The idea, I thought, was a simple one: rent for a night the West Hollywood motel room where Jim Morrison lived on and off for three years, hold a séance with a few friends, and afterward throw a party. It seemed a fitting homage to Morrison, a party-hardy mystic who believed himself possessed by the spirit of a Pueblo Indian he had seen as a boy while traveling through New Mexico and happening upon the aftermath of a deadly accident. Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding, he famously wrote of the incident in “Newborn Awakening,” his poem set to music by his band, the Doors, seven years after he died. Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind.
Originally I planned to host the séance in late May or early June, before summer travel had truncated the guest list. On the other hand, I knew that the motel room was a “tiny little monk’s cell,” per an interview with Morrison’s bandmate Ray Manzarek, so the guest list had to be brief anyway. Some declined the invitation. “I don’t mess with stuff like that,” a woman friend told me during dinner one night. “I don’t even know if I believe in ghosts, but I’m not taking any chances.”
“I don’t know if I believe, either,” I said. “I mean, I really don’t believe, but I try to keep an open mind because I know people who claim they’ve seen ghosts, and they were sort of incredulous themselves. But, you know, this isn’t going to be a real séance. I’m just going to buy a Ouija board, and we can all kind of play around with it.”
“That’s worse than having a real psychic. Who knows what you could dredge up.”
I heard the same, or similar, from others, giving me pause. Why was I treating the séance flippantly, and what would I gain from it that way? At best, a few cheap laughs. But there was, potentially, something to be learned here, something about spiritualism and the atavistic streak in us all, so that rather than proceed like a kid at a sleepover, I should hire a psychic known, or anyway believed, to have contacted the dead. Finding one should be effortless. As Farnworth Crowder, a journalist whose name evokes the wealthy villains and waspish columnists of old Hollywood movies, wrote circa 1931: “In the South of California has gathered the largest and most miscellaneous assortment of Messiahs, Sorcerers, Saints and Seers known to the history of aberrations.” Surely that was still the case in 2013.
It was, Google confirmed, directing me to a long list of area psychics on Yelp. Since even matters of spirit are now subject to customer reviews, I weeded from the list those psychics unable to contact the dead, either because that wasn’t a service they provided or, as indicated by their low star ratings, they were poor psychics.
Then I read a review by a customer greatly pleased with her experience at a place I’ll call Casa Clairvoyance. Through one of the staff psychics at Casa Clairvoyance, this customer had contacted her dead father, and he had made “the same comments he always did, jokes, etc.” while settling lingering mysteries of his passing. “It was the best money I ever spent,” the customer summed up, awarding Casa Clairvoyance five out of five stars.
Casa Clairvoyance is in my neighborhood. I had passed it many times, put off by the crude paintings of tarot cards on the cement wall at the mouth of the property. But that was before I started searching for a psychic, and it seemed fortuitous that I had located one in my backyard, as it were. I called Casa Clairvoyance immediately and explained what I had in mind to the woman who answered the phone.
“Let me get this straight, honey,” she said. “You’re a writer, and you want to interview Jim Morrison?” At least she had heard of Jim Morrison. I take nothing for granted these days.
“I don’t want to interview him,” I told her. “I don’t even have anything I particularly want to say to him. I just want to see what happens if a psychic comes to this room and tries to contact him. Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe the psychic will pick up on other people who’ve been in the room. I really don’t care what happens. I have no expectations. It’s just a kind of experiment.”
“And you’re going to write about it? I don’t know, sweetie.”
She clearly feared a hatchet piece, but I promised that if I wrote about the séance, I would render it fairly and faithfully, and at last she offered to set me up with a psychic named Bianca who could phone me in a couple of hours. However, Bianca’s fee was $225 an hour, sweetie, and Bianca had a two-hour minimum for special events like this one, honey, so I was looking at $450, and that didn’t include travel time to and from the motel—I would have to pay for that too. Did I still want Bianca to phone? Sure, I said, though I felt like I was hiring a hooker, not a psychic, and I had set aside $300 for the motel, the psychic, and the liquor for the post-séance party. But maybe a budget of $300 was naïve, and if Bianca impressed me enough when she called, I would consider meeting her price.
Bianca called two days, not two hours, later. That may have been the fault of Sweetie Honey, not Bianca, but it didn’t produce confidence either way. Nor, I decided, did starred reviews written by strangers produce much confidence. Maybe a friend, or a friend of a friend, could vouch for a reasonably priced psychic medium who promptly returned phone calls and would welcome the chance to channel Jim Morrison. That wasn’t too much to ask, was it?
So it would soon appear.
No band is universally loved, of course, but few bands are as loved and hated in even measure as the Doors. Ray Manzarek’s fairground keyboards are usually cited by those who hate the Doors for their music alone. Others, mostly in middle age, regard the Doors as an embarrassing phase they went through when they were too young to know any better, while today’s young are apt to sneer at the Doors as a “boomer” band, per this comment posted online following Manzarek’s death: “the importance of pop music from the 60′s to now is way out of proportion to it’s [sic] actual relevance in the grand scheme of things.” People began to speak of “relevance,” as applied here, in the irrelevant sixties, but never mind; the Doors have always been most hated for their pretentiousness, and here Jim Morrison has drawn more complaint than Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore combined. Morrison was inscrutable, writing enigmatic lyrics like The blue bus is calling us/Driver, where you taking us. (“Santa Monica,” the driver of the blue bus, which still runs in Santa Monica, might have answered.) Morrison was ethereal, characterizing Doors shows as religious experiences akin to “purification ritual[s] in an alchemical sense.” (His informal study of religion, especially pagan religion, began in high school, when he also began his precocious reading of such writers as Plutarch, Nietzsche, Rimbaud, and Joyce.) He pompously instructed celebrity hairstylist (and eventual Manson Family victim) Jay Sebring to “make me look like Alexander the Great.” (He looked better than Alexander the Great; he looked like Antinous, the beautiful youth memorialized throughout the ancient world in statues and busts commissioned by the Roman emperor Hadrian.) He inflicted his Beat poetry on audiences who had only paid to watch the Doors recreate their hit singles, particularly “Light My Fire.” (He lived near San Francisco in 1956–58, when the San Francisco Beat scene was at its peak and he was a teenager who once braved a few words to Lawrence Ferlinghetti at City Lights bookstore.) Rock stardom wasn’t enough for bratty, arty, pseudointellectual Jim Morrison, with his parallel ambitions as a writer and filmmaker. (He moved to Los Angeles to study film at UCLA, where he met Ray Manzarek, as well as Francis Ford Coppola, who would open and close Apocalypse Now, arguably his greatest film, with “The End,” arguably the Doors’ greatest song.) Even the name of the Doors, chosen by Morrison, has been mocked by those detractors acquainted with William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which inspired it. (If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.) How pretentious!
