Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Since February, I've made my way to school on Mondays and Thursdays by crossing Central Park at 72nd street, which means that I walk right by "Strawberry Fields" and its Imagine mosaic. And every Monday or Thursday, rain, snow, sleet, or shine, there are at least three or four people there taking a picture. Sometimes there's a large group. Like yesterday, in the rain, there they were, a group of twenty or so French speaking middle aged tourists huddled around the mosaic, like it was Something That Matters, which, I guess it is?
Before I started walking by Strawberry Fields regularly I thought I understood what a big deal John Lennon was, but I guess I didn't. I mean, I bet for many, the stop at the Imagine plaque is just one more stop on a tour of Central Park that includes Bethesda Fountain and the Boathouse along with a drop by at the Delacorte Clock. They stop and take their pictures of the word there because they're supposed to and when they get home those pics will never make it out of their cameras. Maybe for just a handful, those in small groups of two or three, visiting the Imagine mosaic is like a trip to Lennon's grave. Like a very, very American, very very small Pere La Chaise or something.
Earlier this spring, I read Lois Lowry's The Giver. If you've read the book, you know where I'm going with this. The book is a dystopian young adult fantasy novel about a boy who lives in a world where there's no heaven, no possessions, no greed or hunger, no religion, too. People die there, sure, but in a very orderly fashion and never for a cause. You see what I mean? It's a fairly blank world with no pain, no love, no memory, and the boy's having none of it.
Does anyone really ever think about the lyrics of Imagine? They're so familiar they hardly mean anything at all, and maybe that's for the best. I don't know. All I know is if I didn't live in New York City, I sure wouldn't schlepp out in the rain to look at a twenty year old mosaic.
(Note: I didn't take that picture. It's from literalmayhem.com.)