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Remembering the day John Lennon was murdered

John Lennon was my first real hero. He was imperfect and messy and at times ridiculous and he understood that and embraced it. He was also brilliant and beautiful and genuine.

I was sitting in my room in Monsey, NY listening to what I believe was a Jets game on the radio when the announcer cut in and said John Lennon had been shot and wounded and rushed to the hospital. I turned my dial to WNEW and spent the next several hours listening to Beatles and Lennon’s music on the radio as the reports got grimmer and finally the worst news of all. I for some reason had the presence of mind to stick a cassette tape and record the news reports and music.?

I think I still have that tape. I brought it to school the next day and one of our teachers, I can’t recall who, had set the day aside to talk about what happened. I think it’s the first time I cried openly in front classmates and friends. I couldn’t stop. I brought the tape with me and had it in class. Someone asked me why the hell would I think to tape such a thing and I replied “Because this is important.” I didn’t really understand how so, but I knew it was. I was also called a faggot for crying. Something that I was already used to for other reasons.

Part of my soul shattered that day and it is a sadness that I have held and will die with. The world went from what was already a scary and unpredictable (Energy Crisis, Iranian Hostages, etc) to being terrifyingly so for me, 15 years old and madly in love with John and the Double Fantasy album. I remember biking down to the record store and buying it as soon as it came out. I still remember the feel of the cellophane as it peeled off the album cover John and Yoko kissing. I wanted my life to be that life– incredibly interesting and prolific and artistic and crazy and doing good things and what I wanted and all the time in love.

That evening Scottso (Scott Muni) played a recording of when John had stopped by the WNEW offices a few years earlier (I believe) and spun some of his favorite music– mostly obscure R &B and Be Bop tunes. It dawned on me that were was so much I didn’t know about Lennon or anyone for that matter. A complexity of life started to reveal itself to me.

I can still touch the exact feelings of horror and incredible sadness when the doctor at St Luke’s Roosevelt pronounced his death. My heart caves in upon itself, I feel the world spinning uncontrollably about me and I find it hard to breathe and see through tears.

The world broke that day. What I’ve learned since is that it never really worked right in the first place.

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