Thursday, July 31, 2014

Losses


I'm a loser,
And I've lost someone who's near to me.
I'm a loser,
And I'm not what I appear to be.”
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “I'm a Loser,” Beatles for Sale (1964)
We can examine many different aspects of the various texts released under the Beatles' name.  For starters, their physical appearance became a method for both identifying them, and identifying with them,  We can add to this their speech, mannerisms (on stage and off), their movies, their individual and collective biographies, their television appearances, the artwork on their album, and so forth.
The sonic text of their music offers much to the musician/musicologist. And we can see these in context of various influences, chief among them rhythm & blues, British Music Hall, raga, British and American folksong, and music of the Common Practice.

Only recently have musicologists begun to look at song lyrics as part of the sonic text. In more general terms, scholars have felt more comfortable in examining lyrics as literary artifacts. Looking at the literary component of Beatles' songs one can see two very dominant themes, usually expressed separately in individual tunes, but sometimes combined in the same work.

The subordinate theme is death. For a band depicted by detractors as being little more than bubblegum, Beatles lyrics contain numerous allusions to sudden and/or violent demise and other morbid imagery.

If you're thinking that songwriters make deliberate, conscious attempts to include certain themes and, for a lack of a better term, embed clues into their lyrics, then I can tell you haven't written many songs. There's little to indicate that any of the four engaged in the type of conscious textual layering that comprise a bulk of the clues.

Songwriters, for the most part, have conscious inspirations, and things they intentionally mean to get across. But in addition, the songwriter brings her or his own history, feelings, emotions, private thoughts and unconscious machinations to the process.  What lies below the threshold of consciousness might very well come out in verse.  When the songwriter, or fan, looks back at the song from any appreciable distance, they can perhaps see that the songwriter, in today's parlance, might have divulged TMI.

Simply put, any songwriter—perhaps any writer period—is apt to divulge something that they did not intend to, but is nevertheless weighing heavily on her mind: something that is either on the back burner of their thoughts, something that they're in denial about, or something they can't really articulate.

It's in this context where we can discern the first authentic Paul-Is-Dead clue—i.e., an item that points towards an unambiguous narrative concerning McCartney's demise in a 1966 automobile accident. If I were forced at gunpoint to bet on it, I'd wage a dollar that the group didn't initially plan on taking up this narrative. Yet, it could very well have accurately reflected something on the band's mind.

Figure 1. Sgt. Pepper cover


Peter Blake, one of the artists who designed the now-iconic photo, maintained as late as last March that the event depicted is an old fashioned band concert in the park.* Okay. Maybe everyone involved with the project had a band concert consciously in mind. However, it's not all that farfetched to view the Sgt. Pepper cover as a funeral scene. We have a daytime outdoor setting. (Have you ever been to a nighttime funeral?) We have flowers, a headstone (in the shape of a drum), and a host of celebrity mourners.**

By the summer of 1967, the time of Sgt. Pepper's release, the Beatles individually and collectively had seen death strike close to home. John Lennon was severely traumatized by the death of his mother, Julia Stanley, and shaken by the death of his uncle George Smith, the only father-figure he really knew. Together, the band dealt with the passing of former-member Stuart Sutcliffe (who appears on the Sgt. Pepper album cover, left edge, midway back). And during the recording session itself, the Beatles had fresh reason to mourn.

During the fall of 1966, two friends of the band died suddenly, violently. The first, Kevin MacDonald [left], remains rather obscure, with very little information about him outside of the normal PID channels. The vast majority of Beatles biographies do not mention him at all. Yet, according to contemporary sources cited by such researchers as R,E, Prindle, and our friends Dr. Tomoculus and Redwell Trabant, he received financial backing from George Harrison to open up a trendy discotheque known as Sybilla's. In their 2009 book  The Beatles' London: A Guide to 467 Beatles Sites in andAround London, Piet Schreuders, Mark Lewisohn and Adam Smith affirm the connection writing:

The basement of this building [at 9 Swallow Street, Mayfair] seems always to have housed night-clubs, right from its 1915 opening as the Studio Club. Between 22 June 1966 and 5 August 1968 it was Sybilla’s, a fashionable London venue part-financed by George Harrison and named after an aristocratic model, Sybilla Edmonstone. All four Beatles attended a private launch party here on 22 June 1966. (On the actual opening night, 23 June, they were in Germany.)

Sybilla’s was designed by David Mlinaric and operated by the company Kevin MacDonald Associates. An advertising copywriter, MacDonald recruited influential and wealthy friends to finance and support the venture, although he died on 15 October 1966, less than four months after it had opened.
According to most sources, MacDonald fell ten stories to his death in 1966, Sources conflict, however as to some of the details. Some say he simply walked off the roof of a building he'd never been to before. Others say that police found his fingerprints on a tenth-floor window ledge, thus indicating defenestration. Whatever the case, his death is generally characterized as a suicide.***

What's important to note here is MacDonald's connection to old money. Specifically, he was the great-great-nephew of media mogul Viscount Rothermere (Harold Farnsworth), founder of the Daily Mail. Philip Norman and other biographers have noted the Beatles', in particular McCartney's, desire for social mobility. In effect, this meant leveraging their fame for peerage (which they received and subsequently rejected) and/or higher social status. The opportunity not only to hobnob with aristocrats but partner with them as well seemed like something that all four would have seized upon given the chance. MacDonald encouraged such alliances by stating his open support for a reorganization of power away from aristocracy and towards a meritocracy, where the best and brightest would rule regardless of class or race. A 23 July 1966 Evening Standard interview cited by Prindle quotes MacDonald as saying.
Sibylla’s is the meeting ground for the new aristocracy of Britain...And by the new aristocracy I mean the current young meritocracy of style, taste and sensibility.... We’ve got everyone here.... The top creative people.... The top exporters.... The top brains.... The top artists.... The top social people.... and the best of the PYPs (swingingese for pretty young people). We’re completely classless.... We are completely integrated.... We dig the spades man.
Another aristocrat often cited as a co-founder of Sybilla's, has drawn considerably more attention from Beatles biographers. Tara Browne (right), a scion of the Guinness brewing family, is often credited as the one who personally introduced McCartney to LSD. As Steve Turner wrote in The Gospel According to the Beatles:
Paul didn't take LSD until late 1966, after the release of Revolver. He took it at the Eaton Row, London home of Tara Browne, the socialite and heir to Guinness money, who was soon to die and be immortalized in the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'.... John had warned Paul that he would never be the same again after it, and he has since said that this proved to be true.
Browne died from multiple head injuries following a collision with a parked vehicle on 18 December 1966. His passenger, model Suki Portier, received minor injuries. Again, many of the details remain a subject of debate. Some say that he was traveling in excess of 105 m.p.h. after failing to note that the light had changed from green to red. But some contend that Portier didn't say anything about excessive speed or traffic lights when describing the incident to authorities. More contentious, police reported that neither alcohol nor narcotics played a role in that evening's tragedy. Yet Marianne Faithful, a mutual friend of Browne and McCartney, spread the story that Tara was tripping on acid when the collision occurred.

