|A Paris Pilgrimage:
One Fan's Tribute to Jim Morrison
by Farrr Out
Evening of July 3, 2001
Mary, our two friends and I were extremely lucky to have received 4 of only 200 free tickets or "invitations" to the July 3, 2001 presentation at Les Bouffes Du Nord theatre in Paris. This old. rather run down theatre located in the northern section of Paris is where Ray Manzarek and Danny Sugerman provided a fantastic evening of entertainment consisting of a press conference, fielding questions from the audience, a couple of organ solos from Ray, and screenings of the rarely shown films Feast of Friends and HWY produced by Jim Morrison. About 400 were in attendance that evening, the 200 of us who had waited for 1 1/2 hours in front of the Virgin Megastore earlier that morning for the first come, first serve freebies and 200 or so specially invited guests, photographers and reporters.
The Film Screening
Ray and Danny received an overwhelming standing ovation upon walking onto the quaint stage. They graciously accepted the applause and in turn thanked all for coming that evening and especially thanked all who were also at Père-Lachaise earlier that day, to pay respects to Jim. Ray briefly discussed the publication of his new book and both he and Danny spoke about the recovery of the live concert tapes and how they plan to systematically release full concert cd's under their Bright Midnight label. At least for now, these cd's will be marketed on their website and available no where else. I found this statement rather intriguing since I had purchased the Bright Midnight sampler cd at Virgin Megastore two days prior.
Ray talked a lot about Jim's alcoholism including a time when he, John and Robby all met with Jim to discuss the fact that Jim was drinking excessively. Ray said it was extremely to difficult to justify even bringing it up since Jim's poetry was yet unaffected and his concert appearances were "about 95% ok". Nevertheless they had their encounter and to their surprise Jim agreed with their observations and said "yeah I know I drink too much and I need to slow it down". Ray truly believed that Jim went to Paris to get back in touch with himself and his poetry and also to get off the booze. . . however the number of bars and bistros in Paris were too great a temptation and obviously overpowered his will.
Ray expressed a personal belief that the Shaman that had dwelled within Jim was the spirit responsible for leading Jim to Ray that fortuitous day on the Venice Beach. The Indian Shaman had this plan all mapped out and ultimately orchestrated through Jim and the Doors a heightened awareness of the Indian people, and the mystical significance of the earth, the moon, fire, and water. Ray also talked about shamanism, saying how dangerous it can be. He said anyone who dabbles with it is playing with fire. Happily, he had this to say about Jim's dad: "The Admiral," is coming around finally. It used to be he had no place for Jim's poetry, but he has recently resigned himself to the thought that some of the stuff is pretty good."
Feast of Friends
Half-way through their discussion, Ray and Danny paused to present Feast of Friends, a Morrison-produced collage of band footage which to any avid Doors fan was an incredible treat. The film lasts approximately 35-45 minutes and my feeble attempt at describing it would be to call it a music video with historical and documentorial (is that a word?) overtones.
To allay any envy of those who haven't seen Feast of Friends, I will say it included precious little footage that hasn't been cabbaged into some other Doors video such as The Soft Parade, Dance on Fire, or the Best of The Doors. In fact, Feast of Friends includes the entire performance of The End from Live at the Hollywood Bowl. It also includes film of the Singer Bowl riot, including the segment of Jim calming the teenage girl who had been hit with the chair and cut on the forehead, Jim's discussion with the pipe smoking priest, Jim improvising a story about Nietschze while pounding on the piano, backstage at Saratoga, and a lot of the Roadhouse Blues footage. Nevertheless, it was great to have seen the same art in the same form that Jim saw with his own eyes. Ray Manzarek mentioned that neither this piece nor HWY had been released simply because they were never finished to Jim's satisfaction.
After enduring 50 minutes of watching this film, I am torn between writing a critically honest review and just shutting up out of my tremendous sense of respect for Jim ... Ponder the lyrics to Riders on the Storm, create a visual, and you have the whole movie, HWY. Jim is the only actor in the movie about a hitchhiker in the desert who eventually acquires sole possession of an automobile through innuendo of murder, and completes his journey back to Southern Calif. After arriving in Southern California, Jim spends a great deal of time contemplating his actions and appears to be wondering why his feelings are so casual about having performed this dastardly deed.
The opening of the film shows Jim emerging from a river after bathing, swimming or both, then sleeping upon a granite rock under the sun and then nonchalantly walking to the highway to find a way back home. After hours thumbing, and apparently not really caring if he goes anywhere or not, he is picked up. We never see the face of the driver and after several minutes of stray camera shots, and no script, Jim is driving the car, now alone. He fuels at a desert gas station using a credit card from the glove box and continues on. A coyote has been hit by a vehicle and lay suffering on the highway. Several minutes of graphic camera shots and "screams" of pain from this poor animal left this viewer feeling sick and empathetic toward the creature, and wondering what significance this segment played in the movie.
The return to Southern California was portrayed by several minutes of panoramic camera shots, and shots of Jim staring out his apartment window. We hear his side of the phone conversation with a friend (similar to what you hear on An American Prayer) and that's about it.
Although the end of the film received gracious applause, I have to believe most other viewers were similarly unimpressed. Simple scenes were elongated far beyond necessity and to the brink of boredom, and I was never clear what the movie was trying to say. Honestly the thought that struck me was that those closest to Jim at this time were trying to keep peace by feeding his creative appetite with equipment, crew and other resources. Aside from quenching a Jim Morrison enthusiast's thirst for "new" material, HWY is a road to nowhere. However, for those of us interested in seeing rare footage of Jim, it was great. In HWY, Jim has his full beard, and his face is rounded a bit. I was rather surprised that the "obesity" proclaimed to have set in at this stage didn't really seem to be there. He wasn't skinny, but I would not say he was overweight either.
Both Ray and Danny remained available for autographs and were absolutely swarmed by signature seekers, myself included. Ray and Danny, we all thank you for your generous presentation and giving of yourself that night.
Copyright 2001/2002 by Farrr Out/waiting-forthe-sun.net