The last time I visited Rye Playland, Jimmy Carter was our president - makes one dream of the good old days, huh? Certainly, my life was easier then. I had come to Rye on a school trip (remember when school trips were meant to be fun?), and I recall it now like a scene from a movie, dropping quarters (or was it dimes?) into pinball machines, wearing socks with colored stripes, using exclamations like "dynamite"and "says you," and hearing on a distant radio the song All You Need is Love.
Flash forward forty years. The pinball machines have been replaced by virtual reality, the socks are monochromatic, expletives usurped exclamations, and yet I can still hear All You Need is Love on the Rye Playland boardwalk (is it real or just wishful thinking?).
At Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar, a Beatles tribute band called the Sun Kings honored the Fab Four throughout the evening, and May Pang, former girlfriend of John Lennon, spoke to the dinner crowd about her life with John. The short talk was followed by a lengthy Q & A in which her many invited guests had the opportunity to quell their curiosity about those grand and tumultuous years.
We spoke to May over a Mexican dinner about a month earlier, yet no story she told at the Pier Restaurant& Tiki Bar was a repeat of what we heard over hot enchiladas and icy margaritas. Her tales portrayed John in the way we wished we could have always seen him - healthy, productive, and safe. The questions from the audience focused more on the types of music and food John enjoyed rather than the controversy and tragedy.
May was candid and happy. The evening was beautiful, as the sun set over the mouth of the Sound, and the lights along the boardwalk ricocheted me back to those simpler times.
- Michael Alpiner