Although McCartney disputed it, Lennon openly stated that Browne's death became the inspiration for the first verse of “A Day in the Life,” telling Playboy days before his death in 1980:
I was reading the paper one day and I noticed two stories. One was the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash.
And the circumstances fit. The press prominently covered Browne's death. Regardless of what the police declared, Lennon might have very well taken at face value Faithful's contention that Browne was tripping out at the time (hence the line “He blew his mind out in a car”). He could have also believed other gossip concerning the crash.

Yet a very curious passage appears before Lennon's description of the catastrophe. Line-by-line:
And though the news was rather sad.
That seems a tad odd. Okay, maybe Lennon wasn't nearly as close to Browne as McCartney. It nevertheless seems a detached, depersonalized way to discuss the death of even a casual acquaintance. Perhaps it's stereotypical on my part (and British readers can correct me if I'm wrong), but I've noticed that the English often tend to downplay their personal grief, using such terms as “rather sad” to mean something utterly devastating. At the same time, they tend to hyperbolize the emotional impact of the trivial (e.g., this example is frightfully obvious).
Well, I just had to laugh.
Why would Lennon and/or McCartney laugh at the death of a friend, or anyone else for that matter? In the next line, Lennon explains:
I saw the photograph.
John's specifically referring to this photograph, published in the Daily Mail.

Figure 2. The remains of Browne's Lotus Elan


By many accounts, the car had become highly associated with its owner, for like Browne, it symbolized wealth, elegance and class. So it's not that difficult to speculate, because of his relationship to McCartney, that Tara might have driven Paul in that exact vehicle. Speculating further, one might imagine, because McCartney stipulated that Browne had introduced him to LSD, that the two at some point rode around under the influence. If that were true, then Lennon's laughter stemmed from a profound irony: his realization that McCartney could have very well have met the same fate had he continued hanging out with the beer heir.****

What's not speculation are the similarities between the facts and scuttlebutt surrounding Browne's demise, and the 1967, 1969 and 2010 Paul-Is-Dead rumors: a vehicle crash, a female witness, a failure to notice a change in traffic lights, McCartney's putative presence in the car, the deliberate allusion to the event on a track of the Sgt. Pepper album, and a (perhaps) unconscious allusion to it on the album's cover and liner sleeve.

I would posit that the first seeds of the Paul-Is-Dead rumor were planted earlier, in 1964, with the release of several albums by the band calling itself Billy Pepper and the Pepperpots. At this time, there was no master narrative, only a strategy and the practical expression of a collective ideology; an ideology that would develop and expand as the 1960s continued; an ideology that would realize its first substantive expression in the founding of Apple Corps Ltd.  Sgt. Pepper planted more seeds, incorporating conscious examination of death, and in turn inspiring the particular narrative that took hold concerning McCartney's fate.

One can imagine how such a narrative would have formed. If someone saw McCartney riding around with Tara Browne, they could have also associated Paul with that automobile. So when a famous photograph of said car made headline news, it would be a short step from saying, “The Lotus McCartney was riding in crashed,” to “That's McCartney's Lotus what crashed.”

Couple this with McCartney's first tentative steps into LSD experimentation, along with Lennon's admonishment that the experience would irrevocably change his life. In a sense, this means that whatever McCartney was before LSD would cease to be. While in western culture we tend to view death as a terminal event, one has to keep in mind the Beatles' fascination with Eastern culture, and their growing belief in cycles of death and rebirth, as exemplified in the song “Tomorrow Never Knows” (see previous post). Hence, we (and perhaps even McCartney) could say that he experienced a metaphoric death and rebirth during the fall of 1966.

While one would have to believe that the Beatles could very well distinguish between metaphorical death and its literal counterpart, these factors provide a basis for the development of a narrative that consciously focuses on McCartney apart from the other three. As many who have chronicled the PID rumor for some time have noted, McCartney is repeatedly singled out in the artwork and visual media produced by the Beatles. This often occurs through the positioning of someone's open hand over his head, or a by a different coloring scheme, or (as the case in Yellow Submarine) the inclusion of a duplicate McCartney.

Adding to this is the fact that McCartney had two audio doubles, as confirmed in voiceprint analyses performed by Dr. Henry Truby (linguist, University of Miami, FL), and the likelihood of at least one visual double.

In toto what this strongly implies is that there were deliberate allusions to McCartney as somehow separate from the other three as early as 1967, Tara Browne's passing, McCartney's relationship to Browne, and unconscious expression of grief over the losses of Epstein, Jacobs and others. There's nothing to indicate, however, that the band and their associates were specifically thinking of a PID storyline until fans made their own connection in 1969.

My first guess is that the Beatles were shocked, perhaps even horrified by the notion that fans would think that McCartney died in 1966. McCartney himself might have been further non-plussed with the realization that some of their fans might secretly hope the rumors were true. Moreover, both Lennon and McCartney openly expressed frustration at fans who read too much into their lyrics, despite the fact that they most likely included a number of in-jokes referring to the latter's separatism.

But, after thinking about it for awhile, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Starkey, Aspinall, Evans, Taylor et al might have begun to see this particular narrative as something they could exploit for positive, maybe even altruistic ends.

