Shortly before his death, John Lennon became the most unlikely of tourists on this coral island. What drew him to its shores, and why did he stay for two months?
by John McCarthy
Fairylands is a name that conjures up a dreamy, other-worldly place, somewhere to escape the cares of a busy life. And so it is. Set across two small peninsulas on the island of Bermuda, it is a district of winding lanes through low hills, where homes, some grand, some cottages, sit surrounded by stone walls and green hedges filled with hibiscus blooms. With names such as Xanadu and Windermere, these dwellings have manicured lawns and little letter boxes that are models of the houses themselves. Fairylands is at once magical and twee.
Yoko Ono and John Lennon in Cap D'Antibes, France, 1979. (Rex USA)
It’s the last place you’d expect, perhaps, to find a right-on rock star with an interest in world peace—but that’s probably why it appealed so much to John Lennon in June 1980. Nor does it necessarily sound like a spot where a man who hasn’t written a song for half a decade is going to rediscover his mojo, and dispel a reputation for reclusiveness. Yet that’s what happened, as I’ll be recounting in a programme for Radio 4 next week, Imagine John Lennon’s Bermuda Adventure.
The forced shutdown of two wildly popular budget bus companies was largely based on fabricated charges—to the benefit of politically-connected corporate carriers.
On May 20, 2013, a passenger motor coach run by a Chinatown bus company called Lucky Star departed New York City for Boston’s South Station. Shortly after hitting the road, the driver heard a strange bang come from under the bus. The bus seemed to be functioning normally, so he kept going.
Passengers board a large tour bus in New York, June 26, 2012. After federal officials shut down a slew of small transportation companies in May for safety violations, large tour buses have begun to compete with smaller ones to ferry passengers between Chinatown in Manhattan and Chinatown in Queens. (Robert Stolarik/The New York Times, via Redux)
Upon arriving in Boston, the driver was shocked to find a New York City manhole cover lodged in the vehicle’s luggage compartment. Apparently, the bus struck the loose cover in the streets of Manhattan, sending it darting up into the vehicle’s undercarriage. Lucky Star immediately took the bus out of service and sent it to the garage for repairs.
The following month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ordered Lucky Star to cease operating on the grounds that its buses and drivers posed “an imminent hazard to public safety.” One of the primary reasons the FMCSA gave for the shutdown was the manhole cover incident. But the out-of-service order, which is the official document revoking the company’s operating license, incorrectly states that after discovering the damage, Lucky Star’s dispatcher kept the vehicle out of the garage and continued sending it on passenger trips in an act of willful negligence.
The FAA is finally letting us keep our electronic devices turned on during takeoff. So…why couldn’t we do it before?
For years, airlines have spooked us with the idea that if we furtively leave our iPod switched on as our plane begins its final approach, the signal might somehow send all the instruments on the flight deck spinning crazily. Flight attendants incessantly remind us. Signs and manuals forbid it.
A man talks on his cell phone inside the terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Now the Federal Aviation Administration is changing its tune. The administration announced on Wednesday new rules that allow the use of personal electronic devices during the entirety of a flight—from gate to gate. Our longstanding fear, it seems, turns out to be about as valid as the death ray deployed by Buck Rogers in comic strips.
Why switch it up now? Did the FAA know all along that its rule was hokum?
You can keep your e-reader on during takeoff now.
One annoying airline rule will soon be obsolete: “Please turn off all electronic devices.” The FAA is easing off its 50-year-old guidelines on the use of DVD players, e-readers, Game Boys, and Discmans (speaking of obsolete) during takeoff and landing. It turns out that most planes’ radio signals can withstand your device’s interference signals. Phone calls and texting will remain off limits, leaving flight attendants to worry about more confrontations with rule-breaking passengers. Some expressed concern about passengers “pretending to turn things off even when they’re not.” So behave—the stewardess is watching you.
With a violent poltergeist, known to harm late-night visitors, and a history of stolen bodies, it’s no wonder Greyfriars Kirkyard is one of the most haunted cemeteries in the world.
Body snatchers, violent ghosts, a loyal dog, and Harry Potter characters may seem like strange bedfellows, but in Scotland’s gorgeous, gothic capital city of Edinburgh, the four merge to make up the ghostly lore surrounding one of the world’s most haunted graveyards. In the city’s historic center, perched on a hill overlooking the “new” town (built in the 1700s), Greyfriars Kirkyard is a seemingly idyllic cemetery dating back to the 1560s. But, to this day, it has enough strange goings-on to attract a steady stream of ghost hunters, wizarding fans, and the television producers and writers who follow in their wake.
Haunting the cemetery is George MacKenzie, called the MacKenzie Poltergeist, who is said to be one of the most aggressive and active paranormal figures around. Known during his lifetime as a ruthless persecutor of the Scottish Covenanters, a Presbyterian movement in the 17th century, MacKenzie’s spirit, according to legend, was released in 1999 when a homeless man looking for a spot to sleep broke into his final resting place, the Black Mausoleum. It was a fate predicted by famed Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson who referenced MacKenzie in his 1879 book “Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes,” writing, “When a man’s soul is certainly in hell, his body will scarce lie quiet in a tomb however costly; some time or other the door must open, and the reprobate come forth in the abhorred garments of the grave.”
