WEIRDLAND: Jim Morrison: The Last Stage

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Jim Morrison: The Last Stage

“Nobody understands you better than yourself, but if someone tries to do it is because he loves you.” Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison couldn't handle the pressures of success and we see a slow train wreck as he turns to excesses in drugs, drink, women and insanity. Jim Cherry's main character Michael Gray thinks he wants fame and adulation, but he seems also to understand that what his quest gets down to is a search for Reality itself - Reality with a capital R. He's just crazy enough and desperate enough to believe that touring with a Doors cover band might actually make the discovery of "true meaning" happen. The Last Stage is written with such great detail you'll believe it's also the story of Jim Morrison's life, you'll think the lead character is Morrison onstage. Was Gray just a devoted Morrison fan? Or did he have a self identity problem? By the end of the story, this guy was in Los Angeles, getting ready to perform at Whisky a Go Go, carousing with aging rock stars and actors, interviewing agents and screenplay writers, reliving Jim Morrison's lifestyle, and exploring all his old haunts. He even bears an uncanny resemblance to Jim Morrison. He has a chance meeting with Ray Manzarek and eventually concocts a tribute to his hero. His idea is to form a Doors cover band with him filling Jim's leather pants, which he successfully pulls off when he convinces an amateur but talented band to back him up. This band puts their original material/career on the backburner as Michael and his vision takes precedence. Despite his machinations and complexity (Grey like Morrison) he never loses 100% of his likeability. 

My father was military even after he wasn’t. When I was a kid we had lived in a typical white picket fenced in house, several of them. Eventually settling in a suburb of Chicago, so I could identify with Morrison. His father too was military and the family had been Navy nomads moving around the country at every change of assignment. Looking around my former neighbourhood, I realized there are times of our lives when the answers to our problems is to bury our flesh in that of others. And what happens when you make compromises? You end up compromising yourself. “You saw Morrison up there on stage, and he was just singing those songs,” I thought aloud, holding up a cigarette, punctuating each statement by stabbing it in the air. “But somehow you knew just by looking at him he was singing about existence.” Morrison lived on the edge and pushed the others to those extremes. He was the artistic center of the band, the spark, that indefinable something that led The Doors beyond their boundaries of the rational into the irrational fires of creativity, a landscape never before seen; their new world, a sensuous wild west. While all three were talented musicians, after Morrison died they never again hit the creative or popular high Morrison had driven them to. 

Jim Morrison was the first rock and roll method actor. By behaving in an outrageous and provocative manner, Jim Morrison attempted to fill the void, to prevent panic from overwhelming him. “A lot of that was insinuated by Morrison and the music added the mysterious feel to it.” They looked at him skeptical, “Look, most of his lyrics are pretty simple. And Morrison liked it that people were reading all these deeper meanings into his lyrics. He thought art was a two way street and the audience brought something to the experience too. Why was he so hung up on serial killers? It’s your own death, that’s the killer on the road that we’re all going to pick up one day on the trip of life, death. What about Five to One?” Five to One has been the subject of speculation since the instant Morrison put together the combination of the ratio’s 5 to 1, and 1 in 5 into the song. Some people read that the numbers meant the number of baby boomers to those over thirty. It’s nothing that simple, you’ve got to remember Morrison was a genius, it’s nothing as mundane as statistics. Morrison liked the poems of William Blake. In the Songs of Experience or Songs of Innocence, I don’t know which one, I get them confused, but it talks about the five senses each person in that poem has, five senses to one person, five to one. What’s the 1 in 5? The reverse one person has five senses.” They all looked at me and as the thought exploded in their minds.

