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OPTOMETRIST RECALLS LATE-NIGHT CHATS WITH JOHN,AND THAT AWFUL NIGHT EXACTLY 37 YEARS AGO

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Back in the good and bad old days, in the early 1970s — when the Upper West Side was considered both a community in the best sense of the word and a place to get drugs or mugged — yellow-and-black “Safe Haven” decals began appearing in the windows of local shops. The stickers identified them as places where people, particularly schoolchildren, could duck into and get help if they felt threatened or lost in the streets.

John Lennon seemed to feel neither, according to Dr. Gary Tracy, the Upper West Side optometrist who provided him with his iconic, eponymous “John Lennon glasses” from 1974 to 1979. “Back then, there were a lot of John and Yoko sightings all over the neighborhood,” Dr. Tracy said. “They used to walk up and down the streets.”

Dr. Tracy, who turns 70 in January, was fresh out of optometry school in 1974, when he rented a “tiny” store on Columbus Avenue and 74th Street for $600 a month, with a five-year lease.

“One winter night,” he began, as if he had told the story many times before, “I saw a couple of faces peeking in the window. Then, they left. My friend from the flower store two doors down came running in and said, ‘That was John and Yoko peeking in your window.’ I was the closest optometrist to the Dakota at the time. I was, like, ‘Wow.’

“The next night, I was doing an exam around closing time and I heard somebody come in, and then, that voice: ‘Can I get my eyes examined?’ I knew right away. My receptionist was a middle-aged lady and she didn’t know who he was. She said, “You can make an appointment.” I heard that and I just ran and said, ‘Excuse me, I’m finishing up an exam. I’ll examine you in a few minutes.’ And that was the start of it.”

John Lennon found a safe haven at Dr. Gary Tracy’s Optometry and Eyewear.

“He liked glasses,” Dr. Tracy said. “I sold him a lot of pairs. I don’t think three months went by without him coming in for some sort of transaction. He didn’t take much time picking stuff out: ‘I want this, I want that.’

“He came at closing time on purpose,” Dr. Tracy explained. “We’d lock the door and he and Yoko would enjoy just sitting and relaxing and chatting about local things: what’s going on in the neighborhood, the Japanese market where they liked to shop, Café La Fortuna off of 72nd Street, where they liked to hang out.”

One thing they never talked about was The Beatles. “My friend from the plant store said, once John and Yoko went in there and he asked him about The Beatles. They never went back again. Whether there’s a connection or not, I don’t know,” Dr. Tracy said.

Meanwhile, the neighborhood was changing, gentrifying. “When my lease was up, my rent was going to go from $600 to $1,600. In 1979, I moved to 351 Amsterdam at West 77th Street. John never made it to the second store. He was shot in 1980. I had patients the next day who heard the shots. I was numb. I couldn’t process it. Now, when I think about it, there’s such a sadness for Yoko, too. They were very tight. I liked her a lot. She’s a very charming person.”

Dr. Tracy moved again three-and-a-half years ago, to his current location at 210 West 79th Street, between Amsterdam and Broadway. The store is a bit like a shrine to John Lennon, with photographs and articles everywhere about “The Man with Kaleidescope Eyes.” If you call the store and are put on hold, you’ll wait to the sound of The Beatles singing “Blackbird.” Dr. Tracy laughed. “I keep meaning to change it to “Norwegian Wood.”

source:westsiderag


JOHN TO BE CELEBRATED TODAY AT LAKE WORTH MUSIC FESTIVAL

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The music and spirit of John Lennon will be celebrated at a festival in suburban Lake Worth on Friday, the 37th anniversary of the musician’s death. Imaginefest, at the Sons & Daughters Farm and Winery, is being hosted by Ocean Ridge music promoter Daniel Hartwell, co-author of a self-published book called “Saint John Lennon.”

It will feature singalongs of classic Lennon and Beatles songs performed by more than 20 bands and prizes for a costume contest of outfits capturing the 1960s, ’70s and Beatles lookalikes.

“It’s a wonderful chance to get people together to pay tribute to John Lennon and The Beatles on the anniversary of his passing,” Hartwell said.

“John Lennon has that connection to every generation out there and I think what connects him to all of us is that he really focused on love and peace.”

