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

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rock She Wrote

As a break from editing Love Him Madly: Murder at the Whisky A Go-Go for fall release, I’ve been writing songs again. More specifically, for Turk Wayland and his band, Lionheart. Now that he’s on the verge of becoming the co-protagonist I’d always planned for him to be, I needed something to back up his rep as a gifted and talented songwriter.

Of course, I’m not a songwriter, gifted or otherwise, not by profession anyway. I’m a novelist and an essayist/columnist/ad writer/blogger/VERY occasional poet. So it’s been an interesting creative exercise to write Turk’s songs.

At first I thought I’d just have a few lines here and there, tossing them into concert situations for verisimilitude. Turk quickly disabused me of that little notion. No, he said quite firmly, he wanted COMPLETE songs. And a lot of them. And man, did he know how to push! I don’t think I’ve ever taken quite as many orders from one of my characters (not even Aeron!) as I’ve taken from Turk. He wouldn’t let me write anything else until he’d wrung a few songs out of me. And then a few more, as long as I was in the songwriting zone…

I really love it when that happens, of course. When all of a sudden I’m not calling the shots for the book but the book is calling them itself. It’s what all authors hope for and long for, and the thing is, you can’t ever plan for it. It either happens or it doesn’t. You can put yourself in the frame of mind for it to kick in, but all you can do after that is trust it.

And it’s not just writing the songs, oh nooooooo! I set up a whole discography, progressing a fictional band from their first album to superstar status: figuring how many songs on each, what kind, more folky, more bluesy, instrumental, whatever, long-form pieces and little short 2-minute singles. Then I laid out their album release history as well: maybe two albums a year very early on, then one a year, as the albums and musicians alike got more sophisticated and the work took longer to get out.

And factoring in tours, too. I created a complete touring schedule for late 1969, starting with Lionheart at Woodstock and running through the big knockout four-hour show at the Garden in early December. Did I ever have fun with that…I even designed a Lionheart logo and had it printed up on a mug and a t-shirt; bands did very little merchandising in those days, but I wanted some merch for myself, at least. And later there's always

Anyway, getting back to the songs. As I’ve said before, they come from a very different place than the books do, and Turk’s songs come from a totally different place than, say, the pieces I wrote for Taliesin or Morric. Jim once told me that he always knew when something came to him whether it was a poem or a song, and not just because one came with music and the other didn’t. I dutifully agreed—after all, he was the pro—but I didn’t really understand until a few years ago, when I started writing for Turk.

I have about fifty of them now, thirty or so of them completed, the others in various stages of construction. They were a bit folkier and simpler when he started, and by this stage of his career they’ve gotten much more complex. They’re very Sixties-sounding, too. Nothing protesty, lot of love songs.
I’ve been using some Airplane songs for models, especially the looser, free-form ones like “Hey Frederick” and “Eskimo Blue Day.” Also Cream, Stones, Beatles. There’s one or two I’d absolutely love to have someone like Eric Clapton do, and I can hear in my head what they’d sound like. Though nobody, not even E.C., is the guitarist Turk is. John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service and James Williamson of the early Stooges probably come the closest; Sandy Bull too, though he wasn’t a rocker.

But the songs are Lionheart’s and nobody else’s. They’re not Doors songs manqué, either; I have some unpublished Jim songs lying around (including some extra verses we wrote together for “People Are Strange”…), and these are NOTHING like them. I can’t even say they’d be the songs I’d have written if I’d been the rock musician in the family and Jim had been the novelist. They’re the songs Turk writes. I just type them up for him.

I wish I were a decent guitarist or singer, so I could make little demo tapes. But I can’t play or sing well enough for that. I do have the hooks and the lead lines in my head, though, so maybe one day I could work with a real musician or band and finally hear what the songs would really sound like. Well, sort of. Nothing will ever be as good as the Lionheart I hear when I’m writing.

