WEIRDLAND: April 2017

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Femme Fatales in Noir and Rock & Roll

Nico - Femme Fatale: "Here she comes, you better watch your step/She's going to break your heart in two, it's true/It's not hard to realize/Just look into her false colored eyes/She builds you up to just put you down, what a clown/'Cause everybody knows/She's a femme fatale." —"The Velvet Underground & Nico" (1967)

The Big Sleep unintentionally subverts its own downbeat noir fantasy by having the dick and the potential film fatale get together. She isn’t a siren beckoning him to his doom like Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon, or like Carmen would have been if he gave in to her advances; Vivian is his peer and every bit as acid-tongued in her retorts as Bogie. It is a bizarre courtship by way of insults, Bogart’s aloofness, Bacall’s disaffection, and Hawks’ rapid fire, dry humor. The Big Sleep is about a tough detective, yet it is not marketed or built upon a lonely cynic like Bogart’s Sam Spade, but around a two-hour flirtation between Bogart and Bacall. Bullets, booze, and bloody corpses amount to foreplay. By the time the movie opened, the most masculine of movie stars who, as Chandler memorably said, “looked tough without holding a gun,” is also considered even more idealized to be holding his off-screen wife’s hand. The war was over and the film noir movement it helped birth with a new streak of urbane American cynicism was just beginning. Yet already, a post-war mainstream contentedness was sneaking in too. Source:

“The streets are fields that never die,” from “The Crystal Ship” was a captivating image;  “Before you slip into unconsciousness”—that could be sleep, it could be an overdose, inflicted by the singer or the person he’s addressing, or a suicide pact. Jim Morrison raises his voice, his volume, only once, near the end; his voice never more modest, never more full. He was never a soul singer—the reserve of someone thinking everything through kept him from that—but here he gave himself up to the notes and melody. “Sometimes I make up words so I can remember the melody I hear,” Morrison once said; you can hear that happening here. Inside this soft, deeply elegant song, what Raymond Chandler called the big sleep, what Ross Macdonald called the chill, lingered, lay back on a bed with its lips parted. Already in 1968 the Doors were performing not freedom but its disappearance. This is what is terrifying: the notion that the Sixties was a place, even as it was created, people know they can never really inhabit, and never escape. 

Jim Morrison, a confused guy, enters this arena because it’s where the action is, and he becomes a new person, someone he doesn’t recognize. A few years later, on stage, he performs as a double: the old person watching the new one, just like any fan in the crowd. In New York, The Factory, the mood changes as the band (The Velvet Underground) refuses to let the music (Heroin) build in any conventional manner, refuses to even hint at a change, a break, a release. Everywhere in the room there is a sense of anticipation and dread. People know what roles they are expected to play—the amused scene-maker, the would-be groupie, the hipster, the fan, the skeptic, the insider—but those roles are beginning to break down. The camera fixes on single faces in the crowd, isolating them, and there’s a coldness in the faces, as if they’re watching a snuff movie: as if they know they aren’t going to like what comes next, but can’t turn away. In this long sequence, nothing is stressed, nothing is glamorized. —"The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years" (2013) by Greil Marcus

A motif regularly mobilised in Stone’s films, particularly in The Doors: the ‘non-conformist’ raging against the tyranny and hypocrisy of the ‘establishment’ and the blank conformity that sustains it. The Doors narrative splits its women into Pam Courson’s angel (Meg Ryan) and Patricia Kennealy (Kathleen Quinlan) and Nico’s (Kristina Fulton) femme fatales. Susan Mackey-Kallis has argued that Stone’s films are an attempt to counter and make sense of the bewildering fragmentation and social chaos of postmodern America. Stone can be seen, like his protagonists, as a metonymic figure, and the rhetorical tropes that his image has come to signify: paranoia most obviously, but also martyrdom, victimisation, suffering, betrayal, sacrifice, and trauma. Sally Robinson argued that such rhetoric is key to the discourses of mythopoesis and masculine angst emergent in the 1970s. Robinson’s insights are particularly useful in examining how men are caught between two competing truths, masculinity and male experience; male power is secured by inexpressivity, even as inexpressivity damages the male psyche and body. 

In Oliver Stone’s own words, overtly hinting a quasi-Freudian worldview: "Death and women are two unknowns to males. Because of that, women assume this mysterious power over our psyche, and death is the same way, it’s the other unknown, and it terrifies us. And I think death and sex are intertwined, death and love, death and women. And that intertwining is partly the demon that motivates me. I think that sometimes you want to locate that demon and purify it, and at other times you should never expose that demon."

Stone’s films can be read as both symptomatically masochistic dramas and as restorative tales of remasculinization. Thus, the flaws of the archetypal metonymic son are those of the contemporary United States as a whole, the state of the nation embodied by his embattled protagonists. As such, the melancholic’s self-accusations function as a strategically distorted moral-political-spiritual critique of the nation, a romanticized view of the melancholic as the misunderstood and self-abnegating but truthful ‘moralist’ critic of society. ‘It is not that Stone is un-American,’ notes John Orr (2000), ‘it's more that he is too American.’ Mark Kermode notes Stone's films present contemporary American culture as a bewildering and disorienting polyvocal nightmare. —"Paranoid Histories and Locker-Room Fables: Oliver Stone Kicking Against the (dead) Pricks" (2013) by Martin Fradley

Jim Morrison appeared hypnotized listening to Nico fronting The Velvet Underground's concert at The Trip on West Hollywood,  May 1967. According to The Doors On the Road (1997) by Greg Shaw, Jim Morrison’s band –who had yet to release a record– are soon being considered as a replacement for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, in light of the animosity between Zappa and The Velvet Underground members. “We were to be the opening act,” confirmed The Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek: “We were very excited. New York and LA underground go head to head, so to speak. It would have been momentous. What a double bill! But the cops closed the club. Too much weirdness.” In July 1967 Morrison met Nico again at the Monterey Pop Festival, where Nico attended with her date, Brian Jones. The Doors were now riding high, selling more records per week than the Velvets would manage in their entire career together.

