Saturday, April 15, 2006

This is the end...

The very undead Jim Morrison strolls to the beach to read some new poems to the girls...

So yesterday, I am running on the treadmill like a sweaty hamster, the usual non-time, non-existence of the gym in full effect. It's strangely meditative that way. You wouldn't want to see a picture. They play music videos, mostly a rotation of unlistenable rejects from the 80's and 90's, but occasionally they will throw in some random oddballs: James Brown, Iggy Pop, Jane's Addiction, old Bowie, or The Chemical Brothers, who have some truly extraordinary visuals. Maybe the regular video guy was sick yesterday because I was seeing things I'd never seen before. Roxy Music, Led Zeppelin, Sex Pistols and strangest of all, The Doors, a band I had literally forgotten about. You'd think in LA that would be hard, but unless you live in Venice, or above a Hollywood Blvd souvenir shop, those classic rock days are long gone. The streets were hosed clear of bell bottoms and So-Cal stoner culture well over a decade ago.

At the risk of embarrassing myself, I'll say this: The Doors were on to something. Not Jim Morrison the preening poser, but the ideas fueling the band and the music as a whole, when they first arrived on the scene. Before they became a tired cliche, they had something primal and dark and willing that cut hard against the prevailing gooey grain of the late 60's. Something vital, bacchanalian, fiery and doomed, like a burning strip of magnesium. For a moment, they were the precursor to punk, but all too soon they became a bloated mess - a thousand Parisian bathtub loads of pomposity and pseudo-profundity. The world will always have its way with your image.

The Doors' song they played at the gym was "The Unknown Soldier." It was a live performance and it was horrible in every regard. There's an especially lame bit of theater where the guitarist pretends to shoot Morrison, and he falls to the stage writhing and screaming like he got his finger slammed in a car door. And I couldn't stop laughing, there, running in my Adidas, remembering in full flashback just how great and important all that seemed when I was 15. And I don't know if it was the endorphins or what, but no matter how badly The Doors have aged, I still have great respect for those kids up there, 40 years ago, challenging their day in a big way with really nothing more than a couple of ideas stolen from books. That and their vainglory and their mediocre songs and their bad-ass white boy grooves.

Cut to this morning, a quick scan of CNN turns up this. Remember, yesterday I had forgotten they existed. Today, I learn that the band is actively looking for ways to keep the spirit of the Doors alive for a new generation. And how exactly do the remaining Doors intend to pass on their unruly, notorious, outsider legacy, and keep it unwholesome and pure, in the tradition of Nietzsche, Poe, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Vicious, and a hundred other orgiastic rebels? (Besides paying off the video jockey at Gold's that is...)

"The history will sell itself," says Jeff Rabhan of the Firm, which represents the Doors for licensing and in other management issues. The article goes on to explain, "That means spreading word to the younger market through remixes, videogames, high-end clothing and online and mobile platforms. Meanwhile, the older, existing audience will be targeted through coffee-table books, boxed sets featuring 5.1 surround-sound versions of the group's first six studio albums and more. An interactive experience in Las Vegas, a touring memorabilia attraction and a filmed documentary are intended to appeal to all fans."

Now that's some dark poetry. Way to break on through to the other side guys! You kicked open the doors of perception and charged ahead to the mobile platforms. You know, Jim Morrison should really quit pretending to be dead and put an act together with Siegfried and Roy before the rest of his bandmates monopolize on all the transcendent fun.


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