___________________________
*Co-created by Jann Haworth. Actual photo taken by Michael Cooper.

**There are tons of material written about who is on the cover and why. I don't wish to get into a lengthy discussion about that, but you can find out more at Wikipedia and elsewhere.

***Doc T. expressed some doubts as to Harrison's actual ownership, citing in part a letter in which George writes the partnership to explain that he will settle his bar tab with them when he comes back from abroad. The question would be why he would have to settle a bar tab at his own club. Of course, depending on their own policies, each owner might have been held accountable in order to keep from drinking up the profits, an arrangement not unheard of in such partnerships.

****I actually came upon some accounts that McCartney had ridden in the vehicle less than twenty-four hours before the incident, but have not verified them.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

All You Need

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game.

It's easy.

Nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time.

It's easy.

All you need is love.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “All You Need Is Love” (1967)

Bang, bang! Maxwell's silver hammer came
Down upon her head.
Clang, clang! Maxwell's silver hammer made
Sure that she was dead.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Maxwell's Silver Hammer,” Abbey Road (1969)

Love is all and love is everyone.
It is knowing. It is knowing.

And ignorance and hate may mourn the dead
It is believing. It is believing.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Revolver (1966)

Whatever happened to
The life that we once knew?
Can we really live without each other?
Where did we lose the touch
That seemed to mean so much?
It always made me feel so...
--John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard Starkey, “Free as a Bird,” Anthology (1995)

Now my advice for those who die:
Declare the pennies on your eyes.”
--George Harrison, “Taxman,” Revolver (1966)

Just like little girls and boys
Playing with their little toys,
Seems like all they really were doing
Was waiting for love.

Don't need to be alone.
No need to be alone.
It's real love, it's real.
Yes it's real love, it's real.
--John Lennon, “Real Love,” Anthology 2 (1996)

I'd like to be
Under the sea
In an octopus's garden
In the shade
--Richard Starkey, “Octopus's Garden,” Abbey Road (1969)

Spread the word, and you'll be free.
Spread the word, and be like me.
Spread the word I'm thinking of.
Have you heard? The word is 'love.'
---John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “The Word,” Revolver (1965)

Eleanor Rigby
Died in the church and was
Buried along with her name.

Nobody came.
--John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Mal Evans, “Eleanor Rigby,” Revolver (1966)

Everywhere,
People stare,
Each and every day.

I can see them
Laugh at me,
And I hear them say,

'Hey! You've got to hide your love away.'
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “You've Got to Hide Your Love Away,” Help! (1965)

Hey Bungalow Bill!
What did you kill,
Bungalow Bill?
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,” The Beatles (1968)

All these places have their moments,
With lovers and friends I still can recall.
Some are dead and some are living.
In my life, I loved them all.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “In My Life,” Rubber Soul (1965)

Black, White, Green, Red,
Can't I take my friend to bed?
Pink, brown, yellow, orange,
Blue, I love you.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “All Together Now,” Yellow Submarine (1969)

The traffic light changed from green to red.
They tried to stop but they both wound up dead
--Vivian Stanshall and Neil Innes, “Death Cab for Cutie,” (movie) Magical Mystery Tour (1967)*

I look
At you all,
See the love
There that's sleeping,

While my guitar gently weeps.
--George Harrison, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” The Beatles (1968)

I'm sorry that I doubted you.
I was so unfair.
You were in a car crash,
And you lost your hair.
--Richard Starkey, “Don't Pass Me By,” The Beatles (1968)

Love is old. Love is new.
Love is all. Love is you.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Because,” Abbey Road (1969)

I read the news today, oh boy,
About a lucky man who made the grade.
And though the news was rather sad,
Well, I just had to laugh.

I saw the photograph.

He blew his mind out in a car.
He didn't notice that the lights had changed.
A crowd of people stood and stared.
They'd seen his face before. But nobody was really sure if he was from the house of Lords.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “A Day in the Life,” Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

If you want to know what's up with these song lyrics, then watch this space.

______________
*Performed in the film by Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and featured on their 1967 album Gorilla.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Secret (?) Spot of Fun

The theories of CIA, KKK, UFO's, Paul in space, Don Knotts....fucking hell!!! I'M JERKING YOU OFF????? Keep it simple, follow the clues, have a spot of fun, That is the "story line" NOW. There is a method to my madness.
--Apollo C. Vermouth (possibly former Apple Corps Ltd. CEO Neil Aspinall), Nothing Is Real online forum (January 2008)

Listen.
Do you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?

Whoa, whoa,

Closer,
Let me whisper in your ear.
Say the words you long to hear...
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” Please Please Me (1963)

Whoever, or whatever the poster going the handle Apollo C. Vermouth was, I find a certain wisdom in his thoughts, or as he said a method to his madness. And for a few posts, I'll be taking his advice and having a spot of fun with the topic.

Of course, one person's fun can be another's drudgery. In many of these posts I have to rely on the expertise of others—court officers, investigators, pathologists, engineers (e.g., our friend John B), pilots (again, our friend (John B.), psychologists (you know who you are), artists (ditto, Russell, Foam, K9), those who witnessed or participated in the stories that I've recounted (e.g., Jackie, Judy, Stephanie, Keith, Erik, etc.), and so on. So it's kinda fun for me when I have an opportunity to use some of my own expertise for a change.
And what is that, exactly?

Good question. Let's just say my day gig involves analyzing texts. Textual analysis cannot prove intent, but can shed light on it. The real purpose isn't to put thoughts or motivations into the author's head—especially if these are contrary to what she truly thinks or feels. Rather, what people like me attempt to do is demonstrate a consistency of expression, if necessary assess the amount of conscious or unconscious deliberation that went on in the making of said expression, and correlate the intended meaning to the perceived, or some cases perceivable, meaning(s).

People in my field have long understood that when an artist creates a piece of work, that work no longer belongs to them. That might seem contrary to commonsense (not to mention intellectual property rights). But in reality, art is communication. It takes two to tango, as the old saw goes. For true communication to exist, there must be both a sender and receiver.