I tried to get into character, I was trying to think like an actor, trying to get Morrison’s character in my head and how he would act in these situations. It was not easy because I wasn't so smart as him. Morrison himself came from a theatre background, having studied at Florida State, he went on to UCLA to study film. Theatre was always one of his main intentions. Morrison created the "rock bad boy" archetype or more accurate, the "rock mad boy" act. He showed us (more moralistically than we can surmise) all of us have a dark, insane side, he amplified it on stage on a spectacular level, he even transformed intermitently in that dark creature in his personal life, and then he killed himself (because he had to kill the demon to save himself). More than dying for our sins, he had to die for his own sins (real or imagined). Although his death has been considered oficially an accidental overdose, he was perceptive enough to differentiate heroin from cocaine, so it's not strange to think his death was actually an outright suicide. James Douglas Morrison really didn't want to die, but on a moral level he thought he must kill Jim Morrison, the insane rock star. His poem ‘As I look back’ reads like a brief autobiography of his time at school and UCLA; the drugs, the songs, the money and the fame – his final goodbye to America: his suicide note. 

Let’s examine Pamela Courson. She was burning something in the fire grate of the apartment, that was reported; she was witnessed, letters or something. Could that have been a suicide note that she didn’t want anyone else but her to read? Was it the preface to ‘last words, last words, out’? Something she must have read. If she was such an advocate of Morrison’s work, why would she destroy this? Was it incriminating? “Give me songs to sing/and emerald dreams/to dream/and I'll give you love/unfolding.” (Written for his muse and common-law wife Pamela)—Jim Morrison. 'The mouse that caught the cat', that was what Jim called Pamela, a cat. I could see her in the Brownie pack, in her floral dress, refusing to conform. We all heard the stories of just how wild Pam had been as a child, and if you compare Jim’s childhood, she was the wilder of the two. After all, Pam did leave Orange High School in her junior year and transfer to Capistrano Union High School for her senior one. This was a school some eighteen or so miles from Orange; however, it's rumored she did not graduate – how then Pam was studying art at L.A. City College in 1965? Pamela Courson had become a beatnik who truanted frequently, caused her parents considerable turmoil and anguish. Capistrano was in another district and there Pam would have been less likely to embarrass the reputation of her father – the principal of a junior high school. But precisely what did happen in that last year 1964? Did Pamela make a mistake? She hung around the beatnik bars, she hitch-hiked and went to places which other girls of her age would not have been allowed to do. Did her parents simply let her go? Pam was ‘difficult’ as Jim was ‘difficult’; they were, as a result, allowed the freedom to roam. 

There was always this idea that Morrison was going to write the next great novel. Let’s take away the pages, think about the 1960s and the rising role of the famous rock star. Maybe he had not written the great American novel; maybe he had lived it instead. Only he doesn’t write him down like Kerouac did – he lives out the pages of the fiction for others to chronicle. Then he found that it consumed him, and like Victor Frankenstein before him, found that there was no end to the beast. A beast made up of parts; there was no father, no mother. Jim Morrison was just a creation, hungry for knowledge and understanding, ready to push the possibilities. Morrison turns in on himself and the personality splits for self-protection, just like R.D. Laing foretold, and bam, it’s like petrol and a match. The stage persona takes over and the real James Douglas Morrison is engulfed, swallowed whole by the music making machine. "The cost of freedom is the loss of innocence" said Jim Morrison once. Did Pam ever go back to Paris between 1971 and the fatal 25th April 1974? How about if this was the date she first met Jim. Where did they meet? Some say The London Fog on Sunset strip, others say at a party on the campus where Pam studied, the LACC. Wherever they met, I think that date 25th April is significant. Only Jim and Pam understood what made their relationship work, or not work a lot of the time. He often cheated, he would go off on a drunken adventure and she wouldn't see him for days and I guess he wasn't always the most considerate person to live with. She had an eating disorder, a drug problem and she was very temperamental. 

