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Scott Lax Blog

Remembering John Lennon

I was and remain a huge fan of the Beatles, and of John Lennon, who died thirty years ago. He was murdered by a sick and twisted and murderous young man that held a copy of one of the great novels in American 20th Century literature, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. That man and the bullets in his handgun forever changed American culture for the worse. Anything in art can be twisted, even literature. Lennon and McCartney's "Helter Skelter" was likewise used by the sick and twisted twisted and murderous Charles Manson, who also forever changed the face of American culture for the worse.

The night John Lennon was murdered was a snowy night in Northeast Ohio, like it was this year on the night of Dec. 8, the 30th anniversary of John's death. There was a white-out blizzard and I as heard the news while I was driving I felt devastated by the news of Lennon. Talk about your end of innocence; a cultural touch-stone was gone with the pull of a trigger; not just Lennon, but the group that influenced so many of us.

In many ways, I don't think the music world has ever fully recovered from it, nor has the culture of celebrity. Though we lost many - Hendrix and Sam Cooke and Otis Redding and Janis Joplin and Buddy Holly and the list goes on and on, Lennon's murder, as seemingly random and starkly cruel as it was - given that he was on his way home to his home, to his young son, after a day's work recording an album that cemented his personal transition to a domestic yet artistic persona, shook popular culture and music to its core.

I want to remember John for being a man who knew he was flawed, however talented or even brilliant he was; a man who knew he blew it with his earlier child-rearing and wanted so badly to make up for it with his son, Sean. A man who had finally come to terms with being a husband and father, as well as an artist.

So I send my sympathy out to his family and to his fans. One thing about John is that he wanted to live a long time; he said so in his last interview. But he didn't make it. To honor his art and his memory is to live life as well as we can, always trying to improve, always loving as best we can, always being honest with ourselves. That's John Lennon's legacy to me.  Read More 

Ted Kennedy and His Legacy, Literary and Otherwise: May He Rest in Peace

I met Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who passed away today, on a few occasions, mostly at the home of his sister-in-law, Ethel Kennedy, widow of Ted's late brother, Robert F. Kennedy. The senator was larger than life, with a big, booming voice, a welcoming smile, and whatever tragedy he carried inside him -and he had had more than his share - he seemed to have put into compartments in his soul. I sensed that he had faith that he would be reunited with his loved ones: his brothers and sisters, among others, who went before him. He was a close friend of a close friend of mine, and though I didn't know Ted well, I was then, and remain now, in awe of his political skills and accomplishments. He cared about regular people - people without privilege, and the means that he had; people without inherent power, and those who just plain fell on hard times. He fought for human rights in many ways throughout his career, building bridges with Democratic and Republican senators, and moved his causes forward, inch by inch at times, and, sometimes, with bold action.

My friend Ron Powers (he was not the friend of Ted Kennedy's I mentioned) helped the Senator write his memoir, which will be out September 14. That pairing was fitting: Ron is one of the most brilliant nonfiction writers of our time.

I can't wait to read this book. I hope it helps people understand the man, and realize that Senator Kennedy's ambitions -- universal health care being at the top of the list -- were noble, even if the senator himself had his flaws and troubles, which were both freighted upon him and self-inflicted, which he acknowledged.

I'm glad I met him. Passing universal health care, I am certain, would be the legacy most important to Edward M. Kennedy. Andrew Young commented today that universal health care was, for Ted, a human right. I agree with that view.

May Edward M. Kennedy, a great, if flawed American, rest in peace.
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