The Doors are loved for some of the same reasons they’re loathed, though of course not by the same people; but I was unaware of both camps when, as a teenager in Virginia, I bought my first Doors record. It was the late seventies, a period of relative obscurity for the Doors, who were rarely noted on television or played on the radio, aside from “Light My Fire” on Golden Oldie weekends. “Light My Fire” was the only Doors song I knew, and whenever I came upon a photo of Jim Morrison, as I did occasionally in record stores and magazines like Creem, I wondered why he wasn’t as famous as other sixties rockers whose music I preferred to contemporary music. Finally, to satisfy my curiosity about the Doors, I bought 13, a best-of compilation, but the only song on it that nabbed me was “The Crystal Ship,” which I would play again and again, usually at night, like a bedtime ritual practiced, I was sure, by no one but me.
Then Apocalypse Now was released, introducing “The End” to a new generation, and the publication of No One Here Gets Out Alive, the first of several Morrison biographies, soon followed, and the Doors have never been obscure since. No One Here Gets Out Alive presented Morrison as reckless hedonism personified, the definitive enfant terrible, and kids from across the rock & roll spectrum—metalheads, punks, neo-hippie jam-band fans—claimed him and deified him. I was past the stage of deifying rock stars, though I increasingly warmed to the Doors, starting with my move to Los Angeles, where their eclectic, eerie, carny sound clicked as it could never have clicked in Virginia or New York City, where I spent my early twenties. Meanwhile, reading about Jim Morrison, I learned that we shared key influences: Nietzsche, Frazer, Rimbaud, Céline, Kerouac, Mailer (Morrison’s favorite writer at thirteen, and one of mine still), and even James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause sparked Morrison’s interest in film, while I idiotically imitated Dean in my salad days as a New York actor). As far as I knew, Morrison was the only public figure, living or dead, equally devoted to literature, music, and film—the same three subjects that preoccupied me—and if he was sometimes trite or bombastic, he was only twenty-seven when he died, and how many writers are fully formed at twenty-seven? How many filmmakers?
But he was certainly fully formed as a frontman, which I didn’t realize until I saw When You’re Strange, Tom DiCillo’s 2009 Doors documentary. When You’re Strange incorporates scenes and outtakes from Feast of Friends, a 1970 documentary sanctioned by the Doors and never officially released, though it’s long been cannibalized in other films. I had already seen some of the footage included in When You’re Strange, but I had never seen it like this, gloriously restored and magnified on a big screen, where Jim Morrison in performance belongs, leaping like a rock & roll Nijinsky and crashing to the floor of the venue, or nonchalantly lighting a cigarette in the middle of a song, or lying as if dead or asleep while the band played on. He gave everything he had, and when he had nothing left to give, he made that part of the performance, which is how I think it should be after watching countless musicians fake or force passion. Besides, even inert, Morrison was magnetic, at least to me, because he was private in public, while most of us aren’t private in private.
This is the sense of danger I’ve always sought in performers, actors as well as musicians, and I’ve rarely found. It’s what made me the sort of stone Jim Morrison fan who would attempt something as preposterous as hosting a séance in his erstwhile motel room, pending the participation of a referred psychic.
Get in touch with Phoebe, more than one friend told me. I was dubious. I had known Phoebe for years, and she had never said anything about being psychic, just as she had never spoken my thoughts aloud or announced the presence of invisible people. She was a well-meaning but flighty girl, who, whenever I saw her, would rush up to hug me and peck me on the cheek, then quickly alight to hug, and peck the check of, someone else. Still, I phoned her and left a message about the séance, and she called back a day later and said, “Duke! This is a great idea! I want to do it!”
I asked her how much she charged, referencing the Casa Clairvoyance rate of $225 per hour, and she said, “Oh, those fakes. Forget those fakes; they don’t know what they’re doing. You know, I don’t even know if it’s possible to contact the dead, but I would love to try, and I won’t charge you anything.”
I liked her price. I liked her enthusiasm. I liked that she was forthrightly skeptical about contacting the dead. Yes, I decided, I’ll go with Phoebe. Then I phoned a mutual friend to invite him to the séance, and he said, “Phoebe? She’s about as psychic as my shoe, and you know how flighty she is.” I knew, indeed. I pictured myself at the motel, texting no-show Phoebe, who, busy hugging people and pecking their cheeks, would fail to respond until hours after the séance, if then.
I took the search to Facebook, asking, without mention of Jim Morrison, if anyone knew of a psychic medium who charged less than $225 per hour. A couple of respondents recommended Phoebe, naturally. Others made jokes, like a friend who lives in Nashville: “The one down the street here charges twenty-five bucks. I think you get a back rub with that though.” Still other out-of towners cited out-of-town psychics, including a friend in Buffalo: “Duke, did you ever hear of Lily Dale? It’s a community of psychics & mediums about an hour south of Buffalo in Chautauqua County.” I phoned Lily Dale repeatedly, hoping somebody there might be able, or kind enough, to refer me to a psychic in L.A., but I never got through or heard back.
Meanwhile, my friend Rachel, far more popular on Facebook than I, posted a query on Facebook at my request and was apprised of an “amazing,” “fabulous” psychic named Rebecca. This sounded promising. I waited for Rachel to hear from Rebecca, and while I waited, Ray Manzarek died. The timing, from my perspective, was curious: here I was, trying to arrange a séance for Jim Morrison, and now I briefly wondered if I should hold a séance for Ray Manzarek instead. As the oldest member of the Doors and an Army veteran married for forty-five years to Dorothy Fujikawa, whom he met at UCLA, Manzarek had always seemed the band’s superego, the father figure who held the Doors together, even subbing on vocals when errant-child Morrison, the band’s id, was too smashed to perform. Because we somehow expect stabilizing forces to endure, Manzarek’s death was a jolt for anyone who read the psychodynamics of the Doors as I read them. Still, I never seriously thought of holding a séance for anyone other than Morrison.
