Friday was a big day. I booked myself on an American Express commercial that was going to go 10 hours, giving me just enough time to feed my dogs and shimmy down to the Whiskey in an attempt to see Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger play a tribute to The Doors without tickets in hand.
Now, I had done everything to get these tickets. Ideally, I would have bought them when they went on sale, but I never have money. I went down to the Whisky and offered to wash dishes to pay for entrance. They said a web vendor was handling all sales.
I contacted a DJ at a Classic rock station who said he might be able to get tickets to the Pacific Amphitheater, but I needed to see them at the Whisky. The Whisky made the Doors.
I looked up the actual Facebook profiles to Robby and Ray. I did the research to find the ones affiliated with the actual people and managed by their managers/agents or whomever.
I explained how they were my introduction to real music. They have been an obsession since I was 14 years old when I popped that first CD from my first BMG order, laid down on my living room floor and felt high for the first time in my life.
It was the Fourth of July and my neighbors were having a block party. When “The End” came on, I was paralyzed. I closed my eyes and I rose above that generic, white carpet. The song ended, I opened my eyes and I wanted more.
On Ray’s Facebook wall, since he can not receive private messages, I stated that I had a car, a uterus and a soul and was willing to use any to get tickets to his show. No response.
I am friends with someone who used to book for the Whisky. I am also friends with someone whose neighbor works security at the Whisky. AND, someone introduced me to a girl, CeCe, interested in dog rescue who is friends with the lead singer of the Tribute, David Brock.
It seemed like destiny was on my side.
So I showed up to the American Express commercial around 7am on a few hours sleep. I was out of weed, so I brought a potsicle. I showed up, checked in, sat down in actors’ holding (a folding chair in a parking lot) next to what appeared to be week old feces and ate half the potsicle. I texted Alan that I felt like I was growing immune to cannabis then felt my head lean back against a brick wall, my mouth open and sweet sleep overcome me.
I spent the day reading about Henry the VIII in an old, beautiful building downtown. I thought, if all I did for the rest of my life was get paid to read books in old buildings, I think I could be happy.
The shoot was going to go over our scheduled 10 hours, and well over 12 . . . in fact over 15 hours. Normally, I would love the overtime, but the Doors trump overtime. The actors discussed why the shoot was going on for so long when they had actors waiting for 6 hour blocks of time doing nothing. It was a concert set-up, hardly complicated enough to take more than 10 hours.
Actor, “The crews are stretching out the production time as much as possible so they can make more money with overtime.”
Me, “That’s why no one shoots in Los Angeles anymore.”
My booker agreed to let me out of the shoot early if I was discreet and kept in the back. It was my lucky day.
I drove home, fed the dogs, stuck what was left of my magic shroom in my back pocket and drove over to the Whisky. I also invited Frank, just cause. We had bonded the weekend before and I felt I regained a friend.
I showed up and found two hour meter parking two blocks away from the Whisky. It already had an hour and a half on it. Lucky again!
Outside the club were two Christian “activists” I guess you would call them. They were holding up big yellow signs with passages to the Bible. I didn’t really understand what that had to do with anything.
When I joined my people in line, wearing Doors t-shirts and holding up cardboard signs for tickets, one of the Christians crossed the street and said, “Did you hear about the guy who died right here an hour ago? He dropped dead from a heart attack.”
Someone in line said, “Really? Ok. (pause) What’s your point?”
Christian, “I am just saying, he came here and then he died.”
Person in line, “Are you trying to say he died because he wanted to see the concert?”
The Christian shrugged his shoulders.
I met up with CeCe and we started asking for tickets. I am terrible at panhandling and I had a lot of competition. Not only was there a line of ticket holders, but a line of music festival pass holders for that weekend’s Sunset Strip Music Festival- who had dibs after ticket holders. This was looking dire.
We headed over to the Rainbow Room to try and find David Brock and/or the band. We had to pay a $10 cover to get in and the doorman gave me a fistful of drink tickets (free well drinks). I told CeCe, I can’t have more than one drink. I missed dinner and I didn’t want to get wasted on alcohol. Of all the drugs out there, booze treats my body the worst.