The Covenanters’ Prison is connected to Greyfriars Kirkyard by a stone gateway and locked metal grate near MacKenzie’s mausoleum. It was once home to an estimated 1200 unfortunate members of a failed anti-government revolution in 1679. Conditions at the prison were so brutal that only 257 of the prisoners came out alive (a portion of whom escaped or pledged loyalty to the crown) four months after their mass incarceration.
A new book, City Parks, features essays from contemporary writers and luminaries—from Zadie Smith to Bill Clinton—on their favorite parks. Isabel Wilkinson talks to its editor, Catie Marron.
Everybody knows it, that feeling of entering a park: peeling off the city streets and into that nourishing sense of calm. And then, after the kids on bikes, the joggers, and the dogs playing fetch have faded, the thrill of being perfectly alone sets in.
That feeling of calm greets you upon opening City Parks: Public Spaces, Private Thoughts, a glossy new collection of essays and photographs highlighting some of the most luscious and mysterious parks in the world. Edited by Catie Marron, Vogue contributor and former board chair of the New York Public Library, the book pairs great writers – Zadie Smith, Andre Aciman, and Pico Ayer among them – with celebrated urban parks. There’s Jonathan Alter on Lincoln and Grant Park in Chicago, Candice Bergen on Griffith Park in Los Angeles, and President Bill Clinton on Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.
“I really wanted to capture parks in their inherent mood, and not just in the summertime, when loads of people are there,” said Marron. And indeed, many of the photographs, taken by Oberto Gili, reflect the mood of each park as if it were a character with its own story.
Snow season is on its way. Challenge yourself this year and pick a new mountain to tackle—one that’s a favorite of a former Olympic contender.
Nothing says winter fun like a crisp day, fresh powder, and sun glinting off the nearby peaks. So now is a good time to prep with the new book Fifty Places to Ski & Snowboard Before You Die, which asked leading experts in the sport to pick their favorite spots to hit the slopes. See six Olympians’ most beloved mountains, from tried-and-true resorts close to home (who doesn’t love Aspen and Deer Valley?) to the challenging and exotic (backcountry skiing in Japan, anyone?). Whether you’re an expert looking to hit the double diamond moguls or a beginner who wants a gentle slope just in case stopping is an issue, these spots have a little something for everyone.
So, book those lift tickets, strap on your skis, and get ready for the ride of a lifetime.
Deer Valley Resort, Utah
Recommended by Heidi Voelker
“I think that there’s a myth in the skiing world that people of different abilities can’t ski together,” Heidi Voelker began. “Deer Valley is the kind of area that dispels that myth.
The Michelin 2014 restaurant guides are out. But, before you run to book a table at all the best new restaurants, take a look at which countries are winning the restaurant wars, and which need to step up their game. Hint: Japan is on a roll.
Children-turned-monsters, anti-Christs, zombies, and mad priests. Meet the diabolical family-like group who runs one of the biggest—and most frightening—haunted houses in America.
Her long, purple dress floated over the muddy path as she moved closer to the group. Three teenage girls, already scared, hugged each other in a sort of terrified conga line. They were Jen Vasquez’s next targets. The House of Shock cast member, better known as Momma Jen, hissed. She sniffed. Then, through two different colored contact lenses, Vasquez looked in the face of the young blonde girl, who shrieked like she might drop dead.
“I like to find the scaredy cats,” said Vasquez. “When their shoulders shrink, I know I got them.”
Founded in 1992 by Pantera lead singer Phil Anselmo and his friends Ross Karpelman and Jay Gracinette, the House of Shock started off as a backyard party in New Orleans. Twenty-one years later, it has a permanent home, a 25,000-square-foot warehouse on grounds that look like an industrial wasteland just outside of the Crescent City in Jefferson Parish. Now one of the largest—and scariest—haunted houses in the country, House of Shock thrives on pushing the boundaries of the terrifying and the extreme, welcoming the controversy that inevitably follows.
From a submerged Bar Refaeli to a Mediterranean idyll, a voyeur’s look at the stars’ sun-soaked scenes.
Religious divisions contribute to the conflict, now marked by open bloodshed. But ordinary Ukrainians have little faith in the future.
The bouillabaisse is just as tasty, but Europe’s 2013 Capital of Culture now has a lot more to offer. Anna Watson Carl reports.
More than a natural wonder, Cappadocia's formations have been a safe haven to many. Nina Strochlic reports.
Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet Publications, remembers the fun early days of travel guide writing, but says they're not over yet.
Miley Cyrus’ fav new haunt is Beacher’s Madhouse, the craziest club in Los Angeles.
Take the vacation of a lifetime—in beautiful North Korea? That’s Uri Tours’ pitch. Lloyd Grove reports.
In ‘Mapping Manhattan,’ explore the city via 75 New Yorkers’ personal geographies. By Allison McNearney.