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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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Art Gish

Art Gish died today
This beautiful man
of peace and thoughtfulness
of unending patience and bravery.
He practiced his beliefs boldly
and intensely
without ever shouting or belittling.
Coaching young stoners on non-violent protest
Defying Israeli tanks, a canon barrel at his face
he taught to find the good, the humanity in every situation
And that there can be no peace without a conversation.

Art Gish died today
This beautiful man
A man of Love and Peace
When his tractor rolled on him
and caught fire, pinned in the blaze

God is a mean-spirited fucker.

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so today…

June 3rd my first born daughter turned 19. jesus fucking christ.

I never stop thinking about when they were all babies and particular moments we had- and how much I have missed.

I stopped and held up traffic this afternoon because a ratty squirrel had run into the middle of an insanely busy intersection.

I couldn’t do anything- rather than running back in front of my car to the right to safety, he ran left right under the wheel of a car that apparently didn’t notice him.

i heard the crushing noise.

I miss my mother terribly.

I am so thankful for every day I have.

But I can’t shake this profound sadness…

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Goodbye Kurt

Kurt (Source A.P.) I know death is inevitable, but I am crushed. Discovering Kurt Vonnegut was like discovering taoism or breasts for me- it was revelatory and life-changing and I never looked at the world the same ever again.

I met Kurt once-I should say I drooled on him once as it’s more accurate- back in 1988 when he spoke at the Boston public library and met with the crowd afterwards. He decided to read a commencement speech that he originally gave to MIT students I think it was- which wasn’t well received at the school since he was trying to tell these engineers to make sure they put their genius to work for the betterment of humankind- and the realized that most of them were already signed up with G.E. and Dow and Marietta-Martin. So he thought maybe we might appreciate the speech more.

Afterwards, I stood in line clutching my copy of “Bluebeard” and thought of all the things i wanted to say to him- how much I loved his works and his fucking HUMANITY- How reading his fiction and essays taught me that nothing has to be as it is or how it’s supposed to be- that nothing is black and white and that there is humour even in the darkest and worst aspects of everything.

Instead- when it was my turn- I approached the desk where he was sitting and looked up smiling– deep soulful eyes behind glasses and hair everywhere and I said “Mr Vonnegut- i just wanted to say…” and a huge gob of saliva fell from my mouth which i promptly tried to catch with my right hand, splashing everywhere and finishing with “… thank you. I love you- thank you. can you sign my book?” and I extended my hand and he stopped- and looked at my hand and extended his own and gave me a full firm handshake and said “You’re welcome- what’s your name?” and signed my book with an asterisk next to his name (re: Breakfast of Champions) and I walked away and my fiancee turned to me and said “You just drooled on Kurt Vonnegut”.

My college friend Tommy Hanlon once lamented for the Rastafari “What do you do when your god dies?” in reference to Bob Marley succumbing to cancer.

The answer is you learn to live with a heart-wrenching profound sadness that sits beside the omnipresent glow of joy that god brought into your life.

My heart aches, my world just grew a little darker; but the universe just grew a little richer.

So it goes…

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it’s happening again…

I have so much to write about- so much squirming around up there. Yet when I go to write, I can barely squeeze out a word or two and it just stops. I don’t understand it. If it’s a masochistic self-loathing causing it, wouldn’t that like just be an award-winning novel right there? 11 years now… the 20 years prior I couldn’t stop writing. The past 11 in small fits and spasms some words come out.

I hate it.

I’m broken.

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