Book Review: “Dakota Days” by John Green

dakota-days

One thing leads to another…

I found out about Dakota Days by John Green (1983) from reading a book that I had previously reviewed. Who is John Green? Well, a lot of Beatles fans know him as Charlie Swan…Yoko and John’s tarot card reader! Yes folks…even the psychics cashed in on Lennon’s death!

A mere 260 pages, this book is a hoot! Who knows how much of it is factual (probably not much), but it amused me to no end. The book opens with Yoko placing a call to her tarot card reader, John Green, to let him know that John Lennon has moved back home after his “long weekend”. She tells Green that he must change his name to Charlie Swan because John is going to be jealous that he has the same name as him! SERIOUSLY!

For those of us who are not Yoko fans, this book just proves that she really is just as crazy as we all believe she is. (For those that are Yoko fans, this book will be filled with lies). From the beginning, John Green makes himself out to be the Ono-Lennon’s greatest marriage and financial counselor, but fails to mention he was apparently fired by Yoko after he didn’t warn of Lennon’s murder.

One standout moment in this book…when Yoko discloses to Charlie Swan that she originally went after John Lennon to get Paul McCartney’s attention. It was Paul she originally had eyes for. She then continues on to say that Paul is very sexually attracted to her…she can tell by the way that he looks at her that Paul McCartney wants her!

It’s one bizarre moment after another. This book is really a waste of paper, but for a good laugh, Beatles freaks should read it. You can buy a used copy for $1.09 at Half.com. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

4beetle3beetle

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Article in People Magazine – July 4, 1983

people_070483I just recently stumbled upon this article that was in People magazine in July 1983. It’s about all the books that were coming out about John Lennon after his tragic death. Some of you may find it completely irrelevant, but I found the author’s opinion of the books and their authors very interesting…

 

http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20085405,00.html

 

Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Article

Documentary Review: “Eight Days A Week”

img_37581I thought I would take my time writing my review about Eight Days A Week since I know all the Beatles fans will be scurrying out to see the film themselves and every Beatles media person will be in a hurry to post their own review about it. But just when I thought I could take my time, everyone else’s reviews started popping up on my social media timelines. I won’t read other’s reviews before writing my own. I want mine to be fresh. Even in this case, I’ve asked guest review and friend David Thomas to also write a review for the film (it’ll appear after mine on this same post), and I’m not reading his until after I’m done.

So where to begin…

large_large_uv7syi4vryjvwob8qexbqnbucu5Was it a great movies? Yes, it was awesome! I know people who are already planning to see it multiple times. My thought was that I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD/Blue Ray. It’s absolutely a film you’re going to want to see again and again. Ron Howard did an excellent job of choosing the right footage and cast of characters. He interviewed both  Sigourney Weaver and Whoopi Goldberg to talk about what it was like to be a fan in the early years and about their own experiences of seeing the Beatles live in concert as teenagers, two ladies I would never have guessed would have attended. I think my only complaint might be that we never hear Whoopi’s reaction to the actual concert at Shea Stadium.

Beatles fans need to give Ron Howard a lot of credit for not beating the obvious points and trivia into our heads…like the  Jesus vs. The Beatles comment from John Lennon. It’s in there, but he keeps it in the flow of the documentary…same as the riot in the Philippines. Mr. Howard brings up early footage of the wives and families with quick glimpses of Ringo, Maureen and Zack, and John, Cynthia and Julian, (where were George and Patty Boyd though?) and then moves on. No Beatles family members were interviewed on camera for this…and that ain’t so bad! It’s keep as documentary about the Fab Four and not the opinions of their feuding family members.

I think my readers get the point without me continuing to ramble on. It’s a great film, wonderful footage and of course, Ron Howard is already talking about doing a second Beatles documentary! Go see the movie or pre-order the DVD.

I rate this movie, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

Now…what does David Thomas think? Here is his review:

Ron Howard’s “Eight Days a Week” – A fan’s perspective
cid_c8fc7d00-da8a-43bf-8ebe-98e1f177c821I titled this review “a fan’s perspective” as somewhat of a disclaimer.  It is often difficult to know what would be of interest to anyone who has not been as steeped in the history of The Beatles as I have been over the last 50 years.  Not that I claim to have seen it all, or that I know it all (far from it); but I also cannot assume that everyone has read all the books and heard all the music that I have over that period of time.
 
