WEIRDLAND

Thursday, March 23, 2017

American Gods, Labyrinth, Fantasy Movies

American Gods is an American television series created by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green for Starz, based on the novel by author Neil Gaiman. Its premise is what if all the ancient gods were still around and waging a war against the new gods of technology and media? The series focuses on Shadow Moon, a man who is just released after serving three years in prison. Shadow meets a man named Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job. Wednesday appears to be a con artist but is in fact the god Odin. Wednesday is making his way across America, gathering all the old gods, who have now incorporated themselves into American life, to confront the New Gods, including Media and Technology, who grow stronger. Left feeling like he is looking at the world from the bottom of a well, Shadow must literally walk his heroes' path back to a time where he even resembles sanity.

American Gods is a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel by English author Neil Gaiman. The plot is a blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centering on the mysterious and taciturn protagonist Shadow.  A special tenth anniversary edition, with the author's preferred text and including an additional 12000 words, was published in June 2011.

American Gods premieres on Starz on April 30. Gillian Anderson assumes in American Gods the role of the shape-shifting god, Media, the “new Goddess” of television, that’s to say a Goddess who’s been engendered by contemporary collective American desires. As opposed to the Old Gods, engendered by religion and myth, the new Gods are a result of a new form of religiousness: the cult to celebrities. 

Media takes the form of assorted icons: David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, etc. In Labyrinth (1986), a musical fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) initiates a coming of age fantastic journey in search of Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie). Sarah is much like The Neverending Story's Bastian and Return To Oz's Dorothy in this respect. Her character has echoes of Alice in Wonderland's Alice, and Snow White, too. She's a romantic soul who prefers books, stories and her imagination to the real world. Sarah's route to adulthood is a convoluted trek through a magical world where normal logic doesn't apply. Critic Bruce Bailey admired the film's script, stating in The Montreal Gazette: "Terry Jones has drawn on his dry wit and bizarre imagination and come up with a script that transforms these essentially familiar elements and plot structures into something that fairly throbs with new life."

Bailey was also impressed by the film's depth, writing, "adults will have the additional advantage of appreciating the story as a coming-of-age parable." Bowie's music fits the story perfectly: the breezy ‘Magic Dance’, the darkly romantic ‘As the World Falls Down’, the celebratory ‘Underground’ and the menacing ‘Within You’, which is performed during a striking scene inspired by MC Escher’s lithograph print ‘Relativity.’ Combining the puppetry magic of director and legendary creator of The Muppets Jim Henson with the concept design of fantasy illustrator Brian Froud (who previously worked with Henson on The Dark Crystal), Labyrinth is a gorgeous demonstration of ‘old school’ special effects that rely on matte paintings, puppetry and other in-camera visual effects in contrast to modern CGI effects. There is a tangibility to the film that makes its dream logic inspired sequences and playful manipulation of perception even more impressive. As a regular follower of free fantasy movies online, you'll always find free time to stream a delighttul escapist movie, and you can count on 1movies to indulge your fantasies.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"Desolation Row", Jim Morrison's "The End", Vietnam, 'Apocalypse Now', 'Kong Skull Island'


Jim Morrison "Desolation Row" video  Soundtrack: "Desolation Row" by Bob Dylan (from his album Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)  and "Love me Two Times" by The Doors (from their second studio album Strange Days, 1967), sung by Jim Morrison. The lyrics of "Love me Two Times" (Love me two times, I'm goin' away) were about a soldier on his last day with his girlfriend before shipping out to war (Vietnam).

Skull Island has made the decision to set its action in the very closing days of the Vietnam war, and in the aftermath of Richard Nixon’s 1973 televised speech ending US involvement in the country. Brie Larson plays anti-war photojournalist Mason Weaver. Bill Randa (John Goodman), a member of the shadowy Monarch organisation, attempts to exploit the soldiers still stationed overseas - specifically a unit led by Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) - to act as escort to his expeditionary team, including Mason Weaver and Tom Hiddleston’s ex-SAS man. An undiscovered island has emerged in the advent of satellite imagery, shrouded in a perpetual storm and wrapped in several centuries of myth. Everyone who crosses paths here immediately greets each other with the synopsis take on their personal feelings towards American actions in Vietnam; as Packard tells an anti-war Mason, “the camera’s way more dangerous than the gun… we didn’t lose the war, we abandoned it”. “Sometimes an enemy doesn’t appear until you create one,” is uttered at one point. You get it? Kind of like in Vietnam? Source: www.independent.co.uk

“Kong: Skull Island” is more consistent and well-developed in its pursuit of the idea that the obsessive American quest for victory in Vietnam can only lead to disaster. Packard’s decision that he will kill Kong as a way of proving American valor and beating the Vietnamese by proxy ultimately leads him into serious strategic miscalculations and moral errors. In a nice moment that undercuts action hero tropes, Cole (Shea Whigham) tries to sacrifice himself to save his fellow soldiers: His efforts end up rather dramatically for naught. And Randa, who was willing to bomb another country and another people to prove his intellectual theories, meets an appropriately grisly end. Source: www.washingtonpost.com

Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now begins with “The End” and ends with it, too. A smattering of lyrics along the way seem to capture the nightmare atmosphere of the American War in Vietnam. “It just started out as a simple goodbye song,” James Douglas Morrison told reporter Jerry Hopkins. “Probably just to a girl, but I could see how it could be goodbye to a kind of childhood...” Morrison's father, George Morrison, commanded the U.S. Naval fleet during the August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, an event that precipitated an escalation of the American War in Vietnam. Forged in the fading afterglow of World War II, America’s plans to save a backward people were elaborate indeed. To Washington, the Vietnamese seemed to be “Desperately in need of some stranger’s hand In a desperate land...” America’s moral superiority, its ingenuity, its technological know-how, were unstoppable; the fall of those Southeast Asian dominos would be arrested, and communism would be stopped. The lyrics of The End presaged: “It hurts to set you free, But you’ll never follow me, The end of laughter and soft lies, The end of nights we tried to die.”


America’s grand plans later revealed themselves to be bankrupt. Bombing millions into slums and refugee camps didn’t necessarily mean those people would follow you. Soft lies mouthed by the military at 5 p.m. each evening were no substitute for actual victories. Laughter and glad-handing and talk of easy triumph were repeatedly blown apart. By the time it was all over, by the time the end had come, the entire American effort had hemorrhaged and bled out in a million hamlets across South Vietnam. Jim Morrison recorded “The End” in 1966, when the American project in Vietnam still had life in it. Unlike his father, who passed away in 2008, he never saw the end of the Vietnam War. He died in France — the country whose war in Vietnam the Americans had bankrolled and then taken over — in 1971. In a 1969 interview, Jim Morrison said that he was once approached by an attractive young woman “on leave” from UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. She said “The End” was a favorite of the kids in her ward. Source: www.huffingtonpost.com


