Monday, August 10, 2009

John and Yoko in Canada

By Ritchie Yorke/February 7, 1969

TORONTO. Police were on duty along the corridors to hold back fans and to scrutinize the credentials of the fifty or so press representatives who turned up either to gaze in wonder at the most famous couple in the world, or to dismiss the visit as more weird stuff from the weirdest family around. It was the beginning of John and Yoko's second bed-in for peace and after their unexpected arrival, they had quickly called a press conference. Inside a crowded hotel suite, they sat peacefully holding hands, surrounded by pink and white carnations, record players, film equipment and busy phones.

"We're trying to interest young people in doing something for peace," Lennon said, toying with a white carnation. "But it must be done by nonviolent means - otherwise there can be only chaos. We're saying to the young people - and they have always been the hippest ones - we're telling them to get the message across to the squares."

What about talking to the people who make the decisions, the power brokers? suggested a cynical reporter. Lennon laughed. "Shit, talk? Talk about what? It doesn't happen like that. In the U.S., the government is too busy talking about how to keep me out. If I'm a joke, as they say, why don't they just let me in?"

Asked if there may be a better way to promote peace than to lie in bed for seven days, Yoko said: "We worked for three months thinking out the most functional approach to boosting peace before we got married and spent our honeymoon talking to the press in bed in Amsterdam. For us it was the only way. We can't lead a parade or a march because of all the autograph hunters."

"We're all responsible for war," Lennon continued. "We all must do something, no matter what - by growing our hair long, standing on one leg, talking to the press, having bed-ins - to change the attitudes. The people must be made aware that it's up to them.

"Bed-ins are something that everybody can do and they're so simple. We're willing to be the world's clowns to make people realize it."

The next day they bedded down again - this time in Montreal, where Lennon devoted a good portion of his time talking with AM and FM stations all around the United States and Canada from his hotel-room phone. He happily counseled peace to KSAN-FM's San Francisco Bay Area listeners. The following day - the day of the big People's Park march in Berkeley - Lennon phoned KPFA-FM in Berkeley twice to inquire how it was going and to advise the demonstrators to use peaceful methods.

"When I first got the news it stooned me, absolutely stooned me," he told the KPFA listeners, and assured them that people around the world were on the side of People's Park.

"But you can't do it with violent means. That won't accomplish anything. Keep it peaceful. Violence is what has kept mankind from getting together for centuries."

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