... hoy es el 37º aniversario del asesinato de John Lennon. Voy a conmemorarlo con un momento de silencio.
The Sporadic Beaver
December 8, 2017
... hoy es el 37º aniversario del asesinato de John Lennon. Voy a conmemorarlo con un momento de silencio.
December 8, 2016
The cast had asked Pence, after he attended the show, to “uphold our American values” and “work on behalf of all of us.”
“Don Vicious” (with apologies to Sid) came to me whole as I was walking on the High Line. I imagine it performed in the style and spirit of Pussy Riot or of Sex Pistols front man Johnny Rotten singing “God Save the Queen/A fascist regime...”
I’m dedicating the song to John Lennon, who in his heart was a punk till the end (listen to “Serve Yourself”), who’s been gone 36 years today, and who would have appreciated Yoko Ono’s post-election Twitter howl—a howl that I’d suggest speaks for most of us.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Don Vicious”...
We know you’re a total disgrace
Anyplace you show your face
We’ll fuck you up
We’ll put you down
Because you’re a malignant clown
Hey, hey Donald J.
How many girls did you grope today?
With your tiny hands
With your tiny hands
You’re a racist Nazi
You steal from people
Your life’s a scam
You're like the spawn of Son of Sam
Hey, hey Donald J.
How many girls did you grope today?
With your tiny hands
With your tiny hands
You hate Muslims
You hate Jews
Women, black skin
Brown skin too
Hey, hey Donald J.
How many girls did you grope today?
With your tiny hands
With your tiny hands
I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.
November 2, 2016
Mary Lyn Maiscott and I were married at the Municipal Building in New York City in the aftermath of 9/11. The ceremony was broadcast live on The Louie B. Free Radio Show. Soon after our 15th anniversary, we returned to the show to talk about our marriage, 9/11, my books, and Mary Lyn's music. In the ensuing years, the radio show has evolved into Louie TV. Here's a memorable hour that was broadcast live from New York on Wednesday morning, November 2.
I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.
October 9, 2016
If you haven’t seen it yet, today, October 9, which would have been John Lennon's 76th birthday, is the perfect day to watch The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years, Ron Howard’s documentary, which primarily covers the group from 1962–1966. Though much of the material might seen overly familiar to people who’ve been following the Fab Four since 1964 (or earlier), there are some newly uncovered tidbits, like footage from their final show at Candlestick Park, that add more depth and detail to one of the best known stories of the 20th century.
My favorite part of the film was the rooftop concert at Apple Records—they play “Don’t Let Me Down” and “I’ve Got a Feeling.” The impromptu performance took place in 1969 (making the film’s title a misnomer). It was the last time the Beatles played together, and yes, I’ve seen it many times before (it’s in Let It Be). But the crisply restored sound and video gave the scene an electrifying energy that came though despite the fact that I was watching it on a small computer screen. I’d recommend seeing it at a theatre to get the full effect.
And if you’d like a bracingly fresh perspective on Lennon and the Beatles, may I also recommend Nowhere Man, now available as an e-book in English and Spanish.
I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.
Si tú no lo has visto todavía, hoy, 9 de octubre, el que habría sido el 76 cumpleaños de John Lennon, es el día perfecto para ver Los Beatles: Ocho días a la semana, los años de gira, el documental de Ron Howard, que cubre principalmente al grupo de 1962 a 1966. Aunque mucho del material podría parecer demasiado familiar, para las personas que han estado siguiendo a los Cuatro fabulosos desde 1964 (o antes), hay algunas golosinas recién descubiertas, como el metraje de su último concierto en Candlestick Park, que agrega más profundidad y detalle a una de las historias más conocidas del siglo 20.
Mi parte favorita de la película fue el concierto en la azotea de Apple Records, ellos tocan “Don’t Let Me Down” y “I’ve Got a Feeling.” La actuación improvisada tuvo lugar en 1969 (haciendo el título de la película no apropiado). Fue la última vez que los Beatles tocaron juntos, y sí, yo lo he visto muchas veces antes (está en Let It Be). Pero el sonido y el video nítidamente restaurados dan a la escena una energía electrizante, que me llega a través, a pesar del hecho de que yo lo estaba viendo en la pequeña pantalla de la computadora. Yo recomendaría verlo en un cine para conseguir el efecto completo.
Y si tú desearas una perspectiva fresca vigorizante de Lennon y los Beatles, yo puedo asimismo recomendarte Nowhere Man, ahora disponible como e-book en inglés y español.
Te invito a unirte a mí en Facebook o a seguirme en Twitter.
December 8, 2015
Is there anything to be gained by expressing my disgust with the NRA, who apparently believe that everybody over the age of three should be armed; the Congress, who are on the take from the NRA; and the menagerie of candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination, one of whom, a medical doctor, has said, “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away”?
I doubt it.
In Nowhere Man, I explain that Mark David Chapman acquired the handgun he used to murder Lennon by telling a lie on his pistol-permit application. He said he’d never been institutionalized for mental illness, when, in fact, he had. But nobody did a background check, and Marky got his gun.
Of Chapman’s delusional act, I wrote, “Nobody has ever assassinated a popular entertainer before. This is completely different, a new kind of madness. It’s very scary shit.”
Thirty-five years later, this “very scary shit” has gone well beyond assassinating popular entertainers. I now live in a country that’s in the throes of a guerrilla war being waged by terrorists and unaffiliated crazies of all stripes and their supporters in the NRA, Congress, and on the campaign trail.
The other night, my wife and I were eating dinner in a crowded restaurant that we’ve been going to for years. And though I didn’t say a word about it at the time because I didn’t want to ruin the meal, I kept glancing out the window and thinking that this is probably not a good place to eat anymore. The restaurant, situated on a wide avenue that branches off into a warren of streets and provides easy access to bridges and tunnels, is a good target for somebody who wants to do a mass shooting and escape. It’s better to eat in a restaurant on a narrow side street prone to traffic jams—I thought that would be a less inviting target.
This is what it’s come to in the land of the free and the home of the brave—everybody walking around thinking about how to avoid being shot and how to protect yourself when the shooting starts. And though it would be nice if Yoko Ono’s “Imagine Peace” were something more than a cliché as absurd as the Republicans’ offering “thoughts and prayers” to victims of the latest massacre, it’s not.
It’s going to take a lot more than imagination and prayer to solve the problems of a country where at last count there were more guns (357 million) than people (317 million).
In 2015, we are all at least as vulnerable as John Lennon was, and he was more vulnerable than he ever imagined.
July 18, 2015
In any case, adhering to my philosophy of treating like Oprah everybody who wants to talk about my books, I spoke at length to Ozy, and when they ran the story, "How Nixon Shaped Porn in America," about the connection between Watergate and Nixon's efforts to ban the film Deep Throat, I was amazed by the results.
Not only was Beaver Street prominently featured, but the story was shared a respectable 1,760 times (and counting) on Facebook; was published in the popular German tabloid Bild as “Mister President wollte eigentlich das Gegenteil ... Wie Nixon dem Porno zum Durchbruch verhalf” (roughly translated as “Mr. President wanted the opposite of it... how Nixon helped porn to its breakthrough”); and was cited in the Washington Post and Baltimore City Paper.
That Beaver Street has remained in the news for more than four years in an environment where just about everything is forgotten within 24 hours is nothing short of miraculous. But apparently, that’s how long it’s taken the media to catch on to one of the book’s central themes: The biggest crooks—notably Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Edwin Meese, and Charles Keating—cry “Ban pornography!” the loudest.
And speaking of books that people keep talking about long after publication, on Tuesday, July 21, at 10 P.M eastern time, and Saturday July 25, at 2:30 P.M. eastern time, the Reelz channel will broadcast the John Lennon episode of Hollywood Scandals, in which I discuss my Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. Click here to find the show on your cable or satellite system.
June 11, 2015
If you're not of a certain age, you've still probably heard about a rumor that began in 1969. Some people believed that Paul McCartney was dead and the Beatles had replaced him with a look-alike so the fans wouldn't get upset. But because they were the Beatles, and couldn't resist playing Beatle games, they'd also left clues to his demise on their albums, both in the music and on the album covers.
One of the most famous clues can be found on the fadeout of John Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields Forever.” It sounds as if Lennon is saying, “I buried Paul.” (“I’m very bored,” is what he claims to have said.)
I mention this now because a site called Ranker is asking people to vote for the “most outlandish conspiracy theory” about the Beatles, and “Paul Is Dead” is among the 22 theories they’ve listed.
But so am I!
A Holocaust-denying conspiracy theorist has been insisting for years that I’m the CIA spymaster who ordered a hit on Lennon—or at least that’s what he seems to be saying if you delve deeply into his insane ramblings. It’s as if a conspiracy theorist is having my (Evil) Walter Mitty fantasies for me.
Ranker calls this theory “Robert Rosen, Author or Assassin?” And I have indeed buried Paul under a landslide of votes.
Yes, I am the #1 most outlandish Beatles conspiracy theory and Dead Paul is #2. This is like Bernie Sanders getting the nomination over Hillary Clinton.
So, I’d like to thank all the people who voted for me, and my campaign manager, Mary Lyn Maiscott. But keep in mind that this is only a fast start, and as long as Ranker exists, people can keep voting. Which means if Live Paul ever rallies his base for Dead Paul, “Robert Rosen: Author or Assassin?” will go the way of Michael Dukakis.
In the meantime, call me Jackal.
March 12, 2015
So, aside from the book, what’s been happening since January 12? Here are a half-dozen highlights:
Like everybody else in the northeast, I’ve been getting through the winter, which can’t end soon enough, though I’ve not been letting the cold or the snow interfere with my daily walks by the Hudson River, which on some days might be mistaken for the Northwest Passage.
My wife and I spent a week in Florida, visiting my mother and being tourists in Miami. It was warmer there, I went swimming every day, and at no point was I forced to stand my ground.