One night I had dinner with my friends Sean and Sanja, who were both on the séance guest list. As hard as it was to believe, I complained, I couldn’t find a psychic in L.A. Sure, there were plenty of psychics of the storefront sort, but they were notoriously grifters, and I didn’t trust the word of strangers online, and appeals to friends had led only to flighty Phoebe, while Facebook had led only to “amazing,” “fabulous” Rebecca, who was apparently playing hard to get. I didn’t know where to look next.
Sean knew where, having heard of a psychic who had once channeled Albert Einstein. The idea of channeling Albert Einstein was no less ridiculous than the idea of channeling Jim Morrison, of course, but I snickered nonetheless. Had the psychic spoken with a German accent while channeling Einstein? Had channeling him made her smarter? Still, I was certainly appreciative when Sean offered to dig up her number and call her.
A week passed, maybe two. “Just left her another MSG,” Sean texted at one point. “Maybe I shall try telepathically.” “Yes,” I texted back, “we might have better results that way.” Why were psychics so goddamn flaky? But they’re really no different than most nowadays. Technology has inculcated wariness of any communication except the remote, superficial kind.
Finally, one night, Sean phoned to say that he had just spoken with the psychic, who didn’t want to do the séance. “I told her we want to party with Jim Morrison,” he elaborated, “and she said he’s the kind of entity that other entities try to impersonate. She said you can always tell it’s an impersonator because when you ask a question, the impersonator will ask a question back, turning the tables, so you never get an answer. But sometimes these impersonators are evil, and they might attach themselves to somebody who’s there, and the psychic doesn’t want to be responsible for that.”
Great, I thought. The afterlife is just like Hollywood, with nobodies passing themselves off as somebodies. My ongoing strategy of postponing death had been vindicated.
I asked Sean if he would call the psychic again, or let me call her, and present the séance in a different light. “I mean,” I said, “if you tell her we want to party with Jim Morrison, she’s going to imagine a bunch of drunk people, and maybe that’s exactly the situation that’s going to attract these evil impersonators. I mean, originally, the idea was to party with Jim Morrison, sort of, but I want to approach this thing respectfully, and maybe if she knows that, she’ll reconsider.”
Sean said he would phone the psychic the next day. A week later, still waiting to hear from Sean, who was still waiting to hear from the psychic, I invited friends visiting from New Zealand to meet me at Barney’s Beanery, a storied pub on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Jim Morrison was a regular at Barney’s Beanery, and there’s a plaque on the bar to commemorate the spot where he once drunkenly pissed. Meanwhile, the Alta Cienega Motel, where Morrison lived for three years in room 32, is a block and a half from Barney’s Beanery, on La Cienega Boulevard.
None of this was on my mind, consciously anyway, when I proposed Barney’s Beanery as a place to meet my Kiwi friends. But they were too fatigued to join me, they called to say after I arrived, and by way of justifying the drive, I decided I would walk to the Alta Cienega and book room 32 for the séance. I had delayed booking the room, thinking I should first hire a psychic, but maybe it would be better if I booked the room first and so had a definite date. Yes, I thought, maybe I should book the room for my birthday, which was two weeks off in late June. Then I remembered that Jim Morrison died on July 3, 1971, and what better date for a séance than July 3 forty-two years later?
The Alta Cienega is so inconspicuous that, for years, whenever I rubbernecked for a glimpse of it while driving through West Hollywood, I would overlook it. A lesser example of Mid-Century Modern, a popular style in postwar California, it has two floors and thirty-two rooms exactly, though I was unaware of the precise location of room 32 until I walked over from Barney’s Beanery that night, just as I was unaware that, to the left of the motel driveway, a storefront psychic did business, the window lit by multicolored neon signs: ESP, PALM & TAROT CARD READINGS, OPEN. The driveway is a kind of underpass, and, on the other side of it in the motel parking lot, I turned to see that room 32 capped the driveway like a bridge. A sign that read JIM MORRISON’S ROOM was posted above the white 32 on the olive-green door, and a photo of Morrison was framed below the 32. The parking lot was all but empty. I smelled fried food.
The smell came from the manager’s office. I tried the door. It was locked, but, peering through the window, I saw an East Indian woman standing at a stove in a narrow kitchen adjoining the office. Asian tchotkes garnished the office counter—a green ceramic elephant, two-inch Buddhas painted gold—while on the wall behind them, a homemade poster declared that NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE—a touch of noir humor? Whatever it was, I rang the office bell, and the woman turned and stepped to the window, stooping so that she could hear and be heard through the slot at the bottom of it. I want to reserve room 32 for July 3rd, I told her, and she reached for a spiral notebook with a handwritten date on the top line of every page, flipping through the notebook until she came to the page with July 3 on the top line, followed by a handwritten name and phone number. No explanation was necessary, but I wasn’t disappointed, since I now remembered (inaccurately, I would learn) that Morrison died at around two a.m. in Paris, and Paris is nine hours ahead of L.A., so that if I made a reservation for July 2nd and checked in before seven that evening, I would still have the room on the anniversary of Morrison’s death.
The room was available for July 2nd, and the woman wrote my name and number below that date in the notebook. Then, as I walked toward the driveway, I glanced again at the olive-green door of room 32 and thought of Morrison’s best known poem, “The Celebration of the Lizard,” and specifically of a few lines supposedly inspired by the Alta Cienega:
One morning he awoke in a green hotel
With a strange creature groaning beside him.
Sweat oozed from its shining skin.
Is everybody in?
The ceremony is about to begin.
The ceremony will begin soon enough, I thought, forgetting for the moment that not everybody was in.
In some interviews, Ray Manzarek has placed Jim Morrison at the Alta Cienega around the time the Doors signed a deal with Elektra Records in 1966, but most sources say that Morrison’s residence at the motel began in early 1968, shortly after he shot to fame. Prior to that, he had split an apartment with roommates in Westwood, crashed with friends (among them Manzarek and Dorothy Fujikawa) in Venice Beach, and lived with his girlfriend, Pamela Courson, in Laurel Canyon.
Pamela’s spritelike beauty masked a formidable will and a wild streak that even Jim Morrison was pressed to match. She collected pistols. She did heroin. She would punch Morrison in the face when he disappointed her, as he often did, disappearing for weeks with other lovers. She did the same to spite him. But they invariably reconciled, and though he spent almost nothing on himself—his luxuries were mostly confined to books and booze—he indulged Pamela, paying her rent and funding her rich-hippie boutique, Themis, where she delighted in overcharging the wives and girlfriends of the other Doors. She was easily the most influential of the original Doors haters, prodding Morrison to quit the band, despite the perks it afforded her, and devote himself to writing poetry.
