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Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans 2011, Day 1
by Jude Southerland Kessler
Author of Shoulda Been There (Vol. 1) and Shivering Inside (Vol. 2), The John Lennon Series
We entered the lower lobby, and a thirty-something guy shouted to us, "Happy Beatlefest, guys!" or "Happy Fest for Beatles Fans...whatever they're calling it now!"
I smiled widely. "Ah, Happy Beatles World!" I shouted back.
"Let's just say, 'Happy Beatles,'" the exuberant stranger concluded.
And we left it at that because, really...that said it best. Happy Beatles.
Disneyland (and Disneyworld, I presume) claim to be "the happiest place on earth." But they're wrong. I swear it. The happiest place on earth this weekend is The Fest for Beatles Fans in Chicago.
In the Hyatt Regency lobby restaurant, Mark Hudson (yes, of the "Hudson Brothers") tries to have dinner with Joey Molland (of "Badfinger"), but every few minutes another fan stops by the table to chat. Never once do Molland or Hudson look perturbed. Instead, they laugh and talk with the fans as if they're all long, lost friends.
On the way to the elevator, I see a make-shift band banging out a rendition of "Hide Your Love Away" (despite the fact that a band called The Beatles is blaring on the lobby loudspeaker) and one of their group is blithely playing Air Tambourine. Air tambourine? Yes, and he's fine with it. In fact, he's having a blast.
Author Judith Kristen (of A Date with A Beatle), who couldn't be at the Fest, has sent necklaces made from British "pennies" to all of her comrades who love Penny Lane. And the lovely Rita Lokerson, whose hand-stitched Beatles clothes and jackets are amazing, has hand-made a bracelet for me...a one-of-a-kind copper wrist-clasp featuring a rare, ceramic photo of John (need I say, "Lennon"?). John Trusty (who partied with John Lennon in Florida when The Beatles toured America) has carefully crated a Cigar Box Guitar for Mark Hudson, and artist Eric Cash is seen confering with Bruce Spizer over the artwork that Cash contributed to Spizer's newest book, The Beatles on Parlophone.
Everywhere I turn, I see gifts, photos of family events being shared with friends, hugs being given away, and smiles infecting other smiles. I hear laughter. I hear people saying, "I've missed you so much. I'm glad you're here."
It's a happy place.
When John Lennon gave Mark Lapidos his complete endorsement to the first BeatleFest (as it was called in those days), I wonder if John realized that it wouldn't be just a place to listen to bands or guest speakers, but that the Fest would become an enactment, a "living out" of all John stood for...a place of peace.
There are people here from Liverpool, New Jersey, Texas, Delaware, Louisiana, and yeah, yeah, yeah, even Illinois. There are authors, musicians, artists, photographers, puppeteers, cartoonists, businessmen, clergymen, Republicans and Democrats (getting along together), teenagers and Baby Boomers, boys and girls of all ages. And all of them are having the "splendid time" that Mark and Carol Lapidos "gauranteed for all."
If you live near The Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago, you owe it to yourself to get here either tomorrow (Saturday) or Sunday. Here are just a few of the things you can see:
Dave Bedford with the map from his book
David Bedford's new version of his book, Liddypool. This one is in paperback and is just as gorgeous. The cost in paperback is quite affordable: $40. It includes a walking map of Liverpool, and the book tells you all about each and every site. (preview it at www.beatlesshop.co.uk)
Bill Paulson's excellent, framed copy of Paul McCartney's book, Up in the Clouds. It's a signed copy (and all that good stuff), but Paulson is a framer par excellence, and the rare copy is encased in a gorgeous work of art. It's ready to hang on the wall. Price $999.00
Bill Paulson and signed McCartney book
Robert Rodgriguez's latest fact-book on The Beatles, Beatles FAQ 2.0. Robert's here to sign the books for you and to answer questions!
Matt Adam's gorgeous hand-crafted Beatles rugs. (These are works of art...they have to be seen to be believed!) Four different styles rang from $200-$425. (Preview his works as www.stores.ebay.com/tatonkatoys)
Larry Marrion's new book showcasing the photographs of Bob Bonis, The Beatles Lost Photographs.
Best of all...tommorrow, you can here Peter Asher speak, see Mark Hudson rock the stage, take part in the Trivia Contest, go to the art exhibit, eat great food...and hey, just BE HAPPY.
In a world where the news all seems rather grim, don't you deserve a place where someone shouts, "Happy Beatles" for a change? I think you do.
Published August 6, 2011
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