Monday, June 19, 2006

Two Memorials

Hundreds of notable personalities are buried in Paris' Cimetièire Père Lachaise, but it's only at Jim Morrison's grave that you'll find a security guard at his post seven days a week. As you surely know, Jim Morrison was a talentless junkie who also happened to be the lead singer of the Doors. Stories of his boorish behaviour abound, and his amateurish 8th grade Oedipal ramblings speak for themselves in terms of defining his uselessness as a writer. Ray Manzarek has made a career out of sanctifying Morrison as a visionary hero, eerily similar to the style that Tony Wilson would adopt vis a vis Ian Curtis (a Jim Morrison ripoff according to some) about a decade after Morrison's death. I personally enjoy the (apocryphal?) story about Jimbo dangling (or walking) off/on a balcony in an overwrough display of affection (twisted guilt trip?) for Pamela Courson (or Nico). The apologists say that it was an act of fiery passion by a man consumed by his romantic devotion to another human being. The sensible folk note instead that dangling (or walking) off/on a balcony is a fucking stupid thing to do, and only a total moron would do it under any circumstances. Speaking of drug abusers and sex addicts who died in Paris, it took me about twenty minutes to find Amedeo Modigliani's gravesite, which was about four rows off the walking path (most famous people are situated directly next to or within easy viewing distance from the path) and displayed a very unremarkable headstone. Until last week, not a single stone rested on his grave. They made a biopic about Modigliani's life too, so where is the love?

Continuing on the theme of people who drank themselves to death and expired in Paris, I figured I couldn't visit this city without making my own pilgrimage to Serge Gainsbourg's longtime residence at 5 Rue de Verneuil. Graffiti covers virtually the entire outside wall, and anguished poems and greetings to the deceased are written everywhere. It's a fairly quiet street, and in the few minutes I spent there, the people did walk by hardly seemed to notice the building at all -- surely it blends in with their perceived surroundings because they've seen it a million times before. I quietly took a few pictures and walked on.

Naturally, everybody should do what pleases them, but forgive me for ridiculing those who pull a tortured artist shtick and visit a gravesite or memorial to wrench immediate inspiration from it. It's about paying one's respects, not about camping out and relishing the taste of one's own angst.

Hopefully I can accompany this post with some pictures very soon

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