Thursday, December 08, 2005
Remember Pearl Harbor / Strawberry Fields Forever
I should have mentioned something about Pearl Harbor yesterday. War memorials from over sixty years ago tend to get overlooked somewhat in the fog of an ongoing war.
I spent the summer of 1978 (along with sister and mother) with my grandparents in Kauai, HI. (Yes, I do know that I was fortunate in my selection of grandparents.) Towards the end of the summer before returning home we spent a week or so in Oahu and visited the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Even at eleven years old I felt this trip was haunting. Unlike other battlesite memorials and graves I have since visited over the years Pearl Harbor was different, the U.S.S Arizona was a sunken tomb with over a thousand sailors frozen in the same place as when they went down with the ship. I did not receive the same eerie feeling at other places even though the loss of life may have been greater or the field of battle bloodier.
Today marks the anniversary of John Lennon's death. It was not until 1996 that I visited Strawberry Fields and the Imagine memorial. It was one of those things that since I lived close to NYC and visited occasionally I never really did any touristy type things for fear of being viewed as a tourist or worse, a rube from the burbs. That changed when a friend from high school got married and I was in the wedding party. Since he had been stationed in England during his stint in the Air Force he had invited some close friends from there to the wedding.
After the wedding, I volunteered to take these friends of his down to NYC for a couple days of sightseeing and then drop them off at JFK. (They had planned on doing a one way rental car dropoff with ludicrous fees involved). Somehow they had managed inexpensive reservations at a decent hotel in Manhattan through some byzantine euro-hosteling deal. One of girls had never been to NYC so they wanted to do things I had mostly never done despite numerous visits over the years. We climbed the Empire State Building, rode the Staten Island Ferry (I skipped this one as I was a bit hungover for boat ride to an island of housing tracts, malls and big hair although it is the best way to view the city on the cheap) , took loads of pictures of NYC Police cars (NYPD Blue was big in Britain at the time), and eventually made the trip to the west side of Central Park to see Strawberry Fields which was paramount to their whole NYC visit. I was surprised by how moved I was, largely due to the visible emotions of other visitors. After some awkward silences and throat clearing/snuffling over coffee/tea, the mood lightened a considerable bit when a whole swarm of police cars flew past the window of Dunkin' Donuts followed eventually by a phalanx of transvestites, lesbians and transexuals. The annual gay/lesbian pride parade had begun (or was it was the gay protest to the St. Patricks Day parade? I forget.) I told the London visitors this happened every weekend.
Pop matters has an article on what John Lennon may have done if he had lived. This saturday night's Backtracks on KUNI will be devoted to Lennon tunes.