|A Paris Pilgrimage:
One Fan's Tribute to Jim Morrison
by Farrr Out
July 3, 2001
The morning of July 3rd I find myself not at Père-Lachaise, but standing in line at the Virgin Megastore on the Champs Elyssés with the hope of scoring 4 of only 200 free tickets for the invitation-only screening of Feast of Friends, HWY and other rare footage, hosted by none other than Ray Manzarek and Danny Sugerman. The theatre seats only 400 and the first 200 have evidently gone to the press, associates of Warners who sponsored the event, and other VIP's. I could only hope that arriving at 8:30 for the 10:00 store opening would be early enough . . . and it was. My soul mate Mary, my two friends and I, who had planned for two years, to travel from California to be here this day, all received wrist bands bearing the Doors logo, the name of the theatre, "Les Bouffes Du Nord" and today's date, along with a 4 x 6 preprinted invitation to the event. While speaking with others in line we learned that both the LA Doors and the Bootleg Doors would be performing the night of 7/3 ... there is so much to choose from!
After securing our seats for the evening show, it was on to Père-Lachaise to pay our respects. Walking out of the Metro entrance next to the cemetery, the scene looked suspiciously normal. However, the closer we got, the less typical it became. With each step of the 3/4 mile walk from the metro to Jim's grave we encountered more and more people doing just what we were there to do ... just saying thanks for helping us to open "our doors of perception" and wish Jim the tranquility he so desperately needed while he was in our dimension trying "Not to Touch the Earth".
Jim certainly did "Tell all the People" as they were there, ranging in age from 12 to 62, and wearing everything from regular street clothes, to Doors T-shirts, to leather pants.
Approximately 2/3 of the gathering was European and 1/3 American. One of the coolest things I saw was a lady apparently in her late 40's wearing a backless blouse which amply displayed the tattoo honoring the Lizard King which covered her entire back. Each arm was also ornately tattooed in Jim's honor. Her enthusiasm and admiration for the Doors was paralleled by another couple who sported tattoos on their arms honoring Jim.
Jim's resting-place was constantly surrounded by 300 or so people who would come and go throughout the morning and afternoon. Due to the tight location of Jim's grave, it can only be viewed by 7-10 poeple at one time. Many would pass by and hang out closeby for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, just mingling with others who had been similarly touched by Jim. I am guessing that by the end of the day, between 7,000 and 12,000 came to Pere La Chaise to be with Jim.
Cemetery officials had done their homework and had tenfold the security there that they routinely maintain. Bags were checked at the cemetery gates and the two main taboos were possessing alcohol and standing on any adjoining tombs. TV cameras and crews were everywhere. Marty, one of my friends who took this journey with me, was snagged for an interview as soon as we got within 30 yards of Jim's grave. They next asked me if I was willing. Had I known what the next question was I probably would have declined - they asked if I would please sing something from the Doors' songlist. One would have to know how terrible my voice is to sympathize with the chill that befell my spine, but I reluctantly and very softly sang a couple of verses of Crystal Ship. I hope this is European TV and will never make it to the U.S! They seemed pleased with my performance and asked me a few questions, then went on about their business.
When it was finally my turn to kneel in front of Jim's grave, I lit a stick of jasmine incense and placed it in the very corner of the sand. The site had already become very full, the headstone being covered with a beautiful bouquet of red roses, framed photographs of Jim, and photographs of the entire band. Pages of poetry had been placed in the sand, in the midst of several single flowers, burning candles, incense and other momentos. I thanked Jim for all he's done and quickly stepped aside for others to follow. I spent the next several minutes quietly observing the busy scene and wondering if Jim was also, and what his spin on all this was. Was he feeling honored or bothered? Were we collectively disturbing his peace or were we giving him the party he has waited so many years to enjoy?
At approximately 2:45 I heard, from 100 yards down the cobblestone path, a shriek, quickly followed by another and yet another. Then there was applause and people were soon dashing down the path and yelling "Ray! Way to go Ray!" Ray Manzarek and his entourage were rapidly swarmed by media and fans on his way to pay his respects. He walked within 4 feet of where I stood, and I am hoping the 2 pictures I quickly took turn out. His bodyguards quickly and effectively cleared a path for him and he was on to Jim's grave in no time. Although only 15 feet away from Jim's grave, the crowd size and the logistics of other monuments made it impossible to see or hear anything that transpired during his 15 to 20 minute stay. Obviously there was some quiet time, perhaps some ceremony and Ray left as quickly as he arrived. Hundreds followed him down the hill toward the cemetery gate and the limousine that awaited. I likened the scene to the fable of the Pied Piper. Ray's attendance on this important day was a tremendous testimony and statement to his loyalty to Jim and his friendship with this man who gave everything, expected nothing, and left too soon.
At about 3:45 I knelt next to Jim for my 4th and final time during my 10 days in Paris. Hundreds still remained close by, and the site was now overflowing with tangible offerings. A colorfully-dressed, long haired, 60ish hippie-type guy seemed to have permission to stay indefinitely, constantly removing articles such as letters, flowers and incense from a package and placing them wherever he could find room. I felt he must be somebody most Doors fans (just not me) would have recognized. Hopefully the pictures of him will turn out and someone can tell me who this charismatic individual was. I sadly walked away, said again, "Thanks Jim" and blinked away the tears.
I left Pere La Chaise feeling that Jim was indeed pleased and that his spirit will continue to envelop all, as he breaks on back from the other side.
Many Doors fans visit Pere La Chaise to reflect and leave flowers on Jim Morrison's grave. Single flowers, potted Avas Flowers and full Avas Flowers bouquets are placed in loving memory of the artist who inspired so many fans.
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