You'd think they would be both happier without each other. Yet, anytime she left him, Morrison would fall into a despair and make any effort to get her back. According to Vince Treanor, The Doors' road manager, Pam "was flighty, gushy and really unfocused. Her diet was usually strange chemicals. She was temperamental at best and her drug habit made her almost maniac depressive. I didn't think she was that pretty either. But she was his favorite X object, a bad influence and maybe his undoing." Paul Ferrara, who met Pam intimately, remembers: "Pam supplied some sense of normality to an otherwise hectic rock star existence. At times I was invited for dinner. Pam had been cooking all day. Stoned, and with jewels and flowers in her hair, she was the perfect hostess for Jim and his house. She had some authority issues as well; she was always stoned or in a state of bliss." Robby Krieger opined that Pamela was "mostly good for Jim. If it were possible for Jim to have a mate for life, we all felt that Pamela was that person. You could tell that Pam was really the one that Jim wanted to be with. He would always come back to her no matter what happened. She was just as crazy as he was so it kind of worked out perfectly.” The main characteristic of their relationship was clearly expressed in the words of the song “Queen of the Highway”. Pam was the princess and Jim was the monster dressed in black leather. She was the only one who was prepared to stand up to him, rather than pander to him. That, it would seem, was what he liked – that was what he needed, especially in a woman.

From the first lilting tones of the guitar, I was immersed in the song. I became part of the song. I didn’t need to remember when to come in, I didn’t need to remember the words, I didn’t need to react, just act. I just was the song, I was Jim Morrison! I screamed again as the band lashed out into a musical torrent of primal torment. I whipped myself into a fury, twirling, dancing with the music, no acting, no rehearsed moves, being on-stage was like having sex, you exist outside of time and space, you’re immortal. I fell to the floor hard and delivered the last lines from the floor. I laid on the floor for a second or two, one arm hanging off the stage, the shirt matted to my skin, my chest heaving, I was empty, devoid of everything, I stood on the precipice looking out into the darkness, as I pulled myself to a sitting position, then it happened… applause, real applause, people waving and cheering. It filled me with a warmth and became a power within me, it was birth, a metamorphosis, new worlds lay before me that hadn’t existed before, I felt as if I were becoming larger than the room, like the room couldn’t contain what I was becoming, I rose up out of my mind sound like a gambler looking for the big score and you’ll live happily ever after. But it never happens, the big score is always right around the next corner. That night I had a dream: I met the real Jim Morrison, lean in his leather clad glory wearing a white shirt that accentuated the shiny black leather of his pants. He was sitting at a table having a beer. He pushed out the empty chair across from him with a tap of his boot. We were isolated at a party, although the room was crowded with people. Morrison's face became blurry. A stranger appeared and asked me, “hey, want to go to a concert?” Then I was walking the familiar hallways of the school, the light coolly reflected off the waxed marble floors. I heard the sound of faraway music echoing in the halls. I was alone. I followed the sound through the hallways of the labyrinth school. It became louder and louder as I approached the auditorium, I recognized the music, it was The Doors at their peak playing a scorching rendition of an obscure song. It was loud and Morrison’s voice was a growl, then the music stopped. I was walking backstage, there were velvet curtains, backdrops from plays, tied off ropes running up to sandbags and wooden catwalks. Suddenly, there was Jim again, waiting for me. “Have a seat, man. Want a beer?” Before I could answer he pulled out an open beer from somewhere. He said. “So, I understand you’re going to be me... now. Make it look like a part of the act. I fell down a lot.” “You think I can do it?” “Sure, consider this my blessing and just remember, it’s all a dream.” I said bluntly, “I just want to get to the truth.” “What if you can’t handle the truth,” mumbled Morrison, avoiding my anxious eyes. I was taken aback, I hadn’t considered that option. “Listen,” I replied, “the truth has to be out there. We deserve the truth?” “But why?” he taunted me. “That’s a luxury we can’t afford. And they only tell us what they want us to believe. Truth is subjective. Oh, there are people out there who think they have been really successful, but have they? Have they really? It’s that glass ceiling and about never being quite good enough. I played a little game, I called it 'let’s crawl back inside my brain.' The game is called – let’s go insane.’ He smirked quizzically. Then the bearded poetic Jim Morrison was sitting back in the chair smiling benevolently at me.

