Lennon’s loss, felt more strongly today because this is his 70th birthday, still haunts.
Lennon was murdered (here the dreaded passive voice is the right one to use . . . ) just about a month after Reagan defeated Carter for the presidency. What would 30 years of Lennon’s music have sounded like? What would 30 years of his life have looked like?
And what would the last thirty years of all of our lives have looked like without Reagan?
And, come to think of it, what if the marksmanships of Chapman and Hinkley had been reversed?
Hmmm . . .
* * *
Reagan’s election happened on Tuesday 11/4/80, and the murder happened on Monday 12/8/80. That Tuesday found me driving up the coast from SF to Eugene when, late at night, somewhere in the middle of nowhere on the foggy Northern California coast, by my lonesome in my little white Rabbit, I heard that Reagan had won (no surprise that, but still a dull thud of a feeling to know the fact).
Nearly five weeks later, that bad Monday found me ensconced in drippy Eugene Oregon, spending many happy hours with a delightful old Guild M20 belonging to my sweetie’s house-mate. But that evening’s very Howard-Cosell-moment found me, not enjoying the little red guitar, but, instead, having a pretty big spat with my sweetie — a spat that, when we heard the news oh boy, seemed beside the point and came to an abrupt end.
How could someone do that? How could somebody do that? To this day I can still picture her repeating these things as she cried.
The days that followed were hard. Drippy Eugene and the denoument of a long, long, loooooong relationship seemed just about right.
* * *
So maybe the waning months of 1980 marked the tide-turn — maybe they marked the time at which the figurative music died, along with all the literal music-to-be within the heart and soul and mind and ear and vocal cords of one John Winston Lennon.
Now here we are, 30 years later: Lennon is still dead but Reagan’s post-Nixon re-boot of the Repubs is quite alive, having scaled up to something that I suspect even RR himself — he who pulled in the fairly moderate Howard Baker as his chief of staff for part of his second term — would find worrisome and others right now for sure do find terrifying, as we all get used to a 10% unemployment world, with fully 14.8 million people unemployed, and 9.5 million people involuntarily underemployed (nearly 1 million of whom joined that category in the last two months alone).
Or, to put this in easier to feel, Reaganesque numbering terms: today the number of people unemployed in this lovely country of ours exceeds the number of people living in every state of the union other than the four most populous states and is just about the same as the number of people living in the 15 least populous states combined. And the number of unemployed people plus the number of involuntarily underemployed people is just about equal to the number of Texans.
* * *
Need I draw the financial health angle of this? It’s more obvious here than in most of my other posts.
If 10% of us are unable to be productive, the other 90% will suffer too. This is because the financial health of the businesses through which the 90% earn their livings will be weakened since there just aren’t enough people out there buying stuff, and whether that hits those businesses directly (because they sell stuff to consumers) or indirectly (because they don’t), it does indeed hit them. That in turn means that the financial health of the 90% earning their livings through those businesses will be weakened as well — less compensation, less opportunity, more risk of job loss, less fun in the business all around, etc.
And that means that the only folks who are unscathed, and then only relative to others, are those who are wealthy enough to be above the fray and/or lucky enough to be in an industry or a niche that is not hard hit (and there are very few of those).
So let’s say that the unscatheds amount to 1% of people out there (I suspect the percentage is actually lower). That means we have 10% unemployed, 89% employed (but less gainfully and more scarily than should be the case), and 1% who are unscathed.
As the doctor asks, So how’s that workin‘ for ya?
* * *
That, my friends, is a picture of financial ill health for one and for all. Case closed.
We are all in this together folks. We all drink at the same well. We all sup at the same table. We all sit atop the same Earth.
* * *
To close, here’s a triad of Lennon’s peace mantra, these days, as always, requiring more than a bit of imagining: