March 12, 2014
To experience one’s first death can be such a life-changer, with respect to a loss of a parent. Reading about Julia Lennon, John’s mom, was very moving to me. Since I lost a parent, I feel that it was the one defining moment in my life. I imagine it was the same for Lennon, because I suspect that beyond anything else, it was the one lost that compel him to go for broke with respect to his art and music. He succeeded greatly, but there is always that price that people are not aware of. It’s a black hole in one’s life that is not exactly empty but a space that is reserved for a certain amount of pain. People react to this ‘hole’ in their own distinctive ways. For Lennon, I think it gave him focus to do the things he had to do. You’re not afraid of failure because you know the conceptual death is not beyond one’s comprehension. I think of Liza Minnelli as well, due that she had a parent that was genius-like and lived with incredible intensity, and then dies. When a parent like Julia or Judy passes away, it for sure has a strong effect on their off-spring. Especially if they’re doing something creative or performing in front of an audience.
When my dad was alive, we got a phone call from the artist and friend Ed Ruscha that he’s coming over to our house to bring some friends with him. I was shocked when Liza and her boyfriend at the time, Edward Albert showed up in our living room with Ed. It was the peak of Liza’s fame and greatness, I believe “Cabaret” was still in the theaters, and she was doing her TV spectaculars, which even for someone like me who knows nothing of the craft and skill of that world, well, I was deeply impressed with her talent. I never came in the presence of a movie and stage star before, so I didn’t know how I should act in front of her. The truth is she was very easy to talk to, and very sweet as well as Edward. I was even impressed with him because I was a huge “Green Acres” fan, and his dad was the star of that show.
It wasn’t till my dad died, that I started thinking about Liza and John Lennon. Although Julia, John’s mum, wasn’t a star, it seems she was an outstanding personality. Someone who was perhaps a bridge between one era of Liverpool life that was restricted and quite conservative, into another more adventuresome world. Julia introduced John to the joys of rock n’ roll, and therefore I imagine very much that she influenced him greatly. I wish I can talk to Liza, but surely to have a parent like Judy Garland, must have some effect. And when a legend like that dies, it becomes really a big deal to the daughter or son. The thing is John and Liza went on, but forcefully made a new identity of sorts - something that was in honor of their parent, but also they had to leave that influence on the other side of the stage when they performed.
The one fear that we all share is the fear of insanity or losing it. Lennon and Minnelli, if media reports are accurate, surely touched the edge, where looking down is the abyss. My dad had an obsession and love for the ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, for whom reasons we can only suspect, totally lost it through his years of not dancing or performing. If one doesn’t have the outlet to create, to write, to sing, to make music or to write… what is there in life? I think about that when I look at my blank screen, before I type even one letter.