Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Parole Request Denied...
Just as well, since He Has Nowhere To Go...

December 8, 1980. Four shots ring out in the night. BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM. John Lennon was killed, and Mark David Chapman, the guy who blew him away, was never again to draw a free breath. From news reports I've read, he was once again turned down for parole today. So he'll sit in Prison for another couple of years until his next Parole hearing, in 2010. This was the 5th time he's been turned down, after having served the first twenty years of his 'twenty years to life' sentence handed down by the State of New York.

This is the man who killed John Lennon. Mark David Chapman. He was once a Beatles' fan, and may still be (which isn't a pleasant thought). He allegedly had little voices in his head that told him to "do it, do it, do it". He would have you believe that he was a slave to his compulsions, that he couldn't keep from doing what he did. And yet, in the January 1981 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, he is quoted as saying he "drove the final nail into the coffin which is the '60s." So how sorry can he be, even though, once, he did apologize profely in a 1990's segment on ABC's "20/20" program. Yeah, right, Mark, that means a lot...you could've NOT pulled that trigger. You tried to fight those voices. You said so. So you KNEW what you did is wrong.

This is a 2003 picture of Mark David Chapman, who must know, in spite of any hopes he may have for parole, that he's one of the most despised human beings on the planet, and probably wonders if there would be anywhere he could safely go if indeed he were freed. You know, I used to be Very Very Angry at Mark Chapman for what he took from us all. Even if John Lennon wasn't the world's best musician, even if John Lennon didn't write high-quality songs all of the time (especially in his solo career), and especially if John Lennon could at times inflame and irritate people around the planet with his quotations and antics (The 'Bigger Than Jesus' episode of the '60's and his Bed-In with Yoko during the Lennons' early-70's Peace Campaign immediately come to mind), John Lennon belonged to US. He was Our Hero. In 1975, Lennon disappeared from view to raise his son. In 1980, he emerged, once again ready to take on the world, and I was glad to have him back.

Even if Lennon's new songs weren't quite the caliber of "Strawberry Fields Forever" or "All You Need Is Love", they gave hope for the future; we could all grow old and gray together with John Lennon as he rose to once again help define the Music of our times. I was never one of those who clamored for a Beatles' Reunion in the '70s; by that time, all four Beatles had released solo records, and I thought most all of them were pretty good, and had accepted John, Paul, George and Ringo as solo artists in their own right. For John Lennon to re-emerge from his self-imposed exile after 5 years away, though, was exciting. I couldn't wait to hear him again. And he sounded good.

Six weeks after John and Yoko's 're-emergence' album, "Double Fantasy" was released, he was shot dead and the whole world grieved. I know I did. I felt robbed and cheated. Maybe those were selfish reasons, but I Felt A Huge Loss, and for many, many years, I was plain-old-fashioned ANGRY with Mark Chapman For What He Had Done. One of my heroes was gone. It was the first time in my adult life that I had dealt squarely with the spectre of death, and all of the incomplete, loose-ends feelings that death so unceremoniously dumps at our door. I remember feeling a large loss when both Kennedy brothers were slain in the '60s, but Lennon's slaying hit me in the gut. Don't assassinations only happen to religious or political figures? Well, after December 8, 1980, not anymore.

Mark David Chapman took away, from all of us, the right and privilege to see what lay ahead for one of the most creative musicians ever to walk the earth. Just imagine, all the music stored up inside Lennon, waiting to burst forth. More than anything, though, I Looked Up To John Lennon. Perhaps he didn't know what the 'answer' was, but he was always looking for it. We could all know that in spite of how 'establishment' we would all be forced to become as we grew up, that a certain part of us could always remain secure in knowing that John Lennon was Out There. I'm not idol-hungry; I don't care if I ever meet any of the Beatles (a number now sadly whittled down to two); I just wanted to be able to hear from John Lennon from time to time, that's all. To know he was back, that he was alive and well, the same as we would want from any friend of ours. That's all I wanted.

Finally, Mark David Chapman showed those of us, who didn't know already, that anyone, at anytime, no matter how harmless or nondescript their appearance, could Kill Someone Else On A Whim. I resent Chapman for making me aware of that. Up 'till then, I was more carefree somehow; maybe we all were. Chapman showed us a side of ourselves that I wish I hadn't come to know. I have felt angry at people, yes, but have never KILLED anyone. But I could. Believe me, I could. We ALL could. For that reason alone, Chapman had better stay behind bars. Otherwise, Someone Will Get Him. Not me, but someone. I was RED-HOT ANGRY with Chapman for YEARS. That anger finally began to dissipate when George Harrison died in 2001. Another Beatle gone. Harrison's death was different; a case of time marching onward, sooner or later, squeezing the life out of all of us. As sad as I was over Harrison's death, I accepted it more peacefully than Lennon's. And with the passage of time, the sting of Lennon's violent death has abated. Somewhat.

Yoko Ono (shown here in a 2007 photo), dutifully, every two years, speaks out, urging the authorities to once again deny Chapman's parole. Chapman even had the gall to send Yoko a letter in which he asked if he could use Lennon's name in a book he wanted to write, that all the proceeds would go to charity. Needless to say, Yoko was horrified. Yoko continues to keep John's legacy alive; sadly for her, that's just about the only way she can get taken seriously anymore. I have mixed emotions about the whole John & Yoko relationship, but I'm sure they needed each other, and that in some way, they more-or-less "completed" each other. John and Yoko always tried to put on a "good front", but I've read that they'd had some tough times in their relationship, that they got away from each other, but by 1975, were ready to do the "family" thing, and in 1980, they returned to take on the world once again. That makes me wonder how interesting things would be, if John Lennon were around to 'stir the pot' these days...

Finally, lest we forget, here is the man who isn't around anymore. Yet, he continues to influence Pop Culture, and will do so until so much time has gone by that none of what we have ever felt, expressed, played or sung will matter anymore when we're all so ancient that future generations will look back upon us as being heathen primitives who couldn't think our collective way out of a wet paper sack. I don't know all of the details surrounding this photo of John Lennon, other than it had been hidden away, either in someone's manila folder, or undeveloped on someone's roll of film; I do know that this particular photo was never seen by very much of anyone until Just This Year. I wish that John Lennon was back among us; I really do. I wish that Mark David Chapman was still living in sunny Hawaii with his wife; I wish for a lot of things which I'd known before, that are irretrievably lost now. I remember looking at my record collection after I learned he was murdered, thinking, "none of these records would even EXIST without John Lennon." Finally, the last point I'll make here is the Oldest Line In The Book: His music is still alive. Well, yes it is...


After writing the last line of this post, it hit me that the phrase "Yes It Is" is the title of an obscure song that John wrote (it was the B-side of 'Ticket To Ride'). Here's some of the lyrics:
If you wear red tonight...remember what I said tonight...For red is the color that my baby wore, and what's more, it's true, yes-it-is...

Scarlet were the clothes she wore; everybody knows, I'm sure...I still remember all the things we planned; understand, it's true, yes-it-is.
And, a person who can write lyrics like that...must be quite a person indeed.


Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

A life well lived will always be that, regardless of length. But it always surprises me that those who took those lives expect time will fade the memories of those left behind and that all should be forgiven for their protestations of having reformed. What they did and the way they did it is no less heinous no matter how much time passes - and it is still within them. May they remain incarcerated.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

I do think, Marianne, that people can find God in Prison, and that God forgives those we can't forgive, although God urges us to try and forgive all. Some will say that Sirhan Sirhan or Mark Chapman are still in prison not because they killed, but WHO they killed. I'm sure some of that goes on in the justice system. But, in keeping infamous criminals like these behind bars, it sends a message that murder is wrong. It is forever wrong. At least in the mortal sense.

Let's all feel sorry for Chapman in the meantime. For the last 16 years, he's been able to have conjugal visits with his wife. Mark Chapman has been involved in religious witnessing-type videos. He advises inmates on how to beat the legal system. He researches and putts around his safe little corner of prison like he owns it. He's kept away from the 'mainstream' population for obvious reasons.

2:15 PM  
Blogger MarmiteToasty said...

Fanks for sharing this, Ive never seen a photo of the b****d that shot John.... lets hope he shrivels up and die in prison, he does not deserve ever to be free.... he robbed the world of a great man..... but, I would also be saying that if he had killed anyone else....

This is a wonderful post...... actually all your posts are always so enjoyable to read...... fanks you..


3:50 PM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

Thanks, Marmee...you know, with all the old rockers beginning to die off left and right, it's hard to stay mad about Lennon's assassination anymore. But it will always be sad to think about. Writing posts such as this one allow me to really examine how I feel about things. There's a little dark space deep within us all, I believe, and those of us who 'toe the line' are the ones who don't step over that line. There but for the Grace of God go we. Sometimes I think us human 'beans' have a huge price to pay for (supposedly) being the most intelligent creatures on the planet. Sometimes our brains 'backfire' on us. That's long been one of my theories, anyway.

Thanks for your compliments ('Fanks?)...I'm just glad I manage to make sense to someone. So I guess I did good. Take care, and hope those Knees aren't hurtin' ya too badly..............

10:17 PM  

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