Jim Morrison had a crush on Nico and suggested she should get a record deal with The Doors' label Elektra. He loved her platinum-blonde hair and her thick Berlin accent. Because of her crystal beauty and her metallic accent, others made fun, said she didn’t have a heart like other women. But Nico now gave her heart to Jim Morrison. When Nico dyed her platinum-white hair red –like Morrison’s girlfriend Pamela Courson’s– he burst into tears. “He was the first man I was in love with,” Nico would later lament. It wasn’t until August 1967, just as Morrison’s affair with Nico was reaching its nadir, that The Doors returned to LA and the Sunset Sound studio, to begin work on Strange Days. When it came time to record the album’s pivotal track, When The Music’s Over, Morrison insisted the whole track be played live in the studio. The band acquiesced, then sat there for more than 12 hours waiting for him to show up. He never did. Instead, he phoned the studio at 3am and spoke to Krieger. “We’re in trouble here,” he told the guitarist. Morrison and his girlfriend Pam Courson were tripping on strong acid and wanted Krieger to drive them to nearby Griffith Park where they could “cool out”. —Classic Rock magazine, #132 

Danny Fields: "I've never had any respect for Oliver Stone, but after seeing his version of the Morrison/Nico meeting in the Doors movie - 'Hello, I am Nico, would you like to go to bed with me?' - the reality of it couldn't have been more different. I met Morrison at the Elektra office in L.A. and he followed me back to the Castle in his rented car. Morrison walked into the kitchen and Nico was there and they stood and circled each other. Then they stared at the floor and didn't say a word to each other. They were both too poetic to say anything. It was a very boring, poetic, silent thing that was going on between them.They formed a mystical bond immediately - I think Morrison pulled Nico's hair and then he proceeded to get extremely drunk and I fed him whatever was left of my drugs that Edie Sedgwick hadn't stolen."

Thursday, April 27, 2017

John Cale & Lou Reed: Rock & Roll Avant-Garde. LSD Shows, Tripping with Jim Morrison

The Velvet Underground were the first important rock & roll artists who had no real chance of attracting a mass audience. This was paradoxical. Rock-and-roll was a mass art. If  this was paradoxical, the very idea of rock & roll art rests on a contradiction. The Velvets’ music was too overtly intellectual, stylized, and distanced to be commercial. Lou Reed’s persona was also paradoxical in the context of rock-and-roll, closer to the bohemian hipster: he wore shades, took hard drugs, and he was a loner. In a sense, the self-conscious formalism of his music—the quality that made the Velvets uncommercial—was an attempt to purify rock-and-roll. Heroin is a song of total, willful rejection of the corrupt world, of other people. In the beginning he likens shooting up to a spiritual journey: when he’s rushing on his run he feels like Jesus’ son. At the end, with a blasphemous defiance that belies his words, he avows, “Thank your God that I’m not aware/ And thank God that I just don’t care!” The whole song seems to rush outward and then close in on itself, on the moment of truth when the junkie knowingly and deliberately chooses death over life. It is the clarity of his consciousness that gives the sin its enormity. Yet the clarity also offers a glimmer of redemption. In the very act of choosing numbness the singer admits his longing for something better. In “Pale Blue Eyes” the world has gotten in the way of the singer’s transcendent love: “If I could make the world as pure and strange as what I see/ I’d put you in the mirror I put in front of me.” —"The Velvet Underground: I'll let you be in my dream" (1978) by Ellen Willis

John Cale has revealed the details of the artists set to join him at a special Liverpool show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Velvet Underground’s seminal debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, which points when pop and art started to speak the same language. The Velvet Underground's songs actively encouraged and romanticised the link between rock & roll and the outsider. Cale previously performed The Velvet Underground & Nico in its entirety at La Philharmonie in Paris on 4 April 2016. On that occasion, he was assisted by special guests including The Libertines, Animal Collective and Mark Lanegan. This year’s gig will see him and his guests perform on a bespoke open-air stage in Liverpool’s docklands which will face outwards towards New York, where the album was recorded. The event takes place at Liverpool’s Sound City Festival on 26 May 2017. During the show, the album will be “reimagined” by Cale and will feature contributions from The Kills, Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys, Nadine Shah, Wild Beasts and Clinic. Source:

When I first met Lou Reed at the beginning of 1965, he was seeing a psychiatrist who prescribed him Placidyl tranquilizer. I could not believe somebody who wrote those songs could be crazy. I didn't believe in schizophrenia. All I saw in it was a different way of seeeing things. He couldn't figure me out and I couldn't figure him out. The only things we had in common were drugs and an obsession with risk taking. Lou thought it important to shock me with his version of the hustling scene. In retrospect, I realize he was just doing this to upset me, part of the endless mind-games endemic to his personality. As soon as I went off with Edie Sedgwick, Lou immediately fell head over heels in love with Nico and moved in with her. I'd be dying to go to bed with Susan Bottomly (International Velvet), whom Lou was also fucking on the side. Unfortunately, when Lou came out of the hospital, he caught me in bed with Susan and he threw us both out of the apartment. —"What's Welsh for Zen" (2000) by John Cale

John Cale had a brief 'constipated' affair with Nico, but not very memorable. Lou Reed apparently had liked Jim Morrison enough to note, in an interview with Jim Martin in Open City magazine #78: "he's going through all this whole number [onstage] for the kids, very nice, very religious rock & roll," but Morrison's affair with Nico had seemingly left Reed sour. Danny Fields had told his 'official' introduction of the Lizard King to the blonde chanteuse as having derived in Morrison pulling Nico by her hair and inviting her to a near suicidal balancing on The Castle's parapet in the throes of lysergic ecstasy. The few occasions Morrison had visited The Factory socially, Reed had always avoided him and begun referring to The Doors' leading singer as 'pretentious asshole' or worse. On Morrison's part, he had defended The Factory when going back to his safe port in L.A. but he never suggested he was falling in love with Nico or commented anything about Reed & The Velvets, although Manzarek mentioned later that Morrison had appreciated Reed's originality in lyrics.

Not every reviewer hated the EPI [The Exploding Plastic Inevitable]. Paul Jay Robbins, from Los Angeles Free Press, found the Warhol's show successful from a perspective connected to Guy Debord’s view of contemporary spectacle: "Warhol’s show is decadence. It is only an extrusion of  our national disease, our social insensitivity. We are a dying creature, and  Warhol is holding our failing hand and sketching the carcinoma in our soul." The EPI was disorienting in a way that was reminiscent of LSD trips; Jackie Cassen’s early involvement in the development of the EPI’s light show likely contributed to that aesthetic from the outset. The avant-garde’s interest in hallucinogenic drugs emerged in the Ten Trip Ticket Book, a play on the term “drug trip.” Chaotic sensory input overwhelmed the faculties: depth perception blurred in the layers of projections and concrete objects, the loud music numbed the ears, the strobe lights froze time for fractions of seconds.

