Pardon Bid for Jim Morrison Relights Old Fires
By DAVE ITZKOFF
Published: November 17, 2010
It was a classic skirmish of the 1960s culture war, pitting a nonconformist rock star and his bohemian fans against clean-cut defenders of acceptable behavior, the counterculture against the mainstream, and Jim Morrison against Anita Bryant.
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Jim Morrison of the Doors died while appealing his 1970 Florida criminal convictions.
Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida wants a pardon for Morrison.
Now the governor of Florida says he will seek to put an end to it by pursuing a posthumous pardon for two criminal convictions that Morrison, the frontman for the Doors, received after some very bad behavior at a 1969 concert in Miami.
But the possibility of forgiveness comes with memories of the socially polarized background that led to Morrison’s trial, as well as a lingering sense that the cultural flames ignited in that era have not been fully extinguished.
“The battle then was the battle that’s being fought today,” said Ray Manzarek, the longtime keyboardist for the Doors. “It’s the battle that America has been fighting.”
Time has not diminished the passions of Doors fans and sympathizers, who have pursued a four-decade crusade to reverse Morrison’s convictions, including for exposing himself onstage on that night in Miami. For them, it is a matter of justice as well as cultural grievance. The case lives on not only because they think the charges against Morrison were trumped up, but also because they believe it was used to discredit the counterculture they savored.
Florida’s governor, Charlie Crist, a Republican turned independent who lost a November bid for the United States Senate and whose term expires in January, seemed to align himself with this view in explaining why he will submit Morrison’s name to a state clemency board next month.
“The more that I’ve read about the case and the more I get briefed on it,” Mr. Crist said in an interview on Tuesday, “the more convinced I am that maybe an injustice has been done here.”
For those on the other side, the passion has dimmed, but a sour taste lingers. The anger that once brought them to the barricades has dulled to an impatient pique at the notion that the fate of a dead rock star still commands attention 40 years later.
The fight began on March 1, 1969, when the Doors played a raucous concert at Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami. An intoxicated Morrison stumbled through songs like “Light My Fire” and “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” taunted the crowd and threatened to expose himself before fans mobbed the stage. A newspaper review said the singer appeared to simulate masturbation during his performance, and the concert was investigated by a Miami crime commission as six arrest warrants were issued for Morrison, including one for a felony charge of lewd and lascivious behavior.
In the ensuing outrage, several other nearby Doors concerts were canceled. On March 23, the Orange Bowl became the scene of a Rally for Decency, organized by local high school students. Some 30,000 teenagers and adults gathered for performances and speeches on virtue by Jackie Gleason, Anita Bryant and the Lettermen. (President Richard M. Nixon later wrote a letter to the rally’s organizers saying they had shown “admirable initiative.”)
Morrison, meanwhile, was tried in Miami in 1970 and convicted on misdemeanor charges of profanity and indecent exposure. He was fined $500 and sentenced to six months in jail but never served the time; he was appealing the conviction when he died in Paris in 1971 at 27.
That decades-old outcome has never sat right with many Doors fans, who argue that Morrison was not tried by a jury of his peers (given that his jurors were all older than 40); that the verdict, which found him not guilty of drunkenness but guilty of acts resulting from it, was contradictory; and that none of the photographs submitted as evidence could definitively show he had exposed himself.
Mr. Manzarek, of the Doors, said this week that concertgoers who thought they saw Morrison’s anatomy were probably experiencing “a mass hallucination.”
Supporters like Dave Diamond, a 37-year-old freelance television producer from Dayton, Ohio, have made it their mission to gather and archive information about the case and keep it in front of the public — not to mention public servants.
Mr. Diamond, who has produced an 11-part YouTube video series in which he discusses facts and perceived misconceptions about the concert and trial, has also mounted letter-writing and petition campaigns calling for Governor Crist’s intervention.
Mr. Diamond said these efforts were not pursued to glorify a rock god but to see justice carried out.
