WEIRDLAND: Judy Garland, Jim Morrison: First-rate Self-destructive entertainers

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Judy Garland, Jim Morrison: First-rate Self-destructive entertainers

2020 Spirit Awards Winners: Renée Zellweger–JUDY (Winner) Best Female Lead. Renee Zellweger Gets to the Core of Judy Garland’s Tragic Decline. When you think of self-destructive entertainers who died before their time, which names come to mind? Jim Morrison? Jimi Hendrix? Kurt Cobain? We don't really think of Judy Garland in this capacity because she lived 20 years longer than these fatalistic 20-somethings, burning out while she was fading away. If it’s taken so long for a bigscreen biopic of Judy Garland to come to fruition, perhaps it’s because the lady herself warned off any attempts with one of her most famous quotes: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Zellweger offers an all-collapsing performance of the star at her lowest physical and psychological ebb: It’s gutsy, can’t-look-away work. Zellweger will likely win an Oscar with her performance.  Source: variety.com

Patricia Butler's book, Angels Dance and Angels Die is basically a "relationship dual biography," wherein Butler traces the romance between Morrison and Courson. Good memoir if you find a rock star's relatively monogamous love life interesting, although unsurprisingly the book skips almost every part of Pamela's life that doesn't involve Jim Morrison. It's funny coming from Patricia Kennealy that she puts her accomplishments above Pamela Courson's, when Patricia has just been a midlist SF/F author for some years in the 90s. But both before and since, her main claim to fame was handfasting with a rock star. This is the only part of Angels Dance and Angels Die that deals with Pamela's feelings on Patricia: "Conversely, when New York journalist Patricia Kennealy showed up at Pam's apartment in Los Angeles to inform Pam that not only had she had an affair with Jim, but had, she claimed, aborted his child as well, Pamela responded with nothing more than mild curiosity - 'How interesting,' she reportedly said. 'I've never met one of Jim's women before.'" Even though that anecdote actually comes from Kennealy's book, it shows how much of a threat Pamela perceived Patricia was: zilch. And I wonder: What the hell did James Douglas Morrison ever do to deserve the kind of treatment he has gotten in print? Is it just envy, that makes people so hurtful and hateful about him? By running him down, does that make them less unimportant, less stupid and vile? Do they hate and fear and resent his excellence that much? Admittedly, there's a lot to envy: He wrote poetry, he made great music. He was gorgeous, funny, romantic and self-deprecating. He got out there and let all sorts of morons project vicarious emotions all over him. Kennealy had an almost three year period to find Courson, who spent a good deal of her final years in Los Angeles, and demand to know what happened to Jim Morrison. If in Kennealy's position, I'd want some answers. But Kennealy remained mysteriously silent after receiving the news of Morrison's death.

John Densmore on Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson: "Pamela was this adorable waif from Orange County, cute as a bug. She came up to Hollywood to find herself and she found Jim. She was clearly his soulmate.” Patricia Kennealy: "Jim certainly loved Pamela and cared about her, and I’ve never denied or dismissed that, for all her faults and flaws, she had a great and sunny charm and a prettiness that was truly astonishing; what a pity the inside of her didn’t match the outside. Never mind the fawning tone Patricia Butler took in her letters: that was only a ruse to get me to talk to her, so she could then boast of my cooperation and turn right around and trash me in Angels Dance Angels Die; as, indeed, that paragon of truth in reportage, her dear mentor Albert Golddigger--oh, sorry, Goldman--did when I flatly refused to talk to him about Jim for the obnoxious lie-o-rama that thankfully died with him. As a rule I never boast, but I feel I must point out with pride and pleasure both, that I told witnesses on a Friday that if Goldman's book on Jim could not be stopped, then he would just have to die, and, on Monday, he did! Butler's ill-advised character assassination of Jim was needed to persuade anyone how wonderful her heroine little Pamela was."

Salli Stevenson, rock journalist, on Patricia Kennealy: "I interviewed Jim Morrison for Circus Magazine in October 1970. Morrison Hotel was released in February 1970. The song was written and recorded by the end of 1969. It was written about Pamela Courson. Jim Morrison said to me that he and Patricia Kennealy did not know each other well at that point. They had exchanged a few polite notes and she saw him only three times. Jim also said he didn't consider their 'Pagan wedding' in June 1970 as anything more than a creative experiment. He further said there were no witnesses, only Jim and Patricia were present. If you timeline Patricia's "Strange Days" and compare Jim's schedule you will find that Patricia Kennealy spent less than a week and a half with Jim Morrison: days, not even a month." 

