Mrs Morrison's Hotel

The 100% personal official blog for Patricia Kennealy Morrison, author, Celtic priestess, retired rock critic, wife of Jim

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I was, wait, sorry, that's "David Copperfield". Anyway, I was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island, went to school in upstate NY and came straight back to Manhattan to live. Never lived anywhere else. Never wanted to. Got a job as a rock journalist, in the course of which I met and married a rock star (yeah, yeah, conflict of interest, who cares). Became a priestess in a Celtic Pagan tradition, and (based on sheer longevity) one of the most senior Witches around. Began writing my Keltiad series. Wrote a memoir of my time with my beloved consort (Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison). See Favorite Books below for a big announcement...The Rennie Stride Mysteries. "There is no trick or cunning, no art or recipe, by which you can have in your writing that which you do not possess in yourself." ---Walt Whitman (Also @ and

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Crossing the Bar

Jim's father, Admiral George Stephen Morrison, died on November 17, in Coronado, California. He had fallen at home and fractured his pelvis, necessitating a 9-1-1 call, and went into hospital on the Friday. Over the weekend, he developed congestive heart failure and fluid in his lungs, and "with no hope of getting home again any time soon, by Monday he had left the planet", as a family member told me. There was a traditional Navy funeral service for this very distinguished military man, including an F14 flyover, at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, and his son Andy gave a eulogy. Admiral Morrison would have been 90 on January 7.

I've known about it all along, but didn't plan on posting---but I changed my mind...

I never met the man, but some years ago I was told he had my Kelts books on his nightstand for reading...

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

---Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Hero in the Family

Please spare a thought or a prayer for my cousin Kathleen, youngest daughter of my mom's youngest sister. Her husband, firefighter Lt. Robert Ryan, was killed today in a fire on Staten Island when the ceiling fell in on him, knocking away his helmet and oxygen mask. They had four children. As the newscaster on Channel 2 said, "He came when he was called and then he was called home."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It Was Forty-five Years Ago Today...

I was 17 years old, away from home for the first time in my life, just beginning to settle in to the start of my freshman year at St. Bonaventure. It was a gorgeous, clear, chilly fall Friday afternoon, a few days before the Thanksgiving break; the leaves were mostly gone, but the sky was an astonishing deep blue and little clouds were flying by on a cold wind.

We were in Prof. Leo Keenan's English lit class in Plassmann Hall, and just getting ready to leave at the end of the hour, when Jack Garner, one of our classmates, came to the door looking ashen-faced and told us and the prof that the President had just been shot. I remember scoffing, oh no, that can't be true, and Jack just shrugged helplessly. Uncle Leo, as we called him, said no word but strode away in silence, headed for the AP ticker tape in the journalism classroom.

A bunch of my fellow coeds and I all streamed back across the road to our dorm on the hill, St. Elizabeth's Hall, desperate to see it on TV. Classes seemed somehow to be magically canceled, because I don't recall going to another that day.
Though I do have a memory of watching the campus flag being lowered to half-staff...but I can't put it in context, so maybe that came later.

We got there in time to see Walter Cronkite announce the stunning news, and we all started crying. I remember, later that afternoon, a single beam of sunlight coming out from behind a gold-rimmed cloud just above the mountains and striking into the rec room like an arrow, falling on our faces like a touch from the beyond.

We didn't stop crying or watching TV for the next four days, except to attend the solemn requiem High Mass, held in Butler Gym, timed so as not to conflict with the funeral Mass being held in Washington DC.

Girls weren't allowed on the main floor, so we watched from the balcony of the indoor running track; I remember how hard it was to stand on the slanted track floor even in the low French heels I had on, but I had a perfect view of the ceremony below. Every coed who could was wearing black; I was in a nice black boucle' wool A-line coat, and a black lace mantilla which I was later to put to similar use in Paris, July 1971...

It was like something out of the Middle Ages: robed friars, priests in black vestments processing to a central altar, the tall tapers, the male seminary choir chanting "Dies Irae", magnificent and chilling. And oddly comforting. One of the supreme spiritual moments of my life, no question. I knew I would remember it forever.

There was nothing but assassination coverage on TV: no programs, no commercials. It was all black and white: not that it mattered, but I was startled when I saw the first color pictures from Dallas---how pink Mrs. Kennedy's suit was, how brown-red her hair.

Every coed in the dorm gathered in the third-floor rec room---glued to the only TV set we had---and I can still hear the indrawn half moan, half hiss of breath, as if we'd all been struck in the face, that ran around the room at the first sight of Jackie in the doorway of the plane, hand in hand with Bobby, blood all over her skirt. Everybody almost collapsed in grief and sympathy; we held each other up as best we could.

But a lot of people with cars had jumped into them as soon as they could, cramming the cars with anyone who wanted to go along, and headed south to DC, to stand in line outside the Capitol to pay respects and to watch the cortege head to Arlington on Monday.