But that’s the whole point, really.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mole's Spring Cleaning

I've been kinda down for weeks and weeks (Kathleen excepted), so I haven't felt much like doing anything but wallowing. Anyway, I was reading "The Wind in the Willows" last night as I fell asleep, and woke up inspired to clean my own little hole in the riverbank.

Which mostly meant to FINALLY get the old Toshiba TV set out of its precarious perch on a small table in the living room (it's been replaced by a new 28" Sony HD flat-screen, and into the kitchen so I can give it to my upstairs neighbor. It's only about six years old, not digital but still works great, and has a built-in DVD player and VHS player/recorder. And the neighbor had a tiny 13" set, so this is an improvement. And with the converter box that goes with it this one'll be fine come the big digital switcheroo in June.
The new set is awesome: cable quality picture in HD without having to get cable.

ANYway. Moving the set meant I first had to unload this big heavy Jacobean armoire of all the china and crystal and the three silverware chests so I could move it so the TV set could fit through the doorway which the armoire is right next to. Which meant I had to sweep all the dust and loose change and water bottle caps and whatnot. And toss out a ton of old trash: broken bits and bobs, old receipts from 1982, worn-out t-shirts I kept because they might be good to wear under jackets when it rained (never bothered), ancient extension cords, shoals of mismatched buttons, manuals to appliances I don't even HAVE know how it goes.

Still not finished: there's a huge chest in the living room that needs to be cleared out (full of old vinyl records), not to mention under the bed. But the energy shift is FANTASTIC! It feels so much lighter and cleaner already, even though I really didn't get rid of a lot of stuff yet, and will probably continue the clean over the next couple of weeks. I kind of also got inspired because though it was nice and tidy and hoovered when Kathleen and Bruce were here, it could have been sooooo much better. And now it is.

Next up: the back room. Books to the Housing Works Cafe, clothes to local charities and the senior center, if they want stuff. Kathleen says she's absolutely ruthless in such matters and will be happy to help when she's back in town after the next installment of pilot shooting, but I'd be ashamed to have her see the horror. Reader mail since 1984, old suitcases, clothes I've never had on my back, clothes I haven't worn for years, books I haven't looked at since all goes!

I could put some stuff up on craigslist, but then people would know where I, no. We have a certain area of the ground floor hallway where people put furniture and things to recycle to neighbors, so I'll leave the big things down there. I've left out a ton of stuff over the years (chairs, printers, typewriters, clothes, a big old china hutch with glass front when I got the much nicer antique armoire), and picked up some too (carved Tudor-looking dining room chair with leather upholstered seat and back, nice little filing cabinet); it's all very Green.

Then I think I'll finally get around to fixing up this tall bookcase I have: it's just a plain pine one, light-color finish. I got it for 20 bucks on craigslist, in the neighborhood. But I want to paint it dark brown and get some fancy "carved" molding to put on the shelf edges to Tudor it up so it'll go with the rest of the furniture... And maybe some new sleeping pillows and a nice light summerweight bedspread.

ANYTHING to not write! But I will get back to that too. There're just so many little chores to do first...

Sunday, April 12, 2009


My friend Kathleen is here! She's been filming a TV pilot ("Empire State", with David Morse, Michael Nouri and Gail O'Grady) a bit north of here (please spare a bit of mojo for it to get picked up and also filmed here in town, instead of some pathetic wannabe "city" subbing for NYC. Yeah right... Which means NYState and NYC have to continue tax credits for production: it costs them millions and brings in billions, not to mention all the local jobs...), and is going to be around for a few days.

Some East Village-y stuff tomorrow, then we'll see about the rest of the week. We've never done the Circle Line tour round Manhattan, or the Statue of Liberty, or South Street to look at the old ships...but it'll probably be shopping and eating, as usual. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

UPDATE: Monday, we went shopping at some East Village vintage stores (Gabay's and Tokyo Joe's), had hot choc and pastries at Veniero's, hung around my place. Which only the imminence of K's arrival got me to tidy up, and I must say it does look nice. It wasn't dirty, you understand; just messy. Like Aeron's chamber at Fian academy, it looked as if the goats had got in. And set up housekeeping. Shouldn't take me long to trash it up again...

