GEEK THE BEATLES

It was over 50 years ago today, The Beatles downloaded via speakers, stadiums, television and more emergent technology, manufacturing hysteria, minting fandom, and even silencing crime. Since that historic, disruptive harmonic convergence, the years have turned and yet the band, and its brand, have showed no sign of ceasing to influence global culture.

An evolving series, Geek The Beatles chronicles this revolutionary process as it portals across the universe.

In 2010, I began analyzing The Beatles’ technocultural evolution to close my circle on the greatest band of all time, which took its last official photograph on my birthday. Since then, I have published some hefty Geek The Beatles entries in publications like Wired, HuffPo, CNN and more.

My work marked not only the 50th anniversary of The Beatles settling upon their historic name, but also the 40th anniversary of their bitter 1970 dissolution. It was a crushing kiss-off to the revolutionary sixties, aptly capitalized in the recombined, controversial Let It Be, a multimedia experiment in reality programming gone wrong. It must be a Newtonian coincidence that these anniversaries culminated in the December 31 legal filing that powered down the band for good.

But not the brand, which quickly took over, influentially reaching into future styles, tropes, tastes, and platforms, where resilient fans, scholars, pushers, and consumers interpolated them for a more immersive, panoptic century. As you read this, The Beatles’ expanding cultural avatars continue to overwrite what reality The Beatles individual members — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — can still claim in an increasingly hyperreal age.

Their repeat mediations spread far and wide in light-speed, touchstones for hidden histories and emergent capitalizations, from Apple(s) to The Fifth Beatle to The Beat Bugs to The Beatles: Rock Band to Cirque Du Soleil’s Love and beyond. It’s all too much.


John Lennon Sketchbook Makes Official Online Debut

Created six years after John Lennon’s assassination in 1980, Yoko Ono and Oscar-winning animator and historian John Canemaker’s cartoon short John Lennon Sketchbook has finally appeared on YouTube. Executive produced by Ono and designed, directed, and animated by Canemaker, it is a poignant peek into the fertile mind of a Beatle whose prodigious talents extended well past creating immortal music.

“It was created from original drawings by John Lennon and a soundtrack that I also edited together, consisting of snatches of conversation between John and Yoko and song excerpts,” Canemaker told Cartoon Brew. “It is the first time a large general public has seen it (on YouTube).”

The short first came to life in 1985, after Canemaker visited Hiroshima for Japan’s first International Animated Film Festival and serendipitously found himself with an interpreter named Yoko Ninomiya (no relation to Ono), according to a 1987 How magazine explainer. After engaging in small talk about Yoko Ono, Ninomiya contacted Ono, and Canemaker received a scant few months later a holiday card from Lennon’s widow, marking the beginning of their collaboration.

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