Thanks, Mom, for carrying me around for nine months! Thanks for my name, which I’ve always liked. Thanks for changing my diapers and for putting up with me when I was a squalling infant, and thanks for not slugging me when I was going through the “terrible twos” or being a jerky, insolent teenager. Thanks for being understanding when I wet the bed. Thanks for making me behave, but not coming down too hard on me when I broke my glasses for the thousandth time or goofed off instead of doing my chores. Thanks for buying the kinds of breakfast cereal I really liked, and for letting me flip the pancakes on Sunday mornings, and for giving me that great bowling birthday party with my friends when I turned 10.
On the day we visited the Pompidou Center, Richard and I decided to go a bit off the beaten path, so we walked over to the cemetery where Jim Morrison is buried. It was a sad experience.
Morrison’s grave is found in the Cimietiere du Pere Lachaise, where some other notables, like Oscar Wilde and Marcel Proust, also are buried. It is a nice cemetery — apparently Paris’ most prestigious — that is filled with above-ground graves and family crypts. Morrison’s grave is located in the interior of the cemetery, wedged between other burial sites. It was not hard to find, because 99 percent of the people visiting the cemetery seemed to be there to see the last resting place of the Doors’ lead singer. We just had to follow the crowd.
When Richard and I reached the gravesite, we found a group of loudly talking, laughing people jostling to get their pictures taken with the simple headstone in the background. A cheap fence had been tied around the gravesite, presumably to keep most people people from chipping off pieces of the marker or otherwise disturbing the area. As it was, people had placed flowers on Morrison’s grave and also had tossed in cigarettes, what looked like a white plastic bottle of some kinds of pills, and other debris. The tree next to the site is covered with graffiti left by visitors, and the ground has been denuded of grass and packed hard by the feet of many, many visitors.
I thought the visit to Morrison’s grave was depressing. It struck me as a sad, not particularly pretty or peaceful resting place. I felt sorry for Morrison that so many people remember (and apparently celebrate) him for his excesses, and I felt sorry for the families of people whose graves are next to Morrison’s and who therefore have to constantly deal with disrespectful, crass visitors who forget they are in a cemetery.
The inscription beneath Morrison’s name on the headstone is in Greek. There seems to be some disagreement about precisely how it should be translated, but Wikipedia says its literal meaning is “according to his own demon.” When Richard and I left the cemetery, we passed a storefront that was selling t-shirts that showed Morrison’s picture and said he was “wanted in Dade County, Florida.”