Halfway across the Pacific, heading for D.C. for the usual July 4th Strategic Talents junket, it hit me that Jimmy walked on, 40 years ago, today.
I always forget that date, somehow. It's like the birthday of your third cousin ten times removed or something like that. It sits there at the edge of your mind like an echo of an echo, flitting from brain cell to brain cell and never quite coming into full view until you get a nasty phone call from your mom asking why you didn't send a card, again.
July 3rd, 1971. He'd have been 67 if he'd just stuck around.
But then he never really could, could he? Never in one place for too damn long. Always sitting down in the chair just long enough to get comfy, maybe have a beer, and then you turn your back to light up and he's gone.
Just like that.
When Jim Morrison was four, the secret ways of the invisible world reached out and showed him that he was a marked man.
The sign came in the form of a a horrible wreck by the side of the road in an Indian reservation, out in the deserts. "Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death," he wrote later, and it kept coming back up in his work. A bright signpost on the highway of his life, showing the way to the end of the road.
His family doesn't remember the accident the same way, of course. Maybe a few Indians. Maybe one car. Nowhere near the mythic power he ascribed to it.
But that's because they weren't seeing the same thing. They just saw an accident. He saw the tragic death of his previous self from the next Earth over, superimposed over the smaller tragedy they drove by.
For a few fleeting seconds, Jim Morrison met Johnny Morphine, rock and roll messiah of the Colonies, who'd died defending its native peoples against demon-spawned redcoats with laser guns. He'd fought them hard and well for years, with blasters and songs, but sooner or later was going to come the day when his devil's luck would run out.
That was the day, right then and there. Smashed down to earth in a blue bus, bleeding to death. More laser-bored hole than not, he was still shooting and laughing at the enemy as they continued to come for him, eager to collect the million-pound bounty on his head and neck.
Then, across the worlds, Johnny saw Jimmy. Their eyes met, and he knew it was a good time to walk on. So he did.
And then there was Jim.
The first time I laid eyes on him was in 1966. This was before the cover story they cooked up for him was in full speed. No Ed Sullivan show, no rock albums, not just yet.
Just rock at the Whisky a Go Go and places like that. Just him and his handlers three, aping the rock scene to give his crazy goings-on some relative weight. All night parties? Kooky goings-on with the police and civil authorities? People seeing things that weren't quite there, or shouldn't be?
It's only Rock N Roll, kids. Long live Rock N. Roll.
I saw the real him, later, when we were hip-deep in the chittering, wet spawn of something that didn't belong in this world. I saw him use that sword he carried just out of reach and sight, bright and shining and silver. He sent thing after thing squirming back into the hole ripped open by some idiot sorcerer SQUASH had hired for the occasion, smiling and laughing all the while, maybe composing poetry on the spot. Maybe not.
When it was done, and we'd sealed the hole, he looked at me, winked, and said "And here I thought I was going to opening doors, tonight." Then he unzipped, pissed around the sorcerer, and walked away laughing.
People looked at him and saw a beautiful, angry poet. They heard a voice like a sweet, thundering angel. They watched him move and groove and never realized they were watching time and space break down around him like psychedelic taffy.
But then that's what he was, when you took those trappings away. An anomaly in the normal movements of the world. Sign that the universe was into repeating itself, over and over again.
Because some things need to be said repeatedly, until we understand.
Johnny Morphine. James Mortson. Jimmy Morningstar. Jerry O'Morning. He'd been all those people, time and again, living parallel lives in parallel worlds. A force for "good" in some, "evil" in others, but always someone greater than those around him. A leader, a priest, a monster in human shape, a doer of things and sayer of ideas.
An eternal champion, but never for long.
Jim fought the good fight for a handful of years, but something about this world never quite sat right with him. Maybe he fell in with the wrong crowd, given that we were all about managing his image and trying to keep him on a leash instead of letting him flare up like he wanted to. Maybe he kept wondering if he'd picked the right side, given how we were doing things back then, and was looking for some kind of an honorable exit.
Maybe he fell too much in love with the lifestyle we helped create for him, given his Dionysian levels of pure excess. Maybe he thought the drugs were good for him, and helped, somehow.
But even man-gods have their limits, after all. Even me, even him. So it wasn't too long before he was a shattered wreck of the young, vital angel I'd seen in action in California, that night, and on and off again thereafter.
Then came the day the ultimate door opened for him, in that bathtub in Paris. He must have looked across the veil of the worlds, and seen his own eyes reflected in someone else's.
And then, smiling, he knew it was time to walk on again while no one was looking.
A lot of people have wasted a lot of time trying to prove that Jim Morrison didn't die, back then. They say he had no autopsy, which was true. But there was no autopsy because the French didn't suspect foul play, and, more importantly, we didn't want anyone else to open him up and see how he ticked.
But when we did, we found nothing out of the ordinary. No strange organs. No cranial abnormalities. No physical evidence of mutations or the like.
Just the empty husk of a life force too powerful for just one shell to contain, lying there dead on a table with a weird smile on its face.
In The End, Morrison sang: The killer awoke before dawn / he put his boots on / He took a face from the ancient gallery / And he walked on down the hall
In the 90's, his father put a tombstone on the grave that read ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ. "According to his own daemon," or "spirit," if you prefer. Prime evidence that his dad knew something was up all along.
I'm having a spliff the size of a man's fist and drinking a cold Bintang just for you, Jimmy. I don't know where you are, or who you are. But I hope wherever you are, tonight, you're giving the bastards hell.
And I hope this time around you stay longer than you did here.
(SPYGOD is listening to The End (The Doors) and having a cold Bintang)