Themis was on La Cienega Boulevard in the same building as Morrison’s film-production company—HWY: An American Pastoral, the fifty-minute film he codirected in 1969, was edited there—and a few blocks from the Alta Cienega. So was Pamela’s apartment on Norton Avenue. So were the offices and recording studio of Elektra, while Morrison’s three favorite bars, including Barney’s Beanery, were closer still, as were the Doors’ office and Monaco Liquor, across the street and around the block respectively, so that Morrison could walk to business meetings, walk to pick up liquor, walk to piss on the bar of Barney’s Beanery. He seldom drove in any case, with his driver’s license typically suspended following his latest drunken smashup.
For Ray Manzarek, the Alta Cienega was Morrison’s “escape hatch,” the place he went to think. For Tony Funches, Morrison’s bodyguard, it provided the “kind of Beat Generation atmosphere” that Morrison craved as a writer. But he was peripatetic by nature, perhaps because of his Navy-brat upbringing, and he sometimes opted for other motels and hotels: the Tropicana, the Chateau Marmont, the Continental Hyatt House (known to rockers of the day as the Continental Riot House). He’s said to have chosen motels for their neon signs. The Alta Cienega used to have a neon sign, as seen in HWY, which shows Morrison checking into the motel at night, making a call from a pay phone—now gone—in the parking lot, and pissing in the bathroom of room 32. (At least, on this occasion, he pissed in a designated spot.) The rest of room 32 is too murky to make out, and Morrison quickly leaves it anyway, passing the neon sign as he walks outside to a terrace—now closed to guests—where he gazes down at traffic and the twinkling lights of bar signs. That he had a similar view from room 32 probably explains his preference for it.
There are stories of slapstick bravado associated with Morrison’s stays at the Tropicana (he set fire to his bed), the Chateau Marmont (he fell while trying to enter his room from the roof), and the Continental Hyatt House (he hung from an upper-floor window by his hands), but there are no such stories set at the Alta Cienega. Once, hours before the Doors’ momentous Hollywood Bowl show, Mick Jagger visited room 32 to talk shop with Morrison, rock star to rock star, but they were both well behaved, sadly, just as Morrison seems always to have been well behaved at the Alta Cienega, aside from boozing and cheating on Pamela, who naturally exacted revenge. Morrison’s motel days were ended, in fact, by Pamela’s December 1970 return from Paris, where she had pursued another lover: a drug dealer suspected of supplying Janis Joplin with the heroin that killed her. Morrison moved into Pamela’s apartment on Norton Avenue, and she badgered him anew to quit the Doors, this time adding a twist: she was relocating to Paris with or without him. She left on Valentine’s Day 1971, and he followed a month later and remained in Paris permanently, though maybe not in spirit.
Late one night, I met my friend Damon at a diner in Burbank. Damon is a filmmaker, and we usually talk about movies when we get together, but tonight I whined, as I had weeks earlier to Sean and Sanja, about failing to find a psychic. A family crisis had necessarily claimed Sean’s attention, so that I never heard more about the psychic reputed to have channeled Einstein. I was back at the starting gate, and turned again to the Internet, which led me to call a couple of psychics with high customer ratings. One never called back. The other wasn’t available on July 2nd, but that didn’t prevent him from lecturing me about metaphysics. “It’s like opening a door,” he said of contacting the dead, with startling originality and no evident clue that “door” plus Jim Morrison equals pun. I was really coming to hate psychics.
Still, I needed one if I was going to keep my date at the Alta Cienega, and Damon now mentioned an occult bookstore where psychics held readings. I’ll call the bookstore The Second Sight. It was in the San Fernando Valley, Damon said, but, checking the store’s Web site the next day, I learned that there was another branch elsewhere in Southern California and several braches in Nevada, suggesting the answer to a question I would never have thought to ask: who requires occult assistance more, grasping dreamers or desperate gamblers?
The Second Sight Web site made shopping for a psychic easy. A click on a name called forth a photo, a concise bio, and a one-minute clip in which the psychic, dimly lit in what looked to be a hookah lounge, solicited patronage, sometimes handling tools of the trade—tarot cards, pendulums, crystals, magick candles—while announcing areas of specialization: “I find missing people,” “I’m good with relationships,” “I can teach you the new spiritual laws.” Most clips had spooky or spacy soundtracks of canned electronica. Floral patterns were popular. So was the color black. A lot of pendants were worn.
But style and personality were irrelevant. I cared about one thing: that the psychic purported to speak with the dead. As many as ten out of forty-five did, and all of them, according to the Web site, were available for special events, and all of them had the same low rate of $50 per hour. Finally, I thought, I’m going to make this thing happen. It was supposed to be an experiment, an adventure, an anecdote for my dotage, but it was victory that mainly mattered now, and victory, after so many false leads and dead ends, meant making this thing happen.
I couldn’t book a psychic directly. I had to go through the store. I phoned the store and was told I would have to speak with Mike, the manager, who wasn’t there. I left a message, and when Mike phoned back a day later, I told him I wanted to hire a psychic for a séance at the former residence of a deceased (and unspecified) celebrity, reading aloud my list of ten or so candidates. A few, for arbitrary reasons, interested me more than others, but I welcomed the input of Mike, who said he would help me to choose, though there was a special rate for special events—$125 per hour—with a two-hour minimum. That was fine by me. I would gladly pay $250 for victory. Mike was about to leave for a weekend business trip, he said, but he would call me when he returned, instructing me to remind him by e-mail.
Mike didn’t acknowledge my e-mail. He didn’t call. I sent him another e-mail. He didn’t respond to that one, either. I called the store and was told that, yes, Mike was back in town. I left a voice-mail message. I left a second voice-mail message. Finally I called the store and asked when Mike would be around. From seven to ten in the evening, I was told. All right, I thought, tonight I am going to drive out to that goddamn bookstore in the goddamn Valley, and if I haven’t hired a goddamn psychic for this goddamn séance after booking that goddamn motel room for July 2nd, which is only two goddamn weeks away, I am going to know the goddamn reason why.