Most texts contain a combination of conscious and unconscious intent. The receivers of these messages (for our purposes here, let's just refer to them as 'audiences') will usually pick up on most of the conscious meaning, and to varying degrees some of the unconscious meaning that the sender didn't intended to convey, but nevertheless did. We often describe this as the blindness or self-delusion of speakers, especially those we see as pompous, cocksure, egotistical, ignorant, and so forth. As illustrated in Johari Window diagrams, we have sides to ourselves that we never see, but others do. So, when we express, what lies hidden to us becomes visible to everyone else.*


Figure 1. Johari Window


Consequently, when an artist produces a text, he or she can still deny that it has an unintentional meaning specified by others, and be quite sincere about that belief. Moreover, the artist might attempt to control perception of the unintended meaning either by vehement denials or ridicule, public relations, or in rare cases finding some way to silence the observation. But, as stated earlier, the artist no longer has total control of the message once its disseminated.

While audiences tend to make earnest attempts to receive the artist's message faithfully, their perception would also filter through biases or motivations that they are unaware of in themselves. Thus, in that box labeled 'Hidden' lies all of the meaning that the audience adds to the text, that the artist knows isn't there. It's here where the artist might observe that interpretation says more about the receiver than it does the message itself. Moreover, the artist can become keenly aware that the audience has or has not understood the intended expression.

And then, there's that fourth box labeled 'Unknown.' With respect to the Paul-Is-Dead mythology, it's where much of the speculation, discovery, hypothesizing and so on occurs. Consequently, it's a gray area where poking around is a lot of fun.

My point is that the Paul-Is-Dead hoax contains a storyline that audiences have largely generated themselves. Yet, there remain a small number of items, “clues” if you will, that the Beatles, individually and collectively, deliberately and unconsciously interjected.  And these point to a specific narrative that centers on McCartney. Apollo likened this to a novel in everyone has read the entire book except for the last chapter.

I have no clue what that final chapter consists of. Nor do I care to discover it, despite the rumored money prize to the person who “solves” the mystery.**

What I'd prefer to do is write my own final chapter to this story. One can take that for what it's worth. But at least I'd consider that fun.

_____________
*The old story of the “Emperor's New Clothes” is a perfect example of the concept. The king intends to demonstrate his superior understanding, sophistication and power. Of course, he is unwittingly telling his subjects that he is a vain and foolish man. What's worse, his subjects see that (and presumably much more), yet say nothing. They work harder at maintaining the illusion than the king himself.

**According to some, that's a $100,000 prize.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I Imagine You Don't Sleep too Well—Just a Feeling

Everybody had a hard year.
Everybody had a good time.
Everybody got a wet dream.
Everybody saw the sunshine.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “I've Got a Feeling,” Let It Be (1970)

Those freaks was right when they said
You was dead.
The one mistake you made was
In your head.
--John Lennon, “How Do You Sleep?” Imagine (1971)
While one might speculate about whether or not the mysterious YouTuber going by the handle Iamaphoney has some sort of connection to Apple Corps Ltd., there's one thing that's beyond speculation. Although he/she and others have generated a lot of Internet buzz about the Paul-Is-Dead rumor over the past five years, the most visible, long-term and mainstream propagators of the legend have always been the Beatles themselves.*

Let's face it, there have been celebrity death rumors for centuries, as Britney Spears and Bob Dylan can tell you. So could Daniel Boone, Mark Twain and Vince Lombardi, were they still alive. But in all of the above cases, the celebrity in question stopped the rumor simply by appearing.

And initially, the PID rumor ended when the 1 February 1967 edition of the Beatles' official fan newsletter announced that Sir J. Paul McCartney had not died. In the fall of 1969, the rumor ended again when McCartney gave an interview to Life magazine. The numerous and indignant denials from the likes of John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Derek Taylor Rick Sklar and others in the weeks immediately following the Russ Gibb WKNR broadcast gave the impression that the Beatles, their company and their loyal fans wanted the morbid fascination to end once and for all. Yet, in reality, the rumor would have probably died years ago were it not for the fact that the Beatles, most consistently McCartney himself, kept reminding everyone about it.

For the moment, I'd prefer not to offer any conjecture as to why they did this, but instead offer a few select examples showing in no uncertain terms that they did. Starting with this one:

Figure 1. Clip from Imagine**


Imagine, a 1972 film depicting a day in the life of Ono and Lennon, is in large part documentary. So, when Lennon and colleague George Harrison have what appears to be a private conversation about Beatle Bill and Beatle Ed, it would appear that this was a serious, sober and rational matter for them to discuss in the course of their normal business together. The same goes for Harrison's reference to the Beatles as the Fab Three, instead of the Fab Four. The two seem to come to the awkward realization that cameras have just captured these intimate ramblings for all posterity, embarrassing Lennon into give the viewer an exaggerated wink. It's as if he's just gotten caught with his britches down and is trying to laugh it off saying, “I meant to do that.”

The irony here is that Lennon and Harrison might have really meant to do that. Imagine was only partly a documentary. To a substantial degree, it was also a mockumentary that included various gags scripted by Ono and Lennon. In one sequence, for example, the couple get lost and separated on the expansive grounds of their estate, Titenhurst Manor. One of the running jokes featured a number of their celebrity friends, among them dancer Fred Astaire, acting as their personal servants. In this vein, one could easily see the above scene as a very subtle and sly reference to the PID rumor by invoking the name of the alleged Faul.

The reference to the Fab Three likewise calls to mind one of the more legendary clues featured in the TV movie Magical Mystery Tour. In the video for the song “I Am the Walrus,” writing on the drum kit appears to say, “[Heart] 3 Beatles.” (left).

While these references are quite subtle, tempting one to dismiss their implications in the rumor as coincidence, what follows isn't subtle at all, namely the recording session for the aforementioned “How Do You Sleep.” in which Lennon makes an unambiguous allusion to the rumor, addressing McCartney directly in response to what he interpreted as slights against him on the latter's Ram album. This lets us know concretely that both Harrison and Lennon had a familiarity with the rumor, and strongly implies that they had some idea about its nature and content.

