by Dr. Derek Lamar
Production night with an underground newspaper was always very stressful. You've got deadlines. The last two or three days of a production schedule are filled with everything but sleep. One such night involved a photo of a young girl looking through the window which had security wire set within the glass and it was much like a spider web. I think the window was partially broken. It was obviously an "art piece". Someone, probably the editor, Chris Bunch, came the idea to use lyrics from a Doors song: "You are caught in a prison of your own design... devise..." We couldn't agree on the wording. We would have to wait until Chris got the lyric sheet from home. In the meantime we would typeset it all including both disputed words, and simply cut and paste later. Unfortunately that was all there was to that. It got printed with both words still attached.
A few days later, Jim Martin, editor of Coast Magazine, and I, went to the Columbia Record Convention at the Century Plaza Hotel. That was a memory flash. In 1967, while working for the Open City newspaper, we were all engaged in a "Peace March" down Avenue of the Stars. L.B.J. was at the Plaza and there we were in the street trudging along and yelling in the hot Los Angeles sun. As a perfect backdrop to the roar of the crowd was the Apocalyptic rumble and drone of the military helicopters flying above us in the sky. Joni Mitchell's song comes to mind: " I dreamed I saw the bomber jet planes riding shotgun in the sky, turning into butterflies above our nation". At least three of them and all with machine guns mounted on them. It was a little disarming. I had never heard of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 or the illegality of using the military for domestic situations. I simply thought it was the war machine making itself known and protecting the Democrat president in charge of the Southeast Asian blood bath.
(Above: Chris Bunch inside the Gold Mine.) (Above Right: The Doors: Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Bobby Krieger)
Now I'm all dressed up and going to an event inside the building I protested outside of only two years before. Jim and I get to the elevator and I push the button. We wait as we watch other people wandering about. The elevator opens and there are people already aboard. We step inside. Immediately as I walk in facing them I realize that we are sharing the elevator with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. Talk about the sounds of silence. Self-observation really comes into play somewhat naturally when you find yourself being quiet in a confined space like an elevator. It's almost like being in a sensory deprivation tank. You can hear people breathing. And you don't want to say something stupid like "nice weather we're having" or worse yet, "I have all of your albums". So you try and be cool and polite and all the while a thousand thoughts, all moronic, seem to fill your mind and turn a short elevator ride into G. I. Gurdjieff's one minute exercise. The door opens and we all get out of the elevator and we walked on down the hall.
(Above: Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel)
We went to our table and sat for awhile. Jim was busy talking with other entertainment industry people and I wandered off to get us some drinks. Some man approached me with enthusiasm and wanted to know if I was Robert Lipton. "Who?" I asked. "Robert Lipton", he said, "Peggy Lipton's brother." I smiled and shook my head. But wow! It was really a great feeling to be recognized even if I wasn't that person. I never heard of Robert Lipton at the time but I did know Peggy Lipton from The Mod Squad, of course.
We left the event later and at the elevator I ran into a young woman there who also worked for The Image on occasion. I couldn't remember her name when I collected my notes for this but Chris Bunch remembered her. His description in three words, "teenybopper genre". Apparently she had wanted to do a book. Chris said: "Her big claim to fame was that Jim Morrison screwed her one night at the Doors' office on Santa Monica Blvd., and she left footprints on the ceiling. I pointed out, mildly, that put her in an elite category of, oh, half of L.A., and ALL of Barney's Beanery women. Then she told me that she and Morrison had been lovers in a previous life, and he'd been a Navy lieutenant in New Orleans during the War of 1812, and they'd made mad passionate love before he sailed off to get killed. I said (and damn me for being good at history) that one of the peculiarities of the Battle of New Orleans, other than being fought after the war had ended, was there was NO United States Navy presence...I think she got miffed."
(Above: Robert Lipton)
Back when Chris and I were still at Open City, he had gone to a Doors concert at The Forum in Inglewood. The crowd was rowdy and when Morrison attempted to present his experimental poetry the audience pushed on for the music they actually came to listen to. Morrison seemed to be working toward some sort of "worship me, I'm a god" presentation. One writer's account of this concert:
Finally, The Doors played Light My Fire, hoping this would quench the audiences thirst... but some weren't satisfied and still wanted a replay of Light My Fire. At the end of Light My Fire, Morrison spoke to the audience: "Hey man, cut out that shit, come on", Morrison seemed a bit peeved. "Come on", half pleading with the audience: "Hey, we can play music, we can play music all night ! But that's not what you really want is it ? Yeah, you want something more, you want something different !" Jim then performed Celebration Of The Lizard combined with two lines from The WASP but this song may have fallen upon deaf ears, as the audience was somewhat disappointed and unappreciative of Jim's poetry. Chris Bunch of Open City, noted the crowd's disappointment with Jim's poetic recital: "Morrison decided at the very end to do his Celebration of the Lizard, a 21-minute theatre piece. The downers in the audience didn't dig him being THAT freaky, with electronic backs and Ferlinghetti-like poetry. So, the comments started: 'Bring back Sweetwater.' 'Bring back Jerry Lee.' Five minutes from the end of the piece, Morrison stopped, turned around, and the group walked off stage."
Chris Bunch said: "I still remember having to go to the Doors office on Santa Monica, and, uh, telling Morrison we weren't gonna run any more of his shitty poetry. I definitely remember the last time I saw Morrison...going down in the elevator when I worked in the 9000 building on Sunset and seeing him waiting. And he looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy, all bloated and alcoholic. 'Uh...hi, Jim,' I managed. Long pause. Long wait. 'Uh...hi, Chris. 'And we rode on down the line in utter silence. So I wasn't exactly stunned when news of his death came around a couple of months later."
By then I would be living in a house in West Hollywood across the street from Ray Manzarek just South of that famous 9000 building. Weird scenes inside the gold mine indeed. "People are strange, when you're a stranger, faces look ugly when you're alone." Los Angeles was becoming a rock and roll coffin at this point: "...locked in a prison of your own devise." There was a fog upon L.A. and my friends had lost their way.
(Chris Bunch. When I said "it's the only picture I've got," I had to improvise. ~ D.L.) (Chris Bunch passed away July 4, 2005. He will be missed by friends, family and sci-fi fans.)
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