Saturday, May 30, 2009

One last Canada post

The 40th anniversary of John and Yoko's arrival in Montreal for their second Bed-In for Peace recently passed. As a result, there were a number of articles in the Canadian press over the past week that not only detailed the historical episode but also reviewed new books on the subject and discussed the art exhibition that Yoko opened in Montreal to commemorate the event. They're interesting reads.

I especially liked the double book review by Ian McGillis because he goes beyond mere glorification of what John and Yoko were doing; he doesn't succumb to hero worship.

Here are two excerpts that show how even-handedly he treats the topic:

It’s so tempting to dismiss it all with a superior retrospective shrug. A wealthy rock star and his conceptual artist wife install themselves in a Montreal hotel room bed for a week, espousing peace as though they have just invented the idea while a media circus dutifully swirls around them. A hopelessly naive by-product of a hopelessly naive time, right?

Well, yes. In some ways. Certainly, looking through a new elegantly designed volume marking the 40th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s pacifist agit-prop project, responses may vary with knowledge of context. The effect of touchingly tender portraits of the couple with Yoko’s young daughter, Kyoko, is tempered somewhat by the thought that at this time, Lennon’s first wife, Cynthia, and son, Julian, were being left to fend for themselves, their only apparent fault being their failure to fit into the new utopian narrative.


Ultimately, while the sheer audacity of what John and Yoko did may have been arrogant in its way, it burns through all hindsight-aided misgivings anyway. One is certainly hard-pressed to imagine any current celebrity of remotely equivalent stature so willingly risking ridicule for a cause. These two had a deep understanding of the inclusive power of simplicity, in image, words and music. It’s fitting, then, that so many of Deiter’s photographs document the writing and recording, in that hotel room, of the classic affirmative protest song that gives the book its name: Give Peace a Chance. Sure, those verses may be dated doggerel, but that chorus is simply undeniable....

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