So I had a glass of wine, rendezvoused with Frank and I offered him all my drink tickets.
He said, “Wow, it really pays to be a beautiful girl!”
I said, “No, he gives them to everyone.”
He said, “No he doesn’t. He didn’t give me any.”
I said, “Why don’t I ever realize that people are doing me a huge favor until after the fact?”
CeCe was working Craigslist and got a woman to agree to meet us at the Whisky at 9:30 to buy one VIP ticket for $125.
After speaking to the bartender, we discovered the owner of the Whisky and David Brock had already left the bar and headed to the Whisky for the show. So off we went.
CeCe kept telling people she and I would make out for 90 seconds if they sold us their tickets. Hell, I was would go down on her if that got me a ticket.
The first two men we approached really thought about it. They stared deeply into my eyes and took a moment of pause. I mean, a real pause. I was surprised. Then they said, “Awwwww, I can’t. I really wish I could.” Pause.
Then we moved on.
CeCe and Frank kind of hit it off and I am still entertaining the idea that they will fall in love and get married.
We worked the line. We asked everyone, and so did a few die hard fans next to me. CeCe already elected me the most worthy for the Craigslist ticket on its way to us. I wasn’t holding my breath, though.
There was a large, middle aged man behind me and I said, “Do you have an extra ticket? I am a huge Doors fan, they were the first band that opened my eyes to music . . . when I was 14.”
He looked deep into my eyes and said, “Sorry, I sold my extra ticket. I am so sorry. I really wish I sold it to you.”
I looked down, disappointed. I turned back to the crowd, some people left, more people came. Ugh.
He said, “How old were you when you discovered the Doors?”
I turned back around, “14.”
As I said this, I remembered when I was 12, and my father taped a piece of a Doors video for my sister, who was going through a Doors phase at 17. There was tension, and she said she had to go and couldn’t watch the video.
My father muttered something about her being ungrateful, and I asked to see the clip. I sat down and watched Jim Morrison sing “Break on Through” while holding his hand up over half of his face. One side of his beautiful face was lit, the other completely cast in shadow from his hand.
That was the first time I heard the Doors, and I didn’t know what it meant, or what it was, but I knew it was special.
Back on Sunset Blvd, next to an older man who sold his extra ticket, I turned and saw that he looked genuinely disturbed that I was ticketless. He said, “You have to get in there. I have a feeling I will see you in there.”
I said, “I really hope so. Its the Whisky.”
He gave a faint smile, “I know you will get in. I feel it.”
I grabbed my stomach and said, “I hope to God I do.”
CeCe and Frank were back, I think they were checking on her car. They were both very high on the night, East Coast energy and having a ball.
Again, we put the offer on the table to make out for tickets. Two men stopped in front of us, I put my arm around CeCe and she said, “Come on, we will make out for 90 seconds.”
I said, “On you . . .”
CeCe, “Ok, yeah, on you.”
I kept going, “And videotape it.”
I kissed CeCe on the cheek, and then she turned ever so slightly and we made “muh muh” noises as our lips grazed each other.
Again, the two thirty-something men stared deeply into our eyes and then let their shoulders sag.
He said, “I really, really wish I could, more than anything. You have no idea.”
CeCe said, “Then do it!”
He said, “I can’t. My friend bought me this ticket.”
A man behind them said, “I have a general admission ticket.”
CeCe said, “How much do you want for it?”
He said, “I paid $30.”
I said, “I only have $20s.”
CeCe said to the man, “Do you have change?”
He said, “No, but I will give it to you in there.”
I knew he wouldn’t.
I said, “SOLD!!!” I don’t fucking care.
We had one ticket. I rubbed it against my face, I really did.
CeCe kept asking, and Frank sat back and agreed to watch my car and feed the meter while I enjoyed the show.
He said, “Its your show. You deserve it. I will hang out and smoke cigars. You go.”
Just then, the girl from Craigslist, who we were frantically texting and calling, arrived and sold us the VIP ticket. We were in.
I turned to Frank, held his face and kissed his cheek. I said, “Thank you.” I gave him my keys and debit card to feed the meter.