In the video for his 1987 single “When We Was Fab ,” Harrison made another subtle allusion to the rumor when at exactly the two-minute mark we see a left-handed bass player dressed in the very walrus costume that McCartney, another left-handed bassist, donned during the “I Am the Walrus” sequence in Magical Mystery Tour.

This and many other post-Beatles PID “clues” have become a subject of interest for those advancing the notion that McCartney died in 1966. While one can easily see the connections as meaningless, a case of reading way too much into a given text, one has to realize the craftsmanship and deliberation that goes into making both a song and video. One would also have to realize that after living with the rumor for what would turn out to be decades, the folks at Apple would have to be keenly aware of the semiotics involved with it. It's therefore unlikely that any connection between the Walrus sequence of “Fab” and the rumor were unintentional.

Over the years, gossip depicts McCartney as highly aggravated by the rumor, which has unfairly dogged him since 1969. Yet, he, above all others has stoked interest in it. As an actor, Paul made numerous allusions to it, from his guest appearances on The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live. In a 1987 black comedy titled Eat the Rich, McCartney and wife Linda Eastman, playing themselves, are herded, killed and eaten by cannibals, despite McCartney's feeble protestation, “I'm with the group.” Again, McCartney's poking fun at his own putative demise. In a flippant way he's offering, or participating in, an alternate version of PID.

In numerous interviews he's willing to discuss the topic.

Figure 2. 15 July 2009 McCartney Appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman***


Looking at the above interview, one might suspect that Letterman ambushed McCartney with questions directly involved with the Paul-Is-Dead rumor. I can assure you that was never the case. If you've ever had the (ahem!) pleasure of interviewing a celebrity, even if only for academic reasons, you'll know that a day or two before your conference you'll get these papers from their publicist. The papers outline what the celebrity wants to talk about and what he or she is willing to talk about. The papers also express up front, and in unequivocal terms. what you are forbidden to discuss. Moreover, by signing the paper you allow the celebrity to not only terminate the interview at that point, but to prevent you from publishing anything said previously in the interview. Shows like Letterman are prerecorded, so if the host were to ask a question that McCartney feels uncomfortable with, he would certainly have to edit that out. Of course, Letterman is an important figure for entertainers, who rely on him to promote their work. So Dave might get away with a mere redaction. Then again, he might not and the celebrity in question might force him to scrap the interview. Either way, any awkward material would not air.

And McCartney definitely has things he doesn't want to talk about. For instance, you won't hear him saying much about ex-wife Heather Mills. Furthermore, he's not shy about terminating an interview. The 2008 documentary Heather Mills What Really Happened shows a clip of McCartney abruptly leaving (presumably because of a question about Mills) at the 9:11 mark, with McCartney telling the interviewer, “Are we somewhat breaking away from the script? [Without waiting for reply] Yes we have.” and then rising.

McCartney clearly does not have the PID rumor on his list of forbidden subjects. In fact, there were times when other interviewers didn't bring it up, so he did. In a 2001 interview for NPR's Fresh Air, host Terry Gross, who had yet to mention the rumor, asked him about the nature of his collaboration with Lennon. McCartney explained that in the later years the collaboration took more of the form of a vetting process. Using the song “Glass Onion” as an example, he said:
There was a song of his called 'Glass Onion,' where he had a line about the walrus, here's another clue for you all, the walrus was Paul. And he wanted to keep it but he needed to check it with me. He said, 'What do you think about that line?'

I said, 'It's a great line. You know, it's a spoof on the way everyone was always reading into our songs.
So here, McCartney not only alludes to the rumor independently of the interviewer, but gives some commentary about one of its key issues, namely the misinterpretation of popular song lyrics, especially his and Lennon's.

Back in the 1970s, McCartney took a deliberate stab at propagating the rumor when commissioning famed writer Isaac Asimov to write a screenplay for him, according to Beatle biographer Peter Doggett. The story was about two bands; an original, and their extraterrestrial imposters. As McCartney explained, "The real one would be in pursuit of the imposters and would eventually defeat them, despite the fact that the latter had supernormal powers."

The project never got past Asimov's final draft, McCartney opting instead to do something else. Looking back on the incident, Asimov mused, “It's tempting to imagine that the project collapsed because McCartney knew subconsciously that he was aligned with the losing side.”****

Others connected to McCartney have issued statements that fueled the PID hypothesis. Of course, the Beatles most likely did not generate these themselves, but either declined to challenge them or played a passive role in their dissemination. An example of the latter would be Terry Knight's 1969 song “Saint Paul,” licensed by Maclen Publishing, Paul and John's personal firm. An example of the former occurred in October 2007 when Mills, responding to the negative publicity received in the wake of her divorce to McCartney, made a slew of cryptic comments.  The pro-PID camp came to regard such statements as evidence that she came to a specific (not to mention dramatic) realization:  the man she married wasn't the man she thought she married:
I've protected Paul for this long. And I am trying to protect him now. I am trying. And I'm being pushed to the edge. And that's as much as I can say or I go to jail for telling the truth...I know everything. I know the truth...I have a box of evidence that's going to certain persons should anything happen to me. [Looks directly at camera.] So if you top me off, It's still going to go that certain person, and the truth will come out. There's such a fear from a certain party of the truth coming out.... I'm not allowed to talk about it because it's a criminal act. You have no idea what's going on.
Granted, Mills has a reputation, deserved or not, for (how can I say this?) playing fast and loose with the truth. Heather Mills: What Really Happened unabashedly depicts her as a second-generation grifter who, unlike her dad, pulled off the greatest swindle in the history of crime and never spent a day in jail. But with respect to this particular rumor, that doesn't matter. The inference still remains that McCartney has kept some gawd-awful secret from the public. Also, there's the lure of concrete proof in the form of a “box of evidence” to find. What's more, Mills allegations found incorporation into the 2010 Paul-Is-Dead rumor, in which she plays a rather significant role.*****

We have also witnessed a number of other parties aggressively generating interest for the rumor, whose connections to the Beatles are quite possible, but unconfirmed. If, as the Nothing Is Real board insists, poster Apollo C. Vermouth was really former Apple Corp CEO Neil Aspinall (at one time a prime candidate for Fauldom), then we could see a very direct link to Apple. As our friend Redwell Trabant noted on his blog, there might even be a paper trail that connects Aspinall to Iamaphoney, who's stock and trade has been promoting the Paul-Is-Dead rumor on YouTube (see previous post). At the very least, we have good reason to consider some kind of connection between Iamaphoney and Apple due to the former's extensive and unchallenged use of the latter's licensed material without apparent compensation. This is quite important to note because Apple is a company well known for rigorously defending its copyrights. If nothing else, Apple has certainly tolerated Iamaphoney's copyright violations, and from this we can only surmise that Iamaphoney is not working counter to the corporation's interest.