America has become convinced that some existential truth about itself can be found on the road. Morrison himself bought into the theme. In his songs, poems, and HWY, the movie he made was about a serial killer as existential metaphor. The randomness of death on the highway of life, the killer on the road we’ll all eventually meet. Travel as catharsis and transcendence. We think there are no worlds to discover, we forget about the monsters that lie just under the surface. What would we find at the end of this road? I didn’t know, maybe visions, sex, madness, some great promised adventures in the American wilderness, and maybe we were going to find out some truth about ourselves. Morrison lived this dark role. Sometimes he forgot to differentiate between his rock act and the life offstage. To him Rock ‘n’ Roll was a stark theatre, a place where life and death are enacted, it wasn’t safe on the edges, it was dangerous and you could die and that’s what made life real. To Morrison, theater and life weren’t separate. Shakespeare said, “all the world’s a stage,” and Morrison wrote, “this ancient and insane theater,” so if I was going to be Morrison, I needed to live the role too. Everything I had worked for was to get me here, everything I wanted was in front of me one way or another. Nothing would be the same for me after this. It was either fame and fortune, or failure. What if I did fail? At least that was something I could understand. I’ve felt the cold hand of rejection before, I could understand rejection. But what really scared me was what if I succeeded? That I couldn’t imagine, I couldn’t even imagine the feeling? Joy? Exuberance lifting me to the heights? I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like, outside of anything more than an abstract, or a cliché that didn’t really seem to be a definition or even satisfy.

Is that why Morrison acted so confidently, he knew that joy? “Celebration of the Lizard.” I said to the band. I rattled a tambourine to give the snake slither to the piece, the feeling of a story being told around a campfire, a preface that Morrison usually invoked when priming his audience. The band hit the first discordant notes of the ‘song’ it was a poem, really more theater, a loose narrative of a post-apocalyptic world where the survivors gather to tell their stories. Morrison variously acted, screamed, or moaned through the piece. Since my parents lived nearby, I decided it was time to tell them what I was doing for a living, it was a chance Morrison also took and it was the last confirmed communication he had with his parents. He sent them a letter telling them he was in a band and, “what did they think of that?” They, especially his father, had disapproved citing failed childhood piano lessons.

I wasn’t going to be as confrontational as he had been, I hoped. My parents were quite a bit older than me. I was a late life baby for them. As a matter of fact, my older brother and sister were often mistaken for my parents. My father answered the door. He was a tall, lean man even in his seventies. An Annapolis graduate. After he left the military he had become a corporate lawyer who took stock in lieu of his full salary. Around the time I was in high school he owned so much of the stock he was given the chance to buy the company, which he did. Then he turned around and sold the company again within the year. The new owner breached their contract and my father took them to court and won. Winning several more millions of dollars. He had a cocktail in his hand when he answered the door. “Hello Mikey,” he said, as I breathed out a sigh of exasperation.“Come on in, your Mother and I were just having a cocktail.” My mother was in the den. She had helped my father’s career by being the charming, witty hostess, wife and mother, for both the military and corporate worlds. Her only real failing in life was wearing perfume that was much too rosy smelling. “Mike!” She said, as she got up from the couch to give me a hug, “its so nice of you to come down for a visit.” “I didn’t come down, for a visit. I’m actually in town on business.” “That’s good to hear,” my father said. “What business would that be?” “Here, take a look.” I said, handing him a scrapbook that I had put together with the few reviews there were. He handed it to my mother. After a couple of minutes of leafing through the pages and skimming the headlines my mother asked, “I don’t understand this, Mikey, what do you have to do with this band?” “I’m the lead singer and songwriter.” “Oh, Mikey!” My mother said, disappointment clearly in her voice. “You have so much potential, you could be doing so much with your life.” “I am doing something with my life.” “Mikey,” my father said as mildly as he could, “your mother and I gave you so much more than even your brother and sister. We had such great hopes for you,” he paused, “but then again as of late, not that much has been forthcoming from you.” My eyes started welling up from the usual litany of disappointments. I tried to think of anything else to staunch the tears. My parents looked at each other. My mother, tears streaming down her cheeks, nodded her head to my father almost imperceptibly. “I’ll loan you the money for graduate school. You’ll have to give up this band thing of course, get a job in the area of the graduate degree, and pay the loan off within five years. The same deal we gave your brother and sister.” I started gathering up my scrapbook and left their house.

