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May 12, 2011

Today while getting some lunch to go in a deli, I heard the song, “Be Bop A Lula” by John Lennon playing on the radio that was perched on a shelf behind the counter. That’s from his “Rock ‘n’ Roll” album and I’ve always liked his version. I don’t believe it was issued as a single and I don’t think I’ve heard it anywhere else but in my apartment. It was quite a happy surprise and I stayed and listened to it even after I had paid for my lunch. It made me think about the day after he was shot, right here in New York, in front of his apartment building, The Dakota. He was shot on December 8th, 1980, a Monday night. I didn’t realize he had been killed till the next Tuesday morning.
I woke up that morning and was hungover and still feeling a little trippy. I had taken mescaline the night before and was feeling the after-effect from that and I think I had drank about seventeen beers. I had taken it right after work and then went to a lot of bars and got looped early. I don’t know why I had gone off on such a tear, but back in those days, I didn’t need much of an excuse.

I lived in a small, one bedroom apartment on the north side of Peoria in those days. I remember sitting up that morning and holding my aching noggin’ in my hands. My brain felt like a melted marshmallow that had been dipped in a vat of horse hair. I slowly got up and made my way to the kitchen, popped the top off of a diet Coke and chugged it. I felt a little bit better.

After throwing the can in the trash I made my way to the bathroom and was piecing my night together and trying to remember if I had to call anyone to apologize to them. Back in those days it seems I was always apologizing to someone for something I had done the night before. Then I remembered the weird dream I had had. I was brushing my teeth while thinking about it. The dream was kind of fuzzy, but I remembered that my friend Moon had called me in it and he had told me that John Lennon was dead. He said someone had shot him. I laughed to myself and thought: “Jesus, what a weird dream. Serves you right for going to bed with a headful of mescaline.”

Then I showered, shaved and got dressed.
I’m sure sometime in the process I farted, but why would you want to know that? The fart probably smelled like a taco gone bad, mine often do, but again, why should I share that information with you? Why drag this story down in the gutter? But I digress.

I found myself back in the kitchen drinking more diet Coke. I walked out into the main room and turned on the portable TV set that sat right next to my turntable on top of an old brown wooden table. I flipped the channel to WEEK, channel 25 to watch a bit of the Today Show before I went to work.

I turned up the volume and I can’t remember who said the following because I think I went into a bit of a state of shock: “New York and the world is mourning the loss of musician John Lennon who was shot to death outside of the Dakota building where he lived with his wife Yoko Ono and their son Sean.

I dropped my diet Coke and my hand flew up to my mouth.
Was this real? Was I still dreaming? All of a sudden everything went black and white and I felt like I had fallen into the Twilight Zone. Signpost ahead...

I immediately ran to the phone and called my friend Moon.
Luckily, he hadn’t left for work yet. He picked it up on the third ring.

“Hello,” he croaked out in a morning voice. It sounded like he had just woken up.

“Is John Lennon dead?” I blurted out as fast as I could spit the words out.

“What? Is this Marty?” Moon asked back.

“Yeah, it’s me, is John Lennon dead?” I asked again in a most feverish manner.

“Yeah,” Moon shot back, somewhat angrily.

“I thought I had dreamed that,” I told him somewhat relieved that I wasn’t going insane after all.

Howard Cosell announced it on Monday Night Football. I thought you’d want to know so I called you. You sounded out of your mind, I tried telling you, but I couldn’t even understand what was coming out of your mouth, so I hung up,” Moon told me, in somewhat disgusted tones. I had lived with Moon the year before, so I had heard those tones before.

“Jesus Christ, I thought I was going insane,” I said while taking a deep breath.

“I think you still are, I gotta get ready for work,” Moon said while hanging up on me.

I went back to the front room with a towel and picked up the can of diet Coke and cleaned up the floor while listening to the news reports on the death of John Lennon.

I remember saying to myself as I put my jacket on, “Apparently, love isn’t all you need. It seems a bullet-proof helmet would come in handy as well.” Then I laughed out loud and went to work.

Yeah, I talk to myself, you got a problem with that?


I thought in light of the John Lennon memories we’d take a little trip to the Upper West Side and get some photos of the Dakota building where he lived and was shot down in front of and of Strawberry Fields in Central Park. I’m a little nervous about going in Central Park at night, I’ve never done that, but then again, “Action” is my middle name!

Okay, it’s really David. Shut up.

And here we are at Penn Station once again.

The escalator is crowded, but for once, everyone is stationary on it. One of life's little rewards.

Knot Just Pretzels.

Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it appears you are just pretzels after all. Sorry.

Through the magic of the internet you're spared a subway ride that included six screaming teenagers all talking at once and a smelly fat man that kept making weird burping noises seated next to me. He smelled like curdled cheese. Eeeks.

Here's a shitty photo of the Dakota building. The building's not lit at all and it's going to be rough getting a decent photo. I'll try again.

Fuck. When in doubt, Google it...

And rip the photo off from the internet. Here's the Dakota building with John and Yoko in the forefront before Mark David Chapstick blew John's mind out with a gun.

Authorized persons only sign.

And here's the authorized person on duty, security man, David. He told me people come here every day to take pictures and talk about John Lennon.

And here's the gates and area where John Lennon bought the farm. This is a little depressing, let's move on.

Okay, there's Central Park, it looks a little creepy in the dark, but onwards and upwards. I can't chicken out now.

Here's the Strawberry Fields section. There's one light and then it's pitch black in the park. This is beyond creepy, there's no one around...or is there?

Usually there's at least one person in here playing an acoustic guitar and butchering a John Lennon song, but tonight it's pitch black back here and I just heard a voice from somewhere around the bushes saying: "Hey, come here."

