0103blog

Where’s Lucy

I once worked with a woman who was the most boring person in the universe, ever, she could make year-old cottage cheese look exciting. We were colleagues for seven years and she did things like cover infernally boring Rockaway Planning Board meetings, which have spelled death to many a reporter, and I have no clue whatsoever about this colleague who I will call Lucy, not wanting to embarrass her in the one in a million shot that she read this blog, even though she should.

Lucy spoke with a flat, monotone voice without any hint of emotion, her appearance was altogether plain, her demeanor said nothing was going on inside, you could look deep in her eyes and see an abyss and she would be totally unforgettable but then why do I think of her fairly frequently? We used to make gentle fun of her, not when she was around, but ridiculing her strange voice and the way she walked as if she was about to step on something bad.

One day, for fun, I was looking through old newspapers and saw a famous photo from the day that President Reagan was shot by John Hinckley on March 30 1981, and in the background I was stunned because there was the image of a woman who was screaming in obvious fear and she was Lucy. That got my curiosity cooking so I continued paging through the old newspapers and there she was again, this time she could be easily seen as one of the astronauts in a photo taken inside the Space Shuttle Columbia, fortunately on a voyage before the fateful trip that ended in disaster.

Not only that, if you look carefully, you can see a face peering out from between Sri Yukteswar Giri, Aleister Crowley and Mae West on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover and it turns out to be none other than my curious and former workmate staring out blankly.

None of that is true and in fact I don’t know anything about Lucy. In my judgmental, narrow, bigoted, condescending way, I judged her on a superficiality that is shameful and embarrassing to admit, concluding that Lucy was a basically irrelevant piece of flotsam, a cruel and altogether false conclusion that was based solely on what I saw and heard and not because of what I learned about her because I never took the time to ask her about herself, deeming her to be too boring.

For all I know, Lucy may very well have gone on to a career in archeology and traveled to Egypt where she was part of a dig that discovered the holy grail while she took to wearing a hat that seemed to never fall off of her head, no matter the weather. But I wouldn’t know it because I never asked her about herself and it is to my loss and also a poignant reminder to pay attention and be curious and not to stand in judgment about others because you never know what you might not know.

But Lucy was certainly like most of the rest of us; she had parents and maybe a sister or two; she slept at night and sometimes couldn’t get to sleep for a few hours; she was once stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction; she laughed at Stephen Colbert; cried when her dog was run over, she got the flu and got better; she liked movies and especially 1940s musicals with Fred Astaire; she favored Chinese food; and she breathed air just like all of us, showing that we are really not that different.

I will always wonder who this Lucy was and what was her life like. I tried Facebook and found on her page that she studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; lives in Falls church, Va.; and is from Old Bridge; but there is no relationship information, no work references, no friends, no photos. That’s it, no nothing, as reflected in the all-knowing social media platform. But it is surely misleading because Lucy had a life that was filled with experiences, of that much I am sure.

As far as judging people on appearance and their outward ways, I can only wonder what they might have said about me and were there people who regret not having gotten to know me better. I know there are many who I am sorry to have not known, like Lucy.

Apropo of nothing, but just because I am a big Beatles fan, here are the other people, real and imagined and other items on the Sgt. Pepper album cover, thanks to udiscovermusic.com. A total of 58 different people are depicted on the final artwork, including:

1: Sri Yukteswar Giri

The author of the 1894 book The Holy Science, which attempted “to show as clearly as possible that there is an essential unity in all religions”, Sri Yukteswar Giri was guru to both Sri Mahavatara Babaji (№27) and Paramahansa Yogananda (№33). His prominent position in the top left-hand corner reflects George Harrison’s (№65) growing interest in Indian philosophy.

2: Aleister Crowley

A hugely prolific author who identified with occultism and formed his own religion, Thelema, Crowley’s central tenet was, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will.”

3: Mae West

Mae West initially refused to allow her image to appear on the artwork. She was one of the most famous bombshells from Hollywood’s Golden Age and felt that she would never be in a lonely hearts club. However, after The Beatles personally wrote to her explaining that they were all fans, she agreed to let them use her image.

4: Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce revolutionized comedy in the 50s and 60s, with a personalized style that influenced many later comedians. By the time he appeared on the Sgt. Pepper’s cover, he had been arrested for obscenity, further making him a countercultural hero not only for The Beatles, but also the Beatniks and Bob Dylan.