I realized the extent of the hell Jim Morrison had suffered with his parents. His Admiral father yelled at him for wasting his time making drawings or poems. Steve Morrison’s absences were, by necessity, so frequent that they were seen as the norm rather than the exception. As is the case with many navy children, Jim had grown to think of his father as nothing but a visitor in his own home when he returned periodically, and of his mother as the primary head of the household and disciplinarian. It was during one of these absences, Jim said, that he wet his bed; it is unclear how old Jim was at this time. The boy went to his parents’ room and climbed into the big bed where his mother was sleeping alone. Clara, waking and taking in the situation, reportedly pushed her son out of the bed and, according to Jim, humiliated him for his lack of self-control, taking him back to his room and forcing him to sleep on the wet sheets. This incident, he said, left him afraid to sleep on the bed at all, and from then on he would curl himself up in a ball on the floor and pray for his mother’s death, counting the days until he could get even with her. “After that,” Morrison reportedly said, “I never had a childhood.” To kill childhood, innocence in an instant. While Morrison's grades were not specially high, his I.Q. was tested at 149 and his grasp of history, literature, and art stymied even his most learned teachers. One teacher reportedly even went so far as to check with the Library of Congress to make sure that some of the books Jim was reporting on actually existed, so obscure were their titles and subjects. 

Morrison became a storyteller, a myth maker with a vivid imagination. If we weren’t traveling, or at a gig, there was a lot of down time. It was downright boring. The days we played were filled with drama and excitement of the gig, the bustle of loading and unloading equipment was completely counter balanced by ripping boredom. No wonder Morrison found ways to amuse himself by hanging out windows, ledge walking, and later drinking. One night when I got on stage, in the front row was a table of four truly beautiful girls. All decked out in their finest wares, dripping with sequins and pearl necklaces. They looked uncomfortable and awkward in the clothes, like kids playing grown up, still tripping on their mother’s high heels. I knew the boys had girlfriends, which is how I came to think of their little troupe, as ‘the girlfriends’. These weren’t your average Rock ‘n’ Roll chicks, these were your exotic type, not the type of girl the boys were used to, nor would have been able to attract had they not been in a band.  Each show I tried to find someone in the audience to sing to, the seduction was easy, just sing a song and look into their eyes as if you were looking into their soul. Playing Morrison made me feel like I could move the world, picking up whatever girl at a gig was easy, sex became a liquid to me and unlike the boys I didn’t have a girlfriend, there were plenty of women who wanted to be with the new “Jim Morrison.” I went back into the living room where everyone was sitting in a circle on the floor very zoned out. The night diffused into a hazy golden color. That’s how I remember it, all of us sitting in a circle in that living room. Each of the boys smiling like he was in a golden halo, or maybe a spotlight in the surrounding darkness.