While Jim Morrison rejected the type of radical political freedom associated with mass politics and the New Left, his focus on personal politics mirrored the consciousness-raising methods pioneered by second-wave feminism. The band took an unequivocal stance against the Vietnam War. The 1968 song “The Unknown Soldier” uses the war to address the core themes of fear and personal liberation. The song begins with a subdued tone; Morrison takes the role of a narrator oppressed by the conflict. After the eponymous Unknown Soldier is “executed” in a dramatic martial interlude: “Make a grave for the unknown soldier / Nestled in your hollow shoulder,” the dramatic confrontation with fear and pain—the death of the “unknown”—leads the listener to a climax of ecstatic release. While the Doors took a stance against the Vietnam War and in favor of personal liberation, Morrison was critical of some of the more “revolutionary” modes of sixties political activism and was deeply ambivalent about politics, focused more on personal expression. Source: quod.lib.umich.edu

Jim Morrison: "I think that for any generation to assert itself, it has to break with the past, so obviously the kids that are coming along next are going to create their own unique sound [punk, grunge]. Things like wars and monetary cycles get involved, too. Rock and roll probably could be explained by... it was after the Korean War was ended... and there was a psychic purge. There seemed to be a need for an underground explosion, like an eruption. So maybe after the Vietnam War is over — it'll probably take a couple of years maybe; it's hard to say — but it's possible that the deaths will end and there will again be a need for a life force to express itself, to assert itself." —Interview by Jerry Hopkins (Rolling Stone magazine, July 26, 1969)

Being in bed with Jim was like being in bed with Michelangelo’s David, only with blue eyes. He knew in his worst blackouts to put my diaphragm in and take my contact lenses out. His skin was so white, his muscles were so pure, he was so innocent. He used to suggest, “Let’s go to Ships and eat blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup.“ My friend Judy Raphael, who went to film school, remembers Jim as this pudgy guy with a marine haircut who worked in the library at UCLA. Like everyone back then, Jim hated his parents, hated home, hated it all. If he could have gotten away with it, Jim would have been an orphan. Jim, who’d lost thirty pounds in one summer (the summer of ’65, from taking drugs instead of eating, and hanging out on the Venice boardwalk), tried lying about not having parents, creating his life anew. My sister Mirandi never thought Jim was that cute, but then my sister was one of Pamela’s friends, and it was in her best interest to ignore Jim, even though, for a month, my sister and her boyfriend lived with Jim and Pamela, and it was almost impossible. “He was always a very dark presence in a room,” Mirandi said, “I’d say it was of a person who was severely depressed. Clinically depressed.” And she's a psychologist.

Pamela looked sunny and sweet and cute – she had freckles and red hair and the greenest eyes and just the country girl glow. So it was hard to believe her purse was stuffed with Thorazine. She wore mauve eyeshadow, soft expensive suede boots, and large shawls. My sister Mirandi and Pamela had to fight to persuade Jim to leave his hair long, because left to his own devices he’d get it cut preppy-short and break everyone’s heart. Pamela had control over Jim in real life. And he made his audiences suffer for that. The night I was in the bungalow of Ahmet Ertegun, it was February 9, 1971, the night of the Apollo 14 moon landing commanded by Alan Shepard.

Jim was guzzling Scotch and looking sullen, but he carefully took in Ahmet Ertegun's gossip about the Rolling Stones, now signed to his label. Jim rose to his feet and bellowed, “You think you’re going to win, don’t you?! Well, you're not going to win. We’re going to win, us – the artists. Not you capitalist pigs!” You could have heard a pin drop in this roomful of Ahmet’s fashionable upscale friends. Everybody was silent except the moon landing reporter on the TV, until I stood up and heard myself say, “But Ahmet is an artist, Jim!” The people who were there refused to remember what had happened; they shrugged. “You know,” Jim said, staring straight into my eyes, “I’ve always loved you.” It was one of those tricky nights when Ahmet was trying to make up his mind whether he was going to seduce Jim away from Elektra Records. Ahmet had lured Mick Jagger away from his label the year before. The last time I saw Jim with no shirt on, at a party up in Coldwater, his body was so ravaged by scars, toxins and puffy pudginess, that I wanted to kill him. Underneath his mask, Jim was dead. But then, by 1971, who wasn’t? Eve Babitz for Esquire Magazine, March 1991

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Jim Morrison's Poetry and the 1960s Counter-Cultural Movement


"The Road of Excess": This 1997 documentary contains interviews with friends of the late Jim Morrison as well as several people involved with the making of the film, "The Doors" (1991) directed by Oliver Stone, delving into what Jim Morrison meant to everyone. The film only really touched the surface of what Jim Morrison actually achieved in life and, in a bid to shine light on what was left out of the movie, this documentary takes a closer look at Jim's career. “The Game Called 'Go Insane'”: Pamela was Jim's golden girl... She briefly wondered how long she had been hallucinating. She could almost see herself in his eyes: his blue-grey gaze moving over her face slowly. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered huskily. At that moment, Jim was more magnificent looking than ever, and then need for physical contact was too strong. She reached out to trace his pale features with a childlike sense of wonder, and he smiled. That smile made it all worth it.

The New York that produced the Velvet Underground doesn’t exist anymore. Lillian Roxon (journalist of The Sydney Morning Herald) picked me up in a taxi and dragged me downtown to Danny Fields’s place. It was dark, there were no lights on, but candles filled the room. Edie Sedgwick, his roommate at the time, was sitting in a corner in her bra and panties cutting out pictures from Vogue magazine. Jim Morrison was passed out drunk on the couch. Nico, from the Velvet Underground, was locked in his bedroom. She’d locked herself in as she was convinced that Jim Morrison was after her. “Do not let him in!" she’d scream every few minutes. There was no danger of that. He was comatose. Danny was on the phone with Leonard Cohen, who was looking for Nico. I played a song called “Secrets.” Edie Sedgwick didn’t look up. Jim Morrison didn’t budge. Nico didn’t stop shrieking in German and English. And Danny returned to consoling Leonard Cohen about Nico. Source: www.theparisreview.org


It all comes together, or falls apart, in 'Stoned Immaculate', the LP's most striking passage. Drunk in a dirty room, with a strange woman and his obsessions, he utters, slowly and simply, all it seems he'd ever really wanted to say: "Come 'ere. I love you. Peace on earth. Will you die for me? The end." Looking for once toward life, Jim Morrison says with quiet resolution in 'Lament': "Words got me the wound and will get me well." An American Prayer is shot through with youthful, flawed aspirations, yet whenever it touches its tongue to brilliance (which it does for long, sensuous moments on end), it illuminates the meaning of that loss and what might have been. —Nick Tosches, Rolling Stone, 1979

"Inside The Fire - My Strange Days With The Doors" (2009) by B. Douglas CameronAs an 17 year old from the mid-west he bought a ticket for a Doors show in Chicago, November 3 1968 that forever changed his life. In 1969 Douglas Cameron became a roadie for the band who worked very hard lugging 240 pound amps for gigs in the mid-west and down to Mexico City for $60 per week. According to Cameron, sometimes Morrison "would just hang on the microphone stand because he was absolutely demolished. He was being crucified by his own mind. Jim was the ultimate existentialist. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk about the band so much as he didn't want to talk about anything in the past. The image of the dead albatross hanging around one's neck was a metaphor for Jim's freedom. But he wasn't free because he had an albatross called the Doors hanging around his neck." Source: www.doorscollectorsmagazine.com