“Just about every Doors bio that you read,” he said, “it all says the same thing: Jim Morrison died at the age of 27, pending appeal. So our point is, O.K., what happened to that appeal?”
Mr. Manzarek spoke for many survivors of the Woodstock era when he suggested that a pardon for Morrison would help offset the persecution that the ’60s-era counterculture felt it suffered at the hands of the American mainstream.
“It was the battle of the conservatives versus the liberals,” he said, “the people who could tolerate a theatrical performance and the people who wanted decency and purity above all things.”
He added that the Doors and the fateful Miami concert “were not the beginning of the culture war, but that era was the beginning of the culture war: the straight versus the hip, the lovers versus the killers.”
But others who lived through this tumultuous era say a just verdict was reached in 1970 and wonder why Morrison, whose death was accelerated by rampant drug and alcohol abuse, deserves a chance at vindication.
Claude R. Kirk Jr., who was Florida’s governor from 1967 to 1971, seemed annoyed to be asked about the Morrison case by telephone this week.
“There’s a lot more important things to think about than that,” Mr. Kirk said. “The right things were done, and Morrison died in the condition he elected to die.”
“The state didn’t do anything to him,” Mr. Kirk added. “It tried him and found him guilty. Why would you pardon him, then?”
Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the current state attorney of Miami-Dade County, whose office would customarily be asked to weigh in on possible pardons, said in a statement that “it is not worth the time, the expense or the use of precious staff resources to uphold” Morrison’s convictions.
“While I can never condone Morrison’s actions of exposing himself to an audience,” Ms. Fernandez Rundle wrote, “I will not waste my lawyers’ time in an effort to fight an attempted pardon.”
Robert C. Josefsberg, a lawyer who defended Morrison at the trial, said in an interview that reaction to Morrison’s perceived offenses in 1969 was overblown.
“Not that I’m saying dropping your pants in public is acceptable,” Mr. Josefsberg said. “It’s not. It’s also not the worst thing in the world that ever happened.”
Mr. Josefsberg was skeptical of whether Morrison would satisfy the criteria of a clemency board wanting to see that he changed his ways after his conviction.
“Jim’s a total loser, in terms of rehabilitation and what he’s done,” he said. “He’s shown no remorse, no sorrow.”
Procedurally, the next and last instance in which Florida’s clemency board could grant Morrison a pardon before Governor Crist leaves office is at a meeting on Dec. 9 — one day after what would have been the singer’s 67th birthday.
In addition to Governor Crist, who sits on the four-member board, two others would have to support the pardon. Morrison advocates hope that other recent acts of clemency shown to dead celebrities — the former New York governor George E. Pataki’s pardon of Lenny Bruce in 2003; the annulment of Kenneth L. Lay’s conviction in 2006 — will influence the board to vote in the affirmative.
As the decision approaches, one wonders whether expunging these misconducts from Morrison’s record would not somehow diminish his standing as a rebellious rock star who operated outside societal norms. But his adherents say it is a trade-off they are willing to make.
“There’s absolutely nothing iconic about getting convicted in criminal court,” Mr. Diamond said.
Whether or not the pardon is granted, he added, “He’s still going to be Jim Morrison.”
Jim Morrison Pardon Bid Reignites Culture War
Posted 18 November 2010 - 03:54 AM
Posted 18 November 2010 - 02:00 PM
I hope this Anita Bryant's day.
Here's another story on the Pardon from The Guardian
Doors open for Jim Morrison posthumous pardon
Florida governor submits Morrison as candidate for posthumous pardon, 41 years after the singer was arrested for indecent exposure
Sean Michaels guardian.co.uk, Thursday 18 November 2010 12.49 GMT Art
Strange days ... Jim Morrison of the Doors
Jim Morrison's new champion is a man in a suit and tie. Florida's outgoing governor, Charlie Crist, has decided to proceed with a posthumous pardon of the Doors singer, 41 years after Morrison was arrested for exposing himself at a Miami concert. "My heart bleeds for he and his family," explained Crist. "It's the right thing to do."
