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Peacock at Hollywood ForeverThis is a love story, and it begins, for me anyway, with the death of Christopher Jones, “an heir apparent to James Dean who starred in such films as The Looking Glass War and Ryan’s Daughter before quitting show business at the height of his brief but dazzling career,” as he was summarized in the lede of his Hollywood Reporter obituary. He had been likened to James Dean since the late fifties, when he was a teenager living in a home for orphaned and abandoned boys in Memphis, Tennessee. He had Dean’s blondish bedhead and a similar build and stature, but with his snakelike eyes and exotic cheekbones, there was also a resemblance to Rudolph Valentino, as noted by a cameraman on the set of Chubasco, the first of six movies Jones made back to back in the late sixties. He played a rock star in the prophetically titled Wild in the Streets and a captive stud in Three in the Attic, and he was ideally suited to both parts as a real-life romantic rival of Jim Morrison and an exhibitionist with just cause, or as he would say to an interviewer long after his heyday, “I wasn’t John Holmes, exactly, but nearly.” He was dangerous to know and a danger to himself. He brandished guns and knives, and narrowly escaped death in two car crackups, the first in Italy, where he made another prophetically titled movie, Brief Season, and the second in Ireland, where he shot most of Ryan’s Daughter, a kind of Irish Madame Bovary directed by David Lean. He claimed to have had an affair with Sharon Tate while making Brief Season—she was working on a different film, her last, in Rome—and when he learned of her murder by the Manson Family a few months later, he snapped and disappeared from the spotlight, even as Ryan’s Daughter, released at the end of 1970, established him as a top-tier star. Offers poured in, and he was already committed to making more movies, but he ignored the commitments as rumors of schizophrenia, of drug addiction and turning tricks on the street, swirled around him. Pamela Des Barres, the celebrated former groupie and author, had an encounter with Jones outside the Psychedelic Conspiracy, a Sunset Strip head shop, in 1973, and as she wrote later in Movieline magazine, now defunct, “his long hair was disheveled, his clothes in tatters, his feet dirty and bare. Since he was obviously having a private conversation with himself, I didn’t intrude.” I read that story shortly after it was published in 1996, and it haunted me to the point where I eventually retooled it for Banned for Life, my novel about a punk-rock pioneer said to be panhandling on the streets of Hollywood following his perplexing withdrawal from the underground music scene.

Room 32

By D. R. Haney

Nonfiction

adhered

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.