I arrived at the store at nine-thirty. There weren’t many books for sale. The décor reminded me of a sex shop for couples, so that I half expected to see lingerie, vibrators, French ticklers, handcuffs, and tubes or bottles of scented lubricant—all displayed as “tastefully” as possible—instead of incense, pentagrams, crystal balls, talismanic jewelry, and figurines of deities and demigods. A scowling, thirtyish, longhaired man, presumably Mike, was behind the counter. It wasn’t Mike. Mike wasn’t there, the scowling man scowled. I was too incensed to speak. I turned and fairly stomped out of the store, passing, in the foyer, a bulletin board with photos and bios of psychics pinned to it. These were the psychics available for readings that night, and one of them, Lydia, was at the top of my list, since, according to her bio, she was part Chippewa Indian, which jibed with Jim Morrison’s account of possession by an Indian spirit. Of course I knew that Indian blood was a selling point for those who believe Indians more spiritual than prosaic Caucasians; but whether Lydia was or wasn’t part Indian—her photo was inconclusive—I might as well meet her, if I could.
I approached the scowling man, who reached for a wall phone and pressed a button on it. “Lydia,” he said, “you got somebody.” He hung up. “Twenty dollars for fifteen minutes,” he scowled. “Cash only.” I had no cash on me, and he pointed to an ATM in the rear of the store. A short corridor led to the ATM, with closet-sized rooms on one side of the corridor, each room covered by a burgundy curtain. I heard murmurs. I was in the psychic hub. I returned to the scowling man and presented him with a twenty-dollar bill, and he said, “Don’t pay me, pay her,” recoiling like a pimp avoiding entrapment and sealing my new impression of the store as a bordello with a Wiccan theme.
A burgundy curtain opened and Lydia emerged. She was petite, five-three or less, with dyed-black hair and a frank manner certified by her unfussy clothes. It was instantly clear that she was in fact part Indian—she reminded me of a half-Iroquois acquaintance—and I guessed her age as fifty, though most would probably guess younger. I trailed her back to her room and said, “I’ve never done anything like this before”—what a bordello line!—and she smiled the smile of a seasoned pro and said, “Oh? Are you a skeptic?”
“I’m definitely an agnostic. But I’m here for a very specific reason.”
The walls of her room were draped with Persian carpets. I sat, facing her, at a bridge table with tarot cards stacked in the center of it, and spoke with barely a pause for maybe ten minutes, explaining what I wanted to do and all I’d been through, hoping my letdowns would put her on my side so that when I finally posed the crucial question—“Would you please come to the motel and do the séance?”—she would agree. She did agree. Victory was mine. I had an urge to hug her.
“Now, I want to be really clear,” I said. “I’m fine with whatever happens. It would be nice if Jim Morrison came through, but I don’t expect it.”
“He’ll be there. My spirit guides just told me.”
Spirit guides. Wow. Okay.
“But he’s not in that motel room,” Lydia went on. “He’s someplace else, the place where he first started to play music. I see stairs, a building with a lot of stairs.”
I knew that psychics “fish” with vague and leading remarks—“Her name starts with an A”—fleshed out by gullible clients—“It’s my cousin Anne.” If Lydia was fishing, I would play along. It somehow felt rude to do otherwise, and besides, I didn’t want to risk losing her and so spoil my victory.
“Well,” I said, “he lived on the roof of a building in Venice, and that’s where the idea of the Doors came to him. He did a lot of LSD up there, and it spawned this vision of a band.”
“He was psychic; he didn’t need LSD. But it was the sixties, I guess. I don’t really know anything about him—I was always into dance music, not rock & roll—but there are a lot of tears associated with his spirit. Everyone thought about Jim, not James. That’s what I’m picking up: James. He got lost, and he wants to talk about his life, not his music.”
She laid down some rules for the séance: I could record it and invite a couple of friends, but more would be disruptive, and nobody could drink until afterward. Then she wrote down her phone number and e-mail address and gave them to me, mentioning chattily, as she walked me out, that she had worked for the police on a few murder cases, which helped to legitimize her, as she knew. But we all tout our credentials, and even if she had fished a little, I decided I would advance her $125 in cash—half her fee for the séance—to insure that she didn’t flake.
But she had already begun to flake when I dropped by the store one night a week later. She greeted me coolly and refused my cash advance, saying she couldn’t do the séance unless I cleared it with Mike, who was still ignoring my calls. Maybe, I thought, she doesn’t want to do the séance and Mike is her excuse. Maybe she’s decided I’m a psychopath trying to lure her to his flophouse of horrors. And yet, as we spoke, she broke off and said she could see Jim Morrison, who was in the room with us and laughing, not at me or her but at those who had mourned or were mourning something that wasn’t and never was; they never knew James, and they didn’t care to know him, but he would show me James at the Alta Cienega on July 2nd if Lydia was permitted to meet me there. We even set a time to meet: six p.m., the approximate hour of Morrison’s death forty-two years earlier, or so I believed.
But Mike continued to ignore my calls. I e-mailed Lydia. She needed Mike’s approval, she reiterated. In the interest of victory, I phoned flighty Phoebe and left a message, asking if she still wanted to do the séance, but I was sure she wouldn’t respond, and she didn’t disappoint me. That was it. There was no more time, and there would be no séance, though I could always visit the storefront psychic at the Alta Cienega to buy luck or have a family curse removed.
My party in room 32 had also fallen apart; many of the guests had forgotten about it and now had other plans. I invited new guests, but I doubted that I would see them or hear from them when I headed to the Alta Cienega on the morning of July 2nd. I would write, I thought. That’s all I would do: I would write at the same table where Jim Morrison used to write, back when people could not possibly have been as flaky as they are now.
Some believe Jim Morrison faked his death as a prank, a permanent escape from celebrity, or both. Others believe he died from natural causes, an accidental combination of alcohol and prescription medication, or a combination of alcohol and heroin that he drunkenly mistook for cocaine. Still others believe he was killed deliberately by—take your pick—himself, the CIA, French intelligence agents, radical Zionists, the Illuminati, occultists, the Indian spirit that possessed him, Pamela Courson, or Pamela’s on–off lover, Jean de Breteuil, the drug dealer linked to Janis Joplin’s death in L.A. It’s folly to consider motive, except in two instances: Pamela, who’s said to have wanted Morrison’s money, and de Breteuil, who’s said to have wanted Pamela.
But Pamela was already subsidized by Morrison, and de Breteuil was more interested in Marianne Faithfull, authentic rock & roll royalty, though he continued to supply Pamela with heroin: the unintended means of Jim Morrison’s death. So de Breteuil told Marianne Faithfull. So Pamela told Alain Ronay, Morrison’s classmate at UCLA, and Agnès Varda, the noted Left Bank filmmaker, hours after Morrison died.