Frank said, “Hurry up, get in there!”
Just then, the guy who sold us the original ticket for $30 came out and handed me my change, a $10 bill. I was already traumatized with joy, so I jumped up and shouted back at him as he turned and re-entered the Whisky, “GOOD KARMA! THANK YOU!”
I followed CeCe in who ran into a band member of Wild Child (the tribute band). She was chit chatting while i was vibrating and making nonsense noises.
Wild Child dude said, “Wow, are you just this excited to see the Doors?”
I said, “Mmmhhahurgwurguf”
He said, “Wow, that is really wonderful. So cute.”
I got stamped, ticket ripped and I walked through the doors. CeCe took the VIP wrist band since she was a drinker.
I walked to a corner and ate my shroom, then stepped towards the bar to get a glass of tap water.
The bartender said, “$2”
I just gave every last dollar I had to get in. “$2!?! For tap water???”
I walked away. Fuck that. I think that’s illegal.
I was concerned being on no food and psychedelics that I may pass out, but I would have to take the chance. I might try to run to the bathroom and drink from the faucet if I got dizzy.
So I faced the stage and just walked through 200 people. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that. They weren’t on yet and I am just one small head. I said, “Excuse me, may I pass?” and got halfway up to the stage when a girl shoved her shoulder in my mouth and I repeated, “Excuse me, may I pass?”
She said, “No.”
Then her boyfriend pushed me.
Ok, I just took shrooms. I can not expose myself to negative energy or else it would ruin everything.
So I said, “Don’t push me.”
He said, “You are being inconsiderate of everyone here.”
I said, “I paid my ticket like everyone else. I would like to move forward, please.”
He said, “No. You are selfish.”
And then he shoved me again with his shoulder.
I am kind of a light weight type of gal, so a shove can throw me off my feet- again without food or water, I was easy pickings.
So I stood my ground. I stayed there but didn’t engage. We were all packed in like sardines. I couldn’t stand with my shoulders square to the stage, there were just so many people. All sides of my body were being touched by various strangers and the smell of body odor was stifling.
Then the lights went out and the Doors were introduced.
I saw Ray’s feet ascend from the stairs with his hand shusshing the applause. Then Robby, whose hair is totally white now. My heart thumped.
They took their seats and “Roadhouse Blues” rupture on stage. All the nasty looks, shoving and pushing went away. Everyone was smiling.
The lead singer, David Brock, came on in a casual outfit. No leather pants or anything indicating he was “doing” Jim Morrison, other than his hair cut. He was not attractive but his voice was similar to Jim’s.
He mimicked the way Jim held the microphone to his mouth, and his other hand to his ear, with the cord coiling around the side of his face. He also would flicker his tongue over his lips in what I found to be a kind of old-man-alcoholic way. I found that rather unappealing.
I watched Ray, his head was big. He was smiling and rocking his head back and forth.
Robby looked small, like he was struggling to hold up his guitar.
David sang, “I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer . . .”
Outside, Frank was hearing the music with everyone else left behind.
“I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer . . .”
A hippie in a wheelchair on the sidewalk said, “Yeah man, that’s why you died.”
I let the music wrap around me, the keyboards and guitar were so masterful, I have never seen anything like that up close. Psychedelic music has all these layers, and when Robby stepped forward for his solo, I tried to follow his fingers through each layer, but I couldn’t.
I saw Tom Petty and ZZ Top live, and that is superb guitar playing, but this was on some other level, it was almost god-like. On the fuzzy end of this lollipop, Ray and Robby might as well have been checking text messages or playing cross word puzzles while performing. It wasn’t fresh to them, how could it be . . . but in their ease to slip into auto-pilot, my experience somehow suffered.
They weren’t present for the music, it was just flowing out of them like band practice. It didn’t matter that we were there, or that they were in the Whisky or that it was magic, even if that was a long time ago. It was now recycled magic, rehearsed and packaged for an event.
“Love Me Two Times” came through and then there was a break to address the crowd.
Ray and Robby shared the story about how they were kicked out of the Whisky when Jim sang, “Father, I want to kill you . . . Mother, I want to fuck you.” The crowd cheered.