In the 1980’s, in the book “Rock Wives” Patricia Kennealy had no qualms about confessing that her time with Jim Morrison was nothing but an extended one night stand. Patricia was an accomplished sci-fi author and was content to keep to herself. When Oliver Stone began researching for his film project, however, I think it occurred to Patricia that she could capitalize on her affair, and so she wrote a laughable “memoir” that borders on pure, unadulterated farce. People have evaluated Jim’s schedule at the time, and they were able to spend maybe a week and a half together. To say she is stretching it would be putting it nicely. I've read Stephen Davis' awful biography of Morrison, and he is much nastier about Kennealy than her "most hateful and virulent detractor" (Patricia Butler). Patricia's claims about the writings have proven to be false. She met with Andy Morrison (Jim's brother) and Andy (along with a handwriting expert) confirmed that the writings were forgeries. She was supposed to release them in 2010 (that would have been the 40 year mark under the old copyright law, thus making them eligible for the public domain), but when Andy made it known that they were forgeries, somehow all of the claims disappeared, and she never spoke of them again. This has been confirmed by Jim Morrison’s former brother-in-law, Alan R. Graham.

-Frank Lisciandro: During Jim’s trial in Miami, you were there with him. Did Patricia Kennealy come and visit Jim during that period?

-Babe Hill: “Yeah. I really didn’t know her that well to form any kind of impression.”

-Frank Lisciandro: Did you have the impression he was in love with her?

-Babe: “No.”

-Frank Lisciandro: Did you ever hear about the witch’s marriage ceremony he was supposed to have gone through with her?

-Babe: “No. But it could have happened. I mean, we’d wind up in some pretty strange places sometimes; drunk in the middle of the night in Hollywood. As I recall, he didn’t believe that she was ever pregnant.”

“Jim Morrison: Friends Gathered Together” is the only book that reveals the real Jim Morrison. I want you to know, that after reading seveal biographies on Jim - and listening to/reading everything currently available online/in press regarding Jim - I have come to believe that “Friends Gathered Together” is the single most important document we have on Jim Morrison. These perspectives of the people who truly knew him are of enormous value. I believe historians will concur with my thoughts on this, when all the information on him comes in; and the dust settles…” -Dr. Tim Culver Professor of Psychiatry Clinical/ Dept. of Psychiatry University of Calgary –"Jim Morrison: Friends Gathered Together" (2014) by Frank Lisciandro

2/5/71 (Friday): Patricia and I visit Diane Gardiner at The Doors office. Patricia soon wishes we hadn't gone, because Diane immediately lights into her for the crap she pulled back in December: "You don't DO that, Patricia!" Diane roars. "You DO NOT sit someone down and say [she adopts a simpering, whiny tone] 'Your old man knocked me up' What's the matter with you? Jim doesn't like his wife being harassed by a rock journalist, okay?" I am wondering more and more if she befriended me simply because I was moving to Los Angeles and she needed a friend here who didn't know any of these people--especially Jim and Pam. It's beginning to look as if she's made herself persona non grata not only with Jim but virtually everyone connected with him.

2/10/71 (Wednesday): Full moon. Patricia and I go to a press party, someone says Richter himself is predicting a much bigger quake tonight, that yesterday's was just a foreshock. We freak out but Allen Rinde takes us out for drinks and calms us down, at least temporarily. I get weirded out again, decide to drive across the desert to Las Vegas. Little chance the Corvair will make it, so we decide to call Jim. He's got a much better car and might even be up for the drive. Patricia leaves a message with The Doors' service, but of course he never calls back.

2/12/71 (Friday): I am just heading back to the laundromat when I see Jim getting out of his car in the parking lot behind Barney's. I wait for a minute, watching while he leans in and pokes around in the back seat. I'm trying to decide whether to walk over and say hello or proceed as if I hadn't seen him. His status as rock heartthrob throws me off balance. About that time he straightens up, sees me and waves--that takes care of that. We chitchat a bit, he says he's going to get a beer and something to eat before going to the studio. He invites me to join him but I tell him I just ate and had better get my clothes.

"Is Patricia still here?" he asks. "Still staying with you?"

"Yes." There's the flicker of a grimace on that handsome face, which gives me the nerve to add, "I get the impression you're not exactly thrilled to see her."

"That's putting it mildly," he says. He shakes his head. "She keeps acting as if there's something there, and there just isn't."

"There used to be though, didn't there?"

He looks me straight in the eye. "No."

Whoo boy, I think. This man is pissed off.

"Is this just a visit," he says, "or is she planning to stay?" His tone is sardonic and bitter. Tell him I think she's leaving on the 20th.

"What day is that?"

"I think it's a Saturday... a week from tomorrow."

