Thursday, June 08, 2017

Opioids Crisis in USA, Jim Morrison's possible OD

Overdoses are now the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 50. According to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times, deaths last year likely topped 59,000 (19% more than the year before). More than 30% of Americans have some form of acute or chronic pain. Among older adults, the prevalence of chronic pain is over 40%. In 2014 alone, U.S. retail pharmacies dispensed 245 million prescriptions for opioid pain relievers. Of these prescriptions, 65% were for short-term therapy. More than a third (37%) of the 44,000 drug-overdose deaths that were reported in 2013 were attributable to pharmaceutical opioids; heroin accounted for an additional 19%. At the same time, there has been a parallel increase in the rate of opioid addiction, affecting approximately 2.5 million adults in 2014.

Opioid medications exert their analgesic effects predominantly by binding to mu-opioid receptors. Mu-opioid receptors are densely concentrated in brain regions that regulate pain perception (periaqueductal gray, thalamus, cingulate cortex, and insula), including pain-induced emotional responses (amygdala), and in brain reward regions (ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens) that underlie the perception of pleasure and well-being. This explains why opioid medications can produce both analgesia and euphoria. Mu-opioid receptors in other brain regions and in peripheral organs account for other common opioid effects. In particular, mu-opioid receptors in the brain stem are mainly responsible for the respiratory depression associated with opioid-overdose incidents and deaths. Opioids not only directly activate these brain analgesia and reward regions but also concurrently mediate a learned association between receipt of the drug and the physiological and perceptual effects of the drug — a type of Pavlovian conditioning.

Opioid medications vary with respect to their affinity and selectivity for the mu-opioid receptor, since some also bind to kappa- or delta-opioid receptors or to other neurotransmitter receptors and transporters. There is also considerable variation among the drugs with respect to their pharmacokinetics and bioavailability. When combined, these pharmacologic properties affect the rapidity of onset, potency, and duration of both the analgesic and pleasurable effects of opioids. The effects of opioids—particularly their rewarding effects—are accentuated most when the drugs are delivered rapidly into the brain. The rate of death from opioid overdose has quadrupled during the past 15 years in the United States. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that 28,647 drug overdose deaths (61%) in 2014 in the United States involved some type of opioid, including heroin. Source:

On August 3, 1966, the comedian Lenny Bruce overdosed on heroin in his Sunset Plaza Drive apartment. Bruce had been the cutting edge of American comedy in the posthipster, prehippie early sixties. He was an acerbic, shpritzing social critic who had been persecuted for the alleged profanity in his act. Bruce had been convicted of public obscenity in New York two years previously. Since then, Bruce had obsessively recounted his legal problems in his act and in print, becoming a gadfly critic of outmoded bourgeois morality. The cops hated him, and gleefully gave their grisly photographs of the death scene—Bruce had collapsed on the toilet, with his arm tied off—to the press. Lenny Bruce’s death bothered Jim Morrison.

Nico's 1967 album Chelsea Girl includes a track entitled "Eulogy to Lenny Bruce", composed by folk songwriter Tim Hardin. In it Nico describes her sorrow and anger at Bruce's death. Tim Hardin would die of a heroin overdose in 1980. Hardin had occasionally shooted heroin at Jim Morrison's bathroom in Alta Cienega Motel (Room 32).

Nico seemed to be forever "closing in on death," to borrow Lou Reed's phrase from "Heroin," the best song on The Velvet Underground album. She died of head injuries on the island of Ibiza in 1988, after falling off her bicycle en route to buy some hashish. Lou Reed was a ground-breaking artist; he liked to play off his sexuality as being “bisexual” or “homosexual”, but the truth of the matter is that Lou Reed was straight as a ruler. He used “alternative sexuality” as a marketing scheme, just a sign of the times when sexual identity was often manipulated for art and profit (David Bowie, New York Dolls, etc). With poetic brilliance, Reed just learned that you can 'tap the vein' without the drug. Nico was famous as a tragic beauty, the junkie Dietrich. She grew up as a rootless cosmopolitan - her passport read "ohne festen Wohnsitz", meaning no fixed address. Creem's Richard Cromelin memorably wrote: "If Morrison sang The End as a lizard, Nico is a sightless bird, lost but ever so calm, somehow knowing the right direction. She is the pure, dead marble of a ruined Acropolis, a crumbling column on the subterranean bank of Morrison's River Styx." 

At the end of an interview for Los Angeles Free Press, Jim Morrison gave his then definitive attitude towards narcotics. “There seem to be a lot of people shooting smack and speed now. Alcohol and heroin and downers – these are painkillers. Alcohol for me, cause it’s traditional. Also, I hate scoring. I hate the kind of sleazy sexual connotations of scoring from people, so I never do that. I like alcohol; you can go down to any corner store or bar and it’s right across the table.” In L.A. Woman Morrison had written for Pamela: “Hills are filled with fire. If they say I never loved you, you know they are a liar.” Shortly before her death Pamela Courson was awarded Jim Morrison’s share of The Doors’ publishing rights. In November 1971, Pamela had declared: “I declare that from the 30th September 1967 onwards I have always considered myself as being married to James Douglas Morrison, to all effects I was his wife and Jim used either the name Pam Morrison or 'my wife' when he introduced me to his various friends and acquaintances. All my bills for medical care, clothes or entertainment were made out to Mrs Morrison or Pamela Morrison. Both Jim and I made known to our relatives that we had contracted marriage in Colorado, explaining the nature of the Common Law Marriage that is law in that State. He always treated me as his wife; he has always taken care of me and I of him, just like a married couple. I swear this to be the truth.” Source:

Babe Hill, Jim’s closest friend and confidante between 1969-1971 said to Frank Lisciandro in Jim Morrison - Friends Gathered Together: "Pam could be a bitch to everybody, a little harridan. Was she trying to protect Jim or was she jealous? On the face of it she was an opportunist. She used Jim and his resources for her own ends, for whatever she wanted. But let’s face it, none us knew what went on behind that closed door between them two. It was a stormy love relationship, full of everything: acrimony, making up, the whole deal. When you come right down to it: they loved each other. And he definitely didn’t love another woman anywhere near as much. There was no one but Pam, and history bears it out: he was with her from the beginning to the end." Jim Morrison had briefly dated Nico but in a telephone conversation with his former UCLA colleague Dennis C. Jakob, Morrison confessed that Nico—despite her great beauty—wasn't really his type and he had found her very pretentious. Jakob remarked in his memoir Summer with Morrison: "I got the sense that what Jim found in Pam was a woman even more dependent than he himself had ever been. He had always had this strange dependency on women. Now he had found a woman who depended on him." 