I am arguing against Jerry Prochnicky, James Riordan, and Danny Sugerman’s claims about how Jim Morrison uses the imagination to “gain entry into worlds otherwise locked and sealed off.” Riordan and Prochnicky state: "In 1966 and 1967, Jim Morrison used LSD to take his journey. He ventured into the same realms that influenced Blake, Rimbaud and Poe." Prochnicky, Riordan, and Sugerman’s interpretations posit that Morrison’s visions remain within a fixed system of order. What is the difference between the worlds within which Morrison lives as a result of drugs, and the worlds where he lives as a result of his senses? In keeping with Prochnicky, Riordan, and Sugerman’s examination, Morrison cannot be considered free within this world; instead, he is but a guest, living according to someone else’s structures, rules, binaries, and regulations. Morrison does not preach this message within his poetry and lyrics. As we have seen in “The Original Temptation,” “Break on Through,” “An American Prayer,” and in certain elements of “Moonlight Drive” and “Power,” Morrison gains control, not through drugs, but by allowing his imagination to refuse to abide by a fixed and innate system of order that dictates how he perceives reality. Unlike the prototypical ‘hippy,’ Morrison thought astrology was pseudoscience, rejected the concept of the totally integrated personality, and expressed a distaste for vegetarianism. The status quo of the late sixties viewed Morrison as a political revolutionary. However, he never had any such desire – Morrison argued that we should all set ourselves free from our mental prisons. Unlike the practice of Eastern religion and communal living, Morrison’s poetry and lyrics never dictate to his readers or audience members how they should live their lives. —"The Poet Behind the Doors: Jim Morrison's Poetry and the 1960s Counter-Cultural Movement" (2011) by Steven Erkel

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Malick's Song to Song, Paean to Classic Rockers

Terrence Malick’s paean to indie rock: Beyond the rock‘n’roll window dressing, Song to Song turns out to be just another minor variation on Malick’s favorite theme—the power of love and spirituality to transcend the life-poisoning curses of ambition and greed. Malick fans will surely go into Song to Song longing to see him channel the almost religious quality of those live music performances. He soundtracks his obligatory shots of nature’s majesty with gorgeous songs that run the gamut from classical to classic rock. Malick’s great obsession is earthly transcendence. He frames Patti Smith and Iggy Pop as sages. In their own, sui generis ways, Patti Smith and Iggy Pop were both hungry, young strivers once. At the same time, he implies that Faye and BV can only lead fulfilling lives once they shift their focus from their careers to each other. What if making music—or any kind of art—can be both an act of love and act of ambition? Source: pitchfork.com

On July 5, 1968, Mick Jagger flew into LAX with his girlfriend Marianne Faithfull and Jimmy Miller, the Stones’ producer. Mick showed up at the Doors’ office, and asked where Jim Morrison was. January Jansen picked up the ringing pay phone near Room 32 of the Alta Cienega Motel across the street. Jim was lying on the bed, looking at the TV with the sound off. Jansen: “The office called. They were in a panic. ‘Jagger’s here! He’s coming across the street!’ I said, ‘Jim, uh, Mick Jagger’s across the street. He’s coming over.’ Jim said, ‘That’s all right.’ “There was a knock on the door, very faint. Jim nodded and I opened the door. Jagger said, ‘Hullo, I’m Mick.’ If Jagger, who lived in an elegant house in London’s Chester Square, showed any qualms about Jim’s frugal motel digs, he hid it well. Jagger probably looked around and thought: ‘what’s with this poverty hole?’ The two rock stars had never met before. Jagger had been famous three years longer. Jim stood up and shook Mick’s hand, then retired to the bed, resting for the evening’s Hollywood Bowl show. Mick asked Jim if he meditated before a show. Jim looked at Mick as if he were insane. “Meditate? No, man. (sarcastically) We leave that up to John and Robby.”

–I knew Lou Reed in the 1980's and early 1990's. He was a straight up no-nonsense person by then. His word was solid and he was easy going. As an recording artist Reed was second to none, he had a complete vision of the end results and knew how construct songs and run sessions in a genius way. Lou disliked Mick Jagger; he once told me, "Street Fighting Man, what a joke, that little twerp's no street fighter." He liked Keith Richards, though. He also would say Sgt. Pepper and The Beatles were "bad Broadway" and not rock 'n' roll... I know how caustic he was about Jim Morrison's death in Melody Maker, 1975. Reed's humor was quite cynical but he was a straight up person who was rarely aloof to crew; he was patient and generous. His favorite singer was Dion and enjoyed and listened to many of the covers other bands recorded of his tunes. Source: iorr.org

Tony Funches (The Doors.com Interview, 2005): Jim Morrison was a helluva nice guy! He was a student of Voltaire. Much of that Sex God image was contrived by some marketing idiot and Jim went along because they babbled that it was good for the band and record sales. He was just a regular guy trying to be a decent person and suffering from his own genius at what the world and government would become. All that has happened since he left us and he saw it all coming. He was NOT pleased to have that vision. He was like Ray Milland in the film “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” in that sense: The inexorable march of fascism, the long range futility of Flower Power, the graying of the hippies into coupon clipping yuppies turning their backs on the ideals of the movement.  And what he saw saddened him: vapid lemmings racing to sea in order to ‘be like everyone else.’ "I can kind of envision one person with a lot of tapes and electronics set up, singing or speaking while using machines,” Morrison eerily hypothesized in 1969, prognosticating a future filled with Pro-Tools and Auto-Tune.

Ron Alan: "Jim Morrison treated girls fine. He didn’t mistreat them. He was very sweet and fun. One night he came up to my house and sat down at the bar and a girl came right up and talked to him and she wasn’t a good looking girl. But he was so nice to her. And girls would ask silly questions, half the time he just would sit patiently, like, 'Get your thoughts together and then talk to me.' He’d joke around, but never mean in a way that would turn these girls off." Morrison took his public image tongue-in cheek, keeping it for show and comparing it to that of a villian in a Western movie. The Miami Herald coverage was a good example of the media exploiting and manipulating Morrison. In retrospect, what was at stake was freedom of speech and expression, accuracy of press coverage, Morrison’s right to a fair trial, and issues concerning authenticity, perception, and representation. –"Jim Morrison: Friends Gathered Together" (2014) by Frank Lisciandro

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sexual Frequency, Kings & Groupies of Rock

