Call me “other-directed” if you like, but my first thought when I read the news that Swiss voters had outlawed the construction of further minarets in their country, wasn’t concern for the apparent bias against Muslims, but rather Jim Morrison’s incisive use of the word “minarets” in the Doors’ “Soul Kitchen.” Quoth Jim: “Well, your fingers weave quick minarets/Speak in secret alphabets” — It’s a perfect poetic expression of how your beloved’s hand job feels, for my money & thesaurus, and what’s even better is the euphemistic understatement. Nobody without a metaphorical turn of mind will notice what’s actually going on in the couplet, and easily-offended conservatives won’t be organizing voter initiatives against the further construction of song lyrics employing the term “minarets.”
But then, it’s no surprise to me to find that sensual triumph in “Soul Kitchen,” as it comes right from the heart of what I still regard as one of the best lineups of Doors’ songs ever, the first part of the first side of their first album: “Break on Through”/”Soul Kitchen”/”The Crystal Ship”/”Twentieth Century Fox”: all quick, punchy songs, all still redolent of the psychic garages the pre-fame Morrison lived in while he was composing them. “Alabama Song” I don’t mind, even as it trades protopunk for arty, and it is educational; I had no idea who Weill and Brecht were when I first heard this album in 1967. Then the side ends with “Light My Fire,” probably an okay song as such, but long since ruined for me by its vast overexposure on US radio (sorry, Robby.) I much prefer “Break on Through” (Elektra’s original pick for the first single from the album, after all, though “Light My Fire” ironically became the “breakthrough” hit) and the other side-leaders I’ve noted above. They’re much more existential in tone, and that’s a philosophy Morrison himself obviously could’ve used a lot more of.
Which brings me to my message of the day: Next Tuesday, December 8th, Jim Morrison, if he’d managed to cultivate a more significant degree of existentialism early on, would be turning 66. Whether he’d still be composing incisive songs, or would have sunk to being a judge on American Idol, I don’t know, but I’d be glad to have the big bozo of a dionysus still with us, as I could celebrate Jim’s birthday with him — it’s true, your reporter will turn 63 on that selfsame December 8th. (Also known as “The Feast of the Immaculate Conception” on the Catholic calendar — go figure.)
With Morrison long gone, rather than keeping his grave clean (a lost cause to the all those Paris-bound vandals by now), I’ve tried to keep our mutual birthday clean of claims by individuals who don’t measure up (IMHO) to its high standards of creativity. This is my own list of fellow 8th-of-Decemberists I fully approve of: Queen Christina of Sweden (1626); Jean Sibelius (1865); Diego Rivera (1886); James Thurber (1894); Delmore Schwartz (1913) (Hiya, Uncle Lou!); Jimmy Smith (1925) (the jazz organist, a thousand times Yes!); Jerry Butler (1939); Mary Woronov (1943, same day as Jimbo); Gregg Allman (1947); Sinead O’Connor (1966); Ingrid Michaelson (1979); and a cast of dozens.
I suppose I shouldn’t be a snob toward the steerage level of December 8th folks, and it could be dangerous for them anyway — some years ago I felt that comic Sam Kinison (1953) was becoming too much of a vulgar loudmouth to share my birthday, and soon after I’d thought that, Kinison was killed in a car crash(!) Sorry, God, I didn’t mean literally. However . . . sometime last year, my darling daughter informed me that she’d noted on the internet that a December 8th birthdate had also been claimed by neoconservative hyperscold Ann Coulter (1961), who’s put the “lunatic” back into “fringe,” in her ever-shriller attacks on us beleagured US liberals in recent years. Good lord! At least Sam Kinison (not to mention Jim Morrison and myself) all knew on some level that we were (holy) fools, but Ms. Coulter never seems to look inside herself (or anything else) — that would probably seem decadently French to a neocon media commando of her ilk. She is wordy, as Our People tend to be, but Aaaarghhh! Yet I’m still dedicated to the principle of nonviolence in solving problems, so I won’t petition God this time, as I may have inadvertently done with Kinison, instead I’ll confront Ms. Coulter on her own Corporate-capitalism-is–forever! turf. I’ll just remind her that I owned that December 8th birthday 15 years before she did , and therefore her recent appropriation of the date is a clear case of trademark infringement, not to mention theft of intellectual property. That’s the only language these big-business-loving cons understand. And I’m not greedy, I’m not asking for monetary damages, I’ll be satisfied if Ms. Coulter is ordered by the court to move her birthday off the enshrined December 8th on the calendar –if she’s exiled somewhere to the wilds of July, that will be fine with me. I think the King of Lizard Kings would agree with me if he were here. Stay tuned . . .
Meanwhile, I plan to celebrate next Tuesday with all my (deserving) birthday mates around a virtual table. You’ll recognize Jim Morrison right away, he’s the one who fell face-first into the cake after the first round of drinks. But, oh, did he write some great songs in his prime!