One night Jim had a heated argument with Pamela at the Bag O'Nails nightclub after having known of Pam's affair with actor Christopher Jones. Pam said she wasn’t coming back with Jim unless he quit the Doors. He got drunk, insulted her, and apologetically started crying. She threw her drink in his face—a few people applauded—and stormed out. When some mutual friends reproached she had left him alone crying, Pamela replied nonchalantly: “Let him cry. He likes it.” According to Danny Sugerman, Pamela Courson told him that Morrison had died of an accidental heroin overdose, snorting it thinking it was cocaine. “Occasionally Pam used heroin but she wasn’t a regular consumer”, said Sugerman: “she used it when she was depressed, but she wasn’t a heroin maniac–she preferred barbiturates and tranquillisers.” After Morrison's death, however, “she lived in an imaginary fantasy world,” Sugerman adds: “she continuously flirted with death, carried on living her life in a risky manner.” James Douglas Morrison’s final notebook in Paris contained the harrowing message: ‘Last words. Out’. Also a chilling self-assessment: ‘Regret for wasted nights & wasted years–I pissed all it away–American Music’. Source:

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Bonnie & Clyde (50th Anniversary), 1967-Summer of Love (Jim Morrison)

The New York Times panned it, and studio chief Jack Warner thought the movie was a bomb, but “Bonnie and Clyde” was a game-changer during the summer of 1967. The Hollywood revolution the Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway vehicle began would be bolstered by another sleeper hit released at the end of 1967 — “The Graduate.” Within two years, the major studios would start rolling out a new breed of frankly adult films that would include “Midnight Cowboy,” “Easy Rider” and “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” “Bonnie and Clyde” had a rocky reception at first. The Warner Brothers studio leadership viewed the 1930s-era bank robbers tale as a B-picture that might be best suited to drive-in theaters in the South. 

It was only due to the intense lobbying of Warren Beatty — who was making his debut as a producer, as well as starring in the movie — that the film was opened in New York City and Los Angeles to see if it might stir up enough interest to warrant a national release. The film’s treatment of sudden violence shocked many of those early moviegoers, with the quick changes from comedy to horror upsetting audiences whose idea of a fun night out was the new Doris Day picture, “The Ballad of Josie.” The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther was so upset by “Bonnie and Clyde” that he attacked it before and after it opened in Manhattan on Aug. 13, calling the film “a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cut-ups in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’”

Time magazine’s Alan Rich called the film “a strange and purposeless mingling of fact and claptrap.” (After the movie took off at the box office, the same magazine ran a cover story on the impact “Bonnie and Clyde” was having on Hollywood, with the tagline “The New Cinema: Violence ... Sex ... Art.) The treatment of violence and the presentation of bank-robbing killers as characters worthy of sympathy disconcerted even sophisticated reviewers like Joseph Morgenstern of Newsweek (now a critic at the Wall Street Journal), who first panned “Bonnie and Clyde” and then retracted that review a week later after giving the movie a second look. Source:

In 1987 Julie Christie would say her decision not to marry Warren Beatty “is certainly not a regret. It’s all been a choice I’ve made for myself.” A close friend of Beatty, production designer Richard Sylbert, remarked: “Warren told me he was dumped in all of his relationships,” partings that were extremely difficult for Beatty, who had always had a tender heart and who confessed his dependency on love: “It was always accompanied by a tremendous amount of separation anxiety and sadness,” Beatty said in his fifties. “Well, I hope it wasn’t as bad on the other side, but it was always bad with me.” Beatty had rejected a screenplay for PT 109, a Warner Brothers film based on President John F. Kennedy’s youthful wartime experiences. 

Kennedy had seen Beatty in Splendor in the Grass, “and he wanted me to play him.” “I remember,” confirmed Senator Edward M. Kennedy, “my brother thought he would be terrific in the part.” Beatty’s rejection of a personal request from the president of the United States caused a minor scandal. According to Beatty and to Kennedy’s press secretary, Pierre Salinger, Beatty told Salinger that the script was badly written, a concern reinforced by a negative meeting he had with Jack Warner and the producer, Bryan Foy. “Jack Warner kicked me off the lot,” recalled Beatty, “because I told Kennedy I didn’t think he should allow the movie to be made. I said I didn’t think it was very good.” Before Warner threw Beatty out, he asked him to fly to Washington to meet the president and reconsider. “I couldn’t say no to the part after I’d already met the President and discussed it with him,” reasoned Beatty, “so I said I wouldn’t fly to Washington. Someone in the office said, ‘Why not fly the President to Hollywood?’”

Without a doubt it was Arthur Penn, and not Warren Beatty, who expressed interest in casting Faye Dunaway for Bonnie. After a meeting at the Plaza, the director asked her to fly to Los Angeles, so she could pass the scrutiny of Beatty and meet the writers. Faye Dunaway would say later that she and Beatty had a “tacit understanding” during filming to remain platonic friends, because “both of us felt that any kind of romance would be distracting.” Although the writers wanted to hint at Clyde's bisexual inclinations, Beatty refused to accept any 'fag' reference, so he would play some impotence scenes instead.

The climactic scene was the “ballet of violence” in which the Barrow gang is ambushed in a slow motion storm of gunshots. According to editor Dede Allen, the scene was intended to evoke the Zapruder footage of President John F. Kennedy’s murder in Dallas, Beatty’s and Penn’s social comment on the increasing violence of the sixties. “Arthur shot the ending like Kennedy’s assassination.” If, as Beatty later was to say, his personal life could be defined as “Before Annette [Bening]” and “With Annette [Bening],” his career would be considered pre–Bonnie and Clyde and post–Bonnie and Clyde, as the historic events of 1967 would demonstrate.  —"Warren Beatty: A Private Man" (2005) by Suzanne Finstad

Warren Beatty met casually Jim Morrison at a party in Santa Monica Canyon held at screenwriter Gavin Lambert's home. Other attendants were Andy Warhol, Tuesday Weld (whom Warhol was dying to meet), Julie Christie, Janis Joplin, Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. Beatty was a big fan of The Doors, especially of their frontman.

Linda Ashcroft offers an intimate memoir of Jim Morrison at the height of his career. This vivid portrait is based on her diaries from the four-year period when she knew Morrison. Wild Child (1999) is a passionate account of what life was like with the legendary Doors singer. Before flying to Paris, Morrison told Linda: "It may have been in bits and pieces, but I gave you the best of me." Linda Ashcroft was 15 and a runaway in San Francisco during the Summer of Love when she encountered Morrison alone in a coffee bar. Over the next four years, until his death in 1971, their relationship deepened and developed. Wild Child is surely too detailed to be a work of the imagination, from her hand-written diaries annotated by Morrison to a tearful meeting with the promoter Bill Graham, who visited her after the singer's death. Not a single photograph of the two of them together can be traced. One is said to have been taken by the actor Dennis Hopper, who spent some time together with the couple in 1969. It was buried somewhere in boxes of Hopper's personal archives. Ashcroft says she is prepared for people to be sceptical. "Jim compartmentalised his life," she offers by way of explanation. Her account does not fall into the category of a star-struck groupie, although it had a sexual dimension. After their first meeting she went home to her parents in the small town of Stockton, about two hours east of San Francisco. Source:

Monday, June 05, 2017

Film Stars Don't Die in Liverspool, Gloria Grahame's revelatory career

My memoir Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, when first published in 1986, attracted exciting interests from the film world. My literary agent, the late Deborah Rogers, gave me some worldly advice, “Please don’t get carried away by the film world. It can go awfully wrong. Just continue to write.” Her words still ring in my ears as, from book to screen, four producers, seven screenplays, and three directors later, mine was a journey down a long and very winding road. The book was first optioned by a Hollywood studio in 1986, but when the studio head was ousted and a new one put in place, the project was dropped. It was then taken up by a British production company who were at the point of having it made but, at the last minute, the project went into free-fall and interest in it waned. It was only when Barbara Broccoli rescued the project from oblivion that things started to look up. Her vision and passion revitalised my enthusiasm towards a film being made but even so, nothing could prepare for the challenges ahead. The film industry was uncertain, financing was hard to get, and it was clear we would need to attract the interest from a Hollywood star to play the central character of Gloria Grahame.

