Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A date on an almanc

Thirty one years?
It can't be.

Last night started a couple of days off from the site where I do the Birthday lists for an Almanac I started about 5 or 6 years ago, give or take. If I had the time, I'd start a new blog just for a (maybe) cleaned up version. Ricola, who stepped in along with his friend Todd4212  and took over the birthdays portion when I moved to Brookline a few years back, is filling in, bless him. I mention this in case he should stop by, so he'll know how much I really do appreciate this. The site where the list has been kept had some sort of storage crash back in October. The Birthday section had grown quite a bit over the years, every person mentioned had at least one picture. Several different people contributed regularly to it. Huge portions of the image library vanished overnight. I still have about 6 months of the original Almanac in my files, and Ricola and Todd's work on it is on a different server (a very wise move). The current owner of the site has been getting a good portion of the broken links fixed as he recovers the libraries. Even so, there were a number of days in November where I was finding and replacing close to 98 images a day. I could go on, but I won't. The thing I'm getting to is that the site  was originally started in the early days of the web by the late Marvin Jones, who was quite a character. Some years back, Marv was known for his Christmas Cards. I had one friend from my NYC days, Tom Toth, who used to send privately printed cards with Christmas scenes featuring his favorite actress Carole Lombard. I saved them all, but they are either in storage hell or maybe they're with everything else that has gone missing over the years. But he had nothing on Marv, who knew many of the early exploitation guys in Hollywood. The sample of his cards which follow were done years before computers and photoshop, and date to an era in which such imagery just wasn't done.

So, anyway, this morning I checked into the site to read the Almanac, where upon I had one of those unstuck in time moments. I see Laura over at Austanspace went on the journey, too.

It was 1980. I was living in a studio apartment in New York City's Greenwich Village. I have no idea if I was watching something on tv that night or if I just had it on. It was my habit to watch the 11pm news on the ABC o&o, Channel 7. There was a football game ending. Howard Cosell said something, What? WHAT? I think it was Rose Ann Scamardella who suddenly appeared  repeating the story as the intro into the news.

A minute or two later, the phone rang. "Who would be so crazy as to shoot John Lennon?" It was my best friend, Jerry Campbell. He was in Los Angeles directing a workshop rehearsal of a script in development called "Without Reservations". Someone has passed him a note, and he had briefly stopped the rehearsal to call. Jerry did not do such things. That's how big this was. ABC had a reporter outside the hospital. I shushed Jerry. They had just confirmed that John Lennon was dead.

So many people flocked to his home at the Dakota that the police closed the streets. I think the subway stop was closed, too. It wasn't even 11:15pm yet.

The next day I had an appointment a block away from the Dakota. I had to go three blocks out of my way and then double back just to get there.

Yoko, seeking a respite from the crowd, asked everyone to meet at Lennon's favorite spot in the park a few days later. There was to be no funeral, and instead of a memorial ceremony, she asked for Lennon's death to be mourned with 10 minutes of silence.

It was a Sunday afternoon. The picture on the tv faded to a picture of Lennon. Not just the channel I had on, but every channel. Every channel. Radio stations fell silent. No rock and roll. No country and western. Nothing. There was nothing. There was silence everywhere. Slowly, almost every radio and tv station in New York City began playing "Imagine".

Thirty one years.
So many of my friends from those days are gone.
And I still miss them, even though I got used to it.
The rest of my world has changed a few times since then, too.
I moved to Boston, and then later here to Brattleboro.
But I still remember.
And I'm not the only one.


Austan said...

This year alone is an almanac. Of Hells.

Lovely tribute Stevil.
(But the ABC channel in NY is 7; 5 was WNEW and is now Fox.) :D

sdt said...

Right you are. Fixed it I have.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I would love to get in touch with Tom Toth, as I am currently writing a biography about Carole Lombard and think he would be a great person to talk to. Would you happen to be in contact with him? Thanks so much for any help you can give.

My blog is located here: and my email is Michelle(at)MichelleMorgan(dot)co(dot)uk.

Thank you!