Declines in Sexual Frequency among American Adults, 1989–2014: It’s not clear why sexual activity is down. The study points to some possible culprits, like a decline in happiness in people over 30. American adults had sex about nine fewer times per year in the early 2010s compared to the late 1990s in data from the nationally representative General Social Survey. Sexual frequency declined among the partnered (married or living together) but stayed steady among the unpartnered, reducing the marital/partnered advantage for sexual frequency. Declines in sexual frequency were similar across gender, race, region, educational level, and work status. In analyses separating the effects of age, time period, and cohort, the decline was primarily due to birth cohort/generation. With age and time period controlled, those born in the 1930s (Silent generation) had sex the most often, whereas those born in the 1990s (Millennials and iGen) had sex the least often. The decline was not linked to longer working hours or increased pornography use. Age had a strong effect on sexual frequency: Americans in their 20s had sex an average of about 80 times per year, compared to about 20 times per year for those in their 60s. The results suggest that Americans are having sex less frequently due to two primary factors: An increasing number of individuals without a steady or marital partner and a decline in sexual frequency among those with partners. Source: link.springer.com

Half a century after Pamela Des Barres’s heyday, free love has been replaced with Tinder and the musicians who prowled the Strip are now denizens of classic rock radio. It’s a strange and often scary world. “It’s a dream era that’s never going to come again,” says 'Queen of the Groupies' Des Barres: "In the 60s we were in the throes of a very important revolution, spiritually, emotionally, psychically, sexually—every kind of way. I wanted to express myself along with all these people I admired so much. Part of that, being a groupie, was standing out. I made a lot of my clothes. The outfit I had on one of my times with Jim Morrison, I had on a striped bell-bottom set with a matching little bag that I made. The next time I saw him, I had on a vintage purple velvet ‘30s dress that I had cut off into a mini. Des Barres remembers "making out passionately" with Morrison, spread out on top of her and thinking, "this is the most beautiful man I have ever seen. He was so gorgeous, everything about him was just perfect." It was a different time. All of a sudden women could express themselves sexually, freely. Much more than now. It was a time when we felt, ‘Okay, we’re really coming into our own here.’ Taking the birth control pill out in public and being proud of owning our femalehood. But that’s really fucked up right now. Source: www.vogue.com

Jim Morrison's image was so iconic it was even copied by Elvis Presley. Bill Belew fashioned a black leather costume for the King, almost entirely based on Morrison's. It not only resurrected Presley's career, but also reestablished him as a sex symbol. The comeback of The King of Rock in 1968 was inspired by The Lizard King. Feeling trapped inside a badly scripted movie, Morrison, the tormented hedonist, found it easy to wander from scene to scene with scant regard for reality. Pamela Des Barres, the notorious rock groupie with whom Morrison had a less-than-torrid affair in 1967, spoke of a quiet man who read her poetry, with an occasional temper. They enjoyed walking along the shore, going to parties, taking drugs, but mostly just necking.

Jim Morrison "wasn't as promiscuous as people say he was," Danny Fields remembers: "I don't think he loved to fuck around. He was sort of passively promiscuous. He didn't go out with the specific intention of picking girls up and he certainly didn't order people to get him girls. His life was a series of rather long relationships and always had his woman somewhere. He was so sexy... but I think he found it uncomfortable to be adored by men."  -"Mr Mojo: A Biography of Jim Morrison" (2015) by Dylan Jones

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Jim Morrison & Pamela, Lou Reed & Nico: Rock 'n' Roll Angst and Redemption


Jim Morrison articulated again his belief that rock was dead: ‘The initial flash is over. What used to be called rock’n’roll – it got decadent. It became self-conscious, involuted and kind of incestuous. The energy is gone. There is no longer a belief.’ When asked if he might consider to be bisexual, he answered: ‘I’m hopelessly heterosexual!’ Jim also offered to discuss the merits of ‘alcohol as opposed to drugs’, explaining that ‘getting drunk you’re in complete control up to a point. It’s your choice, every time you take a sip. I guess it’s the difference between suicide and slow capitulation.’ Today, despite the record-straighteners, the kiss-and-tell memoirs from former lovers and friends, the online now-it-can-be-told memories, less is known about Jim Morrison and The Doors than ever before. In the acclaimed 2009 documentary When You’re Strange, the depth of what we don’t know about The Doors is revealed as staggering, almost infinite. Never mind the deeply troubled, irresponsibly generous, irrefutably talented, handsome-as-a-matador-in-his-prime real-life person that was James Douglas Morrison. Never mind the books he quietly read, the sweet love he secretly made, the cronies and the hangers-onhow much he despised them but hated himself more. Pamela Des Barres says that her first thought after hearing of his death was for Pamela Courson. Despite the crack-ups, the freak-outs and hate trips, she still believes that: ‘He was in love with Pamela Courson and that was it.’ 

‘He was Jim fucking Morrison and he was a kid... a child. And of course he’s in this playground and he’s going to fuck around with it, but he was really in love with her.’  One day at the end of June, 1971, walking to the beautiful Place des Vosges, Morrison slumped on a bench and wrote what would be his last poem, ‘The Sidewalkers Moved’. ‘Join us at the demonstration,’ he wrote, thinking back to the Paris riots of 1968, while staring blindly into his own unimagined future. Morrison, like Blake, clearly draws a distinction between what is and what is not possible through the imagination. Like Blake, Morrison glorifies the imagination in his work, arguing that when generate our reality through our imagination, our imagination does not see that reality as fixed; much to the contrary, it allows us to see beyond a fixed set of structures, perceiving our reality, like Blake argues, as infinite. —"The Poet Behind the Doors: Jim Morrison's Poetry and the 1960s Counter-Cultural Movement" (2011) by Steven Erkel

Jim Morrison was used to crazy women, groupies, and hangers-on. Even his girlfriend Pamela was crazy, with her flaming red hair and her refusal to play by Jim’s rules. Jim and Nico began to fight a lot, mostly when they were drunk and high. But often when they were simply having sex. Not like Nico used to fight with Brian Jones, though. Jim would never beat Nico up. They simply ‘enjoyed the sensation,’ Nico said: ‘But we make love in the gentle way.’ Then suddenly it was over. Not when Jim or Nico decided, but when Pam decided. Once Pam had found out where Jim was and who he was with, she began a new affair of her own with a French aristocrat named Jean de Breteuil with apparently permanent access to high-quality heroin, which Pam also now began ‘experimenting’ with. She knew what Jim’s reaction would be when he found out and began thinking about it, in those frozen hours he was always most terrified of right before dawn, during the coldest, darkest moments of the night-day. Jim pretended not to care. Then early one morning, while Nico was still passed out, Jim got in his car and drove back to L.A. and Pamela – as he always did eventually, as he always would. Not even leaving a note behind. 