Andy Warhol was a banal Debordian celebrity, but his banality was so explicit and exaggerated that he did not disappear into the mediated fabric of Debord’s highly mediated spectacle. The EPI provided a location for the counterculture of 1960s New York to gather and played a key role in establishing the East Village as a Bohemian port of call. Whether he intended it to be or not, Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable was a act of underground political, social, and artistic rebellion. —"Ready to blow your mind: Andy Warhol's EPI" (2016) by Alycia Faith Lentz

Jim Morrison was a mass of contradictions, probably schizophrenic, and the heavier the mantle of celebrity the worse his behaviour became and the more he sought to escape. The anti-social behaviour on/off stage was the action of a man who thought that people were not taking him seriously. The release he had felt before being onstage was becoming one of increasing anger towards the audience. It was he who embraced the sex symbol role and now it was he who was rebelling against it. Paradise Now (1968) was the Living Theatre avant-garde show that most affected Morrison. The Living Theatre provided the missing piece in Morrison’s revolt against the leather Frankenstein he had created. “At Miami, I tried to reduce the myth to absurdity,” said Morrison in 1969: “I was living out an adolescent fantasy and it just got too much for me to stomach. I told the audience that they were a bunch of idiots, and what were they doing there anyway? Not to listen to some songs, but for something else… so why not admit it and do something about it?” ―"Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison" (2014) by James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky

"Actors must make us think they're real. Our friends must not make us think we’re acting," wrote Morrison. I was greeted by a nightmare. Jim was the young and beautiful poet Sebastian that Tennessee Williams had created in Suddenly Last Summer (1959) starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift: Sebastian is devoured in a flashback by a flock of starving urchins. In my dream, Jim’s fans overwhelm him on stage and become the monsters of the Goya paintings who devour people alive. I awoke wanting to understand where this vision had come from, an expression perhaps Jim had slipped into our conversation that I hadn’t noticed consciously. I quickly dressed and fled what seemed like a horrible cell, not the romantic Parisian garret I had fallen asleep in. 

Christ, was that how Jim felt? Now I understood another reason for his stage antics, his jumping all over the stage, falling to the ground and his drinking, it was a wall he built to protect himself.  He had given me a glimpse of his fame, a freak show that he needed to escape from, to get away from being devoured. Neither of us had wanted to go to Vietnam. Maybe we weren’t afraid to die, we were afraid to kill. The voice from my LSD radiator had returned to haunt me. “Twinkle, twinkle,” Jim had said, emptying the vials. As Rimbaud had dreamed, ‘Christmas on Earth’: I closed my eyes and fell into a deep void. Asleep, I was greeted by a vivid dream. I was in a silent world. The sky was bright like the collages back on Jim’s wall. There was a beautiful woman ahead of me beckoning. The moon and the stars were out even though it was daytime. Jim came over. He was dressed in black and looked cleaner and handsomer than I had remembered him. He motioned to me. I got up and saw I was at the seaside. Waves were crashing against deeply chiselled cliffs bristling in the sunlight. I turned. There was no one to be seen. I felt as if I were the only person now left in the world, but I felt very full, complete. The hills rolled on toward the horizon, a sweet wind in the air. Jim removed two vials of aqua-blue acid. Voices seemed to be coming through the radiator. Jim had forgotten to turn off the radio? What was it that Ginsberg was saying about the CIA, Morse Code? Is the radio taping me through the radiator? Where were my friends? Why did they have to kill me? I wouldn’t play along? What was this LSD? A secret way of recruiting people, transplanting energies into other bodies, transforming your body? Where was Jim? Was it Jim’s reality? I felt there was something almost vicious about this acid, as if it had stolen into my consciousness. That is the meaning of hallucination, hailing the world, stopping it dead in its tracks. –"Tripping With Jim Morrison & Other Friends: With An Introduction By Timothy Leary" (2016) by Michael Lawrence

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lou Reed and Jim Morrison: Magic and Loss

“Candy Says” (1969) is one of Lou Reed's best songs, certainly impressive, and one of the most underrated items in the entire Velvet Underground catalog. The inspiration behind this tragic song was the Factory transexual Candy Darling, a female psyche stuck in a man’s body. The song was proof that Reed continued to draw on the Factory crowd for material long after the Velvets ended their formal association with Warhol, with one of his loveliest, most heartbreaking melodies, and some of his most sympathetic lyrics.

Transformer (1972) was produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, both of whom had been strongly influenced by Reed's work with the Velvet Underground. Bowie had obliquely referenced the Velvet Underground in the cover notes for his album Hunky Dory and regularly performed both "White Light/White Heat" and "I'm Waiting for the Man." Lester Bangs thought of Bowie as overrated, "a vampire, pure Lugosi, lurking behind Reed (wide-eyed in a Quaalude haze)" and accused him of ripping off Reed's guitar riffs.  –"Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung" (2013) by Lester Bangs 

Male cross-dressers have similar erotic preferences to heterosexual men, according to recently published research in Journal of Sex Research-Archives of Sexual Behavior. They examined the genital arousal patterns associated with autogynephilia. Men who are sexually interested in transgender women exhibited genital sexual arousal patterns similar to typical heterosexual men: Both were sexually aroused by female and not male stimuli. However, relative to the typical heterosexual men, the men sexually interested in transgender women showed increased arousal by transgender stimuli (erotica featuring “shemales”). They also found that the men sexually interested in transgender women tended to be sexually aroused by the idea of being a woman themselves. Autogynephilic men showed genital sexual arousal patterns that were near identical to men sexually interested in transgender women. That is, both groups of men were sexually aroused by female and not by male stimuli, just like typical heterosexual men. Both also differed from typical heterosexual men in their increased arousal by the transgender stimuli. Source:

"Bowie was always very gracious with me, and deferential to Lou, as they huddled together. David was a rising star and a great fan of Lou’s. He deeply admired Lou’s writing and work with The Velvet Underground. David genuinely wanted to help Lou succeed as a solo artist, but he also knew that being associated with Lou and his legendary cult status with the Velvets would, by association, bring him cachet and prestige himself, too. Lou wasn’t particularly enamored with Angie; she was David’s wife, though, so Lou was always respectful to her. On the road, it was hard for me to watch Lou's deterioration, but I blamed a lot of it on all the pressure he put himself under to succeed, which, coupled with our nomadic lifestyle on the tour, was quite stressful and disorienting. The more Lou wished to impress someone, the less he acted like he cared. Girls were the only exception. 

