WEIRDLAND

Friday, February 24, 2017

Uncommon Rockers: Jim Morrison & Lou Reed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 20, 2017

Kurt Cobain's 50th Anniversary, Jim Morrison


This past weekend, on the Reelz series Autopsy: The Last Hours of Kurt Cobain, expert coroner and forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Hunter discussed the medical evidence surrounding the suicide of Cobain 23 years ago. Shortly before Cobain’s death, “his heroin use increased,” Hunter said. “He was using about $400 worth of heroin every day. And that’s $700 in today’s prices.”

Cobain reportedly turned to heroin during his teens, as a painkiller to help him get over a bad back and bad stomach. But as the years went on, his addiction grew out of control, and towards the end, friends were very worried about him. “This is an enormous amount of heroin to take on a daily basis,” said Hunter. “Those that were close to him realized that if they didn’t do something, Kurt was going to die.” The television special featured a graphic recreation of the bloody crime scene of Cobain’s suicide. Source: www.alternativenation.net

Jim Morrison, in all his confusion and self-contradiction —reclusive poet, leather-clad sex god, reluctant celebrity, abusive drunk— remains the conscious or unconscious model for many rock stars who came later, embodying the Dionysian macho-rebel spirit of late-’60s white (male) American youth with psilocybin intensity. Despite the film getting canceled before completion, Feast of Friends is a rare treat for devoted fans. Jim Morrison had the movie star looks, the magnetic charisma, the incredible showmanship, the songs and poems that marked him for the annals of history. Jim Morrison embraced the Jesus complex. The Doors' drummer John Densmore suggested in 1977 he felt that Morrison was the one who stopped the Vietnam war. For a couple of years, Morrison was the best act in American show business. And the best thing about it: It wasn't an act. Source: doblu.com


Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison were more than songwriters, singers and leads of great bands. They were also poets and took a critical posture among previously complacent mainstream scenes. Both experienced hardships in their lives, even as far back as childhood, and became spokespersons of their respective generations. Kurt was very damaged from his parents divorce. Jim Morrison grew up in a military family and was allegedly molested. Kurt and Jim were both addicted to drugs and alcohol. Jim said that he went through a period when he drank because there was a lot of pressure put on him and he couldn't cope. Deep down Kurt knew drugs were bad. He said that "Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect." Suddenly Kurt and Jim became icons which everyone wanted them to uphold. But they couldn't live with their public images any longer. Both were maniac-depressive and used bitter-tinged witticisms: “We have fun, the cops have fun, the kids have fun. It’s a weird triangle,” said Morrison. "They laugh at me because I'm different; I laugh at them because they're all the same," said Cobain. 

Kurt was breaking down. He "genuinely hated the success because he realized, with horror when he reached it, that it involved being an image other people wanted, no longer what he wanted." Jim was also tormented because he felt could no longer live up to the mythology he himself had helped create. Because Jim Morrison didn't want to be a rockstar. Jim Morrison wanted to be a poet." Kurt Cobain was straight: "I am not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes." Jim Morrison was also straight but way more experienced than Cobain, having been succesful during the 60's free love era. Before enrolling at UCLA, Morrison attended Florida State University in Tallahassee. At FSU, in 1962, Jim studied art and psychology. In an interview with American Legends, Gerry McClain remembers his fellow FSU student, Jim Morrison, remarking: "Jim was straight. At FSU, he had a girlfriend, Mary Werbelow.  Some guy was bending over to talk to her at a party and Jim got jealous. He grabbed the guy by the belt and threw him across the room."

To call Jim Morrison a rock star is just a total insult to him, his intelligence and this philosophy that was inside of him. He was really an easy target for the press because he was so outspoken and he was also saying things that people couldn’t understand. He made great sense, but they couldn’t understand him, so he was a target. They used to make fun of him reciting poetry. The Miami trial was a fucking witch-hunt. Jim was lonely, I think he was very insecure. I don’t think Jim was quite sane. And I don’t think that this was a result of drugs or anything. I think it was a result of childhood pressures and things that he grew up under and the tremendous conflict that he had between this bent twig and what the tree really wanted to be. I mean, he never should have gone through what he went through. He never should have died. –"Jim Morrison: Friends Gathered Together" (2014) by Frank Lisciandro

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day! A Rock & Roll Love Story


With The Doors' knowledge, Jim Morrison prepared his departure to Paris. His mood was depressive after the Miami trial. At Jim's suggestion his girlfriend Pamela had flown to Paris on 14th February 1971, Saint Valentine's Day, to find an apartment for them. While looking, Pamela stayed at the Hôtel Georges V, which Jim had recommended. She made friends with the French model Elisabeth Lariviere and her American boyfriend, whom she had met in the Café de Flore. The couple offered to let her stay at their apartment in Rue Beautreillis.