For a brief moment, Beaver Street was the #1 porn book on Amazon Germany and Nowhere Man was the #1 Beatles book on Amazon Canada. Is it too soon to declare them both cult classics?
Quadrant, a conservative Australian literary journal, cited Nowhere Man in an essay comparing John Lennon to Russell Brand. The conservative media’s 15-year embrace of my work, using it to prove whatever point they’re trying to prove, continues to be a source of astonishment.
In my blog post about Charlie Hebdo, I wrote about the artist who, in the 1970s, had drawn a pornographic cartoon as a way of expressing his discontent with the Catholic Church. I’d published the drawing in Observation Post, the City College newspaper I was editing at the time. Major controversy ensued. Well, the artist read the post, and contacted me. We got together for the first time since 1974. He’s still an artist. And he’s still crazy after all these years. But so am I.
I woke up one morning to find that the porn star Stoya, whom the Village Voice had described on their cover as “The Prettiest Girl in New York,” had mentioned Beaver Street in a blog post. If I could have picked three people on planet Earth to read and appreciate Beaver Street, Stoya would have been among them, alongside Philip Roth and Joan Didion. So, I tweeted her a thank you and she tweeted back, “Thank you for writing it. Amazing glimpse into the adult industry.” Say what you will about Stoya, but I’ll say this much: The girl gives good blurb.
December 26, 2014
I haven’t posted here in nearly four weeks because I’ve been working on revisions for Bobby in Naziland, and it’s taken up what little free time I’ve had. Also, in the middle of doing those revisions, the British government passed a new censorship law, and The Independent, apparently fans of Beaver Street, asked me to write about it. The piece I wrote, “No Female Ejaculation, Please, We’re British,” went viral and was then picked up by Dagospia, an Italian political-gossip site. This was one of my two major-media highlights of 2014. (The other was an appearance on the John Lennon episode of Hollywood Scandals, which ran multiple times on the Reelz Channel.)
So, here it is, Boxing Day, Henry Miller’s birthday, and the day after Christmas—the traditional time to reflect on the year gone by. Judging by the horror that smacks me in the face every morning when I foolishly pick up the newspaper because it’s lying outside my door, 2014 seems to have been little more than a series of catastrophies. No need to innumerate them here; we both know what they are. Which is why I’m going to take a moment to feel especially grateful that I’ve gotten through this year relatively unscathed. Also, I’m going to put aside my cynicism for a day or two and look to 2015 with a sense of hope.
Call me crazy.
In the meantime, happy holidays to all, and I’ll see you next year, if not sooner!
December 2, 2014
The first one, tomorrow, Wednesday, December 3, at 7 PM ET, will be a live interview on The Time Warped Hour, Daniel Zuckerman’s radio show broadcast out of Purchase College. You can listen live here, listen to a podcast here, or get more information about the show on its Facebook page.
Also on December 3, at 11 PM ET, the Reelz Channel (128 TWC and 233 Verizon, in Manhattan) will rebroadcast the Lennon episode of Hollywood Scandals. Look for me in the opening minutes of the show and again in the final part, when I discuss Lennon’s years of seclusion in the Dakota, and his killer, Mark David Chapman. Hollywood Scandals is available coast-to-coast in the U.S. at 10 PM CT, 9 PM MT, and 8 PM PT. Click here to find the Reelz Channel on your local cable or satellite system, and remember to set your DVRs, as the show is not available on demand.
Finally, on Sunday, December 14, at 6 PM ET, I’ll be appearing live on Octavio Cavalli’s recently launched Internet radio show, Lennoncast. Broadcasting out of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Cavalli, author of the comprehensive Spanish-language Lennon bio Bendito Lennon, will be interviewing me in English and simultaneously translating our conversation into Spanish, which is a pretty good trick. You can listen live here, or download the podcast here.
Hope you can tune in to one or all of these shows.
October 18, 2014
I'm probably not the best audience for Lennon: Through a Glass Onion, the jukebox musical that opened this week at the Union Square Theatre, in New York. But the fault isn't with the show; it's with me, and it's strictly a case of having been marinated in Beatles music, lore, and literature for more than a half-century and having written a John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, after transcribing and editing the personal diaries that Lennon kept from 1975 until his death in 1980. The problem is that I've heard it all before, and what I want from a show like this is to hear something new and unexpected.
John R. Waters, an Australian film and TV star, is not (thank God) a Lennon impersonator. Rather than wearing a wig and the trademark glasses, he portrays the ex-Beatle as he might have been had he lived and, at age 64 or so, decided to perform in intimate venues, singing his classic songs and explaining the inspiration behind them. Waters and Stewart D’Arrietta, whose piano playing is the musical driving force behind this stripped-down production, have been doing the show for 22 years, and, not surprisingly, they’ve got it down cold (turkey).
In this alternate Glass Onion reality, the AARP-ified Walrus—clad in a black leather jacket and black jeans, and enveloped in a mist that perhaps suggests the limbo between life and death—shares his thoughts on Mark David Chapman, his would-be assassin, suggesting that he must have listened to a lot of Beatles music, which, in fact, he did.
As Waters strums an acoustic guitar and D’Arrietta pounds on the piano (and occasionally harmonizes), the duo work their way through either snippets or complete renditions of more than 30 selections from the Lennon-solo and Lennon-McCartney songbooks, including such favorites as “A Day in the Life,” “Help,” “Imagine,” and “Watching the Wheels.”
Waters intersperses the music with wittily told stories and quips (mostly lifted from interviews, though sometimes made up) about Lennon’s rivalry with Paul McCartney, the bigger-than-Jesus blowup, his relationship with Yoko Ono, meditating with the Maharishi, the birth of his son Sean, and the so-called househusband years. And he indeed gives a good sense of what it might have been like to listen to Lennon. His performance demonstrates the absurdity of Ono’s contention that her third husband was so complex, no one actor could portray him—a notion she brought to life in the 2005 Broadway catastrophe Lennon, in which nine actors, both men and women, took turns playing Lennon and ultimately communicated no sense of who he was or what his life was like.
Just once, however, I’d like to see Lennon portrayed in a way that goes beyond retelling the most famous stories and does not totally buy into the bread-baking househusband myth. Show him in his final years as the tormented, secluded, confused, and jealous man that he was. Show him continuing his affair with May Pang after he went home to Yoko, and carrying a torch for May until the day he died. Show him as a contradictory man who longed to follow the path of Jesus but also dabbled in the occult, loved money, smoked a lot of weed, lost his muse, and then regained it after an epic creative struggle.
It would have been great to hear Waters sing some of the lesser-known Lennon songs that illuminate this reality, like “Serve Yourself,” complete with the spoken-word primal meltdown of “Youse fuckin’ kids all the fuckin’ same...” which was directed at his older son, Julian.
Apparently, though, this isn’t what most Lennon fans want. They want to hear the most famous songs, and judging by the audience reaction, Waters and D’Arrietta gave the people exactly what they wanted, straight up and with fresh energy.
Even so, it’s hard not to see Lennon: Through a Glass Onion as a poignantly sad reminder of what can never be again and what so many people, myself included, have tried so hard to keep alive throughout these ever more dispiriting times.
August 30, 2014
My favorite comment: "Your shirt was terrific too."
For that I give full credit to Mary P. Fox, who selected the shirt in a second-hand store in Santa Barbara and persuaded my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott, to buy it for me. I'd also like to thank Salvatore Ferragamo, who designed it.
August 21, 2014
I pop up eight times altogether, three times quickly in the opening minutes and five more times, somewhat more substantially, towards the end.
The episode is an accurate and surprisingly evenhanded rundown of Lennon’s life and death. But as the name of the show implies, they don’t hesitate to highlight the numerous “scandals” that punctuated his life—the “bigger than Jesus” controversy; leaving his first wife, Cynthia, for Yoko Ono; and his affair with May Pang, for example.
There is, however, nothing salacious about the presentation. Like Detective Joe Friday on Dragnet, which was also set in L.A., Hollywood Scandals wants “just the facts,” wherever they may lead.
It’s rare that I’m given the opportunity to talk about Lennon on national TV, and it’s extraordinary that they’ve allowed me to mention his diaries or any of the details of his final years, before he emerged from seclusion to record Double Fantasy. So this is must-see TV for Lennon fans, and especially for the ever-growing community of Nowhere Man readers.
Using the hashtag #HWDScandals, I’ll be making every effort to live-tweet the show.
In New York City, Reelz is 128 on Time Warner cable; you can click here to find it on your cable or satellite system.
The Lennon episode will also air on the following days:
Sunday, August 24 at 12 P.M. ET
Monday, August 25 at 2 A.M. ET
Thursday, August 28 at 8 P.M. ET
Hope you can all come together and watch this one.
August 13, 2014
My blog posting yesterday, "Imagine Yoko Watching," about an upcoming Lennon episode of Hollywood Scandals that I’ll be appearing in provoked a flurry of questions on Facebook about the conspiracy theories.
Here are Ponce's questions and my answers in the original English.
1) Octavio Cavalli, author of the biography Bendito Lennon, told me that one of his important sources of information about John Lennon’s murder is an article by Salvador Astucia, “José Joaquín Sanjeanis Perdomo: John Lennon’s true assassin?” In another one of his articles, Astucia has accused you, Mr. Robert Rosen, of being involved in the killing of John Lennon. What can you say about this?
I’m aware that Octavio Cavalli has thoroughly researched every aspect of John Lennon’s murder and for a variety of reasons doesn’t believe that Mark Chapman was the lone gunman. Among the issues Cavalli raises is the presence at the murder scene of Dakota doorman José Joaquín Sanjeanis Perdomo, a Cuban exile and former CIA agent, according to “Salvador Astucia,” which is the pseudonym of a Holocaust-denying conspiracy theorist. Astucia says, among other things too numerous to recount here, that I’m the Zionist-funded CIA spymaster who gave the order to kill Lennon, after which, in order to disgrace his memory (as well as the entire antiwar movement), the CIA then paid me to write Nowhere Man. He also says that I, along with another Jew, Edward Teller, the “Father of the H-bomb,” and Ronald Reagan, felt that Lennon had to die (and his memory besmirched) so America could go forward with its “Star Wars” missile-defense initiative.
