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This New Yorker inspired John and Yoko to make movies | New York Post

This New Yorker inspired John and Yoko to make movies | New York Post

This New Yorker inspired John and Yoko to make movies | New York Post
September 29
09:15 2017

When John Lennon and Yoko Ono decided to make New York City their home in 1971, the first person they called upon arriving was filmmaker Jonas Mekas.“It was late when their plane landed, and Yoko told me John wanted an Irish coffee,” Mekas tells The Post, sitting inside his Clinton Hill loft. The couple had ostensibly been hounded out of the UK, with British press continuing to blame Ono for breaking up The Beatles. As explained in Mekas’ new book “A Dance With Fred Astaire” (out Tuesday), Lennon relished the idea of being anonymous in New York, but as the trio settled in for drinks in the West Village, a waitress quietly asked for his autograph anyway — and Lennon obliged.New York didn’t offer Lennon complete escape, but the city’s art scene did allow the star to extend himself creatively — especially in the realm of filmmaking. Mekas, now 94, saw it happen, and helped the process along. “John was like Andy Warhol in the sense that he was open and ready for anything,” he says. “He was reacting to everything that was going on around him.”Mekas was on the forefront of New York City’s avant-garde filmmaking scene throughout his life. Born in Lithuania in 1922, he was displaced by World War II and finally settled in Williamsburg in 1949. He immediately bought himself a camera and began filming moments in his everyday life. In 1954, he started Film Culture magazine with his brother, Adolfas. Mekas, Ono and Lennon watching movies in the early 1970s.Courtesy Anthology Editions. Copyright Jonas Mekas It was through the magazine that Mekas first cemented his bond with Ono. The two met in 1962, through the underground Fluxus art collective. Ono moved back to Japan following the demise of her first marriage, but Mekas facilitated her return to New York shortly after. “She needed a job for [immigration documents] so she could work legally, so I gave her a job at Film Culture,” he says.When Lennon and Ono became a couple toward the end of the 1960s, Mekas became a part of their collaborative relationship.“I’d always thought, before I went into films, I’d have to . . . know about this and know about that,” Lennon told Mekas about his filmmaking experiments in 1970. “But she [Ono] opened my mind up, and I realized I could just say it in a film the same as in a song, or in a poem . . . it’s a poem that has no words.”Mekas helped both Lennon and Ono articulate their ideas by assisting them on pieces such as their 70-minute survey of 367 pairs of naked human legs in “Up Your Legs Forever” in 1970. But inspiration flowed in both directions. Mekas was invited to help document the Montreal leg of Lennon and Ono’s famous “Bed-Ins for Peace” in 1969, footage from which ended up in Mekas’ diary film “Walden,” completed the same year.Some more playful images of Lennon were included in Mekas’ “Happy Birthday to John” (released in 1997), which features a priceless sequence of Lennon shooting hoops with Miles Davis at a birthday gathering in October 1971.“In one shot, you see the ball go in — but that was me,” says Mekas. “I held the camera in one hand, and threw the ball in. Miles and John were very bad [at basketball]!”He remains close with Ono to this day, but Mekas also remembers Lennon with fondness. “He always wanted to go forwards — not looking back at all,” he says. “I never heard him talk about The Beatles. He helped me remember that I should never be frozen.”

Source: This New Yorker inspired John and Yoko to make movies | New York Post

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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