“If you tried to see Jim Morrison as a whole person instead of a hero... what you reflect of him probably reveals some aspect of you, more than of him.” She looked into my eyes one last time, “are you sure there’s still a you in there?” I was not sure, so I didn't give Deirdre any answer. “How do you know he was a hero? Maybe he was a loser.” She said, softly. “Because he’s not me.” “Sure of yourself, aren’t you?” “I am the Lizard King.” I said, grandiosely. “You take that seriously?” “It’s my job.” “Tell me something else about Jimmy.” “Jimmy was a tabula rasa. He could be an altar boy, or maybe a murderer. He was a mirror, get it!? You got what you looked for, he was amazing at reading people.” “What did you see?” I asked. “A lover.” She said, eyeing me lasciviously. “I knew Ray and Jim at UCLA. I was a theatre student and I wanted to be an actress. I was in Jim’s first UCLA movie. I may have been the first person to get Jimmy interested in witchcraft.” She looked at me with such a look of desire, “I could tell you a lot about Jimmy,” she repeated. She seemed pretty drunk, slurring every word she uttered, but I was morbidly interested. “What’d you talk to Jimmy about?” I asked. “We talked about a lot of things, like poetry and Artraud.” “Artraud?” I said, taunting her about her pronunciation. “Yeah, Antonin Artraud, the French theater guy.” She said, waving it off.

New Orleans was sort like Jim Morrison, swampy mystery and a controversial history, like the flowers slowly killing the trees. But New Orleans was a double-edged sword for Morrison. After one trip he said he enjoyed the city’s sights and sounds, and visions of Victorian spaceships. But it’s also where The Doors had their last concert, where Morrison pounded the microphone into the stage until it splintered and Ray Manzarek said he literally saw Jim’s spirit leave his body. The good thing about the French Quarter, if you walk six feet you’ll find a shop that has whatever you want, need, or desire, including Voodoo, luckily I saw a shop that had a hand lettered sign in the front window d-a-i-q-u-i-r-i. The lettering seemed deliberate, unsure of itself like whoever wrote it wasn’t quite sure how to spell daiquiri. Inside the shop there were about twenty soft serve ice cream machines. Each had a different flavored daiquiri stirring in it. We quickly replenished our twenty-ounce beers with daiquiris. The boys were walking down the street, a daiquiri in one hand, their girlfriends in the other. Everybody was happy. I saw a couple of lesbians walking down the street. In the next instant I saw a group of women, each wearing a solid pastel colored dress with a silk ribbon sash slashing across their bodies, they were beauty contestants! I ran up to them and bowed, over exaggeratingly courteous, stepping easily into Morrison’s persona. “Hello, ladies!” I said, “where you all from?” “All over!” They all shouted enthusiastically. There was literally a sea of people in front of me. It was then that I truly understood what was meant by the phrases ‘a sea of humanity’, and ‘an ocean of people.’ They ceased to be several thousand individuals they became one thing, a new creature to do with as I pleased. Suddenly, I knew what Morrison knew. You become part of a crowd, faceless, anonymous. The individual becomes lost, you lose your self in a crowd, free to live your dreams, free to enact your nightmares, all bets are off, there are no limits, no laws. It was the door to power, the power that despots and rock stars know. There’s always been something of the fascist about Rock ‘n’ Roll. “Could any Hell be more horrible than now?” -Jim Morrison

I used every trick Morrison knew to whip crowds into a frenzy. I screamed, writhed, fell to the stage, jumped, until the audience didn’t want to hear anything else. There were sullen looks and thrown equipment barely missing me. On stage, the band occasionally tried to sabotage my show, a song would end early, or they wouldn’t hit the vocal cue they would just keep soloing. I’d look over to see what was going on, to see one or all of them laughing. Traveling in the van was a dour experience, sullen and silent. My relationship with the band deteriorated from that point on. I fell into old habits. I drank more. The women I picked up tended to be the girls wearing leather pants and purple hair. I had left my life behind, my family, Deidre, I could leave them behind too. All that was left was the end. On the matter of that grave marker in Paris, are we really expected to believe that The Doors management and the band really didn’t do something to get a grave marker in place? That, even to this day, seems to me like a callous act, an almost indecent act. An act I can’t understand if, as the band members claimed, they missed and loved Morrison so much. Rock ‘n’ Roll really isn’t about sex, drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Maybe it’s not even about the music. It’s about changing the world. Rock ‘n’ Roll should be in a continuous state of revolution. Morrison got that one right.