The mere fact that Astucia is still alive is proof enough that his theories are absurd. Because if anything he said were true, a real spymaster would have silenced him 10 years ago, when he started posting this stuff online.
I don’t know if Astucia says these things because he believes them, or to provoke and to get attention. My inclination is to dismiss outright everything he or any other Holocaust denier says about anything. That Cavalli was able to find one shred of truth in Astucia’s insane ravings is a tribute to Cavalli’s tenaciousness, and his abilities as a researcher.
Though I must give Astucia full credit for my inclusion as number two, alongside J. D. Salinger and Stephen King, on a list titled “Top Three Conspiracy Theories Revolving Around the Death of John Lennon.”
And I’m sure that he’d be pleased to know that I briefly considered dedicating to him the novel I just finished writing, Bobby in Naziland, about a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950s and early-60s, alongside Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans who’d fought the Nazis. That dedication would have read: “For ______, my Personal Nazi, who reminded me I was a Jew and taught me anew the meaning of anti-Semitism.”
2) What do you think of the conspiracy theories that accuse the CIA, FBI, various ex-presidents of the U.S., Operation 40, and even the Jewish people of being behind Lennon’s murder?
I don’t completely reject all conspiracy theories. I’ve had 50 years to think about JFK, and the official explanation still strikes me as less than satisfying. But I don’t think Lennon was the victim of a conspiracy. I think Chapman was a lone nut, and I think if Yoko Ono believed that Lennon’s murderer, or an accomplice to the murder was still at large, she’d have conducted a private investigation—for her own safety. She’s done nothing of the sort.
I think most conspiracy theories—Manchurian Candidates, for example—are based on scenarios so complex, they’d be nearly impossible to execute. My understanding of the psychology behind conspiracy theories is that certain people cannot accept the fact that horrendous events, like murder, can be totally random and can happen to anybody. So they need to invent fairy tales, impervious to rational evidence, that give them a sense of control and show that it can’t happen to them. That’s why Astucia is the only so-called “journalist” I’ve ever refused to speak to. Because no matter what I told him, he’d use it as further “proof” that I work for the CIA and that I did order Lennon’s murder.
There is, however, one Lennon-related conspiracy I am aware of: The unsuccessful attempt by Ono, the New York District Attorney’s office, and G. Barry Golson, a former Playboy editor, to have me arrested on criminal conspiracy charges unless I signed a document forfeiting my First Amendment rights to write about Lennon’s diaries. The libelous article that Golson ran in the March 1984 Playboy is the root of all Lennon conspiracy theories about me. He took a comment from my diary (which Ono had given to him), about what I saw as Ono’s skillful exploitation of the Lennon legacy, and depicted that comment, “Dead Lennons=BIG $$$$$,” as my indictment of my own behavior, portraying me as a criminal conspirator drooling over Lennon’s corpse.
3) In your book Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon you created an interesting profile of Mark Chapman’s mind. How has your vision of the killer changed since then? Why did he kill John Lennon? Did he commit the crime alone or maybe not?
My vision of Mark Chapman has not changed since I wrote Nowhere Man. I still think he was a mentally unstable and possibly psychotic individual who acted alone and was motivated by envy and a desire to be famous, and believed that by shooting Lennon, whom he considered a hypocrite, he’d literally vanish into the pages of The Catcher in the Rye and become The Catcher in the Rye for his generation. I await definitive proof that this is not the case.
4) After your experience with the Lennon diaries, what ideas would you suggest to the new generation of Latin American students about how they can be more effective in their work and lives?
In 1982, I was an obscure freelance writer who’d uncovered a story that was the equivalent of Rock ’n’ Roll Watergate. That’s why it took me 18 years to publish what I knew about Lennon’s diaries. In the eyes of the mainstream media, in any country, it’s simply unacceptable for an unknown journalist to come out of nowhere and break the story of the decade. Also, what I learned from the diaries went against the myth that Ono remains determined to perpetuate—that in his final years, John Lennon was a content, bread-baking househusband. That’s why she used all the political and media influence at her disposal to try and stop me. So, I’d say to any journalism students that it’s not enough to uncover a great story, especially one that goes against powerful people or institutions (as great stories often do). You must be prepared to fight for years, if not decades, to get your story out to a mass audience. I’d also say that anybody who’s considering investigating conspiracy theories should be aware that you’re walking into a swamp that you may never come out of. Or if you do make it out, you’ll emerge with a bag of half-answers, shadows, suspicions, and more questions than you took in there with you.
August 12, 2014
The show is scheduled to be broadcast on the following dates:
Thursday, August 21 at 9 P.M. ET
Friday, August 22 at 12 A.M. ET
Sunday, August 24 at 12 P.M. ET
Monday, August 25 at 2 A.M. ET
Here’s a capsule summary of the Lennon episode, taken from the Hollywood Scandals Website:
John Lennon is one of the most influential and important artists in music history. But the public face of peace, love, and revolution is a mask. Behind his righteous persona is a troubled man crippled by a traumatic childhood. John Lennon buries the pain of abandonment by spending his whole life building a myth. And when the private truth became public, it ultimately cost him everything.
I don’t know how much or which parts of my interview they used or who else they interviewed. I do know that during my interview the chemistry was right and I settled into a good story-telling groove.
I hope you’ll watch the show, and I hope to live-tweet at least one of the broadcasts.
And while I’m on the subject of Lennon, I want to send out a big thanks to the 6,074 (at last count) people on Facebook who liked the Nowhere Man Wiki mirror page. I’m sure you’ll all be watching.
April 18, 2014
On March 6, 1978, a white-supremacist serial killer, outraged by an interracial photo spread in Hustler, pumped a .44-caliber bullet into Larry Flynt near the Georgia courthouse where the magazine publisher, on trial for obscenity, had just testified in his own defense. One year later Flynt, paralyzed from the waist down because of his injuries, rented the house at 720 South Ocean Boulevard--or S.O.B., as the locals call it--in Palm Beach. His landlady, socialite Brownie McLean, would have much preferred to sell the 10,000-square-foot white elephant known as El Solano. But in those grim days of hyperinflation and gas lines, there were no takers, not even the recession-proof Flynt. So McLean, who had once refused the Hope Diamond as a wedding gift from her husband because she believed the jewel was cursed, didn't hesitate to accept a much-needed cash infusion from the man who introduced "split beaver" to a mass audience.
Most of Flynt’s neighbors took the porn publisher’s presence in stride—even though it was common knowledge that he employed a team of photographers to shoot X-rated pictorials throughout the Spanish-style mansion’s six bedrooms, five servant rooms, ballroom, and sauna, as well as by the square “morning pool” and rectangular “afternoon pool.”
Through a spokesperson, Flynt has declined to offer any more information about his season in El Solano.
The current owners of El Solano also prefer not to discuss their winter residence—though they do say, through a spokesperson, that it’s “public knowledge” that they own it, and that it’s permissible to publish their names. Apparently, this wasn’t the case in 1993 when the extensive renovations of architect Darby Curtis, working with designer Robert Metzger, were documented in Architectural Digest—the most detailed and elaborate El Solano pictorial on record. The owners were quoted anonymously, and the story failed to mention that they were the architect’s parents: Alan Curtis, an investment banker, and Christine Curtis, a freelance writer, who had bought the house in January 1990 for $4,315,000, though it’s not publicly known from whom. More surprising than this was Darby Curtis’s reaction when asked if she might shed some additional light on her work at the historic abode: “I have nothing to say.”
Perhaps Curtis’s reticence is best explained by others who’ve worked in the house, some of whom were willing to speak (anonymously) of the fact that in a small community like Palm Beach, those whose livelihoods depend on access to the super-rich—and occasionally super-famous—would be foolish to make unwanted revelations about their employers (or parents). But in the same breath these people also speak of the house’s strangeness, of their belief that things have happened in El Solano that those who have lived there simply don’t want to talk about.
In a way, El Solano exists in the realm of the mystical, a piece of unreal estate—a mansion with a long history of secrets, celebrated owners, and at least one profound occurrence that changed the course of rock ’n’ roll.
The first person to live in El Solano was the man who built it in 1919, controversial “society” architect—many considered his designs hideous—Addison Mizner, who named it both for the hot Mediterranean winds that blow through Spain, and El Solano County, California, where he was born in 1872. A mythical figure whose 11-foot-tall statue now stands in Boca Raton, a city he helped develop, and whose Mediterranean Revival style came to define the look of Worth Avenue, the six-foot-two, 250-pound Mizner settled in Palm Beach apparently for health reasons.
(Stephen Sondheim has chronicled the Florida misadventures of Mizner and his flimflamming business-partner brother, Wilson, in his musical Road Show, which portrays both Mizners as incestuous, Addison as homosexual, and in the end, according to The New York Times, reduces the brothers to “cocaine-snorting wrecks.”)
Though Mizner’s Villa Flora, which he built for J.P. Morgan, and La Guerida, which became John F. Kennedy’s “Winter White House,” may be better known than El Solano, the latter is regarded as the purest expression of Mizner’s chaotic vision—a “stream of consciousness” consisting of idiosyncratically connected spaces, as designer Michael Christiano, who also worked on the 1993 renovations, described the house to Architectural Digest.
The house so intrigued next-door neighbor Harold Vanderbilt, grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, that he bought it from Mizner and added on—as did many of the successive celebrity owners, such as actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr., who briefly settled into El Solano in 1973 with his second wife, Mary Lee Hartford, heir to the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company fortune.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono, too, were taken by the house, and on the advice of their tarot card reader, whom they called Charlie Swan, Patric Walker’s Town & Country horoscope, and Cheiro’s Book of Numbers, bought it—on January 27, 1980, for a million dollars, a price they considered a steal. (“John made the tea, while Yoko hammered out the negotiations,” real estate broker Ben Johnson told The Palm Beach Post.)
