Yoko Ono: Ad Infinitum
by Kristine Dabbay, Status Magazine
Nearing her octogenarian years, YOKO ONO releases “Move on Fast” as part of her ongoing dance remix series. All the while, she continues to value everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
You can forget many things in the sixties. You might even want to forget that the Vietnam War happened. But surely, you won’t forget The Beatles and the woman blamed for breaking them up—Yoko Oh-no—so the pun goes. But at 78, she remains unstoppable in embracing everything affirmative. Today, she tells me, “Living in this world was always tough for everybody. So why not try to make it better by saying yes? I’m here now not because I kept saying no, you know. Yes is what brought me at being 78, and I’m very thankful.”
Already far from the bedeviled times when she was heralded as the witch, the weird wife, or the pitiful widow—Yoko remains as one of the world’s widest window to peace. Yes, she was the Chambers Street’s High Priestess of the Happening. Yes, she could be the person Paul McCartney is alluding to while barking “Get back to where you once belonged.” Yes, she is what Esquire called “John Rennon’s Excrusive Gloupie” Yes, she is Ocean Child. Yes, she is an avant-garde matriarch. But what garnered her yesses from the masses is how she never sought anyone’s approval. “I’m just doing what I can do. Just like what you are probably doing. We can only do our best. This is the time…it’s better to solve things in your head. Safer, and very effective as well,” Yoko says.
She not only tamed John’s demons or the perilous fate his death brought upon to millions; she also had to dismantle the concrete bowels of her own sorrows with gospel fervor. In doing so, she found peace within herself, with herself, and outside herself. Letting her love grow a million fold, she proves the Lennon lyric true: “we all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun.”
March 11, 2011 – A Newclear Seed
Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try. It was like a scene from an apocalyptic movie— the Japanese evacuating because a 9.0-magnitude earthquake had shattered their country. No hell below us, above us only sky. As if that’s not enough, a tsunami followed damaging nuclear power stations leading to radiation leakage. Imagine all the people, living for today. In this ill-fated day, everybody was praying and singing the songs of their souls. I found myself singing “Imagine” while reviewing my questions for Yoko.
I ask her how she’s been after releasing “Move on Fast,” to which she quickly responds “Not Bad!” For someone who has witnessed music’s “toppermost of the poppermost” moments, she’s not wont to prophesizing or comparing musical eras. “Music is still going on strong. It always will be,” she says.
Being Japanese herself, she is numbed by the consequences of the disaster. But she breeds a culture of positivity. She planted this way back in London’s Indica Gallery where she and John met. John had to climb a ladder leading to a painting hung on the ceiling, and when you peek through a monocle, you’ll find the word “yes.” John, relieved to find something so simple and encouraging, manifests the effect of Yoko’s message. “I just concentrate on what I can do. I don’t compare myself with anybody else. I just try to live positively,” she shares. The marriage of Yoko’s ideas to John’s radiates a vision of a world ruled by peace, love, and truth—forces that detonates by resonating in our hearts.
March 20, 2011 – There is a Light that Never Goes Out
Besides the marriage of ideas, Yoko’s marriage to John in Gibraltar in March 20, 1969 traces the origins of Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland’s Viðey island, where a beam of light extends to the sky in memory of John. Lit from March 20-26, it coincides with the couple’s historic bed-ins at the Amsterdam Hilton.
Then it hit me. Shit. Yoko Ono actually defined an age. She was there at The Beatles’ rooftop performance of “Don’t Let Me Down.” She’s one of the few people who can throw a comparison between Paul McCartney and Mozart’s less talented archrival Salieri and get away with it. She stood up against Vietnam War and all wars for that matter.
For kids like me, those things are almost fictional. So I ask her, how do you deal with your own legend? Yoko answers “Don’t look back. Make your own legacy.”
She might be inseparable from the shadows of her past, but her works are the testaments of how she carves her own path. Constantly collaborating with Sean Lennon, Thurston Moore, and Cibo Matto, she’s also present in SXSW and actively spearheads artistic and pacifist movements.
It’s still debatable if she’s one of the progenitors of new wave, but with an oeuvre spanning from “Walking on Thin Ice” to the seminal Season of Glass and 2009’s Between My Head and the Sky—Yoko attests that she may not always shed light to pop music the way her husband did, but she has always been a dance star—strobe lights and all that spaz.
May 27, 2011 – Dance, Dance, Dance
When Yoko performed with Lady Gaga last December, she praised the latter’s bottoms which were exposed in a lace cat suit. But even as early as 1966, her mind already permitted the beauty of the risqué with her film No. 4 or Bottoms which shows close up butts.
Still favoring the spontaneous, she shares, “I did one risk-taking studio session two weeks ago. When the CD comes out, I hope you get some energy from it.”
The remixes for her single “Move on Fast” from Approximately Infinite Universe enjoys being side by side dance dominatrices Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Kylie Minogue in Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play Chart. But musically or not, Yoko doesn’t really care about popular opinion—she just dances through it all.
And if you want to know how she does it, May 27 marks the 32nd anniversary of the publication of her and John’s letter in The New York Times—To People who Ask Us What, When and Why. It says “We felt it was time for us to stop discussing and do something about our wishing process: The Spring Cleaning of our minds.” In her “Wish Tree” project, she also tells us to “Keep wishing/Until the branches are covered with wishes.” For her “wishing is more effective than waving flags.” And in a world threatened by its own demise, that might just come in handy.
After so many decades, you might ask, does it really matter for a person like her who has seen so much if today is May and yesterday is March? Probably yes because history binds us all. But just as it is the end of spring, Yoko marches on optimistically and self-aware.
Recommending reads like the 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People, Yoko defies lifetimes, saying that if John is still alive right at this moment, they’re probably “laughing together.”
Interview and story by Kristine Dabbay
Illustration by Soleil Ignacio
by DizzyRizzy, Status Magazine
Yes, that is THE YOKO ONO on our May Music Issue cover! Don’t worry, we can’t believe it either. The STATUS team has been working hard, and our ART Department did something special. They went crazy illustrating almost every article (not all, but you know what I mean) and we promise you’ll love every single one of them.
Our cover girl Yoko Ono is a living legend, and our former Features Editor Kristine Dabbay had the honor of interviewing her. So, if you love Yoko, we’re sure your freaking out right now. Also, it looks amazing thanks to our new Art Director Soleil Ignacio who illustrated the cover as well as the insides of the feature.
Rico Blanco also joins this issue talking about the great things he’s doing with Sesame Street. We had a fun shoot with him a few months ago—we’ll share that another time, but make sure you read the article by GioDion, and check out Former Art Director Nikkie Po’s art illustration over Creative Media Director Patrick L. Jamora’s photos.
Another one of our heavy hitters is Kimya Dawson. If you loved Juno, then you probably know who she is. She’s that girl who sang “Anyone Else But You.” Yep, now you remember? Let Shinji Manlangit tell you more.
And since this is our Music Issue, we have a great line up of artists and bands inside: Architecture in Helsinki, Dum Dum Girls, Mac Miller, Panda Bear, just to name a few. And, of course, music critics from Pitchfork, Paste, and Pop Matters in our New Kids On The Block section.
We’re very proud of this issue, and that’s why we’re celebrating! Join us in our release party at Fiamma next Friday (May 6, 2011). Hope you guys love the new issue as much as we do, and see you at the party! -DIZZYRIZZY