Ray said, “We were called every dirty name in the book and then told never to come back again. That’s when Robby said his famous line? It was a Thursday and he said, ‘The weekend is coming up, man. You sure you want to fire us?’ Then he said, ‘Ok, play Friday and Saturday, and then you are out of here.”
Ray then introduced “The Alabama Song”, first by stating he was thirsty and Jack Daniels “or someone” was hosting the event. Two pie faced (rather mediocre looking) models with great legs came down and poured him a shot of whisky.
The crowd cheered like utter morons.
As the women carefully climbed the stairs in heels back to the upper level next to the stage, Ray lifted his glass and said, “Looking good ladies.”
I rolled my eyes.
The two ladies came back down with a full bottle of Jack Daniels and Ray joked that he could never drink all of it. David grabbed the bottle and said, “Let me help you with that” in a gravelly Jim impersonation.
The crowd cheered louder.
I mean, come on, where are we? Vegas??? I will say this once, and only once . . . Jim would not have liked that.
Then they jumped into the “Alabama Song”. David sang and I watched Ray occasionally chime in, leaning forward, holding an intense gaze with Dave as if to coach him along the way he wanted him to.
I know Ray is a very picky business man and artist. I could sense there was tension. And David, who is used to imitating Jim with Wild Child, was playing things fairly straight. I could see he was desperate to please Ray, and working to keep in time the way Ray wanted him to. I felt sorry for him.
Then, they did “Peace Frog”, one of my favorite Doors song. I sang with the crowd, including the couple that pushed me. I looked around and saw that everyone around me had changed. It didn’t matter who I shoved by to get my spot in the crowd, people were moving and shifting. The pit of my stomach was lifting into dark butterflies. The shrooms were in my blood now.
With the strobe light, occasionally I could imagine the silhouette of Jim. It was not Jim though. What made the Doors magnificent, a phenomenon, was the lyricism and the live performance. There was unpredictability, improvisation. They would test the boundaries of the crowd, bringing the song to life. The audience carved the song, with Jim at the helm. All of that was gone now.
I could see why John Densmore didn’t want to be there, to repackage rehearsed songs while promoting Jack Daniels. Jim wouldn’t want to be there for that, either. But what am I going to do, complain? This was the closest I was ever going to get to my favorite band in the original venue. It was all that was left, and I wanted to hold on to it before it disappeared completely.
From “Peace Frog” they went right into “Blue Sunday” which is honoring the structure of Morrison Hotel (the album). The two songs were built into each other, which is interesting since one is inspired by abortion and the other love and allegiance.
Outside, CeCe was holding a straw through the fence so Frank could suck Jack Daniels out of her glass. A security guard broke it up.
When he circled back around to the front of the venue, a woman was arguing to get in when a 17 yr-old said, “Hey, lady, there are real fans here, ok? I know you can hear me. HEY LADY!! I know you can hear me cause the guy behind you is laughing at me.”
Inside, Ray was telling the story about how he and Robby visited Jim’s grave on the anniversary of the passing from this realm, or some poetic string of words to define the day he died. He said they all sat around his grave and sang songs in Paris, “it was a good group of people.” I feel like that performance may have had more heart in it. Maybe not. I wish I could go to Paris.
I also wish I could recall the exact song line-up. I know they did “Strange Days”, “When the Music’s Over” (apparently Jim’s favorite song), they did “The Changeling” which I knew all the words to and lost two-thirds of the audience. When they did “Hyacinth House” I was the ONLY one who knew all the words on the ground floor and therefore felt I earned my spot to be as close to stage as possible.
When Robby came up for another solo, the strobe light went off on him, with his white hair blowing back and a grin on his face, he looked so much like a witch, flying through the night on a musical broom. Yeah, I was tripping.
Then came “Not to Touch the Earth”, which I still knew all the words from after writing them down in my 9th grade notebook. I had to copy the lyrics from a scene in the movie, since I didn’t have money to buy the album.
I couldn’t stand David Brock’s tongue flickering out of his mouth like a snake. It seemed to be some kind of trademark, but I have never seen Jim Morrison writhe his tongue in and out of his mouth, or wagger it around like a trucker passing an all girls school.
