to say the word and Lennon would follow her suggestions.
How complicit John Green would have been in this isn’t exactly clear but any of Yoko’s suggestions to John could have been complemented by a reading. John Green was after all dependent on Yoko for a very generous income beyond whatever he may have scammed.
John Green is another interesting case. He was apparently successful as a Tarot reader before he met Yoko while he is reported to hae been a student of the African Yoruba religion called Santeria. The Yoruba are a tribe in Nigeria, middle river, Western side. He would have obtained much of the magic information he displayed in Cartagena, Columbia, SA from that source. The sixties themselves were the great period of the dissolution of the American mind and personality. One of the key items in the disintegration was the 1962 movie, Mondo Cane. (It’s A Dog’s World). It is difficult to assess the impact of this movie on the malleable college age mind of the times.
I saw the movie then and while it passed out of my conscious mind it struck me most forcibly and lodged in my subconscious mind. I, of course, reviewed the movie for this essay and while I at first remembered little gradually my conscious mind recovered the images so that I remember almost all. The viewing at the time was very repulsive and unsettling to my mind as it was for everyone I talked to about it and every college kid saw it. Still, consciously I missed the true import of the movie completely.
The filmmakers equated some New Guinea stone age people with modern Whites and equated them- said both states of
consciousness were the same- and that there had been no advance between the primitive and modern. Then they showed Whites at their goofiest and most ridiculous. Drunks at a German Oktoberfest, aged tourists clumsily trying to do a hula. The movie was a real exercise in moral relativity. It was shortly after viewing the movie that I first remember hearing the phrase ‘Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.’ I don’t want to philosophize on this but my thought was that if I think something is bad therefore it must be because I think it and I can’t be wrong.
The movie had a devastating effect on the attitude of the generation. It was a form of hypnosis with a great deal of post-hypnotic suggestion. Whether John Green saw the movie or not I can’t say but if he had it would have prepared him for accepting Yoruban Santeria. In fact these primitive forms of religion and what not flourished in the wake of Mondo Cane. At the same, as I indicated, Yoko would have been very open to Santeria. I think there is little doubt that Green and she at least discussed the religion and its African tribal origin. Especially as she established something she calls the Spirit Foundation. In the online prospectus she describes the foundation thusly:
The Spirit Foundation is…concerned with the protection and promotion of creative and cultural diversity amongst shamanic tribal communities worldwide. Part of the foundations work is the International Shamanic Network which aims at promoting the ancient creative archetypes of man and their binding ecological realtionship to the world.
Our emphasis is on education for action.
As mentioned Yoko and Lennon moved into the suites used in Rosemary’s Baby with its Satanic overtones. In the movie a young woman living with the Satanic couple either jumps or is pushed to her death not far from where Lennon was shot. In this very location Yoko took up Satanism. She decided she wanted to make a pact with the Devil to obtain her wishes. The ubiquitous Sam Green knew of a witch who could serve as an intermediary between Yoko and Satan. (Remember I am only retailing the story, I don’t believe Satan exists.)
Sam Green who had prospered as an art consultant had used some of his earnings to purchase what he called a castle in Cartagena, Colombia. He recommended his witch to Yoko who asked John Green to take her to the witch as he doubled as Tarot reader and Wizard. John Green did so and the witch duly negotiated a deal between Yoko and the Lord of Fire. When it came time to sign the pact Yoko asked Green to do it for her which he did. She was aghast when he told her he didn’t sign his name but hers. Yoko trying to cheat the devil.
We don’t know what she asked Satan for but we are compelled to believe she got it.
As I believe she hypnotized Lennon into taking the Long Weekend I don’t know exactly why she wanted him out of the house. She certainly closely monitored his activities while he was away both in NYC and LA. During his absence Yoko didn’t have a Power of Attorney so she was somewhat constrained as John had her on a 300K budget. When he returned she quickly obtained his POA so that she had unlimited use of his money and, in fact, his identity.
Lennon is criticized for being a recluse in the years between 1975-80. He certainly wasn’t a recluse in that he withdrew from the world. He merely limited his contacts with it. It is said there was a fifteen month period when he was completely withdrawn. While he was obviously suffering from a mental malise in my opinion the withdrawal was completely justified. He had mental issues that had to be resolved. He had the money and time to work at it as he did.
He had a mother/father fixation he had to resolve. he had the feeling that he had been either a genius or a lunatic from boyhood. In a remarkable rant within the 1970 Rolling Stone interview he rants for pages because no one recognized him as a genius in his youth while he had now convinced himself that he was and had been a genius. The fact that he never did his schoolwork doesn’t seem to him that that may have a reason why people missed his genius and though him somewhat mad. What would theyhave done if they had? So he had to reconcile the issue in his mind.
He seems to have made no advance past his school years except in music. The years between leaving school and taking up with Yoko were completely wasted intellectually while the pressures of phenomenal success and wealth disoriented him completely not to mention the massive doses of drugs. At some time then he had to come down and organize his mind and life. From 1968 to let us say 1980 he was completely dependent on Yoko for his mental balance. In NYC he went where she did and did what she did. Hence the connection to Andy Warhol and Sam Green.
There are numerous pictures of Yoko, Lennon and Warhol. Yoko even patterned some of her work after Warhol’s style as in the ‘work’ below patterned after Warhol’s double Elvis. Thus she associates herself and Lennon with Presley.
As I mentioned before the social entree arranged by Warhol and Sam Green failed because of the social ineptness of the Ono-Lennons.
While we have a full record of what Lennon was doing during his ‘Lost Weekend’ we have a less full account of what Yoko was doing. She seems to have had romantic liaisons with at least three men- Sam Green, Sam Havadtoy and the guitarist David Spinozza.
Perhaps she wanted to see how well she could do on her own as a musician, to see if her reputation as a performance artist and, in her mind, musician, was sufficient to maintain a career on her own without John. If so, she was brutally disappointed as in her only solo performance she failed miserably. Thus she realized that as of 1974 her reputation as well as her wealth depended on Lennon.
It was during Lennon’s absence that John Green came into her life. While John Green tells a fairly smooth story in his Dakota Years one has the feeling that he is being highly selective in what he tells while he slyly ridicules the Ono-Lennons as their superior. The attitude easily leads to contempt and from contempt to abuse. Of course he would have to dissimulate both the contempt and abuse as Ono would be reading the book. As I imagine, a priest in the Santeria religion, he would have been in the company of some shady characters. I don’t know how many actual Yorubas were in NYC but I have met a couple elsewhere.
One imagines most of the hierarchy Green came into contact with was African or American Blacks. Santeria involves a deal of ritual sacrifice while money would be needed. I suspect that John Green was involved in the extortion attempt on the Ono-Lennons. This may have been Santeria related. Thus a sort of Black Hand organization was created. Rather than go for the big money that would have created a stir, the group settled for hitting up people with millions for a mere 200K each. An unpleasant tax for being rich but one more conveniently paid than to die resisting.
We have only Green’s version of the extortion and his relationship to it. He paints himself in a relatively good light. The Ono-Lennons did call in the FBI, they did give the extortionists newspaper rather than cash as the FBI advised. But then things went wrong. The FBI apparently had only one tail on the extortionist who came for the money rather than a series of back ups. The agent inexplicably lost his man. The Ono-Lennons never received another call but they had been warned that if they failed to pay Lennon would be killed whether it took one, two or more years. In December of 1980 the bill fell due. On December 8th he was shot. December 7th is Pearl Harbor Day so there may be a Japanese connection. Yoko Ono being Japanese, her numerologist and the assassin’s wife while Chapman missed the appointed day by one.
The question then hangs on Mark David Chapman the shooter. He is still alive and in prison. He was an assassin as the classic lone nut like Lee Harvey Oswald and any number of assassins who pay the law for the crime while the organizers go free. The technique has been well known to criminals for centuries. Any time a lone nut assassinates someone you may be sure that they were a patsy as Oswald announced over TV he was.
It seems likely that Chapman had been hypnotized. Witnesses said Chapman acted as though in a trance and he himself said he heard a voice in his head saying: Do it. Do it. Do it. The problem would be how he was recruited. I, of course, can say nothing for certain while what I am saying now is merely an hypothesis or inquiry. The main thing is that Chapman was supposed to be a lone nut. Ridiculous.
The most obvious recruitment method was the Santeria of which John Green was a member and to which Yoko Ono was
sympathetic. There are some oddities in the Chapman story that have to be explained not least of which are the large sums of money expended by Chapman in relation to his income. He was a married man therefore had a wife to support. Yet in 1978 he was in Japan at the same time as the Ono-Lennons beginning an around the world flight.
Perhaps Tokyo was the first stop of the trip around the world that then led to Seoul, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Delhi, Israel, Geneva, Paris, London, Dublin, Atlanta and back to Hawaii. His travel agent was a Japanese woman, Gloria Abe, who he then courted and married. She is reported to have been involved in occult circles. She may have seen so involved that, through Takahashi Yoshikawa, Yoko’s numerologist she was brought in to arrange the trip. Such an around the world trip in a Westerly direction- sundown to sunup- according to Yoshikawa’s numerology would be characteristic of Yoko Ono. She and Lennon made a round the world trip for occult reasons as did both Lennon individually and John Green at her instance. Green made his trip in 59 1/2 hours only leaving a plane once to change to another. As the financing of Chapman’s trip is unknown I would suggest Yoko Ono.
Two years after this very costly trip around the world Chapman flew from Hawaii to first Chicago, then Atlanta, then to New York where he landed a few days before the assassination. Once again, well beyond his means. It is said that he took paintings to Chicago that he sold. Where he would have gotten the paintings isn’t known but once again Yoko is the obvious source. She had an art gallery of valuable art work.
While in Atlanta he contacted a former roommate, then a Deputy Sheriff, Gene Scott, who gave him the hollow point exploding
bullets for a handgun. One assumes such bullets couldn’t be bought over the counter. One wonders why Scott didn’t ask what Chapman intended to do with them. And if he did and Chapman told him Gene Scott is clearly an accomplice and should be questioned.
Chapman himself came from Atlanta where in his teen years he was known to ingest any and all drugs. Atlanta was also a Santeria center with several weird Black cults. Lennon’s death took place at the same time as the Atlanta child murders for which Wayne Williams was later convicted. The Santeria religion has been suspected in these obvious sacrificial murders while John Green establishes a Santeria connection to the Ono-Lennons and Yoko in particular.
Yoko was an excellent hypnotist who understood the use and power of suggestion. The Santerists as Africans would be well versed in the use of suggestion and hypnotism.
Chapman said he was possessed by the Devil while appearing to be in a hypnotic trance. All this rather amusingly is taking place at the Dakota, the scene of the Devil’s birth in Rosemary’s Baby. Indeed, the identical apartment.
After Lennon’s death there was no period of mourning or sense of loss by Yoko. All Lennon’s assets were in her control and name before his death. The so-called will of Lennon is suspicious, although the will was unnecessary becaue I doubt if Lennon thought of a will while the will appointed the art dealer Sam Green as the gaurdian of son Sean in the event the Ono-Lennons perished together. Lennon wasn’t that enamored of Sam Green.
Within a few days Sam Havadtoy was installed as Yoko’s live-in where he remained for twenty years.
