Thursday, December 08, 2005

#9 Dream

I was reminded of the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death in an unlikely place: my local suburban Prague pub. The 'Ojai Music Pub' is a watering hole for disenfranchised young Czechs who sport dreadlocks and mohawks in equal proportions. Normally the music is deafening. Tonight I strolled in and heard Beatles music. I spent more than usual tonight.

My first memories of the Beatles were songs from the Abbey Road album. I have hazy memories of 'Come Together' and 'Here Comes the Sun' mixed with strange images of totem poles in parking lots in Sacramento, CA, my birthplace. I think those may have been wood sculptures outside of a pediatrician's office. I must have been 3 or 4 years old. My earliest childhood memories are comprised of Beatles music and folksy pre-corporate art.

The Ojai is bedecked with totem poles and psychadelic arts and crafts reminiscent of something Czechs know nothing about yet seem strangely attracted to: the American Indian culture. In a post-Communist country where the Marlboro cowboy carries a Coke to the average Czech, the mohawk and dreadlock crowd opts to play the indian instead of the cowboy. At least that's my theory. I've studied the Ojai environment under careful chemical analysis (1, 2, or 5 beers).

The John Lennon wall in Prague is a spraycan testimony to the power of a cultural icon and how it endures globally. I remember the wall when I first arrived in Prague in 1997: a huge spraycan portrait of Lennon was surrounded by multicolored peace signs; a sight which dominated the lonely street in this centuries old quarter of Old Prague. Years later, the original plaster from the old wall seems to have crumbled from the weight of the paint layers. The first portrait of Lennon is no longer there. Instead, world travelers have left their collective marks on the wall with messages of peace, love and understanding in many languages.



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