In years to come, many stories about the ex-Beatle’s El Solano activities would filter into the public domain—a rare breaching of the house’s shield of secrecy. Most of them were inconsequential, such as details about Lennon’s ongoing feud with Paul McCartney, reports of an ugly incident that occurred when the actor Peter Boyle and his wife came to visit, and tales of locals stopping Lennon on the beach, without realizing who he was, to talk about the historically cold weather that February. But one story of significance would emerge as well: After five years of musical silence, it was in El Solano that Lennon reconnected with his muse, which many in his inner circle had given up for dead.
On February 27, 1980, Lennon and Ono were watching the Grammy Awards in the den when Bob Dylan came on to sing his latest hit, “Serve Someone,” which says it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re going to have to serve either Satan or God. The song provoked from Lennon a spontaneous musical explosion called “Serve Yourself.” Accompanying himself on guitar, Lennon lashed out at everything and everybody: Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, his sons, his mother—the world, the universe. And this song soon primed a flood of new material that seven months later appeared on Lennon and Ono’s album Double Fantasy. (“Serve Yourself,” which Ono considered too raw, obscene, and off-message for public consumption, wouldn’t be released for another 19 years.)
On December 8, 1980, Double Fantasy was riding high on the charts. That night, John Lennon, aged 40, was shot to death by a deranged fan in front of the Dakota, his apartment building on West 72nd Street in New York City. Among the candlelight vigils held throughout the world, one took place outside El Solano, which Ono kept until 1986, adding on to its chaotic sprawl and then selling it for a numerologically harmonious $3.15 million to a Bostonian family that preferred to remain anonymous.
February 10, 2014
If John Lennon were alive today, I think he'd enjoy posting anonymously on some of these forums, and I'm certain that whatever he said would be greeted with comments far less generous than, "You don't know shit about the Beatles!"
That's because Beatles forums tend to be vipers’ nests of ignorance and hostility, with the most vicious comments coming from the people who know the least. May Pang, for example, used to post in rec.music.beatles, but was driven off the site by malicious attacks on virtually everything she said.
The most scathing reviews of Nowhere Man that I’ve seen anywhere have been posted by people who proudly declare, “I’ve never read the book. I don’t have to. I know what’s in it.”
Last night, inspired by the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, I was browsing one of the more civilized forums, Beatles Bible, when I came across a comment that shocked me. Going against the usual party line of “Nowhere Man bad!” somebody who uses the moniker “10centwings” indulged in a bit of independent thought. Softening his or her post with the standard caveat about reading it “with one eyebrow raised,” 10centwings said, “I’m 1/3 through the Rosen book…. This one’s a page turner. I actually lunched in today just so that I could sneak in an extra hour of reading.”
A comment like this, from a “real” reader, in a forum that’s usually hostile to the book reminds me yet again why Nowhere Man endures 14 years after publication. And though the controversy will probably never cease, more people are beginning to see the book for what it is.
I can hardly wait till Nowhere Man’s 50th anniversary.
January 27, 2014
Because I read, transcribed, edited, and wrote about Lennon's diaries in my book Nowhere Man, I was one of the people they interviewed for the article.
They also spoke with my former writing partner and Lennon's personal assistant Fred Seaman, photographer Bob Gruen, and three musicians who played on Milk and Honey: guitarist Earl Slick, arranger Tony Devillo, and keyboard player George Small.
Written by Barry Nicolson, “The Final Voyage” is notable for its even-handedness. Nicolson takes pains to get beyond the myth of Lennon as a content, bread-baking househusband, and instead portrays him as a contradictory, deeply flawed, three-dimensional human being—which is probably why Ono refused to talk to him.
Nicolson balances my take on Lennon’s relationships with Ono, Paul McCartney, and May Pang, and his obsession with the occult, with Gruen’s attempts to perpetuate the myth, and Seaman’s efforts to characterize Lennon as a Republican and a supporter of Ronald Reagan. (The only thing Lennon said in his diaries about Reagan was that they’d shoot him and we’d get a CIA government. He was right on both counts... eventually.)
My only complaint about the piece is that the photo identified as “Robert Rosen” isn’t me, and I’d suggest that a correction is in order.
“The Final Voyage” is a rare example of rock journalism that neither places Lennon on a pedestal (like Ray Coleman) nor tears him down to size (like Albert Goldman). Click here to read the complete story.
December 8, 2013
Since it was originally published, in English, in 2000, the press in countries like Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia (as well as Spain), have given Nowhere Man more serious, thoughtful coverage than any of the scandal-splattered stories that have occasionally roiled U.S. tabloids, like the New York Daily News, to name one.
The Latin American trend continues with two articles commemorating today’s anniversary of John Lennon’s murder that ran in the current issue of Proceso, which is, more or less, a progressive Spanish-language version of Newsweek in its heyday.
In the more than ten years since Random House Mondadori brought out a Spanish edition of Nowhere Man, this Mexico City-based journal of politics and culture has provided frequent, in-depth features about the book and its myriad literary and historical implications.
The two articles that ran in the December 8 issue are “Lennon, una biografía total” (Lennon, a full biography), by Roberto Ponce, and the provocatively titled “Sólo creo en una conspiración: la de Yoko Ono en mi contra” (I just believe in one conspiracy: Yoko Ono’s against me), which I wrote.
Ponce’s piece is about a massive Lennon bio, Bendito Lennon, by Octavio Cavalli, a Buenos Aires attorney who has obsessively researched every aspect of the ex-Beatle’s life. Prosa Amerian Editores is bringing out a revised edition next year, and it will feature new information about Lennon’s diaries, which I’ve been discussing with Cavalli.
The article analyzes Cavalli’s belief that Lennon was the victim of a conspiracy, that Mark David Chapman did not act alone, and that Dakota doorman José Perdomo, who was on duty the night of the murder, was a former CIA agent.
My piece is about “Salvador Astucia,” a pseudonymous Holocaust-denying conspiracy theorist who has accused me of being the CIA spymaster who ordered Lennon’s murder. As it turned out, Cavalli has uncovered what may be the only scrap of truth in “Astucia’s” insane online ravings: José Perdomo may very well be a former CIA agent.
The conspiracy in the headline is a reference to the unsuccessful efforts of Yoko Ono, former Playboy editor G. Barry Golson, and the New York district attorney to have me arrested unless I agreed never to tell the story of Lennon’s diaries. (Click here to see both articles.)
I cannot imagine the mainstream media in the U.S. ever publishing such a story, which I will soon post here, it its original English.
Hey hey, my my, conspiracy theories will never die.
Imagine if I were fluent in Spanish.
December 4, 2013
The other file is my complete Nowhere Man reading from this past October at a John Lennon event at 2A. That’s Eric Danville introducing me again. (A video of the first two parts of this reading is available here.)
Both files are downloadable.
In coming weeks, I’ll upload additional material from my archives—readings, interviews, and anything else that seems worth posting.
But for now, to commemorate the anniversary of Lennon’s murder on December 8, I give you The Catcher in the Rye and Nowhere Man.
November 25, 2013
Hyped on page one as El lado oscuro de John Lennon (The Dark Side of John Lennon), and given the provocatively misleading cover line, La segunda muerte de John Lennon (The Second Death of John Lennon), in the entertainment section, the actual article was called Viaje al fondo del submarinista amarillo (Voyage to the bottom of the yellow submariner). It’s a semi-accurate summary of Nowhere Man, broken up by semi-sarcastic subheads like Sexo, no paz (Sex, no peace) and Nostradamus en ácido (Nostradamus on acid).
Meanwhile, as I await the impending publication of a revised edition of Bendido Lennon, by Octavio Cavalli, which will draw heavily from interviews Cavalli has conducted with me, and will be met by yet another surge of Latin American media attention, set to begin around the anniversary of Lennon’s murder, on December 8, I continue to grapple with an ongoing milagro that I became aware of three years before Nowhere Man was published in Spanish, in what may as well have been an alternate universe where people spoke a language I didn’t understand.
November 13, 2013
For one thing, our conversation began October 31 and may very well continue through February, when Cavilli comes to New York. For another, Cavalli, in Buenos Aires, records his questions and sends them to me as MP3s. I listen, make notes, and then record my own MP3s, which I send to him, sometimes twice a day.
Virtually every question Cavalli asks is about Lennon’s diaries, which I transcribed and edited in 1981, and which I discuss in detail in my own Lennon bio, published in Latin America and Spain as Nowhere Man: Los Últimos Días De John Lennon.
Cavalli’s book and our interview have come to the attention of Proceso, the Mexican newsweekly.
Ten years ago, Proceso ran a series of articles that helped put Nowhere Man on bestseller lists in multiple countries.
I think the revised edition of Bendito Lennon, which Prosa Amerian Editores is bringing out next year, is headed for bestseller lists, too. In the meantime, it’s breathing new life into Los Últimos Días.
October 10, 2013
Ten years later, on what would have been Lennon’s 73rd birthday, the Spanish-language media continues to write about Nowhere Man. Here are three links to stories that appeared yesterday.
La vida inconclusa de John Lennon (Originally published in January 2011, Proceso made this available online yesterday.)
John Lennon y la numerología: su obsesión y destino (Un día como hoy)
Minuto a minuto. Las últimas 24 horas de Lennon (Radioacktiva)
If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, please join me, Eric Danville, and Lainie Speiser, on Tuesday, October 15, 8:00 P.M., at the 2A bar in the East Village. I’ll be reading from Nowhere Man, in English.
