April 16, 2010

the blast

The headline says it: the volcano has shut down Europe. I know, I know; it could be worse. Is it really that terrible to be stuck in Paris indefinitely? No, but the indefinitely part definitely makes me uneasy.

Today, in between spending hours on the phone trying to find a flight, I took a walk along the Seine. It is sunny here but cold. In the shadows the wind has a chill that still carries the stiff twist of winter.

The sight-seeing boats on the river have only a few passengers. As I cross the bridge near Notre Dame my brain starts revisiting the events of the past three days.

John Densmore and I did about 50 interviews, sometimes alone, mostly together. I've found myself growing more and more impressed and fascinated by him. He's amazing with the press; always gracious, and always surprisingly informative.

He never says a bad word about anyone--unlike me of course. But, many times during the interviews I find myself turning to him and just listening in awe.

He told a story today of Jim Morrison showing up at the house John and Robby were sharing together in Laurel Canyon in LA before the Doors became famous. Jim was clearly feeling pretty down. Robby and John suggested he go up into the hills and check out the view of LA stretching out far below. An hour later he returned in a better mood. He handed them a crumpled sheet of paper on which he'd scribbled some lyrics:

People are strange when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted
Streets are uneven when you're down.

When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you're strange
No one remembers your name
When you're strange
When you're strange
When you're strange.

As John tells this story there is no attempt to idolize or possess the memory of Jim. There is only quiet admiration and respect.

In an interview this morning John told of an incident when the Doors were playing live and Jim took some flowers off John's drum stand and stuck them under his pounding drumsticks. As John kept playing the flowers were shredded into pieces that went flying. John laughed, suggesting this was Jim's way of stating his opinion of "flower power."

The French journalist didn't understand, so I took some flowers out of a small vase on the table and held them in front of John. He started beating on them with his hands and bits and fragments flew into the air. The journalist finally nodded in understanding. A half-hour later as the interview ended, John reached out and took part of a flower stem out of the guy's hair.

I walk for two hours. Back to the hotel there is no news on flights out. I go up to my room and crash for a while. The phone rings. It's John. A friend of his gave him a big bottle of champagne. Do I want to meet him in the lobby and help him and his girlfriend Ildiko dispose of it?

An hour later the three of us are plastered. We head off on foot looking for a restaurant as it is after 9 pm and champagne on an empty stomach with a chaser of jetlag is a wicked combo. The three of us wander down a long narrow street. John and Ildiko are supposed to fly back to LA tomorrow. There is no news on their flight.

The last news I heard was that I will be here until at least Tuesday. We are lost, stranded in Paris, as if wandering through some long, strange dream.

Exactly. It could be worse.