Tuesday: we had lunch at Veselka, this great Ukrainian coffee shop on 2nd Avenue, with my friend Michael: pierogis (M), turkey pot pie (K), corned beef hash with 2 poached eggs (me). All the food is made fresh on premises, even the baked goods (if you're in NYC and have never been, give it a shot), and it was nummy as usual and we were there for two hours just laughing and talking.

Then we walked around a bit in a misty drizzle, and admired the Callery pear trees which are in full flower, and hit Butter Lane, a new and fabulous cupcake cafe, for customized cupcakes. You can have American or French buttercream frosting in your choice of flavors (but is there anything, really, but chocolate??) and your choice of vanilla or chocolate cake. So I went with choc American buttercream with vanilla cake, and so did Michael, and Kathleen had key lime frosting with I think chocolate cake. Dee-lish.

Bruce Abbott, Kathleen's husband, arrived last night from LA, so they're going to a Broadway matinee today, and then we'll see. He's attending Chiller Theatre, a horror con in Parsippany NJ, this weekend...he starred in the two Re-Animator movies and is a guest on the program.

So we'll have some more fun stuff before they leave.

UPDATE 2: Bruce and Kathleen and I hung out at my house, then went to have lunch at Frank, a tiny Italian restaurant on 2nd Avenue: yummo meatballs and pasta and stuff, with phenomenal bread. The restaurant has a dynamite playlist: we heard the Who, the Beatles, my favorite Tom Petty song ("Learning to Fly"), bunch more good stuff.

And then..."Ladies and gentlemen, from Los Angeles California, he Doors!" and Jim crashes the party. "Roadhouse Blues", which was fine. But geez! Can't he leave us alone half an hour to have lunch in peace??? It always happens...he's just gotta get in on the fun. And even have himself announced, just to make sure we didn't miss his presesnce...Kathleen says it happens all the time, ever since the movie. Just Jim, checkin in, keeping tabs...

Then back again to my house for a while and a visit to my jeweler friend Gregg Wolf. Kathleen had to go do some looping for an indie flick she's in with William Hurt, called "The River Why", and Bruce had to go out to Parsippany for the horror con. She's going home tomorrow and he'll leave on Saturday.

So great to see them! They both look gorgeous, and if K's pilot sells and they can shoot it here, they'll be here a lot more. Yay!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pirates of the Not-Caribbean

I'm sure most if not all of you have been reading about the pirates off the coast of Somalia, taking ships and crews hostage for money...

It's amazing, really. For the first time in a couple of hundred years at least, pirates are systematically working an area of the world's waters. Oh, there have been pirates recently in other places, like Indonesia, but the Somali pirates are much, much more systematically into it and better equipped.

So now there's this American, Captain Richard Phillips, who's being held hostage under threat of death and who actually tried to escape by jumping overboard after all his crew were released. But the pirates caught him and dragged him back. What a guy! Let's hope he comes safely home. Send in some Navy SEALS to sneak aboard the little lifeboat thingy where they're holding him and slit the pirates' throats.

But here's what I'm wondering: since this area is known to be so dangerous, (a) why are there no warship convoys to escort merchant ships, and (b) why don't the world's navies just blow these guys out of the water? They're PIRATES. They've put themselves beyond the pale of the protection of law. Give 'em a warning (or not), then explode them out of existence.

I'm only for pirates when they're Captain Jack Sparrow. This sort of thing must be stopped. Come on, run out the long nines and knock holes in them until they sink!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Another Impostor

That's the link to the latest goddamned impostor, this one on Facebook, using MY name and MY picture and posing as me. In France, allegedly. Yeah, right.

I have filed an email complaint with Facebook, but since I'm not a member I can only get a limited amount of information.

Anyone reading this, please complain to Facebook if you can, or will. I'd appreciate the support.

