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WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE documentary aired last night on PBS American Masters.   I liked it half and half.  Mostly what I liked about it: was the archival footage shot of the Doors from television sources, other filmmakers’ documentaries and Morrison’s film called The Highway. Certain parts of “When You’re Strange” documentary were skimmed over, too generalized such as his death.  I will have to agree with Randy Lewis, an LA Times reviewer. Generally he said, the audience did not find out who Jim Morrison really was about as a person.

For me a lot of the archival footage was unseen footage, which I liked.  I have not viewed every single documentary about the Doors due to the costs to purchase.  I have checked out mostly all the dvds related to James Morrison and the Doors from the local libraries. I read a majority of the books and dvd book voice overs created about them.  At sixteen in the Spring of 1967 I was struck by the Door’s music when I first heard them. I knew a a white female student at Cortez High who recommended I hear them so I went to buy Light My Fire album, their first album.  She was right on.  Morrison and the Doors’ songs reminded me about dreams and San Francisco.  I wore the album’s grooves out.  One of my dreams was to live in San Francisco, Ca., which eventually happened in 71-74 and then twelve years later in the Fall 1979, I entered UCLA graduate film school in Los Angeles, the same department and alma mater of Morrison and Manzarek  who graduated from UCLA.  Only in the last three years have I become infatuated again with the Doors music and their lives: how did they become musicians and singers. How did it happen in LA? What was LA like then? Actually in the last seven years I read many biographical and auto biographical books about the sixties and early seventies rock and roll groups. Few books are available about women rock and rollers or singers/songwriters.  Thus far, Janis Ian’s auto biography is the only autobiography about a female singer/songwriter I really liked. She wrote “Society’s Child” song.

Why I like the Doors?  I identified with Morrison and the rest of the Doors.  Points for the Doors, that the Doors did not release any cds I seriously disliked. I observe and compare the music of the sixties and early seventies with today’s music. The sixties and early 70’s broke ground about topics to present in songs such as sex, anti-war, people of color issues, women and other social messages. Also, I was apart of the young people who were apart of the counter culture as it was called.  The interests of the counter culture included naturally rock and roll, blues, rhythm and blues, soul and country music. I liked everything that happened: women’s movement, people of colors’ movements such as Native American, Afro-American, Asian, Mexican called Chicano, Puerto Rican and gay movements all exploded at once.  There were college strikes like at San Francisco State and Columbia University in New York.  The Native Americans at UCLA protested to establish a Native American studies at UCLA as well as other colleges which followed the same path. This is why today’s U.S. universities have an American Indian Studies Program.  American soldiers became draft dodgers of the Vietnam War and fled to Canada. A lot lived at Long Beach on Vancouver Island.  The first Earth Day was created in 1970.  Many events happened. When I attended Cortez High, I did not fit in with any crowd of women or men. I knew a blonde girl, “Blondie” looking like, Kathy was her name, who liked the same style commonality of rock and roll music. The counter culture of teenagers at Cortez High was small.  Also, I was a very introverted person compared to now. Since I did not belong to anything or group in high school, I knew where I fit, with the counter culture.  Definitely something was in the air. Could feel it, see it and smell the resistance.  As an artist and still photographer I was apart of it at that time until today. I continue to take still photographs. Now I am a Dine’ filmmaker. The Doors represented a time in my life: about who I was, what I did and how I felt about things. Their music shaped me as a person. I really never deviated from it either.  I became older but wiser.

However, an aspect about James Morrison which differed a lot from myself is that he did not care to be politically aware about many events and corruptions which happened in the world at the time, where as I choose to be aware of events, which affects my Indigenous peoples, women, the environment and other topics. If he understood what went on such as with the Native Americans, other peoples’ of color and why it happened, maybe he might have been expressive about it.  Some points of conflict like the Vietnam war, he expressed dissatisfaction and wrote an anti-war song called the Unknown Soldier. Therefore, he expressed some resistance, but for the most part he was not in total resistance in that way. Maybe he was.  It was the way the books described him.  J. Morrison like John Lennon was observed by Mr. Jay Edgar Hoover and the F.B.I., Cointelpro, but I doubt he knew it. Maybe he knew it?

With each new documentary like “When You’re Strange” documentary about Jim Morrison’s life and The Doors’ lives, I receive a take on it and learn more about the Doors.


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