Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Remembering John Lennon

Before we visited the John Lennon memorial yesterday, we walked by the Dakota, which is the apartment building where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived. It is also the place where his young 40-year-old life was abruptly taken away from him.

The Dakota, opened in1884, is one of New York City's most legendary apartment buildings. It’s located right at 72nd Street and Central Park West. It’s a very majestic, elegant, and intricate-looking building. We weren't able to take good photos but
here are some great ones.

It feels like the walls of the Dakota have some stories to tell. Many of those stories we imagine would be of the rich and famous people that have lived there, including Judy Garland, Andrew Carnegie, Leonard Bernstein, and Lauren Bacall. The Dakota is also said to have had guests that included Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The exterior of the Dakota was also featured in the 1968 horror film Rosemary’s Baby (although filming was not allowed inside the building). The Dakota is also known for the famous people it has denied (via the horrid, controlling co-op board) like Billy Joel, Gene Simmons, and Melanie Griffith/Antonio Banderas. (Seriously, if the co-op board denied them, how the hell would we have been approved last month without jobs and money?)

But the Dakota is eerily best known because of John's Lennon's assassination at its gates on December 8th, 1980.

Central Park is located directly across the street and was supposedly a sanctuary for John and Yoko who frequented the park. Strawberry Fields is a memorial built and dedicated to John Lennon, named after the song Strawberry Fields Forever. Yoko Ono gave New York $1 million to develop the memorial. No matter what people think of John and Yoko, there's were a love story, like many love stories - stories that we on the outside can't understand, sometimes that end tragically, but also produce inspiration.

The memorial is a triangular piece of land with its main attraction being this mosaic of inlaid stones in the sidewalk with the word "imagine." There's always flowers and other gifts left by fans near the site, and here you can see the flowers were arranged to make a peace sign. Fans gather here on Lennon’s Birthday or the day of his death each year. There were a lot of people taking photos of "Imagine" and just sitting on the park benches by the memorial.

We were glad to have visited Strawberry Fields. It's a simple memorial but you really get a sense of how much the music of John Lennon and the Beatles meant to so many people, particularly that of our parent's generation on a level that we will never truly understand. To this day, I listen to In My Life, which was my high school graduation song, and remember exactly how I felt at the moment I was singing that song in my white cap and gown. Or how we listen to songs like If I fell and And I love her and we think of our beautiful moms back home and realize just how much we miss being able to hug them and eat the kind of satisfying meal that only a mom can make. Thank you John and the Beatles for your music.