Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on Feb 14, 2005 12:04:29 GMT
City author unmasks regional ties of former rock icon
Writer and rock enthusiast Mark Opsasnick of Greenbelt has authored a history of the District area rock venues, and is working on a biography of the legendary frontman of The Doors, Jim Morrison.
At age 10, lifelong Greenbelt resident Mark Opsasnick discovered the magic of rock 'n' roll.
He would spend hours at the Greenbelt Library, reading rock publications like "Creem" and "Circus Magazine" from cover-to-cover. He became a fan of The Doors in 1972. Back then, he did not realize that he would retrace the teenage years of Jim Morrison, the band's lead singer.
At that time, Morrison had been deceased for a year and speculations surrounding his life and death had already bombarded the international music scene.
He was found dead in his Paris bathtub July 3, 1971. The official cause of death was heart failure.
At the same time, Opsasnick, now 43,was building a rock 'n' roll record collection impressive for any kid his age.
Though over a dozen biographies have been written about the eccentric rock music icon, few seem to go in depth about Morrison's years in the Washington Metropolitan area from 1959 to 1961.
Opsasnick will provide thousands of "Doors" enthusiasts never-before published facts about Morrison's high school years, in his soon to be completed biography "The Lizard King was Here: The Life and Times of Jim Morrison in Alexandria, Va."
The book title stemmed from one of Morrison's poems in which he wrote, "I am the lizard king, I can do anything," explained Opsasnick.
"Fans should love it because most of the information about this period is very vague," said Art Wray, 52, manager of Lunadisc LPs and CDs in Alexandria. "Most books seem to get what little information they have about this period wrong. Mark's investigative reporting skills are amazing."
Wray was one source for the book.
Now an income assistant program specialist with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Opsasnick did not set his sights on writing early. But in 1993, after hanging out in several nightclubs, local old timers would reveal facts about regional rock history.
He has written five books since his interests have drawn him to answer unknown facts about natural phenomena, music and Prince George's County rock 'n' roll. His most popular book was "Capitol Rock." Opsasnick said that all of the copies of the first printing have sold out. Xlibris Corp., the publishing company would not provide this information.
"For the past year or so, I did not have a project that captured my interests," Opsasnick said. "I went through my notes from 'Capitol Rock,' and a lot of Doors fans spoke about how [Jim Morrison] grew up in Alexandria." He decided to find the never publicized truth about Morrison's Alexandria experience.
"I was just wowing a guy about 18-years-old who's about to do a Web radio station with a college. He was awestruck struck when he found out that Jim Morrison lived here," Wray exclaimed. "I told him, 'pretty soon we'll have a literary reference on this.'"
Last February, Opsasnick began interviewing Morrison's close friends. One year later, he has completed all the interviews, written six chapters and has seven to go. The finished project will be approximately 120,000 words.
"I wanted to get away from those kinds of stories of drugs and sex, and I wanted to find out if there was anything that he had been exposed to in his teenage years in Alexandria that later influenced his lyrics, poetry and performing arts," he said.
Before Morrison was found dead in 1971, he graduated from George Washington High School in 1961 where he was known for his eccentric and artistic nature.
Opsasnick found that Morrison frequented local nightclubs like Bohemian Caverns in the District. He often wrote poetry and liked to take walks in the District.
In chapter seven of the unfinished biography "We All Eat Small Dogs," the nonfiction outlandish tales of Morrison's high school behavior scream through the pages. This section begins with Morrison teaching his Spanish class on Senior Day. Very much in tune with his character, he wrote "we all eat small dogs" on the board in Spanish and the teacher became upset.
Interestingly enough, Opsasnick also had a chance to visit Morrison's former home in Alexandria.
There he browsed the secluded basement where Morrison resided. Back then the future rock star was a military brat, who relocated to the area for a brief time with his family.
"Since Jim Morrison died in 1971, we were probably the only...fans that had ever been in that house," he recalled.
Stan Durkee, 61, an environmental specialist from Bethesda, was George Washington High School's class president in 1961, and one of Opsasnick's sources for the book.
Durkee ran a carpool service, charging fellow classmates a dime each for a ride to school. Morrison would join Durkee in his 1955 Buick.
