Thursday, June 28, 2012
A Close Encounter with Morrison Hotel by Eckhard Gerdes
On July 3, 1978, seven years to the day after the "death" of Jim Morrison, I, an 18-year-old Door fanatic, visited the famed Morrison Hotel pictured on the album of the same name. It was in Los Angeles, in a rather rough part of town. The residents of the hotel were junkies and prostitutes. A room cost $7 a night, had one bare light-bulb in the ceiling, a torn-up mattress with only one sheet on it, graffiti on the wall, and I was not even given a key. I had to ask the desk clerk to let me in whenever I returned from wandering around. I was there because of Morrison's song "The Celebration of the Lizard," which said that Morrison would return after seven years of exile to the land that he loved, which I assumed to be LA. This seemed a natural place for his return. The idea that Morrison had faked his death was being repeated on the radio everywhere by Ray Manzarek, so it had some credibility. I dressed like a poor washed-out hippie, but I had a change of nice clothes and a few hundred dollars with me. When I was hungry, I'd take my bag down the street a couple of blocks to the Hyatt, change there, and eat dinner. They'd serve me beer, which I couldn't buy in the package stores nearby. I waited in my room, hoping that Morrison would show up and the party could commence. It didn't. I listened to the Doors on cassette (I had brought a cassette player in my suitcase) and read the graffiti: Laura became crazy very crazy and stayed because Ceasar would only come out at night. Ceasar didn't become crazy he became the devil man who only came out at night to kill his wife her name was Laura R. But at last they both stayed together for ever. I was the only witness to all of this thing that happened here in this room. Two people died here because of the boogey-man and they died because nobody said nothing to them. close your window and door so that the boogey-man won't get you when you're alone at night. Good luck to those who stay here in this room. The writing was big and took up half of one wall. Well, nothing happened that night. I had given up my job and my girlfriend ("you're messing with the devil!" she had yelled at me when I told her why I was going to LA) to make this pilgrimage. I wrote up my experience, and that became the basis of my first novel, The Million-Year Centipede. I gave up on the Doors for the most part (I now cringe when I hear lyrics like "Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I," which is obviously the wrong the first-person pronoun and could obviously have been avoided by substituting "Till the stars fall to the sea for you and me"), but I am still writing novels. Morrison's love for the literary arts at least helped inspire me in that direction, so I will always owe a debt to the Doors. Just so long as they don't "Touch Me."