With women Lou was polite, shy, and almost behaved like a high-school kid. It was how you could tell if he was really interested in you. He could be passionate, although typically maintained his guard up. One day Lou mentioned a dress he thought I could wear, which surprised me. He never told me what to say, how to act, or what to wear. He always told me I looked great. The dress Lou was talking about was one I had bought in London, when Angie and I went on a shopping spree on the Kings Road. It was a 1930s white, beautifully draped, crepe floral dress. I wore my red stiletto platform heels (which we called ‘fuck-me shoes’ back then) to match. Lou kissed me. ‘I love you,’ he said quietly. ‘There are no words to tell you how much, Princess.’ Lou loved my red fuck-me stilettos. I thought pairing overtly sexual shoes with such a ladylike dress was a gas. 

‘I am a very lucky man, and tonight, when I walk in with you, everyone in the Ginger Man will be jealous. They’ll all wonder, Now, how did this short Jewish kid from the wrong side of Long Island end up with that tall, gorgeous blonde?’ Bowie abruptly turned around to Angie and said, ‘Why can’t you wear a dress, like her?’ The joke was that this was probably the first time I’d been in a dress for a year. Both Lou and I noticed there was some tension between David and Angie, but we didn’t dwell on it. They had an entirely different relationship to us, and they drew very different boundaries around their marriage than either Lou or I would be comfortable with—an open relationship with lovers. From the beginning of our relationship I told Lou in no uncertain terms that if I saw a needle anywhere near him, I would—without fail—leave him. Hard drugs were his Achilles’ heel, and I knew they would destroy him if he started taking them again, as he had before we starting going together. Some months later, I found Lou in bed with a mysterious blonde girl. She was in the pull out bed of our living room couch with him. They were both naked, and clearly she had spent the night. The scene was so obvious it was almost laughable. Lou called out my name in surprise when I walked in. After a while, it seemed like the girl might be waiting for me to leave the room so that she could get up and put her clothing on and make her exit. I noted Lou hadn’t taken her to the bedroom and into our bed of freshly laundered sheets. Even before she’d closed the front door, Lou was profusely apologizing, telling me he thought I’d left him for good. In a panic, he admitted he couldn’t be alone, thinking I’d left him." —"Perfect Day: An Intimate Portrait Of Life With Lou Reed" (2016) by Bettye Kronstad

The Velvet Underground had been always hopelessly managed, they'd operated in a curious sub-fame zone. Legendary Doors twat Ray Manzarek patronised them. But Jimi Hendrix liked them and told them so, and a sharp David Bowie was the first artist in the world to cover the Velvets. Mick Jagger even confessed to the NME that the Stones’ ‘Stray Cat Blues’ was modelled on the Velvets’ ‘Heroin.’ “There’s no other group in rock history with such a disparity between the size of their audience when active and the size of their audience subsequently,” points out Richie Unterberger, a specialist in sixties music who grew up too late to see the Velvets. He discovered them in the late seventies, a time when their critical stock was at its lowest, and their records unavailable. And more than any other sixties major bands the Velvet Underground anticipated punk, new wave and alternative rock.” Source:

Lou Reed – the most important visionary of the Velvet Underground – had in many respects a typical middle-class American upbringing. He dated girls—quite the ladies' man, despite his ambiguous later image—played basketball, and was on the Freeport High track team. “I came from this small town out on Long Island,” Reed told Rolling Stone in 1987. “Nowhere. I mean nowhere. The most boring place on earth.” In the mid-‘50s, however, the explosion of rock’n’roll extended a lifeline to an entirely different world – the new sounds of rockabilly, doo wop, and rhythm & blues beamed into suburban homes such as Reed’s by radio DJs such as Alan Freed and Murray The K. ‘Rock & Roll’ is about me, Reed admits in David Fricke’s liner notes to the 1995 Velvet Underground set Peel Slowly and See. “If I hadn’t heard rock’n’roll on the radio, I would have had no idea there was life on this planet. Which would have been devastating.”  

“The Day John Kennedy Died” from The Blue Mask. “That is literally, exactly what happened,” Lou Reed explained in 1982. “It was just a terrible time. It had –at least as far as I’m concerned– a terrible effect that lasted a long time. And I’m still aware of it, so I wrote about it. I’m one of those people who really believed in John Kennedy. And I don’t care if he bought the election, I don’t care about any of that stuff. The Bay of Pigs, I think he would have straightened it out. Some people say this is misplaced idealism. Well, maybe. I still don’t think so. But nonetheless, that’s the way it was for me the day John F. Kennedy died. I’m not into politics, and I don’t have any real feelings about politics one way or another, except I felt bad here, and I wrote a song about it.”

John Cale and Lou Reed had met in early 1965. Reed had recently graduated from Syracuse University, where he’d shared a dormitory with Sterling Morrison, later the Velvets’ guitarist, and fallen under the influence of his ‘spiritual godfather’, the poet Delmore Schwartz.  Reed and Cale came from almost diametrically opposed musical traditions, but within a matter of weeks they were sharing an apartment on Ludlow Street in the East Village, and more than that: songs, ideas, needles, hepatitis and girls, including Elektrah, who briefly joined their fledgling band, the Falling Spikes, and Daryl, commemorated in Lou Reed’s 1973 album, Berlin. In John Cale's memoir What's Welsh for Zen  Cale tells how shortly after the Elektrah Lobel fiasco, Reed invited another eccentric woman, Daryl Delafield, to join the band. Daryl, a nymphomaniac, engaged in simultaneous affairs with both Reed and Cale. In the end Daryl didn’t join the band, but it’s still interesting to note that, unlike many of their rock contemporaries, Reed and Cale have no reservations about considering women as potential band-members – or at least women with whom they’re having sex. According to What’s Welsh For Zen, it’s on the corner of 75th and Broadway that Cale and Reed met Elektrah Lobel. As well as beginning a brief affair with her, Cale asks Lobel to join the Falling Spikes. Later Cale and Reed elect to carry on without her, deciding that she’s too unstable.

