Tag Archives: The Doors

The Long & Winding Road…Thursday Doors..

Welcome Back to Thursday Doors.

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door….
The Beatles
279 Abercrombie St

279 Abercrombie Street in 2018.

This week’s door is personal. Indeed, back in 1988 as a 18 year old university student, this was my front door. Home for this once grungy terrace is 279 Abercrombie Street, Chippendale. Talk about location! Location! Location! This place was a hop, step and a jump away from Redfern Station and just around the corner from Sydney University my former stomping ground. Back in our day, it was parked right on top of the pedestrian crossing used by hordes of university students walking to and from uni. This was fantastic because we could sit out on our front balcony and spot our friends walking past and call out. It used to confuse the hell out of them, and we’ll see them looking around baffled by where the voice was coming from. However, this crossing was rather treacherous, and was removed, replaced with traffic lights further down the road. Party poopers!

Rowena 1989 bedroom

Typical student. Couldn’t even be bothered making my bed for this photo. If you look in the top right corner, there’s a print called “Understanding”, which still resonates with me 30 years later. I spent years trying to find that person whose mind overlapped my own, but it’s an impossible quest. Each and every one of us is unique.

Of course, it goes without saying that our student digs were far from glamorous and had a sort of rustic charm. We had a semi-outside toilet. There was also no running hot water. That meant we had to boil the kettle to do the washing up and the shower had a gas heating contraption to heat the water up. You had to be a bit careful because you could burn your bottom on it, which at least happened once. Our backyard from memory was an industrial wasteland of rugged concrete. At one stage there, I was selling chocolate cakes to the Reasonably Good Cafe across the road, which was also the scene of my very first public poetry reading  with the Sydney University writer’s group, Inkpot (what a cute name!) This was before you needed an industrial kitchen, and let’s just say we’re lucky no one died.

party kitchen 1989

Party in the kitchen. Check out the oven. How did we used that?

Needless to say, our place was the scene of numerous parties, get togethers and pretty much had an open door policy. The party I remember most was called: “An Interstellar Overdrive Spider Gathering”. Not surprisingly, the word went out that it was an acid party. I’d never touched the stuff and barely even needed a drink to get into party mode. However, at least 80 people packed out the terrace and most of them were in varying degrees of other-consciouness. One such friend thought my lime green beanbag was attacking people and I have a photo of him carting the offending beanbag upstairs to lock it up. That dear friend used to rate his day by how many bottles of Guinness he’s had after Manning Bar opened at 12.00pm. However, to be fair he’d been in a nasty head-on car accident and was only trying to find his feet. We all were. I don’t think many of us knew who we were. What I do recall, was at the end of first year, we were just praying for 51% in our exams. It was too late to hope for brilliance. We just wanted to pass right under the radar into second year.

After all, there was far too much to do on campus than attend lectures, tutorials or even study. I won’t mention the birds and bees. Mostly, that was all hype or heartbreak or an unbroken chain on unreciprocated love. By the way, there were no mobile phones back then. So getting someone’s number and calling them up was a feat in itself and you could simply text when your vocal cords were paralyzed with nerves. I distinctly remember writing down phone conversations before I called up. I also remember trying to get through the St Paul’s College switchboard. It was worse than trying to get through to the Sydney radio station. Another aspect of the phone back then, was that if you were still living at home, your entire family knew there was “a boy on the phone.” The modern generation have it way too easy.

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Abercrombie Street, 2018.

My days at 279 Abercrombie Street ended abruptly after the house had been extensively burgled. They clean swept my room, even stealing my school formal dresses and seemingly everything but my undies. I’d been paying off this really groovy hand-made ceramic t-set which I’d bought from this incredible, never-to-be forgotten shop in Glebe called Aho Doddo. Even the guy who owned the place was a treasure. He drove one of those big old citroens where the exhaust pipe rises and falls. This wasn’t Paris. It Sydney’s inner-west. Sadly, it had closed its doors before I even graduated.

This burglary was our second strike. One night I was woken up by the rattle of chains on the front balcony which opened into my bedroom. Much to my horror there was a burglar staring me right in the face. No doubt, we’ve all watched at least an episode of the Brady Bunch where Carol anxiously taps Mike on the shoulder: “Did you hear that?” Truth be told, I wasn’t quite on my pat malone and had a friend staying over. Friend. I swear moving into that terrace cursed my personal life. My memory, I was eternally single, although perhaps I complain too much. It was 30 years ago. Anyway, the burglar must’ve had a delicate constitution and disappeared back over the balcony and that began a lengthy vigil of keeping my ears open through the night in case of further trouble.