"What time's her flight?"

I can't resist. "Why? You want to drive her to the airport?"

"I thought maybe the two of us could have dinner that night. You can help me celebrate."

"All right," I say, after a short hesitation. This is an invitation I can accept, since Patricia will be back in NY by then and there's no way she can find out and be hurt by it. For all I know he's just looking for companionship anyway, and I could certainly use a new friend.

"I won't be as happy to see her go as you are, though. I don't blame you," I add quickly, as his grin fades. "I know she's made an awful fool of herself."

"She's done a lot worse than that," he says, "but we can talk about it some other time. I need to get going. Where's your car?"

Tell him it's still at the laundromat, he offers to drive me back, I say thank you but I don't think any bogeymen will get me. It's only two o'clock or so, and I don't want to tie him up any more.

"I'll see you a week from tomorrow then," he says. "About six?"

"Okay," I say. "You remember where I live?"

"Sure," he says, staggering me. "On Flores, right? Below Fountain? East side of the street..." he squints, "third floor, about halfway down on the right. Right?"

"Right." He grins at me a moment longer, then shyly tilts my chin up and gives me a quick peck on the cheek. And he strolls off towards Barney's door, throwing me one sly, sideways glance as he goes, while I stand stupified, savoring the smoky-sweet taste of his mouth and wondering what I've just got myself into.

All of a sudden I am looking at a journal, and the contents are electrifying. My suspicions about the abortion are correct. She knew Jim was not the father, and that's why she aborted. What I didn't know, didn't even suspect, was the reason for her coming to Los Angeles twice, throwing herself at him over and over despite his obvious indifference and hostility. She's trying to get him into bed again. Good grief, Patricia, smell the coffee. Your "thing" with him is already so dead it's mummified. She also obsesses about Pamela so much, how he continues to "cleave unto" Pamela instead of "cleaving unto" her. I'm so sorry for her, and yet I loathe her. It's just beginning to dawn on me, the extent of her crimes... is too strong a word, isn't it? Yet she bulled her way down to Miami, stuck out her belly, threatened paternity suits, and she didn't really believe, herself, that he was the father. What if the press had discovered the reason for her presence? I remember how she seemed to dismiss the trial as some kind of dodge he'd arranged to avoid his "obligations" to her. But I don't remember any hint of sympathy for him, at what had to have been the worst time of his life.

I’m just rinsing the soapsuds off my face when the door opens. It’s Jim Morrison carrying his cigarettes. He has the look of exasperation I’ve started to think of as his 'Patricia Look'. He pokes around in my bag to find one of my purloined Poppi matchbooks, then sits down on the stool, and props his feet on the edge of the bathtub. His exhaustion is palpable, and I’m beginning to feel guilty for not going around to the Alta Cienega as he asked. Initially I assumed Patricia had gone to Miami to offer Jim her moral support. She soon made it clear he hadn’t invited her and that she’d gone down solely to confront him. Patricia had no sympathy for Jim’s plight whatsoever despite the fact that he was facing a possible prison term. It’s been decades now since I’ve felt any sympathy for her at all. I haven’t read Strange Days, and nor do I intend to, but I’ve had parts of it read to me, enough to know it’s simply a further and ever more spiteful rearranging of reality. Since its publication in 1992 Patricia has continued to demonstrate her truly vicious, vengeful and greedy nature.

I was just drifting off when I noticed someone sitting down next to me on the sofa–I felt the cushions give under his weight. He placed his hands under my shoulders to lift me up, and bent to kiss me. He was so close I could feel the heat of his face over mine, and I knew it was Jim Morrison because I could feel his masculine smell. Then we kissed again softly and he tentatively slid his right hand under my skirt, while locking my eyes with his half-closed eyes. He started to unbutton my blouse and I touched his warm chest under his open shirt. The kiss continued to be wet, expansive and unreal. I felt like floating, his kiss like a peak of heavenly sugar through my bloodstream. Without saying any word, we went to my bedroom and immediately I lost notion of time. He was such a good kisser, slow and dreamy and fierce all at once. The next morning, I found Jim washing his hair and whistling, in a great mood. He smiled sleepily as I got in, picked up the soap and covered my body with white lather. Then he stood back so the hot water ran down my body, proving himself kind and considerate. As the soap slid smoothly between us, he kissed me sweetly. Then he lathered me up again, smiling childishly. Not without certain difficulty, we made love for the second time under the shower. “I’m going to dry off. But stay inside if you want,” he said, almost breathless when he was leaving the shower. --Tiffany Talks: Your Ballroom Days Are Over, Baby (1999) by Janet Erwin

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