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Oh Yoko! In Montreal

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Thumbnail image for 2.jpg Yoko, not looking bad at age 76. She drinks a lot of water and is on Facebook. Courtesy of Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Denis Bernier photo.

3:21 p.m. March 31---

MONTREAL, Quebec---Yoko Ono has made her first visit to Montreal since the 1969 Bed-In For Peace with John Lennon in Suite 1742 of Fairmont/The Queen Eiizabeth.
Ono appeared at a weird press conference Tuesday morning to talk up the exhibit "Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko" opening Thursday at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The Fairmont suite is also being opened to the public and later tonight I'll be having drinks in 1742. The late Timothy Leary was part of the "Bed-In," where John and Yoko recorded "Give Peace a Chance." I suspect he will be hovering around the room.
The Fairmont has even created a martini in Yoko's name.....

3 cucumber slices
1.5 oz Vodka
5 oz Sake
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz sugar syrup
Shake and pour in a Martini glass. Garnish with round cucumber slice.

I'm all for peace and bed-ins, too, but disturbing things happen to me when I'm on the trail of John & Yoko. Back in the late '80s I was on my honeymoon in Amsterdam when I had the idea to check out Room 702 of the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel, the site of the first Bed-In. (John and Yoko were married on March 20, 1969---they landed at the Hilton on March 25, 1969).
The weather on that honeymoon day was remarkably similar to the weather in Montreal today. Chilly, overcast and brittle. My future ex-wife lost her purse or had it ripped off on the public bus ride to the Hilton. We lost our money, credit cards and passports.
But we gained a friendship.
Today, as I try to understand Yoko's still-idealistic points during the press conference, the Sun-Times bankruptcy plays out in the back of my mind. The often poignant museum exhibit closes with "Imagine" playing over and over again in an all-white room anchored by a white replica of John's piano. Visitors can sit down at a piano bench and replicate "Imagine" with a Disklavier sound system. "Imagine" came out in 1971, about the same time I was embarking on journalism in high school. I was a dreamer, too,

"Coming here is a very special thing for me," Ono said Tuesday. "I believe John is here with me today. We had a great time. This was our honeymoon in this city. We were in bed and when the journalists went home around six in the evening John and I would turn around and look at the sky. There was a beautiful view with a huge window. We had great fun looking at the sky, I always remember that."
Actually, Montreal was not the first choice for the second Bed-In (May 26-June 2, 1969). The cosmic love birds wanted to bed down in New York City, but John was not allowed into the country because of a 1968 cannabis conviction. They jetted off to the Bahamas for a one-night stand on May 24 at a Sheraton, but split because the heat got to them. I think Jimmy Buffett was playing in the lounge.

John and Yoko didn't have to worry about the heat in Montreal, where they were joined by a topless Leary, comic Tommy Smothers, cartoonist Al Capp and Chicago comedian Dick Gregory. All but Capp sang along on "Give Peace a Chance," recorded in the hotel room on June 1. The acoustic backbeat was provided by members of the Montreal Temple of the Krishna Consciousness movement who were in an adjacent room.
I will update this blog if I see them tonight.

"90 percent of us is water," Ono said on Tuesday. "We are the same water. But because we are frightened and not too sure, some of us are not clean. So make your water clean. The world is going to be beautiful when we cover the earth with clean water."
I never got around to asking Yoko about her Facebook page (she Twitters, too). On the recent Facebook "25 Things You Do Not Know About Me," she posted:
"No. 5---Okay, I must confess. I love wearing high heel shoes. I love wearing silk stockings. I love wearing hot pants. When I arm myself with those three, I feel like a tough girl from the 1930s. If I didn't look at myself in the mirror, I might just mistake myself for Rita Hayworth or Marlene Dietrich. How great is that?!"

But someone did ask Yoko what advice she would give today's young people.
She paused and answered, "Be yourself. Keep dancing. Have fun in life. And we will all love together." How great is that?

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Hey Dave, great article. I was wondering if you'll be putting the interview you did of me and Jose yesterday, i'd really like to read that one haha. Hope to hear about it soon :) Thanks a lot!

As much as I always liked John and Yoko, it gets a little irritating to listen to her cryptic messages about "getting clean with the water" and "not being afraid" and becoming all "utopian." Maybe profound advice, and a nice idea, but certainly no very helpful or practical suggestions on how to get there! (How to do it? Have millions and millions of dollars? Not have to worry about where your next mortgage payment is coming from? Good luck to the rest of us with that!)

Having said that, I continue to be amazed by the new interpretations of her work (especially "Yes I'm a Witch") and hope she continues to share her creations with the rest of us for many years to come. I wish her all health and happiness.

Hi Dave,

We (Émilie and me) met you yesterday in the Fine Arts Museum of Montreal for the break-in of Imagine exhibit. As you know by now, my friend and me succeeded to take pictures of Yoko and more important, have an autograph of her in our LPs whose I think you have pictures too.

Nice to meet you and can't wait to read your article!


Hey Dave,

I loved having you and your crew come through my wonderland of Chicago's adult businesses... THE SEXPO! I am inviting you to the next one. I have it scheduled for April 29th @ Excalibur once again. There is no other venue in Chicago that could do what I wanted. You were there, It Was Crazy! I want you to know, there are some special treats for you when I see you...

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Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.


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