I’ve been reading quite a few books; in case you haven’t been reading my other posts, here are just a few:
The Life of Python
Michael Palin’s Diaries 1969-1979
A Liar’s Autobiography (Graham Chapman)
Timothy Leary: A Biography
John Lennon: The Life
What strikes me about Lennon (and the Beatles), Timothy Leary, and Monty Python is how they intertwine through the years, indeed how all the icons of the era — including the Rolling Stones and the WHO — all seemed to hang out together on a relatively constant basis.
Leary shows up in Chapman’s autobiography, and mentions of him meeting Eric Idle are present in Leary’s biography. The Beatles, especially George Harrison, became very close to the Pythons — GH funding five million pounds of “The Life of Brian” at extreme personal risk.
Per Chapman and Palin, Eric Idle starts to hang out with the Stones constantly and was very close to George Harrison, Chapman hangs out with the Who and helps train the fledgling Douglas Adams, Palin becomes very close with George Harrison as well and is friends with the whole world, and Pink Floyd helps fund “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.
It’s like some vast, tangled web of interwoven causality, where the whole counter culture (especially in Britain) conspires to lift itself higher and higher, until the whole period is still iconic today.
It really does echo down, even to Gen-X icons. Johnny Depp and Wynona Rider were very close to Timothy Leary (Rider was his god-daughter), and Uma Thurman was the daughter of one of Leary’s ex-wives and a Buddhist monk that had interacted with Leary on several occasions.
An aristocracy was formed during this period, a clique of people and hedge-maze of relationships that helped create modern entertainment and came dominate the last quarter of the 20th century, especially many pop-culture icons.
Is there anything similar happening in the world in the present? It makes me wonder if this aristocracy continues, or if our isolative technological culture that make each person into an unassailable island fortress has turned even this network of entertainment cognoscenti into a group of lonely hermits.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Monty Python, the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, Pink Floyd, and Depp, but I never realized exactly how tightly locked together all these gears were in the turn of the years.