Penthouse Retrospective

by John Green Originally Published: July, 1983

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono’s psychic and tarot card reader reveals for the first time his account of the temper tantrums and strange disappearances that characterized rock music’s most bizarre and tumultuous marriage. John and Yoko. If only they could give peace a chance.

John and Yoko: The Final Years

John Lennon and Yoko OnoPainting by Kunio Hagio

Yoko Ono ’s psychic and tarot card reader reveals for the first time his account of the temper tantrums and strange disappearances that characterized rock music’s most bizarre and tumultuous marriage. John and Yoko. If only they could give peace a chance. I first met John Lennon on Groundhog Day of 1975. I had been lured out of my Fifth Avenue burrow for the occasion by Yoko. It was, she said, an emergency.

I was used to Yoko ’s emergencies. They happened day and night. They came in two varieties: routine and titanic. “The cat is under the sofa and what should we do?” was a routine emergency. A $60 million lawsuit was the other kind.

The phone call came at an atypically civilized hour: 6:4 7 P.M. I immediately assumed the worst. Having been conditioned by long months of 2:00 A.M. calls waking me from a dead sleep to ask if I “had some time,” I instinctively mistrusted the convenience of the hour. Convenient emergencies are generally the worst kind.

“John’s home!” Yoko rasped.

This might not have qualified as an “emergency” but it certainly qualified as news. Fifteen months earlier, in October 1973, John had walked out the front door saying he was going for a paper. There had been a few phone calls since then, but for the most part his exact whereabouts during that time had been more or less a mystery. According to Yoko, his return was as sudden and unexpected as his departure. Apparently he simply showed up at the door and said, “No papers!” “And … ?” I urged, bracing myself. “And I think he ’s been poisoned!”

“And … ?”

“And you have to read for him right away. It’s an emergency.”

“I’ll be right there,” I answered, but Yoko had already hung up. She knew I would come. I got paid for this sort of thing. I was Yoko Ono ’s Grand Exalted Number One Wizard, Tarot Card Reader, and All-Round Panjandrum, on call all day and every day, and every night as well, all for the purse-wrenching fee of one hundred dollars a week.

It’s a living.

Half an hour later I was sitting with Yoko in the “White Room,” one of the ten large rooms in the Lennons’ apartment in that grand old New York landmark building, the Dakota. The White Room, so called because every last thing in it was white walls, ceiling, blinds, rug, piano, and the two large sofas that filled the corner of the room nearest the door – was the apartment’s formal living room. The fact that I was to read tarot cards there, rather than in the bedroom or the kitchen, indicated the seriousness of the moment.

“John’s here,” Yoko said, as if that explained everything.

“You said that.”

“You have to read for him.”

“You said that, too.”

“But he doesn’t know who you are.”

“Tell him,” I suggested.

“You don ’t understand! If he thinks you have the same name as he does he will be jealous.”

“I’ll leave,” I volunteered.

“No, no! You have to read for him.”

A compelling view from a unique perspective on a rock music icon and the absurdities that surround him.

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