Interviewed by the author in 2011 and 2012, Lobel (who now uses her given first name Marcia, having picked up the nickname Elektrah at a party on San Francisco’s Haight Street) didn’t remember much about her brief stint with Lou and John, but did want to clarify her role in the pre-Velvets. “When I was with them, I never played any instruments,” she emphasizes, denying the anecdotes Cale recounted as her playing a guitar with bleeding fingers: “I was a singer. This thing about me breaking a guitar or something, that was not me!” As Lou Reed later recalls in the 1998 BBC documentary, “We finally were signed to a record company, really on the basis of Andy. I don’t know if we would have gotten a contract if Andy hadn’t said he’d do the cover, or if Nico wasn’t so beautiful.” “People would tell us it was violent, it was grotesque, it was perverted,” Reed is quoted as noting in Nigel Trevana’s Lou Reed & The Velvets (1973). “We said, ‘What are you talking about? It’s fun…” Although the 1995 television documentary Rock & Roll states that Jim Morrison was inspired to start writing songs after attending one of the Velvets’ San Francisco shows, Morrison had already written the backbones of several songs when the Doors formed in 1965.

In fact, Jim Morrison had decided to form a band with keyboardist Ray Manzarek after singing “Moonlight Drive,” to him on a Los Angeles beach. And Morrison was certainly not in the audience at the Fillmore, since the Doors were in the midst of a residency at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles. Jim Morrison will pop up again in the VU story in about a year in a brief yet crucial role as Nico’s lover and muse. Very likely, the insecure Reed would feel a tinge of jealousy over this relationship, which would have contributed to his perennial animosity towards Morrison. Manzarek recalled the Factory abysmally, seeing Warhol's social center as "waiting to begin the mad, downward spiral of consequences." Manzarek disliked Warhol intensily, whom he called "The benign De Sade. The giggling Caligula of the Lower East Side. He held the keys to that quasi-artistic gathering of beautiful people known as the Factory—Andy’s great loft of silver foil, silk screens, and anything goes. Jim was down there within the first week of our opening at Ondine. He loved the games, the role playing, the attitude. The challenges to go further, to go beyond the self-imposed, societally sanctioned bounds of psychic control."

Mary Woronov and Lou Reed at the Factory, 1967.

Manzarek saw the statuesque Nico as "the Valkyrian angel of death who would push Jim Morrison's buttons at every opportunity, in a deep and Germanic-accented voice. They would retire to a silver-foiled room for more drink, more pills, more sex. Jim could only nod in pleasure, being speechless at the intensity of his ejaculation. The pills and booze were melting together in his brain, obliterating his will to power and replacing it with a will to pleasure. Andy’s world was a pill-head scene. Amphetamine uppers and barbiturate downers. And that was not a combination that opened the doors of perception. The holographic universe did not exist on pills and booze. It was strictly pleasure. I love my body pleasure, too, but the denizens of this pleasure dome had gone too far. They were intoxicants without enlightenment. Inebriates without vision, much as today’s crack-meth-bonehead speed freaks and narcoleptic heroin hounds are dope addicts without a clue. At the Factory it was all an ultimately enervating pleasure that could only weaken and debilitate. There was no desire on the part of the denizens to begin the world again, to create the new Garden of Eden, to transcend ordinary reality. The debauchery was not liberating, as such intoxication should be. It didn’t open the doors of perception. It did not break through the walls of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim myth into freedom. It did not charge the psyche with energy. It was merely an end in itself. It was the realm of the cynic, the ironist. A realm of sophistication, of knowledge, of worldliness… but without the sun. It was perpetual pleasure and perpetual darkness."

‘Sister Ray’ is the last song of White Light/White Heat. It goes on for a full half hour. Three chords: EEE, D, A, EEE, D, A, EEE, etc. The scene is eerie. Together the band creates an apocalyptic vision of eroticism, sadomasochism, and violence that is at once seductive and terrifying. The amplifiers feed back – the building seems to be shaking right to its foundations. “Sad Song” is one of Reed’s finest regretful ballads, and imbued with a sense of compassionate humanity that’s often swamped by its author’s crusty public image. Yet it’s another song that won’t be issued until Reed resurrects it as the devastating curtain-closer on his Berlin LP. Reed said in his interview by Howard Smith in the Village Voice in March, 1969: "I’ve always just felt that the people who were the novelists of the ‘50s and the ‘60s would have to make rock and roll records." Smith recalled in a 2012 interview with Ezra Bookstein: “Lou Reed was a challenge because I had written a buncha stuff making fun of the Velvet Underground – and yet he showed up. So I was nervous before the interview. But it was a challenging interview for another reason: Lou was like a cross between mystery and passive-aggressiveness. It might be partly shyness… so he was a strange guy, deep thinker, but kinda passive-aggressive before answering each question.” The MGM press kit gave this odd definition of The Velvet's leading singer: “Lou Reed is a true blue Piscean and a secret sensualist. With a face that arouses interest but gives no satisfaction. Eyes of amphetamine glamour and lips of Phoenician coloring.” Lou Reed liked 50's rock and roll, the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, and The Beach Boys, but found the Doors “tedious.” In an interview to Serge Denisoff for The Peak newspaper, Reed calls “The Gift” a “comedy in the Kafkaesque sense,” and feels that “acid is now an opiate of the people,” perhaps even “a Johnsonian plot.”

“Pale Blue Eyes” is justly hailed as one of Reed’s greatest love songs. Its melody and arrangement come closer than any other VU recording to pure folk-rock, especially with its prominent delicately picked guitar and almost crooning vocals. There’s no percussion save for a lonesome, rattling tambourine, and the subtle organ lends the song a dreamy, almost hymnal quality. Its inspiration is Shelley Albin, Reed’s old Syracuse girlfriend, whom he still saw on occasion in New York, even though she was now married. Certainly, the line about the subject of the song being married talks of Reed's central contradiction– the reassurance that what they did yesterday proving that she’s his best friend yet it's truly a sin too. Reed sounds ambivalent, even guilty, but is unable to let go of a deep emotional attachment and desire. In the May 1971 issue of Creem, Reed lets Lester Bangs in on his growing affection for more soothing music in the latter part of the Velvets’ career. “I’ve gotten to where I like ‘pretty’ stuff better,” Reed says: “I think it can function on both the intellectual or artistic levels at the same time. Like when I wrote ‘Jesus’ and ‘Candy Says.’ Those songs and ‘Sunday Morning’ have always been my favorite Velvet Underground songs.” At any rate, the Velvet Underground’s decision to go on as low-key and introspective a path as they can manage is just as subversive as their previous albums. Later, Reed would express public admiration for Nico’s Cale-produced records afterward, telling Vernon Gibbs in his 1971 interview with Metropolitan Review, “Her stuff with John Cale is gorgeous. It’s unlike anything else that I have heard.” –"White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day" (2017) by Richie Unterberger

"I just hope it doesn’t start getting thought of as this terrible down death album, because that’s not at all what I mean by it,” Lou Reed said of "Magic & Loss" (1992) to the Chicago Tribune: "I think of it as a really positive album, because the loss is transformed magically into something else." This recording project began its life with Lou wanting to write about magicians, before the deaths of his friends turned into an album about grief. In "Power and Glory," Reed begins with tales of magic and sorcery: "I saw a man put a red hot needle through his eye / turn into a crow and fly through the trees / swallow hot coals and breathe out flames / and I wanted this to happen to me." But then he turns, Oppenheimer-like, to the power of the atom. Lou was no doctor, but he knows something about pharmacology: "That mix of morphine and Dexedrine / We use it on the street." In "Warrior King," Reed channels his anger into a fantasy of omnipotence: "I wish I was a warrior king; inscrutable, benign / With a faceless charging power always at my command / Footsteps so heavy that the world shakes / My rage instilling fear." Reed feels his loss, but has reached a level of acceptance: "My friends are blending in my head / They're melting into one great spirit / And that spirit isn't dead."