Morrison stayed in Los Angeles until 10th March 1971. In a Rolling Stone interview a few days before his departure, Jim Morrison said: "I think we'll do a couple of albums and then everyone will probably get into their own thing independently." Frank Lisciandro, author of Jim Morrison: Friends Gathered Together said: "Jim's feeling at the time - and I remember this distinctly because we had more than one conversation about it - was that his days in Los Angeles were over. He had finished the commitment to Elektra Records and had finished the last album they owed them on the contract. Pamela was waiting for him in Paris and had established a home there. As a matter of fact we had closed the HWY Production office, and with this it was over for Jim in Los Angeles. He was leaving for good. He was through with this particular part of his career and his life."

Jim Morrison arrived in Paris on 11th March 1971, a month after Pamela. To begin with they lived at the Hotel Georges V in Avenue Georges V. Only a week later Jim and Pamela moved in at No. 17 Rue Beautreillis. He shaved off the long dark beard he had worn for almost six months. He hoped that people would not recognize him in Paris without his beard. In the sunny, quiet apartment in the Marais quarter he was very happy. He loved to walk down the Rue St. Antoine, or take expeditions across the Ile St. Louis. He found total peace and quiet in the close-by Place des Vosges, an elegant and inspiring square slightly reminiscent of Venice, Italy, and incidentally the square where Victor Hugo had once lived. Not a few of his later poems and essays were written here. Jim carried a scrap book with him at all times, in which he wrote or made sketches. 

Not even the press was informed of the fact that Jim Morrison was staying in Paris, and only a few people recognized him on the streets. In Paris he found the peace that he had longed for. He took long walks along the Rue de Rivoli and from there on to St. Germain des Pres and the area around the Place St. Michel. Jim and Pamela often got caught up in one of the numerous demonstrations by Parisian students, being mesmerized by the riots they kept on stumbling into. On 3rd April 1971 Jim, who was slightly drunk, was sitting in the L'Astroquet on Boulevard St. Germain, chatting with some Americans sitting at an adjacent table. Pamela who did not drink much, preferring a cocktail of drugs, complained about Jim's alcohol consumption. For the first time during his coughing fits he coughed up blood, so Pamela made him see an American doctor in Paris. On 9th April Jim and Pamela rented a car and drove down to the South of France, via Limoges to Toulouse, where Jim admired the pink-colored architecture. 

Jim and Pam had to move to L'Hotel at No. 13 Rue des Beaux Arts for a few days, because several friends had taken over the apartment in the Rue Beautreillis. Jim stayed on the second floor, in the room where Oscar Wilde died. He climbed around on the balcony railing of his room, and on the evening of 7th May, he fell onto the roof of one of the cars parked down in the street. A frightened Pamela hurried outside. Much to her dismay though, he immediately left to continue his drinking spree down the Rock'n'Roll Circus. Morrison was looking for a cinema in Paris where his film 'HWY' could be shown. He also talked again about buying an old church, and having it done up as an apartment, if it cost no more than $100,000. Speaking of The Doors, he said that he hadn't seen them for a long while and he felt really a bit too old to be a Rock'n'Roll singer at the age of 27. 

He was now working on the draft of a rock opera, an idea that had fascinated him since the early days at Venice Beach. He filled up his scrap books with poetry, mainly in the apartment in the Marais, but also in the shade of one of the cafes around the Place des Vosges. Many of the poems that were later posthumously published in 'Wilderness' and 'The American Night' were written here. The last time Hervé Muller met Morrison was on 11th June, Together with Alain Ronay they watched the theatre play 'Le Regard Du Sourd' at the Theatre de la Musique. As Pamela was annoyed by Alain's presence, she preferred to stay behind with Jean de Breteuil, whom Morrison did not like.