Anonymous wrote:
tree bending wind literally ripped though the courtyard – as if on cue… During “quiet/intimate” moments, not a leaf would rustle.
Ms. Anne Onimuss, and Tom too!
WOW. I’m sitting here with chills on my forearms. I’ve experienced this kind of “coincidence” (I don’t believe in coincidences) only once or twice in my lifetime. And here’s something stranger–if my last book ever gets published, I want you both to go back and reread the comment above.
Anne Onimuss, I do believe you have a camera hookup to my brain–I put a **very** similar scene for a character in my recent work. So if the dang thing ever gets on the bookshelves, I think you’ll appreciate a certain scene w/your background.
Thx for posting – yeah, Tom’s blog is great – I went back and reread the posts when I first found it. Great info for artists, filmmakers, fans, human beings 🙂
While you were in Paris, I tried to get more screenings for WYS but was informed that what’s scheduled is it. I’m truly saddened that I wasn’t able to help you further, because it’s VERY rare that I feel so strongly about a documentary. More than the subject, it was HOW it was told. Sometimes, making a documentary can be like a term paper…so much information and in the end, hard to construct without spoon feeding the information. The way you wrote and directed WYS gave the audience a chance to learn a lot in a limited amount of time while offering an enjoyable and moving experience.
I hope that one day you find another subject to explore as a documentary. I’m making my way through your blog from the beginning. I’ve gained valuable insight into the “Adventures of Filmmaking” though your footsteps and experiences. (For those who haven’t visited other postings, I highly recommend going back if you are new like I am.)
Oh! Before I forget, I wanted to tell you something really remarkable which hundreds of people witnessed at the WYS Philadelphia (Piazza Outdoor Theater) screening. Lindsey’s posting above reminded me. When Jim Morrison screamed or made really strong points and during some of the montages showing the major events of the decades in the film, tree bending wind literally ripped though the courtyard – as if on cue – several times! There was laughter that it added emphasis at just the right times! During “quiet/intimate” moments, not a leaf would rustle. Who knew you had “The Mighty Wind” involved for a “pure movie experience”!!! Some joked that it was “Jim”. Ask anyone who was there, and they will all smile in agreement that it was remarkable! I didn’t know if you knew this fun fact about that particular showing.
Thank you for the compliment and for sharing your experiences as well! This site really has fantastic people! The main reason I did not come forward with my real name is because of the subject matter. Not everyone can “relate” and I respect that so that was why I chose to be “Annonymous”. I’m definitely open to learning more about your writings. A smile to you for the time you made to sit down, put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and get your thoughts down as you gave birth to your books! 🙂
We are all human…typos remind us of that! LOL! 🙂
To Tom, Elaine, Salli, Lindsey and even you – the silent reader,
Please have a great day!
Ms. Anne Onimuss (39 yr old girl) 🙂
((laughing at the various cleaver name variations – Who knew!?))
Anonymous…thanks so much for the “pleae.” It makes me feel better because I’m always making typos, etc.
Tom, is there a script in your adventures? C’est possible? Glad you’re back safe and sound. 🙂
oops, I meant “Please” not “pleae”.
Janet – A very heartfelt THANK you! I agree, “is” fits the occassion beautifully. 🙂
THANK you for posting the links. I understand now. When I was there many years ago (1995), there were no gates, crowds, or party animals with video cameras. Times change – LOL!
Wow, welcome home!!! What a journey you had. THANK you so much for personally taking a few minutes to blog back. (I gladly accept the “Anne Onimuss” and certainly smiled with your humor and creativity!) Yes, I am in TOTAL agreement with everyone that it is not about being at a particular location, but it’s the “CONNECTION” that matters, which is defined/felt on an individual basis and at personal moments in time. Stuart’s links explain a lot…Noted.
I’m happy to share that, on word of mouth alone from my excitement over this documentary, I have a few friends who are purchasing the DVD without even seeing it in the theaters!!! Enjoy the rest of the journey that this film and The Doors take you on and enjoy being back in your own bed. There’s nothing like putting your head down on your own pillow after traveling. 🙂 Pleae keep making films that mean a lot to you! You have a real talent for telling great stories visually as a Director!
Wishing you all the success from your hard work, dedication, and energy from this film and into your future projects!!!
Anne Onimuss 🙂
Lindsey Taylor
Janet, I agree with you a hundred percent. I think it’s impossible to sit in a dark theater and watch WYS straight through without feeling the presence of Jim and the rest of the band at least a little bit. And if you haven’t had the privilege of seeing the film, just hearing Tom talk about it for a few minutes assures me that Jim as well as Ray, Robbie, and John are extremely proud. Jims grave site will always be special but the fact that the Doors still have such loyal fans and friends like all of you will make them and their music live on forever…
Ps: so glad you got home okay, Tom!
Hey Anonymous,
Beautiful note. Hope you share your name w/us someday. I write fiction novels and had similar themes to what you mention in a previous book.
For me, those things you mentioned all ring true–for people who weren’t famous. I’ve felt that awestruck silence visiting various sites, even walking past gravesites of strangers in specific cemeteries.
That being said, it was impossible for me to feel this way at Graceland. It was so overdone it took away from that serene awe for me personally.