5: Karlheinz Stockhausen

A German composer who pioneered the use of electronic music in the 50s and 60s, Stockhausen remains a godfather of the avant-garde, whose boundary-pushing music influenced The Beatles’ own groundbreaking experiments in the studio, starting with their tape experiments of Revolver’s ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’.

6: WC Fields

An American writer, comedian and actor, WC Fields was the epitome of the all-round entertainer, whose career spanned both the silent film era and the talkies. His humor seeped into The Beatles’ own, while the vaudeville world he came from would also go on to influence songs the likes of ‘Your Mother Should Know’.

7: Carl Jung

Another progressive thinker who introduced new strains of psychology to the world, Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist whose analytic psychology school of thought pioneered the concept of individuation and self-realization in the early 1900s.

8: Edgar Allan Poe

The poems and short stories that he wrote across the 1820s and 1840s essentially invented the modern horror genre, and also helped lay the groundwork for sci-fi and detective stories as we know them today.

9: Fred Astaire

In contrast to Mae West, Fred Astaire was reportedly thrilled to be asked to appear on the Sgt. Pepper album cover. A child star who initially started dancing with his sister on stage, it was with Ginger Rogers that Fred made his greatest mark, in a series of classic Golden Age movies including Top Hat and Swing Time.

10: Richard Merkin

Born in 1938, American painter and illustrator Richard Merkin was enamored with the early jazz period that flourished in the years before his birth.

11: A Vargas Girl

Having made a name for himself designing posters for the Ziegfield Follies that appeared on Broadway across the 1910s to the 30s, Peruvian painter Joaquin Alberto Vargas Y Chávez went on to create a series of paintings of pin-ups, known as the Varga Girls.

12: Simon Rodia

Born in Italy in 1870, Simon Rodia emigrated to the United States with his brother when he was 15 and finally settled in the Watts district of Los Angeles in 1920, and began constructing the Watts Towers, a series of 17 interconnected sculptures.

13: Bob Dylan

Dylan and The Beatles influenced each other throughout the 60s, each spurring the other on to making music that pushed boundaries and reshaped what was thought possible of the simple “pop song.”

14: Aubrey Beardsley

The influence of Aubrey Beardsley’s pen-and-ink line drawings had already made itself felt on Klaus Voormann’s artwork for Revolver, and here the 19th-century illustrator, whose own style was influenced by Japanese woodcutting, takes a position not too far away from Oscar Wilde.

15: Sir Robert Peel

A founder of the modern Conservative Party, Sir Robert Peel served as the UK’s Prime Minister on two separate occasions and helped form the modern police force. His name is still evoked with the terms “bobbies” and “peelers” referring to policemen in England and Ireland, respectively.

16: Aldous Huxley

Published in 1954, Aldous Huxley’s work, “The Doors Of Perception,” was required reading for the countercultural elite in the 60s. Detailing the author’s own experience of taking mescaline, it chimed with the consciousness-expanding ethos of the decade, and even gave The Doors their name.

17: Dylan Thomas

A beloved Welsh poet who died in 1953, The Beatles had all been fans of Dylan Thomas’ poetry by the time it came to creating the Sgt. Pepper’s artwork.

18: Terry Southern

A satirical novelist and screenwriter, Terry Southern bridged the gap between the Beat Generation and The Beatles.

19: Dion DiMucci

Originally the leader of Dion And The Belmonts, Dion DiMucci established a successful solo career with hits such as “he Wanderer” and “Runaround Sue.”

20: Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis was a Hollywood idol who made more than 100 movies between 1949 and 2008 and will always be remembered for his role alongside Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe in the 1959 cross-dressing caper “Some Like It Hot.”

21: Wallace Berman

American artist Wallace Berman pioneered “assemblage art” that took a three-dimensional approach to the collage style that Peter Blake excelled in, and is an influence that can be felt on the Sgt. Pepper’s design.

22: Tommy Handley

Like Max Miller (№37), Tommy Handley was another British wartime comedian.

23: Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe starred alongside Tony Curtis (№22) in “Some Like It Hot” and became the Hollywood pin-up of the 50s. Sgt. Pepper was officially released on what would have been her 41st birthday, June 1, 1967.

