Arizona Horizon Banner

November 22, 2010

Host: Ted Simons

John Lennon Photographer

  |   Video
  • Professional photographer David Spindel photographed John Lennon and Yoko Ono during a 1980 recording session at the Hit Factory in New York City. Some of his photographs appear in a new American Masters: LennoNYC premiering at 9PM on Eight/Arizona PBS. Spindel shares his photographs and memories of the experience.
  • David Spindel - photographer
Category: The Arts

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight at 9:00 on Eight, American Masters premieres a new film, "Lennon NYC." It focuses on John Lennon's life with his family in New York City in the 1970s. It also includes classic photographs from sessions, photographs taken by David Spindel, who now makes his home in Anthem. We're here to share some photographs in memory. We have a clip of film that opens with several of Spindel's photos.
(Brief clip from film)

I want just sashimi tuna. Just gimme that raw fish. ¶¶ ¶¶

Everybody, one, two, one, two, three, four. ¶¶ ¶¶

He was back in the studio doing what he loved. He was probably the happiest person in the world. 11 ¶¶ ¶¶

He's a little kid in a candy store just having a ball. And happy as hell to be singing again. We would be in the middle of a good take and he would break into a lyric and make everybody laugh, he would just do it.

Just really watch yourselves after coming out of the lav. I have to sing it faster the second time.

Ted Simons: And joining me now is David Spindel, the photographer who captured those classic images of John Lennon back in 1980, at the Hit Factory in New York City. Thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

David Spindel: My pleasure.

Ted Simons: How did you get that gig?

David Spindel: To make a long story short, basically, my wife and I were designing a new home in Rockland County. The architect's wife-to-be wanted to be an agent for a photographer. Come in and I'll tell you all about it, how to do it. We spent about a week. She said, how do I find a photographer? I said, you can represent me. She called me up and said, my husband-to-be's brother got a job working with these "musicians" and they are looking for a photographer. They told me about you. I'm a studio photographer, I do still life and portraits. She said, you'll enjoy working with them. I said who? She said I can’t tell you. I worked with Kiss and a lot of other album covers. I put together an album photograph I figured for sure they wouldn't like. It's a shot of a white woman nursing a black baby. We love this guy, we want to hire him. How do I get out of this? I gave them a price no one in their right mind would pay. They agreed. How about a purchase order? The guy says, don't worry, they are good for the money. I said, who? Can't tell you. I didn't follow music, I didn't know who it could possibly be. I'm sitting there maybe an hour, I'm getting ticked off. An Asian woman walks out and I didn't know Yoko by sight. The first thing I would like is a group shot of everyone. She takes me into a room where I had my equipment. I said, how many people? She said 12 or 15. Excuse me, you can't fit that many in that room. I went back to get my equipment and he's lying on the floor getting a massage. The guy turns over and it's John Lennon. Him I knew. John says, I used to charge people a fee to watch me get a massage. I'm a kid from Brooklyn, you ain't going tell me that. Guess what, John, I charge people a fee to watch me move my equipment. He laughed and said, I think I'm going to like working with you.

Ted Simons: What was he like?

David Spindel: Unbelievable. He was just -- it's like we're talking. 13 There was no pretentiousness about him, just the guy next door, enjoye`d what had he did. The photographs have a unique kind of quality to them. I told him, John, you're going to be involved in recording. If I have a flash going off every two seconds, it's going to be a distraction. I shot everything in available light, which is kind of difficult because there wasn't a lot of light in the studio. I had film I brought for my strobes. Some of the shots, three in particular, really came out beautiful because I had to put my camera on the glass of the recording booth to hold it steady enough. There was no light. Those three shots got the motion of him in the recording booth moving, and those are the most precious shots of all.

Ted Simons: Do -- we have a shot of him at the audio board, which is a fantastic photograph.

David Spindel: He was just sort of daydreaming a little bit. Everyone loves that photograph.

Ted Simons: You were pretty much invisible, weren't you?

David Spindel: Yeah, plus I shot a lot with a telephoto camera, so he didn't even see me.

Ted Simons: We have another shot of him playing guitar, kind of a wider shot. Again, you don't see those kinds of shots, this stark black and white photography of John Lennon at that point in his career.