"I thought he was probably one of the most creative people that I ever met. I was surprised that he became associated with rock 'n' roll," he said. "He was a very special guy, and we knew it."
Chapters in the book are an eclectic mix of Morrison's poetry, real life accounts and extensive research on Alexandria in the '60s.
The last chapter, "Arizona" is an in depth interview with one of Morrison's former friends, a federal judge who claims he saw the rock star in Arizona 10 years ago.
Opsasnick writes approximately a chapter a month and hopes to finish writing by Labor Day and submit it to his publisher Xlibris Corp. by next January.
"There is a whole lot of information...that has never been published. It's definitely a book geared toward those die-hard Jim Morrison fans," Opsasnick said. The Gazette.Net by Natasha Brown Staff Writer Feb. 10, 2005
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on Jan 9, 2011 10:35:16 GMT
The following is a listing of Jim Morrison's report cards:
Grade Two Progress Report Card, 1950-51 Fairfax County Elementary School Fairfax County, Virginia One of Morrison's teachers noted that he "was adjusting well" to his new school.
Grade Four Progress Report Card, 1952-53 Kingsville Public School - Charles Flato Elementary Kingsville, Texas Morrison's teacher, Mrs. Irene Atwood (shown to the right), wrote, "It was a pleasure to work with Jimmy."
Grade Five, 1955 St. John's Methodist School Certificate of Promotion, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Grade six, 1955 Longfellow School Sixth Grade Graduation Program San Diego, California
The handwritten notes on the front of the program are from Jim Morrison's mother, Clara. Morrison presented a history of the class.
Jim would graduate high school in 1961 from George Washington High School in Alexandria, Virginia.
After graduating high school, Jim moved to live with his grandparents while attending St. Petersburg Jr. College in Florida. The following year, Jim became tired of living with his grandparents and of life at St. Petersburg and decided to transfer to Florida State University (FSU) and major in theatre. He lived a mile from campus in a three bedroom house with five other FSU students, only two of whom he had known previously. Due to his heckling and shenanigans, his roommates asked him to move out.
His time at FSU was productive, however. It brought about several important events which would greatly influence Jim's life. First, he took Philosophies of Protest and Psychology of Crowds, which he identified later as two of his favorite classes (that would in the future aid him in his role as lead singer of The Doors). He also wrote a research paper on the imagery of heaven and hell in the paintings of Heteronymous Bosch. Finally, he managed to get a part in Harold Pinter's play The Dumbwaiter without having any previous acting experience. By 1964, Morrison had gotten tired of the theater arts department at FSU and transferred to UCLA where he became part of the film school.
Before starting film school in Los Angeles, Jim Morrison spent 2 ½ years in college in Florida. He attended St. Petersburg Junior College for the 1961-62 academic year, then transferred to Florida State University. He was at FSU for the 1962-63 academic year and the fall trimester of 1963.
The top section of his transcript is from SPJC, where he got B's and C's in basic classes, including English, math and biology.
The bottom four sections are from FSU, where he got A's in Collective Behavior and Essentials of Acting, and a B in Philosophy of Protest.
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on Dec 1, 2011 11:56:49 GMT
If we contrast Jim with Ray's St Rita High 1956 Chicago yearbook we see the difference between the two men. Ray stands in line to kiss the ass of some school big wig and get his diploma.
Something I could never imagine Morrison doing. And he didn't, having his posted on to him.
The famous photo of him posing for the yearbook sees him looking sullen as his parents pretty much forced him to do it. But the enigma of the man is he then played the dutiful student in the FSU promo film he starred in. Never easy understanding this bloke
Ray has always seemed to me as someone who want's acceptance from mainstream society whilst Jim was indeed a true rebel. Ray just played at being a rebel. At UCLA Ray was regarded by his peers as an egotistical type who said himself back then that he saw film as a route to making lots of money. Ray was always happy to let Jim take his trips as he never seemed to have the moral courage to stand up for his art the way Jim did. It's ironic as Jim needed Ray to flourish as an artist whilst Ray saw Jim as a way to make a million dollars. Two very contrasting types that made very strange friends but Jim saw something good in Ray or else he would never have gotten as close as he did. In many respects two polar opposites who came together in art for profoundly different reasons and ended up changing music forever. I bet back then at school Morrison in his wildest dreams ever thought he would do that.