Ronay, a Parisian expat on holiday from L.A., was staying at Varda’s house when Pamela phoned at seven-thirty that July morning to say that she couldn’t rouse Jim or call for an ambulance, with her nominal French. Ronay woke Varda, who alerted the fire department and raced in her Volkswagen Beetle to Morrison’s subleased flat at 17 rue Beautrellis. Ronay accompanied her, and by the time they arrived, a rescue team had lifted Morrison from the bathtub where he was lying in pinkish water, tried in vain to revive him on the bathroom floor, and moved his body to his bedroom to await examination by a physician. Pamela would deal with two physicians that day, as well as two police inspectors, but she naturally omitted mention of drugs to them all.
In fact, once he soured on LSD, Morrison largely abstained from drugs, with the obvious exception of alcohol. He derided the other Doors as potheads, and he hated that Pamela did heroin, but Ronay observed that he seemed apathetic to Pamela’s habit in his final days. Meanwhile, he was known to try anything once, so it’s perfectly in character for him to have snorted heroin on the night he died, as claimed by Pamela to Ronay and Varda. She likewise indulged, she told them, until three a.m., when she and Jim went to bed. An hour later, she woke to find Jim struggling to breathe, and though it was hard to wake him, she eventually did, helping him into the bathroom. Then she nodded off and came to and went to check on Jim, who was vomiting blood, and she ran to the kitchen and came back with a saucepan to catch the blood, returning to the kitchen to clean the saucepan. She did this three times, she said, before she nodded off again, and when she last came to, nothing she did could wake Jim.
According to his death certificate, Morrison died at five a.m. of heart failure. Hypovolemic shock, which occurs with severe blood loss, can result in heart failure. There were garish bruises on Morrison’s torso. A hemorrhage in the abdominal cavity can produce such bruises. The question that can never be answered, since no autopsy was performed, is what exactly caused Morrison to hemorrhage until his heart stopped beating. Was it heroin alone? Heroin mixed with alcohol? Or was the heroin a catalyst for a preexisting condition?
Of course, the secondhand word of Pamela and Jean de Breteuil hardly counts as categorical proof that heroin was involved in the first place. Pamela gave numerous versions of Morrison’s death after she buried him surreptitiously at Père Lachaise Cemetery and returned to California, where, despite her burgeoning lunacy, she warred in court for recognition as Morrison’s common-law wife and sole heir. She won and, as if to celebrate, promptly died of a heroin overdose.
Jean de Breteuil also died of a heroin overdose, but investigators never determined if it was suicide or homicide. He had a lot of enemies, as one would surmise of a man suspected of killing Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, however inadvertently, and he may have become an enemy to himself.
That would almost recommend him.
Early death inspires cultishness as ripe death rarely does, and Jim Morrison not only died early, he died mysteriously. Add to that his posthumous image—a pagan saint of chaos, equal parts eros and thanatos—and it’s no surprise that his grave became a shrine even before it was finally marked well into the eighties. Pilgrims from around the world flocked to Père Lachaise to sing and jam and drink and get stoned, leaving reefers and bottles of booze and candles and lighters and so on at Morrison’s grave. They defaced his grave and others at Père Lachaise. New graffiti appeared after the graves were cleaned. So it still goes.
The Alta Cienega is the rough American equivalent of Père Lachaise. Ever since it was put on the map by No One Here Gets Out Alive, fans have been checking into room 32 to sleep where Morrison slept and tag the walls. Repainting the walls has proved a temporary solution, and by now the graffiti is a star attraction, as the motel management must know.
I had seen many photos of room 32 before I turned the key in the door, but no photo could do the room justice. The ceiling, the furniture, the shower stall, the medicine cabinet, the fire alarm: all were covered with crude scribbling, like a guestbook at a biker wedding. Fans had framed and hung photos of Morrison, and they drew his portrait and quoted his lyrics and addressed him in messages:
You’re still alive
in my ♥
Rest in peace My Lizard King
I’ll finally slep with you today
Love you A lot
In This ROOM I FUCKED A HOOKER WITHout A CONDOM, JiM PROTECTED ME. THANKS JiM
I leave in this room babe a piece of my soul to make love with yours in this bed till the end Found us together again, a life is not such a long time. wait x me. promise it won’t take long. infinite nights together
Other fans advised and mused:
DON’T FIND THE NEXT WHiskey BAR
existance is just a state of mind. Is this a dream or are we really alive?
55% of smart is understanding what we don’t know
They mourned and celebrated:
My mother was one of Jim’s good friends. Donna Port. She met at the wisky agogo where she was a booker and head waitress. She lived with him for a year or two. Robbie Kriger caused Her car accident witch broke her back, she could not walk after that. She died 39 yrs. Later from pressure Sores. Thanks Robbie!
A plaboy Party wouldn’t be the same w/out staying here!
2004 $1mill couples Fear Factor champs Jackson and Monica
They wrote in terms understood only by them:
I would HAVE NEver Shared MY crAyons with You If I Knew you were going to break them, melt them, Or otherwise Destroy them,. I Will No LongeR be SHARIng them with you or ANY one else for mAtter becAuse They ARE precious And neatly SHaRPEnED. So please go buy Your own Crayons They only cost $12.49 For a box of 120 plUs they come with a ShArpener
The way I see it according to Mrs. Loretta Lyn – another famous Amous – , Salmon are the canaries of the colemines in our minds or the world. thnx Jim for a wonder-ful out of body experience, because of you I have dedicated my life to saving the world one squirl at a time.
With so much digital-age English on display, one foolhardy soul assumed the role of schoolmarm:
You know, for JM fans you all seem to be pretty damn illiterate. You need some serious “boning-up” on grammer, word usage, sentence structure and…oh, yes—SPELLING. Also, if you’re going to quote lyrics, how about getting them RIGHT?
This message was crossed out with “SUCK A DICK FAGIT” scrawled over it, while someone else had written “NICE SPELLING” and an arrow aimed at “grammer,” and so the schoolmarm was schooled.