October 9, 2013
But next Tuesday, October 15, at 8:00 PM, at the 2A bar in the East Village, I will be celebrating Lennon's life by reading from three chapters of Nowhere Man. Joining me will be my Title TK co-producers Eric Danville and Lainie Speiser, adult actress Alia Janine, radio personality Ralph Sutton, writer James Sasser, character actor David Healy, and writer and musician Mary Lyn Maiscott.
The event, as always, is free, and if you have an urge to tune into the Lennon vibe, 2A is the place to be on Tuesday night.
October 2, 2013
This is number four in the Tuesday night reading series that Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, and I have been producing. We've christened our spoken-word collective Title TK, and Listen to This Reading is our celebration of John Lennon's birthday--he would have been 73 on October 9.
I’m going to read from my Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, specifically the opening chapter, “Being Rich,” the closing chapter, “Dakota Fantasy,” and “Chapter 27,” which is a reference to the nonexistent chapter of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the novel that drove Mark David Chapman to murder.
Mary Lyn Maiscott, who’s more accustomed to performing with a guitar in hand, will read from “Birth of a Song,” the Nowhere Man chapter that explores the inspiration behind Lennon’s “I’m Losing You,” which Mary Lyn covered at the first Bloomsday on Beaver Street.
Lainie will read from May Pang’s memoir, Loving John.
Other readers include actor David Healy, adult actress Alia Janine, actor James Sasser, and radio personality Ralph Sutton.
As always, admission is free and there’s no cover.
In other Title TK news, Lexi Love has created a long-awaited Bloomsday on Beaver Street page on her Website. The page features some very cool photos and the complete audio of her reading that night. Check it out for a taste of the unexpected drama you can expect on October 15, at 2A
September 23, 2013
One of the first things that popped into my head was the idea of a kid in grade school, who knows nothing about the Holocaust, being given an assignment to write a report about the Nazis. He goes to Google and the first thing he sees is that the Holocaust didn't happen, thereby handing a tremendous victory to the deniers.
I posted this on Facebook, and it led to a surprisingly large number of comments, notably from fellow Headpress writer Shade Rupe, who’s done a great deal of Holocaust research.
What I hadn’t mentioned on Facebook was that part of the inspiration for Bobby in Naziland was my own dealings with a Holocaust-denying conspiracy theorist who’d read Nowhere Man, and in Internet postings that described me as a “Jewish writer,” said that I was the Zionist-funded CIA spymaster who’d given the order to kill John Lennon. He also tried to goad me into an online debate about whether or not the Holocaust really happened.
In the book’s endnotes, I say of this (naturally) pseudonymous fellow, “That there are people like this lurking on the Internet should come as no surprise to anybody. That other people who call themselves journalists echo such theories in cyberspace and, on occasion, have published them in books, and in at least one legitimate newspaper, is an alarming truth that cannot be ignored.”
That’s just the way it is in the fact-free 21st century. Holocaust denial is spreading and Bobby in Naziland is, in part, my own small response to it, for whatever that may be worth.
And, yes, the bone-grinding machines were specifically built to grind human bones in Nazi death camps.
July 17, 2013
I read Fear and Loathing when I was 21, and I saw my future. "I can do this," I thought. I wanted someone to pay me to go places, take drugs, and write stories about it.
Since that day, I’ve read Fear and Loathing so many times, my copy of the book disintegrated.
I went through a phase in graduate school where everything I wrote came out sounding like Hunter Thompson. I was possessed by him, and one of my teachers literally performed an in-class exorcism—everybody started chanting, trying to purge Thompson’s spirit from my system. It didn’t work.
I think I finally got rid of him around 1990, when I wrote a parody review of a Mercedes-Benz for D-Cup magazine—I was editing a car magazine, too, and I was always getting cars to test drive. This was the last Thompson parody I ever wrote, and it was also the last time that Mercedes ever gave me a car.
On Tuesday, July 23, at 8 P.M., at a Hunter Thompson birthday celebration in the upstairs lounge of the 2A bar, at 25 Avenue A in New York, I’ll be reading this parody, “Mein Kar” (featuring renegade Nazi Erich von Pauli), along with the passage from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that inspired it.
Joining me will be senior High Times editor Bobby Black, adult film star Brittany Andrews, and actor/writer Jeffery Emerson.
Hope to see you there, especially if you couldn’t make it to the last Eric Danville, Robert Rosen, Lainie Speiser production, Bloomsday on Beaver Street. There is no cover charge.
June 3, 2013
The former lead guitarist and lyricist for the seminal rock group The Band, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1994, was talking about his forthcoming children's book, Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music that Changed the World, co-written with his son Sebastian Robertson, who was with his father on the BEA Downtown Author Stage Saturday morning, along with journalist Alan Light, who asked them questions.
Tundra Books will release Legends, Icons & Rebels in October, and it will contain a double-CD featuring the music of all 27 musicians and groups covered in the book. They include The Beatles (of course), the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Louis Jordan (but not the Rolling Stones or The Band).
Though other children’s books, such as The Book of Rock Stars: 24 Musical Icons That Shine Through History, by Kathleen Krull, and The Blues Singers: Ten Who Rocked the World, by Julius Lester, cover much of the same territory as Legends, Icons & Rebels, they don’t contain CDs (and didn’t sell especially well, either). So, when Robertson said, “There’s no other book like this,” he apparently meant that there’s no other children’s book about musicians, written by a rock star, that contains a CD with previously unattainable Beatles music.
The unattainability of Beatles music is something that’s driven home every week to anybody who watches Mad Men, as Don Draper and company live out the 1960s to a Beatles-free soundtrack. That a show this successful can’t get those rights speaks volumes. So, one can only imagine what hoops Robertson had to jump through, what rings he had to kiss, and how much money he had to spend to get the rights to those sacred songs.
I’ve no doubt that the final Beatles text had to be personally approved by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and Olivia Harrison. And I think it’s safe to assume that the John Lennon section of this completely inoffensive, non-iconoclastic book will, according to the rules of Ono, praise her as a positive influence, and contain no mention of numerology, tarot, astrology, or Colombian witches. And though the book will say that Lennon was shot by a disturbed fan, it will not mention his name.
So, what we have in Legends, Icons & Rebels is a book that parents will buy for their kids, and with any luck at all, the kids, ages 8-13, will read the book, listen to the CDs, and be turned on to some great old music.
Then, when the kids get a little older, and they’re ready for some unvarnished truth about their legends, icons, and rebels, there are books like Nowhere Man that they can grow into. Makes me glad I wrote it.
I was coming from the booth of my distributor, SCB, where I’d picked up a copy of their erotic books catalogue, Revel, where Beaver Street is prominently featured on the same spread as Robin Bougie’s Cinema Sewer. The catalogue was tucked under my arm when I spotted, a couple of booths down, Ann Romney, wife of Mitt, signing advance copies of her book, The Romney Family Table, from Shadow Mountain, due out in October.
I got in line.
“Can you make it out to Bob Rosen,” I said to Romney, handing her the book. (Actually, it’s more of a brochure.)
“Is that R-o-s-e-n?” she asked.
“Very good,” I replied. “I know it’s such a weird and difficult name.”
“I always won the spelling bee,” she said, laughing as she signed book.
As we shook hands and I thanked her, I discreetly admired her beautiful and tasteful ring, sapphire if I’m not mistaken, and, shamefully, I was feeling a dusting of the Ann Romney charm—the charm that had been utilized in an attempt to “humanize” Mitt in his presidential campaign.
Ann Romney, I must admit, had a good vibe. I got the sense that, despite my scruffy and possibly progressive appearance, she genuinely enjoyed our little exchange. Still, there’s no way I’d ever vote for her husband, even if she gave me that sapphire ring.
On the way home from the BEA, I passed, on 10th Avenue near 17th Street, Yoko Ono, dressed in a sharp white blazer, talking to a couple of people on the sidewalk. It was an omen, I thought as I walked by, though an omen of what I have no idea.
May 3, 2013
I suppose most writers (as well as most readers) find it peculiar that a writer would work in total silence and secrecy for five years, especially these days, when it's become increasingly common for writers to share works-in-progress online with readers who provide instant feedback.
This is the height of literary absurdity and the best of all possible ways for a writer to achieve a state of confusion. Book writing should be a solitary activity that takes place in a room of one’s own with a lock on the door (to paraphrase Virginia Woolf). And I’ve been doing this long enough that I trust my own editorial judgment.
Which is not to say I wouldn’t prefer to be working with an editor at an actual book publishing company who’s given me an advance so substantial, I could concentrate, to the exclusion of all else, on finishing Bobby in Naziland. But I’m not the kind of writer who gets advances, substantial or otherwise, on unfinished books. On the contrary, when I finish the book and begin submitting it, I think publishers will tell me, “Great read, but there’s not enough interest in Jews, goyim, Nazis, the Holocaust, UFOs, the Rosenbergs, or Brooklyn to justify publishing this.”
This is the kind of thing that publishers say reflexively to most writers about most books. It can’t be taken seriously. When I was struggling to publish Nowhere Man—a book that would be translated into a half-dozen languages and become a bestseller in five countries—I was told time and again, for 18 years, “There’s not enough interest in John Lennon.”
Which is one reason I waited five years before showing Bobby in Naziland to anybody, especially publishers. There’s nothing more demoralizing for a writer than to hear from a so-called voice of authority that your work-in-progress is unpublishable.
I also trust the judgment of my editor, and when she reads Bobby in Naziland in its entirety, I want her to read it with a fresh eye. So, I will continue to work in secrecy and silence.
March 27, 2013
I told Foxon that as the first edition of Nowhere Man was going to press, in 2000, Ono had returned my diaries--except for two small notebooks covering the summer of 1979. Foxon's inevitable follow-up question: What happened to the two volumes?
“Well,” I said, “I’m not really sure, but I don’t think their disappearance had anything to do with Ono.”
I explained that after I’d given my diaries to Ono, she turned them over to the police (and other legal and media entities), who combed though the half-million words I’d written, looking for evidence they could use to charge me with a crime, any crime, and use that as leverage to prevent me from ever writing about John Lennon’s diaries. (You can read about that fiasco here.)