Annette Bening had read my book twenty years earlier and was interested in reading a script. Suddenly all systems were go. In 2014 Paul McGuigan decided it was a film for him. Yet there were more obstacles and challenges. Schedules and availabilities were tricky to match, finances wobbled, and, once again, to me, it seemed it might all fall apart. But Hollywood threw in a happy ending. ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’, starring Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, and Vanessa Redgrave, went into production in June 2016 and is scheduled for release in the autumn of 2017. I’ve now seen an early cut of the film, which I liked, and am looking forward to seeing the final result. Has there been much heartache along the way? Oh yes. I’ve most certainly had to learn to be patient, philosophical, and to try to practice being detached. There are some differences with the film from the book but, surprisingly, not many. Being invited onto the set at Pinewood was overwhelming, and I was so very impressed by the entire film crew and their incredible work. Interest in reading Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool has undoubtedly increased and at the end of the day Barbara Broccoli has delivered the film of my book that she first promised me she’d make. It doesn’t get any better than that. Source:

Directed by BAFTA nominee Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin), FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL is based on the acclaimed memoir by British actor Peter Turner and follows the playful but passionate relationship between Turner (Jamie Bell) and the eccentric Academy Award® winning actress Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening). What starts as a vibrant affair between a legendary femme fatale and her young lover quickly grows into a deeper relationship, with Turner being the one person she allows herself to turn to for comfort and strength. Their passion and lust for life is tested to the limits by events beyond their control. The book focuses on Grahame turning to Turner for support when she reached the terminal stage of cancer in 1981. Peter Turner: "Gloria Grahame won an Oscar for her performance in The Bad and the Beautiful. Gloria worked in films alongside some of Hollywood’s legendary stars; Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, Lana Turner, Joan Crawford; and now, I’ve witnessed her take her rightful place among them. The passing of years has also given me more time to appreciate Gloria the woman herself rather than Gloria the film star, and to realize the privilege I was handed to have journeyed with her through several years of her life. Thinking back on the relationship we shared, I’ve laughed out loud at her knowing sense of humour and sighed at the memory of her blank and immovable stubbornness. And, oh yes indeed, I remember her irresistible vulnerability. But, above all, what has become so apparent to me now, which wasn’t to me then, is how misunderstood Gloria was, and how brave she had been in dealing with the barrage of falsehoods and inaccuracies about her from her turbulent days in Hollywood."

In his book Film Noir: A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference to Movies, Terms and Persons (2006), Michael Stephens opines, "Gloria Grahame's performance as Vicki Buckley is masterful, Human Desire's saving grace. Vicki is the archetypal femme fatale, sadistic and masochistic at once. Grahame spends much of the film lounging around in lingerie, and Lang's camera seems to linger on her like an irresistible erotic angel of death. It is Gloria Grahame's finest performance." Fritz Lang brilliantly uses the train’s inexorable passage and the determinism of the rails that brook no turning back or detour: fate is laid out in hard steel, and the switches and way-lays are beyond the driver’s control – all he can do is slow or speed his progress along – and even then he has a schedule to stick to. Jeff Warren (Glenn Ford), a returning Korean war vet is shown as the driver in fast cuts to the cabin of the speeding locomotive. 

Enter the erotic Gloria Grahame, married to an insanely jealous older man, whom she does not love. But can she love any man? She lies but she doesn’t lie, she tells the truth but not the whole truth, and not all at once. Lang and his cameraman, Burnett Guffey, are unrelenting in their unblinking gaze on the dark underside of modern American life. Lang does not flinch from showing the ugliness and malevolence in a world brightly lit and without visible shadows. 

Francois Truffaut said of Gloria Grahame in 1952 that 'she was the only American actress who was a real person on the screen.' She was also distinctly 'gifted at projecting ambivalence.' In a 2015 article of The New York Village Voice about a retrospective of her films shown at the Lincoln Centre, Graham Fuller wrote that she ‘was one of the greatest actresses of mid-twentieth-century Hollywood’. Gloria Grahame worked for some of the great film directors like Edward Dmytryk, Vincent Minnelli, Frank Capra, Elia Kazan, Fritz Lang, and the impressive list goes on. She made over forty films including It’s a Wonderful Life – in which she played Violet Bick; Crossfire – which she said was her favourite and for which she was nominated for her first Academy Award; A Woman’s Secret, In a Lonely Place, Sudden Fear, The Bad and the Beautiful – for which she won an Academy Award; The Big Heat, Human Desire, Naked Alibi, The Cobweb, Not as a Stranger, and Oklahoma! – which she just hated.

Gloria also hated interviews because she didn't feel worthy of the attention. She loved the acting process but didn't care at all for the celebrity that accompanied it, especially during her fourth marriage, when so much of the attention focused on her was negative. Gloria's mother Jean Grahame opined her daughter could have been as famous as "That nice girl [Marilyn Monroe] who had the affair with the President. Gloria would never apply herself properly. She’d never talk to the columnists. I used to get them on the phone going crazy. “That girl’s going to ruin her career if she won’t talk to me,” they used to say. But Gloria would never talk. She always hated gossip. And she’d never dress herself properly. When we used to go over to Zsa Zsa’s house, her mother would say, “Oh that Gloria. She could make something of herself. If she’d only fix herself up a bit.” But that’s Gloria. She’s impossible. She didn’t even wear a new dress when she won an Oscar! She just threw on a mink. Gloria likes to do things her way.’"

Gloria Grahame is excellent in "Sudden Fear" (1952). If she had not been Oscar-nominated for The Bad and the Beautiful this same year, she almost certainly would have been nominated for Sudden Fear. She is just right playing a woman glamourous and generous on the outside but petty and vindictive inside. Her sensuality makes Irene a formidable challenge to Myra in terms of keeping Lester's attention, and the manner in which she so thinly disguises Irene's baser instincts thrusts the plot forward forcefully. In a magazine feature titled "The Role I Liked Best..." Gloria indicated that Irene was her favorite part. "As Irene Neves, a sort of junior-size Lady Macbeth, I was as changeable as March weather and often twice as nasty." Gloria had always wanted to play Lady Macbeth (and finally did, onstage, in 1979), and used Shakespeare's character as her main motivation.

During the filming of "The Big Heat", Gloria Grahame won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in the previous year’s “The Bad and the Beautiful”. Gloria was so distracted due to Lang’s grueling schedule that she was hardly prepared. When she walked up to the stage to accept her Oscar, she stumbled badly. She said it was due to being blinded by the television lighting, while others said she was obviously drunk. Her make-up and hair were only half done and she was obviously flustered. One of the most repeated stories was that Grahame cared so little for the award that she had given the Oscar to her little boy to play with. She explained that her son had decided the Oscar was a doll and his favorite toy. Another rumor was she carried a suitcase full of “every Technicolour pill you could dream of.” It didn’t take long for Grahame to discover that she’d been blackballed for her uncooperative character. Everyone knew of her behavior on the set of “Oklahoma!”, and despite another Academy Award nomination for her performance as Ado Annie, her career was effectively over. When later asked about having to play the game in Hollywood, she replied, “I don’t know what the game is. I don’t think I ever understood Hollywood.”

