WEIRDLAND: July 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018

Elvis Presley—Where No One Stands Alone

The groundbreaking new album, Elvis PresleyWhere No One Stands Alone (2018), releasing on August 10, features 14 original performances of gospel songs with newly recorded instrumentation and backing vocals, all in support of Elvis’ original lead vocal recordings. “Saved” is an energetic gospel-rock call-and-response tune with some fun rhythmic twists, sassy lyrics and Darlene Love jumping in on background vocals. And in classic Elvis fashion, the king testifies as he gives up his errant ways. Produced by Joel Weinshanker, Lisa Marie Presley and Andy Childs, Elvis Presley—Where No One Stands Alone introduces newly recorded instrumentation and backing vocal contributions from music legends who’d performed on-stage and/or in-the-studio with Elvis, including Darlene Love, Cissy Houston, The Imperials and The Stamps. It also includes a reimagined duet with Elvis and his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, on the album’s title track and spiritual touchstone. “It was a very powerful and moving experience to sing with my father,” wrote Lisa Marie in her notes for the album. “The lyrics speak to me and touch my soul. I’m certain that the lyrics spoke to my father in much the same way.” Plus, the 50th anniversary celebration of the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special is coming to theaters in August, 16 and 20. Source:

Ann-Margret was known at the time—just after her breakthrough in Bye Bye Birdie—as the “female Elvis,” a high-voltage sex symbol who could sing, dance, and act. She described herself and Elvis as “eerily similar.” Just as intriguingly, Ann bore a likeness to Priscilla. The Swedish star and Elvis' part-Norwegian fiancé had pouty lips, pert noses, wide-set eyes, and heart-shaped faces; as Priscilla grew older, it often became difficult to distinguish her from Ann in certain photographs. Elvis and Ann-Margret had a relationship that was both intimate and friendly. His nicknames for her suggested as much: He called her either Rusty or Scoobie. “They had a great time and were madly in love,” in the opinion of Joe Esposito. “Ann and Elvis liked a lot of the same things. They were always happy.” Even Joe’s wife, Joanie, whose loyalties would lie with Priscilla, considered Elvis and Ann “terrific” together. Elvis was at a turning point in his personal life, faced with a choice between two women, Ann-Margret and Priscilla, that would determine the direction of his future. Several of the Presley aides—Marty Lacker, Lamar Fike, Billy Smith—would contend that Priscilla was Elvis’s second choice. Patti Parry, who had no ulterior motives and spent time observing Elvis with both Ann and Priscilla, considered Ann “the love of his life,” and it was clear, both then and later, that Ann-Margret felt the same way about Elvis. 

Although Ann refused, out of respect for Elvis, to discuss their love affair publicly, she referred to him in her 1994 memoir as her “soul mate.” She knew Elvis had promises to keep, and he vowed to keep his word. Ann-Margret was obviously referring to the Beaulieus’ arrangement with Elvis for Priscilla. “I really believe Elvis told Priscilla’s parents that he was going to marry her… and that was the deal,” Joe said. Ann-Margret made Elvis get outside his comfort zone; in many ways he liked that, but was also afraid of that. Elvis was threatened, in the judgment of virtually everyone who knew him, by Ann-Margret’s fame and independence. Patti explained: “I was in awe of Priscilla, but Ann-Margret—she and Elvis were equals. She was the best girl, the most fun. They would have been the perfect pair. But she wouldn’t give up her career, she wouldn’t be with him twenty-four hours a day, and he wanted someone who would be there twenty-four hours a day.” Other Elvis’s intimates shared this opinion. “Elvis knew Ann had a career and wasn’t going to give it up for him. He wouldn’t expect her to. And he knew he could never be with someone who was in the limelight; when he wanted them there, he wanted them. Not like ‘I’m on location, I can’t do it.’ Priscilla he knew would be there whenever he wanted her,” Joe reported. Priscilla enrolled in a dance class in Whitehaven, the Memphis suburb where Graceland was located, then tinted her long hair Titian and pulled it back from her face in a mod-style bouffant, like Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas

“The one person Priscilla wanted to look like, when she did her hair, was Ann-Margret,” confirmed Dee Stanley, who was fashion-conscious herself and noticed the transformation. “Everything like Ann-Margret she wanted to become.” “That’s because Ann-Margret was the love of his life, and Priscilla knew it,” commented Patti. Elvis’s feelings for the actress remained constant throughout his life; from 1964, when they broke off their relationship, until August 16, 1977, the date of his death, he sent her roses before every one of her performances. Elvis reconnected with Ann-Margret after one of her performances in Vegas that year. He called her late that night while she was with her husband, Roger Smith, hinting that he wanted her to come to his room to rekindle their relationship, but Ann declined.

Priscilla had become more confident of her standing in Elvis’s life, even instituting changes at Graceland. She never had to balance a checkbook and had an unlimited clothes budget. To a different young woman, a life of leisure with Elvis Presley might have been a fabulous fantasy, but for Priscilla, who craved variety and action and full-throttle sex, it was a form of exile. Heavy make-out sessions continued to be Elvis’s sex of choice with Priscilla; he seemed to get more pleasure, other sexual partners would attest, from dry-humping than from intercourse, due at least in part to his performance anxiety. “Yeah, he had hang-ups,” confirmed Sheila Ryan Caan, one of Elvis’s girlfriends. “He never completely grew up.” This was in some measure, Sheila believed, a residual fear of getting a woman pregnant and being sued for paternity. “Plus, he was a southern small-town guy. I mean, he kind of never grew up and dry-humping was kind of a thing. Actually, I kind of liked it. He liked the playing part. He was not perverse at all.” Elvis’s reluctance to complete intercourse with Priscilla left her frustrated often. Elvis was a victim of his sexually omnipotent image. As Priscilla analyzed: “I heard that the same phenomenon happened with Marilyn Monroe. She was a sex symbol, a sex goddess, and anyone who was with her expected to be blown out the door with ecstasy. And because of that, she was very insecure in that area. So it’s something that I can honestly see how he felt like that, because women talk about it, you know?” In a certain way, it begged the question whether Elvis and Priscilla had intercourse in Germany as Currie Grant claimed. Elvis felt that if he withdrew before the "sensation hit", it kept the woman as a virgin, in his mind anyway, so maybe he did think she was a virgin when they married, even though it was just an illusion. Being in Memphis while Elvis was shooting in L.A. or recording in Nashville was tantamount to solitary confinement to Priscilla. “Because I didn’t have anything to do!” she complained. “He didn’t want me to work. I remember shopping every single day!” Rumors began circulating through Elvis’s entourage that Priscilla was having an affair with her dance instructor Steve Peck. 

The prim, “good-girl” side of Priscilla’s split personality had deceived even Joe Esposito, who had known her since she was fourteen, for Priscilla admitted in her memoir that she had a sexual liaison with someone from her dance class, identified pseudonymously as “Mark.” “We knew about it,” said Charlie Hodge, who believed Priscilla’s lover was Steve Peck. “In fact, we were talking about it in a group with Elvis, and one of the guys said, ‘We could get a detective to follow her.’” But Elvis forbade them to use a private investigator to tail Priscilla and would not allow anyone to say a disparaging or unkind word about her in his presence. “Elvis said, ‘Anybody does that, they’re fired.’” The affair was reminiscent of the teenage Priscilla, back in Germany, when she maintained a double life with another boyfriend while Elvis was thousands of miles away in the United States, believing her to be faithful. Priscilla’s barely buried resentment came out years later, after Elvis died and she assumed control of the estate, when she would refer to certain members of the entourage as “has-beens and leeches”. 