The rest of us who stayed were in total shock: I remember watching TV numbly on I guess it was Sunday night (having earlier seen the assassin shot point-blank live). Some symphony was playing the "Eroica" funeral movement, and the announcer was commenting in a hushed voice that on his Berlin trip, the Germans had called JFK a young Siegfried; tears were silently streaming down everybody's faces. We just stayed as close as we could to comfort ourselves; the more religious among us spent hours in the dorm chapel.

I even wandered up the hill behind the dorm to a little grotto in a grove of trees, a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes (which is still there, although the dorm is gone, and I visited it when I was back on campus 2 years ago), just sitting there, not praying, not even thinking; a nun came walking by, on the same errand, trying to find some peace or calm, but we didn't say anything to each other.

By Monday---the Mass and interment and the eternal flame and the whole thing---we were exhausted.

But we still couldn't stop watching. Sometimes it feels as if we never did.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mrs Mojo Rises

Gray drizzly VERY bad-hair day. I spent the afternoon in midtown, taping my contribution to a Doors (NOT Jim!) documentary being assembled by Prism Films, a British outfit with some very good past docs to their credit (Captain Beefheart, featuring my old friend Gary Lucas; Dylan; few more).

The interviewer/producer, Tom O'Dell, was hands down the best interviewer I've ever encountered. Fantastically intelligent questions from a very well-informed and honorable individual. I'll only be a tiny part of it---he's talked to literally dozens of people, from fellow critics Robert Christgau and Richard Goldstein to biographer James Riordan to producer Billy James and other figures from the dawn times, so my screen time will be minimal.

And I hope I did the questions credit: I got to talk about a lot of stuff I never ever get to talk about, such as how the Doors were perceived by audiences in NY as opposed to those in LA and the UK; how the songwriting chores were divvied up; how Jim perceived his role in the band and as a person, what he told me, what we discussed privately as opposed to what we discussed in interview settings; the music and how it changed as the band got more widely known; how they saw themselves; the trial and how it affected our lives; all kinds of really interesting slants on what he and the band did.

The interview was about the Doors as I perceived them, first as a fan, then as a rock critic, and only last and distantly as Mrs. Morrison. Which is as it should be. And hardly a mention of You-Know-Who, and I don't mean Voldemort, the whole time. Bit after, off-camera, to clear up a few misconceptions, but that was it.

I've always maintained that the synergy of the Doors was lightning in a bottle, and history bears it out. The three never did anything after Jim's death even remotely comparable; we'll never know what Jim himself would or could have done, but he was instructing me to look for not only a loft for us to live in but a studio and likely engineer for himself, once he extricated himself from Paris and came back to me in NYC, so he obviously had creative purposes in mind that didn't involve the other guys.

Anyway, since I NEVER get asked stuff like this, it was really, really satisfying to be treated as a Founding Mother of Rock Criticism and one who was present at the creation, not as the Yoko Ono of the Doors. So deepest thanks to Tom and Alec, and this may actually be one doc I'll watch without cringing. Well, too much, anyway.

(Oh, for the jewel porn fans: our claddaghs, my Keltic tourmaline and six diamond bracelets on my left hand; my emerald engagement ring and the white sapphire 25-year memorial ring on my right hand; pearl studs; and the huge ruby-and-diamond-framed opal heart with Jim's inscription in his own handwriting on the back: "To my wife/my Patricia/I love you/Jim". Fun stuff.)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Pulling Up the Ladder

I see where something like 70% of black voters in California voted Yes on Proposition 8, the one to (apparently) enshrine in the California state constitution the ban on gay marriage.

I have to say I am damn disappointed, for my gay CA friends and in these voters. The voters don't seem to consider that this is a huge and legitimate civil rights issue every bit as much as anything they have encountered as black people in the past or present. They seem to be regarding it as a matter of choice that gay people are gay, and that such a "repellent" "lifestyle" should not be encouraged by permitting the "aberration" they consider gay marriage.

Well, though it may sound racist to say so, consider the source. Uneducated, or poorly educated; fearful of social change that seems to exclude them; above all deeply in thrall to simplistic religions and religious organizations that preach bigotry and fear of the'd think--or I'd think, anyway--that this particular voting bloc would be tending the other way, out of fellow feeling for an oppressed minority.

But it didn't play out like that. And I wonder what can be done to ensure a better outcome from these voters the next time the matter comes up, and it will. Challenges are already being mounted to the "amendment" or "alteration", and quite rightly. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds in the courts; we already see it in the streets.

And I do SO wish New York State would get on the stick and do something; we're supposed to be fearless groundbreakers in such matters, not followers of Connecticut and Massachusetts, at best, and at worst total ignorers of this great issue where we have a chance to take the lead now that California has temporarily stalled out.

