Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

My Photo
Location: Georgia, United States

Friday, December 10, 2010

Doors Lead Singer Jim Morrison, Deceased, Pardoned for Indecent Exposure - Forty Years Later

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — This is the end for 40-year-old convictions that left Jim Morrison marked with what today would be considered sex-offender status. Florida’s Clemency Board, egged on by departing Gov. Charlie Crist, pardoned The Doors’ long-dead singer Thursday on indecent exposure and profanity charges stemming from a wild concert.

Some people who were at the Miami show March 1, 1969, insist even today that he exposed himself, though others in the audience and Morrison’s bandmates contend he was just teasing the crowd and only pretended to do the deed. Crist, tuned in to the controversy by a Doors fan, said there was enough doubt about what happened at the Dinner Key Auditorium to justify a pardon.

The board, which consists of Crist and a three-member Cabinet, voted unanimously to pardon Morrison as they granted several other pardons Thursday. At the hearing, the governor called the convictions a “blot” on the record of an accomplished artist for “something he may or may not have done.”

He said Morrison died before he was afforded the chance to present his appeal, so Crist was doing that for him. Board members pointed out several times that they couldn’t retry the case but that the pardon forgave Morrison and negated his sentence.

“In this case the guilt or innocence is in God’s hands, not ours,” Crist said.

Morrison had received a six-month jail sentence — never served — and a $500 fine for the 1970 convictions, which carried consequences for the band. Ray Manzarek, The Doors’ keyboard player, said Miami was supposed to be the start of a 20-city tour, but every venue canceled after Morrison’s arrest.

“We had the mandate of heaven, and I think at that moment, he lost the mandate of heaven,” Manzarek said. “In the recording studio, the magic stayed, but I think at that moment in Miami, the live performance magic left for a little while and then came back intermittently.”

Morrison’s appeals were never resolved. He was found dead in a Paris bathtub in 1971 at age 27.

Manzarek and Doors guitarist Robby Krieger supported the pardon because they say Morrison never exposed himself, though they agreed Florida’s move will have little affect on Morrison’s wild, outsized, drug-addled rock ’n’ roll image.

“Jim’s legacy is one of Dionysian madness and frenzy and of a chaotic American poet. I don’t think that the Miami episode has altered his image one iota,” Manzarek said.

The pardon isn’t enough for Patricia Kennealy Morrison, who says she married Morrison in a ceremony that was never made official. She wanted the convictions expunged and called the pardon “a complete cheap, cynical, political ploy.”

“I have a real problem with the semantics of a pardon. The pardon says that all his suffering and all that he went through during the trial, everything both of us went through, was negated,” she said.

Kennealy Morrison says she exchanged vows with Morrison in a Celtic pagan ceremony. Morrison left his entire estate to another woman, Pamela Courson, a longtime girlfriend who was with him when he died. Courson died in 1974.

Kennealy Morrison said Morrison’s convictions led to his demise, and that of the band. She said he felt like he “had been made a scapegoat of the counterculture movement.”

“He cared about it. It affected him deeply. In fact, I think it was one of the contributory causes of his death, actually. It certainly destroyed The Doors, pretty much. They didn’t perform so much as a group after Miami, after the verdict came through,” she said.

Manzarek and Krieger said Morrison’s main interest in appealing the case was avoiding jail time.

“He wouldn’t give a (expletive)” about a pardon, Krieger said. “He would think it was old news.”

Here’s what most people who were at the concert agree on: The Doors went on stage late. The auditorium was oversold and wasn’t air conditioned. Morrison was drunk and stopped in the middle of songs with an anti-authority, profanity-riddled rant.

A live lamb was brought on stage at one point, and Morrison also grabbed a police officer’s hat and threw it in the crowd. The singer took off his shirt and fiddled with his belt, and fans poured onto the stage.

“There were 100 photos offered in evidence at the trial, photos of everything — Jim with the lamb, Jim with the hat, on the stage collapsing, riot in the audience. Not one photo of Jim’s magnificent member,” said Manzarek.

“It never actually happened. It was mass hypnosis,” he said.

Krieger added: “Nobody would like to have that charge hanging over their head even if they are dead. I’m sure his family would be happy to see that go, especially since it never happened.”

While Morrison denied exposing himself, he defended the use of nudity in theater even after his arrest. And he never toned down his lifestyle.

The fact that Morrison didn’t change his life is exactly why he shouldn’t have been pardoned, said retired Miami police sergeant Angel Lago, who came to Tallahassee to speak against the pardon. While he wasn’t on the police force at the time of the concert, he said a friend testified at the trial that Morrison exposed himself. He firmly said his friend wouldn’t have lied under oath.

“The man is not worthy of this. I don’t care if he was a poet, I don’t care if he walked on water,” Largo told reporters during a break in the meeting.

Crist, a Republican-turned-independent, began considering a pardon for Morrison in 2007 after fan David Diamond of Dayton, Ohio, contacted him, and began pursuing it after he lost a bid for U.S. Senate last month. He steps down as governor next month.

Fabulous Friday

One of the funniest situation comedies ever produced, the BBC’s 90’s phenomenon Keeping Up Appearances stands as a global hit that has kept audiences splitting their sides with laughter for the past twenty years. Hyacinth Bucket – er, make that Bouquet – and her aspirations toward an upwardly mobile station in life are absolutely legendary. And hysterically funny.

