Tag Archives: American Masters

Strange Days

I’m the Lizard King. I can do anything. ~ Jim Morrison

There was a very good program on American Masters on PBS tonight, When You’re Strange, a film about The Doors by Tom DiCillo. The Doors were peaking when I was very young, but I had the advantage of growing up with an older brother. The music of his era (60s) became the foundation for my musical tastes, regardless of my youth at the time. The Doors and Jim Morrison were one group that influenced me greatly in my misspent youth. I have most of their albums in my collection.

Remember albums? They’re these black plastic disk-like things with concentric grooves embedded in them. When a stylus travels within these grooves, a magic occurs. It’s a magic that brings the twisted genius of a man like Morrison into your living room. It fills your head with the images and the rhythms that were swirling around in Jim’s LSD dreams when he was in the studio singing those songs into a microphone. It’s a strong magic.

The poetry of this magic is such that it creates feelings and thoughts that stay in your head for a lifetime. Regardless of the media that you choose when accessing that magic in the future (I’m currently listening to The Doors – Riders On the Storm on Youtube), the magic transports you again… to that time, that place, with those friends that you were with when you first experienced the magic of that particular song.

Today, while having coffee with my aunts and uncles, I watched one of my uncles across the table from me. He was always a tall, virile man. Nowadays, he’s a shrunken, aching, enfeebled old man. I still see the man he was, but he can no longer be that man. Life is fleeting… so fleeting. It made me think of my own mortality. I’m not the man I was 25 years ago either. I’m not what this man has become… yet, but that day is down the road.

The documentary about The Doors and my thoughts about my uncle made me realize that there is so much that I miss, so much that I no longer do, so many good times and memories in the past. I thought of friends who are no longer in this world; like my buddy Frank, who died at 36… or my lady-friend Melissa, who left this world at the ripe old age of 39… and many others whom I miss. I shared much with these people. They each took part of me when they left this place.

I realize this article isn’t going to garner much laughs or many comments or generate ad revenue. I don’t really care. I’m entitled to ramble on occasionally. I’m sitting here enjoying a hot cup of coffee and I’m about to step outside and flick open my ol’ Zippo and light up a Marlboro. I quit smoking back in December of ’07, but for some reason I felt the need for a cigarette tonight. I wanted to perform the ritual… packing, opening, lighting that first cig. It brought me momentary surcease from the ghosts haunting me this evening.

It would be foolish in the extreme for me to start smoking again. I know that. Besides, I can’t afford to buy the damned things these days. I might have one more and then give the pack away. I’ve had my moment. The fog has lifted and clarity returned. I’ve confronted the ghosts. They’re all my ghosts. They’re mostly friendly. I have nothing to fear.

Strange days…


Update: I smoked that second cig and then poured water over the rest of the pack and tossed it in the trash.