David Spindel: Everyone says, how did you get that effect? Usually you have a light around, the mist. I took out my camera and see, the look, you breathe on the camera, clear the middle and shoot and you get that effect. You can buy a filter for $90, but I usually break them so I came up with that.

Ted Simons: We have another photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono speaking when he was at the audio board. Their relationship, what did you see?

David Spindel: What was unique about John, he did the music and let Yoko handle all of the business. He was basically a stay-at-home dad. He wanted to stay at home and raise his son. He was upset because he realized with his first one, Julian, he was always on the road. When he came home he saw this kid he didn't recognize because he grew so much.

Ted Simons: When you're around someone like that, and you have a picture of them, an idea of them, and now when you hear John Lennon's music, because you met him and knew him and worked with him, did that change the way you heard his music?

David Spindel: Yes. I was too involved with my own work, my studio photography. I heard it, but didn't have the time to listen to it carefully. As I got older I had more time to listen, especially when I saw the documentary that was done, the words to his songs are just incredible. He made life really beautiful. You'll see in the documentary this evening, what he went through, his stay in America, trying to promote peace in the 15 world. To quote the government, they didn't want him around, they tried to get him out of the country. What he went through during his stay in America was unbelievable.

Ted Simons: What you went through with this photo shoot was just amazing. We're seeing black and white but there are color photographs, as well.

David Spindel: Yoko wanted black and white. I said, how can I pass up an opportunity like this? I shot color, as well, but I didn't tell her. Only a few of them are available. There were 72 of them, but they seem to have disappeared over the years. What is even funnier, I had shot some color negatives and took the roll and started to wind it up in the old film cans, not digital. I said, well, I'll put it in the safe and unwind it later. 15 years later I'm thinking, why did I save this roll of film? Well, I must have saved it for a reason. I sent it out to the lab and the guy calls me and said, they are pictures of a guy playing a guitar. I said, I don't photograph people with guitars. Send it over and let me look at it. When I saw the negatives, I almost passed out, I have color shots.

Ted Simons: You also have a color shot of that couch.

David Spindel: That's the couch shot.

Ted Simons: Of everyone kind of jammed on the couch there.

David Spindel: That's the only way I could get them all together. It's not ideally what I would have liked to have done, but I had to work fast and under the conditions available.

Ted Simons: Do you still keep in touch with Yoko Ono?

David Spindel: I get a Christmas card every year, I save them all.

Ted Simons: You've done a lot in your career. I notice you walked in with a Nikon D-90.

David Spindel: They have come out with other ones, too, since this one.

Ted Simons: I'm an amateur shutterbug myself, and digital has changed everything. All of a sudden we can take half decent shots now. How do the pros feel about digital as compared to film?

David Spindel: In my case I love it. Some swear by the old system, but I don't. It opened up a whole new career for me.

Ted Simons: You had quite a career before. This is going to be fascinating to watch tonight. The photos are very well done, the stark black and white is fantastic.

David Spindel: There's also a book called "Starting Over" that just came out by Ken Sharp with 16 of my photographs in it. I'll be doing some signings in some bookstores. Real quick, my son-in-law has a music store in Manhattan and they will be performing there in January.

Ted Simons: Thanks very much.

University Realignment

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Board of Regents members Anne Mariucci and Fred DuVal discuss the Board’s plan to realign the Arizona University System into an enterprise model.
  • Anne Mariucci - Arizona Board of Regents
  • Fred DuVal - Arizona Board of Regents
Category: Education

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. The Arizona Board of Regents is pursuing a plan to realign the state's universities into an enterprise model. It's an effort to help universities deal with new budgetary realities while meeting the needs of students and contributing to Arizona's economy. The Board will consider streamlining operations, expanding access to baccalaureate degrees, providing new low-cost options for students, and privatizing certain self-sustainable academic programs. Here with more is Regent Anne Mariucci, chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents, and vice chairman, Regent Fred Duval. Realigning the state’s universities, what are we talking about here?