But what the police found in the two volumes that had vanished were detailed notes about the gig I had in the summer of 1979, ghostwriting a novel for a former New York City cop. Those notes contained the names of cops I was taking drugs with, the dates we took the drugs, and the places we took them. In one notable passage, I described smoking a joint with a uniformed, on-duty cop in his patrol car.
“So,” I said to Foxon, “I figured the cops freaked out when they read that, and they wanted that information to disappear. I guess the two missing volumes ended up in a shredder.”
And unless I get arrested today, that’s the last police story I’m going to tell for a while.
March 11, 2013
Meanwhile, over in Chicago, my Nowhere Man interview with Bryan "Shu" Schuessler was streamed Sunday afternoon on Core of Destruction Radio. As it was being streamed, I had a lot of fun on the chat board with Lizard Messiah, the guy who runs the Website. We talked about John Lennon, Beaver Street, Jim Morrison, and conspiracy theories. Lizard was unfamiliar with Lennon's first solo album, Plastic Ono Band, but when the interview ended, he played two cuts from the LP, Mother and Working Class Hero. Very cool. (If you missed the interview it's available as a free download here.)
Goatserpent, a Core of Destruction DJ, also logged onto the chat board for a while. I noticed on his profile page that under “Favorite Books” he lists “early 90s issues of Swank.” Hey, Goat, you ought to pick up a copy of Beaver Street. I worked for Swank in the early 90s.
March 7, 2013
If you're unfamiliar with Nowhere Man, the interview is a good, in-depth primer on how I came into possession of Lennon's personal diaries, transcribed them, and over an 18-year period was able to transform the information in the diaries into a book that takes you on a journey through Lennon's consciousness. I also talk about how, in the final part of Nowhere Man, I got inside the head of Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman.
As I tell Shu in the interview, I’m just happy that people still want to talk about Nowhere Man 13 years after it was originally published. If you want to know why people are still talking about the book, then give the interview a listen.
Hope to see you on the radio.
March 4, 2013
But this time I heard about it. Bryan "Shu" Schuessler, who runs the culture site Shu-izmz, read Beaver Street, ran a rave review, interviewed me on his radio show, and then read my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, not because he had any interest in Lennon or the Beatles, but because he liked my writing style and Nowhere Man has a number of true crime elements, which fascinate him. Up went another rave review, and last night we recorded another radio interview, which Shu will post sometimes this week and which will be available for download as a podcast.
For the most part, we talked about the background of Nowhere Man—how I came into possession of Lennon’s diaries, how I transcribed them, how they were stolen from me, how I recreated them from memory, and how it took me 18 years to find a publisher for a book that’s now considered an underground classic.
In the course of our conversation, Shu said something about Nowhere Man that I’d never heard before—that’s it’s a good book for people with attention deficit disorder because it has short chapters. To which I say, “Hey, ADD people, welcome aboard. Hope you like my book.”
And as our conversation ended, I said to Shu, “Thank you. It’s folks like you who keep folks like me going.”
“We’ve got to support those whose talents and endeavors we enjoy,” Shu replied.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
February 11, 2013
10. New York Calling to the Riot Zone (Aug. 11, 2011)
A meditation on the London riots from the comfort of my New York living room.
9. The Tea Party Congressman and the Porn King (Feb. 14, 2012)
An investigative report detailing Swank publisher Lou Perretta’s campaign contributions to ultra-conservative congressman Scott Garrett.
8. Fat Sex (Sept. 28, 2011)
An essay on some of the problems I had editing magazines like Plump & Pink and Buf.
7. The Unfinished Life of John Lennon (Jan. 3, 2011)
A piece I wrote for the Mexican newsweekly Proceso, on the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder, in its original English.
6. Memoirs of a Pornographer (May 13, 2011)
Editor Jamie Maclean’s rave review of Beaver Street for the British sex journal Erotic Review.
Tomorrow, Volume II
January 21, 2013
Some interviewers have asked me about my influences as a writer, and I usually tell them Hunter Thompson, Henry Miller, and Philip Roth, a "holy trinity" who have profoundly influenced my writing style. But I tend not to mention Kerouac, even though, as readers of Beaver Street know, my nom de porn was Bobby Paradise, a name I chose as a tribute to Kerouac because I saw myself as kind of an X-rated Sal Paradise. Which is to say, the influence Kerouac had upon me was more lifestyle than writing style: When I discovered On the Road in the summer of 1970, I wanted to be Kerouac, and soon embarked on a hitchhiking odyssey that went on for seven years and took me through eastern Canada, Western Europe, all over the USA, and that I employed to get around Brooklyn because it was easier to hitch a ride than it was to wait for a bus or train.
And then there was the scroll, a Kerouacian method I embraced in the heat of transcribing John Lennon’s diaries. Aware that this was going to be a life-changing experience, I wanted to get it all down in my own diaries as I’d never done before. Using an IBM Selectric and a box of teletype paper, I pounded out thousands of words per day for over a year, an endless stream of single-spaced consciousness, some of which a guitarist I was friendly with at the time set to music: Before Lennon seeped into my brain, I wanted to be Kerouac…
Which is why watching On the Road last night set off a nostalgic Kerouacian reverie. We listened to Aztec Two-Step performing The Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty, and I dug out my copy of Allen Ginsberg’s (Carlo Marx in the book and film) The Fall of America, and read from the section titled “Eligies for Neal Cassady 1968.” Ginsberg wrote:
Are you reincarnate? Can ya hear me talkin?/If anyone had the strength to hear the invisible,/And drive thru Maya Wall/you had it —
I wanted to be Neal, too, but that was too dangerous.
January 16, 2013
The latest review appeared today on Bryan Schuessler’s site, Shu-Izmz. Schuessler, as regular readers of this blog will recall, is a fan of porn, death metal, gore, and true crime who writes from the perspective of regular guy whose mind is in the gutter. So taken was he with Beaver Street, he felt compelled to read Nowhere Man, too.
And, yes, Schuessler enjoyed the book, despite the fact that he’s not a fan of the Beatles or Lennon. This, of course, is what’s kept Nowhere Man alive all these years—it takes people by surprise, transcending the genre of rock ’n’ roll bio.
Here’s a blub from the review: “The manuscript is so personal that one would think John Lennon himself was telling Rosen exactly what to write.”
I urge you all to read his entire critique. And then get your own copy of Nowhere Man. See for yourself why it’s an underground classic. Hell, you don’t even have to buy it. You can get it at the library. Someday, somebody might even make it available as an e-book.
January 14, 2013
But this isn't a post about Facebook's stupidity. It's a post about what I found in my Other box, most of which wasn't spam. The messages, dating back to early 2010, were from all kinds of people who wanted to get in touch with me about my writing. One of them played a major role in my John Lennon biography, Nowhere Man.
Let me say right off that I’m not one hundred percent certain that the message is legitimate—that it’s from the person whose name is attached to it rather than an imposter. But after looking at his Facebook page—yes, even he appears to have one—I’m inclined to believe that it is legitimate. His minimalist status updates—“April 8, 2011: Time is dragging on lately… December 10, 2010: Franks and Beans tonight”—and one friend, Human Rights Watch, do not strike me as satire. Please look at the page and decide for yourself. (And yes, some prisoners do have Internet access.)
The prisoner in question is Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon and who was in Attica Correctional Facility in New York State until last year, when he was transferred to Wende Correctional Facility, also in New York. His message, sent on October 20, 2010, says the following:
’read your book. I liked it very much.
Though I’m always delighted to hear from people who like my books, this one creeped me out for obvious reasons. And I imagined how strange it must have been for Chapman—assuming it is Chapman—to have read a book that partially takes place inside his head.
I responded to the message and asked if it was really him. Then I sent an e-mail to my publisher at Headpress: “Do you think we can get him to blurb Beaver Street too?”
It’s probably necessary to say here that the e-mail was intended as a joke. Because I’ve often found that when things like this happen, the only thing you can do is laugh about them—as I’m still chuckling today about the existence of Facebook’s Other box and what I found in it.
January 4, 2013
The image to the left is a scan of the cover and cover flap of the diary volume I finished the other day. As regular readers know, I've been a compulsive diarist since 1977. My two books, Beaver Street and Nowhere Man, were both based, in part, on those diaries. To remind me what's in a particular diary, I paste images on the cover that relate to significant or memorable events that happened over the course of that volume. So, 20 years from now, when I look at Volume 51, I'll know that I spent much of 2012 promoting Beaver Street, and that I went to the new Yankee Stadium on August 4. (No, I didn’t pay $175 to watch the Yanks lose to Seattle. It was a corporate freebie courtesy of the legal firm my friend works for. And that little strip of text to the left of Roger Maris is the invitation to Bloomsday on Beaver Street.)
I’m writing about diaries now because for Christmas, my wife gave me a 2013 New Yorker desk diary, which I’ve christened Volume 52. In Nowhere Man, I write at length about how John Lennon kept his journals in New Yorker diaries. Though it seems as if this is something I might have done at least once over the past 33 years, I never have kept my journal in a New Yorker diary—for various reasons. I’ve always preferred to write in blank spiral notebooks because the New Yorker diaries offer only a limited amount of space for each day. (Lennon overcame this problem by pasting into his diary additional sheets of paper.) Also, while I was writing Nowhere Man, a process that went on for 18 years, I spent too much time in Lennon’s head and I didn’t especially want to go back there.
So, there you have it. I’ll be keeping my 2013 journal Lennon Style. It was bound to happen some year, I suppose. Why not this one?
December 17, 2012
Having written about Chapman in my book Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon, I've had plenty of opportunity to think about how easy it is for crazy people in America to get their hands on guns. And after listening to three days of TV blather from such luminaries as Joe Scarborough, who said it's not only the availability of guns that's the problem, it's also violent Hollywood movies and violent video games, I'd like to say: What the fuck are you talking about?