Jim Morrison: “Sometimes I write a lot under the influence, I can be happy to watch what is happening around me… it changes the point of view. You look at yourself looking and so what you observe is something which you are also creating. It’s kind of… what I think Wittgenstein said about observing reality, that it responds to your looking like a whistle a guy gives to a pretty girl; reality is winking back at you or winking because you are looking at it. I’m interested in film because, to me, it's the closet approximation in art that we have to the actual flow of consciousness. Cinema is the transforming agent. Film is nothing when is not an illumination of this chain of being which makes a needle poised in flesh call up explosions in a foreign capital. The best songs come unasked for. You don't have to think about them. Actually, I think the music came to my mind first and then I made up the words to hang onto the melody. And a lot of times I would end up with just the words and couldn't remember the melody."  –"The Doors In Their Own Words" (1991) by Andrew Doe & John Tobler 

"It was daunting to see, to be near, to know that someone could be that beautiful, perfection realised. There was the feel of some delicate quality, masculine to be sure, a gentle presence; I was envious of Jim’s beauty, but I could also admire it. My eyes returned to the strange photo of the desert hanging in front of me; there was no life in it, no blade of grass, only texture upon texture, emptiness, a wanting. I had been there before. A place where I was alone. Each visit to the land of high had its own continuity, a welcome sense of familiarity. As if I were returning to where we had left off, and being high. I could return to the desert in Palm Springs, or the seashore in Venice. Return to a zone inside the time/space continuum and being inside the eternal now, I was alive in all time and space. Sitting quietly looking at this empty photo of strata, layer upon layer, forever immobile, it occurred to me that that was why Jim never feared death. He had visited life eternal on LSD and everything was glued together, life-death, space-time.  –"Tripping With Jim Morrison & Other Friends: With An Introduction By Timothy Leary" (2016) by Michael Lawrence

Friday, April 21, 2017

LSD Trip: Higher State of Consciousness, Love Trip with Jim Morrison (Love Him Madly)

D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) is the most potent hallucinogic substance known to man. Compared to other hallucinogic substances, LSD is 100 times more potent than psilocybin and psilocin and 4,000 times more potent than mescaline. LSD was discovered accidentally in 1943 by Swish chemist Albert Hofmann, having sinthetized it in the Sandoz laboratories in Basel. He swallowed 250 micrograms of LSD. In America Timothy Leary and Richard Alper wrote together the book "The Psychedelic Experience" (1964), Leary founded the IFIF (International Federation for International Freedom), but LSD would be illegal in California in 1966 and possession of LSD would be banned federally in the U.S. after the passage of the Staggers-Dodd Bill (Public Law 90-639). The psychiatric medician Oscar Janiger was other important pioneer of the collective difusion of LSD, although Leary was the most famous acid guru. Janiger had administered over three thousand LSD doses between 1954-1962 to volunteers and Hollywood personalities as Cary Grant, Jack Nicholson, Rita Moreno, André Previn, etc. In 1962, Janiger was investigated by the FBI and forced to abandon his supply. Aldous Huxley, Janiger's friend, was initiated with peyote in 1930 by Alesteir Crowley. Psychiatrist Humphry Osmond had introduced Huxley to mescalina in 1953. 

Huxley's psychedelic incursions were reflected upon his philosophical essays as "The Doors of Perception" and "Heaven and Hell." In 1963, sick with throat cancer in his deathbed, Huxley begged to be inyected LSD for pain relief. The CIA had created a hidden proyect called MKULTRA, financed through the Menlo Park militar hospital. Standford University's students and random bohemian beatniks offered themselves as guinea pigs for hundred dollars (the volunteers received LSD 25, psilocibine, mescaline, and DMT). Scientists studied their reactions and the military applied these knowledge for secret mentral control operations as described in the film "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962), starred by Frank Sinatra. ―"LSD-Origins" article from Route 66 magazine #132 (October 1997)

Scientific evidence of a ‘higher’ state of consciousness has been found in a study led by the University of Sussex. Neuroscientists observed a sustained increase in neural signal diversity – a measure of the complexity of brain activity – of people under the influence of psychedelic drugs, compared with when they were in a normal waking state. The diversity of brain signals provides a mathematical index of the level of consciousness. What is the level of consciousness of the psychedelic state? Empirically, measures of neural signal diversity such as entropy and Lempel-Ziv (LZ) complexity score higher for wakeful rest than for states with lower conscious level like propofol-induced anesthesia. Here we compute these measures for spontaneous magnetoencephalographic (MEG) signals from humans during altered states of consciousness induced by three psychedelic substances: psilocybin, ketamine and LSD. For all three, we find reliably higher spontaneous signal diversity, even when controlling for spectral changes. This increase is most pronounced for the single-channel LZ complexity measure, and hence for temporal, as opposed to spatial, signal diversity. These findings suggest that the sustained occurrence of psychedelic phenomenology constitutes an elevated level of consciousness – as measured by neural signal diversity. ―“What a Trip: First Evidence for Higher State of Consciousness Found.” NeuroscienceNews, 19 April 2017: Increased spontaneous MEG signal diversity for psychoactive doses of ketamine, LSD and psilocybin. Source:

I was really tired of trying to make Jim fall in love with me by pretending not to care, as if it were only by coincidence that my acid-induced ramblings had taken me backstage the past eleven months. My slickly incoherent version of a dumb blonde was wearing thin. “You have to be careful with acid,” Jim said: “It shouldn’t be misused. You should just take it at the right times, when you really mean it.” He sounded so reverent about the whole thing that I wondered if he was making fun of me. But he stayed all holy looking, so I started feeling guilty about all the wrong times I’d taken acid. My mind ranted in noisy desperation until I thought: He’s the man; he should do something. Jim drank his beer and contemplated the dusty curtains. He put down his beer, walked over to me, and lightly placed his hands on my shoulders. Looking into my face, his eyes invited me to stand; his hands, moving to my waist, commanded it. His arms tightening around me, Jim pulled me closer, lifting me in a kind of unrushed passion. Standing above me, his eyes holding mine intently, he slid the infamous black leather pants slowly down his pale, smooth skin. He moved softly down beside me. I lay there, mute and amazed. Playful, he indulged in a tug-of-war game with my clothes. His mood changed fluidly until he was moving slowly inside me, a sensual scientist searching and finding the right slants and curves. Keeping a quality of unhurried passion, he was lovely, mastering each sensation. Touching him was like meeting who he really was, and I liked him more. He was a good kisser, slow and dreamy and fierce all at once.  

