Last December 8 would’ve been Jim Morrison’s 60th birthday. Two of the surviving Doors threw a party in Hollywood at Barney’s Beanery, famous in the ’60s for the stars who hung out there.
I wasn’t invited to the Morrison birthday bash, but I decided to drive up and crash it. On my way, I was talking to a friend on the phone. I pulled over on the 805 as cops and fire engines zoomed by with lights on and sirens blaring. My friend said, “Are you getting a ticket for talking while you drive?”
A minute later I drove by smoke and fire to my left. My friend said, “That’s probably where that jet just crashed into a house. I just heard that on the news.”
I got to Barney’s a few hours early. I knew that L.A. radio station KLOS was letting in only a handful of listeners, so I was happy I talked to the right people and was told they’d let me in. Then I walked down the street to grab a bite.
I sat down in a Greek restaurant and began reading the L.A. Times. A guy on his way out the door said, “I like your shirt!” It was an L.A. Woman tee. I didn’t look up from the paper but said, “Thanks.” The guy then put his finger on my chest and said, “I especially like that guy there.” I looked down and saw he was pointing at Ray Manzarek, the Doors’ keyboard player. When I looked up, I saw it was Manzarek himself. I laughed, and we talked for a few minutes.
When he left, a big group at another table said, “Is that guy famous?” I explained who he was, and a woman with a French accent said, “I love the Doors!” She sprinted out and talked to him on the street corner for five minutes. When she returned, she texted everyone on her phone and asked me six times how to spell his last name.
Back at Barney’s, there was a crowd of autograph seekers. I saw Henry Diltz, who took the Doors’ photo for their Morrison Hotel album and has a gallery in La Jolla by the same name. We chatted for a few minutes.
I went inside and started talking with a woman named Melissa who works for Rhino Records. I talked about compilation CDs they’ve released that I like. For a woman in her mid-20s, she knew a lot about the history of rock.
We watched some people bring in a huge cake with psychedelic-colored frosting. I said, “It should’ve been shaped like a microphone or a record album. That thing is just some huge square thing. Although...it’s probably the size of Jim’s coffin.”
Someone heard this and said, “That’s messed up, man.”
After Melissa started telling me a story, a guy came over and said, “Come on, let’s go.”
She paused, looked at me, and apologized. She explained, “I’m just starved, and we supposedly get free food, but I have to go with my group now.” I said, “Hey…for free food, I’d stop talking to me, too.”
While I talked briefly with the owner of Barney’s, I heard a crowd of 100 screaming fans outside. I looked out the window and saw Doors guitarist Robby Krieger walking up with Manzarek. Manzarek saw me and said, “Hey, it’s you again! How was your dinner?”
Krieger did an interview with a TV station, and then I spoke with him. I asked about some rare Doors songs, including “Spanish Caravan,” which had a flamenco-guitar intro. He said, “Yeah, that intro never got saved. But I’m reworking that for a new CD.”
After we were done talking, I heard Krieger tell deejay Jim Ladd a story about being in Barney’s when Morrison threw a pool ball at him. It missed and shattered a mirror.
KLOS started to broadcast live, and I sat down at the only table left. I felt guilty about all the fans standing outside in the cold.
A bouncer told me about someone being stabbed a few weeks earlier. He said they only have trouble with drunk bikers once in a while.
He informed me the food and booze were free, and I replied, “Yeah, I’d get a few drinks, but I’m not hungry. I just don’t have any money to tip the waitress.” He said, “They get paid extra working this. They aren’t expecting tips.”
I ordered a chocolate shake and, later, shots of whiskey.
Two gorgeous women asked if they could join me at my table. One was about 6´1˝, and when we started talking about kids, she told me, “I think if I ever have a daughter, she’ll look like Natalie Portman.” I glanced at her friend and said, “Does she know she’s black?” They laughed. The woman replied, “I don’t mean skin color, but my facial structure, my cheekbones.”
Her friend looked like Scarlett Johansson. She asked me if I wanted kids and I said, “With you?”
We saw actor Corey Feldman walk in. He stood near our table and, instead of asking about Lost Boys or Stand by Me, I said, “My friend loves your show The Two Coreys. If I call her right now, could you give her crap? Tell her she should get a life and stop sitting around watching what you do in your life.” He smiled and said, “I would, man. But I have a sore throat. I shouldn’t be talking much.” A guy next to him offered, “If you need his wacky assistant to do anything, I’ll be happy to.”
During a commercial in the broadcast, Krieger walked to the cake and a few people asked to take a photo. I said, “I bet you hate those cell-phone cameras. Everyone now has to get a picture, and they can never work them.” He replied, “Oh God, I know. You would be amazed at the amount of time I’ve wasted just standing there, waiting for people to figure out their cameras.”