Gloria Grahame's third husband, Cy Howard, attempted to gain sole custody of the couple's daughter, Marianna. Howard claimed Grahame was an unfit mother, and the two fought over custody of Marianna for years. The stress of the scandal, her waning career and her custody battle with Howard took its toll on Grahame and she had a nervous breakdown. She later underwent electroshock therapy in 1964. Despite the surrounding scandal, Grahame's marriage to Anthony Ray was her longest lasting union. They would later divorce in May 1974.

Gloria Grahame was one of a kind in Hollywood. She had a terrible way of appearing to be totally absent from anywhere, which is probably the very thing that made her a star in the films; she put a peculiar kind of distance between her and what was happening at the moment. This disengaged quality about her in films is what made her unique. There was a kind of loneliness about Gloria, and in a way, her greatest acting moments were lonely moments. She had a combination of looks, talent and personality that was, and remains, unique. Gloria never became a major star, but even as a "major minor" star, her career is perhaps more fascinating and revelatory than many of the rather homogenous stars that Hollywood produced during the same era. She was an underused and underrated actress even during her prime. She was wrong when she so often claimed that she was unworthy of attention from the media or from fervent fans; Gloria Grahame was, is, and always will be a Hollywood legend.  "Gloria Grahame: Bad Girl of Film Noir"  (2011) by Robert J. Lentz

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Happy Anniversary, Marilyn Monroe!

On August 1, 1962, three days before her death, Marilyn Monroe was rehired by Twentieth Century-Fox to complete shooting on Something’s Got to Give and signed a one-million-dollar, two-picture deal. Just over three decades later, in July 1993, her stand-in, Evelyn Moriarty, told Richard Buskin, “There’s no way she killed herself. I spoke with her the Wednesday before she died and she was so excited about going back to work. She told me they’d be shooting Dean Martin’s close-ups first and then placing Dean for her close-ups—she was really up. She had to finish this picture at Fox because she was going to film I Love Louisa at United Artists with Frank Sinatra, produced by her publicist Arthur Jacobs. She also talked about having three pictures to do in Europe; two of them with Brigitte Bardot. It was all ‘We’re going to do this’ and ‘We’re going to do that’—she had battled the studio, she had won, and she was really looking forward to all of those projects.” George Erengis, a Twentieth Century-Fox security guard, relayed to Richard Buskin, “On the Monday following her death, I went into Marilyn’s dressing room on the Fox lot and it had been cleared out. Nothing, not a trace of her had been left. I was shocked. She had earned that studio a fortune but they didn’t waste any time trying to erase her memory.”

Debbie Reynolds relayed to Britain’s Daily Express newspaper how she told Marilyn to watch herself when dating the Kennedy brothers: “I saw her two days before she died and warned her to be careful. I believe she was murdered because too many people were afraid the truth would come out.” In an earlier interview, Reynolds remembered, “Her life was very sad. And the ending was very sad indeed. And those of us who knew Marilyn, always were kind of dreaming for that great white knight to arrive and really love her and not take advantage of her.” Joe DiMaggio was that great white knight. As for Marilyn’s second marriage on January 14, 1954, former FBI agent Monte Hall revealed to Jay Margolis, “I was at the wedding. Marilyn was married by a judge in a San Francisco courthouse. I happened to be there at the time. I knew Joe quite well. A lot of us in the San Francisco office knew Joe DiMaggio.” Morris Engelberg was one of DiMaggio’s best friends and the executor of his estate. According to Engelberg, “Joe DiMaggio was in love with Marilyn Monroe until the moment he died . . . ‘I’ll finally get to see Marilyn,’ were his last words. He ached at the thought of how close they had come to remarrying. The date of their second marriage was set: August 8, 1962.” Marilyn’s house was being bugged by everyone—Jimmy Hoffa, the FBI, the Mafia, even Twentieth Century-Fox. Jimmy Hoffa wanted to gather information on Monroe and the Kennedys for personal use; the FBI wanted to ascertain what Marilyn knew about Frank Sinatra’s connections to the Mafia; the Mafia was curious as to what she knew about the FBI. As for Twentieth Century-Fox—her former studio who knows what they wanted? Best friend and occasional lover, Frank Sinatra, was more than a little suspicious after learning a crucial detail from the autopsy. Sinatra’s valet, George Jacobs, stated, “When the cops said it was an overdose, he had no doubt about it, nor did I. It was only later when the autopsy revealed no residue of pills in her system that we got curious. Mr. S began to suspect Lawford and his brothers-in-law of possible foul play.” Pat Newcomb countered to biographer Donald Spoto, “There’s no way they could’ve done this. I resent it so much. I’d like to see Bobby exonerated from this. He would never do it. He wouldn’t hurt her. He was in San Francisco.” Former Police Chief Daryl F. Gates conceded: “The truth is, we knew Robert Kennedy was in town on August 4. He was the Attorney General, so we were interested in him, the same way we were interested when other important figures came to Los Angeles.”

On Marilyn and Bobby, Gates continued, “My feelings were that she was emotional over many things; a relationship gone sour would be just one of many problems she had.” Michael Selsman, a twenty-four-year-old press agent in 1962, held a job alongside Pat Newcomb within the Arthur P. Jacobs Company. Selsman relayed to biographer Jay Margolis, “After Marilyn died, I worked at Fox and Paramount as an executive. I’m from New York. Back in the sixties, I knew of [Marilyn’s acting coaches] the Strasbergs, and knew their daughter Susan. The Strasbergs were horrible people, and Susan was, in my mind, destroyed by her mother. The parents were attention-seekers, users, preyed on weak-minded actors, and never came up with anything original. They copied Stanislavski and feasted on the notoriety of the few successful actors that happened to come up in New York at that time. There were thousands more who never amounted to anything. Those who can act, act. Those who can’t, they become coaches.” 

Describing what it was like working with Marilyn day-to-day, Selsman relayed, “It was strictly business. All actors are shy and lonely people. That’s why they are actors . . . Marilyn’s concerns in the office were mainly about interviews and photo sessions. Pat was her main contact, so whatever she thought was threatening was discussed in private with Pat and sometimes Arthur . . . It was part of my job to be at the funeral. I attempted to coordinate with the reporters, photographers from around the world, and the press agents from Fox. It was a circus.” When told that many now agree Bobby Kennedy was in Los Angeles on August 4 before Marilyn died and after she died, Mrs. Dean Martin said, “I don’t care where he was. He didn’t kill Marilyn. Bobby Kennedy would not kill anybody. He would kill somebody? It’s impossible. It’s such yellow journalism.” —"The Murder of Marilyn Monroe" (2014) by  Jay Margolis and Richard Buskin

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Summer with Jim Morrison", "Last Summer"

Jim Morrison, the starving boy from Venice Beach, the rock god, became something else, a male Norma-Jean. He belonged to the Romantics: Coleridge, Wordsworth, Goethe, Chopin, Liszt... Jim Morrison was one of those. He struck me as being, unlike his fellow students at the Film School, a basically serious character. Morrison, lacking much money, was an accomplished book thief. In my first conversation with him, the talk turned to Metempsychosis and its central axiom: that all thought is remembrance–Jim used the word anamnesis–a recollection of what was in the mind. “Translation is something women are real good at. Everything will come out in English sometime. One day the truth will come out and it will all be in English. And it will all be translated by women,” said Morrison. The next time I saw him he wasn't lugging library books into the stacks. He was sitting quietly with his girlfriend Mary Werbelow in one of the Film School screening rooms: Bungalow 3-K7. This class was conducted by a character named Brocow, who achieved eternal fame by inventing a little metal rod for an editing machine called the Moviola. 