In mid June, Morrison went to see a doctor for the second time, because he had been coughing up blood again. The physician urgently advised him to stop smoking and drinking. He also had severe coughing fits. In the last week of June Jim wrote a letter to Bob Greene, which he received on 3rd July: "Paris is beautiful in the sun, an exciting town, built for human beings. Speaking to Bill Siddons a while back I told him of our desire to stay here indefinitely. Will that be possible? Could you write and give me an idea of how long we can stay on living at our present rate, a sort of financial statement in general? We have decided to turn Themis, Pamela's boutique over to Pamela's sister and her husband. Any luck on the credit cards? Please send us $3,000. Give our best to all, later, Jim."

On 26th June, Pamela invited Tere Tereba (Themis' fashion designer) to come to Rue Beautreillis for a visit. Tere visited them on the afternoon of the 27th June, and met a relaxed Jim. He showed her an almost finished manuscript, and went into raptures about the city of Paris. Pamela said that Jim wanted to become immortal, a status that could be easier achieved as a poet than as a rock star. For supper Tere suggested La Coupole, which Jim and Pamela hadn't discovered yet - Hemingway had also been a frequent patron. On their way to Boulevard du Montparnasse, Morrison mentioned that they had booked a flight to London to spend a few days with Michael McClure. At La Coupole, which reminded Jim of Ratner's from New York, he said that he had been offered the leading part in the film Catch My Soul, based on a play by Shakespeare. He was also supposed to play the part of a bear hunter, co-starring with Robert Mitchum, in Norman Mailer's film Why Are We in Vietnam.


"I'm turning down the play, and I don't think I'll do the movie because it will take up too much time when I could be writing." Later, he and Pamela went to a cinema near the metro station Pelletier, to watch the film Death Valley. They returned to the apartment at about 1.00 a.m., and Jim sat down at his desk to write. He replayed a few of the Super-8 films that he and Pamela had shot. Their Rock'n'Roll love story would soon come to an abrupt end. On 8 July 1971 Bill Siddons (The Doors' manager) announced: "I have just returned from Paris, where I attended the funeral of Jim Morrison, in a simple ceremony, with only a few friends present. Jim died peacefully - he had been in Paris since March with his wife Pam. I hope that Jim is remembered not only as a rock singer and poet, but also as a warm human being. He was the most human, most understanding person I've known. This wasn't always the Jim Morrison people read about - but it was the Jim Morrison I knew, and his close friends will remember." Tere Tereba said: "Pam Courson cared deeply for Jim and did want only the best for him. He always did what she said: he adored & trusted her so much! She was DOA, 3 years after Jim. What a horrible tragedy! They loved each other and had great plans for the future."

Pamela Courson was declared the sole heir of Morrison's testament (approximately $400,000). She would be sued for the return of a sum of $200,000 that Jim had been lend by The Doors' partnership contract. Max Fink also demanded a fee of $50,000 for Morrison's defense during the Miami trial. In addition, she was allowed a quarter of any future royalties of The Doors, from the record sales with Jim Morrison as singer. However, despite having told her friends of her plans of starting a new life in Colorado, she would be found dead of heroin overdose on the living room couch at her apartment of Los Angeles, on April 25, 1974.  —"The Death of Jim Morrison" (2012) by Bob Seymore 

"I thought Morrison's poetry was spectacular, Rimbaud-like poetry. All good poets, like Rimbaud or Baudelaire, love failure. I probably made Morrison more dangerous than he wanted to be. He wasn't that sex-driven as much as he was this image of sex. We tried to show the Holy and the Fool at the same time. I tried. People might say I didn’t get enough Holy. There was a Jesus quality about Jim. He gave of himself. The famous Miami concert in 1969 where he was arrested for exhibitionism and drunkenness certainly hit him hard. The audience went to see the Lizard King, a persona that Morrison had created for himself but that not was fundamentally him. Morrison was a brilliant actor. He didn’t want people to know him and prevented them from getting close. He got caught up in his own image. Perhaps I didn't capture the way Jim was, I don't know. I miss him very much. It was a beautiful experience for me."Oliver Stone. ‘The Road To Excess’ The Doors Movie Documentary.