24: William Burroughs

From Bob Dylan to David Bowie, Tom Waits to Steely Dan, Beat Generation author Burroughs has influenced many songwriters over the decades.

25: Sri Mahavatara Babaji

A student of Sri Yukteswar Giri. Sri Mahavatara Babaji is said to have revived the practice of Kriya Yoga meditation, which was then taken to the West by Paramahansa Yogananda.

26: Stan Laurel

Together, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, appeared in 107 films, mostly from the late 20s to the mid-40s.

27: Richard Lindner

Lindner developed a style of painting that drew upon Expressionism and Surrealism, along with the hyper-sexualized lifestyle that he encountered in New York.

28: Oliver Hardy

Oliver Hardy played the irascible foil to the hapless Stan.

29: Karl Marx

Author, philosopher and economist, Karl Marx is best known for his 1848 pamphlet “The Communist Manifesto.”

30: HG Wells

Along with Edgar Allan Poe, HG Wells shaped the modern sci-fi story with such novels such as “The Time Machine” and “War Of The Worlds.”

31: Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Yogananda learned the practice of Kriya Yoga at the feet of Sri Yukteswar Giri, who passed on the teachings of Sri Mahavatara Babaji. In 1920, Yogananda set sail for America, where he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship and introduced the Western world to meditation.

32: Hairdressers’ wax dummy №1

One of two wax dummies borrowed from a local hairdressers.

33: Stuart Sutcliffe

A friend of John Lennon’s dating back to their time studying at Liverpool College Of Art, Stuart Sutcliffe was The Beatles’ original bassist.

34: Hairdressers’ wax dummy №2

On the opposite side of the gathering to the first wax dummy, a second dummy takes its place next to Stuart Sutcliffe.

35: Max Miller

Another vaudeville star, British comic Max Miller picked up the nickname “The Cheeky Chappie” and was known for his colorful dress sense and his risqué humor.

36: Petty Girl №1

Designed by George Petty, like the Vargas Girls, Petty Girls were pin-up paintings that appeared in Esquire, between 1933 and 1956, and also found a home on the front of World War II fighter planes.

37: Marlon Brando

In his iconic role of Johnny Strabler in the 1953 movie “The Wild One,” Marlon Brando captured the growing frustrations of the generation that gave birth rock’n’roll.

38: Tom Mix

As the man who became Hollywood’s first ever Western icon, Tom Mix starred in 291 movies between 1909 and 1935.

39: Oscar Wilde

A playwright, novelist and poet, Oscar Wilde wrote the novel, “The Picture Of Dorian Gray” and plays such as “The Importance Of Being Earnest” and “An Ideal Husband.”

40: Tyrone Power

A Hollywood heartthrob of the 30s, 40s and 50s, Tyrone Power was known for starring in the swashbuckling adventure film “The Mark Of Zorro.”

41: Larry Bell

An American artist known for large sculptures that play with light and space, Larry Bell first made his mark with a series of “shadowboxes” constructed in the 60s.

42: Dr. David Livingstone

Dr. Livingstone was to geographic exploration what The Beatles were to sonic innovation: fearless, ever questing, and mapping out new territories for the world. Livingstone was missing for six years before he was discovered in the town of Ujiji, in what is now known as Tanzania.

43: Johnny Weissmuller

An Olympic gold-medalist of the 20s, Johnny Weissmuller first made a name for himself as a swimmer before turning his eye to Hollywood.

44: Stephen Crane

Stephen Crane was a Realist novelist who is regarded as one of the most forward-thinking writers of his generation. His work incorporated everyday speech, which gave his characters an added realism, and his novels took an unflinching look at poverty.

45: Issy Bonn

A contemporary of Max Miller, Issy Bonn was a British-Jewish vaudeville star who also found fame on BBC Radio.

46: George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright who helped shape modern theatre.

47: HC Westermann

An American sculptor who served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II and the Korean War, HC Westermann took the skills he learned as a carpenter and turned them to creating Expressionist sculptures that criticized the horrors he had witnessed while fighting overseas.

48: Albert Stubbins

Like Tommy Handley, Albert Stubbins was a Liverpool hero as the center-forward for Liverpool FC in 1946, where he helped the team win the league championship the following year.

