Do you know what sea glass is? It's ordinary glass, discarded glass—usually from broken bottles—that's made extraordinarily beautiful by being pounded by surf and sand for many years. You turn it in over your hand and it looks somehow different from each new angle. It's captivating.
On December 8, 1980, John Lennon was gunned down by deranged "fan" Mark David Chapman in front of his apartment building, the Dakota, at 72nd and Central Park West. I've been turning that event over in my mind, trying to see if I can find beauty or meaning there. I can't. But after more than a quarter-century I have a new perspective.
A year ago today I wrote about my role (almost non-existent) in covering the story—and more particularly about WABC-TV’s role in breaking the story for the world. I wrote how Eyewitness News found out about the killing and passed it along to the network: ABC, which was carrying Monday Night Football had Howard Cosell make the announcement.
I repeated the story of Eyewitness News 6PM producer Alan Weiss, who was hurt in a motorcycle-versus-taxi accident in Central Park, was in the Roosevelt Hospital emergency room when Lennon was brought in. Alan, badly injured, was still able to get to a phone and call the news desk. If you’ve got a second you might want to scroll down to December 8, 2007, and read that post.
A few weeks ago, at the Eyewitness News 40th reunion, I ran into long-time WABC photographer Peter Berman. He and I have been sharing memories since. When we communicated about the night of the Lennon killing he told me a side of the story I hadn’t heard before. I asked him to write it down for inclusion here.
Some postscripts. Peter says that Neil later told him as soon as Peter had given him the word it was John Lennon who was shot, his next call was from Alan Weiss at the hospital. Neil, of course, was the one who passed along the word to the network. All these years later I find that Neil had two sources, not just one—and that both were impeccable. Again, I don’t see any dispute here: neither Peter nor Alan could have known what the other had witnessed. I don't think they ever got around to comparing notes on what happened that night. I haven't talked to Neil.
Neil Goldstein has had a very successful career in news. He wound up as news director for the CBS O-and-O in Miami—my successor, twice-removed I think. Along the way he was ND for WJBK in Detroit, WNEW in New York, and most recently for WDIV, the Post-Newsweek station in Detroit. Lately he’s been behind Post-Newsweek’s new venture, http://justweather.com/. Its Beta is up and running and worth a look.
Neil was, during his Eyewitness News days and for awhile after, married to WABC Reporter Tracy Egan—who had a long career that eventually took her back to her hometown, Albany. Neil and Tracy have a daughter, Bridget Blythe, who reports and anchors at WKBW in Buffalo and is the spitting image of her Mom.
Peter Berman recently retired after a long careeer at EWN. He's got his own photo/video service. If you go tohttp://www.insightphotovideo.com/ and click on "Events," you'll find some pictures he took at the reunion. Peter continues to help his wife, Julie Eckhert, run her business: she's one of the best-known and most respected talent coaches and career consultants in TV news: http://www.eckherttalent.com/
Mark David Chapman was up for parole earlier this year—and was rejected. This picture, the most recent I could find, was taken in 2003. He’s up for a parole hearing again in 2010. He's a born-again Christian.
Me? For me it’s been a “A Long and Winding Road."