There was also the tall, gaunt figure of a man named Arthur Dewitt Ripley: This was the man whom Andrew Sarris once called “One of the most bizarre and mysterious silhouettes in the American cinema.” Ripley had directed the cult film noir The Chase (1946) and died before Jim had a chance to meet him. So Jim asked me about him. Ripley was a man of great emotion and great personal beliefs. And while he had witnessed great disappointment and tragedy in his own life, he never betrayed the slightest cynicism or despair toward any of his students. He believed that the Motion Picture was an Art that could be ranked with the highest examples of any other form. “Ripley once discoursed on the idea of actually achieving a double retrospect. You can see it used in John Brahm's The Locket (a 1946 film noir). Ripley himself used the retrospect device in A Voice In The Wind.” “What was A Voice In The Wind all about?” Jim inquired. "Maybe one of the greatest dark films ever made," I answered. Jim said: “I would like to have talked to this man.” Jim gave me an old copy of Film Culture, the issue that contained Andrew Sarris' first notes on the Auteur theory. I found that Sarris said it was impossible to overlook Ripley. Which he promptly did in his book The American Cinema, 1928-1968. I never forgave him.

I had seen Anatahan (1953), and this film gave me the first clue to what others later divined about Jim. What some said was his incredible dependence on women. Anatahan was Josef Von Sternberg's last film, with a rewarding sequence: men making advances on the one sole woman left on their island, and the look of ecstasy on her face—that single sequence that had so impressed Jim. I had, at that point, a small room in Venice, California, right above the Kickapoo Logan Company. It was half a block from the beach. The rent was thirty-five dollars a month, a sum impossible to imagine in today's inflationary times. “Hell, you can sleep on the roof," I said to Jim. His girlfriend Mary had abandoned him for professional dancing, and he moved in with me without a single coin to his name. 

Venice Beach was not like it is today. Back then, it was a place, caught in a time warp. In those days, the air was warm and delicious, with a cool sea breeze that came directly from the beach into the room. It was a slow time, unhurried, leisurely. In those days we had time for anything. Not like today, when life is full-speed ahead, hurtling all of us and everything else towards whatever the hell? The food cost just $20 each month for both! According to, in 1960 70% of families were single income households and the minimum wage was $1/ $8.35 today. Median family income was $5,620/ $46,927 today and the average income was $6,691, or $55,839.93 today. The federal minimum wage is today $7.25, whereas the median family income is $29,930.13 and the average family income is $46,119.78

Sitting in my room Jim Morrison pondered his career options: “Either I write lyrics for Rock and Roll songs,” he said, “or I write cheap paperback novels, like westerns about Billy the Kid.” I said I had written a four hundred page novel about an archaeologist dying slowly by the ruins of the largest colonial mansion in America. It got me Third Place in the Samuel Goldwyn contest. I had worked as a film assistant for Roger Corman too. Jim had been without a method, just drifting. Now he had a method: the concept of a trajectory toward a certain way of life that almost corresponded to Jim's notion of male sexuality: a long, slow, rhythmic development, then a sharp peak upward. Finally, a sudden and abrupt descent. One day he just packed himself up with the clothes on his back and a new notebook in which he had been writing the poetry that later would become the incendiary lyrics of The Doors' songs. He bumped into Ray and Dorothy Manzarek on the Venice West boardwalk. I saw Jim change. I thought he was much more interesting before he was a Rock Starthe exact moment when he signed his contract with Elektra Records became the beginning of his downgoing. When Jim introduced me to Pamela, they were both living up in Laurel Canyon, near the Market. It was a wooden house stuck up against the mountain side. I remember, when Pam answered the door, seeing Jim propped in an easy chair focusing on a book, they struck me as suited to one another. It was quiet, up there in the canyon. You could hear the hum of insects. It was like something out of a Raymond Chandler novel. Chandler had written in The Long Goodbye (1953): "There is no trap so deadly as the one you set for yourself." I thought if Jim could actually escape that trap. I remembered one time when the three of us, Jim, Pam and myself, were in a car and she put her head on my shoulder. Was this just an unconscious gesture of friendship or was it to inspire a jealous Morrison response? Jim remained inscrutable—but he probably was jealous as hell. Jim, having grown up in the Fifties, was an adept of mystery novels and pulp magazines.      

Herbert Gans, who wrote the masterful sociological study The Levittowners (1965), lived in Levittown, N.J. to conduct his research. His account of early suburbanites as generally content with their lot, differs starkly from the critiques of popular writers. Not only did Gans reject those critiques, he came to the opposite conclusion: "that suburban life has produced more family cohesion and a significant boost in morale through the reduction of boredom and loneliness." Gans was quite cutting about intellectuals who condemned suburbia’s "little boxes" and mocked their inhabitants as feeble. Even Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique (1963) she described housewives feeling cooped up in city apartments and suburban ranches alike, and saw the birth of the suburbs as, in fact, "a limitless challenge to the energy of educated American women," with abundant opportunities for civic innovation and leadership—which women too often rejected to focus on the family. Despite the urban hype, the share of Americans living in urban neighborhoods actually dropped from 2000 to 2014. 

Jim Morrison, believer in the consolidation of the matriarchy system in America, distanced himself from the archetypal male-centric writer that Jack Kerouac had represented. Kerouac had written his opus On the Road in April 1951, and when he was done his second wife Joan Haverty tossed him out of their New York City apartment for being a bum and a bore. Kerouac's relationships with women were mercurial; as Dennis McNally put it: "One of the central myths of Jack's life was of Dostoevsky's wife and her unflagging support of her husband, of the duty of the untalented to support the creative artist." Kerouac saw no reason to question his chauvinist attitudes towards his women. They were there to fuck him, feed him, fawn over him, and then hopefully fade into the background. Unfortunately, few modern girls could put up with this for more than a few months, which shows just how far the women of the Fifties were from Madame Dostoevsky; the juices of feminism were starting to simmer.

“Nietzsche is one man who has never disappointed me,” Jim said. “Women aren't fools, though. Nietzsche said once they are the loveliest swans in the world.” Jim understood clearly that the Apollonian principle was Aristocratic, a dream realm. And the Dionysian was the Democratic principle, the state of intoxication. He just laughed at Philosophy Professors who wrote about Nietzsche. Like Walter Kaufman's chapter of his Nietzsche, Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, about “Nietzsche's admiration for Socrates.” “It's nothing but a lie,” Jim said. “It's not true.” I waited. “That lousy Sophist,” Jim declared. “What an old ugly pederast. Socrates lurking in Greek law courts so he could pick up enough gift of gab to con innocent young men into the sack! They should have killed that fucker decades before the hemlock.” Jim wasn't fooled by Kaufman. “He taught Plato a skeptical philosophy and utterly ruined him. Why? Because Socrates wanted to kill off the Greek religion – another Sophistry – a lawyer's rhetoric. And what happened? That poor bastard Plato takes a trip to Egypt. Ever read The Egyptian Book Of The Dead? It's nothing but a primitive form of the ‘allegory of the cave’, i.e. the love of the dead. Pure nihilism! These philosophy teachers – they can get rid of ‘God’, but they can’t get rid of Socrates? Why, it’s ridiculous.” Jim often favored the German culture over England's. “I never knew an Englishman I didn't despise," he said, "or an Englishwoman I didn't love.” He thought the class structure and behaviourism had ruined England: “It's a shopkeeper’s mentality. Survival at any price.” Jim exempted the Irish, the Scotch, and the Welsh.

