Twenty-five years ago, as we’re all being reminded today, John Lennon was shot to death outside the Dakota Building, where he lived in New York City.
A few days later, when New Yorkers held the first of many memorials for Lennon, I went to Manhattan to join the mourners. Before I went, I quickly stitched a sign on the back of my vest. The sign had a Beatles yellow submarine, and under it, the words, “I AM BITTER.”
I was bitter at Lennon’s death. I was bitter toward New York City itself, the same irrational way most Americans were angry with Dallas for five or 10 years after the Kennedy assassination.
Cold day. I pulled a jacket on over my vest and took the train up from Philadelphia. In New York, I walked up to the Dakota and waited a few hours for the ceremony, which really was nothing more than a moment of silence.
It was cold that day – not freezing, really, but cold and windy. And as I waited to take my jacket off to expose the “I AM BITTER” message during the moment of silence, I was losing body heat. Someone in the crowd gave me a hot cup of coffee and it didn’t help.
By the time the moment of silence came, I was shivering with no sense I could ever warm up again. I just couldn’t take off the jacket. I paid my respects and, as West 72nd Street went silent, I kept the bitterness to myself.