In 1968, Elvis followed the TV comeback special with two critically and commercially successful singles, “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds,” and the comeback briefly revived his dormant sexual relationship with Priscilla, though it was still a “different kind of relationship,” in her words, meaning there was little intercourse.  She and Elvis, Priscilla said, usually had sex on the nights he opened and closed in Vegas each January and August, a ritual that resembled the mating habits of some exotic species, since they were seldom intimate on other occasions. After one of Elvis’s 1970 openings in Vegas, Priscilla missed her period for two months and thought she was pregnant. She told Elvis, and he was “elated. He was calling me every single day to see if in fact I was. And then when I told him that I wasn’t, it was a disappointment.” She was not happy in her lifestyle with Elvis; this was plain to all who knew Priscilla and from everything she said after their divorce. One of her primary complaints was that she and Elvis did not spend enough time together, but by show business standards, theirs was a relatively standard marriage in terms of family time as a couple: From 1967 to 1970 they took regular holidays in Hawaii, vacationed in the Bahamas, and spent Christmas at Graceland. Becky Yancey, the Graceland secretary, remembered Elvis buying Priscilla expensive jewelry—diamond rings, watches, charm bracelets.

This would have been some women’s Cinderella story, but the glass slipper did not fit Priscilla. She was restless, sexually unfulfilled, dissatisfied, and bored—as she had been, in truth, from her first days at Graceland. The difference now was that she had realized her goal—to marry Elvis Presley—and she could move on. Nancy Rooks, the longtime Graceland maid, always felt, interestingly, that Priscilla “was not as much in love with Elvis as he was with her.” Elvis once told Kathy Westmoreland, his friend and backup singer after 1970, that Priscilla “never loved him, she only wanted a career for herself.” Elvis was still searching for answers to the spiritual questions that both haunted and compelled him, issues that did not intrigue Priscilla or most of his male entourage, whose interests were more shallow. Elvis told actress Barbara Leigh that the spiritual dimension was missing from his relationship with Priscilla. A declaration signed by Elvis in his divorce papers attested he knew about Mike Stone by December and that Priscilla informed him, that Christmas holiday, that she wanted her freedom; Becky Yancey confirmed this in a book she wrote in 1977. Elvis spent his birthday, January 8, at Graceland with Joyce Bova, while Priscilla rejoined Mike Stone at their apartment in Belmont Shore. Ed Parker later wrote of a conversation he had with Elvis around this time, when Elvis told him Priscilla was leaving him: “He poured out his soul that night, and I saw him cry for the first time.” 

Elvis, once past his initial anger over Priscilla’s betrayal, slipped into a frightening decline. The maids at Graceland noticed that he lay around much of the time, exhibiting “a lot of depressed feelings and loneliness,” as Nancy Rooks stated it. “There was a lot of talk about his mother. On Mother’s Day he would cry. He wanted her picture by his bed.” The catalyst was Priscilla’s departure: “He thought they should always be together.” Elvis and Red West wrote, and Elvis recorded, the song “Separate Ways” that year, a transparently autobiographical account of his breakup with Priscilla. Barbara Leigh had little sympathy for the story Priscilla would later tell of her hellish life with Elvis: “I think she tries to paint herself as the good one in the picture, when I know, in truth, that she broke his heart forever.” Ed Hookstratten, who handled the divorce, held Priscilla responsible as well. “After that, Elvis started to slide,” he said. “And after that, he slid and slid, until he finally died. The divorce was the turning point, and I was close to that situation. I saw it with my own eyes.” It was Elvis who filed for divorce from Priscilla on August 18, 1972, six months after their final encounter in Las Vegas, though the instigator was clearly Priscilla. “He did not want the divorce,” asserted Ed Hookstratten, who filed the petition for Elvis. After Elvis' death, Priscilla became the executrix of Elvis’s estate.

Elvis' physical decline had worsened when his relationships with Sheila Ryan and Linda Thompson ended late in 1976. His entourage would say Elvis dismissed Linda, who was having an affair with a musician named David Briggs; Linda’s account was that she moved out voluntarily, tired of Elvis’s “vampire” life. Quite probably it was a combination. “I think that Linda was growing tired of it all,” said Shirley Dieu, who was living with Joe Esposito then. “If you were with Elvis, you had to stay in a locked room with foil on the windows. I think she got fed up, and she heard that David was worth a million dollars and she latched right on to him. Everybody felt that Elvis knew it but didn’t want to be embarrassed by it, and he made it look like he was getting rid of her before she left.” On November 19, 1976, George Klein ferried the Alden sisters, Terry and Ginger, to Graceland to meet Elvis. 

Elvis had an immediate, almost out-of-body experience upon seeing Ginger Alden. “His first words to me were, ‘Ginger, you’re burning a hole through me,” she recalled. “When I like someone, I really like them a lot,” Elvis mumbled on their first date. “It’s not just a fling. I don’t like one-night stands.” “I don’t like one-night stands, either,” Ginger replied. Elvis told Ginger she resembled his mother, and in truth she did, particularly around the eyes, which, like those of Elvis’s mother, were brown, deep-set, expressive, and soulful. “When I see Ginger, I feel like I’m falling into my mother’s eyes,” Elvis told Larry Geller. Elvis became instantly obsessed with Ginger and telephoned her parents the next weekend to invite her to join him on his tour. By December, less than three weeks later, while Elvis was appearing in Vegas, he was picturing them married. “Elvis told me when he closed his eyes he kept having visions of me in a white gown.” He called Jo Alden, Ginger’s mother, during the Vegas engagement and said, “Mrs. Alden, I’m in love with your daughter and I want to marry her,” according to Ginger. On January 26, back at Graceland, he proposed to an incredulous Ginger. The setting, as it had been with Priscilla, was a bathroom. “I noticed a lot of commotion at Graceland,” Ginger recalled. “People coming in and out and phone calls being made often. He called me into his bathroom, where I sat in a chair as he knelt down in front of me. He said: ‘Ginger, I’ve been searching for love so long, and never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would find it. I’ve been sixty percent happy and forty percent happy, but never a hundred percent. I’ve loved before but I've never been in love. Ginger, I’m asking you: Will you marry me?’ and then presented a gorgeous diamond ring. I was so surprised as I said yes.” 

Elvis showered the bewildered Ginger with gifts. “He gave her three or four diamond rings at a time,” said Jo Alden. “She told him one time, ‘Elvis, I would be just as happy for a box of candy or flowers.’ ” Elvis responded, “Well, you’re going to have to get used to it.” Ginger recalled that “Elvis said he would love to have a son and he wanted me to be the mother. We had started a list of names.”  For some of his entourage, the entire courtship had an air of almost tragic desperation. George Klein felt Ginger was “misunderstood” by the guys, because, in Jo Alden’s words, she “didn’t pal around” with them, as had Linda, who had been their favorite. Rick Stanley attributed this resentment to Elvis envy. Ricky was present when Elvis called together the guys at Graceland on January 26 to announce that Ginger had accepted his marriage proposal. “He cared about Ginger, he really did,” Ricky recalled. “He told me he was gonna marry her. Showed me the ring, the whole thing.” Kathy Westmoreland, who was still keeping company with Elvis, believed that Elvis had changed, that he was maturing, that he genuinely wanted to be in a monogamous relationship with Ginger. “He was really in love with her. I felt that she was beautiful and sweet, maybe too young to really understand him and cope with his needs at that particular point. And there were a lot of problems in his life too.” Elvis, whose dreams had been broken, saw Ginger as his potential salvation, a means of resurrecting the shattered fantasy of finding his twin soul. Marrying Ginger, to Elvis, was the magic pill—like waving a wand and erasing the regrets of his past.

