Category Archives: john lennon
Amidst a whirlwind of false death rumors about the man, it turns out that music legend, and former member of the Doors, Ray Manzarek, has passed away. In a German hospital from cancer, the founder and keyboardist for the Doors is dead at 74.
This is a gut punch to me as strong as the passings of John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, or Warren Zevon. Ray Manzarek is a voice from my youth. I wasn’t cognizant for the first coming of the Doors, but their revival in the late 1970s, due to many factors, was strong in my formation.
There was AOR FM radio looking for music to play and not wanting to touch disco or new wave or punk, and began to mine the sixties for music, delivering the Doors to the forefront once again. There was the book, that everyone in my suburban white drug culture high school read – “No One Here Gets Out Alive” by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman – that made a legend of the late Jim Morrison.
There was, and is, some hardcore realist inside me that knows that Morrison was just a sullen alcoholic bully, but it was Ray Manzarek that created the legend, wove the tale, built the rock god, and manifested the Lizard King from the ground up. Whatever Jim Morrison was, Ray Manzarek made him.
I remember listening to Jim Ladd and his Sunday night “Innerview” interviewing Ray Manzarek multiple times, as he told apocryphal and supernatural tales of Jim Morrison, building the legend word by word. Manzarek talked of the Native American shaman who possessed Morrison as a child, the concept that he might not be dead, and all sorts of fantastic stories of the legendary Doors, fact and fiction. And he did it all the finesse of a master radio manipulator. Ray Manzarek would’ve made Orson Welles jealous with these performances.
For decades, Manzarek kept the infamous Doors alive, both on radio, and in sales, as he maintained his own career as well. He created a wonderful rendition of “Carmina Burana” with Philip Glass, as well as producing several albums for LA punk band X. He also worked with Echo and the Bunnymen and Iggy Pop among others, and even toured with Ian Asbury of The Cult in place of Morrison in a version of the Doors.
His charismatic personality, his fabulous storytelling ability, and his unique keyboard creations will live on for decades to come. We have truly lost one of the rock and roll legends. Long live Ray Manzarek and the Doors. Hopefully he’s jamming with the Lizard King right now.
Paul McCartney Really Is Dead ~ This one has the also just as intriguing subtitle of “The Last Testament of George Harrison.” It comes from the gist of this documentary being tapes discovered by George Harrison disclosing the horrible secret that has burdened the Beatles for decades – that Paul really is dead. The tapes are George’s confession. Yeah, if you smell the Blair Witch, don’t worry, I do too.
Apparently all that nonsense, all those hints about the hoax that Paul was dead – it was all true. As suspected, Paul dies in a car crash. MI6 has a double, William Campbell, after cosmetic surgery, join the band as Paul. The remaining Beatles, under penalty of death keep quiet, while still leaving clues on their albums and in their music as to what really happened.
Supposedly, the voice of George narrates a somewhat skewed history of the Beatles and thereafter, with these new facts inserted, creating a new truth. All the usual stuff is in here, along with some shocking new bits. One truly bizarre addition indicates that ‘Lovely Rita,’ who witnessed Paul’s death, is actually, wait for it, Heather Mills.
As a kid, it was always fun to find the clues, but come on, we all knew it was a hoax. I gotta give the producers props for trying at least. It gives new meaning to many lyrics previously thought indecipherable, a nice touch. A fun, if at times, rather sinister, faux documentary/conspiracy theory.
Frost/Nixon ~ Often memories are powered by significant news events. Everyone remembers where they were when the towers fell. When they heard about Kurt Cobain and about John Lennon, and of course, the granddaddy of such events – where were you when JFK was shot? This movie is like that for me.
Richard M. Nixon, and I’m giving my age away obviously, was the first US President I was aware of. I remember the turmoil of the war protests, and the Vietnam War itself on the news, the Watergate hearings that pre-empted all programming during the day, and the man’s frequent speeches to the nation in prime time. I specifically remember the day Nixon resigned; it was the same day of the first time my parents ever took me to a mall. I remember reading his memoir “R.N.,” and I remember watching the David Frost interviews on which this movie was based.
The film is an interesting duel between two men who each have their admirable qualities and serious flaws as well, but I think the words of Kevin Bacon, in the minor role of Nixon bodyguard Jack Brennan, best sum it up as boxers squaring off verbally. This is a duel, not an interview, with two combatants who have underestimated each other tremendously. The intense performances from Frank Langella and Michael Sheen in the title roles make this a must-see film. Recommended.
This is another hard one for me. This man’s writing was brilliant, the work of a genius, whose words exist on many levels for many people. Author J.D. Salinger has passed away of natural causes yesterday in New Hampshire.
Salinger’s best known work is the legendary “The Catcher in the Rye” with its controversial protagonist Holden Caulfield. This book, despite the screams of parents and right wing nutjobs, has become mandatory reading in high schools and colleges.
“The Catcher in the Rye” is a work I have always thought should be read several times at different ages. You get a different perspective on the characters and the story when you read it at fourteen than you do at twenty-four or at even forty-four. It’s the difference between a cool kid and a sociopath. Unfortunately, over the years, several unbalanced folks have not seen the difference, and used the book as a guide for their madness. John Lennon’s assassin stands out as only one dark example.
“Catcher” is not Salinger’s only work, it should be noted. I highly recommend especially “Nine Stories” and “Franny and Zooey.” Unfortunately Salinger has not published since 1961. And therein lies the other reason he has become famous – his self-imposed exile from public life. He has rarely been heard from except regarding legal matters to protect his work.
We have lost one of the true greats. Fortunately the work of J.D. Salinger lives on.
Movies I’ve watched or re-watched this month include: The Avengers, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Bill Cosby: Himself, Mystery Men, In His Life: The John Lennon Story, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Devil’s Rejects, Dementia 13, Janis, Up Up and Away, Silent Hill, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Superman Returns, Boa, The Blues Brothers, West Side Story, Mask of the Avenger, Shaun of the Dead, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, Crime Unleashed, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The Great Race, Rollerball (1975), Shopgirl, The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Dark City, Moog, Josie and the Pussycats, Portrait of an Assassin, Office Space, Hostel, 3:10 to Yuma (1957), Forbidden Zone, Come On Get Happy, Apt Pupil, World Trade Center and A Simple Plan.
The only foray to the theatre this month was to see friends perform to Rocky Horror, so really no theatre flicks this time out. Insomnia had me raiding OnDemand again, and Showtime’s free preview this past weekend (Yay! Dexter!) offered up some new choices as well.
Flicks to add to the list of movies I’ll watch whenever they are on TV: Office Space, Josie and the Pussycats, West Side Story and Shaun of the Dead. Mystery Men would be added to my wife’s list, I just happen to be in the room.
Among the best this month (that I had seen for the first time) would be slim pickings with Shopgirl, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With and World Trade Center.