Anne Mariucci: Most Arizonans are familiar with our three fine universities. What they don't realize is that they are all overseen by the Arizona Board of Regents. Especially in times like this with our state facing the many challenges it has, it's really important that we have a strategic plan that allows the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts. For the first time we're looking at how all three of these universities roll up together for the best interests of the state's economy, the state's residents and students who attend the universities.

Ted Simons: Thus, an effective and efficient enterprise model?

Fred Duval: That's right, as efficient as possible, synergy in the system, more public-private partnerships brought to bear, holding the presidents as a group, as a council to outcome goals for the system. We have record enrollments, but no new money so we have to do more with less.

Ted Simons: Outline the specific deals. Sounds as those you could have all three doing the same thing and sharing but this is not the case here, correct?

Fred Duval: Certain programs you want to have at all three universities. A high demand program like teaching, you want as much as you can possibly get. We're looking to shake out the less productive programs and try to capture those costs.

Ted Simons: What does enterprise approach mean?

Anne Mariucci: Enterprise approach means looking at the group as a whole, so the whole is greater than the some of the parts. And so that we can achieve the excellence we want, in terms of the access and the affordability of students, to make a choice at varying price points that we will increasingly differentiate over time at different campuses, so they can make a choice where the academic programming is right for them, at the price point they and their families can best afford.

Ted Simons: The idea of the universities getting together -- and I think it was mentioned, the presidents and CEOs of the deal, that means cooperation. Are you getting cooperation?

Anne Mariucci: Absolutely. We crack the whip every day. And it is a new model and it is an exciting new model. The Board is very behind it. We also brought in a new president of the enterprise that will expressly deal with achieving that kind of cooperation among them all. That's something new and different, so we have a council of presidents that basically has their own board of directors reporting to the regents to ensure that those things happen.

Fred Duval: A really important part of this is the relationship with the community colleges. We've historically had high-cost research institutions and two-year community colleges. We're leveraging across those relationships more aggressively so more students can find points of access, move towards a four-year degree as efficiently as possible. The more students that take advantage of community college offerings on pathways that get more college credit, we can move more students through the system.

Ted Simons: How does that help with degrees? You know as well as anyone, the critics say there's too much research going on, not enough reading, writing and arithmetic, even at the college-university level. How does that help with degrees?

Fred Duval: Research is about quality, making sure you've got really talented faculty, teaching students, showing them what the academic enterprise can really be about, advanced degrees, Ph.D.s, et cetera. We're in the business of creating new ideas, new products, figuring out how to get them out to market, creating new jobs for the 21st century. And that requires a workforce, which is degrees, and ideas to capitalize the jobs, as well.

Ted Simons: Folks say that research is not necessarily -- should not necessarily be such a top priority at Arizona state universities, in toto. How do you respond to that?

Anne Mariucci: We're a three-legged stool. We create knowledge. We disseminate knowledge. And we teach knowledge. In order for any one of those things to be good, you've got to do them all. I think we've seen countless examples where students get to work in the bench lab, an undergrad student in a lab, a Ph.D. researcher who might be world renowned, and provides the intellectual spark that sustains that student for life and sustains that student's career, is not as tangible. It's more difficult to measure than many other aspects of education. But also, by and large, research pays for itself. The grants to do the research are coming from federal agencies, the National Institute of Health, the National Cancer Institute, et cetera, et cetera. They are providing the direct economic dollars into Arizona to conduct the research.

Ted Simons: The fact that it's not tangible, is that message getting out?

Fred Duval: We try to make that argument, to be sure. To a great extent, research drives the reputation of the institutions. The reputation then translates into the quality of degree and the value of the degree, as our students graduate and go out into the workforce. It pays dividends.

Anne Mariucci: I'm sympathetic to that argument, especially in a time like that when we need to marshal our resources so carefully. We can't just create knowledge for the sake of creating knowledge. It's got to have economic relevance, workforce relevance and relevance to Arizona. We have to create performance metrics that evaluate our research programs before we go out and apply for them, and to target the areas we think would be good for Arizona, and go out and compete, and being on the front end of the most important thing we need to do in the state, which is diversify our economy.

Ted Simons: Restructuring the investment model, what does that mean?