Elvis and Larry had many deep conversations, occasionally drifting to the subject of Priscilla. Elvis had changed his mind in thinking they were soul mates. He still believed there was a “karmic link” between them, but it had taken on a different meaning in Elvis’s mind. “It took me a long time to realize Priscilla is not my soul mate,” he told Larry during his last few months. “Priscilla came into my life for two major reasons: one, so we could have Lisa and number two, so I could teach her. Priscilla came to learn a lot of lessons about life.” Larry recalled Elvis saying, “I had to push her out of the nest so she could fly with her own wings.” Elvis himself realized, at the end, the paternal—as opposed to carnal or erotic—connection he had with Priscilla. —"The Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley" (1997) by Suzanne Finstad

I followed Elvis out of one of the hotel’s back doors. There, gleaming beneath nearby lights, was a brand-new white Lincoln Continental Mark V with white leather seats and a burgundy dashboard. Elvis walked toward the car and everyone gathered around it. I was still confused about why this car was here or what we were doing. Then Elvis looked at me and nonchalantly said, “It’s yours, Ginger.” To say I was overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe the enormity of my emotional reaction. I had never even owned a car before, and now I had a Lincoln Mark V? All I could say was, “Thank you.” I was excited to test-drive my new car, but Elvis turned to go back inside. I didn’t know Las Vegas, understood he must be tired, and was okay with following him back up to the penthouse. I was still reeling with excitement. Once we were back in the suite and seated in bed, Elvis asked me, “Have you ever been married before?” “No,” I said, a little surprised by his question. “Were you seeing anyone before we met?” he pressed. I answered, “Yes,” momentarily thinking about Linda’s phone call. I wondered if that was what had prompted this conversation. Elvis thought about this for a few moments, then said, “Well, I would like it if you wouldn’t see anyone else.” He was seriously asking for a commitment! As odd as this sounds, it also made me feel good to think that Elvis was really that serious about us. But how could I be sure? 

What Elvis did next made me believe he felt as deeply about me as I did about him. Without saying a word, Elvis suddenly leaned in and kissed me on the mouth, but not a light kiss like before. Then he slowly began removing my bathrobe. I felt chills as he touched me. Was this it? Were we finally going to make love? I was aroused but anxious, barely able to breathe. I had been afraid of letting go of my feelings, terrified of being hurt by sleeping with Elvis and then have him move on to someone else, but at this moment, I wanted to make love with him. I stayed completely still, letting Elvis open my robe and begin touching me. “Please, love me, Ginger,” Elvis said softly, kissing me again. Then, still partially dressed in our sleepwear, Elvis and I made love for the first time. This crazy tension and our heightened emotions made our intimacy all the more intense. Elvis’s lips were soft and his kisses were filled with passion. He was gentle, yet I felt his determination to prove that he should be the only man in my life. He succeeded. I was experiencing emotions and physical sensations that were completely out of control, and, in keeping with Elvis’s TCB motto, it was all happening lightning fast. —"Elvis and Ginger: Elvis Presley's Fiancée and Last Love Finally Tells Her Story" (2014) by Ginger Alden

Thursday, July 26, 2018

“The King”, Elvis & Nixon, Rock frequency

Greil Marcus is one of the talking heads in Eugene Jarecki's documentary “The King” (2017), and he makes a deep and stunning point about Elvis and “the pursuit of happiness.” For the whole notion of pursuing happiness had been written into the American Declaration of Independence. For a long time the world was too harsh a place to make that pursuit anything but a luxury. The American experiment was to democratize happiness—or, at least, the pursuit of it. And Elvis Presley acted that out with every sexy-cherubic smile and jolt of his body and crystal-clear tremolo he sang. “The King” (released on Amazon DVD on August 17, 2018) lets you hear that. And then it asks: How, in a culture devoted to the pursuit of happiness, with an artist like Elvis as its king, did we begin to lose sight of how to achieve our own happiness? And how can we get that back? “The King” ends with a brilliant montage set to an astonishing piece of footage: Elvis, right at the end, when he’s a pale, drugged-out mess, seated on stage at the piano singing “Unchained Melody”. It’s wrecked, and it’s transcendent. We hear what Elvis was, what he became, and what he could have been. To watch “The King” is to feel, about America, that same fusion of memory and loss, devastation and hope. Source:

In the National Archive documents pertaining to the President Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley meeting in December 1970, there is a memorandum from Egil Krogh, explaining that “Presley indicated that he thought the Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit…The president nodded in agreement… Violence, drug usage, dissent, protest, all seem to merge in generally the same group of young people… Presley also mentioned that he is studying Communist brainwashing and the drug culture for over ten years.” The irony, of course, is that while Presley was seeking to procure an undercover narcotics agent’s badge, he was addicted to a combination of prescription drugs that would lead to his untimely death in 1977 at the age of 42. Most of Nixon’s years in office (1969-74) were consumed by crisis. The United States would suffer a major defeat in Vietnam during his administration. Nixon faced enormous unrest and the Watergate scandal ultimately drove him out of the executive office in disgrace. 

"Vietnam sucked you into the jungle, it sucked you in, and from there—whether you believed that we were good turned evil, or evil to begin with—you returned evil, all morality vanished. What happened there, he wondered: did you become evil, or did you just see your true evil self? Who was transforming whom? whichever—and you could never know—there you were stuck, there you remained. Vietnam was a mirror, and America—with each occasional glimpse at its true exposed self—took a step back, a step away from the mirror, from the truth; toward retreat and deceit, because self-delusion was easy… Vietnam was a swamp from which you never emerged. The best hope, the only way out, was to disengage. But what if you couldn’t disengage? What if we had become Vietnam?" Elvis stared at the box. Then he looked at Richard Nixon, into his eyes. The President seemed even more ill at ease than before, smiling nervously, and now Elvis saw—the thought flashed in his head—that it was all an act. That you construct a kingdom, lives around you, and then they turn you out. Elvis hovers just this side of caricature, but redeemed by his core sweetness. —"Elvis and Nixon" (2001) by Jonathan E. Lowy

The evolution of popular music: USA 1960–2010: Between 1960 and 2009, the mean frequency of H1 declined by about 75%. H1 captures the use of dominant-seventh chords. Inherently dissonant (because of the tritone interval between the third and the minor-seventh), these chords are commonly used in Jazz to create tensions that are eventually resolved to consonant chords featured in tracks such as “I Feel So Bad” by Elvis Presley; songs tagged blues or jazz have a high frequency of H1; it is especially common in the songs of Blues artists such as B.B. King and Jazz artists such as Nat ‘King’ Cole.

The decline of this topic, then, represents the lingering death of Jazz and Blues in the Hot 100 Billboard. Styles and genres represent populations of music that have evolved unique characters (topics), or combinations of characters, in partial geographical or cultural isolation, like country music in the Southern USA during the 1920s. Between 1967 and 1977, the mean frequency of H3 more than doubles. H6 combines several chord changes that are a mainstay in modal rock tunes. Its increase between 1978 and 1985, and subsequent decline in the early 1990s, marks the age of Arena Rock. Of all H-topics, H5 shows the most striking change in frequency. This topic, which captures the absence of identifiable chord structure, barely features in the 1960s and 1970s when, a few spoken-word-music collages aside (e.g. those of Dickie Goodman), nearly all songs had clearly identifiable chords. H5 starts to become more frequent in the late 1980s and then rises rapidly to a peak in 1993. Source:

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sex Addiction: Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison

"Treat me like a fool, Treat me mean and cruel, But love me. Wring my faithful heart, Tear it all apart, But love me. If you ever go, Darling, I'll be oh so lonely, I'll be sad and blue, Crying over you, dear only. I would beg and steal, Just to feel your heart, Beatin' close to mine. Well, if you ever go, Darling, I'll be oh so lonely, I'll be sad and blue, Crying over you, dear only. Beggin' on knees, All I ask is please, please love me." ―"Love Me" by Elvis Presley, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, recorded August 1, 1956

The beautiful Ms Linda Thompson shared so much of the Presley lifestyle after the departure of Priscilla that the word ‘relationship’ barely covers what they meant to each other. Linda met him on July 6, 1972. "I was Miss Tennessee Universe and T. G. Sheppard invited me to the Memphian Theater after midnight. I had a lot of trepidation about it. But my girlfriend, who was Miss Rhode Island, said we had to go. So if we hadn’t have gone, I probably would never have met Elvis. I even made a joke about the Dracula look and Elvis wasn’t fazed. He sat down and was very sweet. It was as if we had known each other our whole lives." But the doubts resurfaced that night. "I got home at about four o’clock in the morning and the phone rang. It was Elvis. His speech was slurred. I had never been around anyone who was incapacitated like that. I said, ‘Are you drunk? Why is your voice slurred?’ He said, ‘Oh, honey, I’m just tired.’ Of course, I found out he took sleeping medication, and I am sure he had taken a sleeping pill before talking to me. I wasn’t nervous because he was so down home and down to earth – there really was a sense of humility about him."