While Yoko’s success as an artist and rock n’ roller wasn’t affected by Lennon’s death she now had the money to pay to have her art exhibited. Even then she found her reputation was indissolubly linked to her dead husband. She has become a caretaker for the Lennon legend parceling out old recordings while humiliatingly Lennon’s artwork is more in demand than hers.
She seems to have patterned her later career on that of Andy Warhol who as he acquired fame and fortune managed to insinutate himself into certain society circles. So has Yoko. Now, at 78, she has attained a certain status although still extremely self-centered while having an appearance of terminal aloneness.
March 1, 2010
Mourning Becomes Yoko: Part I
The Passing Of John Lennon:
Goldman, Albert: The Lives Of John Lennon, Chicago Review Press, 1988
Green, John: Dakota Days, St. Martin’s, 1983
Norman, Philip: John Lennon, Ecco, 2008
Pang, May: Loving John
Seaman, Frederic: The Last Days Of John Lennon, 1991
Warhol, Andy: POPism: Harcourt, Brace, 1980
Numerous internet sites of the many thousands, most of which I haven’t investigated, concerning principal and minor characters of which Warholstars is most prominent.
There were many changes that ushered in the sixties, changes that made the sixties possible. Not least of these was the introduction of the commercial jet fleet. Gone were the much smaller, less comfortable propeller planes, slow and relatively uncomfortable with limited range. The Boeing 707s, DC 8s, mammoth in their time quickly evolved into the flying cities of the 747s and DC10s. With the big jets came the envy of the sixties, The Jet Set. Golden people off to the capitols of Europe so stunningly portrayed in Hollywood movies and travel posters. One can’t imagine the effect of travel posters today but then they created unfulfillable desires.
With ease not only were the capitols of Europe within spitting distance but also the exotic cities of the East- Tokyo.
The entertainment industry was about to spike as technology revolutionized the recording studio as well as the stage. Guitar amps as the sixties began were small, portable units. Amplifiers rapidly grew in size. Massive arrays of Marshalls rose behind the first of the heavy metal bands, Blue Cheer, like a low mountain towering above the group. Greatful Dead took the stage in front of tens of thousands of dollars of electronic equipment. Four guys could sound like Krakatoa on that fateful day.
In those far off sunny days when our world began the old world crumbled before the onsllught of bold intrepid pioneers, and behind them came the leeches and parasites.
The sixties started slowly almost imperceptibly changing until the Beatles stepped off one of those big jetliners in 1964. Seemingly innocuous, their arrival was to change the whole paradigm. Through the fifties and early sixties, before the Jet Set, was the Avant Garde, those bold experimenters moving in advance, well to the fore, of the dull plodding Middletown Babbitry and those mental habits the hip, the aware, the Avant Garde despised. There were still such things as modern art, experimental novels, cutting edge jazz. They were all swept away in ’64 when the Beatles led the British Invasion. All of a sudden the Avant Garde was turned inside out as Pop took possession of the field.
The first intimations of change took place in Art. As the 50s ended the dominant art form was Abstract Expressionism. From those ranks rose what would be known as POPart. Roy Lichtenstein with his comic book panels, Jasper Johns with his flags, Robert Rauschenberg with his messy effort and, of course, Andy Warhol and his soup cans. Interestingly they were all homosexuals. With the exception of Warhol they were all discreet, in the closet, Warhol was a man with an agenda, he wanted to legitimize himself and
whatever he liked or did. He was an advocate.
One of the big changes of the sixties was the rise of the cult of the homosexual. Let Leroi Jones as a Negro spokesman rail against the cult as he might he was powerless to resist its course. Homosexuality was then illegal all over America until the great homosexual revolt at Manhattan’s Stonewall Bar in 1969 as the decade drew to a close. Homosexuals were aggressively out of the closet roaring for revenge. One item on Warhol’s agenda in fact.
Warhol began his fine art career about 1960. By 1964 when the Beatles deplaned he had completed another item on his agenda, the destruction of fine art. Thus, although few of us realized it at that time POPism was overtaking Euroamerica like a tidal wave lifting the level of the sea.
The Beatles would of course be the core, the heart of the sixties. They defined the sixties and gave the decade its form. While they were busy conquering the world a little Japanese woman who desperately wished to incarnate and represent the Avant Garde was beginning her career on the Lower East Side as a ‘performance’ artist. Zany beyond description was Yoko Ono. By 1967 she will have entrapped the leader of the free musical world and the Beatles, John Lennon. Together they will dominate what became of the Avant Garde until Lennon’s passing in 1980.
A description of Yoko to begin. A Spider Woman, a self professed witch, a psychotic obsessive-compulsive who was driven and completely organized to realize her goals. She however lacked the talent to realize those goals. As she searched for a way the seemingly unrelated success of the Beatles fortuitously occurred.
The success of the Beatles was uprecedented. Once their success had been achieved then the parasites and exploiters moved in to get whatever they could steal. While the Beatles were revered for their success one member, John Lennon, was selected to fill the almost messianic needs of the sixties.
Needless to say succes on the order of the Beatles who were after all of lower middle class origins with no preparation for dealing with success of the magnitude they achieved were completely overwhelmed while nevertheless comporting themselves creditably. Still, as Paul McCartney’s song Fool On The Hill demonstrates their heads were swimming. John Lennon even issued a musical plea in his song Help! which was a forthright request for guidance for whoever might recognize it while being able to fill his need.
As it was, this young Japanese avant garde artist, Yoko Ono, understood the plea and acted on it. John Lennon was tailor made to fulfill her own needs and ambitions.
Yoko Ono was born in Japan in 1933 as the Japanese were initiating their plan to impose the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere on the whole of the East from India through China to Japan. In 1942 when she was ten the Japanese made their move to annex the oil reserves of Indonesia, bombing Pearl Harbor at the same time in the attempt to secure their ocean perimeter. The invasion did not come off as planned so a short three years later in 1945 the B-29s unloaded their incendiary devices over the capitol city of Tokyo where Yoko Ono’s family lived.
Now thirteen she was aware of what was happening. Moved to the country outside Tokyo Yoko Ono witnessed the massive clouds of smoke obscurring the blue sky, one presumes, for hundreds of square miles. Within a few days Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been wholly obliterated by atomic bombs. Yoko imagined the blue sky over those two cities obscured as was the sky of Tokyo. This made an indelible impression on her mind causing a psychological disturbance. She would be haunted by the memory. Thus having appropriated John Lennon in the late sixties she and he created the Plastic Ono Band whose LP was a picture of a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. After 1973 she had her office in the Dakota painted in replica of the cover. Thus she would always have a blue sky above her.
Even though the Japanese had attacked the United States first in this instance, not without provocation to my mind, thereby acquiring guilt for beginning the war there can be little doubt that Yoko blamed the West for Japan’s shame.
While Yoko experienced some discomfort after the bombing of Tokyo, as her father was a banking executive with experience in dealing with Westerners, she shortly after the war moved to the US where she lived in luxurious circumstances eventually attending Sarah Lawrence College from 1957 to 1960 but leaving without a degree.
As of 1960 Yoko Ono had experienced little of the hardships caused by the Wars in Europe and Asia. Indeed, as Philip Norman points out John Lennon’s England suffered greater hardship from 1945 to the sixties. Japan, once defeated, was given extremely benevolent treatment by the US. The paternalistic approach of the US can be seen in the picture of the tiny five foot Emperor, Hirohito, beside the relatively giant protective figure of Douglas MacArthur. Efforts began immediatly to rebuild the Japanese economy. The millions of Japanese soldiers throughout the Pacific and China were repatriated to Japan without consequences, forgiven as it were. In contrast to Europe where the carnage had been enormous there was relatively little damge to the Japanese homeland. If you watch Japanese movies of the late forties and early fifties there is only a slight indication that there has been a war. A few references are made to soldiers who never returned but the landscape is intact and undisturbed.
In Europe Germany had been flattened, German civilians slaughtered in the millions. Armies of German soldiers disappeared into the Gulag never to be seen live again. The allies exposed millions of Germans in the depth of winter while depriving them of food. The entire continent was desolated, England itself had suffered terrific bombing damage that was still being repaired into the sixties. POP star Marianne Faithfull in her biography tells of sitting aove a bomb crater in the mid-sixties. Thus any complaits of racism against the Japanese are ridiculous.
In 1957 when Yoko Ono was beginning her cushy life at Sarah Lawrence I was sailing into Tokyo Bay aboard a US Navy Destroyer Escort. We docked in Yokosuka across the strait from Yokohama. There was absolutely no evidence of there ever having been war damage to Yokosuka. Looking across the strait to the shipyards of Yokohama one was astonished at the glittering brand new derricks of the most modern design. The stuff made ours look positively medieval. Twelve years after the war Japanese shipbuilders were becoming the dominant force in that industry displacing the West under the guidance of the US which complacently ceded the industry to them.
In 1960 as Yoko Ono was beginning her career as an avant garde artist in NYC the first Japanese autos were being landed on the West Coast.
Now, Philip Norman tut tuts the English for supposedly outrageous racist comments against Yoko Ono in the late sixties as though the English had no grievances against their own racial treatment by the Japanese in WWII. In point of fact the Japanese Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere was a racist organization directed at the West. The Pacific war was a racist war if you wish to put things in those terms. There are other definitions. This isn’t the place to discuss the racial antecedents to the Co-Prosperity Sphere so I won’t but one should look into the historical background which is very complex.
The question is, did Japanese racism end with their defeat and if it didn’t how was the war carried on by other means? In 1964 Yoko Ono published a small book of haiku style statements called Grapefruit ‘which aimed to make words like the commands of musical notation’: “Steal a moon on the water with a bucket. Keep stealing until no moon is seen on the water.” Norman, John Lennon p. 475.
I have a feeling the image is not original to Yoko but is part of Japanese culture much as Bob Dylan used commonplace mid-western phrases like It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue appropriating them to himself. Of interest here is that Yoko used the verb ‘to steal.’ Her mental state then was one of taking what doesn’t belong to oneself much as in the Jewish prophecy that they will live in houses they didn’t build. While the command seems nonsensical the results will not be. The reflection of the moon on the water is beautiful but is only the image of the moon. Removing buckets of water will not destroy the reflection unless and until all the water or substance on which the image is reflected is removed. Thus the substance has been stolen while the image is disappears. At the same time, one imagines, the moon is flattered by the attempt not realizing what is being done.
Yoko Ono will apply the method to John Lennon while the Japanese applied the method to the US and the West. All those unpunished repatriated Japanese warriors lost none of the hatred of the West now reinforced by the ignominy of defeat. They could even believe that they were better warriors than the Americans being defeated by greater American resources for which there was some justification. So, in 1957 under American tutelage the Japanese had lost noe of their aggressive hatred when I and my shipmates came ashore.
Now, as Americans we were never allowed to celebrate our victory thus relieving the hardships we endured. After three years of being taught ourtrageous racial caricatures of demonic enemies we were now the day after victory forbidden to call them Japs, for instance, upon pain of disciplining. We were commanded to believe that our victury had been evil and unjustified. Shortly after the war the Hiroshima ‘maidens’ were brought over to receive free medical treatment. You won’t find anything in history books but there was a strong murmur of protest. Less than a decade after ‘The Day Of Infamy’ we were commanded to shut up or we would be shut up and we wouldn’t like it. I don’t know what the exact effect of what this was on the American psyche but their was a serious reaction.