"City Lights" (from Lou Reed's album The Bells, 1979) isn't only about Charlie Chaplin but about a lost America, the implication being that, in these late modern times, all the lights in the world might not be enough to bring us together. The time has come to call the fathers home from the stale curbstone shores. Sometimes they're bad and Take No Prisoners. But who then do they finally hurt but themselves? And when they give of themselves, they reaffirm what great art has always been: an act of love toward the whole human race. Lou Reed is a prick and a jerkoff. He's also a person with deep compassion for a great many other people about whom almost nobody else gives a shit. I won't say who they are, because I don't want to get too schmaltzy, except to emphasize that there's always been more to this than drugs and fashionable kinks, and to point out that suffering, loneliness and psychic/spiritual exile are great levelers. The Bells isn't merely Lou Reed's best solo LP, it's great art. —Lester Bangs (1979, Rolling Stone)


Berlin isn't my favorite Lou Reed album, that distinction belongs to 1979's The Bells, but to deny that it is among the most important works in his collection would be extremely misguided. Critic Michael Hill pointed out that Reed's album was, "met with confusion, revulsion and anger" upon its initial release. The Velvet Underground's chanteuse Nico would later claim that Reed, "wrote me letters saying Berlin was me." Who exactly Caroline was based on has been conjectured about for years. Was it Nico? Was it Reed's wife at the time Bettye Kronstadt? Caroline is a composite that manifests as a fevered brew of vulnerability, paranoia, suffering and bullying. She is certainly one of the most unforgettable characters in rock history and she inspired some of the most penetrating and memorable lyrics of Lou Reed's career. No one before or since has managed to capture urban angst or the frustrations of addiction, depression, and ultimately redemption better than Lou Reed. Much more than being rock's dark prince, Lou Reed has reminded us for forty years now that there is indeed light at the end of the longest and blackest tunnel.  Jeremy Richey (2013)

Nico just once offered an example of the peyote visions she endured with Jim Morrison: "The light of the dawn was a very deep green and I believed I was upside down and the sky was the desert which had become a garden and then the ocean. I do not swim and I was frightened when it was water and more resolved when it was land. I felt embraced by the sky-garden." Soon after, she started to write a song lyric, possibly her first, titled Lawns of Dawn. Nico told Morrison that she did not know how to compose. She could not follow the mechanics of writing. Morrison told her to write down her dreams, literally, write down the images she remembered. He started by imitating other writers, Celine and Blake, and he realized that they were writing down their dreams. Their affair, a torrid mixture of drinks, drugs, sex, fights and poetry, lasted little more than a month before this Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden and drifted down their separate roads. They were tired of each other, were exhausted by each others titanic demands. Aside from the authority she had received from Morrison to compose, and the slanted introduction to English poetry, she kept two prevailing souvenirs of their liaison: his blood in hers, and red hair. —"Nico: Life and Lies of an Icon" (kindle, 2017) by Richard Witts

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Private Worlds (Debunking Insanity Myths), Trippy make-out session with Jim Morrison

Private Worlds (1935) directed by Gregory La Cava (Happy Anniversary!): Claudette Colbert plays Dr. Jane Everest, a psychiatrist in charge of the male ward at The Brentwood clinic, a progressive mental hospital. Her partner is Dr. Alex MacGregor (Joel McCrea), with whom she has partnered for many years. Despite their professional relationship the pair are not involved romantically — MacGregor is already married to Sally (Joan Bennett), an innocent and trusting girl who adores Jane and trusts Alex — until he gives here reason not to, while Jane pines for a love lost during the first world war. Things begin to go awry when a new hospital superintendant is appointed: Dr. Monet (Charles Boyer) who arrives with his sister Claire (Helen Vinson) in tow and begins to shake things up at the hospital. Monet believes there is no place for a woman in the upper echelons of the medical profession, and banishes Jane to the outpatient clinic. 

Colbert’s Jane Everest is a surprisingly modern breath of fresh air: She’s intelligent, witty, professional, and most importantly, respected as a superior physician by all of her male counterparts —even Boyer’s Monet, in his own time. The film works hard to break various commonly held beliefs about mental institutions and the mentally ill, with entire scenes dedicated to debunking myths. In a key moment that really typifies the movie’s point of view, McCrea’s character says, “I find very little difference between sanity and insanity.” Gregory La Cava, who did most of his directorial work during the silent era (though he helmed such well remembered movies as My Man Godfrey and Stage Door, among others), does a fine job with this material. La Cava’s camera pans in both directions and zooms in and out on the leering faces of the disturbed patients, as the soundtrack becomes a cacophony of screams and cackles. Combined with the near pitch-black setting the scene takes on an expressionistic feel very much out of character with other domestic films of the time. Source: cin-earter.blogspot.com

"I decided it was time for me to take LSD and find out what was really going on. I looked in the mirror and saw my heart beating in my eyeballs, the galaxy throbbed through my quivering veins; I could see trees growing up my cheeks and animals being born in distant dimensions. Ghostlike souls endlessly circled inside my bulging brain, and I was one with them all. The Doors where playing the Hullabaloo Club at Sunset and Vine and I made sure to have a bottle of Trimar for the event. I desperately hoped that Jim would arrive, scoop me up, take me backstage and kiss my lips off. And that's exactly what happened. I had a couple of hankies in my bag, and during our make-out session we indulged wildly in the mind-damaging drug. I had never kissed anyone while high before and it was a revelation! I melted in his mouth like honey, my whole body became a sticky liquid, and his fingers on my face pushed holes through my cheeks like they were on fire and left gaping holes where honey gushed out. He took me by the hand and we climbed a rickety ladder up to a dingy, dark loft where a bunch of old lighting equipment was rusting away, and taking my muskrat jacket, he laid it out on the wooden planks like a damsel in distress."

"What a face he had! One of God's greatest gifts to rock and roll was that guy's face. And there he was right above me, his lips parted and his eyes closed, going in and out of focus as I inhaled my hanky. He drove my Oldsmobile all around Hollywood and I sat next to him, his ring around my neck, and we talked about Trimar. He said it might be 'hurting our heads' and gave me a lecture on drug abuse, telling me the persona he put forward was an elaborate act, and he really wanted to be noticed as a poet. On our way to Tiny Naylor's on La Brea, he grabbed the bottle of Trimar, and threw it out the window into a yard full of overgrown ivy: 'Now we won't be tempted.' We had date-nut bread and fresh orange juice while the sun came up, then cruised the silent Strip to a little hotel where he was staying during his feud with Pamela. After some heavy necking, he climbed from behind the wheel and said, 'I really want to see you again, darling, come here and see me or call anytime.' That was the only time I had my hands on Jim Morrison; I never went all the way with him. He turned out to be very much a one-woman man. As far as I know, he spent the rest of his life with Pamela, and the relationship was of the stormy nature, but I guess he loved her madly. I didn't dare return to the green house after she ordered me out. Jim Morrison prodded and provoked, tested everyone around him to see if he could get an honest reaction. The last time I saw him was right before he left for Paris. I was walking down La Cienega. Jim was on the other side of the street, driving a big convertible, and he turned left into the Benihana parking lot, stopping me dead in my tracks. He told me how nice it was to see me again and how pretty I looked. He took my hand and kissed it; then he backed into the honking traffic and careened down the street." —"I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie" (2005) by Pamela Des Barres

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Jim Morrison, Lou Reed, Their Rock Wives

