When fans of a celebrity identify so strongly with their idol that they see them as a demi-god and this idyllic image is subsequently shattered by the fact that they are merely human, the results can indeed be tragic. Chapman had been an avid fan of the Beatles and particularly of Lennon, but his admiration later turned to obsession and, eventually, resentment. Apparently, Lennon's new visibility fueled Chapman's insanity enough to compel him to travel to New York and stalk him.
Twenty five years later this past December 8th, the Strawberry Fields memorial was packed with fans paying tribute to Lennon. The memorial consists of a garden in Central Park, directly across the street from the Dakota on the corner of West 72nd Street and Central Park West. The central part of the memorial is a circular mosaic. In the center is the single word "imagine"--which is, of course, the title of one of the most famous of Lennon's songs.
Once again, people gathered in tribute. Once again, I felt a slight twinge of uneasiness at the sight of tearful fans and aging ex-hippies strumming Beatles tunes on their guitars. Yes, it was certainly touching and appropriate, but a little part of me said to myself: Don't these people have a life? What would Lennon think of all this?
It is of course impossible to say what Lennon would be doing today if he were still alive. I like to imagine that he would still be living in New York, perhaps still making music, and probably protesting the Iraqi war as vehemently and outspokenly as he had once protested the war in Vietnam.
As things stand, Mark David Chapman lives on. His identity will forevermore be merged with Lennon's--which, I suppose, is what Chapman ultimately dreamed of.