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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

John Lennon: I rented the Dick Cavett interview of John Lennon from Netflix and watched it with my teenage son tonight. The interview was taped on Sept. 11, 1971. I was 20 years old at the time. While Cavett's monologue seems silly and pointless, the interview fascinating. I was surprised by Lennon's spontaneous interaction with Yoko. They were brave to go on. Can you imagine a famous husband and wife going on a live 60-minute program in 2006? No way. My son was initially interested in this show, but became critical once John and Yoko lit up their first cigarette together. "He's smoking. He's killing himself," said my son. Like most kids his age he is fiercely anti-tobacco. This is due to our California norms about smoking and the school system's public health education. I smoked my first cigarette when I was 13 (it tasted terrible and made me dizzy). By 16 I was addicted. I carried a pack of cigarettes (Kent, if I remember correctly) to high school and lit up my first one on the walk home. Fortunately, I was able to quit when I was 25 (after a close friend died of cancer). Smoking and drug use aside (and those are two pretty big points), I see John Lennon as a positive role model for my son. He was smart, creative, hard working (at least in the first half of his career). He was constantly growing and always exploring what it means to be a man. When the Beatles with their long hair became famous in 1963 it ripped off the masculinity straightjacket that had imprisoned men for 50 years. You could have long hair and be a man! Chicks dig long hair! That was very powerful information in the 1960s.

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