Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Freeloading off the storm . . .

I was trolling papers this morning, looking for blog fodder. Tom Graham, ever-helpful in feeding me interesting state news, sent me news that "Premature babies rate improves in Virginia," "Half in Va. approve of Obama performance, poll shows," and "Virginia GOP divided on earmarks."

I read them with great interest, but found I had nothing else to add. At least this morning. It's Wednesday, after all, smack in the middle of our sober, productive work week. Rebel that I am, I found myself itching to write about something that was neither sober nor productive.

So I hunted some more. And found it in a small headline on the front page of the Charlottesville Daily Progress: "Lame-duck Fla. governor wants Jim Morrison pardoned."

Yes, my friends, Charlie Crist is looking to pardon that Jim Morrison, the long-dead lead singer of The Doors, who was convicted of exposing himself at a 1969 Miami concert. How delightfully preposterous, I thought. Surely that qualifies as the subject for a blog post that is both non-productive and non-sober . . .

Read on, MacDuff!

Ace reporter that I am, I went to the St. Petersburg Times, the paper that broke the story yesterday. "The more I looked into it, the more I felt the right thing to do would be to try to bring about a pardon," Crist is quoted as saying .... "And I've reached that conclusion now, that's what I'm going to do."

Such gravitas is only appropriate, don't you think? The article goes on to say:
A jury in 1970 convicted Morrison of indecent exposure and open profanity, though he was cleared of a felony count of lewd and lascivious behavior and public drunkenness. He was sentenced to six months in jail, but died two years later in Paris while the case was under appeal.

Whether Morrison ever actually exposed himself during the concert, however, has been a matter of intense speculation and debate over the years.

Crist said he wasn't convinced after reviewing the case that Morrison did "what he was charged with here."
Although there are many photographs of the concert, none showed Morrison exposing himself. And there was no video or other tangible evidence, Crist said. "We really don't know if the alleged act occurred," Crist said.
I met Jim Morrison in 1969 when the Doors came to Houston. I was 19, working as a researcher for the now-defunct Houston Post. On a dare from some Rice University friends, I waved my Post ID card around to security like a press pass, fast-talked my way backstage, and got myself presented to Mr. Morrison.

Jim Morrison sleeps on stage in 1969
What an alarmingly sad sight he made. Jim Morrison lolled on a grubby couch, disheveled, unattractive, and obviously stoned past caring. I remember nothing charismatic about him, and much that was alarming. I scuttled back to my friends, feeling I'd ventured way out of my hipness league. I mean, Jim Morrison. It just didn't get any hipper than him. Did it?

Years later,when my young teenage daughter cranked up her first boy-girl party with The Doors, I experienced a moment of Mom approval when I announced I'd met Jim Morrison. Shamefully, I milked those pathetic and long-ago five minutes in Houston for all they were worth.

Oh, for Pete's sake, I set off to have some fun today writing about something un-sober and unproductive. And I've written myself into a bit of a funk. Boy howdy, do we Americans have a bad, bad habit of leaching excitement from the self-destructiveness of talented, troubled people. Talent, by itself, doesn't seem to be enough to hold our attention. But you throw in enough trouble and even a mediocre rock-n-roller achieves pop culture sainthood.

Why is that, I wonder? Even though I've just admitted doing it myself.

Perhaps Charlie Crist, who's momentarily halted his slide into obscurity by hitching a ride on Jim Morrison's storm, might tell us?

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