"I never felt more loved and more listened to and more known than when I was with him. One of the most beautiful qualities a person can have is humility and Elvis personified that. I always felt that he took the time to listen, to engage in conversation, to look you in the eye, to get tears in his eyes when the subject got to something sentimental. For Elvis it was love at first sight. He invited me to meet his father Vernon. Right away, he was saying, “Where have you been all my life?” It was part of his personality to want to hear things straight. Then we went straight to Las Vegas, where he was rehearsing for his shows at the Hilton. There were times when he was very paternal with me, very nurturing and caring. And there were times when I was very maternal to him because he was such a big baby." The affection bred pet names for each other: "I called him “Gullion” and “Bunton” and he called me “Adriadne” and “Mommy”. She didn’t accept that he wasn’t always the most faithful of lovers: "I tried to understand it. I was very young and he was very needy. There were times when Elvis wanted me to be with him all the time. In the first year, he did not even go to a dentist without my accompanying him. I was with him twenty-four hours a day in that first year. Apparently, he broke his record for fidelity. I knew he was mostly faithful because he never left my side and I never left his. I adored him and so was happy to be there most of the time. I tried to understand the infidelity. He was a prisoner, sequestered with the Memphis Mafia. He always said he only loved me. I certainly felt very loved by him. He would say that in his own way, ‘I am completely faithful to you and I don’t love anyone else.’ I always felt very loved and very treasured and respected by him. When I look back, the thing I most remember about Elvis is his tenderness, his kindness. When he told me he loved me, he had tears in his eyes. He had great passion. He was so sensitive. And very funny. He had a bracelet that said ‘Elvis’ in diamonds and he flipped it over and it said ‘Crazy’."

Linda also believed that he couldn’t refuse women, that as a southern gentleman, he literally didn’t want to be discourteous to their advances. “He wanted to please, and he didn’t know how to be standoffish with women, because that was not how he was raised. He always treated all women like ladies.” She had no doubt about her status with him. Above all, Linda remembered ‘his tenderness, his kindness. He was sensitive, passionate. Also very funny.’ There was another side to him, she always recognised, which to many people would seem in direct contradiction to his womanising and unruly behaviour. ‘He had a very distinct spiritual side,’ she emphasised. ‘He really felt the need for a God’– and, of course, there were always the songs he chose. ‘He grew up in a spiritual environment in Tupelo,’ she recalled. Elvis's relationship with Linda derived naturally into a cordial friendship, when in November 1976,  Elvis met Ginger Alden, a young model from Memphis.

Elvis invited Priscilla’s family, including her parents Paul and Ann Beaulieu, to his dressing room. He spoke to Michelle, Priscilla’s sister, about his hands. He was self-conscious that they were very bloated. But Priscilla had noticed them three years earlier on the day they met in the judge’s chambers and signed the final divorce decree. As they sat with their fingers entwined, Priscilla grew alarmed at how puffy Elvis was. “I knew something was different; something was wrong. I could see it in his eyes, I could feel it in his hands.” Now in Vegas, Paul sensed that “he didn’t want to let us go. He kept thinking of topics that would prolong the conversation, asking us what we needed and wanted.” After the divorce, Elvis had called Ann and said, “Please speak with Cilla,” and begged her to try to convince his ex-wife to come back to him. “It was a very sad conversation. I felt how desperately he wanted to keep his family together.” Ann knew that her daughter was determined to move on with her life, but she told Elvis that she would do what she could. “Please do,” he pleaded. “I want you all to be part of my family.” It was like a sword through her. “Elvis,” she said, “we’ll always be part of your family.” Priscilla knew Elvis held out hope that they would reunite. “I’d take Lisa over to his house and he’d say, ‘Cilla, go do what you have to do now. Go see the world. But when you’re forty and I’m fifty, we’ll be back together. You’ll see.” She would later say that in the last year of his life, “We underestimated his emotional pain. And he lacked the means to fully express that pain.” 

Ginger Alden was learning that being on the road and staying cooped up in Las Vegas was not the heady trip that it appeared. Once the glamour wore off, Ginger was homesick for her mother and sisters. And, Elvis learned, she missed a young man she had been seeing in Memphis. One day, in their bedroom in the Imperial Suite Elvis was seemed frustrated and adrift. She rarely saw him like that, and asked what was the matter. “Elvis found out that Ginger had a boyfriend, so he told her to call him and tell him that it was over, and she wouldn’t do it. She kept saying no.” Elvis and Ginger exchanged heated words, and then in anger, Elvis picked up a glass of orange juice and threw it across the room. Shirley had just taken the plastic off her dry cleaning, and now it was covered with sticky pulp. Ginger shrugged it off: “Oh, I was so mad! But he felt bad about it, I could tell. It was sad. Linda had taken off with David Briggs, and he wanted to show her that he could get someone who was prettier and younger.” Elvis seemed all too desperate to make the romance bloom, while others accused him of keeping Ginger a virtual hostage. More and more, there seemed to be nothing Elvis wouldn’t do to win Ginger’s affections. He went to her grandfather’s funeral in Arkansas on January 3, 1977, flying her family to Harrison, Arkansas, and then accompanying Ginger on the twenty-mile drive to Jasper for services in a tiny rural church. 

Elvis was more impetuous in all matters of love now. On January 9, he spurred his dentist, Max Shapiro to marry his young fiancée, Suzanne, in Palm Springs that very day, waking Larry Geller in the middle of the night to come perform the ceremony. Elvis bought the rings, and Ginger stood in as maid of honor. “When Elvis met Ginger,” Geller observed, “something came over this guy. Part of it was beautiful, because he just so desperately wanted a real relationship. The next morning, he said to me, ‘Man, I can’t believe this girl! I look at that woman’s eyes, and it’s my mother’s eyes.’ So for the first month, he was really just nuts over Ginger.” Elvis had confided to Geller about a previous sentimental dilemma. “I have to make a decision. It’s between Ann-Margret and Priscilla. I really love them both, but I’m choosing Priscilla because I want a wife who isn’t in show business, somebody who will devote herself to a family.”

In Vegas, 'Memphis Mafia Princess' Shirley Dieu had caught Elvis taking Ginger’s hand and putting it between his shoulder and neck. Then he placed his own hand on top of hers, and patted it. “See Shirley,” he said, “she loves me just like you love Joe.” It worried Shirley and other friends as to how far Elvis might go. Nothing about his involvement with Ginger indicated rational thinking. In Palm Springs, especially, Elvis seemed to have almost no control over his impulses. Ginger was a symbol for Elvis, whom he could project his dreams onto, whilst in denial about what was going on in his life: his health problems, his waning youth, his conflicts with Colonel Parker. On January 26, 1977, Elvis came to Ginger and proposed with an engagement ring. “It was like old-fashioned times, he was on his knees,” recalled Ginger: “He asked me to marry him, and I said, ‘Yes.’” She was sitting in his black reading chair in the upstairs bathroom at Graceland, and he pulled out a green velvet box and produced a stunning eleven-and-a-half-carat diamond worth $70,000. He was in such a hurry for it, that jeweler Lowell Hays took the stone from Elvis’s own TCB flash ring until he could find a replacement. Ginger was now the second woman to whom Elvis had proposed in a bathroom.