Apparently Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson encountered each other at a midweek party at UCLA. She was radiant, laughing, and seemingly with another guy. Jim circled around her, looking for an angle, but Pam wouldn’t make eye contact. According to Jim’s friend January Jansen, “He saw her there across the room and wanted to meet her, so he asked around until he found a friend of hers who could arrange a proper introduction.” They chatted for a while, and she told him she was taking art classes at Los Angeles Community College. The following weekend, in early April 1966, Pam Courson came to the London Fog. While John Densmore and Pamela were talking in one of the Fog’s booths, Jim Morrison made his move and sat down with them. Ray Manzarek tried to accurately describe this encounter: “Once their eyes combined, their psyches did a caduceus up the staff of Mercury and their souls sprouted wings. They were mated. Olympian. Cosmic.” Jim Morrison later told that when Pamela finally took him home at dawn, it was the first time he’d ever really made love. A few nights later, they went on their first date, to see French director Claude Lelouch’s hit film A Man and a Woman. Pamela had an electric, star-quality presence that could kill all conversation when she walked into a room. She hated the Doors, thought the whole thing was way beneath Jim's talents. Jim didn’t argue with her, just reminded her that the Doors were paying the bills for her rent, the boutique, and everything else. Jim was crazy about Pamela, and so he pampered the hell out of her. She always gave him a lot of attention and admiration and he also showed a great deal of kindness and loving behavior toward her.—"Angels Dance and Angels Die: The Tragic Romance of Pamela and Jim Morrison" (2010) by Patricia Butler

Jim Morrison: “To me, politics is nothing more than the search of certain individuals for private power. They can cloak it in any ideological, romantic or philosophical terms they want, but it’s essentially a private search for power.” Wallace Fowlie, the distinguished biographer of Arthur Rimbaud, began teaching Jim Morrison’s poetry at Duke University. Similar courses were offered at Yale and Stanford. Fowlie later published a critical study, Rimbaud and Jim Morrison: The Rebel As Poet.


Jim Morrison & Pamela (People are Strange) video. Soundtrack: "People are Strange", "Love Her Madly", "The Crystal Ship", "Hello, I Love You" by The Doors, and "Oh, Jim" by Lou Reed.

I was at Lisa Robinson’s house when she got the call from Jim Morrison’s girlfriend Pamela, asking what she should do? Jim was dead in the bathtub. I didn’t want to lose Lou! His drinking scared me silly, but there was nothing I could do except monitor him as best I could. Lou’s favorite bar on Long Island was Jilly’s, where he had bartended on and off in the summers. The gays flirted with him, but there was nothing inappropriate or outrageous. Everyone knew that I was his girlfriend, and the boundaries were drawn. Lou’s flirting didn’t bother me. It didn’t mean anything to him and I felt secure in his love for me. Underneath all the posing, Lou was all man—a leader—and particularly courageous about his principles. He walked away from any situation if it meant he was not being true to himself. If he couldn’t follow his true course, he would give it all up—which was the main reason he left The Velvet Underground. He actually was crazy enough to follow his principles in the real world. At seventeen, Lou’s parents had sent him to see a psychiatrist who prescribed EST for his depression and mood swings. During the summer of 1959, he was treated at Creedmoor State Psychiatric Hospital in Queens, New York, where the EST treatments were administered without an anesthetic. At that time, the procedure involved putting him on a wooden gurney with a rubber block between his teeth. This was an experience that scarred Lou for life. It is commonly thought that EST was prescribed to Lou in order to cure him of his ‘bisexual tendencies,’ but he never told me this or even alluded to it. I think he told journalists this to be more sympathetic to the gay community, in part to broaden his appeal to that audience.

Lou was intent upon becoming successful as an original artist. He rarely talked about his personal writing process. Lou wrote under a kind of extreme cyclical personal pressure—in spurts, usually overnight, and after thoughts and feelings had built up in him so intensely that they came pouring out, often fully formed. His writing process was cathartic, and it allowed him to reach his most authentic truth. Lou never told me what to say, how to act, or what to wear. He always told me I looked great, whatever I wore. He had complete confidence and trust in me, and he let everyone around know it. David Bowie made it known that he was very interested in working with Lou, but the more Lou wished to impress someone, the less he acted like he cared.  —"Perfect Day: An Intimate Portrait Of Life With Lou Reed" (2016) by Bettye Kronstad

Lou Reed's Demos, Papers And Record Collection Soon To Be Public: Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed's widow, is donating his personal archive of recordings, photos and business records to the New York Public Library. Anderson says she hopes access to the archive will paint a more nuanced picture of Lou Reed than the tough guy in leather jacket and shades everyone knows. The collection includes thousands of hours of video and audio recordings and more than 300 boxes of papers, photos and other items spanning his six-decade career. There's a 1971 recording of Reed reading poetry. There's a bill from the legendary New York bar Max's Kansas City — "I really wanted it to not be deep in some vault where only people with white gloves can come. He was really democratic," Anderson explains. Source: www.npr.org

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Happy 75th Anniversary, Lou Reed!


Happy 75th Anniversary, Lou Reed!

Lou Reed would’ve turned 75 today (March 2), and in the pantheon of rock and roll, there’s no other figure that exuded the enigmatic cool of Reed. From the Velvet Underground to his solo work, he was the standard of that unique breed of the rock and roll poet that no one else has really surpassed. Reed is the perfect New York icon, which was echoed by Patti Smith when she inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. Smith opened her speech with the following: “On October 27th, 2013, I was at Rockaway Beach, and I got the message that Lou Reed had passed. It was a solitary moment. I was by myself, and I thought of him by the ocean, and I got on the subway back to New York City. It was a 55-minute ride, and in that 55 minutes, when I returned to New York City, it was as if the whole city had transformed. People were crying on the streets. I could hear Lou's voice coming from every cafĂ©. Everyone was playing his music. Everyone was walking around dumbfounded. Strangers came up to me and hugged me. The boy who made me coffee was crying. It was the whole city… I realized, at that moment, that I had forgotten, when I was on the subway, that he was not only my friend, he was the friend of New York City.” And he still is. Source: wror.com

Much like the Doors' frustrated poet and failed film student Jim Morrison, Reed, the lover of literature and rock 'n' roll, who was playing in bar bands doing top 40 hits at night and studying for his arts degree during the day (later taking a job writing knock-offs of radio hits for a New York publishing house), saw the Velvet Underground's purpose as being "to elevate the rock and roll song and take it where it hadn't been taken before" Source: www.smh.com.au

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The Century of the Self, Rockin' the Free World


"The Century of the Self" documentary by Adam Curtis focuses on the work of Sigmund Freud and PR consultant Edward Bernays. In the late 60s and early 70s, thousands flocked to the Esalen Institute. From being obscure and fringe, it quickly became the centre of a national movement for personal transformation — they created the 'me' generation.

