Book Review: “At John Lennon’s house” by Rosaura Lopez Lorenzo

At John Lennon’s house by Rosaura Lopez Lorenzo was recommended to me by a friend and fellow Beatle Freak, Thom Donovan. The book was originally written in Spanish (En casa de John Lennon) in 2005. Rosaura died several months after it’s publication, but it was translated to English and released as an e-book in 2013.

Rosaura in front of the Dakota in New York, NY

Rosaura in front of the Dakota in New York, NY

From 1976 until 1980, Rosaura Lopez Lorenzo worked for John Lennon and Yoko Ono as their housekeeper. According to the book, in June 2001, two reporters from TVG (Galician Television in Spain) were covering the annual Galician celebration in Newark, NJ when they stumbled upon a tambourine player. While interviewing her about when she came to America and her life here, she admitted to having previously been the housekeeper to John Lennon at one time. It was then that these two crafty reporters decided that Rosaura needed to write a book about her time with the Ono-Lennons!

The first thing to catch my eye in the book was Rosaura’s admission that this book in Yoko Ono approved. That immediately sets off bells and whistles in my skeptical head. It tells me that every word was scrutinized by Yoko and her lawyers. And in fact, both Yoko and her lawyer are mentioned in the dedication for “their exquisite attention”.

Rosaura says early on that this book was written to right all the wrongs that have been written about John and Yoko. She glosses over her daily 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. chores around the house while talking extensively about how apartment 72 is laid out, what color the rooms are painted and the contents of Sean’s bedroom and playroom.

In her story, John is a happy go lucky doting father who spends much of his time in his room playing guitar when he’s not sitting around smiling at his son, baking bread with Rosaura or asking her about her life in Spain. Sean is a happy child who loves her more than his own nanny and professes that she is his favorite. All the while, Yoko is happily conducting the family business during her days. But there are evil people working for them, including John Green, Fred Seaman and a nanny she called Lupa who would eventually get Rosaura fired.

Besides being hard to swallow, this book is poorly translated and edited. The typos and grammatical errors abound, which let me know that this was hastily edited for e-book format to squeeze out as many doubloons as possible from Rosaura’s rosy stories of the swell world inside the Dakota with the Ono-Lennon. There are many pages of photos included at the end of the book which some may find a bonus, but all in all, I found them just another way to capitalize on this tale. And for that reason…

I rate this boo, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book Review: “The Fall Guy: I was the double for Michael Caine & John Lennon” by Johnny Morris

I was contacted last month by a publishing rep from Gleneagle Books about reviewing The Fall Guy: I Was the Double for Michael Caine and John Lennon by Johnny Morris. I jumped at the chance and a copy arrived from London a week later. This book is not only a stunt man’s autobiography, but a look into the making of some of the greatest films of the 1960’s and 70’s.

John Morris‘ early childhood stories are very similar to that of Tommy Steele’s (Bermondsey Boy), both having grown up in the lower class London area and getting into scraps with other boys before ending up in the military and eventually achieving fame in show business in the late 50’s and 60’s. And both having ties to the Beatles.

The Fall Guy isn’t a very long book, taking only about 87 pages to tell his story, but it does include extensive pictures of his time as actor Sir Michael Caine’s stunt man, stand-in, sidekick and friend. There are also eight beautiful photos from John’s person collection of his time on the set of both Beatles film’s Help and A Hard Day’s Night where Mr. Morris worked as John Lennon’s double.

My greatest wish for this book is that there had been more time spent talking about his time as Lennon’s stand-in. The stories from his time on the Beatles films are short, while his decades long work as Michael Caine’s right hand man is understandably extensive. Mr. Morris gives a great behind the scenes look at the making of a film from another perspective besides the side of the glamorous stars.

If you’re a Beatles or John Lennon fan that has to know ‘everything’ about John and the Fab Four, you’re going to want to get a copy of The Fall Guy for your collection, even if just for the unique photos. In the meantime, I’d love to see one of my friends who are Beatles reporters (Hey…Steve Marinucci!) take some time to interview Johnny Morris and get a more in-depth story about his time on the set of Help! and A Hard Day’s Night. Or maybe he’ll turn up on stage being interviewed at a Fest for Beatles Fans in the near future (Hey…Mark Lapidos!). And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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Bonus Book Review: “Spaceman” by Mike Massimino

I’m not a space junkie like some folks and I don’t remember sitting in front of the TV during the first moonwalk (but I was probably there). I caught an occasional glimpse of a Space Shuttle take off or landing, but I didn’t schedule my days around them.

No, I’m the person who knows Mike Massimino from his guest appearances on the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory. So when I saw his book, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe, available for free in exchange for a review on Blogging For Books, I snatched it up!

What a great to read, this book should be on everyone’s list of must read books. It’s written so that anyone can understand the studying, training and work involved in being a NASA astronaut. He describes his two missions to repair the Hubble telescope in layman’s terms that make you feel like you were there. And it’s written with humor and grace.

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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Contest Winner and Happy Holidays!

Good morning all you Beatles Freaks!

I hope you’re all well and having a great time getting ready for the holidays.

According to Random.org, the winner of last week’s contest is Joe Birish! Please email me your address Joe so I can get your Imagine Peace button and Amazon gift card out to you ASAP.

Seeing as how Christmas, Hanukkah and News Years Day are all falling on a Sunday this year, Beatles Freak Reviews is going to take a break and come back in full force on January 8, 2017.

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Imagine Peace holiday giveaway

20161211_0805041Well folks, I got nothing this week when it comes to a review. I am currently reading a very good book (non-Beatles related), just nothing to write about this week. But since it’s the holiday season, I decided to give something away to my loyal followers and readers since you’re the ones that keep me going week after week.