Ginger often questioned Elvis’s medication use, she would say later, and tried to get him to not take the packets that Dr. George Nichopoulos (aka Dr. Nick) prescribed and Tish Henley doled out like clockwork. It was, in fact, the reason for some of their arguments. “Although I asked him to try not to use the medication that I thought he did not need, and there were times that he didn’t, I truly believed that in time I would be able to convince him.” However, on the morning of August 16, 1977, Ginger had no opportunity to reason with him because she was heavily medicated herself. She had menstrual cramps, and about 6:30, Elvis had called Tish Henley and asked her to bring up something so Ginger could sleep. The beauty queen would later say she took Quaalude tablets, but the nurse, who kept her drugs under lock and key in her trailer, would insist she sent up one Dilaudid pill, though the opiate was far more powerful than anything Ginger could have needed for menstrual pain.

Ginger didn’t watch Elvis like Linda did. Finally, at 2:20 P.M., Ginger turned over in Elvis’s huge bed and found it empty. Had he never come back to sleep? She noticed his reading light was still on, and thought it peculiar. Ginger knocked on the bathroom door. “Elvis?” There was no answer, and so she turned the knob. “That’s when I saw him in there,” she said later. Elvis was slumped on the floor, angled slightly to the right. He was on his knees, his hands beneath his face, in a near praying position. His pajama bottoms bunched at his feet. Elvis had seemed to fall off the toilet. He laid so still, so unnaturally still. Elvis’s death had not been quick. Nor had it been painless. But if Elvis had called out, Ginger likely would not have heard him, so deep was her drugged sleep. Ginger was in a state of shock. “I didn’t want to think he was dead. God wouldn’t want to take him so soon.” Elvis Presley had died of polypharmacy complications in the bathroom at Graceland, at the age of forty-two. Elvis had crawled several feet and vomited before dying—but he didn’t want Ginger to see any more, and sent her into the other room. Then he called for an ambulance, and got Dr. Nick on the phone and mumbled something about a heart attack. Ginger was struck with “an overwhelming sense of sadness, disbelief, and feeling as if Graceland had also died.” —"Baby, Let’s Play House: Elvis Presley and the women who loved him" (2009) by Alanna Nash

A new classification of sex addiction as a mental disorder by the World Health Organization could monumentally shift the conversation surrounding a condition that's often deeply misunderstood. Experts who treat sex addictions hope the classification will help change the disorder's perception from a moral failing to simply a medical issue. In its new International Classification of Diseases, WHO defines "compulsive sexual health disorder" as a "persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behavior." The new classification means that sex addiction can be diagnosed based on a list of criteria. Experts also hope the new classification will chip away at a larger goal: destigmatizing sex addiction. Most sex addicts, Magness said, are ordinary people. "Most of the people that I work with are people with very high morals, very responsible, leaders in their industries, physicians...," Dr. Milton Magness said. For those people – the vast majority of whom are men – experts hope the diagnosis will open the door for treating sex addiction like any other mental health issue. Source:

Brett Farmer places Elvis Presley's "orgasmic gyrations" of the title dance sequence in Jailhouse Rock (1957) within a lineage of cinematic musical numbers that offer a "spectacular eroticization of the male image". Lester Bangs credited Elvis as "the man who brought overt blatant sexual frenzy to the popular arts in America." Elvis would grow up to be a beautiful man with soft characteristics (full lips, sleepy eyes) that coupled with his swinging dance onstage accounted for his wild sex-appeal. Elvis's traditional upbringing and high testosterone levels confirmed him as a full-blown heterosexual. The adult Elvis saw no conflict in his desire to wear mascara and carry a gun—the symbolic phallus—at the same time. Albert Goldman's biography Elvis (1981) was clearly attempting to sneer and deride, to debunk the "Elvis Myth", to deplore the squandered potential, even to revel in the degradation. For many fans and critics, Goldman's research was undermined by his intense personal dislike of Presley. The popular music historian Charles Hamm even wanted Goldman's Elvis to be reclassified as fiction. Goldman's research was limited to merely recording with every sign of glee, how Elvis's talent, once arisen, fell back into what Goldman sees as the traditional illiterate half-coma of popular culture.

Mama Gladys raised Elvis on stories about a twin brother who died at birth, imaginable cause of what Albert Goldman sees as Elvis' bad/good "split personality." Gladys' death seemed to remove his wholesome foundation, opening the way to drugs, overeating, sex addiction, occultism, and guns. Later came his TV comeback special on December 3, 1968 and his bizarre Vegas phase, soon followed by a descent into "infantilism, drug invalidism and madness", all triggered by anonymous death threats (Colonel Parker notified the FBI they came from Charles Manson's circle) and Priscilla's infidelities. Elvis Presley is merely the focus for Albert Goldman’s contempt for a kind of successful regional man or mass personality. Goldman is palpably scared by the vitality of non-intellectual life among humankind. Source:

Like Elvis, Jim Morrison's at times ambiguous appeal belonged to his onstage antics. Offstage, Morrison was the most flaming blatant heterosexual you can imagine. He was unswervingly heterosexual in his gender orientation, glowingly sensual and blazingly secure in his very considerable masculinity, ardently devoted to his physical enjoyment of women, and theirs of him, and a gentleman besides. Jim Morrison always craved attention from male and female audiences while his personal sex life was exclusively heterosexual. His face was more than handsome, it was pretty and displayed vulnerability, but he was not feminine. In his eyes something definitely masculine burned. More than masculine, something dangerous. ―"Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison" (2014) by James Riordan

“Being drunk is a good disguise,” said Jim Morrison. His pupils dilated, forming a black core that penetrated me. I felt his violence prickling under my skin, threatening to erupt between us. “Now, what are you? A cunt.” I blundered defiantly. “You’re mine. You’re my cunt.” He gave me a desperate, searching look, his voice was raw. “Do you understand that? You’re only mine.” He scrutinized me, waiting for resistance. I gave none, feeling strangely secure and comforted, as if we were locked together in some primal way. His harshness subsided. Later, lying peacefully entwined, Jim asked, “Do you know what I mean when I talk to you like that?” ”I think so,” I said. I felt he was trying to define sexuality, reducing us to the basic elements. “It’s hard to explain,” he began. “No. I do know what you mean,” I thought I did. Jim agreed, lying down beside me and smiling sweetly. He sighed and rolled his head across the pillow to look up at me shyly, almost worshipfully. His eyes were wide and vulnerable, with a boy’s 'do-you-like-me' look. 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. “You know, we really get along well, don’t you think?” he asked, an astonished look spreading across his face. “We should spend a lot more time together.” “It’s easy to be with you, too,” I smiled. We just stared at each other, embarrassed. “You take birth control pills or something, don’t you? I mean, if we’re going to keep seeing each other, we don’t want you getting knocked up or anything.” “I grew up on them,” I said icily. When we walked outside, the smog in L.A.’s air had produced a twilight mirage of color; the evening sky glowed an incandescent lavender, pink, and salmon. Piled into his friend's tiny convertible, we drove down Sunset Boulevard. The night was warm, the lights sparkling. ―"Love Him Madly: An Intimate Memoir of Jim Morrison " (2013) by Judy Huddleston

It was the greatest night of my life/Although I still had not found a wife/We were close together/We tripped the wall and we scaled the graveyard/Ancient shapes were all around us/The wet dew felt fresh beside the fog/Two made love in an ancient spot/One chased a rabbit into the dark/And I gave empty sermons to my head/Cemetary, cool and quiet/Hate to leave your sacred lady/Dread the milky coming of the day ―Graveyard Poem by Jim Morrison

Monday, July 09, 2018

The Straight Dope, Iconoclast Jim Morrison

It's 1969, and the world is on fire. When rock music reporter Tom Bean gets a tip that something is fishy about the death of The Rolling Stones' Brian Jones, he investigates and gets a beating for his troubles. That sets him on a race to stay one step ahead of shadowy killers targeting Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison as he tries to save their lives. Fast-moving and noirish, this historical novel is based on actual FBI and CIA operations of the time, including the implausibly named but entirely real Operation CHAOS, which tried to disrupt opponents of the Nixon Administration. Dain Dunston gives us a rock & roll novel in the tradition of Nick Horby, Don DeLillo and Jennifer Egan. The Straight Dope takes us on a tour of the world of rock, chasing the action from San Francisco to New York, London and Paris.