Perhaps because, as Tom’s last film “Delirious” explored, our society is obsessed with celebrity and fame. I kind of like the idea of being able to stop by Jim’s grave at 3 a.m., when it’s not surrounded by people.
Hope you keep posting and share your name someday 🙂
Stuart Henderson
Tom, Salli, Janet and Mr Anneo Monnn Usss!!-
Speaking From Personal Experience of Visiting Jim’s Grave quite a few times, i myself have found it a very tranquil and moving experience and im not saying i felt jim’s spirit there or anything but i have felt quietly moved by paying respects to a guy who gave so much, i would never got into reading as much as i did and i would never have starting writing poetry if it were not for jim and i felt and this is just me that i owed it to him to go to his grave and say”Thanks for everything”
Janet Erwin
What a wonderful post, Annoynmous. I’m sure you’re right about Jim’s pride in When You’re Strange, I’d just change “would be” to “is,” because I think Tom’s point–and Salli’s–is that you don’t have to go to Pere Lachaise to feel Jim’s spirit.
Dear Anonymous and Salli,
I finally made it home late last night. An 18 hour journey. I’m reading your comments and want to assure you both that in the instances of deep personal connection people have to The Doors, that all things are acceptable. And they should be.
This discussion of Pere Lachaise should not be a disruptive one. As Salli has said, yes, my personal preference is to not go there. I have seen enough of celebrity gravesites to know that the stones are cold for me. Stuart has sent a few youtube videos to reiterate this point. See his comment above.
But, Anne Onimuss, (can I give you a human name?)your desire to connect with this complex man’s resting soul is also valid and respectable. If they had private visiting hours, say at 3am, I might drop by for a few minutes. But, I just happen to prefer connecting to that spirit somewhere where the sand does not reek of piss, puke and Jack Daniels.
Thanks to you both for your great support of the film. We enter a strange period now. Still very little advertising and I am not sure how long word of mouth is going to keep the film alive.
So, keep talking!!
my best to you both.
Reply to Salli’s response Apr 19th, 2010 at 7:01 pm to Annonymous:
“I don’t understand what’s powerful about visiting the grave of a man who has been gone for over 40 years.”
Hi Salli,
Noted. THANK YOU so much for the time you spent researching the reply as I’m new to Tom’s blog. 🙂 Growing up, my family owned a cemetary and currently still owns a pet cemetary, which gives me an opposite perspective about visiting a special person’s/pet’s gravesite. I completely respect Tom’s choice to not go and for the noted reasons.
My earlier post to Tom is on a much deeper level. I’m intuitive and sensitive to the energy that can be felt just being at a gravesite alone and/or with friends. Please let me be clear, I’m not talking about visiting a bust, or graffitti or a “circus” but there is something you cannot put into words when you stand there – a quiet, powerful spirit – at a final resting place. Sometimes a bird will fly overhead and a feather will gently fall to the ground at the precise second or the silence can engulf the person with sudden overwhelming and unexpected feelings regardless if it was yesterday or 40 years ago.
It is obvious that Jim Morrison “touched” Tom on this project on many levels and probably still is, through ways that are private to only Tom and not describable in words. Jim’s spirit/soul must have had indefinite passion for being an entertainer to impact so many people globally in the past, present and future. You are very blessed to have known him as I am only 39 and after seeing this film, wish I could have met him – more for his work as a director and poet than a musician. I felt via the movie, that they were his real love and the music was merely a means to express what he could not make on film. Jim Morrison (as a filmmaker) would be EXTREMELY PROUD of Tom DiCillo and the entire team for making such an outstanding and truthful documentary.
To Tom, Salli, and all of the readers on this most amazing blog, I THANK YOU for at least understanding my perspective and always welcome your feedback. 🙂
Hey Tom,
Met a friend of mine for breakfast this morning. She’d seen WYS in Atlanta the night before I did, and mentioned how had given it a glowing review.
I looked it up and agree. Link is below:
I also saw on the WYS site that it’s expanded to even more cities. Happy to see the word is spreading 🙂 Great job!
Hi Tom,
I rented Delirious and watched it twice. I loved it! I thought it was a very witty satire and the performances given by Steve Buscemi and Michael Pitt were superb. It’s a lot of fun to watch and poignant in a few places too. Excellent work!
Would you be interested in doing a Q&A about WYS and your career via email for Press 1 Entertainment online magazine?
Thanks again,
Apr 19th, 2010 at 12:13 pm
Things do happen for a reason. I know there are “Stranger” things, but maybe the weather is holding you in Paris long enough for you to merely “stop by” Jim’s final resting place. I’m sure having you and John at his resting place would be very powerful.”
Hi Anonymous.
I don’t understand what’s powerful about visiting the grave of a man who has been gone for over 40 years.
I know that Tom had answered this question before so I went searching for his answer.
Here it is.
Tom said, “One journalist expresses surprise that I have no interest in visiting Jim’s grave at Pere LaChaise cemetery in Paris. I try to explain that making this film has brought me closer to Morrison’s spirit than I ever would have expected. Compared to that living spirit, a rain-smeared plaster bust of dubious likeness and offerings of whiskey bottles, no matter how reverent and well intended, would seem like a trip to the circus.”
I knew Jim. I agree with Tom.
While I am sure you and John are in good hands in Paris, should you need anything from a local, let me know.
Looking forward to your movie.