Now going into Japan in 1957, ostensibly as conquerors, remember the Korean War had only ended in 1954, we were told that if we had any confrontations with the Japanese we would automatically be considered the aggressors, judged guilty and punished regardless of the facts. This was Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation speaking to its sons. So, our fathers castrated their sons for whatever idiotic reason they had. Is it any wonder we revolted against the bastards in the sixties?
The Japanese knew of the conditions imposed on us and used them to aggrandize themselves at our expense. Of course, as epigoni we were callow teenage boys rather than the fierce warriors who had driven them through the islands. As an example of what we were compelled to endure being unable to resist on pain of punishment was something like this. As might be expected the souvenir joints exploiting us were set up next to the docks. I entered a booth where I was treated insultingly by the middle aged female clerk. As I turned to leave the booth she slugged me with a shore patrol baton, which they sold, between the shoulders on the upper vertebrae. the sound was terrific but I was unhurt. Expecting me to retaliate a couple of repatriated soldiers of the Bataan Death March started moving toward me to pound me to dust while mah fellow Americans moved away from me as though poison. Heeding the advice of my Captain I walked unconcernedly away to the jeers of the former Death Marchers trying to further provoke me. This is what the Greatest Generation did to their sons. I would imagine that the lesson to the Japanese was that they had nothing to fear from Americans, young or old, while my own feeling of betrayal left me with an abiding distaste even hatred for the fathers that would turn me, a victor, over to the mercies of the defeated.
So, by flattering the Americans (the reflection of the moon on the unresisting water) the Japanese began to ladle out the American substance itself. With the simple minded Americans there to instruct them the Japanese studied American technological achievements and began to reproduce them much more cheaply because of their lower wage differential. At first the reproductions were clumsy, the first cars were laughable but they quickly honed their skills even, eventually, making improvements.
Because of their relatively quick and easy victory over Japan the American veterans in Detroit refused to take the Japanese seriously even though they were warned by quicker witted countrymen. The Japanese kept ladling the image out until today the
American auto industry is all but defunct today while Toyota has replaced GM as the dominant auto maker worldwide. I won’t say the bastards of the ‘Greatest Generation’ didn’t have it coming but I still regret it for my country’s sake.
In 1960 then Yoko Ono left Sarah Lawrence as I left the Navy to attempt a career as an artist in NYC. In 1960 John Lennon was at the very beginning of his career as, actually, an avant garde musician although he may not have realized it. It would be six years before their paths crossed in London.
In the meantime Yoko attempted to storm avant garde New York demanding instant success and considering herself so talented that she couldn’t contemplate failure. She took up with the unlistenable avant garde composers, John Cage, the premier electronic composer Robert Maxwell and people of that ilk. At one time I wanted to be avant garde so I actually listened to people like Cage, Maxwell, Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich and people like that. If you want to you can make yourself listen to anything but I don’t want to make myself do it again. Once was more education than I needed.
So, Yoko was breaking into a very minority taste, even at the height of my enthusiasm I couldn’t make anyone sit through the stuff. At the same time Yoko was trying to appeal to the uptown crowd who cut her cold creating deep resentment in her.
Having stormed the gates and failed Yoko fled back to Japan awhere she had a psychotic reaction, nervous breakdown or depression. At any rate she was committed to a mental hospital where she was heavily sedated, massive drugging. Interestingly Norman say that before she went to London she had never used drugs. I don’t know what you would call the stuff given to her at the hospital but I’d call them drugs. Just because a dentist gave me Nembutal doesn’t mean I never had drugs although I never used them otherwise. As incredible as it may seem a fellow named Tony Cox heard stories about Yoko in New York that he found so intriguing he hopped a big jetliner and flew to Tokyo to find her. Real fairy tale stuff. Maybe he heard she came from a fabulously wealthy family.
And Tony did find Yoko stumbling through the halls of the asylum under the influence. He discovered a means to get her released then only had to deal with her Japanese husband Yoko had picked up along the way. Apparently a smooth talker Tony convinced hubby to form a menage a trois. This, of course, disintegrated the marriage 1964 finding Yoko and Tony back in New York.
Now, back in 1960-61 Yoko had been sleeping around, she had a menage a trois in Japan while subsequently not taking the marriage vows to Tony overly seriously. Yet in Norman’s biography she repeatedly tries to pass herself off as some virginal girl unable to deal with the rabid sexuality of her third husband. Clearly Yoko suffers from cognitive dissonance, meaning her version of things is always questionable if not immediately dismissable.
Yoko as a feminist wrote the song Woman Is The Nigger Of The World. In rebellion of what she saw as the status of women she became what we boys call a man eater. She emasculated the men of her life assigning them traditional female roles while she assumed the male role. Thus all three of her husbands assumed the role of house husbands, housewife being a demeaning term in her lexicon while she tried to play the role of provider through her art although unsuccessfully. Needless to say that she was a failure as a provider in all three marriages although in her last she proved an efficient money manager of the millions provided by her last house husband, John Lennon.
Cox and Yoko left NYC for London in 1966. By 1966 the decade was well along in its formation actually tipping into its demise. By 1966 the British invasion of musical groups was entering its second phase. A dozen or so groups had succeeded very well chief among them the Beatles and Rolling Stones. They had pre-empted the avant garde becoming themselves an avant garde. The chief American representative who had survived the British onslaught was Bob Dylan.
The art scene Yoko was trying to influence had been taken over lock, stock and barrelo by POPart whose leading representative was
Andy Warhol who had a zoo of addicts and perverts known as the Factory. Warhol, himself a homosexual, had always been a connoisseur of pop music playing 45s constantly. He would have been aware, perhaps uniquely, of the significance of the British Invasion for POPart and the old Abstract Expressionist avant garde. By 1965 he had aligned himself with the musical scene by adopting the Velvet Underground as the Factory house band. He attempted to form connections with all the top musicians from Lennon, Mick Jagger, Dylan and on to Jim Morrison of the Doors not always successfully. Most of the musicians waere as psychotic as he was, recotgnized him for what he was and were too canny to become involved with him.
Yoko on her return from Japan, then, was dealing with a very different art scene than in her first foray. She had to at some time between ’64-’66 make contact with Warhol. As she left NYC in ’66 for London Dylan’s evaluation of her relayed through George Harrison as quoted in Norman p. 671 must refer to this period:
George by contrast, despite long marinading in soft-tongued Buddha-speak, was his most bluntly charmless. “[He] insulted [Yoko] right to her face in the Apple office,” John would remember. “Just being straightforward, that game of ‘Well, I’m going to be upfront because this is what I’ve heard, and Dylan and a few people said you’ve got a lousy name in New York and you give off bad vibes.’ That’s what George said to her and we both sat through it.”
Dylan would have been speaking of Yoko in NYC from ’64 to ’66. During the latter part of that period Dylan was in conrflict with Warhol and his Factory crowd because of Edie Sedgwick. That Yoko Ono could have come within his ken is interesting. Yoko wouldn’t have know of Warhol during her first assault on NYC but as she kowtowed to Warhol on her return after 1968 that might indicate that she might have visited the Factory, which was open to all, met and conversed with Warhol. I haven’t found a mention of her on the main Warhol site, Warholstars, as yet but there must be a connection no matter how slight. It is impossible to know what was said between them but as Yoko got into making Warhol style avant garde movies she must have at least made some notes.
Whether music in relation to the avant garde came up with Warhol’s preference for Rock n’ Roll and possibly he Beatles isn’t known although she did drag Lennon down to do obeisance to Warhol when they eturned. Then, too, she used Sam Green, Samuel Adams Green had presented the Warhol exhibition at UPennsylvania a couple years previously, as her agent for acquistion of art.
In 1980 she was thick with Sam Green leading Lennon to express discomfort because of Green’s association with the Warhol crowd. There seems to have been a rather strong conection of Yoko to Warhol. Certainly her husband of the time, Tony Cox, was well known around the Factory having stolen one of their cars and taken it to California. Cox, who had criminal tendencies, is worth a little study too. It would seem impossible that he knew nothing of the Beatles- I think Yoko Ono’s claim to have never heard of them can be dismissed too- as Cox seemed to have been always scheming he may have heard Lennon songs like Help and I’m A Loser and drawn the obvious conclusions. Lennon in the right hands could be used.
In 1966 then, Cox and Ono left for London presumably to take that art world by storm. I think it quite probable that Yoko believed she could get inside Lennon’s head to use his wealth to further her art career. Her bagism notion was well conceived by 1965 in NYC. Her displays at London’s Indica gallery seem designed to get Lennon’s attention. An apple on a stand priced at 200 pounds…how obvious can you get? The tinyYES on the ceiling. Yoko was very good at hypnotic suggestion.
How did she find her way to the Indica anyway? The gallery had just opened in 1965 and would only survive for two years, which isn’t to say Yoko’s exhibit killed it.
Her claim that she had never heard of Lennon before the show is contradicted by both John Dunbar, the owner, and Barry Miles, who wrote under the name of Miles. He says that instead of coolly walking away not overly impressed with Lennon she actually tried to force her way into his car. Certainly flooding his mailbox with cards and letters doesn’t indicate indifference. No. Yoko wanted access to Lennon’s money and she got it.
There’s no need here to recount how she forced Cynthia Lennon out. Suffice it to say that she quickly captured Lennon; by 1968 they were back in ‘her town’, NYC. For a person who was there for maybe two years in 1960-61 and two more years in ’64-’66 I think it takes a certain amount of chutzpah to call New York ‘your town.’
Once in New York she had Lennon dependent on her while with the acquisition of the Dakota Apartment in 1973 the real action began. First let us do a character review of Lennon before beginning the denouement.
I am assuming that any readers will be familiar with the main lines of Ono’s and Lennon’s biographies. If I’ve glided too quickly over certain points don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. There are literally thousands of websites dedicated to all principals and minor characters, some of them very extensive so my exploration of all these sites is ongoing.
January 28, 2010
Conversations With Robin Page 4.
Conversations between R. E. Prindle and Robin Mark
Concerning certain musical questions.
Sorry to be so remiss but I was really involved with writingt Exhuming Bob 23 a and b: Bob, Andy, Edie and Like A Rolling Stone. I got them up a couple days ago and then I was really exhausted.
I think they’re really good work, real Sherlock Holmes stuff. The feud between Dylan and Warhol with Edie Sedgwick as their pawn is very important althougth Dylan has been very effective in shuffling it under the carpet.
I’ve always been amazed that no one came after Dylan because of the savage badgering he and Neuwirth put people through during what was apparently his Acid phase. Anent that I’ve always been suspicious of the back wheel of his bike locking up, obvious sabotage to me. Of course the reuslt would be flying over the handle bars that did happen. A probable result of that would be damage to the head neck and/or back with a very good chance of being paralyzed from the neck down much as Christopher Reeve did from his horse jumping accident which was also contrived.
Who would take that exact means to attempt to paralyze Dylan, I don’t think murder was intended. Warhol is my first choice. In addition to other humiliations Dylan publically insulted him in both Stone and Street using motorcycle imagery. Of course, it is now clear that chrome horse refers to a motorcycle so the line reads: You used to ride on a bike behind your diplomat…. Warhol had a bike and was Edie’s ‘diplomat’ so stripped of an obscure term the meaning is clear- Edie and Andy.