I spent a couple of hours reading the walls and taking photos. A weeklong heat wave hadn’t fully broken, and the air conditioner buzzed to no effect. Did the air conditioner date to Jim Morrison’s day? So it seemed. I set up a workspace on the small table that faced the intersection of La Cienega and Santa Monica, startled when I opened my computer to see an e-mail from Lydia, sent early that morning:
just confirming tonight at six…
how is the traffic at five…
mike tried calling you yesterday as well.
do you know the best way to avoid traffic going from chatsworth to the motel? i do not have a/c in my car…
I hadn’t received any calls or messages from Mike, but no matter; I confirmed immediately, deferring to others about the traffic. An hour passed without a reply. I texted Lydia. She didn’t text back. Had she already changed her mind? But if she hadn’t, if she showed, I would need cash, so I walked to Monaco Liquor and took as much cash as I could from the ATM there, buying a bottle of Jameson for the party, if there was a party, and noticed that the battery on my phone was all but dead. I would need the phone to record the séance, if there was a séance, but I had forgotten to pack my charger that morning and didn’t have time to drive home and fetch it. I would have to buy a new charger, I decided, but I couldn’t find the model I needed at a store on Santa Monica, so I walked back to the motel and drove to the Sunset Strip, where I finally found a store that sold the charger I needed, drove back to the motel, plugged in my phone, and called Lydia, who—hail Zeus—answered to say that, yes, she was coming, and she was bringing a friend whose car had air conditioning.
I met them on the balcony when they arrived just before six: Lydia in a black sundress, and her older, taller, heavier friend Simone in tight jeans, a low-cut top, flashy necklaces, and lines of kohl that crossed at the far corners of her eyes, forming tiny Xs. She might have worked as a snake charmer in Vegas, I thought, though Lydia introduced her as another medium. Also present was a third party, invisible to me but seen, or anyway heard, by the women.
“He’s been with me for the last couple of days,” Lydia said. “He’s so funny.”
“He’s a very funny guy,” Simone agreed.
They followed me into the room, and after a brief look around, Lydia said, “He’s saying it’s really changed. The bed was over here”—she motioned toward the south wall—“and the headboard faced this way.”
“I’m picking up on others,” Simone announced. “Runaways. Young girls.”
“Boys too,” Lydia concurred.
She sat on the bed, where, according to her, Jim had stationed himself, while Simone sat at the table next to the window. I was concerned about the sound of rush-hour traffic, which might interfere with the recording, but since the air conditioner was useless, I kept the window as well as the door open. An Indian man, one of the Alta Cienega managers, stood in the parking lot, staring up at the room. What did he think was going on in there?
Whatever he thought, the ceremony—unexpectedly, at long last—was about to begin.
Over the next two hours, I checked my phone repeatedly to make sure it was recording. Lydia checked it too, and I remember saving the file and seeing it listed on my recorder app, yet it was missing a day later. I took the phone to three data-recovery specialists, but none of them could find a trace of the file, which they all thought strange. This is undoubtedly a technological, not a supernatural, mystery, but in any case, I jotted down everything I recalled of those two hours as soon as I saw that the file had vanished, and what follows is based on my notes.
There were no incantations or lit candles or joined hands. I leaned against the low chest of drawers next to the television, which is mounted on the east wall, while Lydia, on the bed, spoke with her eyes shut tight and her arms moving occasionally as if trying to read a sign in braille.
“He’s showing me a car,” she said. “It’s an old-fashioned car, from the forties or something like that. I think the seats are red, and he’s sitting in the back, and there are people in the front seats. I think it’s his mother and father.”
My god, I thought, we’re starting with the Indians scattered on dawn’s highway incident of Jim’s childhood. But Simone, who was mumbling to herself or ghosts in her corner of the room, abruptly stood and said, “I have to leave. Somebody died in here.” She was gone before I could think of a reason to stop her. I felt like a bad host.
“I guess you’ll need a ride home,” I said to Lydia.
“No, she’ll come back. Don’t worry about it.”
For now, Lydia dropped the crash incident. She moved on to Jim’s death, which of course I had hoped to cover.
“I see a white shirt and jeans,” she said, “and he’s stretched out like this.” She leaned back on the bed and spread her arms in a Christ pose. “I hear sirens, the kind that sound like this”—she made the wah-wah sound of a European ambulance—“and someone is trying to revive him. They don’t know what they’re doing, and he’s already dead and looking down at his body and this person trying to revive him, and he’s thinking, Why are you even bothering? It was a good death. When it came, he embraced it. He died with a smile on his face, kind of a little half smile.”
Pamela mentioned such a smile to Alain Ronay and Agnès Varda, just as she mentioned slapping Jim repeatedly while trying to revive him. But how, in a bathtub, could he die in a Christ pose? In fact, the tub had armrests, but that was a detail I’d forgotten. As for the white shirt and jeans, he could have been wearing them before he slipped into the tub, or maybe he didn’t die in the tub at all; some believe his body was moved to his flat after he died elsewhere, though Lydia was adamant that he died at home. She saw him lying on a bed—in fact, the rescue team placed him on his bed after pronouncing him dead—and while she initially ascribed the cause of death to an injection of a green or greenish liquid, she suddenly, as if stuck by a pin, opened her eyes and said, “Oh, his heart stopped.” It wasn’t a planned death. Lydia saw a note mistaken for a suicide note—possibly the entry in Jim’s Paris journal that reads Last words, last words—out—but, as she described it, his death was more a semiwitting suicide.
“He was playing Russian roulette with drugs and all that,” she said, “because he wanted to pass. He sees his life as ‘Jim Morrison’ as a failure. He never did anything he considers truly worthy. He was very unhappy. Well, there were pockets of happiness. But he was very alone. He had no friends.”
“He’s saying that if he’d had friends, he wouldn’t have died when he did. I’m seeing one friend when he was very young—I want to say between first and fifth grades—and they’re going to creeks and collecting tadpoles and that kind of kid stuff. Then he moved and never saw that boy again. Oh, and his dog—his dog was his friend.”
In fact, Jim owned, or co-owned with Pamela, a dog named Sage. He also had a childhood friend named Jeff Morehouse, who has spoken of them collecting frogs and snakes and so on, but Jim and Jeff were reunited in their teens when their Navy families relocated to northern Virginia.
“There were people who would come up and give him drugs,” Lydia continued. “They wanted to get him high, and he let them. He doesn’t blame them for what happened to him—he did plenty of stuff on his own—but nobody really had his welfare in mind. I see people tugging on him, pulling on him, trying to bend him to their will. So, yeah, dying was the happiest moment of his life. It’s sad. I feel like I want to cry.”