Anne Mariucci: I think today we have a model that has been very heavily dependent on state appropriation, and the more students we had, the more money they gave us. That changed over the last three years as the state has run into the financial difficulties it has. We've had a 28% reduction in our state appropriation per student. We have had to make up for that by a combination of significant tuition increases that are large in percentage, but still relatively small in dollar. We'll talk about those in a minute. And a drive for every imaginable operating efficiency and savings of expense that we can achieve. We've got many metrics relating to that in our model, and we hold our presidents accountable for that.

Ted Simons: Regarding expanding student enrollment and such, that seems to be part of the plan, as well. What's going on here?

Fred Duval: Degree production is a huge part of our long-term vision. United States is 16th in the world in degree production and falling. Arizona is 48th of the 50 states. We're falling behind. We have to find a way to figure out how to get students to their degree. Knowledge is the coin of the realm, that's how we compete. That's how we diversify our economy, so future recessions aren't nearly as devastating as this one has been.

Ted Simons: We keep hearing the law school might be on this track. What's going on?

Fred Duval: That'll be the first one that we try. U-VA has done it with their business school and UCLA is looking at doing it with their business school. We're talking about taking the off-state investment. Can it survive, can we allow tuition to be priced to market and basically take it off state investment. The dean of the law school believes he can do that and sustain its value.

Ted Simons: Can it do that? Can it survive? You mentioned Virginia and these areas with a grand history of philanthropic endeavors. We don't have that here in Arizona quite yet. Can these things survive on their own?

Anne Mariucci: We wouldn't be doing it if we didn't think they could. The jobs that are generated are the high-paying jobs that can afford to reinvest and can support a higher level of financial aid and loans and all of those things. That's specifically why law schools, business schools and other professional schools are the natural target for this. I suspect 10 years from now this will be a very prevalent structure that we see in all public universities across the country.

Ted Simons: What does all this mean to tuition costs?

Anne Mariucci: Well, our costs have taken a steep rise, as any parent or student knows, over the past two and a half years. The regents are very, very sensitive to it. On a percentage basis, it's high. We've increased tuitions arguably 40%, plus or minus, over this period of time. But in dollars -- in dollars, you know, we believe it's one of the all-time great bargains around. ASU, for instance, is barely $6,000. And over 25% of our students in the entire system are going with scholarships, not loans, scholarships. They are attending for less than a thousand dollars a year. That is a remarkable bargain. We're trying to segment the college-going population based on ability for success and ability to pay, measuring carefully against our peer group and who we're trying to aspire to, in terms of our equality. We are still 30% to 40% less expensive than our strategic peer group. It's not that we feel it gives us a right to raise tuition by any stretch of the imagination, we're very mindful of it. But we don't have financial aid in this state. We are the lowest in the country of financial aid from state government. As a result, we have to use aggregate tuition dollars in order to put some money in the other pocket, in order to provide financial aid for deserving students.

Ted Simons: We will get letters and cards from students and some parents saying, the tuition has still gone up too quickly, too fast. Something's got to be done. The realignment plan, is that being done?

Fred Duval: Absolutely. We are doing our level best to recognize that we can't continue to do the business the same way. Tuition becomes one of the options. We're also going to be looking at where we can extract more costs out of institution. We will tackle this all the way across the board.

Anne Mariucci: This is an area where how fast we're growing is really an asset. We have an opportunity to segment our product offering. We call this system architecture. The universities are the most expensive to operate. What we want to do is differentiate product offering and have more of a state college option. Then we want to have two plus two degrees in partnership with community colleges. All of this enables us to offer different points of entry at significantly different price points, lower price points to students and families who would choose that option. Our estimates are 25% to 30% of our student population will choose those lower cost options as we role out the facilities for a state college system and 10 other facilities like it.

Ted Simons: Last question: We've had guests on the program who say that the university system in Arizona is just too big. The better way to education is more choice, more colleges and universities get a better selection, more choice. Improves education, brings down prices, the whole nine yards.

Fred Duval: You don't want to eliminate your high quality brand name. You want to create an a la carte menu so people have different choices, while at the same time putting more people into the system and creating more degrees. We think we can do both.

Ted Simons: We've got to stop it right there.