That was my cue to leave the park, very quickly.

And the last stop on the John Lennon late night walking tour of the Upper West Side.

John Lennon behind bars. This photo has been in this pharmacy's window since I moved here almost 18 years ago. It's my favorite John Lennon tribute in the city for some reason. I've always liked it. Okay time to head home.

Hey...look. Hmmm...

Old habits die hard. Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark.

Further reading: New York Magazine, NY Post, Rolling Stone and Time magazine.

You might also like: Paul, George and Ringo.

Six Other Murdered Celebrities
Sharon Tate
Marvin Gaye
Phil Hartman
Dr. Bedlam

Well, she's the one that gots that beat,
She's the one with the flyin' feet.


(Surprise link...click on it...I dare you!)

Reader Comments (23)

Ouch ! my head hurts after reading that description of your hangover !!!

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

Hey, maybe I have no business commenting (I was only 12ish when John got shot) but I remember it being bizarre. First some guy shot him because he thought he was a character in a book? Then my snack food felt compelled to boost sales by making an acetate tribute to Lennon. In essence, they turned his death into a sweepstakes.
Here's a link of the "Tribute". Maybe mescaline would have helped it all make more sense.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercsp

Great John Lennon story! And the surprise link? LMFAO!

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarfly

@GENE: That hangover was a doozy, it still hurts to this day!

@csp: I don't know what's scarier, that "tribute" or the fact that your snack as a child was a granola bar!

@Barfly: Glad you liked the surprise link! I always wonder if people see that or click on it.

May 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

That surprise link is almost as tasteless as my Osama Bin Lauden cartoon.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

My favorite Central Park scene of all time;

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

The damn thing won't link. It was the Baseball Furies vs. The Warriors (on You Tube)

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

@Jaws: Truthfully, have you been drinking? If so, don't bogart that bottle!

May 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

i am a huge john lennon fan and think he would've loved the joke you made at the end of the story! that looked pretty scary going into central park at night! oh the things you do for us! lol!

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrita r.

A really great story of that night, and the mescaline kickin in, wow,,,you know I have had hundreds of episodes where I woke up the next day with a "black out", and wonder if apologies are needed for playing the fool, which I always did and still do on occasion. Lennon's death put me in a shock, pissed off that a scumbag lowlife could do this. I was working at a cement plant and the next day I tried to share my feelings with these co workers but they were a bunch of redneck old farts that didnt care. Great pictures of the Dakota entrance, and the park,,,you should of walked one block west and hit Malachy's for a pint or three.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAl

Voice in the bushes or not, I'd take your solo visit to Strawberry Fields over the usual gathering of trustafarians any day of the week. Guitars, candles and hacky-sack, oh my! For pete's sake, even 30 Rock made a joke about it.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

I was reading the Executioner's Song when i heard it on the tube! I remember it like it was yesterday. I was crushed and pissed! Lennon just came out of hiding and he gets capped! I wish he was still with us! The Primal Scream record still stands as one of my favorites!

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterProfessor Dungpie.

@rita r: Oh yes, the sacrifices I make for this blog!

@Al: I should've hit Malachy's, I need you back in the co-pilot's seat!

@Biff: You ought to see Strawberry Fields on his birthday or on the anniversary of his death, really frightening. You know John Lennon would've hated that place!

@Professor Dungpie: What a fucking book to read when you heard the news! I was always sad that "Double Fantasy was his last solo record, because I didn't think it was that great. The Primal Scream one was great! What did you find out about the Gumby bar?

May 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

a chillin' memory of a sad senseless and tragic night,,,a talin' bush ah at least it wasn't a burnin' one...a gallant attempt to get some good shots for the MAD followers...thanks

“Guns are neat little things, aren't they? They can kill extraordinary people with very little effort.”
John W. Hinckley, Jr.


May 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterraginrr

meant a talkin' bush


May 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterraginrr

Another great memory of yours. I'm always impressed by your recounts because I have a hard time remembering things from last week. I have this weird desire to go to Central Park at night, but I probably should leave such adventures to you. That's a chilling quote rr

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkari

@kari: Research the words, "Babyface killers in Central Park" and you won't be so anxious to go. Basically it was two teens who gutted a man and sunk him in the lake.

@rr: I agree with kari: Chilling! You are the Chill Master!

May 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Love the scary park experience - wonder who was calling!
Blogger is down & I am going INSANE.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteronemorefoldedsunset

@onemorefoldedsunset: It was somebody in the bushes, I didn't wait around to find out! It is pitch fucking black in there, really scary! I heard about Blogger and I bet people are going nuts. It's funny, ten years ago I had never heard of a blog, today if I lost access to this I'd go batshit insane!

May 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Yeah.....Double Fantasy was not the record i was hoping for after a five year wait. I have not stopped at the Gumby bar yet but some guy on my bus said it was owned by a former Milwaukee Brewer ......Jim Gantner, who was nicknamed Gumby back in the seventies! So i'm guessin that this is not a Gumby and Pokey Museum but i'll check it out in case there is some connection to the Gumby that we all love! I'll keep you posted! We can always check out the Dahmer bar where they serve delicious drinks in real human skulls!

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterProfessor Dungpie.

@Professor Dungpie: Are you serious about that Dahmer bar? If so, I'm booking a ticket for this summer. We'll tear Milwaukee up!

May 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Great post Marty

Sorry for the brevity; I’m in rehearsals, and busier than a cucumber at the Woman’s House of Detention.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHarry

@Harry: Thanks, Harry! Have a good show! Love the cucumber line!

May 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

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