Maybe it needs to be pitched as civil rights from the start: a whole segment of the American populace being denied a basic human right by a bigoted majority. Sound familiar, black Californians? It damn well ought to.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Gray Day

It's raining here, all gray and chilly and windy, though not as chilly and windy as I would like.

Still, a fine day to stay indoors, which is also good. It wasn't going to be a big exciting adventure or anything: just a trip to the Union Square greenmarket to buy pear cider and clam fritters and maybe some lovely glowing autumn flowers, and Trader Joe's on the way home for a few more blocks of frozen French onion soup, which I'm very fond of and nukes beautifully, and if I felt really ambitious I was going to get some chicken at the butcher for homemade chicken rice soup with scallions and romaine and carrots, or if not feeling so ambitious I planned to stop at the Philly cheesesteak place on 3rd Avenue and get a nice hot cheesy steaky oniony sandwich.

But even though I like going out in this kind of weather, as I say it's not cold enough to make it worth my while (plus the cheesesteak place delivers...). And I have plenty of food and water and milk, so even though I'd really like that cider I won't starve or get thirsty.

Not yet in the mood to work on Rennie, maybe later tonight, so I'm spending the afternoon rereading Harry Potter in sequence, first book to last. The first book is my favorite for atmosphere, the third for overall balance. As they get darker and grimmer (or Grim-mer), I find I don't reread them as much. I really do not love "Half-Blood Prince", though it has its fine moments, to be sure, and I can't stand reading about Dolores Umbridge much either.

But I do reread "Deathly Hallows" a lot, in my usual just-open-it-and-dip-in rereading style. And I think it's because JKR, in this one, gets back to writing about weather and food and daily stuff in a way she kind of left off in the preceding two books. And I LOVE that stuff.

So even though DH is quite horrific on so many levels, and transcendently glorious on so many more, I do enjoy it. For all the books, I like to fantasize about being a Hogwarts student myself (Gryffindor, of course, though sometimes I think I might prefer Ravenclaw: could I be a Gryffinclaw? I can just picture myself in that Gryffindor girls' tower dorm, though, with a lovely four-poster bed hung with red velvet curtains), the way readers tell me they fantasize about being in my own novelistic world of Keltia. Which I also fantasize about.

Otherwise, I'm not any kind of fan of contemporary "lit'rachoor", as I find it gloomy and just plain boringly pretentious. I draw the fiction line in the sand after Thomas Hardy, with very few exceptions, and those are usually fantasies or historicals of some sort.

The only modern fiction I read is mysteries (faves are Marcia Muller and Margaret Maron, actively writing; Susannah Stacey and Dorothy Simpson and Ngaio Marsh, out of the game for various reasons).

They're intelligent modern cozies, very scant on procedural crap, totally character-driven. I read fiction to be made happy and interested and entertained and taken out of myself, not brought down and bummed out big-time by some dystopian sad-sack of a "gritty", "real-life" writer, and these do it for me.

So I think I'll go nuke myself some French onion soup, and that leftover cornbread from the BBQ place the other night needs eating up, and go hang with Harry and Hermione for a while. A good afternoon!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Batting Clean-up

Just a few things that occur to me now that the election hopes have become fact:

The Supremes' Greatest Hits: Three big, BIG reasons to rejoice even further? John Paul Stevens, 88; Ruth Bader Ginsberg, 75; David Souter, 68. And all three of them are almost certain to vacate their seats on the Supreme Court in the next four years.

Wow. Can we say...well, I don't even KNOW what we can say except Yippeeeee!!! This means that President Obama will be appointing three new justices at the very least, and perhaps more...

Dr. Who?: Oh, and Caribou Barbie/Mooselina/Bible Spice never DID release her medical records, did she, even though she promised and promised. What's she afraid of? That we'll find out Trig isn't really her personal spawn after all? Hmm. Well, we can count to nine months for Bristol just let's just see how long this miracle pregnancy takes.
And no bets on whether the pregnant teen and the redneck boyfriend will tie the knot after all, since it's no longer a groovy photo op for the Repugs.

The Lyin', the Bitch and the Wardrobe: The campaign is also claiming that a third of the much-talked-of fashion heist ("Wasilla Hillbillies Pillage Neiman-Marcus and Saks! Film at 11!") has already been returned to the stores, while some has been "lost." Uh-HUH.

Thanks to MDF Lisa for this info: Palin was only supposed to buy 3 suits and hire a stylist. Instead...well, you know how it is when someone is admitted to the shoe-wearing classes; they tend to get a little overexcited.
She actually bought many tens of thousands of dollars OVER the $150,000 claimed; the trusting donor was appalled when he got the bill; up to $40,000 went to outfit the First Dude; and I'd like to know how they plan on donating used baby clothes all sticky with poo and spit-up.