In Street Dylan sings: You know you’d like to see me paralyzed…so the bike accident is prefigured in the imagery of the two songs that have references to Warhol. If and when you read Part b of Bob And Andy the inference that Warhol’s crew were the perpetrators will become more evident.
That was hard work pulling all those details together but rewarding. Still, I’m going to have to take a week or so to recover. Research goes on of course. I think next I’ll tackle Exhuming Bob 24: Bob, Jack and Allen. I’ll start working on the ton of the period some.
Part of Elvis’ problem was that the ton shifted so dramatically after he was drafted. He began his career in the post-war ton of the late forties and early fifties actually causing the shift or, at least, abetting it. Then he was removed from the flow for two crucial years. when he came back the Kingston Trio had already shifted the ton toward the Folk genre that made Dylan possible but made Elvis an anachronism. While I don’t believe Elvis was part of any Illuminati type thing earlier or later it is quite possible that some such sort of conspiracy found him a useful tool. Of course, Parker, who was in the country illegally, could easily be manipulated to betray his and ‘his boy’s’ interests.
By the time of the return from the military Presley’s career was obviously being directed by Hollywood. So, who was getting what from mismanaging Elvis’ career?
January 27, 2010
Exhuming Bob 23b
Of a & b.
Bob, Andy, Edie
And Like A Rolling Stone
The System Of Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether
All the fags and dykes they boogien’ together
Leather freaks dressed in all kinds of leather
The greatest of the sadists and the masochists too
Screamin’ please hit me and I’ll hit you.
The FBI dancin’ with the junkies
All the straights are swingin with the funkies
Cross the floor and up the wall
Freakin’ at the Freakers ball,
Freakin’ at the Freakers ball.
Oh no! Must be the season of the witch.
It may be true that the answer was blowin’ in the wind but, if so, as Donovan said: You might as well try to catch the wind and nobody did. Nobody even had a clue as the inmates poured out their cells and seized the asylum. Even then it wasn’t so easy to tell the nuts from the Docs.
His parents brought a seventeen year old to the asylum to be cured of homosexual tendencies. The psychiatrists had an astonishing method for a cure. Strapping the kid to the torture rack they fixed a couple of electrodes to his body and sent some serious voltage coursing the through his existence rearranging a few brain cells on the way. As his body arched when the juice hit him one is reminded of the prisoner on death row when the steel cap was lowered on his shaved skull. As maximum voltage coursed through his body he too convulsed but when the skull cap was removed the temperature of his blood in his brain was 212 degrees. They’d boiled him to death.
The kids temperature didn’t rise that high but they still managed to scramble his brain. His memory was so blotted he got lost trying to walk around his own block. The cure was worse than the disease. The cure was in fact, no cure as he remained a homosexual. And they call that medicine.
As soon as the kids eyes uncrossed he picked up a guitar and began to wail. Then he formed a band and began to formulate what he would call Metal Machine Music. He hooked up with Doctor Filth who ran an asylum called The Factory that he filled with mental cases. Unlike the psychiatrists Dr. Filth intended to create mental cases.
The kid picked up a whip, donned his leathers and began to boogie. Those leather freaks. Uncomfortable in their own skins they wear the flayed skins of cows, a feminine skin not their own. A guitar and a spike all anyone needed. Jamming his spike in his arm the kid flew from the asylum Factory out to the Cuckoo’s Nest in Keseyland.
Now known as the Velvet Underground, the kid, going by the personal of Lou Reed landed in a disused bowling alley where he and his three bandmates gave a concert. there were perhaps a hundred fifty people in the audience of which a hundred had been let in free by one of the promoters. Imagine a promoter opening the back door for free.
The audience in the bleachers stepped up to the ceiling where the top row required them to stoop to seat themselves edged into their seats. Keep your eye on the right top corner, that’s where the action will be. This was the first concert the promoters had done. The band stood on the floor two thirds of the way down the alleys. The spotlight was on their right directed across the group rather than down on them. I thought it was an interesting effect. The Cuckoo’s Nest had never seen anyhthing like this. A girl drummer had what appeared to be a single snare drum with a mallet underslung so it hammered the bottom of the snare while she banged away at the top with the sticks. Not exactly a beat more like a steady unvarying rumble, an effect almost as interesting as the lights. The two guitars and the bass of the leather clad crew began to hammer out the sound which was just like what became Metal Machine Music although more articulated. Not exactly as continuous am MMM but close.
Then the singer began to chant something about heroin. This wasn’t The Factory this was the Cuckoo’s Nest. A disquieting murmur underscored the machine music. Then some local agitators had a guy stand up to shout out incitements to a riot. The light guy got uneasy. The Velvets twitched, a note of panic came into Reed’s voice. Without so much as a change of tone he incorporated ‘Turn off the light’ into the lyric as the crowd began to think of rushing the Velvets and they gave every indication of bolting.
Turn off the lights, hell. I knew who the agitators must be so I swung the light from the Velvets across the crowd to the right corner where I picked up the agitators. I left the spot on them steadily. Their anonymity stripped from them the crowd recognized them and quieted down. The Velvets hadn’t missed a beat but they did get a little wobbly.
I quickly picked out the ‘mastermind’ , who was who I thought he was and his stooge who had been loaded up with something. With the spot on him he thought he was the star continuing to orate as Reed intoned on while the band chugged along like an assembly line gone berserk.
The ‘mastermind’ now ordered me to turn the light off him. The noise was too loud for him to hear me laughing. At last he got his stooge to sit down and the light swung back to the Velvet Underground and they continued their chaunt to the glories of heroin as though nothing had happened. Nothing had, just a variation on the show down on Desolation Row. They left the Cuckoo’s Nest finding their way back to the Factory and Dr. Filth.
Back home in The Factory the fags and dikes were cracking their whips, blowing their whistles and banging their gongs while the necrophiliacs were looking for dead ones.
As we left them in part a, Dr. Filth had been castigated by the Man Of The Hour over the air for all to hear if not recognize in his musical rants, Like A Rolling Stone and Positively 4th Street.
I’m not prepared to say it’s so but others have suggested that a few lines in Desolation Row refer to the Factory and Andy Warhol. As Desolation Row was recorded on August 4th a few days after Stone and Street it is quite possible ill feeling lingered and found expression in Dylan’s lines.
The lyrics are purposely written in obscure language meant to imitate poetry and mystify. Without a key one can speculate all day ending up where you began. Dylan does give us a clue as to his imagery in Chronicles where he says Pound and Elliot were fighting it out in the Captains’s tower. The Captain’s Tower refers to Dylan’s brain and the discussion of the two poets.
There is a very large discussion of this stuff on the internet if anyone wants to go through it. Anyway the lines thought to refer to Warhol are these.
Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Locked inside his leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They’re trying to blow it up.
Now, his nurse, some local loser,
She’s in charge of the cyanide hole
She also keeps the cards that read
“Have mercy on his soul.”
They all play on the pennywhistle
You can hear them blow
If you hang your head out far enough
From Desolation Row.
I think most commonly people take Dr. Filth to refer to Freud. Multiple meanings are possible while the cast of characters in Row appear to be well known historical figures or characters from literature. At the same time, as Warhol points out, the songs of this period are personal protests so the figures can stand in for people Dylan knows. He changed their faces and gave them brand new names.
On the other hand Dr. Filth could refer to Warhol whose reputation was suffering by mid-’65. The society people had begun to avoid the Factory leaving Andy only the derelicts.
As I said I can’t find anything totally convincing to pin Dr. Filth on Warhol but the next verse isn’t applicable to Freud and the verse after depending on how you interpet pennywhistle and blow might apply to the Factoryites.
And then there are these lines:
Now, at midnight all the agents
And the supernatural crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do.
Then they take them to the Factory…
Like I say, it’s up to you. What is clear is that there was serious competition between Dylan and Warhol and that Sedgwick was a bone of contention.
As the late fall and summer progressed then, Dylan worked hard to draw Edie from Warhol. This made Andy very, very jealous and he turned from Edie spurning her from him ‘with his foot.’ There is a possibility that in some weird homosexual way Warhol loved Edie. According to the movie Factory Girl Warhol took her home to meet his mom. It might mean that that was an actual declaration of love and that he considered her his girl.
By this time Edie was broke having gone thorugh her inheritance whnile even having her stipend from her parents suspended because of her association with Warhol and the Factory crowd. ‘In her prime when she dressed so fine’ she refused to use taxis having a white limo waiting at the curb for her use. Now that she could no longer afford one Dylan rented a black one for her use. Thus when she rode around town in Dylan’s limo she would be known as Dylan’s kept woman. This would also have been a direct insult to Warhol who was penniless in comparison being unable even to pay Sedgwick for her roles in his films or even, her rent. Thus as the Dylan figure in Factory Girl tells her: You’re just one of Warhol’s props.
Now, Dylan in his first English tour had Donn Pennebaker do a film verite that would be released in 1967 as Dont Look Back. Dylan and his entourage who all had parts in the film just like the Factory crew did in Warhol’s would have been talking up the film thus actually becoming direct competitiors of Warhol. As an enticement to Edie Albert Grossman threatened to become her manager while promises were made to her that she would be Dylan’s co-star in a planned movie and even be paid for her services. Remember she was stone broke at this time being desperately in need af an adequate income. Rather than being Dylan’s girl friend she was passed to his gofer, stooge, right hand man, Bobby Neuwirth who became her possessor while she was living at the Chelsea.
That November of ’65 Dylan married Sara Lowndes. According to Bob Spitz in his biography Dylan met Lowndes in 1963 installing her in Grossman’s apartment where he ‘lived’ with her which I suppose means visited her from time to time as among his other duties he was living with Suze Rotolo and heavy with Joan Baez.
Dylan attempted to keep his marriage secret, it was publicly revealed in April of ’66 but Warhol got word of it in December spitefully revealing the news to Edie. The news was devastating to Edie who was nurturing her fantasies of being Dylan’s woman and future co-star. Apparently at that time she was told that any movie role was in some very distant future. At any rate with her relationship with Andy broken Dylan no longer had any use for her. She was just a pawn in his game.
Perhaps in competition or emulation of Dylan’s recording career Warhol decided he wanted to manage a band thus recruiting the
Velvet Underground. To assist the Velvets he picked up on Nico who had just arrived from Europe. As fate would have it Dylan had already had a fling with her during his 1962 visit to England when he worte I’ll Keep It With Mine for her. Warhol now insisted she front the Velvet Underground, thus the Velvets first LP with Nico and the famous Banana cover.
Apparently forgetting Edie Dylan renewed his acquaintance with Nico showing up with songs to give her. Lou Reed of the Velvets is a great admirer of Dylan but I don’t believe any of his songs made it to the record. In any event Nico was gone by the time of the second Velvets LP. Possibly as part of the Dylan-Warhol feud.
Dylan wasn’t finished with Edie yet nor was Warhol finished with Dylan.
In the Spring of ’66 Dylan recorded his ultimate record Blonde On Blonde. the songs of personal protest as Warhol pointed out revolved around this period. There are two songs that are pointedly about Edie Sedgwick- Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and Just Like A Woman while other references seem to be scattered about. The two songs were unnecessarily cruel.