Things do happen for a reason. I know there are “Stranger” things, but maybe the weather is holding you in Paris long enough for you to merely “stop by” Jim’s final resting place. I’m sure having you and John at his resting place would be very powerful.
Hey Tom and all,
I finally wrote up a review/my thoughts on WYS. Check it out:
Returning at various points to Jim speeding faster and faster was an EXCELLENT device. The editing really flowed. The scenes that we’ve seen too much (ie, each member stating their name coming off the plane), were followed by something interesting, thus mitigating the squirm factor. Great audio at the Angelika…Light My Fire on Ed Sullivan rocked! My favorite Doors souvenir is the article, “Waiting for Morrison”, taken from a Sunday section of a Scranton newspaper back then, written by Joan Didion.
Hey all,
Seems there aren’t any youtube videos (yet!) of Tom and John in Paris, but I did find this one by the Hollywood News Network, which I guess was done fairly recently.
Check it out – good interview of Tom and John.
Stuart Henderson
Tom, What do you think of these guys conduct at jim’s grave? It’s hardly paying tribute to the Excellent Poet that Jim was..
best place to be stranded eh? in the last three years I have felt a call to go to paris a few times, kind of a healing-rebirth place, I like wandering on my own taking photos, check out the BRANLY museum, awesome. looking for 60s womens clothing in the flea markets, ..
A couple of years back, I tracked down the last place where jim was seen alive, spoke to a sixty sth guy in a drycleaners in the street, nicey,, good memories I have,, Anyway my last trip was cancelled two weeks ago because of the french train strike, so June will be my next visit to relive the sixties, so please let me now when the doc will be on , kind regards helena
Tom! I missed you. I used to read and comment on your blog all the time and then my whole world got picked up, turned upside down, shaken a lot, and I’m still trying to find all the pieces. But look at you. You made a Doors movie. That is awesome.
Safe trip home (and don’t come to Florida because it’s getting to be hotter than hell here).
Hi Tom,
Enjoy being stranded!
Now on to business. Ya got any projects percolating? Any ideas? What can we expect next from you?
Take Care – safe flight home!
I saw When You’re Strange this week, in the only theater showing it in Atlanta. It’s called Cinefest and it’s inside the Student Center at Georgia State University. There was an 11 am session which I thought would be empty but actually had a few young students and a couple of other older Doors-fans-looking people like me. I am happy to have found your blog afterward, it’s certainly a privilege of our times that one can so easily reach and thank somebody for the enjoyment they provided us with their work. I find it hard to even write something simple as this message, and can only imagine how difficult it is to make a movie, and all the issues involved, I’m sure you do it because there’s a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction involved as well but as I said, it can’t be easy. So I wanted to thank you for doing it. I enjoyed this movie a lot. I have been in a “Doors phase” for a while and the fact that it coincided with the release of this movie feels a bit like some kind of heavenly gift was bestowed on me, or a lottery ticket win, something like that. It’s a great movie, well done, original, inspired, surprising, magical. I wish I had better words to praise it properly really. But the main point is: thanks. For the time I sat in that theater I was very happy. I’m 43, I saw many movies in my life and it’s not often anymore that I enjoy one so much. Great, great work.
Merci again, and enjoy Paris. By the way, they sold chestnut crepes in the streets the only time I was there, more than 20 years ago, and I never forgot them. If they still do it and you’re into this kind of stuff, it’s worth trying.
The eagle has landed! When Your Strange – Boulder Theater – 19 May!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hi Tom,
I saw the film in the theater! Question about the HWY footage. I’m curious about the filming dates of HWY. Were there any slates or documentation to help nail down when HWY was filmed. It must have been either March or April 1969 — but what month was it? And are the exact filming dates known?
Also — Paris Blues — have you heard this outtake? Your thoughts on it? Can you describe it? Is the song complete and in what sound quality does it exist? You mentioned you had considered using the some in the film.
Micky (you know who)
Couldn’t think of a better place to get your creative mojo…..
Hey Tom,
Thx for this latest post–Ida and I were concerned about ya. But, like you said, there are worse places to be stranded.
Seems life has dropped a bit of “Al Fountain free time” into your lap. My hope is that you enjoy it amidst the craziness of trying to get flights nailed down.
Keep us posted thx,
Promiscuous Eyes
Muddy Friday Skies
There you sit
Everybody is dancing
C’mon on girl!
City madness
Night of lights
Streets are uneven
Concrete Canyons
Avenues & cars
Streets are uneven
All night bars
(Show me the way to go home. . .)
Where did she go?
Almost had her
City Girl
Poetry in the morning
Museum in the afternoon
At the Sat.April 10, 11am Angelika showing. Loved your film. (Buried my immediate reactions in your #52 blog.). My friend’s older brother had the Doors records (as well as Mothers, Fugs and Jim Kweskin discs),
Listening to You’re Lost Little Girl through those “FP” aeronautic headphones a transcendental experience (Robbie’s guitar like rain falling). Devastated when Scott Muni announced his death. Recorded all the memorials and announcements (sent them to Jeff a few years back).
Anyway folks didn’t allow a 16 year old to Madison Sq Garden so he lives as he always has…through his voice.
Great job assembling the footage, great mix and very loving portrayal.

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Independent Filmmaker & Musician