I am not now and have never been a member of Facebook, and I'm very angry indeed that some little piece of garbage is out there pretending to be me. Yeesh. Get a life, you lying sod!

Oh, and this is my only Blogger/Blogspot, and I have only one LJ, and only one MySpace page. Just so you know.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Call Me...Patrishmael?

This is one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. Thanks to MDF Mary for sending it. You don't have to have read the book/seen the movie to appreciate it, but it makes it soooo much better.

Too bad my friend David is no longer quivering with us: he'd have LOVED this, and probably would have wanted to go there next year.

We were both big M-D fans, and used to fling "Oh yeah?? Well, the Whiteness of the Whale to you too, pal!" at each other all the time.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Pope No-Hope

Mark Morford, once again:

Pope, extra ribbed

Benedict says condoms make AIDS worse. God recoils in shame

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Friday, April 3, 2009

What sort of wretched deity is this? What sort of tormented, clenched God must you believe in to cause you to openly promote ignorance and death for the sake of power and ideology and fear -- always, always a deep fear -- of love and sex and basic human connection?

Let me try to be a little more specific: Is it not some form of strange self-torture, a kind of brutal spiritual immolation, to believe that God is this gloomy, obsessive micromanager, so petty and vindictive regarding what you do with your body that you/he will let people die for the sake of it? Do you have any sort of answer?

Shall we ask the pope?

"The 81-year-old Benedict doesn't mingle with reporters individually but stands before them in the rear section of the plane flanked by aides, and responds drily to the questions."

What a touching image. It's just one of the takeaway lines I took away from the recent story about Pope Benedict and his first, "troubled" trip to Africa, about how he generally handles -- or rather, mishandles -- questions about the grand scheme of worldly things like the soul, war, the role of God in everyday life and whether or not he might be some sort of dangerous underworld automaton sent from the Netherrealms of Ignorance to inflict guilt and desolation upon the world.

It must be true. It's a question I'd want to pose, anyway, were I standing at the back of that papal aircraft staring down this dour and ideologically archaic man who seems very intent on not merely cementing slippery human divinity in the hard concrete of 1500, but also shoving it off a bridge to watch it sink to the bottom, just for good measure.

Perhaps you think I'm out of line. Perhaps you think I'm being too hard on the ultraconservative, disengaged 81-year-old pontiff.

Perhaps you did not read about how Benedict once again condemned condom usage in AIDS-ravaged Africa, apparently one of the last continents still deeply susceptible to the Vatican's insidious, pre-historic sexual ideology, and apparently the one major region that's singlehandedly keeping the church in the news these days because, dear God, are the rest of us not just about done with this sort of myopic sexual hysteria and dangerous misinformation? It would be nice to think so.

But wait, there's more. The pope did not merely say, as the church has yawned for a thousand years, that any form of contraception is wrong. Would that he were so quaint and easily dismissed.

Benedict actually took it a shocking, deadly step further and announced to sick, poor, dying Africans -- 22.5 million cases of HIV and counting fast -- that condoms could actually make AIDS worse, and that everyone should, instead, do what he and his sour band of unhappies have done for the past 2,000 very repressed years and simply not have sex, unless you are married and unsoiled and maybe not even then, because if there's one thing his very cruel God will not tolerate, it's humans doing things with their bodies in any way other than what some vindictive bishop scribbled into an insufferable rulebook about a thousand years ago.

Still out of line? Are you thinking, come on, the pope might not be all that hip to the basic health issues of this lifetime, but so what? He's largely irrelevant to the lives of everyday Catholics. He's just a surreal figurehead, a sad spectacle parading through the streets of foreign cities in his gold-dipped shoes and a scepter made of tears. Who cares about his harmful lies, really?

Perhaps you're right. Perhaps we shouldn't really give a damn for places where people are dying of diseases that could, at least in part, be easily prevented by simple sexual information and education, but which are instead being made worse by the appalling lies of someone who claims to have the Almighty on speed dial. What does it matter? Don't we have larger issues to worry about? Have you seen the housing market?