What, just because she's an ex-candidate doesn't mean I can't still have some fun taking shots, right? Right!

A River May Have to Run Through It

It may take as much as that to clean up, or begin to clean up, the stinking, sodden, vile heap of manure that Shrub has unloaded into our stables.

And though I don't think Obama is Hercules (not yet, anyway), he may certainly be Jason surrounding himself with Argonauts, strong and mighty warriors eager to help: the best and brightest, just as JFK did. He's smart enough to be a really good picker.

I wept last night for the sheer history of it. I still haven't drunk the Obama Kool-aid, nor do I think he's a policy god (I haz issues with him on policy, especially women's stuff). But he has a huge, HUGE task ahead of him. I have hopes. Not unrealistic ones, either.

An old friend emailed me this morning from a red corner of PA, telling me that she and her husband, contemporaries of mine, watched in tears, thinking that this is what it might have been like in 1968 had Bobby Kennedy lived, and I had the same feeling myself: that all of us who protested and demonstrated back then have finally gotten our vindicating victory.

But we're FAR from out of the woods, my lieges. As they prepare to decamp ingloriously into obscurity, the Bushies, led by their fish-faced, mush-mouthed king, are systematically laying waste to all sorts of programs. Bitter, spiteful bastards, giving one last gift to the masters of industry and money who have supported them all this time.

And way too many vile measures passed: against same-sex marriage in California and other states, Colorado declaring that human life begins at conception (thus effectively outlawing ALL abortions), bunch more.
But California will see that bill again, and next time it will go our way...

And yes, as our warns, I will keep watchful eyes on the north, where Morgoth dwells and is undoubtedly planning another incursion into the happy lands of Middle-earth. She will withdraw into her frozen fastness and scheme anew. And, hopefully, be forced to face some truths. I myself would prefer to see her hunted from a helicopter on a regular basis... See, Mooselina? God has indeed spoken to you, and he has said NOT ON MY WATCH, BITCH!

On balance, I am one very proud and happy American today. I haven't been able to say that or feel like that for far too long. We have done a mighty deed this day in reclaiming the word "patriot" from the evil minions, and I await the happy day when the Republican Party will spasm and divide, into the thoughtful moderates of whom Lincoln could be proud and the banana-headed wacko loonies of hatred and divisiveness who are really doing the work of Satan, if you believe in Satan, and if anything would make me believe in him it's the McCainites and Palinistas who are his whores and lackeys.

So crawl back under the rock whence you came, Rethuglicans, and watch as we get on with the future. Maybe one day down the shining new road you'll actually get with the program. We'd be pleased to have you.

And So It Begins...

There are people cheering in the street outside my window, screaming and yelling and tooting car horns up and down street and avenue. Plus millions in Times Square and Grant Park. And I got all teary. I could be happier only if it were Hillary.

How amazing. Maybe this country has finally grown up. Or wised up. Either way.

And now there's a parade from Tompkins Square Park passing by, hundreds of people, with drums and cowbells and candles and screaming WOOOOOO and people coming to the windows and out on the fire escapes and passers-by too to cheer and join in.

And now I really am crying. And yelling out the window myself. I have never seen anything like this down here. Not since the 60's. And that was angry. This is much, much happier. The parade just reached Second Avenue, and it sounds as if it's twice the size. And unplanned, too, since it was unaccompanied by cop cars the way our demonstrations usually are.

ETA: I just got back in from the corner of St Mark's Place and 1st Avenue. It is incredible out there. Cabdrivers flashing the V sign, buses and trucks and cars and even firetrucks flashing lights and blaring horns and yelling "Big O!" out the window. It's out of control. It's wonderful. They're showing no signs of letting up, and are taking it back to the park (where I attended many a demonstration back in the day). Hundreds and hundreds of people, young kids and old hippies like me, white and black and Asian, running around with flags draped over their shoulders, waving banners, banging on bells and drums and what look to be frying pans.

And totally historic. A century and a half ago Abraham Lincoln spoke a few blocks away at Cooper Union, when black people were still slaves. And now, tonight, this.

Even the TV newscasters are all choked up. And I can still hear them cheering out in the street...

1:40. Wow. I went out again for half an hour, just to see how big it was. They finally broke up about five minutes ago, but there must have been a couple thousand people out there. They shut down 1st Avenue and St Mark's Place, and the cops came, and were cheered, and when traffic started flowing again, the traffic was cheered. And now they've all gone up to Union Square, where presumably the party is still going on.

Simply astounding. Go us! Yes we can, and yes he did! And didn't his family and the Bidens look wonderful on the podium in Grant Park? And all those people...Grant Park was the site of violent police riots against demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention in '68, as was Lincoln Park. I wonder if those protesting back then ever imagined a night like this one...