 

By the way, since we’re talking about doors, I should mention that we were often listening to The Doors back then as well as David Bowie. So I’ll sign off today with their haunting anthem: The End

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

J- Jim Morrison: A Reply #atozchallenge.

Hey Ro,

Sorry, about jumping out of your box of Weetbix. With all of Paris hunting me down both through the streets and underground, it was the only place I could find that was safe.

Somehow, the word’s got out:

“Jimmy is alive!”

Believe me! There’s such a thing as too much love.

It’s not much fun being a wanted man.

As much as I was happy being left in peace, being a legend in death is rather strange and I needed to speak:

Jim Morrison Grave

His grave became a shrine.

Jimmy Speaks: A Visit to His Grave 1992.

Why do they keep coming here?

This isn’t my home.

It’s nothing

but a lump of stone.

Smoking pot.

Drinking wine.

They’ve turned this place

into a shrine.

Yet, I am not dead.

I’m not alive.

We only have one life.

So, why don’t they live it?

They’ll never find the answers

sitting down.

Cheers,

Jimmy

PS: The doors of perception open, when you look through the eyes of your heart!

 …..

Much to my surprise, this letter from Jim Morrison fell out of my box of Weetbix this morning.

Last night, all hell broke loose on the streets of Paris, and even underground. Jimmy was a hunted man. Somehow, the very simple letter I’d left at his grave, launched these explosive headlines right across the Net:

Jimmy Is Alive!

What had I done?

I went home.  Left the hoards to themselves. It seems even in death, infamy still has its price.

So, after not so much as a peek or a creak from Jim, I decided that Jim was done with this world. There would be no reply.

I was very surprised.

Interesting how someone who had a strange life and an ever stranger more mysterious death, still remains such an enigma. I should have known a simple letter was never going to unravel the mystery. Indeed, I might even be more confused!

By the way, do you have a favourite song by The Doors and have you even been to James Morrison’s grave?

Xx Rowena

PS: These “doors of perception”, have come to intrigue me. Now, all I need is the key!

You can read my letter to Jim Morrison Here.

 

 

 

J-A Letter to Jim Morrison-The Doors.

Hey Jim,

How are you?

I probably shouldn’t ask. However, I can’t help hoping things have changed, after having so much time to reflect? Any regrets? Or, did you finally find what you were looking for? Indeed, have I woken up the wrong dead poet and should’ve left you alone?

Of course curiosity beckons. Have you finally experienced William Blake’s “doors of perception” and are in a different zone:

 If the doors of perception were cleansed

everything would appear to man as it is, infinite

 For man has closed himself up, till he sees

all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

 William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Sorry I’m so full of questions but it’s not every day you get to speak with Jim Morrison. Your songs still move me. Move mountains of people!

However, as yet, you haven’t said a word. There’s only silence.

So, what should I do? Leave you alone or venture in? Turn on the light?

Unexpectedly, I spot a ladder sticking out of a hole in the road. Curiosity beckons. Where are you? Hiding somewhere within this subterranean labyrinth and is this some kind of unconventional invitation to come inside? You’re not making it easy to find you! The more you play hard to get, the more doubts I have. Should I really be risking self-destruction dancing with the dark side, when I have so much to lose?

However, I have no choice!

After all, when you talk about famous graves, yours is almost tops the list.

DSC_0901

I remember when I was last here at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Summer 1992. The crowds were contemplatively gathered around your grave and all roads led to “JIM”. It was all quite strange, surreal. Why would anyone seek answers from someone who seemingly combusted in the dark? I don’t know. Yet, I was there too…taking photos.

DSC_0903.JPG

Photo: Rowena Newton

Of course, the crowds probably don’t know you’re a poet. No! You’re Jim Morrison the legendary singer from The Doors. Yet, you also wrote and published your own poems. They mattered and were part of you, just like my poems are an intrinsic part of me.

Now, I am back and staring at the ladder sticking out of the road. Instinct tells me to simply walk away. I’m now a grown-up, married, kids, mortgage, two dogs…I don’t need to dabble in the dark and should be sticking to “sunny side up”!

Yet, what did I say about The Road Not Taken? Being a traveller exploring new worlds? If I didn’t know better, you could even mistake this hole for a certain rabbit burrow and I can almost envision the Mad Hatter’s tea party going on down below.

There is no holding back. I’m poised on the edge of the ladder ready  to explore the depths of who you were and what happened, even if this only is a fleeting stop on my way through an A-Z of dead poets.