“Nearly 50 years after they died, the members of the 27 Club still haunt us. In this page-turner of a thriller, Dain Dunston's young reporter tries to stop their killers. Can peace and love win out?” — Charles McNair, The Epicureans. "Probably you're thinking it's implausible that the CIA wanted to kill four counter-culture rock stars in the 1960s. The Straight Dope is a trippy ride into the what-if of the weirdest part of the American 20th Century, when Manson really did hang out with the Beach Boys, Hunter S. Thompson really did ride with the Hells Angels... and the Feds really did regard rock and roll as a threat. This thing is so good I had the munchies after the first chapter.” — Neely Tucker, The Ways of the Dead. Source:


The night I met Jim Morrison my pen ran out of ink. I was on the corner outside the Carousel Ballroom at Market and Van Ness. There was a line of kids waiting to see Janis Joplin play her last gig with Big Brother and the Holding Company and I was making a note about the scene. I didn’t write much about the L.A. bands and I didn’t know much about him. All I knew was – and it was now confirmed – that Jim Morrison was trouble. "Who the fuck are you?" asked Morrison. "I’m Tom Bean. From the Chronicle." He swayed on his feet and stared at me and then his eyes softened. He reached a hand out and put it on my shoulder. I drove home the long length of Geary Boulevard, trying to remember if I knew any songs in praise of redheaded girls. Morrison: "You ever think about what it’s like to be human? Like birds. They don’t know why they fly south, they just do it. We do things and don’t know why we do them. It’s all like a cosmic game, you know? Let me buy you breakfast."  He surprised me. He looked remorseful and ashamed. Morrison’s idea of lunch was the first bar we came to on 5th Street. It was called The Shillelagh, a dark Irish bar filled with Teamsters who drove the Chronicle’s trucks and men from the Typographical Union. Morrison astonished me by saying he loved Rilke, and quoting him. "Love is never understood; and what we lose in Death is not disclosed." So, if song gives holiness and joy, I asked, why leave the band? Why shut the door to that? For the first time since the encounter at The Shillelagh, Morrison stopped talking. For a moment, the whole world seemed to stare into his glass. The bar was silent and a small black and white TV reran silent footage of the riot at San Francisco State.


I kept my head down and did what I was told and before I knew it, we were halfway through 1969 and it was the Fourth of July. I stood in the bleachers with my sister’s family and waved our big American flag as choppers from the Naval Air Station flew overhead and colorful floats rolled down the street front of us. There was a bagpipe band, with grown men in kilts, and the Shriners with their funny hats. There were lots and lots of bored-looking teenagers dressed as clowns and hoboes. Excited dogs in circus garb trotted along behind them. And then came four F-4 fighter jets trailing red, white and blue smoke behind them. I waved the flag higher and wider and thought, oh, it’s great to be an American. It turns out that J. Edgar Hoover was already keeping dossiers on the Doors, on Janis Joplin and on Jimi Hendrix. I would have laughed this off six months ago. In fact, when first Morrison said it, I did laugh. But after hearing what Bob had to say, I was beginning to wonder. I told him about my conversation with Morrison the previous December. Federal officials harassing local officials who in turn were harassing promoters. The Doors are finished. The Miami bust gave the bureau everything they need. Morrison was shy. To call a guy up and say, I wrote a poem, and read it, that wasn’t easy. On a stage in front of ten thousand people, you weren’t nearly as exposed. You wore a performer’s mask. But with one person, there was nothing to hide behind. You were exposed and I could hear his voice crack with the tension of self-evaluation, as if he feared I would judge him and, given who I was, I might have. Instead, it made me want to encourage him. He ended on the last little stanza, if that’s what it was.

Morrison started his rant: "Music is an art but it’s also a business. And if the business suffers, the art disappears. Think of it as a global distribution system. People like bananas. To grow bananas takes big farms and lots of little men running around in Central America. To bring bananas to your store takes trucks and trains and ships and then more trucks. That five-cent banana you cut up on your corn flakes costs a penny to grow and three cents to transport. In the same way, that Rolling Stones ticket people think is unfairly priced reflects tens of thousands of dollars of transportation, equipment and stadium rental. You wouldn’t ask your grocer to give you a banana for free. Why would you ask The Rolling Stones to give you a concert for free? The fastest way to Hollywood is over the hills on La Cienega. Things like oil wells in the middle of a city. They are a nice metaphor for this reptilian hump of post-war sprawl that pumped the brains out of human beings and repackaged them as daytime game shows and bubble gum music. What got me were the signs, the endless billboards that line the road through the oil fields and were plastered to every vertical surface when you got down to the flats, the miles of gridlock paved with identical cinderblock Monopoly building. Air-Conditioned polar bears promising It’s Coooool Inside. Fly Now, Pay Later, We Try Harder. Signs for clean used cars and dirty books and Girls, Girls, Girls. 

L.A. is a psychotic ant farm grinding itself to dust, and I realized that the little Mustang was the only sky blue I was going to see on this trip. Whatever’s the opposite of rose colored glasses, that’s what I had on. San Francisco was going to hell and L.A. was showing the way and this state I used to love is sinking under the weight of a million tract houses and a billion diminishing dreams. By the way, I hate that prick Jean de Breteuil." (Jean de Breteuil was a heroin dealer who did try to steal girlfriends away from both Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger.)

The cab turned right at Norton Avenue, a nice tree-lined street of Spanish style bungalows with white stucco walls and red tile roofs. It stopped across from a modest 1930s garden apartment and de Breteuil strolled up to the bougainvillea-draped steps of the unit in back. It wasn’t the kind of place you’d expect to find a big rock star and it didn’t seem to be the kind of place de Breteuil would want to hang out. But there were six mailboxes on the front corner and when I took a close look, the name on the last box explained it all: Pamela Courson, Morrison’s girlfriend. I went back to the Plymouth and sat there. What the hell was I going to do now? What if Morrison was in there? Would Morrison kill him in front of his girlfriend? Should I bust in and break it up? I ran through the actuarial tables on what de Breteuil might do next. Pam was a friend of his and, I presumed, a lover. Was he stopping by to say hello or maybe treating her to a hit of fresh product?

PARIS JUNE 24, 1971

I had the idea that a profile on the rock star turned poet in Paris would work for the New Yorker, so I met Jim in his apartment for an interview. Pamela Courson (his girlfriend) was back. And from the way he talked, it seemed like things were complicated between them. Morrison introduced us but it didn’t feel right. It felt tense, like they’d been fighting and after she offered tea but didn’t make any, Jim suggested we go for a walk. The Count is back, Morrison said as we walked through the tree-lined Place des Vosges, surrounded by red brick mansions over an arched arcade. "He has Marianne Faithfull with him, so Pam moved back in with me." He looked embarrassed, as if having to explain this revealed a failure of will on his part. Morrison stared at the cloudless sky. A distant 707 was cutting a crystalline trail from east to west. He lit another cigarette, inhaled and coughed. "Did you know they offered me a role in a movie? Opposite Robert Mitchum. But I would have to go back to L.A. and I can’t do that yet."

