Monday, August 15, 2011


Dear Friends,

In 1969, John and I were so naive to think that doing the Bed-In would help change the world. Well, it might have. But at the time, we didn't know.
It was good that we filmed it, though. The film is powerful now. What we said then could have been said now.

In fact, there are things that we said then in the film, which may give some encouragement and inspiration to the activists of today. Good luck to us all.
Let's remember WAR IS OVER if we want it. It's up to us, and nobody else. John would have wanted to say that."

Love, yoko

According to the Guardian, "Yoko Ono has posted online a 70-minute documentary she made with John Lennon in 1969. Titled Bed Peace, the film – previously available on VHS – documents the couple's second attempt to promote world peace through lying in bed for a week at the height of the Vietnam war. The former Beatle and his wife spent their honeymoon in bed at the Amsterdam Hilton, talking to members of the press, before flying to Montreal, Canada to repeat their act of non-violent protest. Those visiting them there, as shown in the film, include the activist Dick Gregory, LSD-advocate Timothy Leary, DJ Murray The K and the Beatles' publicist Derek Taylor."

The Guardian failed to mention Al Capp's visit and his heated exchange with John and Yoko. Capp, creator of "Lil Abner," comes across as a crackpot, a racist blowhard and a reactionary hawk who ridicules their hair, their sincerity, and Yoko's Japanese ancestry. See, not all cartoonists are cool.


Bob Rini said...

Yoko can get pretty far out there, but she and John were true believers in a peaceful, non-violent world and they never took the nasty, cynical way out. They didn't believe the common wisdom that you can't fight city hall, and you can't fight the powerful, and war will always be with us. There are powerful people with vested interests in keeping the war machine grinding on, but I'm glad some people can stand up and say no. You may say they were dreamers, but they weren't the only ones.

mike fontanelli said...

What Capp is really ridiculing is Lennon and Ono's unabashed, galloping narcissism - arguably Lennon's worse quality, which Ono unfortunately encouraged and compounded. More specifically, he refers to the full-frontal nudity of their Two Virgins LP cover - just as uncommon then as it would be today, 32 years later.

Capp's reference to Madame Nhu is a dig at what he perceived as the pairs' pro-Viet Cong politics. As such, it's a pretty desperate stretch to imply a "racist" hatred of Asians from such flimsy evidence. Historically, Capp championed Civil Rights in interviews and self-authored magazine articles long before it became trendy for cartoonists to do so, and published the first comic strip adaptation of Martin Luther King's life in 1958: Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story.

Sometimes it's helpful to read up a bit on famous figures before you erroneously blog about them. Wikipedia is an excellent starting point. Cheers.

Bob Rini said...

Mike, obviously Al Capp was furious about the counter-cultural weirdness of Lennon and Ono--Capp was an old school conservative who supported Nixon and the Vietnam War and saw the extremism of these two longhaired peacefreaks as undermining everything that he held dear--the funny thing was, he had once been a liberal, and while it's cliche to notice that converts make the best zealots, this artist embarrassed himself with his tirade. What did Ono's race have to do with the argument? At best, it was a strained and feeble ad-hominem attack that was uncalled for, at worst it was knee-jerk racism that was much more common in those less enlightened times. Regardless of one's politics, or whether one was a Beatle Fan or a fan of Lil Abner, Capp behaved like an untutored ass. To answer the charge of whether I've "read up" on them, I'm quite familiar with both of them, being a Beatle fan AND a Lil Abner fan. I've worked as a cartoonist for years, and love the work of Al Capp's early years, the brilliant linework and sense of humor, and his willingness to poke fun at the conventional wisdom, and that's why it's even more disappointing that he became a cranky old man who supported Richard Nixon and his shady friends, as well as escalating the war in Vietnam, and every conservative cause as if ashamed of who he had once been. It was like a favorite uncle who deteriorated over the years, dranks too much and got bitter and cranky and argued with everybody at the family picnic, more precisely, at everything new and young and beyond his understanding. Sure, John and Yoko irked the oldtimers--that was a deliberate plan, and not their best quality, but old cranky Uncle Al sure fell for the bait and, believing he was a White Knight defending the Realm, made an ass of himself. Watch the film again. And read some more about their lives, if you get a chance. It's not a simple matter of right vs. wrong, but a complicated clash of personalities and former selves. Nudity and long hair aren't as shocking these days, but they could give certain people coronaries back then. Take my uncle...