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John Lennon’s 70th celebrated in NY’s Central Park

Posted by arnon_k On October - 11 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

NEW YORK – A crush of fans circled a flower-graced mosaic in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields and sang lyrics from “Imagine” on Saturday to honor Beatles legend John Lennon on his 70th birthday.

On the day when the Liverpool Lad would have become a septuagenarian, thousands of fans from around the world gathered to remember the floppy-haired British superstar who just wanted to give peace a chance.

“His music speaks to people of any nation, any age, and that’s why I think so many young people now who never would have known him still find him so appealing,” said Karen Kriendler Nelson, 69, who lives nearby and often visits the mosaic that spells out Lennon’s song “Imagine.”

She and her Maltese dog, Pino, joined a group of fans who sang the lines, “Imagine there’s no countries/ It isn’t hard to do/ Nothing to kill or die for/ And no religion too/ Imagine all the people/ Living life in peace …”

Joan Acarin and his wife, Laia, visited the memorial from Spain.

“The values Lennon defended are still alive,” said Joan Acarin, a 41-year-old attorney from Barcelona. “It’s the idea that we do not have to fight wars.”

Fans began arriving on Friday, spilling onto the sidewalk of Central Park West, where Lennon and wife Yoko Ono lived in the famed Dakota building for nine years. He was shot to death by a deranged gunman as he came home on the evening of Dec. 8, 1980.

Police erected barricades to contain the crowd alongside passing traffic.

This year, the memorial to the slain ex-Beatle and peace activist includes a mosaic donated by the city of Naples, Italy. A plaque lists 121 countries that endorse Strawberry Fields as a Garden of Peace.

The 2.5-acre site was created by Ono and named after the Lennon song, which also observes that “living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.”

The birthday celebration got started early Friday in his native England, where Google UK released a 32-second video “doodle” with an “Imagine” soundtrack. The interactive electronic art generates a butterfly and a flower — reflecting Lennon’s devotion to world peace.

In Liverpool, Lennon’s first wife, Cynthia and, their son, Julian, unveiled a sculpture to celebrate his life.

Hundreds of people gathered at the city center’s Chavasse Park to watch the pair cut a ribbon to reveal the statue, called “Peace and Harmony.” The sculpture, which features a colorful globe with doves flying above it, was designed by 19-year-old American artist Lauren Voiers.

The two held hands and joined the crowd in singing John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.”

“I think the mourning is over for John. I think it’s time to celebrate,” said Cynthia, 71. “Think about his life that was positive and good and just enjoy that.”

She was married to John Lennon from 1962 to 1968.

In New York, planned celebrations include a Saturday evening benefit concert at the Society For Ethical Culture, a short walk from Strawberry Fields. The proceeds will go to the human rights organization Amnesty International.

Capping the New York remembrances would be a Central Park screening of a documentary detailing Lennon’s life in the city. Titled “LENNONYC,” the new public television film to be shown at 7 p.m. in the park’s Rumsey Playfield, with picnic-style seating on the ground.

Ono was set to mark her late husband’s milestone birthday in Iceland with a performance by the Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band. She also was to present awards to people who had contributed to peace.

Ono marked her late husband’s milestone birthday in Iceland with a lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower, which shines a beam of blue light into the sky, followed by a concert by the Plastic Ono Band. Ono dedicated the tower to Lennon in 2007.

She also presented awards to people who have contributed to peace, included Alice Walker, the author of “The Color Purple.”

“Like millions around the world, I deeply loved John,” Walker said as she received the award in Reykjavik.

The other winners were filmmaker Josh Fox, who made the documentary “Gasland”; author and activist Michael Pollan and food safety advocate Barbara Kowalcyk.

Just before Lennon was killed, the couple collaborated on a last album “that was so different from anything he did before,” said David Edwards, a college student in Kentucky who drove 14 hours to New York City to pay tribute.

The 22-year-old found a different way to honor the slain Beatle in the bustling crowd of admirers: He sat alone on a bench with earphones on, listening to Lennon’s music on his iPod while reading his book “Skywriting By Word of Mouth.”

“What gets me is his humanity,” Edwards said. “He was one of the first superstars who showed that he was vulnerable — he was Everyman.”

SUPERSTAR JOHNNY DEPP gave schoolkids a memory to treasure – when he visited their school dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow.

He broke off filming his fourth Pirates Of The Caribbean movie to answer a jokey plea from Beatrice Delap, nine.

