Yesterday I wrote about infamous dates, an appropriate topic on Pearl Harbor Day.
Today is another one of those. Although not on the same scale of lives lost or immediate consequence, December 8, 1980 saw a moment that defines a generation, and world, thirty years after the fact of an act of murder.
The death of John Lennon put paid to an era born in the sixties and dying with John.
It could be the timing was coincidental … another decade had closed and the 80’s loomed large and voracious. Flower-power was giving way to the darker, disenchanted tones of Goth, Ronald Reagan was White House-bound and the 80s stretched before us like a ladder to be climbed one pricey rung after the other.
Could it be, however, it was the event that instigated at least some of the changes?
The violent death of a gentle musician and poet at the hand of a publicity-seeking nutjob seems a demarcation point.
Perhaps my rearview mirror has fogged over the past 30 years, but I recall the decades before Dec. 8, 1980 as hopeful … angst-ridden, yes, but that angst flowed from frustration that the world wasn’t moving quite quickly enough toward the peaceful garden we could still imagine at the time.
We’d seen our share of horrors, but felt we’d learned stuff … important stuff that could and would matter. We felt it was possible to actually give peace a chance.
Greed started driving the bus in the 80s and angst turned to the stone of cynicism. As communism fell by the wayside, that perceived specter morphed into the solid form of expanding markets, multiple debt crises, famine and a whole bunch of wars.
Hippies turned into Yuppies, Porsche became the new VW van and conspicuous consumption took over where conscientious objection left off.
Even the drugs got meaner as coke and crack took the place of acid and weed and ad copy became a viable outlet for poets since the pay was so much better.
I’m guessing those who missed the world John Lennon lived and influenced will consider this a geezer ramble … revisionist history not appreciative of the wonders of the past three decades, or not appreciative enough.
Could be. Could be.
But I can’t help but wonder how different the last thirty years might have been if that fuckwad Mark Chapman had not decided to stake his claim to fame by blowing holes through one of the world’s most important proponents of thoughtful consideration and hope.
The music, alone, we’ve been robbed of has left us poorer.
So … on this day, as every 8th of December, I celebrate the life and rue the death of John Lennon, wonder and imagine …