In the Spring of ’66 Warhol began a film titled The Bob Dylan Story. This was a derogatory depiction of the Folk Singer that Warhol thought better of releasing. Giving Dylan’s reaction to Factory Girl, Warhol’s pockets weren’t deep enough to take Dylan on who by ’67 when the film first could have been released Dylan was worth millions while warhol was still essentially penniless.
Anent the Bob Dylan Story I quote from the web site http://www.warholstars.org/ :
Sterling Morrison speaking:
“Dylan was always around, giving Nico songs. there was one film Andy [Warhol] made with Paul Caruso called The Bob Dylan Story. I don’t think Andy has ever shown it. It was hysterical. they got Marlowe Dupont to play Al Grossman. Paul Caruso not only looks like Bob Dylan but as a super caricature he makes even Hendrix look pale by comparison. This was around 1966 when the film was made and his hair was way out here. When he was walking down the street you had to step out of his way. On the eve of filming, Paul had a change of heart and got his hair cut off- close to his head and he must have removed about a foot so everyone was upset about that. then Dylan had his accident and that’s why the film was never shown.”
Although sterling Morrison suggested that the Bob Dylan film was never shown because of Dylan’s motorcycle accident, the accident occured at the end of July 1966 and Susan Pile was filmed for the movie in October 1966.
Susan Pile speaking:
“Andy filmed The Bob Dylan Story, starring Paul Caruso…Ingrid Superstar and I were folkrock groupies who rushed in (to the studio), attacked his body and taped him to the motorcycle… Paul Morrisey suggested all of Paul Caruso’s lines be from songs, but Andy, knowing it was a good idea (this is a direct relay from Paul Morrissey) vetoes….My one line (which I wasn’t supposed to say; I was to remain mutely sinister) was: “You’re just like P.F. Sloane and all the rest- you want to become famous so you can get rid of those pimples.” (accompanied by quick slaps to P. Caruso’s acne-remnanted cheeks)…
The psychology is clear but noteworthy is the taping of Dylan to his ‘Chrome horse.’ When Dylan had his bike accident the rear wheel locked throwing him over the handle bars. Thus taping him to the bike would prevent that. Now, the animosity between the two was real and deep. It may have seemed to Dylan that he had trumped Warhol. While Warhol may have passively taken the humiliation it is also quite likely he would have retaliated. The wheel locking would seem to indicate someone tampering with the bike. Either Warhol had the bike tampered with and was gloating over Dylan here in his movie or else it is a cruel joke. Whether Warhol was responsible for the bike accident or not he was certainly gleeful about it as evidenced here. If the bike was tampered with then someone wanted to see him paralyzed.
Thus matters stood at the end of ’66. In 1971 Edie Sedgwick in circumstance of total degradation, shamefully abandoned by her parents and both Dylan and Warhol who both disclaimed any responsiblity died.
In closing I quote Andy Warhol from his Philosophy Of Andy Warhol From A To B:
“(Edie) drifted away from us after she started seeing a singer-musician who can only be described as the Definitive Pop Star- possibly of all time- who was then first gaining recognition on both sides of the Atlantic as the thinking man’s Elvis Presley. I missed having her around, but I told myself that it was probably a good thing that he was taking care of her now, because maybe he knew how to do it better than we had.
Snide, very snide.
There’s gonna be a Freaker’s Ball, tonight at the Freaker’s Hall
Ya know you’re invited one and all.
January 14, 2010
One Giant Step For Somebody
Review by R.E. Prindle
Lennon, Cythia: John, Three Rivers Press, 2005
Remember what the door knob said…
We built this city on Rock and Roll.
If you want to be a girl of mine
You’d better bring it with you when you come,
Cynthia Lennon’s autobiography of her life with John Lennon opens the door to a number of possibilities of which I’ll explore one, at least, here.
Let’s begin with Lonnie Donegan’s 1955 hit The Rock Island Line. Lonnie was the originator of his own genre- Skiffle Music. Skiffle was all the rage in the British world from England to Australia to New Zealand while passing very lightly over the States except for the fortunate few of which I was one. Rock Island Line was a major hit in the US though.
Lonnie, may he rest in peace, was also the originator of the Big Beat. Of course Lennon and most of the young English rockers studied at Lonnie’s feet. The first band Lennon formed, the Quarrymen, was a Skiffle band. That was back in the fifties before the second stage of the big change kicked off. The first stage began about 1950 with Johnny Ray and his song Cry.
Eisenhower had the world pretty well organized in 1960 before John Kennedy stole the baton from the intended successor, Richard Nixon. With the accession of Kennedy the American personality or identity, such as it was, began to disintegrate- I mean in the psychological sense.
The Celts tried to establish Kennedy as the second coming of King Arthur and his Camelot. Not the smartest thing they could have done; a couple bullets fired in Dallas on November 22, 1963 put a period to that dream. By the then the sixties were fairly launched about to begin in earnest in January of 1964 when Lennon’s next group, the Beatles, hit.
The Beatles began as a Big Beat band rooted in the fifties. Seized by the avant garde they were made the avatar of the sixties. In their own way they launched the sixties although the makins’ were already out of the can. Kennedy was shot almost in December and in January the Fab Four washed his memory out on the Ed Sullivan Show. The Kennedy assassination was so then, then. The Beatles were NOW. IS in capital letters.
While the Beatles were revamping fifties music they edged into the future with modified Prince Valiant haircuts and collarless suit jackets. They were then NEW emerging into a brave new world.
Almost at the beginning of 1960 the art world was shaken by the emergence of Pop Art. Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and especially Andy Warhol with his Campbell’s Soup Can set the sixties on its ear. On
the film scene the James Bond series with its new sensibility began. Bond also was a revelation portending changes with unintended consequences.
Pop Art would figure signficantly in Cynthia Lennon’s life in a few years when one of its more laughable practitioners, Yoko Ono, would step into her life and filch her husband from her. In fact Pop Art would be inextricably linked with the record industry. All the pop motifs would find their way onto record covers with increasing frequency. Tiny Alice would have a cover that opened like a match book. Talking Head’s colored disc would even become a happening designed by Rauschenberg himself. The burgeoning poster business would find its way into record sleeves. Astonishing packages never seen before in the record business although perhaps anticipated by the experimental ESP label of NYC. Some interesting stuff. Perhaps Milton Glaser’s poster of Bob Dylan could run for the distinction of the most popular poster design of the whole era. It was innovation itself at the time although not quite so fresh today.
Now, all this was happening so fast and from so many directions that it was impossible to get it all or even keep up on what you did get; after all people had lives to live.
In the San Francisco Bay Area where I was during the sixties the Scene was especially heavy. I wasn’t in the thick of things but a little off to the side. Thus while the UC Berkeley Free Speech Brouhaha took center stage in the East Bay, Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters and the Acid Tests were simmering on the Peninsula, but actually invading the middle class especially at Stanford and UC Berkeley. The San Fransciso Mime Troupe was very important in the early stages while Bill Graham was commercializing the Trips Festival with his Fillmore shows and Chet Helms was organizing the Avalon Ballroom out at the beach. The posters for the ballrooms which epitomized the psychedelic was the first inkling I had that something ‘new’ was happening. I don’t know how quick on the uptake I was but the first inkling of New York Pop I had was 1966-67 when I opened a poster store soon to be a record store.
LA, always commercial, would nevertheless provide the great Ron Cobb political cartoons for the LA Free Press one of the best of the Hippie papers soon to degenerate into porn as did the Berkeley Barb and all the rest. R. Crumb in San Francisco became the king of Hippie porn which characterized the movement from then on. The scene was then set for George and Pattie Harrison’s famous descent on the Haight-Ashbury that disappointed them so.
This brief sketch only contains a few of the highlights of the period. It was into this world that John and Cynthia Lennon stepped unprepared. Both Cynthia and John came from a background of very low expectations. Cynthia’s dreams were very modest while per her John’s dreaming was no bigger than reaching the tops of the pops in England.
Indeed the much touted German clubs showed no promise of a future whatever. Essentially playing in brothels in Hamburg one wonders what the ‘lads’ were thinking of the whole process. The wonder is that they paid enough attention to hone their skills. One of those making lemonade from lemons situations.
Only the greatest good luck showed them to success and fortune. They would have labored in the vineyard for a while and then drifted off into jobs but for the fact that an entrepreneurial romantic by the name of Brian Epstein saw them as the vehicle to realize his own dreams. He had the direction and energy to galvanize their careers. Still they were rejected by all the labels until a producer, George Martin, apparently heard what the rest of the world would hear and agreed to record them. It was then that the unbelievable happened elevating the Beatles into the most successful pop group ever. It was success far beyond their imaginations. With that success came challenges that neither John nor Cynthia could meet. The fact that they failed is no reflection on either one; they came from very low expectations and having fallen down the rabbit hole they were slightly unprepared. ‘One side makes you larger, the other side makes you smaller.’
To this time in their lives neither had even eaten at anything other than the English equivalent of McDonald’s, fish and chips or whatever. Now in one great step they were introduced into the haut ton by their manager Brian Epstein. Cynthia leads us to believe that Epstein gave special attention to John over the other ‘lads.’ As Epstein was a homosexual and as other sources, Peter Brown, Goldman actually state that Epstein seduced Lennon he obviously had a crush on John seeking to mold him in his own image. Indeed, John may have been his incentive for taking the Beatles on. Lust at first sight.
John had an attractive flip attitude that left the impression that he was much better educated than he was. Actually he left Art School, already a step down from the top, flunked out or whatever preferring to devote himself to his guitar chords. Most of the rockers were in the same situation. It’s amazing that their fans looked to them for salvation. This was tragic, because the generation invested all their hopes and dreams in these muscians attributing universal knowledge and genius to them, each and everyone. While they all did changes on certain political and social themes there was an appearance of ‘deep’ knowledge. Being anti-pollution was a badge of authority. Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane made the mistake if, one hopes, jesting that one should never trust anyone over thirty; this while she, John and others were about twenty-nine.
The phrase stuck. Those under thirty trusted these youthful, perhaps well-meaning rock stars. Being somewhat older at the time I could only see some very ordinary boys and girls who were just youthful wiseacres as we all were in that phase of our journey through life. Give me a break.
The most revered of all were the three Beatles John, Paul and George with Ringo thought of more as the court jester. John seemed to take his role most seriously as the guru of the generation, especially after he abandoned Cynthia for, spare me, the psychotic Yoko Ono.
Her abandonment by John for Yoko Ono is of course the most traumatic incident in her story. One can only commiserate with Cynthia. Then one has to search for reasons why; there was certainly no physical attraction there. Lennon did release a solo album called Mind Games so perhaps the best place to look is the mental. Lennon’s success must have placed great stresses of various kinds on him. The transition from a fair degree of poverty to one of a very large income to great wealth under the management of Yoko Ono would be psychologically unsettling in itself. Cynthia was unable to transit from poverty to wealth always remaining a lower middle class haus frau while John appears to have lacked the social climbing instincts of, say, Mick Jagger.
Musicians in general are held in very low esteem by the social elite so without unbounded desire and chutzpah, an ability to endure slights of the most painful kind it is highly unlikely that a musician would ever find acceptance in society. The aristocrats, Marrianne Faithfull describes as associating with Jagger appear to me to be more of the Black Sheep variety. So, Lennon may have been experiencing some frustration at that level.
At the same time there are numerous flatterers who are adept at putting ideas of omnipotence into your head not only intimating but saying that you are godlike. Even though one rejects the notion on the conscious level still a feeling of super powers creeps into your subliminal mind. One feels invulnerable, that one can do what’s never been done, that one can do drugs with impunity. There was never a time when the availability of drugs was ever greater or more socially acceptable.
At the time rumors abounded which have since turned into facts. During the Kennedy administration there was one Dr. Feelgood operating in New York to whom the social elite went for their drugs. His name was Dr. Max Jacobson and he was your friendly amphetamine pusher. His speed cocktails were extraordinary and they lasted for days. It’s comforting to know that President John F. Kennedy was amphetamine fueled while he was making those difficult international decisions- like Cuba. Nothing like having an A-man on the job. He wasn’t alone, VP Lyndon Johnson, followed in his footsteps into the office of Dr. Feelgood. He would have found his place at the end of the line of the NYC elite.
One person who took the good doctor’s prescription said that he went blind for three days staying high for several. Max was the economic type, dirty needles too.
At the same time Dr. Timothy Leary was sending everyone from prison inmates to Beat poet Allen Ginsberg tripping into inner space with his free handed distribution of LSD. Kennedy was involved in that too.
Prior to their arrival for the Sullivan show we are led to believe that the Mop Tops had only used pep pills in Hamburg to fuel their twelve hour sets. We are told that Bob Dylan was the one who turned them on to La Cucuracha, the most mild of the intoxicants. From there the boys graduated to LSD through spiked drinks or food.
Just as Harrison’s wife, Patti, records a spiked introduction to LSD so does Cynthia Lennon. Cynthia quite properly was revolted by drugs having no use for them. John was quite the opposite. He embraced LSD apparently ingesting regularly for long periods of time. As he would describe it, thousands of trips. At that point in my estimation the marriage was over. There is nothing for which Cynthia has to reproach herself except for her small divorce settlement. Nothing disintegrates the personality like drugs.
The drug influence was followed by a change in their music patterned after Dylan. When I first heard the Rubber Soul album I found it extremely noisy and unpleasant. This album was probably influenced by the Band’s playing behind Dylan on the ’65-’66 tour or perhaps the Bringing It All Back Home and Highway ’61 albums. It seems p;robable to me that the song Norwegian Wood commemorated Dylan’s turning them on to marijuana. The girl obviously represents Dylan.
Succeeding albums would aim for a ‘heavier’ feel with more social significance. As Lennon said in his ’80 Playboy interview, I Am The Walrus was written in imitation of Dylan.
The cover of Rubber Soul was traditional uninfluenced by pop art trends. The succeeding cover in the US, the famous ‘Butcher’ cover would be widely interpreted in the US as a comment on the Viet Nam War. It may have been meant as a pun- prime cuts of both meat and record tracks, but I don’t know. Whether there was a Pop Art influence isn’t clear.
The cover for the following Revolver by Klaus Voorman seems to indicate an awareness of Pop. For a band that was thought to be on the cutting edge of everything there are only two covers very avant garde with neither being very satisfying to me.
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band that follows Revolver is a complete Pop Art package. A bizarre and macabre conception it does succeed. The grave in the foreground with the floral Beatles is chilling, perhaps a presage of the break up of the band. As Dylan said: If you’re not busy being born you’re busy dying.’ The Beatles are pictured in dead black and white looking down mournfully on their grave while the newly born Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band stand front and center in vibrant living color. Obviously the one has risen from the other.
Behind the band are row on row of ‘ancestors’ or, as was commonly assumed, influences. In fact members of the band contributed only a few of the names while the rest were contributed by others. Dylan is certainly among the pictures. The album comes complete with a childhood toy, a sheet of cut outs, making a complete Pop Art package. They could have had a designed inner sleeve but they overlooked that. Peter Blake, the main designer, is known as a Pop Artist.
The musical content follows the downer social significance motif with aural pyrotechnics such as had not been heard on record before. The release, as everyone is aware, was a complete smash, but it went beyond smash into realms not achieved until Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Thriller failed to excite as did Sgt. Peppers. That summer of ’67 was literally a surround of Sgt. Peppers. It was almost the only record anyone played. The Beatles easily trumped Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde of the summer of ’66.
The rest of the Beatles’ covers are pedestrian. The White LP probably influenced by One was trite at the time.
Cynthia seems to lack all understanding of what tremendous pressures the very unstable Lennon was subjected to , how his mind was being affected by adulation from the fans and respect from the world at large. Kid me, being named one of the three most influential men in the world wouldn’t have inflated the head of a Liverpool loser? My god, the Beatles even sung ‘I’m a loser.’ I couldn’t believe anyhone would sing such a song much less the Beatles who were clearly winners. How does one endure thinking of oneself as a loser on one hand and one of the most influential men in the world on the other?
At the same time that Lennon was enlarged Cynthia shrunk into the Liverpool realities of her youth. The couple had a mansion but unfamiliar with so much space Cynthia preferred to live in one small room! Clearly she was not equal to the demands of her situation.
The situation became critical when Lennon began mass consumption of drugs, including heroin, which Cynthia correctly declined to do while at the same time the poisonous Yoko Ono injected herself into Lennon’s life. There was no hope for Cynthia. Yoko Ono was a walking disaster looking for a place to happen- and then there was John.
Quite frankly Yoko Ono’s ‘career’ was going nowhere. Born in 1933 she was 33 in 1966 when she began her assault on John who was 25.
The sexual dynamic is that Lennon seemed to prefer older women than himself having a masochistic submission impulse. Cynthia herself was a year older. She too apparently sought security in younger men. Her second husband was two years younger and her third six. She seemed to lack the dominating impulse to make such marriages work. Ono had it in spades.
While John was by this time psychotic, Ono had been so from childhood, in addition she seems to suffer from extreme cognitive dissonance. Ono got the rock critic Robert Palmer to shill for her in her 1992 release, Onobox. In the essay Palmer states:
It is quite likely that having John Lennon fall in love with her was the worst thing that could have happened to Yoko Ono’s career as an artist.
Notice the lack of mention of falling in love with Lennon. This was written, I almost said, dictated to Palmer, in 1992 twelve years after Lennon’s death. No serious critic could have written that line so one must assume that it was dictated by Ono herself. The line shows how far she has distanced herself from reality.
Ono was in fact, a poor little rich girl. As a woman she felt inferior to the male writing such pieces as ‘Woman Is The Nigger Of The World.’ Once again cognitive dissonance. Yoko Ono was never in the position of being ‘a nigger in the world.’ It is true that her father advised her against attempting composing believing that women didn’t make good composers. How wrong was he, hey? Ono milked every man she was ever with before actually going into the dairy business herself. Secondly, having chosen to enter the Western world as an Asian she places her artistic neglect on the twin facts that he is a woman and an Asian. It never occurs to her that her art is unpleasing.
As an artist, whether woman or not, Asian or not, she had nothing to offer the art loving peoples of the world. In this increasingly globalized world of the sixties being Asian meant nothing while being a woman held no one with talent back. Indeed, male artists were increasingly being suppressed in favor of women in all the arts. If all girl rock bands isn’t an oxymoron I don’t know what is.
By her own admission she thought she was an influential person in the New York City art world of the early sixties after an apprenticeship of one year even gaining ‘an international reputation.’ As she told May Pang: I was famous before I met John. So, one asks how does one reconcile her imagined great success with the feeling of being held back as an Asian and woman?
She rented a loft for fifty dollars a month which she coyly implies that as a starving artist the money was not easy to find. Well, Daddy was only a phone call away, she should have reached out and touched him. You can be sure he wasn’t going to let his little girl starve. By comparison I was paying 125.00 a month for an apartment in the Bay Area. I think we can dismiss the impoverished struggling artist scenario as so much more cognitive dissonance.
Ono spread herself pretty thin apparently attempting to cover all aspects of the avant garde. She’s keen on belonging to the avant garde. In music she patterned herself after John Cage and that weird contemporary ‘classical music’ approach with perhaps more than a nod to the early electronic composers such as Robert Maxwell who she mentions. She began her career in 1969 between the end of the Absract Expression mode and the beginningof the Pop movement so she was too late for the one and too early for the other. She and Lennon would try to rectify this in 1971 by doing obeisance to the Pop guru, Andy Warhol.
In 1961 she threw a party and was devastated that a snow storm discouraged the uptown crowd she had invited from coming. At least she said there was a snow storm. This may be another instance of cognitive dissonance. As she was an actual nobody she had no reason to expect society people to attend, snow storm or no snow storm. Nevertheless she was devastated, leaving town for Japan shortly thereafter. One may question where she obtained the fare for that flight when she had difficulty of meeting a fifty dollar rent bill.
In Japan she acquired her first husband simultaneously being committed to an insane asylum. As difficult as it may be to believe, her soon to be second husband, Tony Cox, heard these marvelous things about Ono in NYC deciding to fly to Japan to look her up. He found her thoroughly doped staggering around the halls of the asylum. He succeeded in getting her released then he, Ono and her first husband formed a menage a trois. The first husband wisely was the first to leave so Cox claimed the prize and the couple returned to NYC in 1964 so she is having an eventful four years. Shortly after their arrival they pulled up stakes and headed further East to London. Of the move Ono says:
I thought (the) avant garde world in New York was still very exciting but that it was starting to become an institution in itself, and there were rules and regulations in an invisible way, and I just wanted to get out of it. I never considered myself a member of any group. I was just doing my own thing.
That is just another way of saying that the art scene was a cliquish group in its terminal stages that was difficult or impossible to break into so unable to do so Ono was ‘just doing her own thing.’ It might be noted however that the NYC art scene was or was in becoming a nearly totally homosexual affair. At any rate we have evidence of sour grapes- I never considered myself a member of any group. And the result of rejection- I was just doing my own thing.
After her rejection she ‘composed’ a musical piece called Wall Piece For Orchestra in which she knelt on a stage and repeatedly banged her heard on the floor. Today that would be called ‘acting out.’
Off to new worlds to conquer in London and at the Indica Gallery of John Dunbar, the resident ‘head’ art gallery. Now, at this point she ‘ruined her career’ by pursuing John Lennon until he caught her. I imagine that she had been shrewdly observing his career and undoubtedly came to the psychological conclusion that he was a dependent personality who could be easily manipulated by the older maternal type with the right touch. That John Lennon could be made dependent on this woman eight years his senior is proof positive. Indeed, John even referred to her as Mother.
Cynthia for whom the role was impossible correctly assessed the situation noting the influence of Lennon’s Aunt Mimi who brought him up. Ono courted Lennon, interfering directly in his marriage. Ono was quite willing to drug herself along with Lennon so that both were heroin addicts. Ono thus established a sado-masochistic control over Lennon that Cynthia had no chance of breaking.
Rather than ruining Ono’s career the ‘third most influential man’ in the world gave her a stage on which to perform that she could never have found on her own. She now considered herself a collaborator with the Beatles. The injection of the Cage and Maxwell garbage combined with Lennon’s erratic behavior produced the nonsense of Revolution #9 on the White Album.
Lennon on drugs and under the influenceof Ono, who had her motives, according to Dire Corrector’s blog quoting the biographer of Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now, says:
The meditation had essentially precipitated a nervous breakdnown which was not helped by John’s tremendous drug intake. On May 18, 1966 he summoned a meeting of the Beatles at Apple and announced to them that he was Jesus Christ…the night after he told the other Beatles that he was the Savior, he finally called Yoko Ono and told her to come over.
Quite obviously Lennon was either teetering on the brink or had fallen over the edge. If he hadn’t broken with Cynthia by this time it is quite clear that apart from a certain inappropriateness of being wed to the Savior she was quite innocent of causing the break in any manner and should have a clear conscience.
Lennon’s state of mind would explain the insensitive manner in which he broke with Cynthia and its aftermath. The man must not have been in his right mind. While easing Cynthia out was relatively easy, from Ono’s end Tony Cox to whom she was still married was not such a simple matter. One wonders why he would fight so hard to keep a women who was so psychotic. Perhaps it was their daughter who he later took into hiding to keep her away from Ono. Justly so, it seems.
At any rate by ’69 Ono and Lennon were free to marry. Definitely by this point Lennon had all but surrendered his identity to Ono. She was now in possession of the reputation of one of the three most influential men in the world. Blending her identity with his she was about to become hermaphroditic. Perhaps Lennon was overawed by her avant garde credentials, such as they were, as well as whatever passed for her musical sensibilities.
She became Yoko Ono Lennon while he legally changed his name to John Ono Lennon so they both became Ono Lennons. After a number of happenings which one must believe were entirely Ono’s conceptions, such as the ‘bed in’ in Holland and the organization of the Plastic Ono Band, the pair settled in New York in an apartment building known as the Dakota. The Dakota was a connection to Ono’s past fulfilling an old desire to surpass those uptown types who she felt had slighted her.
In that connection also the cover of the Plastic Ono Band is a fulfillment of an old desire of Ono’s. While a child she witnessed the fire bombing of Tokyo in the US attempt to bring an end to the war. The blue sky was obliterated by the billowing clouds of smoke. While she didn’t witness Hiroshima yet she imagined the same sky as that over Tokyo. She then developed a blue sky obsession. If you notice the cover of the Plastic Ono Band is just a blue sky. One assumes then that Ono’s plans were coming together.
The NYC art world of 1960-’61 had shifted totally, the Abstract Expressionists she had tried to piggyback on were gone having been replaced by Pop Art of which Andy Warhol was the reigning doyen. If the Abstract Expressionists had been exclusive Warhol was nothing if not inclusive. He worshipped celebrities and Lennon was the number one celebrity. Himself a groupie and maximum social climber he welcomed an association with the Onos. For Yoko Ono the association with the leaderof the NYC art scene was her dream come true. Nothing but blue skies from now on.
In the accompanying picture you will notice that Warhol is seated in between a standing Yoko Ono with one hand on her right tit while his hand is on a drugged out looking John Ono with his hand on Warhol’s crotch. The symbolism is quite clear. The standing Yoko
is the master of two emasculated males who happen to be two of the most influential men in the world. She ain’t no nigger no more, Maggie’s Farm is a thing of the past, yes, men are now niggers in relation to herself. Warhol as an artist takes precedence over the disposable oafish John Ono. Yoko is tallest and standing, Warhol is second tallest and sitting while the now disposable John is lowest, lying on his back. The future is clear. Study John’s face; study all three faces.
The sexually besotted John Ono has surrendered his entire identity even as a musician allowing Yoko Ono to usurp his place by putting out those horrid hideous LP musical montrosities. Robert Palmer aside, with song titles reminiscent of her head bashing days: What A Bastard The World Is, I Felt Like Smashing My Face In A Glass Window, Woman Of Salem (Witches), Coffin Car, Hell In Paradise and Walking On Thin Ice. Clearly this woman had an unsettled, disturbed mind.
Having usuped Lennon’s role and identity he became expendable. Her problem now was to transfer his past and his wealth to herself thereby becoming Yoko-John Ono, Double Fantasy. Two fantasies melding into her one personality.
John Ono’s finances were, of course, in complete disorder. As Yoko was soon to show billions of dollars were disappearing down a sink hole. She rapidly organized his finances turning his money green. Within short order the Onos were worth a hundred million or so which she would swell to a billion or more after John’s death.
I imagine it was fairly easy to have John Ono give her a power of attorney, indeed he forked over his identity allowing her to function in his stead as himself. An awesome abdication. A POA would negate the need for a will, and indeed having made herself not only co-owner of John’s assets as well as his identity Yoko Ono would merely acquire full ownership leaving no assets to be willed. Indeed, she could have turned him out penniless at any time. When Cynthia was clamoring for a reading of the will she was wasting her breath; if a will existed, unlikely in itself, there would have been no assets to bequeath.
Yoko Ono having now incorporated John Ono’s reputation and identity into her own had also incorporated the assets and with the assets the legacy of all copyrights held by John Lennon as the double fantasy melded into one fantasy. The only obstacle to Yoko’s apotheosis into man-woman was John himself as he was alive. However John was only thirty-five. To wait thirty-five years or more with a man she didn’t love or even like would be unbearable. Some hard thinking was in order.
She manipulated the poor dolt into thinking he was a boorish oaf who needed to go off to get himself together. Rather than just sending him off she chose an employee, May Pang, an Asian like herself, to be John’s consort while away.
In reading May Pang’s book, Loving John, it becomes clear that Yoko Ono was a master hypnotist. She knew how to make suggestions and have people act on them. Acccording to Pang she fixed an hypnotic glare on one, assuming an authoritative posture while intoning her suggestion. She had the reputation of always getting her way.
Of course her version of what happened is different than Pang’s. Yoko having suggested she go off with John, the act was soon consummated. Pang insists she and John were in love, yet a year and a half later when Yoko called John back he came running.
Thus, from 1975 to Double Fantasy in 1980 Yoko and John Ono were out of public life living as a double fantasy of Howard Hughes. Then in 1980 Mark Chapman became the man who shot John Lennon. There have been speculations that Chapman was hypnotized when he committed his deed. Conspiracy theories therefore have sprung up.
One must ask who the death of John Lennon benefited. Two possible people. Yoko One on one hand and possibly Chapman on the other. On the one hand Yoko Ono achieved the psychotic desire to escape being the ‘nigger of the world’ by becoming John Ono Lennon while physically remaining the sweet little girl she had been before the fire bombing of Tokyo. She was unable to manage the memory of that transformative experience. In her mind, then, she became the prominent artist-musician of the world.
I don’t believe the government had anything to do with the assassination.
As we know Yoko Ono was a master hypnotist; the question is how did she find Mark Chapman and how did she hypnotize him?
Earlier in the day Chapman had approached Lennon for an autograph. He can be seen worshipfully smiling beside his hero in the picture. There appears to be no indication he meant to harm Lennon. He might easily have shot him point blank at the time, yet when he came back in the afternoon with a voice in his head insistently saying: Do it. Do it. Do it. he gunned his hero down.
At the time Yoko Ono had dropped a few steps behind John. In similar murder attempts, people step away from the intended victim so as not to be caught in the line of fire. This may have been the case with Yoko.
Certainly Yoko is opposed to Chapman’s release from prison even though he has fulfilled the twenty year requirement of twenty to life. I doubt if he is a threat to society however he may be a threat to Yoko Ono if he were to remember or reveal the details leading up to his shooting of John Ono Lennon.
Of course, I don’t know why Chapman shot but I do know that Yoko Ono Lennon was the sole beneficiary. She left Cynthia holding the bag while she realized her double fantasy.
December 9, 2009
George Harrison, Eric Clapton, And Me
I of II
Review by R.E. Prindle
Boyd, Pattie: Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, And Me, Three Rivers Press, 2007
I don’t believe in boogie bars,
Macro biotics or souped up cars.
I don’t believe the price of gold;
The certainty of growing old,
But, I believe in you.
Perhaps it’s because I lived through the era experiencing what I did and vicariously the rest that I was thoroughly charmed by Pattie’s autobiography. I hope I will be excused for calling Pattie by her first name throughout but Boyd sounds so brutally unisexual eliminating amything but female sexual aspects that it doesn’t seem fitting and I don’t wish to sound formal otherwise.
This part of the review will cover pretty much Chapter 3: Modeling, 4: George and 5: Mrs Harrison. The chapters brought back the glittering memories of the sixties, memories created more by magazines and television shows than reality for most people but perhaps more or less real for some. If it wasn’t real for Pattie than it probably wasn’t real for anyone. But then it’s hard to tell where you are at any given moment in time.
She was there in what was called ‘Swinging London’ at the time. From a distance it was just dazzling. We were entranced by the possibility. As the late great Roger Miller put it: London swings like a pendulum do. By the time I got there in the seventies the pendulum was stationary. Pattie herself began life as a hair stylist but in a top notch salon. While there she was given an intro to a modeling firm and was lucky enough to catch on. From the looks of the photos whe was in the Twiggy line. She could have become a high fashion queen.
And London was a place where staying on top of fashion was a full time job. The scene was perhaps best captured by Ray Davies and the Kinks in their song: Dedicated Follower Of Fashion. If memory serves it was written about Marc Bolan.
…his clothes are loud but never square
It will make him or break him
So he’s got to buy the best
‘Cos He’s a dedicated follower of fashion.
He does his little rounds
Amongst the boutiques of London Town
Eagerly pursuing all the lates fads and fashions.
Pattie was in the thick of it mentioning the people she associated with, mere names to us, like Ossie Clarke, Twiggy, Mary Quant, David Hockley, photographers, artists, fashion designers who were realities to her although the glitter is brighter than the shabby fabric beneath. But then, how else could it be?
One feels envy at her luck. I was on the West Coast viewing it all from a distance with wonder, but owning a record store. By the time I got to London in the early seventies the swing had swung. Carnaby St. was deserted when I strolled down it all alone past the shops empty of customers. What sounded so good in song looked effete in reality. Of course I was straight Beverly Hills, dressed completely Eric Ross, quite a standout, but strange and exotic to Londoners.
Oh well, there were always the great book stores.
Pattie had begun her career as a fashion mdoel when she received a call to appear on the set of the Beatles movie in progress, A Hard Day’s Night. I suspect that George Harrison had seen her about town and requested her by name, only a guess, but he certainly glommed on to her when she arrived. Honorable intentions too. The couple got together and it was on. Thus she entered the charmed circle of the Beatles. You couldn’t get no higher.
The Beatles? Who cared really? other than the millions. Whatever was happening there passed me flatter than the Grateful Dead, and that’s flat. I was cool to both the Beatles and the Stones. I wasn’t really a dedicated fan of anybody; I liked certain records- Superlungs by Terry Reid. The first Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart when he still had intact pipes, the second with Bob Tench wasn’t bad either, lousy cover. Beck apparently hated vocalists because he played so loud, on purpose, I was backstage once and watched him do it, that he blew out their pipes. Donovan’s Sunshine Superman was tops, Procol Harum’s first, Alan Price’s This Price Is Right, stuff like that. Dillard and Clark, Flying Burrito Brothers’ White Line Fever, some Johnny Rivers. Nice stuff. Two or three Byrds.