Adam Curtis: Werner Erhard was the ultimate relativist. Erhard thinks that defusing the notion that you have a true self is empowering. He thinks the self is endlessly fluid and can be reinterpreted again and again. But what I think he didn't realise was that, by doing that to people, he also liberated big business because it meant that business could say, "You can have any identity you want, be whatever you want to be, and we will sell you whatever you need to express your identity". So, ultimately, I think the joke is on him. What he was about was producing the most solipsistic, self-centred people you could possibly imagine. Really he was teaching people just to think in terms of their self — like, the world outside is not real — and telling them they could create their own reality by the strength of their own personality. It is extreme narcissism, but a very powerful idea that, arguably, led to the new self expressive consumerism which rose in the 80s and dominated life in the 90s. Erhard was one of those who encouraged the puffing up of that selfish aspect of human nature which is irrational and not very nice. The huge rise in depression and anxiety disorders in the last 50 years is linked to the rise of the self, a rise in the increasingly isolated self in society is a parallel with the rise in rates of anxiety and depression. Source: www.hgi.org.uk

Sean Kay, “Rockin’ the free world! How the rock & roll revolution changed American and the world” (2017) book review: “Rock and roll,” Kay says, “is more than a music form—it is an idea, an attitude, a way of thinking about the world.” Rock music is more than pop music. If anything, pop music is rock and roll’s dull child. Rock and roll is the part of pop music that is original, alive and urgent. That feeling of freedom is what rock and roll reinvented in the 1950s. Indeed, a sense of joyous urgency: the reason jazz coalesced as a new music, the reason Dixieland developed into Big Band that developed into Be-bop. Kay’s book stresses the upside of rock and roll: “Rock and roll affirms and spreads freedom, equality, human rights, and peace advanced via education and activism.” Despite the overwhelming narcissism, disregard for others, the drugs and alcohol-fueled morality, the enduring message of rock & roll is hope. “Hope. That’s a good message.” Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

Jim Morrison avidly read the popular sociologists of the day, with a special interest in crowd psychology as it related to drama and the theater. Two favorite works Morrison cited in his notebooks were David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd, which explored problems confronting the individual and the threats to personal freedom imposed by mass culture, and Norman O. Brown’s Life Against Death, an influential 1959 bestseller that attempted to psychoanalyze human history. Morrison was deeply interested in Cold War–era issues of social control that also appealed to the entire science fiction movement and Beat writers. Elias Canetti’s Crowds and Power drew him in with its analysis of the performer/audience nexus, and taught him techniques he would deploy in a few years as frontman in The Doors. C. Wright Mills’s The Power Elite left little illusion about who was in charge of the American republic, and probably doubled Morrison’s deeply ingrained contempt for authority, especially the military.

Christopher Lasch’s ‘The Culture of Narcissism’ (Written about Baby Boomers, Perpetuated by Millennials): The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations is a 1979 book by the cultural historian Christopher Lasch, in which he explores the roots and ramifications of the normalizing of pathological narcissism in 20th century American culture using psychological, cultural, artistic and historical synthesis. Lasch proposes that since World War II, post-war America has produced a personality-type consistent with clinical definitions of "pathological narcissism." This pathology is not akin to everyday narcissism, a hedonistic egoism, but with clinical diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. Lasch locates symptoms of this personality disorder in the radical political movements of the 1960s (such as the Weather Underground), as well as in the spiritual cults of the 1970s, from est to Rolfing. The sociologist Richard Sennett “reminds us that narcissism has more in common with self-hatred than with self-admiration,” writes Lasch.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sun Records, Nostalgia Trip, Elvis & Jim Morrison

A new drama meanders through the nascent careers of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Ike Turner — starring Chad Michael Murray as legendary producer Sam Phillips. “Sun Records” is based, loosely, on the musical “Million Dollar Quartet,” which tells the story of the real-life, mostly impromptu jam session between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins at a Memphis joint named Sun Records. That little record label was owned by a small-time producer named Sam Phillips, who despite marginal financial success went on to be immortalized in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — for discovering Presley, working with artists like Cash, Lewis, and Roy Orbison, and for producing the Delta Cats’ “Rocket 88,” an Ike Turner song that is considered to be the first rock and roll record. Rock and roll history is dense, fertile territory for mythmaking and nostalgia, and Sun Records, the historic institution, is as good a peg as any. 


Colonel Tom Parker (Billy Gardell), the colorful figure who becomes Elvis’ manager, is instantly recognizable; and it’s hard not to fall for the baby heartthrobs as played by Drake Milligan and the other cast members: Kevin Fonteyne as soulful Johnny Cash, Christian Lees as lightning-in-a-bottle Jerry Lee Lewis. Margaret Anne Florence plays Marion Keisker, the radio personality and Sun Records office manager who discovered Elvis in 1953. She is the one who famously asked, “What kind of singer are you? Who do you sound like?” to which he responded, “I sing all kinds… I don’t sound like nobody.”

“Sun Records” seems like a sister production to 2008’s “Cadillac Records,” which similarly tells the story of a white producer curious about the commercial potential of the changing black music scene. “Sun Records” is a nostalgia trip, with occasional numbers to remind the audience the topic is in fact music. Milligan’s interpretation of young Elvis enjoyably apes the King, and Murray as the unstable Phillips is predictably charming. Source: variety.com

Elvis is shown mostly mooning over a girl and dealing with neighbors less color blind than he. Like every biopic ever, “Sun Records” is not perfect history. Sometimes it's a lazy mistake, as when Elvis says he read "a little" of "On the Road" years before it was published. At other times, it rewrites the record for the sake of making a scene: When Ike Turner (Kerry Holliday) brought his band to Phillips' studio to record, the speaker in the guitarist’s amplifier was indeed blown, but not because, as seen here, it was hit by a shotgun blast as Turner and his band drove away from a cafe where he’d grabbed the tip jar to pay for the session. Source: www.latimes.com

In a review for Creem magazine in 1979, Patti Smith praised Jim Morrison's An American Prayer: "Today the drama of his intensity seems dated. Dated in its passion and innocence, like West Side Story or The Grapes of Wrath. But he was always dated, at his most literal, even when he was around. Bigger than life and so he was laughable." Elvis, Intimate Family Memoir of Life With the King by Billy Stanley, reports a conversation with Elvis about Jim Morrison and The Doors in which Elvis said: “Jim Morrison had special abilities…. He was the new poet laureate… But he died before he could understand his power and what he could do with it. That’s a tragedy. So much unspoken. Just like James Dean.”

Jim Morrison couldn't exist in the modern world: He would do things to guarantee him trouble. He instinctively recoiled against authority but was smart enough to make his contempt dramatic, funny and challenging. When Morrison slipped away in a bathtub in Paris in July 1971, there was no Malibu rehab offering alternative salvation. He was buried without an autopsy — circumstances ripe for conspiracy and conjecture, so the Morrison myth metastasized. During the '90s, the zeitgeist shifted from sincere and psychedelic explorations of self to sardonic, detached cool. To a subculture embodied by the acerbic, flannel-shirted, slacker nonchalance of Pavement, the Doors seemed as played out as paisley. And while a thousand bands have artfully ripped off Pavement, everyone looks absurd imitating the Doors. They are the rock equivalent of "Don't try this at home." Idle at the intersection of La Cienega and Santa Monica today and you'll see everyone but Jim Morrison. The City of Night has become another gentrified crossroads offering "puppy presents" and frozen yogurt. The psychedelic era turned sepia — a final barbaric winter before everything got worse. Source: www.laweekly.com

Friday, February 24, 2017

Uncommon Rockers: Jim Morrison & Lou Reed

Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars (2017) by David Hepworth: The age of the rock star, like the age of the cowboy, has passed. Like the cowboy, the idea of the rock star lives on in our imaginations.  What did we see in them? Swagger. Recklessness. Sexual charisma. Damn-the-torpedoes self-belief. A certain way of carrying themselves. Talent we wished we had. What did we want of them? To be larger than life but also like us. To live out their songs. To stay young forever. No wonder many didn’t stay the course.