I closed my eyes and saw my Cathedral. The music. This music shaped my mind from such a young age, and such a dark time, it is in my blood. Maybe more than my own family. I saw the outline of a green Cathedral in my mind, built on the walls of the music and I heard Jim’s voice say, “I’m here. And I know you are here.” And it was gone.
I kept closing my eyes again, to hear his voice again, or what ever voice my imagination and magic mushrooms conjured out of obsession, but I couldn’t. It was gone, and so was my one moment with Jim.
I looked at the portrait they have of Jim hanging next to the stage. He is smiling in it. I bet he fucking hates the owners of that place.
The band went back to the crowd favorites, “Touch Me” and “Riders on the Storm.”
David shouted out to the crowd, “Gene said you guys are boring!!” (Gene is the drummer)
The crowd roared.
Ray said, “Who is boring? Gene is boring? You are boring? I am boring? Who is boring?”
David stumbled a bit, “No, um . . . I don’t know man . . .”
Ray was really on this guy, I mean, it was subtle, but anytime David tried to really perform, I could feel the hand pull his collar back and whisper, “You are not Jim.”
And he wasn’t.
Not only was he not Jim, Ray and Robby were not the Doors. The sacred circle is broken, and whatever dark mystical line they caught a hold of in the late 60s-early 70s was dropped and is now hanging loosely from the sky.
In my mind, I heard the words from one of the songs on LA Woman, “I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft. We have constructed pyramids in honor of our escaping. This is the land where the Pharaoh died.”
Ray and Robby pumped the re-release of LA Woman for the umpteenth time, Robby always looking down when addressing the crowd. Ray was more casual, smiling and speaking slowly like he savored telling these stories to people all the time.
Two men behind me held up an original Doors vinyl album, the original, with a sharpie. Ray and Robbie saw, but ignored them.
When “LA Woman” started, they played the hell out of it musically. Ray, however, was looking through the crowd, desperately, trying to find someone while his fingers flew over the keys. Robby looked tired. I knew it was their closing song.
I felt someone grab my elbow, I turned around and saw Frank. He was dancing and bobbing his head to the music . . . I guess like I should have been. I smiled, weakly, and turned back to stare at the stage.
The music was so loud, I could feel every molecule inside of my thump to the notes. The music engulfed me, and my ears and blood pulsed and hummed with every memorized note. I liked that. And then they left the stage.
Often I forgot to applaud. This time, I didn’t. And I clapped watching their shoes climb the staircase up the side of the stage into darkness.
We stayed, and chanted, and clapped. I kept saying, “The End” . . . my other favorite Doors song.
After several minutes, they came back down. Then introduced “Light My Fire”, pardon me but SNORE!!!! Gawd, my least favorite Doors song and the one I am forced to listen to constantly on the radio. Played to DEATH!
Whatever, like I said, what am I going to do . . . complain?
They did an amazing performance (musically) of “Light My Fire”. I mean, at certain points, Ray played the keyboard with his feet. That was pretty awesome!!
David flung his tongue out a few times, bent over and flickered it at a female fan in the top booth. I frowned.
I looked away and turned back on the stage to see David shrugging his shoulders and blushing like a guilty schoolboy. I wonder if Ray pulled back on the reins again. Then David made eye contact with me and saw my frown. Just like a recipe needs a dash of salt, our shared moment was a dash of disappointment. He looked away.
The song finished, the house lights went back up and the roadies came down to take away the instruments.
CeCe appeared and grabbed my arm, telling me to stay with her. She introduced herself to the security guards who flirted with us, while firmly telling the drunk buffoons to get lost.
Frank said, “That was great, your friend got me in for free. I missed the first few songs, but they were great.”
I said, “ . . . yeah.”
Frank said, “Geez, I feel like I had a better time than you.”
I said, “No . . . this was good. How is my car?”
Frank, “I have no idea. I am sorry, she got me in and I just jumped in there.”
I said, “Shit, I hope they didn’t tow it.” The Sunset Music Festival was starting and new parking violations signs were up, tow trucks were parked outside while drivers chewed on hotdogs, waiting to pluck their victims.