Perhaps you wish to point out all the good the church does in the world, the various charities and outreach programs and shelters for the poor and so on. And you know what? You are absolutely right. There are some lovely people at play in the fields of the lord, even if that lord is a bit of a domineering, patriarchal megalomaniac who's never really satisfied.

There is other good news: Some bishops already operate in open defiance of the Vatican's ignorance and publicly disagree with the pope's silly pronouncements. What's more, plenty of Catholic charities already freely distribute condoms to those living with AIDS (though of course, not to schools or to healthy sinners).

Very well then. Perhaps we should look at it differently, and use Benedict as our grand reminder that the general Rule of Divinity still holds true: the more you claim to be some sort of inviolable authority on things sacred and holy, the less you are to be trusted and the more we should all hope and pray for your urgent obsoletion. Simple enough?

(Cross reference the pope with, say, the Dalai Lama, widely considered to be one of the most divinely luminous beings on the planet, a man who claims, well, absolutely no divine authority whatsoever. His only claim? A deep humility shot through with astonishing kindness and love, a man who is always learning, always open to new ideas, the fluid and illusive nature of this life. What a contrast).

But don't just take my word for it. Listen to the foreign press -- American media being generally too timid and nervous to dare criticize the church too aggressively -- where response to the pope's condom stance was one of open-throated disgust and outrage.

"When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record," The Lancet, one of the world's most respected medical journals, said in an editorial.

Or maybe you agree more with former French prime minister Alain Juppe, who said that "this pope is starting to be a real problem" because he lives in "a situation of total autism." Or maybe German Green European deputy, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who seethed, "We've had enough of this pope," and described his condom comments as "close to premeditated murder."

There you go. Not even Obama would have the balls to say something like that.

So, what can you do about it all? Can you support Spain as it announces, one day after Benedict's deadly edict, that it will donate one million condoms to Africa? Shall you join the multitude of international Facebook protests? Shall you merely sigh and shake your head at the ongoing small-mindedness of major organized religion, and wonder when we might finally evolve past it? Absolutely.

Meantime, maybe we can simply hope, when this pope's bitter, conservative reign is over and white smoke next rises from the Sistine Chapel, it will in celebration of someone who, if not exactly progressive and open-minded and full of joy at the deep pleasures of this life, will at least be, at bare minimum, not someone who so cruelly demeans it.

Wow. Perhaps when that smoke rises, it will be the indicator of the funeral pyre of something rancid and rotten that has long overstayed its time.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

RIP Manny's

I see where Manny's Music Store, that West 48th Street musicianly mecca, has lost its lease and may have to close.

This makes me so very sad. Manny's was where I bought my first real guitar (a lovely Goya, back in 1964) and my first SERIOUS guitar (a Martin D-8, I think it was, or a D-28? A big honkin' dreadnought, anyway!). And I recall happy times there with musicians of my acquaintance back in the day...EVERYbody shopped at Manny's, from Dylan on down.

I even put Manny's into one of my rock murder mystery books (nothing you've seen so far yet; it's not until Rennie and Turk move to New York in Book 6 or so, and he goes up to Manny's to buy yet another axe to add to the eighty or so he already owns, to her puzzlement and dismay).

But that's what people did at Manny's. They had a "you try it, you buy it" rule, so guitarists looking to buy had to make do with "Old Yeller", a by-now-extremely-battered yellow-finish Strat. Not helpful if you wanted to buy a Gibson, I guess. But the people who played Old Yeller included Clapton, Hendrix, McCartney, Harrison, Cocker and Garcia...most of them now dead. (Including Paul.)

Anyway, Manny and his wife, who owned the place, were really nice, and I got a decent professional-courtesy discount on my Martin (the most expensive thing I then owned). since my publisher, Pauline, was tight with them. The store may not close altogether; it's still being determined if the current owners want to be bothered with moving to a new location. It would be great if it stayed around.

A girl and her axe...maybe I should finally go and buy that black Strat I keep dreaming about, before they close. Turk would want me to...