49: Sri Lahiri Mahasaya

A disciple of Sri Mahavatara Babaji, Sri Lahiri Mahasaya learned the discipline of Kriya Yoga in 1861, and subsequently passed the teachings down to Sri Yukteswar Giri, who in turn, passed them on to Sri Paramahansa Yogananda.

50: Lewis Carroll

Speaking to the BBC in 1965, John Lennon declared his love for Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland” and “Alice Through The Looking Glass.”

51: TE Lawrence

Immortalized in the 1962 film “Lawrence Of Arabia,” TE Lawrence was a British archaeologist and military officer who became a liaison to the Arab forces during the Arab Revolt of 1916 to 1918.

52: Sonny Liston

Sonny Liston was the boxer that Cassius Clay, later Muhammad Ali, defeated in 1964 to become the heavyweight boxing champion.

53: Petty Girl №2

Like its counterpart, this Petty Girl was one of a series of paintings by George Petty.

54, 55, 56 and 57: Wax models of The Beatles

The Beatles included wax models of their former Beatlemania-era selves looking on at their modern incarnation in full military psychedelic regalia.

58, 71 and 73: Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple was an actress, singer and dancer who became a child star in the 30s. She also appears on the Sgt. Pepper album cover three times.

60: Albert Einstein

Barely visible above John Lennon’s right shoulder, Albert Einstein was a physicist whose theory of relativity was light years ahead of its time and changed the world forever.

61, 62, 63 and 64: The Beatles

Resplendent in their military chic garb, the Beatles presented themselves as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

65: Bobby Breen

Like Shirley Temple, Bobby Breen was a child star of the 30s. After enlisting in the military and entertaining the troops during World War II he became a nightclub singer.

66: Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich had continually reinvented herself, moving from silent movies filmed in 20s Berlin to high-profile Hollywood films of the 30s, before taking to the stage as a live performer later in her career.

67: Legionnaire from The Royal Antediluvian Order Of Buffaloes

Founded in London 1822, the Royal Antediluvian Order Of Buffaloes continues its work to this day, with outposts in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Africa, South Africa, India, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

68: Diana Dors

Diana Dors starred mostly in risqué sex comedies, but later branched out into singing, notably with the Swinging Dors album of 1960.

69: Cloth grandmother figure

Created by Jann Haworth, then wife of Peter Blake, and co-creator of the Sgt. Pepper album cover, this cloth grandmother doll was one of a number of stuffed artworks she made from textiles.

70: Mexican Tree Of Life candlestick

Traditionally, Mexican Tree Of Life sculptures came from Metepec and depicted scenes from The Bible. The one on the Sgt. Pepper album cover is also a candlestick.

71: Television set

The portable TV9–306YB Sony television set was a wholly modern storytelling apparatus in in 1967.

72, 73 and 75: Stone figures

Along with the stone figure that can be seen below the feet of the Shirley Temple doll, the stone figure of a girl was one of a number of statues that John Lennon and George Harrison brought from their homes for inclusion on the cover.

77: Trophy

It’s said that the trophy nestling in the crook of the “L” of “BEATLES” was a swimming trophy awarded to John Lennon when he was a child.

78: Lakshmi doll

Positioned front and center on the album cover is a doll of Lakshmi, the Indian goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity.

79: Sgt. Pepper drum skin

The famous Sgt. Pepper drum skin shows one of two designs by Joe Ephgrave, a fairground artist.

80: Hookah

The hookah is a tobacco-smoking instrument designed so that the smoke is filtered through a water basin before being inhaled. Its inclusion on the Sgt. Pepper album cover is a nod to both George Harrison’s love of India and John Lennon’s love of Lewis Carroll, whose Caterpillar in “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” smokes a hookah.

81: Velvet snake

Placed beneath Sonny Liston is a purple velvet snake most likely to have been one of Jann Haworth’s cloth designs.

82: Fukusuke statue

Identifiable by its oversized head and ears, the Fukusuke doll originates from Japan and is said to bring good luck.

83: Stone figure of Snow White

Just in front of the Fukusuke doll is a statue of Snow White, from Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

84: Garden gnome

Barely visible to the left of the “B” in “BEATLES” is a typical garden gnome, the likes of which originated in 19th-century Germany.

85: Tuba

Like the French horn, trumpet and flute held by each of the individual Beatles, the tuba is a mainstay of brass band instrumentation.

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