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?