In summary, we can say with some confidence that the Beatles not only knew about the rumor, but also knew some of the details involved with it. After all, they've lived with it for almost forty-five years and counting. They would not have needed an in-depth knowledge to poke fun at it, or to bring it to public attention. Rather, they would only have to invoke a few loaded terms (e.g., “clue,” double,” “Bill,” “Billy,” “William”) or symbols (e.g., walrus, an automobile, etc.). And if need be they can (and did) directly bring up the subject in a tongue-in-cheek way.

Let's face it. Celebrity death rumors are as old as the concept of modern celebrity. They're a penny a dozen.  They come and go. They're not stories that the public holds onto for any length of time, usually. Conversely, celebrity life rumors have, in showbiz parlance, shown more legs, and for reasons not difficult to understand. It's kinda cool to think that such favorites as Elvis Presley, Tupac Shakur, Jim Morrison, Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson might still walk this planet, giving us (i.e., their fans) a chance to meet them still.

And, as mentioned before, the PID also died out initially. And most likely it would have died permanently except for the fact that those closest to the story continued to perpetuate it for decades.

So that prompts a rather obvious question: why would they do that?

_____________
*By Beatles, I'm not only referring to Harrison, Lennon, McCartney and Richard Starkey, but to their friends, family, and associates at Apple Corps.

**Iamaphoney's edit of this scene (appearing forty-four seconds into the video) omits any reference to Beatle Ed, who is the true antecedent of the “number five in Sweden” comment. Since legend has it that Faul's name was Billy Shepherd, one could only guess, from this abridged version, that they can be talking about no one else but the phoney McCartney. Yet, the original cut, as aired, puts the conversation in a very different context.

***One can see another sly allusion to the rumor when McCartney mentions the first name of someone in Michael Jackson's entourage: Billy—the same name of the fictional double.

****I'll defer commentary on Asimov's remarks for the time being, but keep them in mind. Cryptic as they are, we're left with the question of what they mean.

*****I obviously didn't talk about the 2010 rumor during the original series because I posted that in 2007. In brief summary, the events are pretty much the same as in the 1969 rumor, but with a few twists. In this one, traffic cop Rita was not on duty when the accident occurred, but rather a passenger in McCartney's car. (And no, Doc T., I haven't forgotten about Tara Browne. Later.) Although quite shaken by the crash, she nevertheless survived with only minor injuries. Instead of being asked to go along with a charade involving the Canadian Provost Corp (C Pro C), as the 1969 rumor would have it, MI6 gave the group and Epstein no choice in the matter. The spymaster heading the op was known to them all only as Maxwell, and he threatened to kill any one of them should they ever divulge the secret. As with the 1969 rumor, Lennon did his best to undermine the plan by including clues in the lyrics, music and artwork.

Maxwell eventually had to kill a number of people who threatened to blow the lid, starting with Epstein, and eventually including road manager Mal Evans, Knight, and even Lennon. Lovely Rita was also targeted for a hit, the assassin's weapon of choice being an automobile. But the assassin didn't finish the job. Rita survived, but she lost a leg. This left her hopping mad, so she decided to get even by undergoing this amazing cosmetic surgery and assuming the identity of Heather Mills. (Note, Mills was born in 1968, two years after McCartney's putative death.) Mills then blackmailed the phoney McCartney (or Faul) into marrying her, so that she could get a share of the hush money when she divorced him two weeks before his sixty-fourth birthday (so I guess the answer to that musical question would be 'No!').

Like the 1994 rumor, someone credited George Harrison as the source. But unlike the 1994 tale, which simply featured an Internet statement that anyone could have written, Harrison supposedly divulged this information in five audiocassete tapes mailed to California filmmaker Joel Gilbert, who used them as narration for the 2010 film Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison. The premise here is that Harrison began this series of recordings less than forty-eight hours after Michael Abram tried to murder him. The narrator (presumably George) felt strongly that Maxwell attempted to silence him because of his own decision to expose the plot.  The tapes subsequently served as an insurance policy, of sorts.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

You're a Good Man, Akhenaten

You're a good man, Akhenaten.
You're the kind of reminder we need.
You have humility, nobility and a sense of honor
That is very rare indeed.

You're a good man, Akhenaten,
And we know you will go very far.
Yes it's hard to believe. Almost striking to conceive
What a good man, you are!


Wouldn't you know, historical revisionists have pounded my inbox these past two weeks to disagree with a previous post. I have clarified this issue I don't know how many times.

Okay, so I only clarified the issue once. You'd think that would be enough. I nevertheless have to do it again. So, for those who couldn't see the truth if it slapped them repeatedly in the face whilst singing “Yankee Doodle,” we'll go over this one more time.

Here's a sample of what I'm talking about:
X,

Your statement about Robert Palmer being Linus van Pelt is incorrect. I have proof positive that Linus was none other than the current usurper of the Oval Office, Barack Hussein Obama. Everyone over at Prism Planet knows this. Why can't you wake up and smell the bacon?

You're just assuming that because Linus and Robert Oalmer [sic] look exactly alike they must be the same person. But what you fail to understand is that Soviet plastic surgery methods perfected the art of making anyone look like anyone else. Robert Palmor [sic] was in fact a KGB agent named Stanislav Richterkov. He was part of a Rusky plot to unload a secret shipment of tainted soft drinks in order to impurify, infiltrate, corrupt and sap our precious bodily fluids. Click here for proof positive.