A Cosmic Mating: As his cue came up, Jim Morrison caught her eye. Pamela raised her sight from her Vanilla Coke, sipping it intertmitently. As Jim walked off the stage at the end of the set, she was waiting for him with a beer at the club stairs. "I think I love you," I said. “Really?” She said smiling, “you can tell that from across the room?” Then she asked "what happened here?" touching the side of his face where he still had some cuts from the debacle of the biker bar. "Critics," he joked: "What's your name?" "Pam," she replied. “Paaaam.” I said, drawing the word out to the southern drawl Morrison affected when he wanted to impress someone with his charm, “Pam, the same as Jim’s wife’s name.” “You remind me of Morrison.” “I’m supposed to, that’s the whole idea.” I said. “No, there’s something about you that’s the same.” She enthused. I turned my head at an angle, another Morrison simulation, then smiled broadly. “Indeed.” She was aching for a way out and I invited her to my apartment. “You wanna do some ‘shrooms?”  Magic mushrooms, psilocybin, was a natural psychedelic. You eat a few and see visions, like blood everywhere. She came back a few minutes later with a very delicate looking porcelain teapot and teacup. We settled into having a joint while I sipped the tea, which for how bad the mushrooms tasted in their natural state, tasted like any other tea I’d had. Aside from the joint, we could’ve been maiden aunts gossiping. “Cool. You know what’s really fun to do now?” “No.” she said, watching silvery comets shooting past my eyes. “Going swinging! C’mon there’s a swing set right out back.” She jumped up and started pulling me towards the patio doors. The night seemed to have turned into a wild, wicked world. The wind whipped at my hair and clothing. I wondered if this dramatic world was real or because of the LSD tea. Some part of me didn’t understand why we had to come outside, while another part of me knew I wanted to go swinging. Out back was a rusting swing set with two well-worn ruts under the rubber and chain swings. We each grabbed one and started pumping our legs towards the stars. “Higher!” She yelled, “isn’t this fun!” We pumped our legs urging the swings higher. We were laughing as the stars drew close and fell away, we couldn’t stop laughing. I let go and was rolling around in the cold dewy grass. I was still laughing when I saw a silvery spider web. Suddenly I felt like I was in a box, silvery spikes splintered through the top. It was a coffin, the ghost of Jim Morrison was inside. I was cold, and I was crying. “I’m dying! I’m dying!” I grabbed my stomach and rolled over on my side. I felt empty. “I’m alone, I’m all alone.” I cried. We woke up the next morning feeling raw and vulnerable. I felt like every nerve had been exposed, like I had touched an open wire. I was still cold. I pulled what blankets I could around me tighter. Pam woke up and rolled over. “It’s all right. You shouldn’t be afraid to reveal yourself to me. But you pretty much do that on stage every night.” “Not really,” I said, “I expose Jim Morrison. I go out there night after night ‘being’ Morrison. Everyone thinks I am him. So much of this cover band thing falls on me. They laugh at me every chance they get. They just don’t understand everything I’m going through. So I try not to show any weakness. A king cannot appear to be as the common man.” “See, you are him!” She gushed and threw her arms around my neck. “I started this, the band, to accomplish certain things. In certain respects it was a search for love.” I heard myself saying. Did I mean her? “It’ll happen if you believe it will.” She looked shy for a second. “You know that’s all I’ve been looking for.” “I love you!” She blurted out. In her eyes I could see the light of true belief burning. “Come with me,” I said. “No one has ever believed in what I want to do like you do.” “What about my dreams?” “Forget it all. I left everything behind to be here.” She said she had to think it over and left. 