I hope you’re not offended but this could well be a quicker stop than most. I don’t want to get bogged down and consumed by the dark. At the same time, knowing there are people drowning right in front of me, how can I just switch off? Switch off the light when these seekers need it most?

As you said:

We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict.

-Jim Morrison

Indeed, I wonder if they’re desperately seeking the light but have somehow lost their way and wound up here… sitting round your grave lighting candles expecting goodness knows what.

DSC_0902

The Great Quest For Meaning: Jim Morrison’s Grave. Photo: Rowena Newton.

Perhaps, I should say hello. Give them an Aussie “G’day Mate” and see how they respond. After all, this journey isn’t just about me and staying in my comfort zone but also turning myself inside out and all that entails. Think with my heart and reach out.

Once you think with your heart, you have to move beyond self-preservation. Step far beyond your comfort zone and walk right out onto that ledge. You can no longer retreat and play it safe. The eyes of your heart have seen. You can’t turn back. After all, I was lost in Paris once and no one let me drown. My friends held on.

That doesn’t mean I’m not afraid.

Paralysed at the top of the ladder, I’m absolutely terrified. My body’s glued to the spot, although my breathing’s accelerated like a locomotive and is moving into full throttle. Just when I need to have my wits switched on, everything is spinning, whirling all around me in a pixelated haze. I want to make it stop. Slow down. Put on the brakes. But I can’t. I’m only a spectator caught inside your head. Or to be precise, still peering in over the edge. Your sub-conscious is lurking down below and as much as I want to get close and unlock its secrets, I don’t want to fall in. Get stuck in the abyss.

Tentatively, I take a step down through this dark and slippery slime. Then, another.

It’s so dark, pitch-black and the rain’s pouring in.  Any moment I could slip and fall to my death. Hush! Someone ‘s crying. Crying so much, there’s a flood. They’ve been crying for so long, all around that lump of stone… your eternal home. You’re all around here. All roads lead to “JIM” as if you had all the answers. So hard to understand when you somehow lost yourself?

Back in July 1992, I also sat by your grave. I wasn’t looking there for answers but I’d already had words with Rodin’s The Thinker as well as Mona Lisa. Neither could explain why I’d been dumped in Paris, the so-called “city of love”. Or, why my heart was ripped unceremoniously out of my chest and dumped in the River Seine. My love was too much and I was simply left deserted at Gare du Nord with my life in my backpack and four plastic shopping bags. Like so many, I only saw love’s roses and forgot all about the thorns!

Why did it have to hurt so much? Completely crushed and yet somehow I still woke up. Escaped oblivion.

Poetry Reading

Taken During My Poetry Reading at the Shakespeare Bookshop, Paris 1992.

I wasn’t alone. While I was talking poetry at the Shakespeare Bookshop, I met another of love’s broken casualties. With his husky Gauloises -Brooklyn accent, his lover had hurled his guitar over the edge of Pont Neuf and into the River Seine. Now, all he had left were his poems. Actually, I think he might’ve slept at the Shakespeare and was what they called “a Tumbleweed”. I don’t know.

Anyway, after all these years, you’ve become a destination on a tourist map. Somewhere to say you’ve been. Have a selfie with Jim!  Am I the only one who finds that weird? Then again, as my kids keep reminding me, writing letters to dead poets is weird. Selfies are actually normal but a very strange kind of normal.  I am conspicuously absent from my photos but just you try taking a selfie with an SLR? It’s very hit and miss.

Oh! Perhaps, I should’ve told you that we’ve stopped using phones to call people and now use them as cameras and for sending texts and photos. Indeed, we post photos of ourselves on this place called Facebook saying: “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” You would have loved it! Just think how many friends you would’ve had, although I doubt they would have saved you!

All I can say, is that sometimes we crawl way too deep inside our own darkness . Even when the chips are down, we still need to edge towards the light, without burning up in the flame. Easier said than done.

Actually, I’m wondering where my own head will be after being immersed in this  poetry soup for over a month. You would think all this poetry would be uplifting. However, if that’s the case, why have so many poets flown straight over the edge?

Balance. That’s the key and that’s what I have in my family. These supposedly annoying interruptions to the flow, might actually be bringing my feet back down to earth and keeping me grounded. Right now that includes dealing with a crazy mutt who rolled in something dead and is off to the shower. It seems even my interruptions are getting “creative”.

Goodnight Jim. I hope you’re okay.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Patisserie Paris

Happiness in Paris.

This is the latest in my series of Letters to Dead Poets for the April Blogging A-Z Challenge. For a list of previous letters, click here: Alphabet Soup A-H.