"Oliver Stone had a lot of grudges and a lot of axes to grind. He didn’t like me, we didn’t get along. I read the script and I said this is not Jim Morrison. You got some of the 60s, you got the Doors music and some great rock n roll scenes but you’re not capturing Jim Morrison. You got him as a drunk and a druggie and a real weirdo. He’s much more intelligent and much more spiritual than you make him out to be and I am not going to have anything to do with it. I walked out on the whole production. He said ‘I’m the director, I’ve got 3 academy awards.’ I said ‘so what, I’ve got 8 gold records’." Ray Manzarek at the Alan Handelman Show (2002)

"Jim felt very strongly that he and Pamela had been destined to find each other, were meant to be linked together forever. It was partly this paradox that so intrigued Jim and attracted him to Pamela. This tiny, sweet, angelic morsel who loved him, supported him, played with him, respected his art, and when provoked, wouldn't hesitate to haul off and punch him in the face. It's Romeo and Juliet, it's Heloise and Abelard. It's Jim and Pam." —"Angels Dance and Angels Die: The Tragic Romance of Pamela and Jim Morrison" (2010) by Patricia Butler

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Jim Morrison: Enemy of the State in 'Bright Midnight,' Cosmic Mate of Pamela Courson

Bright Midnight: Live in America is a live album by the band The Doors released in 2001. It is a compilation of recordings of concerts performed in the United States between July 1969 and August 1970. All songs written by Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore except "Back Door Man" (written by Willie Dixon & Chester Burnett) and "Alabama Song/Whisky Bar" (written by Bertolt Brecht & Kurt Weill).

Several famous musicians have died at the age of 27. Can it just be a tragic coincidence? Rolling Stone writer Gantry Elliot always thought so. But as mysterious packages arrive and clues unfold, Gantry soon realizes someone knows the truth behind these deaths. Chris Formant presents an intriguing scenario about the deaths of several iconic rock and roll musicians from the late ’60s and early ’70s. What if, instead of accidental deaths or suicide, these rock and roll stars were actually murdered? And if this is the case, what possible reason would someone have for killing them just as they were at the pinnacle of stardom? Could Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin have been murdered, seen as 'enemies of the state'? Gantry Elliot becomes convinced there is truth to the allegations and he turns to close friend and record expert, Dennis Briganty, and FBI Agent Melendez to aid his investigation. Chris Formant presents an inventive (and plausible) theory for the long ago deaths of these famous rock and roll legends that is guaranteed to appeal to classic rock fans and conspiracy buffs. Source: www.amazon.com


DANNY SAYS (2016) directed by Brendan Toller, is a documentary on the life and times of Danny Fields. Since 1966, Danny Fields has played a pivotal role in music and "culture" of the late 20th century: working for the Doors, Lou Reed, Nico, Judy Collins, and managing groundbreaking artists like the Stooges, the MC5 and the Ramones. DANNY SAYS follows Fields from Harvard Law dropout, to the Warhol Silver Factory, to Director of Publicity at Elektra Records, to "punk pioneer." Danny's taste and opinion, once deemed defiant and radical, has turned out to have been prescient. DANNY SAYS is a story of avant-garde turning prophetic, as Fields looks to the next generation.

Jim Morrison was now isolating himself from The Doors, taking long solitary walks around the empty streets of lower Manhattan. One night Elektra publicist Danny Fields took Jim out to the fabled back room of Max’s Kansas City on Park Avenue South, the ground zero of Manhattan’s downtown hipoisie. “Light My Fire” played incessantly on Max Kansas City’s juke-box, but no one—artists, musicians, dealers—bothered to look at Jim as he sauntered by in his leather trousers.

Danny Fields introduced German singer Nico to Jim Morrison at ‘The Castle,’ a Los Angeles mansion of the 1920’s which was being rented by Arthur Lee (frontman of the band Love) and had become a hangout for the Los Angeles/Sunset Strip rock scene. Danny Fields  thought Nico and Jim Morrison ‘would make a cute couple.’ Morrison “had a wonderful sense of manners. When he wasn’t drunk he was a pussycat, but when he got drunk he became a redneck boozer like the kind you’d see in some Alabama bowling alley.” Both Nico and Morrison took LSD and had an immediate attraction to one another; later that night they did end up naked and walking on the parapet of ‘The Castle.’