Calling Pam
I put about some dollars in change in the pay phone and dialed her number. It rang I tried to drown out the traffic going by on Santa Monica Boulevard. “Hello?” She said. “Hi, I’m sorry I haven’t called sooner.” “Oh, hi,” she cooed softly. “Where are you?” “I’m in L.A. me and the band, we’re going to play The Whisky this weekend.” “That’s great!” She said. “Can you come out here to see me?” I asked supplicant. “Our last argument hurt, especially after what we shared.” “You were hurt?” I protested, “you were living with a new boyfriend.” “I thought we had more than that together.” She whispered. I thought for a moment. “I miss you. Things haven’t been going as well as I had hoped and I’m just trying to get things together.” “Isn’t it a little late?” “No, the gig is still three days away, it came up suddenly, I didn’t have time to do anything except make the arrangements and get out here. I’ve been running around finding a motel for the band and sending out invitations to the show to movie producers, and every newspaper in L.A. And the morning after I have a meeting with an agent, I really want you to come.” There was silence on the other end. I could feel her wavering ambivalence. I felt her moving away from me. I didn’t want to lose her, “let me tell you the truth, I don’t really feel like I belong here. I feel like I’m a fraud.” “You belong there, I believe in your talent.” “Then come,” I said, plaintively. “I need someone who believes in me, and someone I believe believes in me, if that makes any sense. I see the parts of me in you that I miss. I wish I could be quiet again, that I didn’t have to howl to get noticed. I’m an oddity no matter where I go. In my family, at the college, in my own band! Even the bars where I feel the closest to comfortable, I talk about life and death, and they look at me suspiciously. Just come, I miss you.” I said, “or stay in that one small town, and when you marry Billy Carlson, the mechanic you’ve known since third grade, send me an invitation.” I paused, hoping to hear her laugh. She laughed. “Look, I have money. I can send plane fare, you can be here tomorrow, and we can rent a house on Norton avenue, just like Jim and Pam. Or up in the hills, anything you want.” To kill the time in between I spent it the same as Morrison had, drinking. Walking back to the motel room from Barney’s, I was thinking how I wouldn’t have to deal with the boys after tomorrow night. Pam was supposed to arrive sometime today. She hadn’t told me what time to expect her, but I gave her the hotel room number and address. As I walked up the steps to the room I noticed the door to the room was open. “Pam?” I walked in. “I’m not interrupting am I?” She asked. She was lying under the sheets, seemingly naked. “Hi honey, no, I don’t think you are.” We spent the next couple of hours making love.

Oddly, I could connect with the far away memories of what must have been the real Jim and Pam's first personal date. Jim and Pam lying on a gilded bed, enthralled with each other. Pamela laughing, amused at Jim's declaration 'I'll give you a fancy place, silk clothes and diamonds!'. Jim knowing he had found his cosmic mate, assuring Pam 'You are not my groupie' in a sudden serious tone, 'you are my girl.' Her fingers, so softly tactile, exploring his body, making his brain explode with an unknown, inviolable pleasure. He kissing her possesively. She tasted like Vanilla Coke and candy. 'I wanted to hold you in my arms since you laid your eyes on me at the London Fog,' Pam confessing, transfixed. Her eyes were glazing over and he made love to her like an eternal promise. Jim became Pamela's protector, drowning in a sea of interminable desire. As all the true love stories, Jim Morrison's unique relationship with Pam Courson was misunderstood. I chose Love and married Pam. Jim Morrison said that Love was the answer.

I walked that same edge that Morrison did, stared into his abyss. I wanted to learn about that existence to see what lay on the other side, to see what I could learn about myself. I did learn a lot about what was going on in Morrison’s head, and what was going on in my head. What had I been trying to accomplish? I was looking for transcendence. I was transformed into something greater than myself. Every Saturday I throw on the leather pants and do a show for my audience of one, the only audience I want, Pam. She is the bit of reality and unreality I need in the world to get through life. I’ve come to realize I did find my new world in Pam and the love she offered to me. My new world of thought and feeling was being able to acknowledge that love to myself. —"Jim Morrison: The Last Stage" (2005) by Jim Cherry

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