[sixties-l] Fwd: A Hard Days Night

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 12/14/00

  • Next message: Mark Bunster: "Re: [sixties-l] Fwd: A Hard Days Night"

    >Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000
    >From: Mitchel Cohen <mitchelcohen@mindspring.com>
    >A Hard Days Night
    >by Mitchel Cohen
    >It is hard to imagine today that most adults in the US in 1964 were
    >horrified by the length of John, Paul, George and Ringo's hair, let alone
    >the disgust my relatives displayed when those first clanging bars of John
    >Lennon's rhythm guitar blasted out of the innovative "detachable speakers"
    >of my Sylvania portable phonograph. (The other day my almost 12-year-old
    >daughter, Malika, who lives with her mom on Long Island, insisted that
    >there was no such word as "phonograph." "Okay, 'stereo,'" I responded. "No,
    >don't you know ANYthing? It's a 'CD player'," she informed me.)
    >I was 3 years older than my daughter when the Beatles released their movie
    >"A Hard Day's Night" and rocked into America, their pictures on the front
    >page of the NY Times. "You can't tell if they're girls or boys," my
    >grandfather said scornfully, and most everyone a generation older than me
    >agreed with him. "By the time you get to be 20 you'll have grown out of
    >it," I was told repeatedly.
    >So last Sunday evening I, at 51 and refusing to ever "grow out of it," made
    >my way down to the Film Forum with my friend Cathryn after marching in the
    >Free Leonard Peltier rally, to see the newly reminted "A Hard Day's Night."
    >Every show at the Film Forum is sold out an hour beforehand. The 180-seat
    >theater is jammed, mostly white faces, some children, some 20s and 30s
    >folks, but also many my age and even older. As I watched the 13-year-olds
    >on the screen scream and cry and faint whenever one of the Beatles shook
    >his mop-top, or glanced in their direction, I occasionally would turn
    >around to watch the audience watching themselves 37 years later. My
    >question is not "When did we lose such innocence?" but when did we get so
    >Grown Up (ugh!) and repressed?
    >Of course every time the film flashed on the irreverent John Lennon
    >everyone's eyes would mist -- in my case come gushing those tears. Some
    >quietly mouthed the words to the songs. But few in the theater sang out. No
    >Rocky Horror here! No one got up and danced. No one screamed along with
    >their 37-year-ago selves in the film. We're grown up now. We can't let this
    >move us, or at least not let anyone see!
    >Of course, in the film, the Beatles were so ... well, so INNOCENT! THIS is
    >what all the adults were afraid of?! As for us, I don't think we ever LOST
    >our innocence. It was trampled, beaten and shot in the back of the head
    >execution-style. And not only by Vietnam, the murder of Malcolm X, and
    >Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, and the Black Panthers and Young
    >Lords, and Agent Orange, and AIDS, and police brutality, and the CIA, and
    >and and. Our innocence was massacred as much by the little things, the
    >petty negotiations of everyday life -- there are so many little dyings what
    >matter which of them is Death? -- all the scaling down of Dreaming that
    >today's much harsher music responds to.
    >Every person wants to do something meaningful in their life, and WITH their
    >life. Cynicism is the result of all the doors for doing that being slammed
    >in one's face, and knowing ahead of time that that will happen, no matter
    >what kind of a job (or no job) you have. I had the interesting experience
    >the other night of being toured by a friend after the Manhattan Greens
    >meeting through the newly appointed Hudson Hotel. Everywhere, people
    >dressed in their chic-est black garments -- everything black -- spilled
    >various body parts out of them, competitive advertising, trying to get laid
    >by someone who might actually care about them. This desperate loneliness
    >dressed up as "sophistication," as cynicism, is not really the opposite of
    >"innocence" but a way of coping with its repression.
    >Quite a different scene at Strawberry Fields in Central Park on December 8,
    >the 20th anniversary of John Lennon's murder. Thousands of people
    >pilgrimmaged to 72nd Street and Central Park West across from the Dakota
    >hotel where the smartest, sassiest Beatle had been assassinated. Yoko left
    >a single lit candle in an upstairs window. I tried to find the exact window
    >from the street but couldn't. I tried to find the exact spot where John was
    >shot down -- that was easier, it was covered with flowers and letters. (Why
    >spoil the intense feeling by "remembering" that the flowers come from
    >factory farms in Ecuador that have displaced thousands who had been growing
    >crops to feed people?) "It was 20 years ago today, Sergeant Pepper told the
    >band to play ..." The gentle, anti-macho, loving spirit and Beatles' songs
    >filled the park -- all as the Mayor and his Park's Commissioner refused to
    >extend the 1 a.m. curfew and threatened to mass arrest the hundreds of late
    >night lingerers and songsters. Half a dozen circles, hundreds of folks in
    >each, sang different Beatles' songs -- except for that exact moment when
    >John had been shot, slightly after 11 pm, when by some magic EVERYONE
    >looked up, hugged each other (no one told us to do this!) and began singing
    >"Imagine" acapella, and then stood in silence, in wonder. That, and the
    >amazing, powerful spirit at the Mumia and Peltier marches and rallies that
    >weekend, where thousands of young folk demanded, DEMANDED, that the
    >government free America's political prisoners, are signs that the cynicism
    >that has replaced innocence is at least not as trenchant it might seem at
    >first glance, or at reports coming out of Florida.
    >"A Hard Days' Night" is, from this vantage after all these years, a silly
    >movie with fantastic music. No violence, no sex (just flirting), no
    >pervasive cynicism, no hint of the intense bombing of North Vietnam that
    >had begun the year the film was first released or the civil rights movement
    >that had swept the South the previous years. Only John Lennon in the
    >bubblebath (a close look reveals he was actually wearing shorts, alas!
    >Sure, I looked!) -- the one truly remarkable scene, for me -- in mock
    >German accent sinking British warships -- alone worth the price of the
    >movie. And, of course, She loves you, STILL! ... yea, yea, yea!
    >Mitchel Cohen
    >Brooklyn Greens / Green Party of NY
    >2652 Cropsey Avenue #7H
    >Brooklyn NY 11214
    >(718) 449-0037

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