Nico dyed her hair red, although Jim Morrison didn’t pursue the relationship, since he returned to Pamela Courson (his 'cosmic mate'), but such was the obsession of Nico that she left her hair colored red even after Morrison’s death. "He was the first man I was in love with, because he was affectionate to my looks and my mind. But we took too much drink and too many drugs to make it, that was our difficulty," said Nico. Source: thedailyhatch.org

Jim Morrison loved Pamela Courson to death. Morrison cheated on her (and she on him), but he always  came back to her side. He dedicated his poetry to her, and left her everything in his will. Pamela Susan Morrison is one of the more enigmatic figures of the American sixties. She would carve out her own legend of romance, high style and excess that rivaled Jim Morrison’s for recklessness and danger. Morrison spent unbelievable amounts of money keeping Pamela's fashion boutique Themis afloat. “Jim was always giving her stuff,” Paul Ferrara recalled: “Money, clothes, cars, anything. He pampered the hell out of her. She’d want something, and he’d call Max Fink and say, ‘Give her whatever she wants.’ Money meant nothing to Jim. It was immaterial to him, as long as she was happy.” When Pamela said she wanted a place in the country, Jim paid for a secluded cabin, up in tranquil Topanga Canyon. The Doors’ accountant later estimated that Jim spent a quarter million preinflation dollars on Pam's boutique.

Jim Morrison's self-destructiveness led him to personally dangerous and professionally suicidal outbursts. But along with this mean streak, and with the drug and alcohol use that greatly exacerbated it, came the heady idealism that accounts for part of the Doors' long-lived popularity. Oliver Stone's film The Doors, at times, dares to make the outrageous suggestion that he died for his audience's sins. The flimsy portrayal of Pamela Courson (by Meg Ryan), who died of a heroin overdose in 1974, offended the surviving Doors. Ray Manzarek disowned the whole film. At his most darkly ecstatic, Jim Morrison could invoke the liberating influences of mind-expanding drugs and literature. John Densmore (The Doors' drummer) wrote in his memoir that Morrison was "headed straight for a sad death in a gutter." Bloated, bearded and alcoholic, paranoid about persistent official persecution, Jim Morrison fled to Paris, battled his demons while writing poetry, and eventually died in a bathtub on July 3, 1971.  –"Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend" (2005) by Stephen Davis.

Monday, January 30, 2017

58th Anniversary of The Day The Music Died


"The Day the Music Died" (Behind the Music) documentary: The true story of the Plane Crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper.

Buddy Holly Died for Our Sins: "Buddy Holly's death was like a mythic sacrifice, plane dropping from an icy sky into the frozen American heartland, the blood of Holly flowing over the ground, replenishing rock 'n' roll so that the music didn't die. Instead it lived another few decades before eventually (after Kurt Cobain's death--the last great original rock talent) fading away. It may be that artistic genius is marked by an ability to feel more deeply than ordinary people. The last recordings show that Buddy Holly felt very deeply indeed. They're imbued with yearning, loneliness, and melancholy: "What to Do," "Crying, Waiting, Hoping," "Learning the Game," and "Peggy Sue Got Married." Genius recordings. Another strange part of the story is that for Buddy Holly the "music died" before the plane crash. Holly was no longer able to crack the Top 40. Rock, at that time still a rinky-dink flash-in-the-pan movement, seemed to many to be over. Holly's odd demeanor toward Peggy Sue, his sudden marriage to Maria Elena, his breaking free of Norman Petty: It's a mythic story, unreal." Source: kingwenclas.blogspot.com

Your life really does flash before your eyes when you die, a study suggests - Research on those who have had "near death" experiences suggests that the phenomenon rarely involves flashbacks in chronological order, as happens in Hollywood films. The study found that many of the flashbacks involved intensely emotional moments. This suggests that a representation of life-events as a continuum exists in the cognitive system, and may be further expressed in extreme conditions. Researchers said that the phenomenon could be caused by the parts of the brain that store autobiographical memories like the prefrontal, medial temporal, and parietal cortices. Source: www.telegraph.uco.uk


Friday, Feb. 3, will mark the 58th anniversary of the 1959 death of legendary recording artist Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holly in the crash of a chartered Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft near Clear Lake, Iowa. The same day now is annually regarded as “The Day the Music Died” at the Buddy Holly Center, 1801 Crickets Ave. When it became clear that promoters had stopped producing festivals in Lubbock during the week of Holly’s birth, the Buddy Holly Center made certain to also pay notable tribute on “The Day the Music Died.” There is free admission to the Buddy Holly Center’s Gallery on Feb. 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and again from 6 to 9 p.m. during that day’s First Friday Art Trail. Source: lubbockonline.com


Maria Elena Holly is interviewed by Don McLean ("American Pie") for a special BBC broadcast, "Maria Elena: My Life with Buddy," scheduled to air February 7th — Anniversary of The Day The Music Died.

Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans had gone north to New York during the 1950s, altering the cultural face of the city and bringing a new vitality. The most distinguished musical of the 1950s, West Side Story, epitomized the character of this historic migration, and the musical was playing at the Winter Garden, featuring a chorus of Puerto Rican girls, including one named Maria, singing an impudent, spirited song about the wretchedness of San Juan and the dubious advantages of America. Since 1898, when the United States had seized the colony of Puerto Rico from Spain in the Spanish-American War, two million Puerto Ricans had immigrated to America. Between 1950 and 1956, the Puerto Rican population of New York alone escalated from 245,880 to 577,000. Most Puerto Ricans settled in the squalid tenements of what would become Spanish Harlem between Fifth Avenue and the East River. The smoldering Latino temperament lent an aura of romance to the ghetto. Songwriters soon celebrated it in sumptuous wall-of-sound recordings such as Leiber and Stoller's “A Rose in Spanish Harlem.” 


Maria Elena Santiago, who was born in Puerto Rico, had lost her mother when she was eight. At that point her father had sent her to live with her Aunt Provi García in the district of Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan. Maria Elena regarded Buddy Holly with interest, not only because he was a rock star: his self-confident behavior struck a chord in her heart. Before Provi paved the way for her to work at Peer-Southern, Maria Elena had held a variety of jobs in New York and had artistic aspirations. Her breezy air of friendliness enchanted Buddy, as did her Hispanic lineage, which would have kept most Caucasian boys at a distance in the fifties. Some of Buddy's prejudiced acquaintances from Lubbock didn't seem to accept his marriage or his new lifestyle.

“Buddy Holly wants me on The Winter Dance Party Tour. Book me.” Preston Allerton shook his head and smiled at me the way people smile at puppies and cretins: “With that loser? Don’t be absurd. Besides, that tour is insufferable. You’ll be in farm states, playing to a bunch of cowpokes, snow up to your derriere.” “Let me worry about my derriere, okay, Preston? I’ve been invited, and I want you to book me. And I want a new record—don’t give me any of this sissy insufferable bullshit.” “What do you mean, sissy?” See, Preston was the kind of guy you think might be a homo. He certainly was sensitive about the word sissy. Now I remembered Preston Allerton telling me: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Buddy was history in five months.” First Preston predicted that Buddy would be history, and a few weeks after the plane crash a collection of Buddy’s material is on the market.  It was a set-up. Buddy had been murdered. Stek-Circ spelled backwards is Crickets. Preston Allerton is an anagram for Norman Petty. —"The Winter Dance Party Murders" (2015) by Greg Herriges

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mad as Hell: Christine Chubbock and The Making of 'Network' (Paddy Chayefsky's Masterpiece)


Christine Chubbuck’s sad exit is said to have partly inspired Paddy Chayefsky during the writing of his screenplay for the 1976 film Network, famous for its own deeply troubled anchor. She certainly hates many of the same things as Howard Beale, especially the sensation-driven “If it bleeds, it leads” mentality then emerging in TV news. Rebecca Hall draws a richly detailed portrait of Chubbuck, and isn’t afraid to make her unlikable. She’s kind of a hard-ass, intimidating and hard to reach, so it’s a miracle, and a credit to Hall, that we find ourselves on her side. If we don’t come away with a complete explanation of what drove Chubbuck to her tragic personal apocalypse, thanks to Rebecca Hall’s expertise and control, we do at least feel like we know and understand her. Source: www.theguardian.com

Christine Chubbock's younger brother Greg told People magazine his sister suffered from bipolar disorder, a mood disorder characterised by bouts of manic highs and periods of depression: “She had no greys in her life. Everything was black and white. Chrissie just didn’t have a compromise button.” Greg also claims that his concerned parents had spent over 40.000 dollars per year during over 20 years on doctors fees, psychiatrists and psychologists to “help Chrissie find peace.” But aged 16, Christine received a devastating blow when her 23-year-old boyfriend was killed in a car accident, losing the man that Greg believes was “the love of her life”. As her mother, Peg, told the Washington Post in 1974: “she just couldn’t connect with people”. Mental illness may have driven her to suicide, but she didn’t want her death to be meaningless. “That salacious part of television, Chris detested,” Greg says. “Was her final action a raging statement against that sort of television? Yes, clearly it was.”

