By Robert Beck
Imagine all the people.
It was late morning when I weaved through the faithful at the Strawberry Fields mosaic, heading toward 72nd. The warm and cloudless day brought out a crowd. Many were standing around, unsure of the next stop on their schedule (Okay, we are here, now what—how far is it to the Natural History Museum?), but for others, it was the culmination of a pilgrimage. It was all here and now.
Living for today.
Judging by the faces and ages, it was a quest born of their parents’—or even grandparents’—vinyl collection. A few brought guitars.
Disquiet had descended on the gathering: tension over a breach of etiquette. Singing too long (it’s my turn) or singing the wrong song (we JUST sang that). People didn’t come this far to be denied their moment.
Sharing all the world.
The news that Yoko is moving is a waypoint on a larger story surrounding the Dakota that will mean different things to a child of the sixties than those jockeying for bandwidth across CPW. Many times while painting in the park, devotees have approached me asking for directions to the Dakota. They weren’t on a quest to take selfies in front of where Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, and Rudolf Nureyev once lived. They weren’t even going to do it in front of where John Lennon had lived, wrote, and loved. They were going to do it where he was shot.
Above us only sky.
I wish Yoko well. I can’t imagine living there for forty-some years after such a horrendous loss. I can’t imagine encountering images of John whenever she walked outside, frozen young for eternity on t-shirts and souvenirs. I can’t imagine being inside, either. The walls. The echoes. Upstate New York wouldn’t be far enough for me. Godspeed and peace, Yoko Ono.
People will continue to visit the mosaic and pay their respects. The building won’t return to some level of pre-Lennon anonymity because neither she nor John is there. There is no escaping the myth. People will still pause in front of the entrance to the courtyard, look at the gates, look at the sidewalk…and imagine.
To contact Robert Beck or see more of his work, visit robertbeck.net
Imagine, 1971 John Lennon/Yoko Ono
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