She teared up a little. Then she lunged for her purse and extracted a notebook and pen, writing something hurriedly and ripping it out of the notebook. “This is him,” she said, handing the page to me.
No more tears to cry
no more lips to kiss
soft, Gentle Man
with a heart of Gold
Give love Give love
For all the stories of depravity concerning Jim, Francis Ford Coppola thought him “very sweet,” while Tony Funches considered him “the nicest guy on the planet,” unless he was dealing with authority figures or Pamela. I asked about Pamela, and Lydia pointed to a photo of Jim and Pamela on the wall.
“You mean her?” she said. I nodded, and she swatted at the air dismissively. “That’s what he’s doing,” she said, repeating the gesture. “She didn’t love him. It was all for show. He says he doesn’t miss women. If you’ve had one gash, you’ve had them all. I didn’t say that. He said it. He never found his great love, not in that lifetime.”
We talked for a while about reincarnation. Lydia saw Jim meeting his great love in Italy during one of his previous lives. He loved Europe, she said. He didn’t think there was any reason for the rest of the world to exist.
“He’s saying it’s full of idiots. Look at this room. He would come here to think, and look at it now. This has nothing to do with him. That’s what he’s saying: ‘This has nothing to do with me. These people didn’t know me, and they don’t want to know me.’ Look at this art. Look at how ugly it is.” She motioned toward a fan’s portrait of Jim on the wall. “He hates that. He’s saying, ‘That’s not me.’” As conveyed by Lydia, that was his feeling about almost every photo and drawing in the room.
Nature was a constant theme. Over and over, Lydia reported that Jim was showing her forests. He loved forests, she said, and animals and the ocean. He loved the ocean too much; he could easily have let it carry him away. This jibed with his song “Moonlight Drive,”with its lyrics about drowning, and the overall talk of nature jibed with “When the Music’s Over,” the first rock song to address the destruction of the environment. Lydia was again compelled to take dictation.
Who am I
I’m a dream
Floating on a cloud
when lightning strikes
Gliding in the mud,
Seeing faces in the mud
Who are they
But they are me
Holding onto the tree
Looking up at the rain
It’s too hard
Crying, stumped down,
Holding onto a tree.
My lovely tree,
Holding me with its branches
Leaves on My face caressing,
like a Mother’s love
I hide, the earth envelopes me
And so my face is coming out of the mud
Eyes closed to the world
Eyes open to God’s love.
Take me, I’m yours
Now you see me.
Lydia signed this note JM, she said, because Jim had told her to sign it that way. He offered no help in interpreting the note.
There were several odd detours. Through Lydia, Jim spoke of his love of George Carlin. He said that he would rather have been a mailman than a rock star. He said that after he died, he sought out mediums who ignored him. (Lydia referenced the Patrick Swayze character in Ghost by way of clarification.) That’s why he was willing to talk to Lydia: because she would listen, and so would I. Plus, people took me seriously as they never did him, and he wanted to advise me to stay true to myself.
That was the only eerie moment of the session: when Jim Morrison allegedly spoke to me personally. It was ludicrous, of course, to think that people took me seriously, compared to him or otherwise, but was part of me deeply flattered? Yes. Was I moved? No. I never, for a moment, lost my skepticism, but I wanted to lose it, I wanted to believe, and I believe this much: that Lydia didn’t research Jim Morrison. Research would have made her more accurate, though maybe mistakes are part of the psychic con, scripted stumbles to build suspense. Besides, despite my recent reading about Jim Morrison, I forgot or misremembered details.
So I suppose it’s a matter of faith, and as such, I should say that I choose to believe in Lydia’s sincerity, even with her generalizations of the people didn’t really know him sort, which could apply to any celebrity. I would have liked some specific but obscure item—a childhood address, the name of a distant relative—that I could verify. There wasn’t one, but there was this: Lydia eventually returned to the old car with red seats, and when I asked about an accident, she said that Jim was showing her a white girl of six or so in a white nightgown.
“No, that’s what I’m getting: a little white girl in a white nightgown.”
Every account I’ve read of that accident has been sketchy—a truck full of Pueblo Indians overturned on the highway—though one account mentioned a head-on collision. If that’s so, could there have been a little white girl in the second vehicle? Maybe the answer exists somewhere on microfilm, but whether it does or doesn’t, it wouldn’t prove what we can only learn by dying, and I’m content to remain unenlightened.
Lydia was indisputably psychic in the matter of Simone, who texted shortly before eight to say that she was waiting in the parking lot. I walked Lydia to the car, paid her, and wondered aloud if tipping was protocol. It was up to me, she said. I gave her my last ten dollars in cash. We hugged. I had had my victory, and I was simultaneously elated and exhausted.
My friend James and his girlfriend Ari arrived minutes after Lydia and Simone drove away. We opened the bottle of Jameson. I hadn’t eaten since morning, so I was drunk by the second drink. More guests arrived, more than I had anticipated, since some of them hadn’t replied to the invitation, and the room was filled with smoke and overlapping voices. James sent out for pizza. My friend Pete and I walked to Monaco Liquor to buy more whiskey. A girl who was staying downstairs knocked on the door and asked if she could check out Jim Morrison’s room. She turned out to be a hooker, but she wasn’t seeking business so much as attention, which my friends gave her, listening as she prattled at length about her true vocation as a poet, among other subjects.
So I’m told. I had passed out on the floor by the time the hooker-poet showed up, and my last distinct memory of that night is of waking briefly to see that everyone had left except for Pete and his roommate John, who were trying to get me to move from the floor to the bed. When I woke again, it was daylight and I was still on the floor. Empty bottles were everywhere, and I was wet, front and back. The floor beneath me was likewise wet. Had someone doused me with beer or water?
But it was urine. In my long history of hard drinking, I had, more than once, vomited in my sleep, but I had never, until now, pissed on myself. There was no denying it, yet for just a second, I wondered if someone else had pissed on me, someone who had lived in this room more than forty years ago.
But why blame him? I was lucky if anyone, friend or stranger, answered the phone or responded to the simplest message. He, on the other hand, despite being dead, had responded immediately when Lydia reached out to him, and he promised to be present in room 32 at a specified time, and he did as he said he would do. Was that not proof of integrity?
Either way, Jim Morrison was no flake.
D. R. Haney is the author of a novel, Banned for Life, and a nonfiction collection, Subversia. He took all of the photos included in this piece.