Bob Keehn, the WXLT-TV anchor man for the evening news, liked Christine Chubbuck: “She had a protective coloration, what might appear to be no need for friends. I felt she was someone with very deep feelings. Someone who seemed more involved with her job and with her emotions than most people seem to be. She had a little more depth than most people. What seemed to concern her was her involvement with the human condition. She would express a negative reaction to people and the way they treated each other.” Whether her last act should subsequently have been dramatised is up for debateher brother has accused the filmmakers of "cash[ing] in on a family tragedy"but 43 years after, Christine Chubbuck is still making the news. Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

Howard Beale (Peter Finch), who is more depressed than Max Schumacher (William Holden) realizes, announces on the air the next day that, in one week’s time, he is going to commit suicide on his show. This scenario eerily paralleled a tragic real-life incident that occurred while Paddy Chayefsky worked on the screenplay of Network (1976). On the morning of July 15, 1974, viewers of WXLT-TV 40 in Sarasota, Florida, watched as Christine Chubbuck, the host of Suncoast Digest, looked into the camera and said, “In keeping with the WXLT policy, presenting the most immediate and complete reports of local "blood and guts", in living color, TV 40 presents what is believed to be a television first. an attempted suicide.” She then shot herself behind the right ear and died hours later. Months later, Chayefsky wrote a line for Beale in which the anchor declares he will “blow my brains out right on the air, right in the middle of the seven o’clock news, like that girl in Florida,” then he deleted it from the script. 

“Television is democracy at its ugliest,” said Chayefsky: “The conception of Network is a farce, but once the idea is there, it’s all real, every bit. I don’t attack; I just tell the truth. Television will do anything for a rating.” “The American tradition of journalism is objectivity,” Chayefsky said to Time magazine: “There is nothing valuable about a journalist comicalizing the news. The news should not—must not—become part of the entertainment scheduling. To make a gag out of the news is disreputable and extremely destructive.” Though the story of Howard Beale’s breakdown might contain “a fanciful, Frank Capra nuttiness that could be appealing,” Pauline Kael wrote that “Chayefsky is such a manic bard that I’m not sure whether Howard Beale’s epiphanies were the result of a nervous breakdown or were actually inspired by God.” 

“Let’s at least show the country to ourselves for what it really is,” Chayefsky wrote: I think the American people deserve some truth instead of pure entertainment or pure addiction. Life is not as coarse and brutalized as it is presented to us on TV. There is an America with a very complicated, pluralistic society that is worth honest presentation. Television coarsens all the complexities of human relationships, brutalizes them, makes them insensitive. The point about violence is not so much that it breeds violence but that it desensitizes viciousness, brutality, so that we no longer actively feel the pains of the victim or feel their grief.… We have become desensitized to things that are usually part of the human condition. This is the basic problem of television. We’ve lost our sense of shock, our sense of humanity.” 

Desperate as these words sounded, Chayefsky had not yet given up entirely on his fellow man. Speaking to an interviewer at his New York office some months after he quit Altered States, Chayefsky said, “I feel almost totally alienated from what’s going on today,” adding that he now lived “kind of a reclusive life almost. I take it the American people are becoming as alienated as I am.” Speaking from his office at 850 Seventh Avenue in the spring of 1981, Paddy Chayefsky offered his vision for what he expected the network news would look like someday—not as it might be depicted in Network, but as he believed it would appear on actual television as watched by people across the country. Chayefsky asserted: “Network wasn’t even a satire. I wrote a realistic drama. The industry satirizes itself.” Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist, wrote: “Chayefsky’s warning was made to people who knew everything he said was true, but they felt powerless to stop it.” Writer Aaron Sorkin affirmed: “No predictor of the future—not even Orwell—has ever been as right as Chayefsky was when he wrote Network.” —"Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies" (2014) by Dave Itzkoff

Oscars Nominations 2017

BEST PICTURE
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester By the Sea
Moonlight

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence

Best supporting actor
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester By the Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)

Best supporting actress
Michelle Williams (Manchester By the Sea)
Viola Davis (Fences)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)

Best actor
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Casey Affleck (Manchester By the Sea)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best actress
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Best director
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By the Sea)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Best costume design
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land

Best score
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

Best sound editing
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully

Best production design
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers

Best original screenplay
Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester By the Sea
20th Century Women

Best adapted screenplay
Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight

Best animated feature
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life As a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Best film editing
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight

La La Land matches record held by Titanic and All About Eve with 14 Oscar Nominations. Snubs: Martin Scorsese, Amy Adams, Rebecca Hall, etc. Source: www.theguardian.com