The problem is the availability of guns. The problem is that in America, there are between 200 and 300-million guns floating around. And if you think movies and video games are part of the problem, then you also need to blame books and record albums.
Chapman killed Lennon because, he said, The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, and a photograph on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper inspired him to do so. Chapman, who had attempted suicide and had once been confined to a psychiatric institution, believed that by murdering Lennon, he’d write chapter 27 of The Catcher in the Rye (the book has 26 chapters) in Lennon’s blood and literally vanish into the book’s pages to become The Catcher in the Rye for his generation. And when he walked into a gun shop in Honolulu to buy his Charter Arms revolver, all he had to do was fill out an application. One of the questions on the application was: Have you ever been hospitalized for mental illness? Chapman lied, but nobody bothered to do a background check, and he got his gun—for $169, cash on the barrel (so to speak).
In the past 32 years, it’s become easier to get guns, there are more of them, they are deadlier, they are in the possession of more mentally unstable people, and horrific shootings have become more routine.
No, I have no idea what to do about any of this. Even if the obvious solutions are employed—stricter gun laws, banning assault weapons, mandatory background checks, extensive waiting periods, easier access to psychiatric care, etc., etc.—and even if these “solutions” get 100-million guns off the street, that still leaves between 100 and 200-million guns.
America is a deranged and violent country, built on a foundation of genocide, slavery, and Puritanism. Gun violence is a symptom of that derangement and the NRA is a well-financed promoter of it. The only difference I can see between Osama bin Laden and Wayne LaPierre is that one of them was shot dead by an assault rifle.
December 7, 2012
Mary Lyn Maiscott and HooP's Blue Lights Christmas show, tonight at Ella Lounge, is dedicated to the memory of John Lennon. Tomorrow, December 8, marks the 32nd anniversary of his murder, an event that I explore in my book Nowhere Man. To commemorate Lennon, here's a clip of Mary Lyn and HooP performing I'm Losing You at Bloomsday on Beaver Street.
Also tomorrow, December 8, at 11 AM Eastern Time, this link from Indies Unlimited will go live and take you to an excerpt from Nowhere Man.
December 6, 2012
I heard it on the radio yesterday for the first time this year. Louie Free, host of the Louie Free Radio Show: Brainfood from the Heartland, closed out his broadcast with Mary Lyn Maiscott's Blue Lights, my wife’s Christmas song from her album of the same name. Louie, determined to make the song a holiday tradition, has been playing it every year at Christmas since 2007, when she released the CD, which you can download at CD Baby.
This year, in New York City, Mary Lyn, along with ace guitarist HooP, will be performing in the first annual Blue Lights Christmas Show, on Friday, Dec. 7, 8:30, at Ella Lounge, 9 Avenue A. This intimate holiday concert, dedicated to the memory of John Lennon, will feature such Maiscott originals as Crucified, Things I Lost, and Blue Lights (of course), as well as covers, including a mashup of the Beatles’ You Never Give Me Your Money and You Can't Do That, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, which she's never before performed in public.
Tickets are $10 at the door or $5 online (listed under HooP). Hope to see you at Ella Lounge. If you can’t make it, please listen to Mary Lyn on the Louie Free Show, streaming live on your computer or on WYCL, 1540 AM, in Youngstown, Ohio, weekdays 8 AM-Noon.
October 26, 2012
The four images of Lennon are similar to Warhol's well-known Lennon silkscreen, and the Campbell's Tomato Soup cans refer to the Warhol silkscreen that launched the pop art movement in 1962.
Lennon, who was once friendly with Warhol, seemed to have become irritated with him (and a lot of other people) during his “househusband” years—because while he was holed up in the Dakota, scribbling in his journal, Warhol was hanging around Studio 54, and his name was routinely appearing in gossip columns. Referring to Warhol’s early career as a commercial illustrator, Lennon had noted: I was an artist while he was still drawing fucking shoes!
Whatever the case, this is my favorite Lennon reference shot since the one taken in Mexico City on October 9, 2005, in which I’m wearing the same sunglasses. They’d both work well as Warholian-style silkscreens, I think.
October 17, 2012
Like most writers, Stephen King does what he can to get the media to pay attention to his books, and he does it very well. The above video, from August 6, 2012, is King’s impressive appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and it should serve as an instructional video for any author out there doing promotion. Comfortable, articulate, and clearly into it, King shows us all how it’s done as he discusses the writing process, the contrast between what an author says in his books and his real-world personality, the afterlife, Jung, and the collective unconscious.
Ironically, at the 14:10 point in my interview on ReW and WhO? last week, Rew brings up Holocaust denial, and I mention my Holocaust-denying “personal conspiracy theorist” who also thinks I’m the CIA spymaster who ordered the hit on John Lennon.
“I heard someone else did it,” Rew says.
“Yeah, it was Stephen King,” I jokingly reply.
I am, of course, referring to the fact that King, too, has his own personal conspiracy theorist who believes he killed John Lennon. (Other conspiracy theorists believe Mark David Chapman received the order to kill Lennon through The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger.)
Ferguson, however, chose not to go there with King, though King’s take on the twisted psyche of conspiracy theorists, Holocaust-denying and otherwise, would be fascinating. Perhaps it’s a job for Rew.
October 11, 2012
Yesterday, I returned to ReW & WhO? for my second dose of Rew's Warholian "15 minutes of fame." I talked about Beaver Street. I talked about Nowhere Man and John Lennon. I talked about Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theorists. I talked about Bobby in Naziland. I talked about a skeleton in my closet that may surprise even some of you who think you know me well. And I had a blast. But enough talk. Let's go to the videotape!
October 10, 2012
Back in early 2000, he was one of the first people to interview me about Nowhere Man, our scheduled 15-minute chat turning into a four-hour free-form radio marathon. I've lost count of the number of times I've been back on Louie b. Free since then, but it's enough that I consider the show my home on the radio.
Yesterday, during our spontaneous conversation--and I hope some of you heard it--Louie suggested that, because I'd read Lennon’s diaries, I know him better than virtually anybody.
“I don’t know about that,” I said. “Yoko Ono knew him pretty well. But yes, it’s true, reading John’s diaries gave me a great deal of insight into what was going on in his mind during his years of seclusion. It allowed me to show what the world looks like through Lennon’s eyes.”
And that’s why, 12 years after publication, in a world where most books have the shelf-life of yogurt, people still want to talk to me about Nowhere Man. And that’s why, every year on October 9, I give thanks to John Lennon.
Today, at 4 P.M. Eastern Time, the celebration of Lennon’s spirit will continue on ReW & WhO?, broadcast live from Otto's Shrunken Head in New York City. I’ll be talking about Nowhere Man (and Beaver Street), and I hope you can join us.
And if you missed my Nowhere Man posting on Indies Unlimited yesterday, here’s the link again.
October 9, 2012
Which is also why tomorrow, October 10, at 4 P.M. Eastern Time, I'll be returning to ReW & WhO?, the internet TV show that’s broadcast live from Otto's Shrunken Head in New York City. Rew and I will be talking about Lennon, Beaver Street, and skeletons in my closet. It's a lot to jam in to the "15 minutes of fame" that Rew bestows upon each guest. But Rew and I are pretty good at jamming. So, if you find yourself in front of a computer, please tune in. Or, if you find yourself in New York, please join us in the back room of Otto's, and help us celebrate the life of John Lennon.
October 8, 2012
This year, to celebrate Lennon, on Wednesday, October 10, I'll be returning to ReW & WhO?, the internet TV show with the Warholian premise that each guest receives 15 minutes of fame. The New York Times describes the show as a quirky blend of "live musical performances and interviews" featuring guests who are "a broad spectrum of East Village talent ranging from drag queens to lounge acts to published authors to museum curators."
In addition to talking about how, more than 30 years ago, I was given Lennon’s personal diaries to transcribe and edit, I’ll also be talking about my new book, Beaver Street, and Rew will be asking me about skeletons in my closet, because that’s what Rew does. Last year I told her that I don’t have any skeletons in my closet. “I put them all in my books,” I said. When she insisted that I divulge something, I told her about my “experiment in participatory journalism” that I describe in Beaver Street: posing for an X-rated photo shoot. So I guess I better do some research and find another good skeleton.
You can watch the live broadcast, from 4-6 P.M. Eastern Time, here. Or, if you’re in the New York area, you’re welcome to join the studio audience in the back room of Otto’s Shrunken Head at 538 East 14th Street.
October 3, 2012
I wrote about all this in Nowhere Man. In the last section of the book, “The Coda,” I detail Chapman’s descent into madness as he travels from Hawaii to New York to carry out his mission. In the book’s final chapter, “Chapter 27,” I describe Chapman’s 1981 court hearing, which I attended as a journalist. Rather than stand trail, Chapman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years to life. In the courtroom, as his statement to the world, he read from chapter 22 of The Catcher in the Rye, the part where Holden Caulfield tells his sister that he wants to be the catcher in the rye.
None of this has anything to do with why the book was banned. It was banned because Holden talks too much about sex. And Salinger captures his voice perfectly, which is the real magic of The Catcher in the Rye.
Hope you can stop by and listen to all the readings. And please check out this excellent article in Adult Video News about the event, and banned books in general.
September 19, 2012
Last night, I talked to Bryan Schuessler, who'd recently posted an enthusiastic Beaver Street review on his site Shu-Izmz. In the course of our extensive conversation, we covered a slew of topics that included pornography, politics, John Lennon, Nazis, and writing. The interview will be broadcast this Sunday, September 23, on Core of Destruction Radio and will also be available as a podcast. Check their site for details.
The review of About Cherry that I posted here yesterday came to the attention of a number of people on Twitter, including the film's co-writer, porn star Lorelei Lee, who retweeted the last line: "Guaranteed to piss off Gail Dines." Among other things, I said that About Cherry was the best movie about the porn industry since Boogie Nights. Then, out of curiosity, I read a few other critiques, and was surprised to see how savagely critics had trashed the film. The Hollywood Reporter, for example, called About Cherry "dramatically feeble and fraudulent." Well, obviously I disagree, and I can say with some authority that this particular critic doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. Bring on the controversy, baby!
A site called Indies Unlimited asked me to write a guest blog about how my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, became an international bestseller. My essay will run on Lennon’s 72nd birthday, October 9, and you can read it here after it goes live at 2 P.M. Eastern time.
Finally, please remember to visit Talk Story TV tonight at 9 P.M. Eastern Time for my live chat with Julia Widdop about Beaver Street. The technical problems we experienced last week appear to have been solved.
September 7, 2012
One such review, titled "Worst Book Ever!" was posted on Amazon U.K. soon after Nowhere Man was published. "This book is just a bunch of lies," the anonymous critic (whose identity is transparent) wrote. "If I could rate this book 0 stars I would, but the computer makes you rate it 1 star and up. I think Robert Rosen should read [name redacted]'s books. Maybe he will get some sense knoked (sic) into him." He then posted a similar review on Amazon U.S., this time referring to his own book as "masterful."
I learned a long time ago that such critiques can help sell a book, provided that there are enough positive reviews to balance them out. Hatchet jobs make books seem interesting and controversial. Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, has 3,800 one-star reviews to go along with its 4,700 five-star reviews.
Yesterday, I also said that I never have and never will pay for a review. On one occasion, though, I have gone over to the dark side and anonymously trashed another author’s book. But it wasn’t a competing author and it was a special case, the first of its kind: A high-profile conspiracy theorist published a book implicating me in a CIA-backed plot to murder John Lennon.
I remember standing in a bookstore in Chicago, the week that Nowhere Man was scheduled to be published, reading this book in a state of shock and horror, and wondering how anybody who called himself a journalist could a) believe such a thing, and b) publish it without speaking to me first.
A few months later I got the brilliant idea to post an anonymous one-star review of this book on Amazon. What I wrote, though, was completely true: “Not only is this book so murkily written that it borders on unreadable, but the author offers not a shred of concrete evidence to support his paranoid fantasy—that the CIA was behind the death of every one of the [10 rock stars mentioned in the subtitle]. This is trash fiction masquerading as investigative journalism.”
Naturally, the author guessed who was behind this review and accused me on his blog of viciously attacking and ridiculing him.
Beaver Street has yet to be anonymously trashed by a competing author. Perhaps that’s because it’s usually porn stars who write books about pornography, and your average porn star has more integrity than your average conspiracy theorist or Beatles biographer. Or maybe porn stars just have better things to do.
August 31, 2012
My first appearance on ReW & WhO?
As the Labor Day weekend and the official beginning of the Beaver Street Autumn Offensive approaches, I'm posting a schedule of all the upcoming events that I'll be participating in over the next several weeks. This is as much for my own reference as for everybody who'd like to meet me, either virtually or in person.
Wednesday, September 12, 9 P.M. Eastern Time: Join me online for a live chat with Talk Story TV host Julia Widdop. I’ll be answering questions about Beaver Street, Nowhere Man, and pretty much anything else you want to ask me about.
Friday, September 14, 7 P.M.: I’ll be reading from and signing Beaver Street at the Book House, 1475 Western Avenue, in Albany, New York.
Thursday, October 4, 8:00 P.M.: In celebration of Banned Book Week, I, along with several other authors, will be reading passages from banned books at the 2A Bar, 25 Avenue A, in New York City. My passage, which I’ve not yet chosen, is from The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, a book I discuss in detail in Nowhere Man. I’ll post a link to this event as soon as one is available.
Wednesday, October 10, 4:00-6:00 P.M. Eastern Time: Rew Starr has invited me to join her again on ReW & WhO?, her long-running Internet TV show broadcast in front of a live studio audience at Otto’s Shrunken Head, 538 East 14th Street in New York City. I’ll be talking about John Lennon (October 9 is his birthday), Nowhere Man, Beaver Street, and possibly even my work in progress, Bobby in Naziland.
Here’s wishing everybody a great holiday weekend! I hope to see you somewhere soon!
December 6, 2011
Wednesday, December 7
4:00-6:00 P.M. (local time)
Otto's Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street
New York City
Or watch it live on Internet TV.
Alan Rand is the “Who?”
4:00: May Pang
4:30: Mary Lyn Maiscott
4:45: Robert Rosen
5:00: Adam Bomb
5:15: Violet The Cannibal
5:30: Joff Wilson & David Peel
September 23, 2011
What I find fascinating about such divergent opinions is that the reviewers appear to be talking about two entirely different books. It’s a perfect illustration of the Oscar Wilde quote from the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray: “Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.”
Antony, the Italian reviewer, described Nowhere Man as an “excellent” book, and a narrative that “portrays a rock star as very sensitive and vulnerable.” He also said that the author and Paolo Palmieri, the translator, “have made John Lennon one of us,” and that it’s “a book to always have on hand, and occasionally to open and read a few lines to understand the simplicity” of life.
Dulce Erdt, the German reviewer, however, said that Nowhere Man is “confusing” and “revolting,” lacks “sensitivity” and “respect,” paints a “too negative” portrait of Lennon, and then insists, “We all know that John Lennon was not a ‘nowhere’ man, why is this author trying to tell the world the contrary?”
The other good lesson I learned about reviews is to never argue with critics, especially ignorant ones, like Dulce Erdt. But sometimes their ignorance is just too overwhelming to ignore. Which is why I will take this opportunity to point out to Fraulein Erdt that some of us are aware that Lennon’s song “Nowhere Man” is autobiographical. In other words, I didn’t have to tell the world about Lennon’s “Nowhere Man” status. He beat me to it by 34 years.
July 13, 2011
In fact, I noticed the other day that a new online debate has erupted on the Steve Hoffman Music Forums. Between June 24 and June 29, there were 217 posts discussing the perennial question: Which book is more truthful, Nowhere Man or The Last Days of John Lennon, written by my former collaborator Fred Seaman, Lennon’s personal assistant at the time of his death?
I no longer participate in these debates because, as has been demonstrated every time I have taken part in one, even when people don’t know what they’re talking about, they believe what they want to believe, and nothing I can say will change their minds. Also, I’ve found that the most ignorant people are invariably the most abusive.
However, in this particular debate, a poster who calls himself “Matthew B” raised two interesting points that I will respond to… here, on my home turf. And in the service of freedom of expression, I invite him (or anybody else) to post their comments… here.
Referring to an old interview in which I said that in Nowhere Man, I couldn’t tell the story of Paul McCartney’s 1980 Japanese marijuana bust the way I wanted to for legal reasons, Matthew wrote, “If there’s any legal barrier to Rosen’s repeating the drug-bust rumor, it’s more likely fear of a libel suit.” (See posting 194.)
It had nothing to do with libel, Matthew. I would have liked to quote verbatim the four euphoric sentences John wrote in his diary when he learned McCartney was busted in Japan. But as I explain in the book, I don’t quote directly from the diary for copyright reasons.
And finally, Matthew raises a point that I’ve never seen mentioned anywhere else. “Rosen’s court testimony [in the Seaman trial],” he writes, “should not be looked at uncritically, but unlike Rosen’s and Seaman’s books, it was given under oath.” (See posting 206.)
Yes, Matthew, my court testimony was, indeed, given under oath. And if you were familiar with my testimony beyond what you might have read in the papers or seen online, that testimony was, pretty much, the first chapter of Nowhere Man, “John Lennon’s Diaries.”
I hope that settles it.
June 22, 2011
Now I’ve written a new piece about the curious history of El Solano, a “house of secrets,” as I call it, that was just published on a home design website called Life…Dzined. You can read it here.
June 2, 2011
This has been going on for years, and at first it was disturbing, especially when other writers picked up on it and reprinted his “theories.” You’d think that people who call themselves journalists would make an effort to get in contact with someone before they implicate him in a high-profile murder. But the only conspiracy theorist who’s asked to interview me is Astucia (means “clever” or “cunning” in Spanish), and that is the only interview I’ve ever refused to do. I don’t know if he really believes what he’s writing, or he knows it’s bullshit and he just says it to be provocative. But he’s also a Holocaust denier and tends to describe me as a “Jewish writer.” That’s why I call him My Personal Nazi. (Everybody should have one.) What I finally realized is that when Astucia gets active, and starts splattering stuff all over the Internet—it goes in cycles—it sells books. So, I don't totally hate him. And any time I find myself on a top-three list with Stephen King and J. D. Salinger, I only have My Personal Nazi to thank.
January 3, 2011
So there we were 30 years later, onstage at Purchase College, just north of New York City, a panel of rock ’n’ roll experts and assorted journalists who’d all lived through the events of that ancient day: December 8, 1980. We’d been invited to share our wisdom with a group of journalism students who were exploring “The Myth vs. the Reality of John Lennon.” The students were full of questions. They wanted to know about Lennon’s heroin use, and about his sons, Julian and Sean. But mostly they wanted to hear our stories about what we were doing the night we heard the news that John Lennon was dead. (more…)
January 2, 2011
December 9, 2010
December 8, 2010
December 6, 2010
December 5, 2010
November 8, 2010
October 9, 2010
For me, October 9 and December 8 are the high holy days of the secular calendar, the equivalent of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Here are a couple of links that commemorate John Lennon.
10 Mathew Street
October 8, 2010
August 21, 2010
The Spanish Beatles site 10, Mathew Street just ran a little piece about "Transcriptions from the Universe," my article in Headpress Journal 2.2 that discusses my own diaries at the time I began writing Nowhere Man.
August 17, 2010
Headpress Journal 2.2
An excerpt from my new piece on John Lennon's diaries, "Transcriptions from the Universe," has just been published in the online edition of Headpress 2.2. You can read it here. The complete 28-page article will soon be available in the printed edition of the journal. Stay tuned for more details.