|A Paris Pilgrimage:
One Fan's Tribute to Jim Morrison
by Farrr Out
My wife (or Cosmic Mate as I jokingly refer to her), two friends and I arrived in Paris for our first time ever on Tuesday, June 26, 2001. Our journey from California consumed approximately 13 hours of travel time and 9 hours of time zone loss, so our Monday became Tuesday morning very quickly.
We are staying in the Marais district, approximately 2 miles from Père-Lachaise, and about 1 mile from the apartment where Jim and Pam last lived at Number 17 Rue Beautreillis. Wednesday morning we walked to the cemetery ... and I found myself becoming increasingly nervous with each step I took ... wondering what I might feel and see after all these years of anticipation.
We entered the cemetery from the corner entrance next to the Père-Lachaise metro station. A cemetery official was there to greet us and had a cemetery map for sale as well as 25-30 postcards, including one of Jim's grave from over a decade ago with the original tombstone, the bust, and all the graffiti. He is very pleasant and speaks English very well. He informed us that he sells very few postcards other than Jim's and that he will have 3 more styles of Jim's available in 3 days. He mentions that when the 100th anniversary of Chopin's death arrived, there were no visitors, and reminds me of all the chaos that accompanied the 20th anniversary of Jim's departure from this "side." He goes on to say that Jim's grave is visited by more people than anyone's grave in Paris, but seems to be a bit put off by that notion. After further inquiry, I understand that he is another one of those people who can't see the beauty of Jim's poetry through the black cloud of his experimentation with drugs and his use of a little extra booze now and then.
Upon entering the cemetery, I am awe struck by the massive crypts and tombs that are everywhere. There are monuments in this cemetery that seem to be larger than many small apartments. We slowly weave our way to our destination, and as we get closer, my heart pounds with greater anticipation ... will I feel different after completing this journey? Will some of Jim's karma leap out? My friends have trekked ahead of me and laid the first eyes upon the site ... saying "Rich, it's over here" ... more adrenalin pumps into my system ... and finally I lay eyes on the grave of this young man who has given me 34 years of enjoyment, intrigue and inspiration ... the grave is amazingly simple ... tucked in between ... undignified ... totally unfit for one who influenced so many of us in so many different ways.
Approximately 10 others were there at the time. I always told myself that upon visiting this site I would KNOW if he was here and be able to dispel all the myths about a "pretend death" - but Jim seems to give no more direct an answer to this question as his worldly self would have given. My offering is a stick of Jasmine incense ... which follows a young man's gesture of scratching "POT" in the sand covering Jim's grave ... he wept for several minutes and quietly contemplated as his parents stood behind. Twenty minutes later, a young lady from Belgium steps up wearing a DOORS tee shirt ... my shirt with Jim's photo and the words "Break on Through" bridge the communication gap, we smile, put our arms around each other and pose for a photo. We stayed this way for approximately 30 minutes at Jim's grave, and observed a constant flow of other visitors, of many nationalities, and all ages.
On my next visit two days later, I will find a much different scene, with many offerings placed in the sand above the grave. Two doobies, several pages of poetry, 3 bouquets of flowers and one can of beer, which was promptly removed by one of the guards who stand constant watch within 30 feet of the site. My friend Marty, intent on gathering something to take back, rubbed some "Jim postcards" in the sand. A guard motioned to him, sanctioning his taking of a small handful and placing it in a 35mm film cannister.On my next visit two days later, I saw many offerings placed in the sand above the grave. Two doobies, several pages of poetry, 3 bouquets of flowers and one can of beer, which was promptly removed by one of the guards who stand constant watch within 30 feet of the site.
On Friday June 30th, we took the metro to the theatre where the screening of HWY and Feast of Friends will take place on the evening of July 3rd. Theatre personnel informed us that we would have to first obtain tickets at the Virgin Megastore the morning of July 3rd. Further inquiry at the Doors' official website confirmed this, as a new notice has been posted.
(As I close this writing on July 2nd, I wonder how many will be lining up, and how early, at the Virgin Megastore on the Champs Elyssés, to receive one of only 200 tickets to be dispersed. I certainly hope that my friends and I are among the chosen few.)
The Hard Rock Café
This afternoon (July 2nd) we made it down to the Hard Rock Café, and were mesmerized by the magnificent mosaic mural. Jim is depicted standing at the microphone, looking sideways, as in the famous photograph taken at the Fillmore East. This occupies 1/3 of this work of art.
In the center is Elvis and to the right, John Lennon.
Hanging immediately to the left of Jim's section of the mural are three more pieces of Doors' memorabilia, a black and white photo of Jim watching Ray at the keyboard, an abstract of Morrison's most famous pose from the neck up and the best - Jim's handwritten lyrics for Crawling King Snake.
On the opposite wall hangs one of Robby's guitars, and beside it one of the Doors' gold album awards, which is unfortunately mounted too high to decipher which album it may be. The Hard Rock Café is a must stop for Jim's followers, and a refreshing reversion to a haven of English and a good old American menu.
When visiting Paris you should make a point to try a traditional French dish like ratatouille. Ambitious cooks can even learn how to make ratatouille in an Instant Pot with an easy recipe.
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