A Few Answers To Questions You Always Wondered About

June 8, 2016 | 1 Comment » | Topics: Answers, Interesting

What did John Lennon see in Yoko Ono?

Probably the best account comes from John Lennon himself in the book Lennon Remembers, a transcript of some really long interviews he did with Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone magazine after the breakup of the Beatles.

How did you meet Yoko?

I’m sure I told you this many times.  How did I meet Yoko?  There was a sort of underground clique in London: John Dunbar, who was married to Marianne Faithfull, had an art gallery in London called Indica and I’d been going around to galleries a bit on my off days in between records.  I’d been to see a Takis exhibition–I don’t know if you know what that means–he does multiple electromagnetic sculptures, and a few exhibitions in different galleries who showed these sort of unknown artists or underground artists.  I got the word that this amazing woman was putting on a show next week and there was going to be something about people in bags, in black bags, and it was going to be a bit of a happening and all that.  So I went down to a preview of the show.  I got there the night before it opened.  I went in–she didn’t know who I was or anything–I was wandering around, there was a couple of artsy type students that had been helping lying around there in the gallery, and I was looking at it and I was astounded.  There was an apple on sale there for two hundred quid, I thought it was fantastic–I got the humor in her work immediately.  I didn’t have to have much knowledge about avant-garde or underground art, but the humor got me straightaway.  There was a fresh apple on a stand–this was before Apple–and it was two hundred quid to watch the apple decompose.  But there was another piece which really decided me for-or-against the artist: a ladder which led to a canvas with a chain with a spyglass hanging on the end of it.  This was near the door when you went in.  I climbed the ladder, you look through the spyglass and in tiny little letters it says “yes.”  So it was positive.  I felt relieved.  It’s a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn’t say “no” or “fuck you” or something, it said “yes.”

I put some parts of John’s explanation in boldface to emphasize how John liked Yoko, because he liked her sense of humor and he thought she was a positive person.  John Lennon did go to art school, and he always had a taste for surrealism (see “I Am the Walrus” or his books, A Spaniard in the Works and In His Own Write), which certainly put him on the same page as Yoko there as well.  

In addition, Yoko Ono was a longtime peace advocate, partially due to her experiences as a child when she survived the fire-bombing of Tokyo by the Allies in World War II.  Similarly, John Lennon had been in opposition to the Vietnam War at least since 1965, at least a year before he met Yoko.

Finally, if you want to get Freudian, Yoko may have been like a combination of the two women that formed John Lennon’s childhood, his mother Julia and his Aunt Mimi.  Julia was the free spirit, but played little role in John’s upbringing.  Aunt Mimi was more involved in raising John, but may have been more of a disciplinarian.  The linkage between Julia and Yoko is even alluded to in the song “Julia” on the White Album, which includes the words “ocean child” in the lyrics.  Not so coincidentally, “ocean child” is the English translation of the Japanese name, Yoko.

– Jon Pennington      



Do the Rewards of Being a Chef Outweigh the Hardships?

In order to answer this, I think it’d be best to lay out the exact pros and cons of being a chef. The public seems to believe in its own misconceptions about these rewards and benefits, but let me assure you, there is no audience to applaud us, and there are no Emeril-style “BAM” moments in real life.

So, what is the chef life really like? What are the “hardships” that come along with such an unpredictable career? Let’s take a look:

Uncomfortable atmosphere. The kitchen is hot. Between the temperature and the high pressure environment of restaurant work, it can get difficult to do the actual job.

Long hours. Don’t you love when Friday comes along and you attend family events, parties with your friends, and go out to dinner? Well, we are the ones cooking for you and missing out. “Social life” and “chef” are two terms that just don’t go together. Ask me who my favorite NFL team is, or the last movie I saw … I wouldn’t be able to tell you. After the weekend insanity, we’re still at the restaurant at 7 a.m. preparing Sunday brunch. It is not until 11 p.m. on Sunday that our “weekend” begins.

Work with fire, knives, and dead animals. It’s rough, to say the least. Here’s a picture of how my arm looks today, with scars from a combination of oil burns and a scar from a kitchen accident when I was 17 and hadn’t developed great knife skills yet.

Low pay. My cut-and-burned arm was borderline too much information. I wouldn’t dare post a picture of my car. To say the least, I do not drive a Lamborghini. The wages for cooking are not great at all.

What is a sick day? Kitchens are staffed according to their exact needs. If you want a vacation, you sure as hell better start teaching the dishwasher how to work your station. There is no such thing as calling out sick. One New Year’s Eve, 10 minutes before service, I cut myself so badly that you could see the bone. There was no doubt that I needed some serious stitches, and I was in no shape to cook for three fully booked seatings. Still, it did not even cross my mind to leave. Paper towels, tape, more paper towels, tape, and a glove were put in place and 400 people had their food prepared by a cook with 1½ hands that night. 

