Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Imagine in NYC
To say that the John Lennon aspect of New York City wasn't one of the reasons I wanted to visit, I would be lying. I remember visiting Liverpool with my parents back in 2008, my Dad was in awe of all the Beatles & John Lennon references, I was in awe of the effect of it all on him. To visit New York & for my parents be to there at the same time, I hope would be another one of those times when I would be in awe of the experience. Well, so I thought.
I am going to be very frank & honest about my experience of the John Lennon side of New York City. I guess my expectations were pretty high & my experience hardly felt extraordinary.
My first visit to Strawberry Fields was a couple of days into my visit to NYC. It was around noon & there weren't many people there at the time, there was a a single flower & apple on the Imagine mosaic as I took a moment to reflect. I remember I told my Dad that would wait until he arrived in NYC before I visited Strawberry Fields, so I moved on quickly, since I knew I would return in a few days once my parents arrived.
On the first day with my parents in New York I had planned a day with them, brunch at Pastis & then the subway to Central Park to visit Strawberry Fields. I wanted it all to be perfect, I wanted my Dad to feel as moved as he was in Liverpool. So yes, my expectations were most likely much higher than my Dad even knew.
When we arrived at Strawberry Fields, it was busy, but that didn't bother me, what did bother me was that the 'mayor' of Strawberry Fields was charging people to put mementos, flowers and photographs on the Imagine mosaic, shouting "cold water 2 dollars" every 5 minutes & then every 20 minutes he would rant out his John Lennon to the masses. His 'friends' that were there with him then started to talk to me & my parents in their drunk, drugged out, bleeding from a brawl kind of way that implied that we didn't belong there.
My heart sank & to be honest I became increasingly angry. The actions of these people who believe that they are carrying on the Imagine principle, instead they are truly disrespectful of what Strawberry Fields stands for. Peace. You can hardly hear yourself think, let alone reflect upon peace when some man is yelling "cold water 2 dollars" every few minutes, while you are constantly interrupted & verbally abused by his 'friends'
Now in reflection, I know my exceptions were high & my Dad didn't really seem overly fussed about these things, he was incredibly moved by visiting the Dakota Building moments later. I do feel a little foolish for being so fussy about the experience & I hope that in time I will reflect more on what the experience has taught me (tolerance? realism?) & less on the annoyance I felt. Just to be there, in the place where man who changed so many people's lives, including my own, spent his last moments, was without a doubt, a breath taking experience, one to be remembered.
In the words of a great, gracious, reckless man:
If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.
- John Lennon
Remember, you can always Imagine Peace.