When he took his defenses away like that, it blew me away. All I wanted to do was reassure him, love him; he was a stray child with no mother, lost in the world. We felt raw and tender in the moment and held each other with all the love we’d never found. It seemed the warmth and strength of those who will forever be friends. ”If it wasn’t for this, life wouldn’t be worthwhile,” Jim said, his voice near tears. The desolation in his words scared me, but then he transformed like a desert storm. He wanted to make love and threw off his clothes as his desperation mounted. “You know, you’ve always been good to me, in bed,” Jim said. “I want to keep seeing you. But it can’t be all the time, you know. I can’t go with you or anything. I’m not dependable; It would just be a few nights together every few weeks or so. Could you do that? I mean, could you handle it that way? I don’t want you to get hurt.” “Are they really that different? All the women?” I asked: “It seems like it’d get boring.” “Yeah. They’re all pretty much the same. I don’t know why I do it,” he sighed, his voice full of heavy dejection. Bill Siddons (The Doors manager) had warned me: “I just don’t think Jim can really relate to women. Except Pam, I guess. I don’t really know what their gig is. I don’t understand what he sees in her. She’s always crying. But she helped him a lot in the old days when he was getting started.”

“You know, I think we’re all slaves to our bodies!” Jim pronounced, glancing around tensely. As we drove through Beverly Hills, Jim threw his head out the window and waved to a small blonde child. “Hello, little girl!” he yelled exuberantly. She stared back, refusing to acknowledge his greeting. “Snotty kid,” he muttered. I pulled my floppy felt Greta Garbo hat off and on. “I wonder where we’ll be ten years from now?” he asked. “I don’t really want to know,” I said, throwing my hat in the backseat. “Oh, you’ll probably be married and painting on the side.” He spoke as if I had an easy, reassuring fate. I glared: “You’ll probably be married, too.” “Yeah, I probably will be,” Jim sighed in resignation.  I wondered whom he thought he’d marry. “You know,” Jim continued, “what I need is a woman who would just laugh at me. One who wouldn’t take me seriously… I mean, the things I do—the stupid things—she would just laugh.” I blurted out my LSD arrest story, emphasizing how I’d felt the blue veins on my wrist were life itself. Getting more physical, he went down on me. “I love your pussy,” he said: “You’re so beautiful!” I was really tired of that one; beauty was a shell. Turning from the window, he looked into my eyes: “Would you marry me?” “Yes,” I said. Knowing he was a person someone would marry seemed to cheer him up. Jim pulled me down next to him, rocking me back and forth in a slow, reassuring motion. “I love you,” he said, burying his head between my breasts. 

Another summer passed. In early October 1970, Jim’s voice on the end of the line sounded broken and thick. “I just got back from Miami,” he said. “Won’t you come and see me?” I didn’t know many details about his trial in Miami. “Where are you?” I asked, unable to think clearly. “Uh, it’s the Gene Autry Hotel. You know, the big one near the corner of Sunset…” I knew he wanted dreams, gentle lies; he wanted to forget. He brought over the bag of coke, and we snorted some. The wonders of cocaine soothed us both. We walked outside on the balcony, wordless and serene. Leaning out over the railing, we were naked, feeling pure and innocent. Ashes fell from the sky, enveloping all the people in smoke and smog. Crying silently, I turned to Jim. He held me back, a glass figurine, a fragile figment of imagination. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered. But he didn’t believe I loved him. I had to get the hell away, leave behind the years I’d lost dreaming about him. Decisively, I reached for my purse, smoothed down my clothes and hair. The part of him that wounded others was the weakness that destroyed him even more. His own pain made him blind to how he affected others. Self-obsession drove him—he couldn’t drive himself. It was as if he held a sharp blade turned inward as he pushed out against the world. That only pushed the knife farther in, embedding in his heart as he struck out, each time drawing more blood. –"Love Him Madly: An Intimate Memoir of Jim Morrison" (2013) by Judy Huddleston

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mental Illness on the rise, Suicidal ideation, Jim Morrison: The White Blind Light

An estimated 8.3 million American adults — about 3.4 percent of the U.S. population — suffer from serious psychological distress, an evaluation of federal health data concluded. “Mental illness is on the rise. Suicide is on the rise. And access to care for the mentally ill is getting worse,” said lead researcher Judith Weissman. She’s a research manager in the department of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “Earning and sustaining a living is getting harder for people, especially for men,” Weissman said. “The loss of jobs could mean there’s a loss of community and a loss of role as wage earners and providers.” “In the past, you may go out and meet with your friends and talk about something, but when you got home you’d go to sleep,” Dr. Trivedi said. “The difficulty now is you can’t really turn things off. We don’t necessarily have downtimes to recharge and get our bearings straight again.” The study was published April 17 in the journal Psychiatric Services. Source:

Therapists have long been aware of the connection between media depiction of suicide and a spike in suicide rates. An Australian survey of over 20 relevant studies from 2010 concludes: “There is good reason to expect that entertainment media depictions of suicide could lead to imitation acts: Such portrayals are widespread, often send a message reinforcing suicide as a course of action, often include graphic footage of the method of suicide, and often appeal to young audiences.” “I can almost guarantee that within the next year there will be a student we hear about on the news that actually does this exact process with the tapes,” said Katie Rutherford, a family therapist in Manhattan. She works with at-risk youth in the child welfare system, who have high rates of suicidal ideation.  90% of people who commit suicide suffer from mental illness. While external circumstances such as bullying can contribute to suicide, the show misses the opportunity to discuss the underlying cause. Source:

Patti Smith performed her debut album, Horses, and received a standing ovation on the first night of the  Byron Bay Bluesfest festival, on Thursday, 13 April. Released December 1975, Horses fused rock and roll structures and Smith's free-form, and was hailed by music critics as one of the greatest and most influential albums in the history of the American punk rock movement. Smith performed Gloria, Redondo Beach, Birdland, Free Money. Break It Up, Land, and Elegie. Before singing Break It Up, Smith explained to the audience that she wrote this song about The Doors frontman Jim Morrison, and based on her recollection of her visit of Morrison's grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris, as well as a dream in which she witnessed Morrison stuck to a marble slab shaped as an angel, trying and eventually succeeding in breaking free from the stone with Morrison donning 'big white wings.' Source:

Around the time Waiting For The Sun was released, Morrison became discouraged and then drank some more. Sometimes he'd have a fight with Pamela and say, "Well, you don't love me anymore, so I'm gonna jump." Then he'd crawl out the window and hang from the ledge. He'd just hang there and after a while he'd say something like, "You better be nice to me or I'm gonna let go." Jim wasn’t concerned about Pam’s expenditures, even though he would complain about it in a good-natured way to his friends. “He’d complain about, ‘God, all the money she’s spending on that place!’” says Babe Hill: “But he said it in such a way that you could tell he was really proud of her. Like a man talking about his frivolous wife. He loved her very much.” Morrison had Max Fink draw up a will in which he made Pamela his sole beneficiary. Jim signed it and had Paul Ferrara witness the will on February 12, 1969. “Pam was the all-inclusive person he would leave anything he had to,” says Ferrara: “His will was intended to prove to Pam that he did love her.” Seventeen days after signing this legal love letter, Jim Morrison committed professional suicide. He had screamed Wake Up! a thousand times and only a few eyes had even flickered. Maybe what destroyed him was their refusal to let him set them free. ―"Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison" (2014) by James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky

"I've become obsessed with Morrison. In his own way, he was very much on the front line. He was a warrior," Oliver Stone said of Jim Morrison. "He was an outlaw rebel pushing at boundaries. A searcher who wrote about sex and death, two things any guy who'd been in Vietnam could relate to." Morrison had come to personify what French philosopher Camus once said: "Nihilism results when clinical despair is permeated by a sense of life's absurdity." Ray Manzarek believed Stone's film The Doors portrayed Morrison as "a violent, drunken fool. That wasn't Jim. All you see is Jim as a drunken hedonist. The tragedy is that fame consumed him. But that wasn't Jim's message. He was intelligent. He was loving. He was a good man who believed in freedom and in questioning authority." Manzarek felt the lavish, re-created Doors concert footage was "brilliantly filmed, although over-amped and sensationalistic." Source:

Your home is still here. Violet, uncertain. Thank you, oh lord, for the white blind light. Jumped humped, born to suffer... Made to undress in the wilderness. All of us have found a safe niche where we can store up our riches and talk to our fellows... in the same premises of disaster. Thank you, oh lord, for the white blind light. Let me tell you about heartache in the loss of god... wandering, wandering in hopeless nights. Moonshine night, mountain village insane in the wood and the deep trees. ...and the deep trees... and the deep trees... Your home is still here. Violet, uncertain. Oh, I want to be there, I want us to be there, oh, I want to be there...beside the lake, beneath the moon.... Woolen, swollen... drinking its hot liquor... I want to be there. Thank you, oh lord, for the white blind light. A city rises from the sea. Let me tell you about heartache in the loss of god. Wandering, wandering in hopeless nights. Let me show you the maiden with rot iron soul. Out here in perimeter there are no stars. Out there we are stoned... Immaculate...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

"The Mist" TV trailer, "Strange Days" (Jim Morrison & The Witch)

Stephen King’s 1980 novella The Mist, about a small town lucky enough to be engulfed in a mysterious fog filled with monsters, is getting the TV series treatment at Spike, and as a trailer shows, series creator Christian Torpe has expanded the Mist-o-verse. While the novella (and Frank Darabont’s 2007 feature film) was set almost entirely in a single supermarket, the TV show, with hours to fill, will add everyone’s favorite thing about television: subplots! Now we’ll get to see how other, nonsupermarket-shopping inhabitants deal with the onslaught, whether they are trapped in a church, a mall, or even a car. What’s more, the mist itself now appears to have psychological effects on those caught in it, rather than simply being a convenient harbinger for a deadly attack by prehistoric monsters. The Mist will premiere on Spike on June 22, which should allow plenty of time for binge-watching before the actual mist arrives in late August.

Despite these changes, however, it seems like Torpe has stayed true to the positive and uplifting theme that has made the novella such a favorite all these years: Give people an excuse, no matter how slim, and they’ll bring back human sacrifice faster than you can say “Stephen King’s The Mist.” The cast list doesn’t include the characters from the story, so there’s no Mrs. Carmody, the religious nut who first suggests appeasing the monsters Old Testament–style in earlier versions of The Mist. Smart money’s on Frances Conroy’s character taking her place—she looks like she’s got some of that old-time religion in the trailer, plus she’s named “Natalie Raven.” In the novel, Mrs. Carmody is an elderly townswoman with a borderline reputation as a witch and an extreme belief in a bloodthirsty God. She actively thrives in the situation, eventually convincing a large fraction of the survivors that a human sacrifice must be made to clear away the mist. Source:

"Strange Days" is a narcissistic memoir of, mostly, a love affair with Jim Morrison. When Kennealy met the rock star in the third-to-last year of his life, they shook hands and there was a ``visible shower of bright blue sparks.'' ``What are you?'' Morrison asked. Kennealy replied that she was a witch--a Celtic high priestess. Then, she says, Morrison married her by her Celtic coven (a ceremony that -Kennealy admitted in Victoria Balfour's Rock Wives book- Morrison took “probably not too seriously”) and, in a ``blaze of love and passion ignited,'' they consummated their union six times in two hours. Morrison (who never lived with Kennealy) is a nebulous presence here, impossible to visualize by manner or by the romance-novel speeches supplied for him, and appears mostly as a foil to the Kennealy ego--which is queen-sized. Much ado about the high priestess, not enough about the Lizard King. Source:

Jim Morrison Progression video, featuring photos of Jim Morrison with his family, his girlfriend Pamela Courson, his musical partners The Doors, etc. Soundtrack: "Moonlight Drive", "Strange Days", "Love Me Two Times", "The Crystal Ship", and "Light My Fire" (stereo).