Bean: So what’s the deal with Pamela?
Morrison: I made her promise to stop seeing the Count and she says she’s going to get off the junk. But she’s not ready yet. I can see that. It’s not like trying to quit smoking. What I’m doing is, I’m trying to help her control it and slowly cut it down. I don’t want her scoring from that creep and I sure as fuck don’t want her scoring on the street. A woman shouldn’t be out there like that. Scoring dope is a man’s job. The Count is dealing this fluffy pink Chinese heroin that’s super strong. Pamela calls it cotton candy. The thing Oscar Wilde said, 'All men kill the thing they love,' but I won't. I want to try her dope. Look, how can I help her if I don’t know what she’s going through? So I said I would do some heroin and then she couldn’t tell me I didn’t understand her, and then I could try for her health and mine and the health of the relationship. —"The Straight Dope: A Novel of Sex, Death and Rock & Roll" (2018) by Dain Dunston

Anger, hostility and irritability are frequently observed among patients with unipolar depressive disorders. Approximately one third of depressed outpatients present with “anger attacks,” sudden spells of anger accompanied by symptoms of autonomic activation such as tachycardia, sweating, hot flashes, and tightness of the chest. Depressed patients with anger attacks are significantly more anxious and hostile and they are more likely to meet criteria for avoidant, dependent, borderline, narcissistic, and antisocial personality disorders than depressed patients without anger attacks. German-American philosopher Paul Tillich characterized existential anxiety as "the state in which a being is aware of its possible nonbeing" and he listed three categories for the nonbeing and resulting anxiety: ontic (fate and death), moral (guilt and condemnation), and spiritual (emptiness and meaninglessness). According to Tillich, the last of these three types of existential anxiety, i.e. spiritual anxiety, is predominant in modern times while the others were predominant in earlier periods. Tillich argues that this anxiety can be accepted as part of the human condition or it can be resisted but with negative consequences. In its pathological form, spiritual anxiety may tend to "drive the person toward the creation of certitude in systems of meaning which are supported by tradition and authority" even though such "undoubted certitude is not built on the rock of reality".  —Anger: The Unrecognized Emotion in Emotional Disorders (2016) by David H. Barlow

"Jim Morrison was the nicest guy you ever met in your life. He would charm your pants off and often did with the ladies. That's what they didn't capture in the Oliver Stone movie. He was portrayed just like a drunk and a jerk. Jim was a cool guy and he was really fun to hang out with. But he was too sensitive as an artist. Hopefully one day they'll make another film and show the real side of Jim Morrison." —Robby Krieger (2014)

-What would blow Jim’s mind the most about today’s music? -Patricia Kennealy: “How artificial, stupid, boring, trivial, shallow and talentless it is. He’d hate it. Today, nobody wants to actually criticize anything, heaven forbid. But then, there’s really nothing creative there to criticize. It’s just commercial, record-company-generated trash.”

Jim Morrison kept his life very compartmentalized, to protect his own privacy and that of the people he cared about. The vultures who have been strip-mining Jim’s life and legend to this day, as Danny Sugerman, sensationalist writers and such, have chosen to go with lies. They prefer their own, utterly erroneous take on it. Morrison was one of the great iconoclasts of all time, one of the great image-breakers. He’d hate what people have made of him. He'd hate to have been made an icon. Also people project their unsavory fantasies and wish-fulfillment trips onto him, and he doesn’t deserve it. They did it when he was alive, and a million times more so since he’s been dead. He was a beautiful, courteous, generous, humorous, loving soul. I’d say that’s their loss, but really the loss is, tragically, Jim’s. Per the stipulation in his will, which also stated that they were not yet married, Pamela Courson inherited Jim's entire fortune, yet lawsuits against the estate would tie up her quest for inheritance for the next two years. After Pamela received her share of Morrison's royalties, she never renewed contact with the remaining members of The Doors. Even though Jim and Pamela had their grievances, he always provided for her. Pamela would usually take long trips to Europe when they had their breaks, and spent huge amounts of money on those extravaganzas. 

She loved Yves Saint Laurent, Nudie Cohn, and she had a very big interest in vintage fashion. Pamela always seemed to get what she wanted no matter what! When she caught Jim with Judy Huddleston at a motel, she managed to get Jim out of that motel room by making a scene. As Queen of the Groupies Pamela Des Barres recalls, "Pam was a tough chick." I took Pamela Des Barres' tour in Los Angeles and she told the story about the erotic back bend she was doing for Jim when Pamela came home and threw her out. Des Barres said that regardless of what other women say of their affairs, Pamela Courson was the only woman Jim loved madly. Jim felt that he couldn't live without Pamela. The Lizard Queen (Pam) was an elusive creature at her core who was completely contradictory. Patricia Kennealy, on the other hand, was someone who did not get the kind of attention that she wanted in Jim's life and so, when The Doors' film came out in the early 90s, Patricia saw it as her opportunity to rewrite history and punish the dead for their roles in her inherent unhappiness. Although surely she knows the core of the truth of things, Patricia has lied for so long about the whole deal that she probably believes quite a bit of her own stories. 

Ginny Ganahl, who worked in the Doors' office, said that people referred to Patricia Kennealy as "The Potato", and this was sprung from her sour attitude when people saw her around town looking for Jim's company. I think that Jim at first was drawn to Patricia's intelligence and talents as a writer, but that after a while, her possessive aggression and demands for time and attention became too much and that he was civil but wary of her. Patricia stalked Pamela Courson as well, and despite her assertations that Pam was an airhead, she was never anything besides cordial to her. It just strikes me as very convenient, when in 1987, for the book "Rock Wives", Patricia was far more honest, saying in essence that she and Jim had a fling but that it was never a serious one. “Jim had a continuing love relationship with Pamela,” Paul Rothchild remembered: “Pam was the nice sweet girl next door, a vision. They were the classic fighting couple. And they couldn’t live without each other. Jim took her to to the wall mentally over and over. Pam would challenge him, she would drive him crazy because he loved her and she loved him. She was able to stand up to him.”—by She Dances in A Ring of Fire Tumblr

Friday, July 06, 2018

Elvis Presley: “The King”, Jim Morrison: Self-Destructiveness, Interminable desire

Written and directed by Eugene Jarecki (“Why We Fight”), The King is a meditation on the current American crisis that’s built around a deep-dish portrait of Elvis Presley. The two elements—America and Elvis—come together in ticklish, surprising ways that expand and delight your perceptions.  If “The King” has a thesis is that America has entered its Fat Elvis period. We’re bloated, addicted, going through the motions, coasting on our legend, courting self-destruction. Yet the question the film asks is how, exactly, we got there, and Jarecki attempts to answer it by taking every aspect of Elvis’s life and career—not just the greatness but the betrayal of greatness. Elvis, by the end, didn’t just lose his majesty, he lost his faith, and so, in many ways, have we. In “The King,” which was entitled “Promised Land” when it premiered at Cannes in 2017, Jarecki takes a road tour of America in a 1963 Rolls Royce that was originally owned by Elvis. 

Greil Marcus, in his landmark 1975 book “Mystery Train,” had made the case that Elvis wasn’t just a legendary rock & roller but a quintessentially grand and timeless American artist. The scope of his music—its joy and its promise—was so epic that the more you played it and thought about it and lived in it, the more you realized how much it had changed you. Albert Goldman’s scandalous 1981 biography of the King, reveled in every last tawdry detail of Elvis’s addictions, his degraded descent. In “The King,” Eugene Jarecki puts together both sides of Elvis: the incandescent American artist and the overblown dysfunctional sellout. 40 years after Elvis left us (he died on August 16, 1977), Greil Marcus, who never lost the faith, makes the revelatory point that prior to the existence of the United States, there had never been a political document that devoted an entire nation to anything like “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Elvis Presley, when he came on the scene, was acting that out. Elvis shaking his hips on TV, sexualizing the entire culture with that ebullient fast-vibrato croon, was the pursuit of happiness. He seemed to open that door to everyone.