She had visited the nearby film set in Greenwich, South East London, and wrote: “We are a bunch of budding young pirates and we’re having trouble mutinying against the teachers!

“We’d love it if you could come and help!”

To her amazement, Depp turned up with other cast members – all in pirate gear.

Beatrice said: “He asked where I was so I put my hand up and he gave me a hug. He pulled the letter out of his pocket and said he was going to frame it.”

He told another child to study hard – “as pirates have to be cleverer than everyone else”.

Meridian Primary School had just ten minutes’ notice that father-of-two Depp, 47, was on his way from Greenwich’s 18th-century Old Naval College.

He was escorted by police, who are routinely at the set. Beatrice added: “He whispered to me, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t mutiny today because there are police outside’.

“I said, ‘That’s probably a good idea’.”

Mel Gibson’s ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva said she feared the actor might kill her during a domestic fight earlier this year.

She also claimed the Braveheart star brandished a gun in her face and that he would have committed suicide but for his Catholic faith.

Speaking for the first time about the alleged violent clash that is at the centre of a police investigation, she said: ‘I was scared for my life and my daughter’s. I thought he would kill me.’

Grigorieva, 40, branded Gibson a ‘bully’ who is ‘rich and famous’.

She has accused the actor punching her in the face during a confrontation over their baby daughter Lucia earlier this year.

The incident is the subject of a police investigation as well as claims by Gibson that his ex had tried to extort money from him after their acrimonious split.

Prosecutors in Los Angeles are deciding what action to take.

Gibson, 54, has denied striking the Russian born singer.

He has not spoken publicly about the allegations, but they have been vehemently denied by his high powered legal team.

Gibson faced further shame when a series of tapes in which he can be heard ranting and raving at Grigorieva were leaked online.

In one of the tapes her says Grigorieva ‘looks like a pig in heat’ and uses a racial slur.

Grigorieva told People magazine she did not leak the tapes which were made a month after the alleged physical abuse.

Grigorieva said in the interview that she hopes her daughter, who turns 1 later this month, will love and forgive Gibson.

She said that Gibson was so remorseful over what has happened that he is ‘depressed’ and ‘suicidal’.
‘He would have killed himself many times if he wasn’t Catholic,’ she said.

People editor JD Heyman told the Today show that Grigorievea wanted to move on with her life.

He said: ‘She’s not angry with him. She wants him to “be a man and get help.”‘

Calif. court hears Jackson dad’s estate appeal

Posted by arnon_k On October - 7 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Michael Jackson’s father was “grievously wronged” by a probate court that decided last year not to let him try to replace the administrators of his son’s estate, an attorney argued Wednesday.

The arguments by attorney Brian Oxman, who represents Joe Jackson, were heard by a three-judge panel of the California Second District Court of Appeal after a probate judge ruled last November that Joe Jackson did not have standing to intervene in the matter.

The appeals panel did not issue a ruling but did question the legal steps Joe Jackson had taken after being left out of his son’s will and whether the moves warranted revisiting the challenge to the administrators.

Associate Justice Laurie D. Zelon asked why Joe Jackson had withdrawn a petition to receive a monthly stipend from the estate before the probate court had a chance to rule on the request.

Oxman said the petition had seemed duplicative after Joe Jackson filed a wrongful death lawsuit in June against a doctor who has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of the pop star.

Attorney Howard Weitzman, who represents the estate, countered that pursuing the stipend petition would allow Joe Jackson to be questioned under oath about various other matters.

Zelon also noted that Oxman hadn’t told the probate court that his client was considering the wrongful death lawsuit.

“I must beg this court’s forgiveness. I must beg the probate court’s forgiveness. The magic words ‘wrongful death’ did not pass my lips,” Oxman said.

Associate Justice Fred Woods questioned why Joe Jackson hadn’t filed a creditor’s claim with the estate, since he has claimed his son supported him financially throughout his life.

Oxman said there was never a contract between Michael Jackson and his father for assistance.

Attorneys for Jackson’s estate reminded the appeals panel that the singer had omitted his father from his will and he was not considered a beneficiary of the estate.

“He is not an heir,” estate attorney Howard Weitzman told the panel in brief remarks.

Attorneys for the singer’s mother, Katherine Jackson, and his three children also argued against Joe Jackson’s petition.

Michael Jackson’s will appointed attorney John Branca and music executive and family friend John McClain to oversee the pop singer’s estate, which has earned tens of millions of dollars since Jackson’s death in June 2009 at age 50.

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