Have you seen the video? [The correspondent doesn't specify, but I'm assuming he's referring to 'Simply Irresistible']. The women in it look nothing like Linus' sister, Lucy. They're actually clones of Pottsylvanian superspy Natasha Fetale [recte:Fatale]. Now Natasha was a cartoon who had the steroid 3-D treatment. And this is where you made your mistake. You mixed her up with Palmerr [sic], and Palner [sic] with Linus.

Now, if you know anything about the Peanuts comic strip, you'd realize that Lucy isn't Linus' sister. She's his mother.  She's always bossing him around and putting him in his place when he gets going with all that uppity talk, or when he can't let go of that pinko blanket. And she didn't stay a cartoon, no way Jose. She went 3-D too. And if you look very closely, you'll see that they are a dead ringer. I'm attaching an instagram of both of them at the end of this e-mail so that even you can make the connection.

In case you're even stupider than I thought, let me repeat this shortly and sweetly: Linus van Pelt is Barack Obamination. He is not Robert Oalnorr [sic].

Tired of this bullshit,
Jack D. Tripper
2012 Presidential nominee, Tea Smoking Party

Figure 1. Attached Instagrams of Dr. S. Ann Dunham and Lucy van Pelt Schroeder.



I don't really know where to begin with something like this. It's clear these people have no serious evidence. And you'll note there's a bit of inconsistency here. He's making the connection between van Pelt Schroeder and Dr. Dunham based on similarities in physical appearance. However, he dismisses the connection between Palmer and Linus for the same reason. And frankly, these two women don't look much alike, other than their hair color.

I also find that e-mails such as these insult the intelligence of the average person. Then again, I guess we've gotten used to it, what with the President accused of (1) being born in Kenya, (2) being a mind-controlled robot of communist 1960s terrorists—the worst kind, (3) being a terrorist, (4) being a Muslim, (5) being a Muslim terrorist, (6) participating in cocaine-fueled gangbangs with gay midgets in the back of a Kia Sephia, (7) causing earthquakes in California, (8) creating the common cold in a laboratory, (9) selling the nation into slavery to pay off the mortgage on his house, (10) forcing Catholics to wear condoms and have sex at atheistic state hospitals where only Obamacare is allowed and abortions are strictly enforced, (11) being the anti-Christ, (12) being a 1960s communist terrorist Muslim anti-Christ, and so on.

To date, mainstream pundits have leveled, encouraged, or supported forty-five unfounded conspiracy hypotheses against the President, the latest, of course, his allegedly secret past as Linus van Pelt.

I realize that you're all too smart to believe that.

Besides, everyone knows that President Obama is actually the clone of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Seriously.

You don't believe me? Watch this.

Figure 2. Important, rational political-historical analysis done by a keen expert mind.




So, there you have it. There's your proof positive.

Obviously, going from Pharaoh to President constitutes a severe demotion for Mr. Obama. But he seems to be tolerating the situation quite well. And I kinda like the fact that we have a chief executive with some experience in the role, for a change.

Regarding the Linus van Pelt issue, I'm hoping that I've finally made this clear: van Pelt and Robert Palmer are one and the same. Case closed..


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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Elementary Penguins

As I was saying....
Expert, textpert choking smokers
Don't you think the Joker laughs at you?
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “I Am the Walrus,” Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
The YouTuber going by the handle Iamaphoney has drawn considerable attention from those looking into the Paul-Is-Dead narrative, and not only because of his/her deceptive presentation in some of the videos, or because of the scatter-shot delivery of unverifiable information. Rather, many have fixated on Iamaphoney because of the mystery surrounding his/her identity. Obviously, someone like me can understand the need for a fellow netizen to maintain a modicum of privacy by using a carefully guarded nom de plume. Some, however, feel that the identity of the poster might possibly shed some light about his/her motivations, and consequently the purpose of the videos.

While some names (e.g., Heather Mills) have been playfully thrown into the list of usual suspects, it's curious to see that much of the speculation centers around people associated with the Beatles or Apple Corps Ltd.

There's good reason for the speculation. For the bulk of its history, Apple Corps has aggressively protected its trademark and copyrights. The company forced settlements with such corporate titans as EMI and Nike in 1979 and 1988, respectively. On 5 February 2007, the Beatles ended what had become an epic struggle between themselves and Apple Computers with a settlement that allowed the latter to purchase all rights to the corporate name 'Apple' in return for a nine-figure sum.* In return, Apple Computers granted the Fab Four an exclusive license to continue using the Apple Corps brand for all Beatle-related projects and business interests.

The lengths to which Apple Corps has gone to ensure its trademark and copyright seemed rather odd in light of the fact that Iamaphoney has made available voluminous amounts of Beatles music, film clips and photography that extend far beyond fair usage. One of the main tests of fair usage involves the issue of diminished monetary value. In practical terms, if someone wanted to be entertained by the Beatles, could they go to Iamaphoney's free YouTube channel instead of buying a CD or DVD licensed by Apple?

In this case, the answer is definitely yes. The Iamaphoney videos are extraordinarily entertaining precisely because of their Beatles content.

Earlier, in an update to the original PID series, I cited the declaration made by moderators of the Nothing-Is-Real board, a forum for the Paul-Is-Dead rumor, that one of their main posters, Apollo C. Vermouth, was in fact former Apple Corps CEO Neil Aspinall. Vermouth not only knew of Iamaphoney's videos but alluded to them. If Aspinall and Vermouth were one and the same, then it's clear that he did not wish to pursue litigation against Iamaphoney—or at least force YouTube to remove the offending material, something one often finds on the site when potential copyright violations have occurred. This would imply that at the very least Aspinall endorsed the Iamaphoney project.