Now we’re in a drugged-out haze in a dopey white jumpsuit, fat and bloated and depressed. Donald Trump is our president and we’re about to drop dead in the bathroom. As former Secretary of Defense Richard Perle said: "people think that you can just elect a new man to office, and everything will change. It's already a different world. We have already changed." “The King” is a searching, impassioned, let’s-try-this-on-and-see-how-it-looks movie. It’s an essay in the form of an investigation. Elvis, after all, may have lost his faith, but the difference between Elvis and America is that we still have time to get ours back. Source:

The maintenance of dissociated alternating ego states is used to prevent a generalized feeling of anxiety throughout the self by protecting the libidinally derived all good ego core and by restricting anxiety to the all bad ego core, which is based on aggressively derived introjections. Therefore, the affected by borderline syndrome cannot integrate a stable identity. Denial, in its crudest form, reinforces splitting. Denial can interfere in a severe but focal way with reality testing, for example, in the denial of a reality at the service of a transference distortion. Borderline patients also can deny the significance of external events that were very significant to them. A more sophisticated form of denial is the intensified expression of an affect opposite to the one being denied, for example, the manic denial of depression. The depressive-masochistic personality disorder, the highest-level outcome of the pathology of depressive affect, presents an extremely punitive superego. This predisposes the patient to self-defeating behavior and reflects an unconscious need to suffer as expiation for guilt feelings or a precondition for sexual pleasure. The more realistic or understandable past object relations are replaced by highly unrealistic, sharply idealized, or persecutory self representations that cannot be traced immediately to actual or fantasied relations of the past. Sometimes they are replaced by a defensive disintegration of the representations of self into libidinally invested part-object relations. —"Narcissism, Self-Destructiveness and Borderline States" (2004) by Otto F. Kernberg

Who was Jim Morrison, and why did he fall apart? These seem to be the basic questions posed by Stone, but in the end the viewer is left wondering why he cared in the first place. With mere glimpses of twisted, half-baked memories from Jim’s early years, it’s hard to understand his evolution and decline. The Doors covers the period from 1965-1971, focusing on the band's lead singer, poet and songwriter. Morrison cannot handle the pressures of success and we see a slow train wreck as he turns to excesses in drugs, drink, women and exhibitionism. It hardly matters that when novelist Eve Babitz was a young Venice hipster, she pegged The Doors as nerds whose fans thought they were cool because "they had lyrics you could understand about stuff they learned in Psychology 101 and Art History." (That didn't stop Eve Babitz from sleeping with Morrison). Stone adores film deconstructing and has had great success with it previously, but this picture completely missed the mark. No wonder Ray Manzarek complained "Oliver Stone has assassinated Jim Morrison."

Oliver Stone's Jim Morrison is juvenile, destructive, obnoxious, and often, pointless. He hardly comes off as a genius, poetic or otherwise. Stone uses the docu-drama format as a license to condense times and events, while simultaneously inventing composite characters and situations that never existed. The downside, in addition to the lack of scope regarding Morrison, comes in the numerous episodes that never happened (Patricia Kennealy being present at the New Haven show Morrison got arrested at, Patricia Kennealy and Pam Courson having a catfight, Buick actually making a commercial using the song Light My Fire and Jim finding out about it by watching TV, Jim setting fire while Pam was smacked up in the closet... and on and on). Oliver Stone was actually kinder to Richard Nixon and Gordon Gekko than to Jim Morrison. Jim Morrison's personality doesn't unfold at all. Oliver Stone focuses on the wrong things. Sure, Jim Morrison was an alcoholic with a disregard for authority, but he was also a very intelligent, sensitive, friendly and funny person. This is far from the picture most people have of him after seeing the movie. Source:

Patricia Kennealy met Jim Morrison in January 1969 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, the day after The Doors had appeared at Madison Square Garden. In June 1970, Jim and Patricia were supposedly married in a Celtic handfasting ceremony--an event that Oliver Stone later depicted in his 1991 film, The Doors. After the film release, Kennealy wrote a memoir, Strange Days, about their brief romance. According to Jerry Hopkins: "Except for Pamela, there was no one girl that he saw often for periods of more than a few days, and in the months since they'd met. Jim and Patricia had been in the same room only a few times. Nor had there been many phone calls. A sheaf of oddly personal letters, gifts of jewelry and rare books, but nothing that signaled a passionate courtship." Kennealy, however, tried very hard in Strange Days to model the character of herself after Pamela Courson. Patricia describes herself as a stylish redhead who kept Jim in check and didn’t take any guff from him, making herself out to be the muse who put Jim in his place, all the while inspiring his work… a lot like Pamela did. Patricia, however, was not a natural redhead. Color videos from that era show her with medium brown hair, without one red highlight. Patricia knew that no one could ever replace Pamela in Jim’s life,  and from the very beginning she was madly jealous of Pam. 

This photo is one of two that exist of them in the same proximity, and what you can tell is that she’s cut her co-workers out so that this photo looks more intimate. It was taken for promotional purposes for the magazine Kennealy wrote for, Jazz & Pop. Patricia Kennealy was just one of Jim Morrison’s many one night stands. Jim went along with it as a joke and didn’t take it all seriously, a fact attested to by Kennealy in a book called “Rock Wives,” written in 1987. When The Doors movie came out, Patricia changed her story totally to make herself out to be much more important in Morrison’s life that she really had been. Going by Morrison's schedule at the time, he could have spent maybe 10 days with her tops. A real womanizer, when he was sober, Jim Morrison was the epitome of the southern gentleman, considerate, extremely polite, generous, very romantic and higly respectful towards women. As John Densmore recalled: "Jim liked to treat women with great respect." Jim wrote passionate love letters and poems to these women, and many thought he really meant it, but Pam was the only one in his heart. 

Pamela was much desired even before meeting Jim, she inspired not only the music of The Doors but other bands of that era. Jim and Pam were madly in love with each other from the beginning. Although Pam often recriminated his infidelities and Jim reproached to Pam she could be 'meaner than a rattlesnake,' they were meant to be together. Kennealy deluded herself when she said: "Jim found it hard to accept love because he had never been given very much of it, and did not think himself worthy of love." Although it can be true Morrison didn't receive the love he needed as a kid, he never hesitated in receiving love from Pamela. Also, Morrison is alleged to have loved—in a much lower intensity—other women like Mary Werbelow, Nico, Judy Huddleston, or Peggy Green. But Jim never loved Patricia, he just saw her as an obsessive stalker and even was justifiably scared of her. Someone made a great Pin on Pinterest where it shows a sample of Kennealy's handwriting and what is supposed to be Jim Morrison's signature on a Pagan "marriage document". The document was handwritten by Kennealy herself and it is fairly obvious that she forged Jim Morrison's signature on it, the handwriting really is identical. It would not be any surprise that no ceremony took place at all, or if it did it took place while Morrison was completely passed out. —by RiderOntheStorm1969 & She Dances in A Ring of Fire Tumblr

Pamela Courson’s remains are in a crypt at Fairhaven Memorial Park, behind a plaque that says, “Morrison/Pamela Susan.” Cemetery workers have to clean the plaque regularly because so many people kiss it. Kim Fowley (The Runaways' manager) talking about meeting Jim and Pam in Canyon of Dreams by Harvey Kubernik: "I met Pamela Courson, Jim's wife, at the Renaissance Faire on Sunset Blvd. Morrison said to me 'When you fall in love, you'll be a better poet.' One of the most intelligent guys I ever met in rock and roll." Why did Jim Morrison feel that cosmic connection to Pam Courson? Was she "complicated, and a basket case" as Alan Ronay described her? Was she a sweet child or a wild child? Was she Morrison's bane of existence or his muse of immense inspiration? Pam Courson is probably the most mysterious wife of an acclaimed rock star ever. And until today she's been and continues to be a beautiful mystery. The truth is Jim Morrison caught her eye and pursued her at the campus of a college party. Pamela barely raised her sight from her coke. She was one of a kind! As Jim walked off the London Fog's stage, she was waiting for him holding a beer and a bag of mushrooms. They made love for over three hours in their first night together. Jim knew he had found his cosmic mate, and didn't want to lose her. She was not a groupie, she was not a floozy, she was a strange angel, and his girl forever. Jim became Pamela's protector, and even when he couldn't make her love, he could make know her of his interminable desire, of how special she was for him. As all the true love stories, Jim Morrison's unique relationship with Pam Courson was utterly misunderstood. Some insiders thought Morrison was lost, at the mercy of the unstable Pam, but they were dead wrong. Jim chose Pam, chose Love. Jim Morrison said that Love was the answer. Source: