I feel old today - well, older than usual. Why? Because this morning I realized that many of you are too young to remember the day John Lennon was assassinated a little over 25 years ago - let alone the Beatlemania that, inadvertently, led up to it.
I won't try to be grandma Elvira here and attempt to describe the influence the Beatles had on modern music and culture. Suffice it to say that it was so profound that although Lennon, while still with the Beatles, made a controversial, albeit offhand remark about the group being bigger than Jesus, I happen to believe that this was, indeed, true. In other words, most teens and tweens were infinitely more galvanized by the Beatles in the 60s than by going to Sunday mass. The Beatles, in turn, were perpetually mobbed by rabid, screaming fans wherever they went. It was doubtless impossible to live any kind of normal life this way, and the Beatles eventually stopped touring and retired to the studio to produce some of their greatest albums.
In 1971, after the Beatles had broken up, Lennon, with his wife Yoko Ono, moved to New York City, where he would live until his death in 1980. He adored it here, and told his biographer Ray Coleman that "New York is what Rome used to be."
New Yorkers pride themselves on not going all ga-ga when they spot a celebrity on the street. Most residents have seen their share, particularly since films and TV shows are constantly being produced here. One of the things Lennon loved about New York was that he felt free to roam the streets without being constantly hassled. He eagerly explored the city, and after his son Sean was born, he could be seen wheeling his stroller down the paths of Central Park.
BG often talks reverently about the time he met and "touched" John Lennon. In the seventies, BG worked at a hardware store on the Upper East Side, where he did encounter a number of celebs, including Andy Warhol, who used to purchase art supplies there.
One day Lennon wandered in and asked BG for change of a dollar. BG handed him the four quarters (thus "touching" Lennon). Lennon then asked if he knew where the nearest health food store was, and BG's colleague told him there was one right across the street. As he left, BG put up his fingers in a peace sign and said, "Take care, John!" Lennon gave him a peculiar look and left.