In Uncommon People, David Hepworth zeroes in on defining moments and turning points in the lives of forty rock stars from 1955 to 1995, taking us on a journey to burst a hundred myths and create a hundred more. As this tribe of uniquely motivated nobodies went about turning themselves into the ultimate somebodies, they also shaped us, our real lives and our fantasies. Uncommon People isn’t just their story. It’s ours as well. Author David Hepworth has been writing about, broadcasting about and speaking about music since the 70s. He was involved in the launch and/or editing of magazines like Smash Hits, Q, Mojo and The Word. He was one of the presenters of the BBC rock music programme Whistle Test. `I was born in 1950,' he says, `which means that in terms of music I have the winning ticket in the lottery of life'. Source: www.amazon.com

Rock stars are like the shooting stars that Jim Morrison once compared himself to. There is little doubt that Morrison was someone on a spiritual quest who had many valid reasons to question and even attack the status quo of his time. But his philosophy allowed his great intellect and wonderful gift for communication to become lost in a sea of anger, confusion, and self-abuse. Stardom may have validated Jim Morrison, but it also lit the fuse that proved to be his undoing. Money meant more booze, more drugs, and the one-night stands that he imagined were not only his due as a rock 'n' roll star, but his duty as a great romantic. There was a deep insecurity in him that could not be satisfied by fame or fortune. Morrison, as a human theatricon, offered an astonishing range of personal images: the masculine lover, the innocent poet, the vulgar hustler, a crazed demoniac or an angelic child. Morrison communicated a sensual dignity that was rarely seen in a rock star, blending rock music and theatrical drama. His image had been created amid the drab yellow walls of George Washington High School, refined at UCLA, and perfected on Sunset Strip. 

As the pressures increased, he began to withdraw and become dissatisfied with The Doors, his audience, and himself. It is very common for people who acquire sudden wealth or fame to begin to question their own worth. There is an inner feeling that they're conning someone and they don't feel they deserve the money or the attention. Since Morrison never considered himself a singer these feelings must have been particularly strong, but it is doubtful that he would be able to acknowledge it. Instead, he continued on an ever-increasing self-destructive path as if to mock his strange glory. As far as his art was concerned, Morrison was often his own worst critic and he was beginning to have doubts. Sure, he was selling millions of records, but was he reaching anyone? Was anyone changing? People thought that rock 'n' roll could actually change the world.

The teen magazines saw him as a gift from the gods with the most photogenic face since Elvis Presley. The underground press locked on to his artistic and revolutionary side. No wonder the Establishment got worried. They were facing someone bigger than life. While Jim Morrison may have sought guidance from a shamanistic spirit, he opened himself to be used and abused by any spiritual energy that happened to come along. Jim Morrison became the first rock 'n' roll star to be arrested onstage during a live performance. In New Haven, the police overreacted not only in the shower stall, but in the concert hall. The L.A. Forum show on December 14 provided a fitting end to 1968 for The Doors. On the outside, the group was hailed as the biggest band in the country. The media called them "America's Rolling Stones." But on the inside Morrison was losing it. He was angry. Onstage in The Forum, he shouted: "Well, man, we can play music all night, but that's not what you really want, you want something more, something greater than you've ever seen, right?" "We want Mick Jagger," someone shouted. "Light My Fire," someone else said to laughter. The crowd began to giggle with nervous embarrassment. Most of them had no idea what Morrison was alluding to. They wanted more than a show, they wanted a spectacle. They wanted to watch him die. 

As a poet, Morrison could hope for nothing akin to the adoration he was used to as a rock star. The best that could be hoped for was small-time sales and a few choice words from some stuffy critics that Morrison's very presence would offend. But though it was doomed from the start, Morrison would not let go of his desire to be accepted as a poet, so he went on to destroy his sex symbol image. For The Doors, the most immediate result of Miami was a nationwide ban. And the public was even worse. They were getting bored with what one critic called "the mechanical Mickey Mouse Theater of The Doors, its madman star and its constant travails." The Miami incident only sealed his fate in the minds of the public. He was a jerk, they reasoned, who thought he was so cool that he could get away with anything. They were no longer interested in breaking on through. And Morrison was caught on the other side alone. The Miami scandal was the logical culmination of everything Morrison had ever tried to say to the world. He had whispered, spoken, and sung his words many times before and few had listened. Now he shouted them one last time in desperation. Miami failed to make the audience look at themselves, it failed to make them learn about who they were, and it failed to make them cognizant of their own dark side in a way they could possibly accept. Sure, it made them afraid, but being afraid is not understanding fear. 

Though she may have had severe emotional problems of her own, there is little question that Pam Courson was the only real stabilizing force in Morrison's life. She was a glorious American archetype, the living image of Brian Wilson’s mythic California Girl, with the aura of a hippie princess or an ethereal wood sprite. Pamela was coveted by many of the musicians on the Los Angeles scene, and it has long been rumored that Neil Young wrote his epochal rock song “Cinnamon Girl” about her. Her physical delicacy and outward fragility, and her seeming vulnerability that demanded care and protection from any man who would be with her, belied Pamela Courson’s steely will, a rebel attitude, profoundly disturbed psyche, and dominating personality that would earn her many enemies in the Doors’ orbit. Those who really knew the couple understood that he would give her anything she wanted, and that she knew all his secrets, especially the ones that could ruin him in an instant.―"Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison" (2014) by James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky

“I don't like categorizing stuff, but women's roles all through history have been to act as hierophant or someone who's guarded the secrets or guarded the temple. I'm a girl doing what guys usually did, the way that I look, the goals and kinds of things I want to help achieve through rock. It's more heroic stuff and heroic stuff has been traditionally male. I mean, Jim Morrison was trying to elevate the word; he was the poet in rock & roll before me. He was an academic poet. Lou Reed -- another academic poet in rock. I'm more like down-to-earth than them guys” ―Patti Smith

Lou Reed is unimpressed by applause, and lives a life detached from custom. His stare is cold and his romanticism is brutal. His songs are sometimes half-sung melodies of menace. He is the real thing. Examined ravenously like a museum exhibit, Lou Reed is evidently spiked to excess, and strangely loveable: “They listen to the music of idiots and amuse themselves with the sordid miseries of their businesses. They are not the things of angels or of any higher outpost that humanity might aspire to. Your loathsome vomitous businessman king is of the lowest order, his advisors crumbling mockeries of education driven by avarice. My love, dress them in the suits of mockery, and in their advanced state of stupidity and senility, burn and destroy them, so their ashes might join the compost which they so much deserve.” ―The Raven (2003) by Lou Reed