Posted by: nickwardscenarios | November 24, 2011

Yoko Ono : more here, less elsewhere

‘A hole to see the sky through’ postcard by Yoko Ono (1964)

Finding this postcard in a box of used postcards in Putney High Street in the mid-seventies was the first time I became aware of  the power of Yoko Ono to charm and alarm.

Not sure what I was doing in Putney High Street but I bought the postcard and it made me smile – so I’ll always be thankful to Yoko for opening my teenage eyes to ‘art’.

Wannsee single sculling manta-meditation spectator in 2001 (it takes all sorts, Yoko): I was twice around the Island on a good day, as a guest of Berliner RuderClub e.V.

‘As I have said I have zero interest in running into conflict with rowing official bodies – either here or in Oz – or with the Empacher-German Cold War Empire – for that matter!

I’m just very turned on by boat speed and competitive racing.’


me sculling the Cam in Cambridge, June 2009 (photo by Dad)

excerpt from an old Nick Ward Scenarios blog with futuristic ideas:

The 2012 ‘Olympic’ Thames Marathon for Single Scullers

let it be (mobile) 1

let it be (mobile) 2

fishy, John


John Lennon remembered

December 7, 2010

‘New York 1980′ (2010) ten minute painting by Nick Ward

yoko story coming up (25/11/20110 – watch this space)

added 27/11/2011

Yoko story

Work in progess, very much so: preliminaries.

I love Yoko. Yoko loves me (that’s the way it works, yeah?)

Three standout facts from speed-reading Wikipedia’s ‘Yoko Ono’ (I’ll paste in the quotes when I’ve finished this spontaneous Sunday morning prose-riff.)

  1. Yoko remembers the war, the Tokyo ‘firestorm’ – she remembers being hungry and jeered. Yoko’s father was a rich banker, directly descended from a Japanese Emperor. Yoko is a Japanese aristocrat – Yoko Ono is a queen witch, in any language. Yoko Ono released the album Yes, I’m a Witch in 2007.

From Wikipedia (27/11/2011):

In 1940, the family moved to New York City, where Ono’s father was working. In 1941, her father was transferred to Hanoi and the family returned to Japan. Ono was then enrolled in Keimei Gakuen, an exclusive Christian primary school run by the Mitsui family. She remained in Tokyo through the great fire-bombing of March 9, 1945. During the fire-bombing, she was sheltered with other members of her family in a special bunker in the Azabu district of Tokyo, far from the heavy bombing. After the bombing, Ono went to the Karuizawa mountain resort with members of her family.

Ono has said that she and her family were forced to beg for food while pulling their belongings in a wheelbarrow; and it was during this period in her life that Ono says she developed her “aggressive” attitude and understanding of “outsider” status when children taunted her and her brother, who were once well-to-do.

  1. When Yoko said that John was like Mozart and that Paul was like Salieri was it a perverse inversion?

A weirdly inappropriate attack on the great Macca who everyone seems to agree is nothing if not a tunesmith, an abundant man of melody – John more often characterized as a wild and wooly wordsmith – which is not to say John wasn’t melody-sufficient, of course.

There is a side to Yoko which is simply provocative, Paul. Take no notice. Paul McCartney, an experimenatalist at heart, has written some truly wonderful songs, in my view – and he’s still at in.

I’ll never forget hearing ‘Get Back’ on my mother’s kitchen radio in Ardleigh, Essex, soon after its release — I didn’t know it was the Beatles, I just loved it, as a six year-old,  and kept singing it, or snatches of it –( No, I was 7 years old and little BanJO Nick was rocking in Mum’s kitchen that day!) – I even insisted that my homesick Aussie Mum call me ‘Jo’ as a result (not as illogical as it sounds given my second name is Jonathan – or Jonathon). Must have been Paul’s song because he sang it with intoxicating catchiness – so, although I’m not into ‘favourites’ I must say ‘Get Back’ is a very significant Beatles  song for me – so imagine how excited I would have been to see the great Rolling Stone King Water-Rat of lead guitar, Ronnie Wood, sliding onto the stage with Macca for this:

paul mccartney and ronnie wood – get back – live at the O2 5 dec 2011.

From Wikepedia (27/11/2011):

In 1997, Ono compared Lennon to Mozart while McCartney, she said, more closely resembled his less-talented rival Salieri.[70] This remark infuriated Linda McCartney, who was battling breast cancer at the time. When she died less than a year later, McCartney pointedly did not invite Ono to a New York memorial service for her.[71]

  1. Speculation: Yoko co-wrote ‘Give Peace a Chance’ with Lennon which was performed live by John and Paul in 1969 to 400 million people with the Vietnam chaos and slaughter and madness ongoing. Australia fought in that war under the Australian flag, lest we forget .Was ‘Give Peace a Chance’ wrongly credited as a Lennon/McCartney composition? Does it matter? It was probably Yoko’s idea, I guess. Co-written and directed by Yoko Ono?

From Wikedia (27/11/2011):

Lennon and Yoko recording “Give Peace a Chance“.

In 1969, the Plastic Ono Band’s first album, Live Peace in Toronto 1969, was recorded during the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival.

From Wikepedia ‘John Lennon’ (27/11/2011):“Give Peace a Chance” say it again and again and again.

Sample of “Give Peace a Chance“, recorded in 1969 during Lennon and Ono’s second Bed-In for Peace. As described by biographer Bill Harry, Lennon wanted to “write a peace anthem that would take over from the song ‘We Shall Overcome‘—and he succeeded … it became the main anti-Vietnam protest song.”[73]

4.   Bob Dylan testified in support of John and Yoko against Nixon’s attempt to have (John in particular) deported following the anti-Vietnam actions. This is how Dylan put it in 1972 (from ‘John Lennon’ Wikepedia 0n 27/11/2011):

In 1972, Bob Dylan wrote a letter to the INS defending Lennon, stating:

John and Yoko add a great voice and drive to the country’s so-called art institution. They inspire and transcend and stimulate and by doing so, only help others to see pure light and in doing that, put an end to this dull taste of petty commercialism which is being passed off as Artist Art by the overpowering mass media. Hurray for John and Yoko. Let them stay and live here and breathe. The country’s got plenty of room and space. Let John and Yoko stay![200][201]

3 standout facts from my memory of things dyslexically-read, Sir Steve Redgrave,  about Yoko elsewhere.

1. The giant of ‘conceptual’ art Marcel Duchamp, one of my heroes, stepped on Yoko’s painting ‘Painting to be Stepped on’ in her ‘performance-space, in Manhattan, New York.

From Wikipedia (27/11/2011):

Almost immediately after John Cage finished teaching at the New School for Social Research in the summer of 1960, Ono was determined to rent a place to present her works along with the work of other New York avant-garde artists. She eventually found a cheap loft in downtown Manhattan at 112 Chambers Street that she used as a studio and living space.[12] Composer La Monte Young urged Ono to let him organize concerts in the loft, and Ono agreed.[12] Both artists began organizing a series of events in Ono’s loft, and both Young and Ono claimed to have been the primary curator of these events,[13] but Ono claims to have been eventually pushed into a subsidiary role by Young.[14] The Chambers Street series hosted some of Ono’s earliest conceptual artwork including Painting to Be Stepped On, which was a scrap of canvas on the floor that became a completed artwork upon the accrual of footprints. Participants faced a moral dilemma presented by Ono that a work of art no longer needed to be mounted on a wall, inaccessible, but an irregular piece of canvas as low and dirty as to have to be completed by being stepped on.[citation needed]

2. Yoko had a go at Macca for rhyming ‘june’ with ‘spoon’ (I was reminded of reading this put-down in one of the daily papers some years ago by my late-night, last night, trawl through the Yoko Ono Wikipedia entry… now, as a ‘reformed’ dyslexic I have to say this barb does not reflect well on the old witch (yes, she’s a witch ok)… an old song I used to sing as a close harmony number with a barbershop group as a teenager (King’s School, Ely) springs to mind… ‘by the light of the silvery moon/ we used to spoon’. I love that old-fashioned slang for to ‘kiss and cuddle’ which is listed number 7 in the Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus (HarperCollins, 2000), p1151. Other meanings for ‘spoon’ listed in this handy book are 1, ‘untensil having  a shallow concave part, usually elliptical in shape’, etc; 2, angling (fishing) lure; 3, no 3 wood in the game of golf; 4; in the sport of rowing, a type of oar ‘that is curved at the edges and tip’ – now replaced in international competition by the squared ‘big blade’ pictured above. 8, is to ‘spoon’ a shot in a ball game with a ‘weak lifting position’…. There are most definitely quite a few other usages for ‘spoon’ (listed in the irreplaceable Oxford Dictionary, Micky x) without even making reference to W A Spooner (1844-1930) an English clergyman renowned for mixing up his meanings, Len Johnon-like in his own write – Spaniard in the works an’ all – to create all sorts of amusing ambiguity and ascerbicly anti-convetional school-room jibes, irritating and flaring-out in equal measure (at least to me – never big on punning word-play as fan or practitioner) – and I do not know the context in which Macca used ‘spoon’ to rhyme with ‘june’ but I have to say it’s a bit much to attack him for doing so under any pretext. ‘Spoon’ is a wonderful word, a gift, for English language wordsmiths since Old English times (‘spon splinter’ ) – so is ‘June’, come to that — rhymes with ‘rune’, ‘tune’, ‘balloon’, ‘lune’, ‘moon’, ‘boon’, ‘boom’, (I feel a song coming on, Ringo), ‘broom’ – on ya broom, Yoko!

Yoko’s greatness it seems to me resides in her uncanny ability to make statements which cry out for imaginative completion – she’ll employ the English language to do this but deep down I wonder if there is some kind of compensation going on in her profoundly Japanese sensibility. Japan is the home of Zen Buddhism and the koen and the haiku, after all… old pond/ frog jumps/Splash! Paul reckons she’s bit thick on the cognitive plane – I think that’s going too far – she’s a witchy mystic. in a nutshell.

The best-known Japanese haiku[19] is Bashō‘s “old pond”:


ふるいけやかわずとびこむみずのおと (transliterated into 17 hiragana)

furuike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto (transliterated into romaji)

This separates into on as:

fu-ru-i-ke ya (5)
ka-wa-zu to-bi-ko-mu (7)
mi-zu no o-to (5)


old pond . . .
a frog leaps in
water’s sound

Susan Elizabeth Rotolo (November 20, 1943 – February 25, 2011), known as Suze Rotolo 2] was an American artist, but is perhaps best known as Bob Dylan’s

3. The other day I sped-read Suze Rotolo’s Greenwich Village Memoires in the Cambridge Central Library meaning to jot down some notes and quotes some time soon – it was just too gripping to stop and do it as I went along.

I recommend this amazing book, a graceful, intelligent, book by an extraordinary theatre activitist pre Shepard-Smith, pre feminism – set before, and soon after, my birth-date 2/1/1962. In the book Rotolo remembers being weirded-out by a sinister and drugged-up actor-type who played her a spin-out album by Yoko’s first husband – Toshi Ichiyanagi – and she mentions the album cover’s artwork as being by Yoko Ono and showing an end-of-the world scenario all shot through with absract flames — just after her break with Dylan and just before her breakdown following the abortion… I’ll track it down and quote it in full because it captured something amazing about the end of a particular era.

From Wikipedia (27/11/2011):

In 1956, she married composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. They divorced in 1962 after living apart for several years.

Yoko Ono (オノ・ヨーコ, also 小野 洋子, Ono Yōko?, born February 18, 1933 – very much alive to date…

Now for the Berlin story. Where is fact and what is fiction?

Watch this space.

Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace postcard for the Royal College of Art, London,  Secret Fundraiser, 2011


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