“Numbers are a hallucination,” Jim sniffed. “Some dude used algebra to prove that nobody could fly. The truth will come out some day about these fucking Pythagoreans.” “Then, what is the truth?” I asked. He was silent a long moment. “Man, it's Pound’s economics that’s going to insure his place in American history.” He could be pretty funny at times. “How do you figure that one, Jim?” He smirked. “Well, in fifty-sixty years this whole set-up is going to collapse.” “You really think so?” “Everybody's gonna lose their money to a bunch of crooked politicians and white-collar criminals. You'll see. And then these guys, let’s call them economists, they're all gonna say finally, ‘Well, Pound was right!’ And Social Credit will come in." “Well Jim, ya’know Pound was in the nuthouse at Saint Elizabeth's hospital for twelve years.” “So what?” “Well, there’s this charge of Treason.” He cocked his head and gave me a sharp glance. “No.” Pound's transcripts had been censored. “Well, they're all in the Library of Congress. The OSS made wire recordings and the transcriptions are in the Library of Congress. I went up there from Arlington, one time, and read them.” “You did?” “Sure. And what the fools don't realize is that Pound is a hero and should’ve been given the Congressional Medal of Honor!” "How do you figure that?" “It's all in code! The broadcasts! It's in cypher! You just gotta know how to figure it out. He was broadcasting troop movements and such over the radio. Pound was a spy for the government and he oughta be decorated." He concluded, “Everybody else thinks you’re a communist or whatever. Actually, you're a patriot.” “Well, who contacted Pound?” “Roosevelt.” Silence. “Just read Ezra’s Selected Poems”. “So Pound was doomed – unless he played ball with the Government. Of course, he could have stayed right here in America, but that's what makes him such a hero. He had guts, alright. He took the packet and went over there and made the broadcasts according to code.” “Well, why didn't all this come out at the trial?” “Because, by 1946, when the troops arrested Pound, Roosevelt was dead, and Truman didn't know anything about it." And there he had me. “Well, why didn't Pound say anything after they put him in the nut house, Jim?” “Because the U.S. Military put him in that cage in Pisa and he got sunstroke and went bonkers. Maybe later on he realized this was a case of state security. It's as plain as day.” Those broadcasts did get published and I have a copy and from time to time I try to find the cypher.

“Orson Welles... could he have directed a film about Billy the Kid?” I asked Jim. “Welles directed a film called Touch Of Evil. And that’s one of the best American films ever made,” Jim said: “The amazing part about being an American are the endless possibilities. The idea of the frontier, though closed, has entered the national consciousness and cannot easily be erased.” “Ralph Waldo Emerson is our greatest thinker,” Jim said another day. “Read that essay called The Over-Soul. That’s a good one.” "How does it go, Jim?" And again, I was treated to a bit of his phenomenal memory: “Man is a stream whose source is hidden. Our being is descending into us from we know not whence. The most exact calculator has no prescience that somewhat incalculable may not balk the very next moment. As with events, so is it with thoughts. When I watch that flowing river, which, out of regions I see not, pours for a season its streams into me, I see that I am but a surprised spectator of this ethereal water; that I desire and look up and put myself in the attitude of reception, but from some alien energy the visions come.” He was the young Nietzsche’s favorite American philosopher. It's not really surprising that Jim knew Emerson by heart.

Jim Morrison could be oddly patriotic. “Dostoyevsky said, the Russian hates freedom. Those fuckers wouldn't know what to make of it. Like a primitive man under an open sky gone crazy from the light. The Politician, one of the two examples of the ‘secular Priest’, becomes the consummate actor of our day,” Jim said. “What's the other example?” “The Psychiatrist. According to Freud, the future of illusion needed secularization.” I said: “Your Mr. Pound said that Rome was destroyed by its Rhetoriticians.” “The Rhetoriticians took over when the Romans lost their Poets. Rhetoric is just another word for politics,” said Jim: “Politicians are too shrewd to be neurotic, by and large. Greed so wonderfully concentrates a man’s mind.” All this while the Vietnam War was raging. —"Summer with Morrison: The Early Life and Times of James Douglas Morrison, A Memoir" (2011) by Dennis C. Jakob

Last Summer (1969) directed by Frank Perry was one of a handful of counter-culture movies that were released in 1969 along with Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, Haskell Wexler's docudrama Medium Cool and experimental film HWY: An American Pastoral (by Jim Morrison, Frank Lisciandro & Paul Ferrara). Last Summer is adolescence viewed through a doggedly nihilistic prism, being at its heart an existential parable on authenticity, dread, and the concept of morality as a choice, conveying the darker aspects of American disillusionment in the late '60s. The story's dominant figure is Sandy (Barbara Hershey), a pretty girl who claims to possess a high IQ. Two boys wander into her life: Peter and Dan, when Sandy has rescued a wounded bird that will die if they don't remove the fishhook stuck in its throat. Last Summer's screenplay by Eleanor Perry is based on an eponymous novel by Evan Hunter, whose writing credits appeared in the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's classic The Birds (1963). Time magazine reviewed the film as an "enormous debt to J.D. Salinger," adding that Burns's performance as a quintessential outsider was "exactly the kind of kid Holden Caulfield wanted to catch in the rye." New York Times critic Vincent Canby called the screenplay "tough and laconic." Source:

There was a continual stream of enigmatic secrecy which both Jim and Pam fostered. The same applied to their domestic lives together. True, we as the public would hear about the rows, the fights, the outrageous behaviour, but was this part of ‘the act’ part of the Jim and Pam show? Jim needed trusted friends and Babe Hill, who had been a construction worker, was one of his closest ones. Jim Morrison hated Pam taking heroin, verified by Tony Funches, his bodyguard. As Pam often said, alcohol was Jim's favourite drug. He didn’t mind cocaine or an assortment of pills, but heroin was a no go for him. Paris was awash with it in the summer of 1971. The city had become the central trading point for the white stuff and the cut percentage on the street was unusually pure– somewhere in the region of 86% pure. Pam liked to be on the edge as much as Morrison did. She was no shrinking violet. The demure Pamela Courson was in reality a human firecracker. Even Morrison said she was the cat to his mouse. Perhaps the fact that she simply did not do what Jim wanted was the kind of response he needed. For years men had wanted to be Morrison and girls wanted him between their legs. Pamela’s great power was that she could stand up to him. Whatever her hold was, it was extremely strong, that old chestnut of a reason: love. Morrison may well have slept with other women and betrayed Pam’s trust, but he also loved her. Together they had starved in Los Angeles, often walking back at night from The Doors gigs because Jim had spent his share on booze. When the first real pay cheque had come in, it was Pam with whom he had shared the Chinese feast. Every other girl lusted after Morrison the idol, the sex god, the pathfinder. Pam, however, got to see all the weaknesses, all the insecurity. Pam stated that they did not have sex on his final night. Actually she said they didn’t have sexual intercourse – they could have indulged in some sexual activity and then Morrison, having taken heroin as opposed to cocaine, became too lethargic to continue. —"Mr. Mojo Risin' ain't dead" (2011) by Ron Clooney