I will say at the start, I think that Ron Howard and the others involved in this film have put together a solid documentary telling the story of The Beatles “touring years”.  What many forget (because their music is ubiquitous, and we are still writing, talking, and making movies about them 50 years later) is that they were together in the “John, Paul, George and Ringo” incarnation for only eight years, and performed “live” for only 4 of those.  Although the focus of the film is on “touring”, it does give you a good sense of how busy the boys were during those first four years, besides playing live.  The stills and film footage have been collected from a multitude of sources around the world, and they vary widely in quality.  There are only a couple of “complete” live performances in the movie (i.e., continuous, complete songs), and producer Nigel Sinclair has said that this was because they found it interrupted the flow of the movie.  I happen to agree with him, but it doesn’t matter; this is not intended to be a Beatles concert movie. *
 
What the film does best, is give the viewer a clear picture of the mania that surrounded The Beatles during their career.  This movie brings it home in a way that no fan has experienced before.  Although I have been a Beatle fan since their first performance on Ed Sullivan’s show in 1964 (the quality of which was strangely poor on the big screen – I thought that would have been one of the better examples), I was too young to have actually attended one of their live concerts in person:  I was only 7 when they played their final show in Candlestick Park in 1966.  Even if you had the rare privilege of actually attending a Beatles concert in person, that was just one mad night that you will likely remember forever.  The Beatles experienced that madness every day of their career, and most intensely during their touring years.  I left the theatre wondering how it is that they were not all afflicted with some sort of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  
 
A few pieces of footage have been colorized.  Some of the concert colorization is nicely done, but the famous NY Pan Am press conference has a rather unnatural look to it.  None of this lasts long enough to be a major distraction, however.  In some cases audio had to be “synced” to the film from a separate source; i.e., the film may have been a silent film, but the audio was recorded separately, and then combined, or simply brought in from a better source than the one accompanying the actual film.  This can get dicey, especially if done poorly.  Music producer for the film was Giles Martin, son of The Beatles original producer, George Martin.  Giles has worked magic with many previous Beatles projects, including the re-mixing and re-mastering of 1977’s “The Beatles at The Hollywood Bowl”, which was released in conjunction with the film.  Giles was quoted in a recent interview as saying  “Imagine going to a concert today, recording something on your phone, and then intending to play it in a movie theater,” Martin says. “That would be better than what I was given.”  The talented Mr. Martin did a tremendous job of making the music performances not only watchable and listenable, but for the most part, truly enjoyable as well.
 
The theatre where I saw the film had people queuing up more than an hour before show time in order to get a good seat, and there were 3 showings scheduled that night, 2 of them sold out.  I got there an hour before show time, and there were 20 people ahead of me.  20 minutes later, there was a line behind me that went on for as long as I could see.  The anticipation in the theatre was visible, although one person I talked to in line had not read or seen anything about the movie prior.  He said he “just saw it was The Beatles, and bought a ticket.”  The power of the name “Beatles” more than 45 years after they broke up is still truly remarkable.  Fans all have their own Beatle experiences, memories, and reasons for seeing a film such as this.  And fans will find something to criticize, be it the fact that they have seen some of the footage before, the colorization was not to their liking, the audio was not perfect.  In this digital age we take for granted near perfect sound reproduction and 4K resolution.  But considering what they had to start with, none of the obvious shortcomings should be enough to keep you from enjoying this movie.  To paraphrase Paul McCartney, “it’s the bloody Beatles…shut-up”.
 
For the non-fan (is there such a thing as a non-Beatles fan?) or even the casual fan, it should serve as a concise historical document, which informs as well as entertains; what more can one ask from a documentary?
 
 
  • If you are fortunate enough to see this in a theatre, it IS being followed with a  full 30 minutes of footage from the famous Shea Stadium concert.  We have been told that that footage will NOT be on the DVD or blu-ray release.  It looks great, is a lot of fun, and even though Giles Martin toned down the screaming considerably in the mix (no small feat), I could see why they said enough in August of 1966.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary

In the news: “The Sixth Beatle” documentary

Interesting article about a new documentary about Sam Leach, a promoter in Liverpool in the early 60’s that helped the Beatles get their start. It would seem that author/historian Mark Lewisohn has taken exception to some of the content and has new been cut from the film.  Read the article here:

http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/the-wrap/article/Toronto-Doc-The-Sixth-Beatle-Tells-Fresh-9211950.php

What do you think? Is Lewisohn a hero or jerk? And will you be going to see the film?

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary

Book Review: “Who Killed John Lennon” by Fenton Bresler

9780312034528Who Killed John Lennon? By Fenton Bresler was given to me (along with a copy of Fred Seaman’s The Last Days of John Lennon: A Personal Memoir) by someone who was trying to explain to me the conspiracy theories behind John Lennon‘s murder.