But, the Beatles were gods and here were George Harrison and Pattie Boyd trying to fashion a normal lower middle class life in a hundred room mansion. The Beverly Hillbillies in London. Good luck boy and girl. And that was not taking into account drugs. Pattie’s story of the maniac dentist sends a chill through the marrow; a real demon dentist, the Sweeny Todd of the profession. Lord, deliver us from evil. It was he who introduced Pattie and Harrison to LSD, surreptitiously of course. Spiked their coffee just as they were about to leave his house.
Then the stuff came on, a little like the Airplane’s song, White Rabbitt- one side makes you larger, one side makes you smaller. Pardon me for writing myself into the story but the pen is in my hand:
Happened to me once. I was down in Berkeley at what was supposed to be a party. Pot parties in that time and place meant everyone sat around self-absorbed looking out vaguely at what could possibly have been you, or possibly just empty space. This particular set played draggy jazz so possibly they weren’t even looking out, their eyes were just open. As I was to learn it wasn’t pot. I had never smoked before anyway. Nobody could have ever been busted for whatever it was I smoked. Nothing was happening except the draggy jazz, maybe John Coltrane going around in fifths, and I was getting bored so I said I was leaving. As with the dentist of Pattie’s experience I was abjured not to leave. I never knew really what it was until I read Pattie’s story. It hit me a couple blocks down the street. The ‘tobacco’ must have been laced with acid.
Getting out of the maze of streets of Berkeley always required a little concentration on my part anyway and now I didn’t have any. I didn’t even know where I was or where I was going. Fortunately for me the car drove itself. I did have to keep my hands on the wheel though it wasn’t always uppermost in my mind. The car did strange things when I took my hands off the wheel, wandering here and there. A voice spoke saying: Keep your hands on the wheel.
The car found its way to the MacArthur Freeway which, although it was a road I knew by heart I couldn’t recognize. Plus everything had turned a shiny patent leather black, the highway just glittered and shown so. Colors had disappeared; the lights of the cars shot through my eyes to the back of my brain. They were all driving very slowly it seemed but passed me going very fast. Of course I was driving about twenty-five per which was as much as I could handle. I got in the slow lane. A good thing because it seemed like I was going around this curve for twenty-five minutes. Everytime I looked it seemed like I was in the same place. I decided to put my foot back on the gas.
The next problem was that the sky and highway were bonded together. Fortunately the car was able to separate them and they moved apart before us- the car and me.
My next big problem, after a seeming eternity, was that in order to make a left exit to Castro Valley I had to cross three lanes dotted with cars moving at varying speeds in different lanes. I had to time it just right to get in between cars in two different lanes. Sort of a Rubiks Cube kind of problem. While I was dithering my car changed lanes for me and I was on the off ramp with a smile.
An underpass lay before me where the most miraculous event in my life took place. As I began to enter the underpass this set of ram’s horns, you know, like a male sheep, began to grow from my forehead. Great white curling things they were, magnificent. It was at that moment I realized I was Master Of The World. Just as I was about to assume the mantle I came out the other side losing my spectacular rack and my crown. While I was pondering the imponderable my car finding its way back gliding noiselessly up the street into the driveway where it pertly came to a halt. Heaving a sigh of relief I got out and entered the house.
I don’t know what I looked like, perhaps fierce because of the loss of my horns, but my wife and mother-in-law seemed to run from me. Entering the kitchen I saw my brother-in-law about to have some tacos he’d cooked up. The guy was a wizard with hamburger; he could do things with hamburger than no chef had ever done. I had issues with him which I won’t go into. When I saw the tacos I became ravenous and wanted them. He was experienced. He took one look at me and realized the situation his hand stopping before his open mouth.
I didn’t hesitate, I remembered being Master Of The World. I snatched his tacos from his hands saying: I want those. He was knowing. He made no resistance, just said, sure. Smart move because I wouldn’t have taken no for an answer while still feeling superhuman. I wolfed those suckers down; best tacos I ever ate. But now there were fireworks going off in my head. I got in bed and watched the light show going off behind my closed eyes for a couple hours. I woke up grouchy and ragged. I took care in the future to make sure that never happened again. Wherever I had been I didn’t want to go back. I sure missed those horns though.
Apparently Harrison and his band mates liked it going back repeatedly. But then Pattie discovered that old fraud the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his Transcendental Meditation. What a fraud. She turned Harrison on and the band followed. First it was Bangor, Wales and then on to the big temple in the Himalayas of India.
There are many wondrous stories of their Indian sojourn at the ashram. The upshot was that the holy man liked girls as much, perhaps more, than the rest of the fellows. This tore a rent in his spirituality and disillusioned the group who left in a huff.
Pattie does tell a good story about Ringo who was wary of spicy Indian food having had digestive problems as a youth. He took along a suitcase full of Heinz Baked Beans. Imagine going through customs with that. Imagine watching the guy in front of you opening a suitcase full of cans of Heinz Baked Beans. US Customs would have made him open each can on the spot. I’d be laughing yet.
After their marriage George wanted her to give up the job of modeling. she had regrets but as far as modeling went she was getting old. Younger women were pushing up. The Twiggy look was dated from the start anyway. She might have been near the end of her career whether she liked it or not.
Couple intesting points before this idylic phase of her life and life with George Harrison ended. Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull came to their house one night. Jagger wrote on the Harrison’s wall: Mick and Marianne were here. Strange action for guests. The only thing I can figure is that Mick was marking out the limits of his territory like one of the big cats who go around peeing on bushes to set up their territory. As a Beatle and tops of the pop world it was incumbent on each Beatle to establish their priority, their dominance over the lesser princes. When Mick wrote that on Harrison’s wall without demurrer he was establishing dominance over his superior. Eric Clapton would later do the same when he took Harrison’s wife while defeating him, as some say, in a guitar duel.
If you watched the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame show you saw Jagger and Bono dueling it out for the crown. A very haughty Jagger beat Bono into absolute submission having him groveling before himself worse than Obama before the Emperor of Japan. Jagger was so taut that after he flipped off Bono he almost dismissed the audience but then caught himself and gave a dismissive back hand wave in acknowledgment. That was somethin’ else man.
Jagger as leader of the Rolling Stones also foisted Allen Klein on the Beatles also demonstrating the priority of the Stones over the Beatles. And lastly Jagger, how shall I say, induced Bob Dylan to open a show for the Stones placing Dylan therefore beneath the Stones. I would have to say that the Stones have finished as the undisputed Kings of Rock of Roll. There’s always more going on than you think.
And then Pattie and Harrison were in attendance at the famous first drug bust of Jagger, Richards and Marianne Faithfull. As Pattie tells it she and her husband left the party at 3:00 AM. Immediately after they left the police raided. She believes the fuzz waited until they left as they were Beatles. The Beatles were thought of as clean at that time while the Stones and Marianne were monsters. She may be right. If the type of glamour achieved by the Beatles and Stones was new to them and difficult to manage perhaps the same was true of society. The Phenomenon of the British Invasion was so spectacular that you just had to stand back and ask: What’s this? So maybe the cops did honor The Top Of The Pops.
Whether she was slapping back at Mick for writing on her wall by the observation I can’t tell although both stories found a prominent place in her narrative. High school never ends.
The contest for her favors by Harrison and Clapton is very complex, a lot of psychology involved. I’ll have to work on it some but that will be covered in my review of the second half of the book to follow.
October 17, 2009
Chris O’ Dell
Miss O’ Dell:
My Hard Days And Long Nights With The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton
And The Women They Loved
As Chris says, she wasn’t famous but she was in the thick of things. Worth a lot. She disapproves of being called a groupie but I would say that she was the most successful of all. All the groupies would have snapped up Chris’ life without a dare.
Chris did have somewhat of an advantage in being twenty when she went to work for the Apple. She had some skills and maturity rather than being underaged jail bait. Boy, the Federales could have had these guys anytime: drugs and teenage girls.
Chris soon fell into the booze and drug trap. The most tedious part of the book is that of booze and drugs. Of course her co-author, heavy on the co-, Kathleen Ketchum’s previous writings have been about drug rehabilitation so she flogs the drug issue into oblivion. Hard to believe any one took drugs back in those happy uncomplicated days. Alright! Surprise, surprise, the middle name of Rock n’ Roll is Drugs- Sex, Drugs, Rock n’ Roll. Yes, it is also true that Chris engaged in some hanky panky too. Gosh, she bedded down with a couple Beatles, Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan. I suspect those revelations are more for the groupies than the general public. Eat your hearts out, kids. Clapton wouldn’t have anything to do with her by the way.
For me the real story that unfolded slowly and inconspicuously was the changing relationships between the Beatles and their women with Chris in the middle. Chris was friends with Harrison and Ringo Starr having little to do with John and Paul.
The first 100 pages are the most interesting of the book. They detail her actual working activies at Apple from the bright days of total indulgence to the takeover of Apple by Allan Klein. After Klein the fun stopped as Klein set about plundering Apple. Not before Chris had established a sterling relationship with George Harrison himself. As time and drugs wore on the youthful relationships came apart. These people were so into booze and drugs that their subconsciouses overwhelmed the conscious- I’m sure that at some point they wandered into a drug and alcohol induced haze. The good thing was that they didn’t have to worry about money although they sure went through it.
Chris’ description of the evolutions and transitions of the relationships of these key people of the musical era then forms the most interesting part of what is, frankly, a fairly boring story. The background story of Harrison, Boyd, Clapton didn’t exactly happen as it looked to us on the outside. We thought at the time that Clapton recorded Layla and Boyd came running but such was not the case. As Chris tells it Harrison, if he didn’t drive Boyd away neglected her and allowed her to drift away.
Clapton, says Chris, was a total junkie although he’s still hanging in there today. His records had no appeal to me so I could care less.
Uncertain of her precarious standing as either an employee or freeloader Chris drifted back and forth from LA to London while still apprently being part of the gang. The breaking point was when she was visiting Ringo’s ex-wife Maureen and took a tongue lashing from Ringo. Moving away she took up with a German promoter she knew through a large part of the eighties.
Part of her concern was hitting bottom, the rebound point when you know you have to change your life. From my observation point that happened in two stages. the first was when her German boy friend’s promotion company could no longer stand the ravages of drug and alcohol induced incompetence and Chris violated all the rules of friendship with Harrison. Something she thought she’d never do.
Her boy friend’s company bankrupt she asked for money from Harrison. George was a brick and handed over six thousand pounds without a murmur. The money of course went down the drug drain.
Now, Chris had developed sterling credentials as a tour organizer for various groups. She was with Dylan and the Rolling Thunder tour for instance. That is what she was doing with this German fellow. After the Beatles, Stones and Dylan the crowning indignity was when she was assigned to tour Echo And The Bunnymen. These guys are still going so what can you say. But, you know, time had rolled along under the bridge and Rock was becoming a shadow of its former glory. Who really cared anymore? I mean, you know, I’ve never listened to Echo And The Bunnymen and you can be sure I’m not going to buy their latest effort which is out now.
She then married an English aristocrat, had a baby and a divorce and went back home to Tucson.
End of story. Oh yeah, she’s now a rehab counselor.
The main interest is the level of rock society she moved in. The hand of Ketchum is too obvious. One had the feeling one was reading a novel of O’ Dell’s life rather than a living memoir. Wrong voice. Probably a must for the cast of characters and inside information but the drug and alcohol stuff is too, too boring. For Christ’s sake, who didn’t do drugs? Everybody’s got a million drug stories. Let it be.