Last month, Hartwell attended a Ringo Starr concert in Fort Lauderdale and gave a copy of the book to Ringo. “Ringo loved the concept. He told me he was looking forward to reading it,” he said.

Hartwell said he’s expecting at least 300 people to attend Imaginefest, which goes from 5 to 11 p.m. The winery is located at 5926 Fearnley Road, which is off Lantana Road just east of Florida’s Turnpike.

 


REMEMBERING JOHN

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37 years ago today, #JohnLennon was murdered by a person who we aren’t going to name. John,songwriter, musician and activist who founded #theBeatles, the most successful and musically influential band in the history of popular music.His influence was huge in the world,and has been immortalized in so many ways, John’s death hit hard.All these years later, his death at 40 still feels shocking, and we continue to mourn the loss,and miss the music he would have continued to make. We’re remembering John today and forever with a look at the legacy he left, the unforgettable music he made, both with The Beatles and as a solo artist. We love you John.

ON THIS DAY 27 November,1966 : JOHN FILMS A CAMEO FOR THE BBC 2

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On this day 27 November,1966 : John films a cameo for the BBC2 series “Not Only…But Also” starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. He plays the part of a London night club doorman.


John Lennon in a guest spot as the commissionaire at a select members-only “Gents’ in Soho with Peter Cook, investigating “swinging London”. The sequence appeared in the special Boxing Day edition on “Not Only, But Also”.

Check out the video:


JOHN’S OPTOMETRIST GETS EMOTIONAL OVER RECOVERED MEMORIBILIA

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When John’s Upper West Side optometrist was watching this week’s news about the recovery of a trove of the Beatle’s belongings — and spotted the metal-rimmed eyeglasses the rock legend had bought from him more than 40 years ago — the emotions came flooding black.

“I was almost crying when I saw that,” Dr. Gary Tracy, 69, told The Post, recalling the moment he saw the image of the round cable temple glasses with a folded handwritten prescription from 1978 bearing Tracy’s name on the letterhead.

“The same writing, the exact same paper from back then,” marveled Tracy, who is still in business. “It was pretty emotional to see that . . . I never knew they were stolen.”

The glasses were among about 100 items belonging to Lennon that were stolen more than a decade ago from his widow, Yoko Ono, at their apartment in The Dakota and recovered in Germany this week.

The trove included handwritten music, another pair of Lennon’s signature eyeglasses and three leather-bound diaries — one with his final entry before he was murdered outside The Dakota in 1980.

“[It] doesn’t surprise me they were stolen,” Tracy said, noting that the specs “are worth quite a bit of money.”

Tracy, who was Lennon’s optometrist and sold him more than a dozen spectacles from 1975 to 1979, keeps five pairs of Lennon’s old lenses and one pair of the rocker’s frames tucked away in a safe-deposit box in New Jersey.

“These are old prescriptions, and we put the new prescriptions in the glasses. I just saved the lenses,” said Tracy, speaking from the West 79th Street office where he moved four years ago from the original Columbus Avenue office that he opened in 1974.

Tracy would not say what John’s prescription was.

“[Ono] is very possessive of the estate,” he said, “and she makes sure no one knows the prescription.”

Tracy also keeps two handwritten notes John left him. They are locked away in a frame.

“You put the wrong glasses in. I wanted graded grey,” one reads, with “graded” underlined. “Change frame on new pair — something similar,” the other says.

But Tracy told: “I don’t think I put the wrong lenses in. I think he changed his mind — never argue with a customer.” Tracy recalled when he first met Lennon and Ono. It was in December 1975, after they were spotted “peeking” into his shop’s window.

“The next night, I’m doing my exam and finishing up and I heard someone come in [and say], ‘Can I get my eyes examined?’ and I knew that was his voice,” Tracy recalled. “I darted out to exam him.”

Tracy remembered how Lennon “loved glasses” and said that at one point, the Beatle was coming in every three weeks for repairs because he would break his glasses.

“He was rough on glasses, bounced around playing music,” Tracy said.


ON THIS DAY: JOHN AND YOKO ONO WERE FILMED IN CENTRAL PARK

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On this day 26 November, 1980: John Lennon and Yoko Ono were filmed in Central Park as part of future Double Fantasy promotional efforts.