Surrounded by family members and friends, both stunned by her antics and additives to her social frustrations, Hyacinth tries her best to put on a snooty face, often in the throes of embarrassment that is palatable. One of the things that makes this show such a sensation is the fact that we all have a Hyacinth in our lives. And an Onslow and a Richard and a Rose and on and on.

Wildly popular in the US, Keeping Up Appearances is the most successful show PBS stations have ever broadcast. It shows no signs of slowing down either. As time goes on, the reruns keep running and we keep watching as Hyacinth again and again tickles our fancy.

This Day in History: December 10

1520 - Martin Luther publicly burned the papal edict. The papacy demanded that he recant or face excommunication. Luther refused and was formally expelled from the church in January 1521.

1768 - The Royal Academy of Arts was founded in London by George III. Joshua Reynolds was its first president.

1817 - Mississippi was admitted to the Union as the 20th American state.

1830 - Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, MA. Only seven of her works were published while she was alive.

1845 - British civil engineer Robert Thompson patented the first pneumatic tires.

1851 - American librarian Melvil Dewey was born. He created the "Dewey Decimal Classification" system.

1869 - Women were granted the right to vote in the Wyoming Territory.

1898 - A treaty was signed in Paris that officially ended the Spanish-American War. Also, Cuba became independent of Spain.

1901 - The first Nobel prizes were awarded.

1906 - U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt became the first American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for helping mediate an end to the Russo-Japanese War.

1931 - Jane Addams became a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, she was the first American woman to do so.

1939 - The National Football League's attendance exceeded 1 million in a season for the first time.

1941 - Japan invaded the Philippines.

1941 - The Royal Naval battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk by Japanese aircraft in the Battle of Malaya.

1948 - The United Nations General Assembly adopted its Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

1950 - Dr. Ralph J. Bunche was presented the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the first African-American to receive the award. Bunche was awarded the prize for his efforts in mediation between Israel and neighboring Arab states.

1953 - Hugh Hefner published the first "Playboy" magazine with an investment of $7,600.

1958 - The first domestic passenger jet flight took place in the U.S. when 111 passengers flew from New York to Miami on a National Airlines Boeing 707.

1962 - Frank Gifford (New York Giants) was on the cover of "Sports Illustrated."

1964 - In Oslo, Norway, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the youngest person to receive the award.

1980 - South Carolina Representative John W. Jenretter resigned to avoid being expelled from the U.S. House of Representatives following his conviction on charges to the FBI's Abscam investigation.

1982 - The Law of the Sea Convention was signed by 118 countries in Montego Bay, Jamaica. 23 nations and the U.S. were excluded.

1983 - Raul Alfonsin was inaugurated as Argentina's first civilian president after nearly eight years of military rule.

1984 - South African Bishop Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize.

1990 - The U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved Norplant, a long-acting contraceptive implant.

1991 - The play Revival "The Crucible" opened.

1992 - Oregon Senator Bob Packwood apologized for what he called "unwelcome and offensive" actions toward women. However, he refused to resign.

1993 - The crew of the space shuttle Endeavor deployed the repaired Hubble Space Telescope into Earth's orbit.

1994 - Advertising executive Thomas Mosser of North Caldwell, NJ, was killed by a mail bomb that was blamed on the Unabomber.

1994 - Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin received the Nobel Peace Prize. They pledged to pursue their mission of healing the Middle East.

1995 - The first U.S. Marines arrived in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo to join NATO soldiers sent to enforce peace in the former Yugoslavia.

1996 - South Africa's President Mandela signed into law a new democratic constitution, completing the country's transition from white-minority rule to a non-racial democracy.

1998 - Six astronauts opened the doors to the new international space station 250 miles above the Earth's surface.

1998 - The Palestinian leadership scrapped constitutional clauses that rejected Israel's existence.

1999 - After three years under suspicion of being a spy for China, computer scientist Wen Ho Lee was arrested. He was charged with removing secrets from the Los Alamos weapons lab. Lee later pled guilty to one count of downloading restricted data to tape and was freed. The other 58 counts were dropped.

2003 - The U.S. Supreme Court upheld new restrictions on political advertising in the weeks before an election. The court did strike down two provisions of the new law that involved a ban on political contibutions from those too young to vote and a limitation on some party spending. (McConnell v. FEC, 02-1674)

2003 - The U.S. barred firms based in certain countries, opponents of the Iraq war, from bidding on Iraqi reconstruction projects. The ban did not prevent companies from winning subcontracts.

2007 - Cristina Fernandez was sworn in as Argentina's first elected female president.

Friday's Flashback

When fronted by David Lee Roth, Van Halen scored its biggest hit ever with Jump. An absolutely infectious rocker from 1984, Jump topped the charts for four consecutive weeks and shot Roth to solo stardom as well. As soon as the song hit, Roth was off for a career of his own, but Jump remains his most popular vocal performance.

Van Halen regrouped after Roth’s departure, replacing him with Sammy Hagar, and had a few more big hits, like Why Can’t This Be Love, but they never again reached the apex they hit with Jump. A really irresistible song, Jump still makes people hit the dance floor. It recalls fond memories of the spring it became such a big hit and leaves fans yearning for a new Van Halen album. After all, Roth is once again its lead singer. Why waste such a combination?

The video for Jump captured the essence of the song, and the band, perfectly. Nobody can sit still when this one plays. It’s just that good.

Thought for Today

Do you know because I tell you so, or do you know, do you know?” -- Gertrude Stein