Imagine All The People
I spent a couple of days in New York City this past week. Wednesday was a rainy, windy, messy day in the city. As I walked back to my hotel from the conference center I was at, it was a constant battle between my umbrella and the wind. A night not fit for man nor beast.
But Thursday dawned clear and seasonally cold. Not too bad but by evening you could see your breath. At some point during the day, I realized it was the 31st anniversary of the death of John Lennon. I figured something would be going on at Strawberry Fields, the section of Central Park across the street from The Dakota apartment building, where Lennon was murdered.
So I grabbed my camera and then a cab and made my way up to 72nd and Columbus. It was just about 5 pm. Dusk, and a crowd, were gathering in the chilly night air. As I entered the park, past a couple of guys selling souvenirs buttons and photos, past the beat cops walking around to make sure things didn’t get out of hand, I could hear guitars being strummed and a song being sung.
All we are sayyyyying, is give peace a chance.
I’m not a huge Beatles/John Lennon fan. I certainly appreciate all they did for music and their range as artists but I’ve never bought a Beatles album. But I could appreciate how the couple hundred people gathered in this spot, 31 years after Lennon was killed, felt. And it was mixed. A number of older folks, of course, but also a very fair amount of young people, from their teens to late twenties that certainly were not even born when Howard Cosell announced to the Monday Night Football world that John Lennon was shot and killed.
What was quite interesting too see, too, was how the event was being recorded. No one was holding up a lighter when the songs were sung. Instead, it was the device of choice that people were lighting up the nighttime with, while recording the events.
Think different, indeed.
I wanted to “cover” the event but it was very hard to get in close to the musicians playing so I kept doing loops around the outside of the main mass of people. I did get a chance to shoot portraits of two people (adding to my 100 Strangers project, again after a long layoff).
I could pass this young guy up. Matt is 14 and, as you can expect, was generating considerable attention.
He was a nice young guy. When I asked him his favorite Beatles/John Lennon song, he said it’s too hard to pick just one.
Then I chatted with this guy. I noticed him first because his Doc Marten boots had the Union Jack flag on the fronts. Honestly, he was pretty rough looking and I heard a few people around me commenting on his attire. I said to myself “What the hell…” walked over to him and said “Sir, can I shoot your portrait?”
“Sure, no problem.”
We stated to chat, he told me his name is Mark. I asked him if he was a fan and he said “Absolutely. I knew him. I produced Ringo’s albums.”
Yep, out of a crowd of hundreds, I starting chatting with a guy who has his own musical history and Wikipedia page.
I guess, even if someone has a certain amount of fame, they can still be a stranger, right?
As I walked back down Columbus Ave towards midtown, past the bright shops decorated for Christmas around Peter Jennings Way, I still heard the singing in my head. Wasn’t surprised, though, to find hints of the Beatles, and John’s lyrics, everywhere I turned.