OK, so we have established a pretty solid list of hardships. I cannot imagine a sane person reading this and understanding how anyone in this world is crazy enough to do this job. Why would anyone choose this life? Please, allow me to enlighten you.

This list of hardships is by no means my complaining about the profession—if anything, these are the things that separate the truly passionate chefs from the average. These are the aspects about the chef life that turn far too many chefs into UPS drivers. For any real chef, these “hardships” are nothing. These are just small sacrifices that allow for one to engage in the most incredible craft man has ever had the opportunity to invent. 

When you decide to become a chef, you reap the rewards of: 

Kitchen camaraderie. Social observations and experiments show that nothing unites a group of people more than a common enemy. Kitchen teams, like the NFL, the Navy SEALs, and political parties need to disregard their differences and unite against a force much more powerful than themselves. Every night at 5 p.m., we go into battle—flames blasting, knives slicing, servers yelling; overall chaos is the norm. A kitchen is only as strong as its weakest link. Every man and woman in the kitchen puts in his or her best efforts to fight through the kitchen chaos not only for themselves, but also for everyone else in the kitchen. When that last ticket is spiked and service is over, one cannot help but look around and feel an unexplainable bond with the people they have just made it through the battle with. 

You don’t answer to anyone. When the weekend hits, every chef in the kitchen knows exactly what to do. It doesn’t matter who is looking or how we act while we’re working—everyone knows the job has to get done. At your average 9-5 gig, people are usually slacking off, yet also on guard for the boss. As a chef, it’s the opposite situation, and in my opinion, it’s far more satisfying.

You learn a craft that 99.9 percent of people on this planet could never do. Cooking is a blend of precision, speed, accuracy, and efficiency. Most people don’t realize all the factors that go into cooking itself, before you even consider the dynamics of working in a busy kitchen. When you combine the two, it’s a true art that few people can handle as a profession.
There is a certain “flow” and an extreme sense of accomplishment during every service. As a cook, you’ll develop a specific flow of work—kind of like a high while you’re on the line cooking. These feelings of high and low, intense pressure, and a whole lot of other people relying on you will give you a constant rhythm and a great sense of success every single night.

What is cooking, and what do chefs really do? The clutter of life and all the distractions in modern society put blinders on us and tend to prevent us from appreciating some of the most beautiful and simple things right in front of us. When you’re cooking, you can look at things for what they really are. Truthfully, it is absolutely amazing what we are doing. Man has been cooking since the dawn of time. The cavemen invented cooking while preparing animals over fire. There are very few things that every single person on this planet has in common—preparing and eating meals are universal activities that every human being does. What we as chefs have the ability to do on a daily basis is to take raw ingredients that the earth provides and craft them into anything we see fit. This is a phenomenal power to possess. There is a spiritual connection to the planet and life through cooking that is difficult to express in words. The fact that a local fisherman can stop by my restaurant with a fish he caught two hours ago and I can then craft his catch into a meal for people to enjoy in just a few hours is an incredible feeling that is both humbling and empowering at the same time.Joe Nilsen  



Do Police Officers Struggle With Becoming Bitter Toward the Public?

Yes. This is particularly a problem when the officer is dealing with a group who he perceives is always making work for him.

The city where I worked was a tourist destination with lots of money and liquor in the mix. It drew a disproportionate share of people who are now called “homeless” (we usually referred to them as “vagrants” or “drunks”) who would panhandle, buy, or otherwise acquire alcohol, and get drunk in parks and other public places. They had very low standards of hygiene, occasionally fought (not very effectively) with officers, and committed many petty offenses that took a great deal of time and resources to deal with.

It was very easy to depersonalize these people and essentially forget they were human. When I worked there, management didn’t make much of an effort to discourage this. The only time anyone would get into trouble over a drunk was when something truly over-the-top happened. For example, a two-officer team working the drunk wagon were loading up the drunks and then racing out of town 20 or 30 miles to the boonies, then dumping them at the side of the freeway. They got fired, but several attempts at trying them were all frustrated by witnesses who were either too drunk to testify or who just couldn’t be found when they were needed.

That same agency now has a homeless outreach program that is the model for other agencies in the U.S. and elsewhere. The sort of behavior that was common in my day is not tolerated now.

I think this is a low-intensity version of the dynamic that takes place with combat troops in war time, especially if the enemy is a different race or ethnicity than the troops. In past wars, enemies of the U.S. have been referred to as all kinds of slurs. It’s a lot easier to dehumanize someone if he or she doesn’t look or act like you do. Depersonalizing the opposition makes it easier to kill them without as much emotional baggage. You’re not shooting a person; you’re shooting a [insert ethnic slander here].

The problem can be further aggravated until the adversary becomes anyone who isn’t a cop. There is an old tongue-in-cheek summary of the stages of a police officer’s career:

The organizational culture of the law enforcement agency largely dictates how pervasive this sort of attitude is allowed to be. It’s not tolerated in some outfits, and it’s status quo in others.

– Tim Dees, retired cop and criminal justice professor, Reno Police Department:



How Do Police Sketch Artists Accurately Depict Perpetrators?

When I was a victim of an armed robbery, I was eager to get this violent criminal off the streets. Unfortunately, the Bay Area city in which this occurred did not employ a composite sketch artist, and my case was not considered high-profile enough to warrant the investigator traveling an hour to another city with me to do the drawing. This was not satisfactory. I began working with a private investigator to help find the attacker and put him behind bars where he belongs. 

The private investigator firm connected me with a composite sketch artist to help pull my memory of the perpetrator from my mind to paper. We would ultimately distribute the sketch back to the police to help move the investigation. By the time this all occurred, about two weeks had passed, and I was nervous that I would not recall the man enough to create a satisfactory sketch. I expressed this to the composite sketch artist upon meeting her, and she assured me that this was not going to be the case. And it wasn’t.

The artist informed me that the point of the sketch is not to make a portrait or an identical match of the perpetrator. The point is to get to a resemblance, so that people can look at the drawing and be reminded of someone that they have seen recently or in the past. This reassured me.

She started by asking me to recall everything that I did in the day leading up to the armed robbery, and to my shock, I was able to recall pretty much everything, including what I ate at meals. Then she asked me to recall the incident in detail, and of course I recalled that. When she asked me to describe the perpetrator, I didn’t have much in my mind other than: “6-foot-3 to 6-foot-5 and really weathered. He looked about 47, but he was probably about 36.”

When she was ready to sketch, she first asked me what was the one thing about the attacker that stood out to me when I saw him, and I instantly said his eyes. When I first saw him that day, I remember thinking, “Wow, those bags under his eyes—he looks tired! The guy should get some sleep.” The sketch artist was really happy with that, because she was able to get a really good idea of how tired his eyes looked. She asked me to describe his eyes more, like if I could see the whites around the top and bottom and if I could see his eye lids when he looked at me, the color of them, the shape—every minute detail. She took the time to make the eyes perfect and after showing me just the eyes, I nearly fell out of my seat in disbelief of how much those eyes looked like the perpetrator’s eyes. 

The artist then moved on to other prominent features like face shape, nose, mouth, cheekbones, jawline, eyebrows, wrinkles, smile, and teeth. Literally, every single feature on a person’s face was addressed, including the symmetry of it. There were times that I could not really describe the feature, but she was able to use her face or my face as a reference to what detail she needed. For example, the bridge of the nose: I had no idea how to describe it other than “kinda skinnier.” But after seeing that it was slimmer than both hers and mine, she was able to get a good draft of his nose. 

There were times she used her in-progress sketch as reference. When I could not describe how far his upper lip was from his nose, she took an out line of lips on a piece of tracing paper, started at his nose and moved the paper down and told me to stop when it looked about right. That was really helpful for me; otherwise, I would have really been at a loss for words. 

We went through every feature of his face like this, and she was able to show me a very basic draft of the attacker, which really resembled him already.

We moved on to the FBI picture book, where there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of pictures of people (noncriminals) separated into different features—from face features to type of hats to hair. She needed more detail to complete the sketch, so she took me through the different sections and asked me to take a look at the pictures and identify the closest picture to the feature. 

I had originally described the jawline as “strong and defined,” but once I looked at the jaw section of the FBI book, I was able to point out that it looked very similar to one specific picture. His cheekbones were a combination of two pictures, and so forth. She made notes of each picture I cited for each feature, and then the real magic happened.

She took about 15-20 minutes to look at all the pictures I mentioned and use them to finalize the sketch. It was so accurate that my girlfriend, who was present during the sketch and had seen the attacker several times prior to the armed robbery, was creeped out by just the sketch—she could not look at it too long. I again laughed in both disbelief and surprise about how much it looked like the perpetrator. All I could do was laugh.

Once I stopped laughing, the sketch artist wanted to get his age right. Because I had mentioned him looking older, she asked if he needed more wrinkles and where. I thought he needed some more aging, so she added wrinkles and shading to make him look older, and it was done. Just like that. The whole process was scheduled to take two hours but took about two and a half hours.

While this may seem like a lot of detail that I would not normally recall, I spent about three minutes with the suspect, and the image of him is burned in my memory forever. Prior to working with the composite sketch artist, I would have never been able to describe the man in such great detail, but definitely would have been able to identify him if I saw him. Now, the sketch is out there and hopefully my attacker will be apprehended and that chapter of this nightmare can be over.

Michelle Victor   



How Do People Find What They’re Passionate About?

The problem is that we’ve lost any real sense of what passion means.

It’s not what gives you bliss or makes you happy 24/7, but what you’re willing to suffer for—what you genuinely believe to be worth the sacrifice.

The next time you feel energized and strong and like the best version of yourself—the you that you wish you could be all the time—pay attention to what you’re doing in that moment. Write it down. Do this for as long as it takes until you see a pattern emerging. It won’t necessarily be the activities themselves, but they will have something in common. Look into them and behind them until you find what dramatists call a throughline: the essence of what you’re good at and what drives you.

I spent most of my lifetime thinking that my passion is for writing, and for fiction in particular. But when I stepped back a bit and considered the other activities that light me up and make me feel a sense of wholeness (including my love of social media), I realized that my passion is for emotional resonance, be it with a friend or spouse or audience or even the culture in general. I like moving into that sweet spot where something in my inner life overlaps with another consciousness, including a kind of group consciousness. That might sound like I should be lighting sticks of incense and showing off my dreamcatcher collection, but it is the best feeling. Writing is my main expression of that, but when I find ways to bring it into other areas of my life, I am a happy (happier) woman.

We confuse the activity with the value behind the activity. It’s the value that compels us—and which we can transfer to paid-income work in a way that changes lives (and the industry itself).

What Steve Jobs was passionate about was not computers per se, any more than it was calligraphy or Japanese gardening. It was simplicity. (Joe Pulizzi makes this point in his excellent upcoming book Content Inc. Highly recommended.) Jobs made it his obsession and his art. He introduced it to an industry that, as far as it was concerned, was doing just fine without it.

Simplicity drove the Apple identity: the strategy, products, marketing, branding, and PowerPoint presentations. Simplicity enabled a computer company to connect with mass culture on a deep, emotional level, when Jobs himself was not exactly Oprah (even if he also made people teary-eyed). Jobs brought it home just as fiercely: the complications of a couch, for example. His living room didn’t require one.

Passion matters—given that you’re likely to spend more time being deeply, truly involved with work that energizes you instead of depletes you—or makes you want to stab your eyes out with your boss’s Montblanc pen.

When you can put in real, focused, quality time, you’re a lot more efficient and can maybe also have a life. Imagine that.

 Justine Musk



What Would Have Happened if Germany Had Invaded the U.S. During World War II?

Then the war either would have ended early (like 1942 or 1943), or there would have been massive numbers of German casualties with nothing to show for it.

Invading the North American mainland can be safely left in the realm of bad Hollywood films. And that’s even today, with larger ships, jet cargo aircraft, and more people. While it makes for a great strategy, in the end, it’s just a nonstarter. Why?

The Germans had no forward base in the New World. If they had seized Iceland, any of the French protectorates in the Caribbean, or northern South America, then an invasion, while still a stretch, could have been conceivable. Without forward bases to deploy to and from, an invasion isn’t going to happen.

Consider that the Wehrmacht was winning while America was out of the war. One of the most idiotic things Hitler did was to declare war on the United States on Dec. 11, 1941. While the Wehrmacht was about to get thrashed in the Soviet Union, it could have stage-managed that into a negotiated settlement if it had chosen to. When the U.S. entered the war, it was all in, and Germany didn’t have the cards for that kind of bet. Invading North America would have simply brought the U.S. immediately into the war, with results that would have been more disastrous than they were.

And even if the Germans had landed a sizable force here, how where they going to be resupplied? Any such force would have been trapped here until it was defeated, destroyed, or retreated. The U.S. could play at the U-boat game, and the Germans would have needed open logistics lines to keep themselves supplied. Assuming that they were somehow able to move further inland, they still would need a corridor or corridors open to the ocean for supplies and retreat. Not seeing how that could have happened.

In addition, everybody had guns. One commonality among the nations conquered by Germany is that private firearms ownership was heavily restricted or simply banned. With no such restrictions here and given the fact that modern combined arms tactics were still in their infancy, it’s difficult to see how the Germans would have avoided taking heavy casualties. The Germans would have faced an armed force at least 10 times the size of their invasion force, who were also motivated to ensure that they (the Germans) would lose.

The Germans also still would have had to undertake European battles along with their invasion here. England was bombing German cities. The Soviet Union was beginning what would be its bloody push to force the Germans out of its homeland. Italy was losing in North Africa, necessitating German assistance there. Yugoslavia’s partisan conflicts were just beginning. And Germany had large areas of France, Poland, Norway, and the Low Countries that it needed troops garrisoned in just to keep pacified. If they could have found a million or so “spare” force to throw at an attack on the U.S., it would still have maintain its status quo in the lands that it already conquered.

Didn’t happen. Couldn’t happen.

Jon Mixon