The BBC reports that someone paid $290,000 for a copy of the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover signed by every Beatle shortly after the album was released in 1967. The sale price broke a record and brought almost 10 times the $30,000 that was expected when the item was put up for auction.
Sgt. Pepper’s is generally viewed as one of the most influential albums ever recorded, and its lavish, beautiful cover fit perfectly with the music inside and the beginning of the Summer of Love. From the iconic front cover, with the Beatles surrounded by photos of famous people at a gravesite, to the lush and sparkling interior photo of the Beatles in the satin band uniforms (which is where the auctioned album is autographed), to the back cover of the song lyrics and a picture of the Beatles featuring Paul McCartney’s back, the Sgt. Pepper’s cover is a tantalizing treat for the senses. But $290,000?
I’ve never understood the point of autographs. It’s one thing if you collect the autographs yourself and had a personal story to tell about every famous person you encountered through that hobby. Paying huge sums for autographed items collected by others, however, makes no sense to me. The scribbled signature means nothing, in and of itself; I could no more distinguish a genuine John Lennon signature from a reasonable forgery. The real value of the autographed item, apparently, is confirmation that, at one moment in time 45 years ago, this cardboard object briefly passed through the hands of the four Beatles. But, so what? Does the new owner experience a vicarious thrill at holding something once touched by his heroes, two of whom are now dead? If so, isn’t that somewhat . . . odd? Or is the buyer just a cold, calculated investor willing to gamble that, in 10 or 20 years, someone will pay even more for this piece of cardboard, which will be carefully stored in some climate-controlled safe?
Either way, $290,000 seems like an awful lot of money to pay for an album I once got for $7.99 at the neighborhood record store.
I arrived at the New Albany, Ohio church where we vote a few minutes before 6:30, when the the polls officially opened. I walked past the American flags and the signs marking the outer boundary for any campaigning, but there were no campaign workers or pamphleteers to be seen.
The parking lot was already almost full and more than 100 people were waiting in line, stamping their feet against the below-freezing temperatures on a bright, clear morning. It was the largest crowd I’ve seen at my polling place in New Albany. Some people said they had tried to vote early, but the polling stations were just too crowded.
We waited patiently to get inside, found the correct alphabetical lines for our last names, and waited again. We chatted about how glad we were that the campaign was finally ending and watched the “Youth at the Booth” kids working to get the voting machines up and running. The line moved slowly up to the registration table, where we received our vote authorization slips and then we moved to another line for the voting machines. From beginning to end, the wait was about 45 minutes — well worth it for the opportunity to exercise our most important civic right and duty.
When I left, one of the kids gave me my “I [heart/Ohio] Voting” sticker. I got in my car, turned on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and resolved not to listen to any pundits on my drive in to work.
There are morning walkers, and then there are morning joggers. Walkers uniformly greet each other with a hearty “good morning!” Some joggers, on the other hand, just . . . wave.
Actually, calling it a wave isn’t all that accurate, because there’s no side-to-side motion. It’s just a flip of the wrist and showing of the open palm, as if the jogger wanted to demonstrate that he isn’t carrying a knife or revolver. It’s like the hand that appeared above the head of Paul McCartney on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover, which was supposed to be another of the clues demonstrating that McCartney was killed in a car crash. No wonder the joggers’ wave doesn’t exactly warm the cockles of my heart.
I’m not quite sure why the joggers’ wave bugs me. It’s a bit embarrassing to say hello and get the joggers’ wave in return, but that’s not the only issue. It’s like the joggers who do the flip wave think they are better than the walkers, because they’re moving faster and they wear spiffy jogging outfits and have bottles of water hooked at their beltlines, whereas the walkers look like they’ve just rolled out of bed. The joggers are willing to condescend to acknowledge the existence of the ant-like walkers — so far below the Olympian joggers — but they don’t want to be too familiar and encourage too much unwanted interaction.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this. Maybe the joggers just don’t want to let the walkers know that they are so gassed they can’t say hello without gasping for air. Maybe they can barely summon the energy to do their lame excuse for a wave without stumbling to the side of the road and sprawling on the grass.
I’ll think of that happy thought the next time I’m walking the dogs, say hello, and have to endure another desultory joggers’ wave.