During our trip to the Imagine Peace Tower last month, the boat tour company offered us our pick of buttons from a basket as a souvenir of your trip to the tower. The basket was filled with buttons that said IMAGINE PEACE in the 24 different languages that are on the Peace Tower. Being a little greedy I picked out two in Italian. 14591671_212499435841158_2426614261419048137_n

So lucky readers, I’m going to give away one of my Italian Imagine Peace Tower buttons AND a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky person who leaves a comment on this post. The only thing I ask is that you write something either holiday or Peace related.

One entry per person and I will pick a winner on Sunday, December 18, 2016.

Best of luck and happy holidays!

 

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Book Review: “Not Dead Yet: The Memoir” by Phil Collins

As soon as I read online about the release of Not Dead Yet: The Memoir by Phil CollinsI knew I had to read it. It wasn’t long after the announcement of this book that rumors started flying about Phil Collins long standing grudge with Paul McCartney. And though the story of the feud doesn’t appear in this book, many other Beatles stories that appear in it’s pages.

Phil opens the book by saying that it contains his memories of the events in his life and they may not match other memories of the same events, but they are as honest as he remembers them. Apparently, his first wife has very different recollections of their time together because she’s currently suing him because his wholly false statements “not only seriously damaged my reputation, but have also caused me considerable distress,” she said. I thought he was very kind to all three of his ex-wives and his ex-girlfriend throughout the book and took on great responsibility for the demise of all his relationships…we he details greatly.

But his marriages aren’t why we’re interested in Phil Collins, is it? No, it’s the music. So much music! In fact, there are times when even he and his fellow Genesis members admit there was too much Phil Collins! But for Collins, it was built into his personality to never say no to a idea. That included working with such greats as George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Sting, Robert Plant, etc. And though the battle with McCartney isn’t contained in the book, you do get the sense that Phil doesn’t think to highly of him without coming right out and saying it.

Then there’s his acting career and all that wasted film laying on the cutting room floors. Read the book if you want to know more about all his almost great movies roles, including his appearance in “A Hard Day’s Night”. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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Trip Report: Imagine Peace Tower, Reykjavik, Iceland

20161106_2035071Two weeks ago, my husband and I took a four day excursion to Reykjavik, Iceland. Earlier in the spring, I had seen a great deal (3 nights for $499 each including air, hotel and breakfast) and couldn’t pass it up. It included a Northern Lights tour which just added to the excitement of going since seeing the Aurora Borealis is on my bucket list.

When I booked our trip for November, I didn’t even remember that the Imagine Peace Tower was in Iceland. That realization came on October 8th when I read that Yoko Ono was on her way to light the tower for it’s 10th anniversary. The tower is only lit from John Lennon‘s birthday on October 9th until the anniversary of his death on December 8th. I believe it’s also lit on John and Yoko’s wedding anniversary and her birthday. The light comes on one hour after sunset and is turned off at midnight.img_3971

The tower’s history according to the website is: IMAGINE PEACE TOWER is an outdoor work of art conceived by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon. It is situated on Viðey Island in Reykjavík, Iceland. The artwork was dedicated to John by Yoko at its unveiling on October 9th 2007, John Lennon’s 67th birthday. 

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The only way to get to Videy Island is via ferry boat. My husband and I decided to take a walk to the dock and catch the last ferry out for the day at a cost of about $12 each. In the winter, the ferry only makes 3 trips to the island and only on weekends! Unfortunately, after walking over a mile in a damp drizzle (the same way we spent the entire 4 days), we arrived 5 minutes too late for the last ferry out! You can see the Imagine Peace Tower in the picture with me pointing to it (that little whit dot!) from the pier at the dock. To add some perspective, Videy Island is the same size as the country of Monaco…0.7 square miles.

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After a disappointing Northern Lights excursion the night prior and now missing the last ferry out for the weekend, we were not about to miss out again on this vacation! We went back to our hotel and booked ourselves on the night’s Imagine Peace Tower Tour hosted by the Edding Whale Watch company. Cost = $80 each for a two hour tour.

As our luck would have it, it rained. And I don’t mean a gentle rain…I mean it rained sideways! Add in the fact that it was about 45 degrees fahrenheit and yeah, it would make for a miserable evening on any given night…but we were off on a once in a lifetime trip to see the Peace Tower up close and in person! And there were 7 other people just as crazy as us on that boat.

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This is what it looks like up close in the rain. Our guide that night, Megan said that in the rain is the only time you’re going to see the light refracted, producing that rainbow effect. I asked her what it looks like in the snow, and she said the light reflects off the snow and makeimg_3970s that light brighter.

Underneath the tower are time capsules. Each one holding a years worth of wishes that people around the world make. The wishes are stored there until the year 2040 (John’s 100th birthday) when the first capsule will be opened. A lot of wishes come from the Wishing Tree that is a building on the island.

20161106_2105271It’s not a very attractive tree…Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree may have been in better shape. But none the less, we added our wishes to the tree while enjoying hot cocoa after walking back in the driving rain (it’s about 1/3 mile from the dock to the tower). You can also make wishes through the Imagine Peace Tower website at this link.

Despite the weather (hey, they did provide us with those yellow rain parkas you see in the photos!), we wouldn’t have missed this experience for the world. It was the highlight of our trip to Iceland…and an added bonus since I didn’t even think about it when I booked the trip. If you’re a true Beatles freak like myself, spend the extra money and take the night tour whether in the rain, sleet or snow…you won’t want to miss this!

And…unlike the northern lights (which we never saw), this is a guarantee!

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Around the circumference of the Imagine Peace Tower, the words “Imagine Peace” are written in 24 different languages.

 

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