WEIRDLAND: Epiphany Learning, Warren Beatty's Rules Don’t Apply & Shampoo, Jim Morrison's poetry

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Epiphany Learning, Warren Beatty's Rules Don’t Apply & Shampoo, Jim Morrison's poetry

Howard Hughes is portrayed as a dark and tormented figure: a Citizen Kane-like mogul who turns into a paranoid recluse. Warren Beatty doesn’t skimp on the character’s eccentricities or his self-obsession but the tone of the film is more comic than tragic. Beatty opens the film with a quote from Hughes, “never check an interesting fact,” and then uses it to justify the license he takes with events in his subject’s life. His screenplay isn’t above some smutty humour, throwing in jokes about Jane Russell’s breasts and about Hughes’ relentless womanising.  His paranoia is all consuming. So is his appetite for banana nut ice cream. He is both calculating in the extreme and very impulsive. Rules Don’t Apply is a Howard Hughes movie done shaggy dog story style. The point here is to tantalise us with the prospect of a punch line that we can half guess right at the outset will never be delivered. There’s no Rosebud moment (or epiphany) which suddenly explains the enigma of Hughes or what has been driving him all these years. Source:

A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences outlines how researchers at Ohio State University are attempting to learn more about “epiphany learning.” Everybody loves those rare “aha moments” where you suddenly and unexpectedly solve a difficult problem or understand something that had previously perplexed you. In new research, scientists at The Ohio State University used eye-tracking and pupil dilation technology to see what happens as people figured out how to win a strategy game. These participants gave clues that they were about to have that aha moment, even if they didn't realize it. The eye-tracker showed they looked at zero and other low numbers more often than others did in the trials just before their epiphany. "We don't see the epiphany in their choice of numbers, but we see it in their eyes," James Wei Chen said. “We could predict they were about to have an epiphany before they even knew it was coming. One thing we can take away from this research is that it is better to think about a problem than to simply follow others,” Ian Krajbich said: "Those who paid more attention to their opponents tended to learn the wrong lesson." This research was supported by a National Science Foundation Career Grant to Krajbich. Source:

On L.A. Woman's legacy — Michael McClure (poet, friend of Jim Morrison): LA Woman was like someone picked up a Polaroid to shoot a space between the 1960s and the birth of the 1970s. It was pretty sharp with its vision of the collapse of the idealism of the '50s and '60s through the war and race riots -- particularly, the wars in Asia. I had been in L.A. at the Scam Building at 9000 Sunset Blvd. Morrison and I rented an office there and we wrote a screenplay based on my novel, The Adept. He was still in pretty good shape, despite the over the top intoxication. LA Woman handled that moment that was the turn of 1970 the same way a movie like Shampoo with Warren Beatty did. Source:

Playing a libidinous hairdresser in the classic 1975 film Shampoo, Warren Beatty mocked his own Hollywood Lothario reputation and unleashed fashion trends still hot today.  The ladies of the come-hither canyons—Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn, Lee Grant, Carrie Fisher—all wore big hair A-frame bobs or layered shags, and what Hollywood stylist Ilaria Urbinati calls thick “Brigitte Bardot bangs.” Beatty’s sheer unbridled animal sex appeal actually surpassed that of the women who played his lovers onscreen (and off). 

Jim Morrison —the Lord Byron/poet/dandy rock star was probably a stylistic template for George Roundy (Warren Beatty's character in Shampoo). Today, we call it The F Factor. Being a straight hairdresser will probably turn you into the loveable tragic fop that Beatty is. Shampoo seems to be a bit of gender-reversed Looking for Mr. Goodbar where the male slut gets it, but less fatally. Instead of being stabbed to death, he’s denied marriage, love, and the chance to reproduce. Which must have been very reassuring for the men in the audience who weren’t getting as much. Which will have been about 99 percent. Source:

Frank Lisciandro (filmmaker, friend of Jim Morrison): Jim had in his background a lot of the manners and style of a Southern gentleman. He would rise up from his seat when a woman entered the room. He would invariably hold a door for a woman. He would always let a woman walk before him. And then he was very discreet about the women he dated. He never told macho stories, like 'boy you should see what I did with her' or anything like that. He never even mentioned names. Virtually any woman who was anywhere near him adored him because he was so kind and considerate. Of course, he looked great too, so women fell head over heels in love with him immediately. I find it tragic Pamela died of a heroin overdose. I think she was so grief-stricken, that she turned to hard drugs as a way to relive some of the grief. I think she got into a very bad crowd in Hollywood and there was nobody there to protect her after Jim died. I'm not trying to condone drug use. In her case, she could've made a new life for herself, but in fact, I don't think she was strong enough. Source:

Jim Morrison's drinking was now so pronounced that his sex life was seriously impeded. One morning he was unable to make love, his girlfriend Pam took her lipstick and wrote "Some sex symbol can't even get it up!" on the bathroom mirror. But Pam and Jim were used to difficulties; the aftermath of Miami was not about to split them apart―their relationship wasn't just based on sex, it was meaningful precisely for their shared romantic vision of life. Jim sometimes felt Pam (his 'golden girl') was just a fragile doll he had to protect. Towards the end of his life, Jim Morrison was asked if he would've lived out the same style of life again, if he had the opportunity. He said no, he'd prefer a 'quieter, much simpler lifestyle.'  Morrison also said what seems to confirm his attempt to kill the sex symbol image: "[Miami] was the culmination, of our mass performing career. Subconsciously, I think I was trying to get across in that concert. I was trying to reduce it to absurdity, and it worked too well." Morrison's comment on being tried in Florida was simple and to the point: "They're gonna crucify me." In the end, he was stunned and disillusioned. Despite his rebellion against his background, he still believed in the American Dream. And it hurt him when the dream let him down.

All of the former ambitions he had held for music were now once and for all switched to poetry and film. Morrison's stage performance was now under close examination by the very people he most resented. The results of his strange rebellion against his image had led to the thing he always feared the most: His art was now in a sense being controlled by the Establishment, people not unlike his parents were evaluating his performances and in a very real sense deciding how his life was lived. "Jim was escaping from an inner anguish," Mirandi Babitz maintains: "The guy was in a lot of pain over something. It was dark around him. It didn't feel cheerful." Morrison had mood swings: Some say the internal battle was between the poet and the rock star, but you could also argue that Morrison was part sage and part maniac, a kind and gentle spirit and an utter madman. Psychologists call it schizophrenia, spiritualists call it possession. Most people that knew Morrison just called it weird. ―"Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison" (2014) by James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky

Jim Morrison, Tony Magistrale writes in “Wild Child: Jim Morrison’s Poetic Journeys” (1992) “is as much a product of the Romantic poetic vein as William Blake, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson and the French Symbolists were a century before him.” Magistrale's study (published in the Journal of Popular Culture) was the first academic work to address the notion that Morrison’s writing should be taken seriously as poetry. 'Moonlight Drive' is a wonderful lyrical ballad that “really dispels the notion of Jim Morrison as a misogynist,” says Magistrale. “I would not hesitate for a minute to call lyrics like ‘Five to One’ real poetry,” he adds: “‘Trading your hours for a handful of dimes’? That could come from ‘Prufrock’ or ‘The Waste Land’ by T.S. Eliot. Or ‘I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer / The future’s uncertain, the end is always near.’ This could be right out of Camus or Sartre.’” Source:

Jim Morrison had been fascinated with a film called, Wild in the Streets (1968). Christopher Jones played a 20th century rock 'n' roll rebel leader who was challenging society and wanted the vote for 14 year olds. The movie was an AIP production. A year earlier Morrison had met with a producer who wanted to get him into motion pictures. "That guy could be the next James Dean," the producer said. But Jim was unimpressed. He didn't want to be a HW sex symbol. Jim sang around the piano until about junior college, singing "Heart of My Heart," "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," as well as the Sunday school hymn "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam." Jim loved classical music, with the exception of Handel's "Water Music." Stravinsky was his favorite classical composer. “I’m hung up on the art game, you know?” Morrison said in an interview with CBC Radio: “My great joy is to give form to reality. That’s my ambition—to write something worthwhile.”

Ray Manzarek (The Doors): Jim Morrison had, in one way or another, seen, heard, and experienced the same artistic things that I had. All these little epiphanies are part of the soul of the Doors. These little moments of light and clarity and inspiration are what brought us together and what we tried to infuse into our music. Jim, too, was a devotee of Tennessee Williams. He loved his body of work. Even fancied himself as a bit of a Chance Wayne (Paul Newman's character in Sweet Bird of Youth). At his college in Florida they had staged Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Jim was the set designer. —"Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors" (1999) by Ray Manzarek 

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