The Roadies started throwing out sheet music. I just politely raised my had and said, “Please?”
Frank said, “This would mean a lot to this girl. She deserves it.”
The last one thrown towards me was ripped out of reach by a very large Hispanic man whose head landed on my lower lip. He almost fell to the ground and stammered some victory speech about getting it before me. (He also destroyed it in the process, and pieces of it flew to the ground)
Frank pushed me gently out of harm’s way and kept saying, “Have a good night, man.”
The Hispanic man smiled at me with some wild go-tee and huge pupils. I gave him a thumbs up.
How in the world can I be far more in control than everyone else on a hallucinogenic than these low class boozers? BASE BEHAVIOR!
So, I stood in front of the stage as everyone cleared away. I told CeCe I just wanted to touch the stage. She was talking it up with the cute security guard and kept insisting I stay nearby.
My fingers crawled over the old maroon carpet.
I backed up and found myself standing alone, staring at the stage with my head tilted. Coming to, I realized a roadie was standing on stage staring back at me. He smiled and winked at me. I smiled back.
CeCe was trying to negotiate for a guitar pick. The roadies said everything was gone. So I said, “Wait, so are they coming back to do ‘The End’?” The security guard laughed and said, “No, darling. Once they break down the equipment, its over.”
I turned to Frank and said, “Oh. But . . . how can that be? ‘The End’ is what got them kicked out of the Whisky and got their contract with Elektra Records . . .”
Frank said, “It must be a Jim thing.”
I said, “Yeah . . . huh.”
We went out to check on my car and I ran. Frank said, “Running doesn’t change anything!!”
I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t towed. I picked up a parking ticket off the windshield. $53.00. I waved it in the air and danced my way back to him in front of the Viper Room and said, “It’s not that bad!! It’s not that bad!”
A couple drunk strangers laughed over my celebration.
I offered to drive Frank back to his car but he wanted to buy another cigar first. He asked if I was ok to drive. I said I was.
I looked at my phone and the icons were dancing and vibrating. I was still tripping.
Frank kept saying, “I feel bad that I had more fun than you.”
I said, “No, don’t. It was a different experience for me. It wasn’t about fun. It was just not … I don’t know. I guess Jim really did make the Doors. He was so much about the performance, about the poetry and the shock value. Always testing the audience. None of that was there tonight, it was just the music.”
Frank said, “You needed Jim, huh?”
I said, “I guess I do.”
I drove him to his car just fine. I couldn’t listen to any music on the radio. I wanted more Doors, nothing else could ease my mind, so I shut off the radio.
Then I drove home to Alan, who was waiting for me. As I flew down the roads, I felt like the walls of the night were falling down, like the Earth was stretching into a pancake. Trees overhead looked bigger. I like this world. I like seeing the world reshape itself so I can discover more.
When I arrived home, I was just happy. He forced a smile, coming down from adderall and exams to clean up dog shit after a 2 hour drive didn’t have him in the best of moods.
We sat and spoke for a while. He said, “Everyone else probably did have more fun than you. I think you are too much of a Doors fan to really have enjoyed that show.”
I nodded heavily, “Yeah, but its the only time I will see them, where I wanted to see them. I will never see them perform again. I wasn’t expecting magic, I mean . . . I missed the magic. It was before I was born. But look, its not like I am complaining about any shortage of magic in my life. I have magic all the time with you . . . its just tonight there was none. And that’s the way of things.”
We went to bed and I made love on shrooms for the first time in my life. The pattern on my bed sheets spread out underneath Alan’s head, his skin is so white, it practically glowed in the dark. It felt like my orgasm was growing out from underneath him, like roots from a tree.
We held each other until he drifted off into sleep- and I kept my eyes open, still waiting to hear Jim’s voice again. I wanted to hear it again, say you know I am here. Say you are here. Say my obsession and your music mean something. Tell me I am closer . . .
I didn’t hear anything. I just fell asleep.
The coming weekend would bring a stew of frustration including my first fight with Alan. But that night I learned that chasing my ghosts won’t give me life . . . my life, my magic, my audience, my performance is right now.