Some contend that Aspinall did more than simply endorse Iamaphoney. If, for instance, you ask Wikianswers, “Who is Iamaphoney” you'll get the following response:
The iamaphoney org was formed by Neil Aspinall in 1990 to set the record straight about the death of Paul McCartney in 1966. Knowing it might scare most fans they decided to tell the truth (the revelation) over a decade.
Neil Aspinall died in 2008 and left the org without any directions and a true false flag operation was planned. Now in 2009 the rotten apple series are run by MPL, Paul McCartneys own firm. **
Yeah, I don't know who pens these replies for Wikianswers, either.  But I do know the genesis of the supposition. As Aspinall told author Peter Dogget shortly before the former's death:
Paul called me...saying, 'You should collect as much of the [film] material that's out there, get it together before it disappears.'***
This conversation between McCartney and Aspinall occurred in 1970, in the context of McCartney's absolute (and for excellent reason) distrust of Allen Klein, who only months before had taken the helm of Apple Corps. This collection effort ultimately culminated in the broadcast of Anthology, a 1995 documentary mini-series produced by Apple Corps.

The point of this conversation was to develop a hidden cache of material away from Klein's ability to horde and subsequently exploit it.**** And the Beatles had a mechanism with which to do this: namely a clustersmurf of subsidiary corporations that ex-Python Michael Palin gleefully called 'The Money-Go-Round;” myriad companies created, sometimes on an ad hoc basis, for cross-collateralization and tax-sheltering reasons.

Dogget mentioned one such company hidden within this web called Stand By Films, ostensibly formed in 1970. If you go to its website, you'll find a rather Spartan page, its sole (hidden) link connecting to an e-mail address (info@standbyfilms.com).

Odd. You'd think the Beatles could afford to hire a webslinger, someone who could really make a snazzy page.

Online PID researchers have speculated that Stand By Films produced the Iamaphoney videos. Blogger Redwell Trabant, posting at a site simply titled Beatles Conspiracy gave a somewhat comprehensive run-down of links between Apple Corps and the Iamaphoney videos.***** First off, Trabant noted that one Billy Martin, a man claiming credit for the Iamaphoney videos on his LinkedIn page, listed his employer as Stand Up Films. When Trabant wrote Martin, asking about a possible connection between that company and Stand By Films, he/she got the following reply.

Figure 1. Screenshot of LinkedIn page.

 

Trabant then followed up with what purports to be a balance sheet of Stand By Films. Dated 31 March 2007, it lists an expected outlay of £213,362 to unnamed creditors for 2006-2007.

Figure 2. Alleged balance sheet.


Iamphoney posted the first video on 10 November 2006. Anonymous speculated that this balance sheet entry was in fact a payment for the first batch of Iamaphoney videos.

One feature of the videos noted by virtually everyone who has seen them is that their quality improves as the series progresses. But if you view them semi-carefully, you'll notice jumps in this improvement. One such jump can be seen between Episode 26 and Episode 27, which one can note literally within the first ten seconds. The intro features what sounds like a very familiar recording, namely “Let It Be.” But there's a difference. First off the voice does not sound like McCartney as he sounded on the original track, but rather how he sounded in his late-sixties, early-seventies; the voice here is deeper, heavier, with a bit of rasp, and limited vocal range. More important, there is a change in lyric that directly addresses the PID rumor, specifically the addition of the name 'Bill,' an obvious reference to Billy Sheppard/Campbell/Pepper/Shears who supposedly replaced McCartney in 1966.

The reason this strikes me as interesting is two-fold. One, Iamaphoney posted this on 7 February 2007. In other words, this was the first video posted after the settlement with Apple Computers. Two, Episode20, posted on or around 24 December 2007, was pulled. According to a statement on the player, YouTube pulled the video because it violated the copyright of Apple Corps Ltd.

You read that right.

That's a real screamer of a reason, since the entire series features substantial Beatles material. If someone at Apple objected to the release because it contained Beatle material, you'd think they'd pull the plug on the others as well. Seeing that it's clearly listed with the episode number of, um, 20, they'd have realized that there were nineteen other episodes. Yet they zeroed in on that one.

Speculating just a bit, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Iamaphoney is either endorsed by, connected to (via joint venture) or a part of Apple Corps Limited. Note the date of Episode 20 and the context. Apple Corps is in the fight of its life trying to establish control of the Apple brand. It's facing an uphill struggle, one which will require it to make a severe compromise six weeks later. I've never seen the video, nor a description of it. But if we suppose that the subject of the video might have been Apple Computers, or in some way touched upon the ongoing dispute with the company formed by Steves Jobs and Wozniak, then we would have one explanation for why the record-label pulled the video. It could have possibly violated Apple Computer's licensing, or have fallen into a real legal gray area. For all we know, it could have been vetted by Apple's attorneys, and given the thumbs down. If that were the case we might even consider the possibility that in a fit of cheekiness Apple Corps released—or allowed and/or encouraged the release—a pre-censored video, or a video that very few would see before its swift and complete redaction from YouTube.

One could further conjecture that any backing the Beatles might have given to the Iamaphoney project had been kept hush-hush while the lawsuit pended, not only because viewers could then easily discern the purpose of the videos, but because, by calling it “The Rotten Apple” series, they might have fanned the legal flames that characterized The War of the Apples. If McCartney indeed contributed the opening to Episode 27, it could have represented a celebration, of sorts. Perhaps with the weight of litigation off its back, Apple could kick up its heels a little and participate more directly in this series' production.

Okay. That's not a bit of speculation. That's a whole lot of speculation. The reason I offer it here is that it is so very consistent with other observations that require no speculation at all.

________________
*You'll have to forgive me, but the computer that I started this series on has bit the dust, and have since had to replace it with a new one. In the process, I lost some of the notes I had not yet backed up, including the exact price involved. If memory serves, it was somewhere in the $360 million range.

**More accurately, MPL is the parent company of McCartney's other businesses.

 ***Dogget, Peter. 2009. You Never Give Me Your Money. New York: HarperCollins.

This book features a pretty interesting business history of the Beatles and their unbelievably complex corporate structure.

****This is precisely what Klein did with the Sam Cooke catalog. He kept tight controls with respect to licensing Sam's music.

*****Note the URL. There's an American film company called Beacon Films, but I was unsuccessful in locating a British company with that name. But you can see that this Beatles Conspiracy page has a UK web-address. Were some of our old friends from the previous series around, they could, with good reason, suspect an ARG of some sort.

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