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Lost Opportunity: John F. Kennedy, Jim Morrison

This Monday John F. Kennedy would have turned 100, and it has taken nearly this long to develop a full picture of his presidency: The more we learn about it, the more impressive he becomes. Much of the biographical work until recently has been filling in the gaps created by censors—JFK had a taping system installed in the White House a decade before Nixon, and these recordings have only been fully opened since late 2012. Unlike the technophobic Nixon, whose taping system would turn on at the literal drop of a hat, Kennedy’s was controlled by a button usually pressed by him alone. John F. Kennedy was not only far less hawkish than his public rhetoric, he was far less hawkish than the American people. He was certainly anti-communist, and mistrusted pro-Kremlin revolutionaries, but he believed, as he would reveal publicly in his American University address in June 1963, that Americans had an irrational fear of Russians and that both peoples shared an aversion to nuclear war. At the same time, the president’s brother underscored that an arms-control agreement would only come if the Soviets stopped underestimating U.S. power and causing trouble in divided Berlin and Southeast Asia. The Kennedys also refused to soften their hard line on Fidel Castro or even discuss it with Moscow. “Cuba is a dead issue,” explained RFK. Some of this was na├»ve—Khrushchev did not want an arms-control agreement as much as Kennedy did and was suspicious of the president’s gesture—and all of it was politically dangerous at home for JFK. Had these secret discussions ever become public, RFK, let alone his brother, might well have been charged with being pro-Soviet. In retrospect, these risks were worth taking at the height of the Cold War. The Kennedys’ secret meetings certainly helped to make an accidental war less likely. 

JFK sought liberal outcomes while abhorring instability and uncertainty. But, in the end, he could and would take risks, avoided nuclear holocaust during the Cuban missile crisis and negotiated a partial nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviet Union. He took office with a muscular promise that the United States would “pay any price, bear any burden” in the battle for freedom. But five months before his death, he became a prophet of what would be called detente, describing peace as “the necessary, rational end of rational men.” All these years later, we share a collective sense of an unfinished era, an unfulfilled promise and a lost opportunity. One of Kennedy’s most admirable traits was his talent for maintaining a critical distance from himself and who he became. Theodore Sorensen noted in 1965 that JFK was “a constant critic” of his own myth. In the 1960s, we know now, a president and his closest adviser took creative and audacious steps to make the world a safer place. Happy 100th birthday, JFK. Source:

Between the late 1950s and the early 1960s Jim Morrison preferred to cut school and visit beatnik hangouts in San Francisco. Two significant events had shaken America. First the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the earth. This sensational event provoked spasms of American self-doubt and recriminations about being beaten into space by the Russians. It began the so-called missile gap debate that later helped put John Kennedy in the White House. In the summer of 1960, something in Jim Morrison changed. Classmates remembered he seemed to undergo a change of personality. He appeared depressed and angry, and neglected his studies. Morrison wrote in a notebook that he was both a fool and the smartest kid in class. Apparently he took no interest in the November presidential election—hotly debated in his politically conservative school—in which John Kennedy beat Richard Nixon. Kennedy’s death occupied a dark corner of the Morrison psyche, making frequent appearances in notebooks and later lyrics. “Dead president’s corpse in the driver’s car” is one of the keystone images from both 'Celebration of the Lizard' and the song excerpted from this long poem, “Not to Touch the Earth.” On the same notebook page on which Morrison recorded the Kennedy assassination, he wrote the name of Aldous Huxley. Huxley had died at his home in Los Angeles on the same day Jack Kennedy was murdered. We as a nation have never fully recovered from the psychological disarray resulting from the JFK assassination in 1963. Oliver Stone's "JFK" reprised the circumstances and complexities behind that historic and fateful day: the exact moment when the bullet struck the President's head, that precise instant when an entire civilization was forever changed. Kennedy's death established a milestone that American society had reached unknowingly. It became more significant the further away in time we got historically from that event. The assassination was a huge tragedy that created an inability for the nation to find firm footing after it had been knocked off balance.

Ray Manzarek saw in Jim Morrison political potential. Although Morrison was essentially a lonely and tortured rebel, he was likable and engaging in all kinds of conversation. Leonard Pitts, Jr., a columnist for “The Miami Herald,” wrote: "Whatever you think of the 60's one thing is undeniable: They tore us apart, ripped American society to pieces and threw those pieces in the air so they rained down like confetti, falling into new configurations, nothing where it used to be. It was an angry time—Fifty years later we are still angry, still sifting through confetti pieces, trying to find a way to make them whole.” The events of the 1960's set up the impulse toward “psychic disintegration” we are now encountering. Morrison saw what was happening to our souls as a society and reported as a witness to "the vultures descending on the scene for curious America aplomb," a nation possessed and frozen in time. JFK and Jim Morrison seemingly had in common health ailments and a sex addiction, but whereas the President had multiple liaisons with Hollywood stars (Gene Tierney, Marilyn Monroe, June Allyson, Arlene Dahl) Jimbo juggled female journalists and groupies.

It was against the backdrop of these tumultuous days that Morrison wrote “Peace Frog,” with innovative guitar sounds by Robby Krieger. For Morrison it was a song not only of isolation but a complete rejection of what America had become that suggested an inevitable and violent end. He unconsciously intimated mayhem in America that would become epidemic. In the song’s opening line there is a chorus chanted in counterpoint by Morrison. “She came” is the chorus that parallels and follows Morrison's opening warning, “There's blood in the streets, it's up to my ankles.”  “She came,” has a dual meaning.  It is an easy reference to sexual climax. But the phrase also refers to a line in the first break, “Just about the break of day, she came, and then she drove away, sunlight in her hair.” The sunshine in her hair is a brilliant image that might be just Pamela Courson. She is a fleeting, unreachable image, she leaves the city, and she remains beyond us, unobtainable, the queen of the highway, waiting for us on the edge of town, beckoning to us. “Blood screams her brain as they chop off her fingers,” which speaks of the social insurrection Morrison possibly foresaw in a destructive break-up and dismemberment of the city.

I never saw Jim make a homosexual advance towards anyone. As for Jim's wife Pam, she was straight too. She once mentioned that two of her girlfriends had come together in a Lesbian experience. But she completely rejected that kind of experience. Pam, underage, had been convicted of driving under the influence and remanded to the custody of Juvenile Hall. One night, she and another girl resolved to escape by climbing into the ventilator shafts: she was still bitter about the law and all it had tried to do to her. Once Pam and I left Jim and Mary Werbelow alone for awhile and Pam said something I will never forget: “I feel sorry for Mary.” I knew it meant she was not threatened by the emergence of Mary. That something had long been settled between her and Jim. A relationship deeper than either one of them had ever had before. I’d begun to suspect that something had been settled between the two of them – unbreakable except by death itself. Nietzsche once said: 'In the end what a woman wants is a warrior'. Perhaps the women who gravitated toward Jim Morrison were attracted to this quality. Morrison felt that women had a greater future perhaps than most men would have. Most men were concerned with the accumulation of empty numbers. Morrison was the contemplative type, hardly the freak that popular consumption would have us believe. He was Apollonian in his life, Dionysian on stage. He aimed at the heart of American Democracy. He believed in it. —"Summer with Morrison: The Early Life and Times of James Douglas Morrison, A Memoir" (2011) by Dennis C. Jakob and "Some Are Born to Endless Night: Jim Morrison, Visions of Apocalypse and Transcendence" (2011) by Gerry Kirstein

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Twin Peaks' Mystery, David Bowie, Jim Morrison

Laura Palmer's murder is the case that sets off Twin Peaks and which brings Dale Cooper to the sleepy town drenched in mystery. Laura's soul still appears to be trapped in the Black Lodge, along with Cooper's. When we return to the Red Room, Laura Palmer sits in a chair opposite Agent Cooper. The Man from Another Place claps his hands, turns around, and says “Let’s rock.” He goes on to say many cryptic things, including, of Laura, “She’s filled with secrets.” Music begins to play— Badalamenti’s “Dance of the Dream Man”—while a strobe light flashes. Laura walks to Agent Cooper, kisses him on the lips, and whispers into his ear. Martha Nochimson links the strangeness of language in the Red Room with the pervasive sexual imagery: 'These comic sexual images involve speech that is materially distorted and gesture that is untranslatable into logos. In seeking knowledge, Cooper must immerse himself in plasticity, in tension—that is, in the tension between the masculine and the feminine.' Laura is so many women at once that whatever original subjectivity existed has disappeared, destroyed by the expectations placed upon her by the small town as the object-cause of their desire. In truth, there is no a real Laura—there is merely the homecoming queen and the mysterious woman in the Black Lodge. Laura has lost herself; as Todd McGowan states in The Impossible David Lynch (2007), “Her subjectivity is an emptiness that remains irreducible to any identity.” —"Dark Reflections: Fantasy and Duality in the work of David Lynch" (2014) by Nolan Boyd

Could David Bowie appear in the 'Twin Peaks' reboot? Anything is possible in a David Lynch production. A new article speculates on the admittedly unlikely possibility that David Bowie will appear in an upcoming episode of Showtime‘s Twin Peaks: The Return, a sequel to Lynch’s cult television series. Bowie had a small part in 1992’s prequel movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, as FBI agent Philip Jeffries. Despite the brevity of his time on-screen, Mashable notes that Jeffries has been mentioned on two of the four episodes of the new series that have aired to date, with intimations that the character could still be alive. In one scene towards the end of the second episode, Bob Cooper believes he’s talking to Jeffries, although his voice is distinctly different from the Southern accent Bowie used in Fire Walk With Me. The article notes that Lynch filmed the series between September 2015 and April 2016, putting Bowie’s January 2016 death in the middle of that timeframe. Actor Harry Goaz, who plays Deputy Andy Brennan, revealed last year that Bowie had been scheduled to spend a day on the set, but canceled it for an unknown reason. The author suggests that it’s possible that Bowie was too busy completing Blackstar and returned at another time to film his part. Source:

Angie Bowie: ‘I didn’t care about David’s lovers as long as they realised I was the queen.’ Angie, just 19 when she first met David Bowie, got close to him after recognising his potential while she was working for Mercury Records. She was charmed despite knowing that he had cheated on former love Hermione Farthingale, the inspiration for Life on Mars, with Mary Finnigan. Angie says: 'We met when David was pretty much just starting out. I already knew he was a dirty dog because there had been Hermione and Mary and I’d only been around him a month or two.' Angie claimed she was caught up in a rock ’n’ roll love tangle when Mick Jagger tried to bed her. She said the Rolling Stones star, then sleeping with her pal Dana Gillespie, tried to seduce her at a hotel. His alleged failed bid was an attempt to pay back David for sleeping with Mick’s then-wife, Bianca Jagger. Angie says “I wasn’t particularly impressed or interested. I had one job and that was David.” Their marriage began to deteriorate after Bowie, who had dabbled with acid and smack, became hooked on cocaine. “I really didn’t care about anyone getting in my face with David as long as they realised I was the queen,” she says. “I thought, ‘Sure, flirt, do your thing. But guess what? I’m the queen bee, baby!’ I will remember David now as a passionate talent. The two of us, we set out to change the world with his music. And that’s what we did. ”  Source:

I see dissociation as the defining characteristic of our culture, a direction we've been heading in for the last few decades since the end of the 1960s. I am naming that we are living in the Age of Dissociation. The 1960s represented the greatest collective movement for love to save the world, the greatest collective effort for love to prevail—for association to prevail. That experiment failed spectacularly in its day, at least in terms of bringing forth a world based on basic similarity and connection among all members of the human family. Perhaps it was premature, a wishful fantasy, whose day has not yet come? That experiment was a reaction to the fear of the 1950s and early 60s, a fear we could imagine, especially in the more immediate aftermath of WWII, the Holocaust, and the psychically overwhelming actual use of nuclear weapons to attack Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Viewed from a collective perspective, these events were an attack by humanity on itself, a suicidal gesture of previously unseen proportions. Source:

As Jim Morrison’s political leanings toward the Living Theatre indicate, his philosophy was not necessarily incompatible with notions of the beneficial role of the state in society. In the 1960s both tended to be connected. “Rock is Dead” describes how Morrison’s childhood was transformed by rock music : “I used to be a boy in my home block / Used to feel alone then I heard some news / Bunch of cats got the rocking news / You know I love my rock n’ roll people.” Morrison was not able to cope with the apathy of his audience—it seems as if his attempts to “wake” them up from their collective submission did indeed fail.  Around December 1969 Morrison told friends he was having a “nervous breakdown.” Culture was about to become ideologically idle in the next decades. Morrison in the poem “Latino Chrome” equates his sexuality with a union of forces—the act of combining his male perspective with feminine instinct and knowledge: What Morrison could have thought of as a female weakness is converted into a positive image, a celebration of humanity. There is a clear case in these lines: “Are you her / Do you look like that / How could you be when / No one ever could”. This is a “woman as muse” concept—sexuality reflecting a desire for perfection, in a sense of an “answer instead of a way.” Jim Morrison liked to cite Nietzsche's quote: "All great things must first wear monstrous and terrifying masks in order to inscribe themselves on the hearts of humanity." —"A Theatre of Perception: The Doors and The Sixties" (2016) by Mark Vanstone 

Jim Morrison, a film school poet, could be all things to all people, like Marilyn Monroe, but how can an actor stay in character if he’s not actually Jim? Casting anyone to play Jim was just totally ridiculous to me. Oliver Stone was so uncool he voluntarily went to Vietnam instead of prowling around the Sunset Strip with the rest of his generation. Stone was such a nerd he became a soldier, a Real Man. He didn’t understand that in the 60’s real men were not soldiers. Stone’s heroes always wind up as victims, no matter how sleazy they are. Stone was asking everyone in connection with The Doors if Jim Morrison was impotent, and it makes you think Oliver Stone didn’t know much about Jim’s main disease. You’d think he’d at least read up on the symptoms that show up in a person who takes depressants as a cure for depression. Taking Seconal and Tuinal and drinking brandy will bring your sex life to a grinding halt. After his death in Paris, I began running into women who kept Jim alive–as did I–because something about him began seeming great compared to everything else that was going on. Eve Babitz for Esquire Magazine (March, 1991)