Again, this is a book (published in 1989) that has been on my shelf for over 5 years now and I decided it was time to finally getting around to reading it in its entirety. I had made two other prior attempts, but I finally dug up the patience needed to get through Fenton Bresler‘s belief that Lennon’s assassin (or better to known to Beatles’ fans as “He whose name shall not be spoken”) was not a lone gun man, but instead a CIA pawn who had been brainwashed and at the command of a ‘controller’  shot John Lennon.

Why did it take such an effort to read this book? Well, for one, the author (an English lawyer) spends an exorbitant amount of time detailing the CIA hypnosis/mind control programs of the 50’s and 60’s. In fact, he takes it even farther back to when the CIA didn’t even exist. Mr. Bresler even explains how the conspiracy theories tied to the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert and John Kennedy also help to prove his theory of a planned and well executed assassination of Lennon by the U.S. government because of Lennon’s political views and his power to gather masses to protest various political policies. The author also walks the reader through the premeditated killing on the night of December 8, 1980 and the days and months that followed as the killer was lead through the American judicial system. Bresler then backs it all up with documentation that he gathered in his 8 years of researching this book.

The more I read this book, the more I realized there was no conspiracy to kill John Lennon and that the assassin was a lone gunman who was psychotic. It seemed with every passing chapter, the theories became more and more far fetched with even the author seeming to become paranoid because the U.S. judicial system allowed Lennon’s killer to have visits and phone calls within days of the shooting, apparently bringing to a light that just about anyone (read ‘controller’) could have contacted Lennon’s murderer to continue to manipulate what he said to the authorities.

I will say, thought, that this book does have an upside in that it does quote many legal documents and court transcriptions that I had not yet read and that just about anyone interested in the case against the murderer would find very interesting. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

4beetle3beetle

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: “Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon” by Robert Rosen

It would seem that I’m always late to the party. Once again, I stumbled upon this book – Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon by Robert Rosen while looking around on Amazon. They like to suggest books for me and sometimes I’m a sucker for their suggestions. This is one of those times.

This book was written in 2000 and then revised after the author got HIS journals back from Yoko Ono. Sound strange? Well, it is. (And yeah, the cover is just as ugly in person…what was he thinking?). The author starts out telling of his friendship with John Lennon’s assistant Fred Seaman before Seaman got the primo job at the Dakota. Rosen also claims that Seaman immediately came to him after getting the job and said, “We need to write a book!” Apparently, Rosen thought nothing ill of this suggestion and went along with taking daily notes from Seaman about the misadventures going on in John Lennon’s life. The problem is, in the end, after John is killed and Seaman has turned over John’s journals to Rosen to transcribe, Rosen changes teams and suddenly is anti-Seaman and ends up “working” for/with Yoko. Hmmm…

This whole opening scenario, or back story, if you will, left a bad taste in my mouth. I spent the whole time wondering if the author has any scruples at all and what was his motivation for writing this book except to make a fortune off of the Lennons like every other Tom, Dick, and Harry that met John and Yoko in passing? The book itself is very good and there are some tidbits in there that I don’t recall having read elsewhere, but then again…this is the guy that transcribed Lennon’s journals and then, after stabbing Fred Seaman in the back, uses Fred’s book as a source! He also lists May Pang’s book as one of his sources.

So where does this leave me when it comes to reviewing this book? For those that don’t know me, I’m pro-Fred Seaman and pro –May Pang…I loved both their books. And, even though this book is a great source of information for those that want to know EVERYTHING Lennon, I just don’t care for the author. Something just ain’t right. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

4beetle3beetle

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: “Julia: The Story of Julia Lennon” by Kevin Roach

Funny how time flies when you’re writing a Beatles review blog! I had completely forgotten about buying the ebook – Julia – The Story Of Julia Lennon by Kevin Roach. In fact, I bought it two days after it was released on November 12, 2014. Two years is too long for this book to have gone unread and I needed something to read for this week’s review.

So, needless to say, this book can be read in a couple hours time. In fact, it’s just the facts. Author Kevin Roach who is from Liverpool, did his homework and found every shred of paper that shows the who, what, when and where’s of Julia Stanley Lennon and the rest of the Stanley family.

Mr. Roach includes images of the birth records, death records, etc., along with pictures of the houses and streets that represent the lives of Julia’s parents and siblings while living in Liverpool. Unfortunately, there are just some facts he didn’t get right and along with the obvious typos, it makes this book a bit wishy washy to read.  And even with the paperwork and pictures, it’ll still leave the reader wondering…Why? But for a $7 ebook, I guess I got what I paid for. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

4beetle3beetle

 

 

 

Kevin Roach has written several other books that all seem to be out of print, except for a couple issues of a magazine from 2014. You can check out the rest of his works on his Amazon page.

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Julia Stanley Lennon