For a decades-old incident, this is happening fast. Last week the Hill asked Crist if he would consider pardoning one of Florida's best-known sons. "Candidly, it's something that I haven't given a lot of thought to," he said, "but it's something I'm willing to look into in the time I have left." Crist's response was enough to light the, er, fire of the music press.
"I've decided to do it," Crist told the New York Times on Tuesday. "For the pure and simple reason that I just think it's the right thing to do. In some ways it seems like a tragic conclusion to a young man's life to have this lasting legacy, where we're not even sure that it actually occurred. The more that I've read about the case and the more I get briefed on it, the more convinced I am that maybe an injustice has been done here."
Morrison was arrested after a concert on 1 March 1969, at Miami's Dinner Key Auditorium. Reportedly drunk, Morrison fought with the promoter, swore at the crowd, and may or may not have exposed himself onstage. He was arrested at the scene and after a lengthy and controversial trial, the singer was found guilty of profanity and indecent exposure. He was fined $500 and sentenced to six months in jail. Released on bail, Morrison died in Paris in 1971, pending appeal. He was 27.
This week, Crist submitted Morrison's name to Florida's board of executive clemency, who will meet on 9 December. If approved, the pardon would be granted before Crist leaves office in January. According to the governor, there just isn't enough evidence from the night of the concert, and Morrison's sudden death precluded a proper appeal process. "It just creates a lot of empathy, all these circumstances that add up," Crist said. "And my heart bleeds for he and his family that this may not have even happened, yet it's unfortunately part of his record."
Posted 18 November 2010 - 04:47 PM
The pardon story is at the lower left. When this story was first posted online last night, it was at the VERY TOP of the NY Times webpage, with a big headline, and large photo of Jim Morrison in his leather pants and concho belt.
Posted 18 November 2010 - 05:06 PM
The Doors members: Fla. gov should pardon Morrison
FILE - Members of The Doors, from left to right, Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek in an undated photo. Outgoing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist Crist told the St. Petersburg Times Tuesday Nov. 16, 2010 he is looking to pardoning the long-dead rocker Jim Morrison who was convicted of exposing himself at a raucous 1969 concert in Miami. (AP Photo) (Anonymous - AP)
By BRENDAN FARRINGTON
The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 17, 2010; 8:45 PM
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Guitarist Robby Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who played with rock legend Jim Morrison in The Doors, are supporting Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's proposal to pardon Morrison for an indecent exposure conviction after a 1969 Miami concert.
Both bandmates said Wednesday that Morrison never actually pulled out his penis during the now infamous concert at the Dinner Key Auditorium.
They said he was drunk and teased the crowd but he never followed through.
They said Morrison was inspired that night by a stage group called The Living Theater, which was performing plays in which actors disrobed - but he didn't actually undo his pants.
Morrison was appealing the conviction when he was found dead in 1971 in a Paris bathtub.
Posted 18 November 2010 - 06:53 PM
Music-To blast away confusion, drown out frustration and burn away loneliness. To dance, shout and scream.
Dance on fire!
Posted 18 November 2010 - 07:52 PM
Posted 18 November 2010 - 08:24 PM
-Cartoon of Florida governor pardon Jim:
Posted 19 November 2010 - 01:47 AM
Bandmates say Gov. Crist pardon for Jim Morrison's 1969 indecent exposure conviction would be justified
Jim Morrison was charged after allegedly exposing himself during a March 1, 1969, concert at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Coconut Grove.
November 18, 2010|1:59 a.m.
Florida's outgoing governor wants to posthumously pardon rock 'n' roll wild man Jim Morrison, the lead singer of The Doors who was famously convicted of exposing himself at an anarchic 1969 concert in Miami.
Gov. Charlie Crist, a 54-year-old baby boomer and Morrison fan whose favorite Doors song is "Light My Fire" said that the evidence that Morrison unzipped his pants was flimsy and that prosecutors were trying to make an example of the singer, whose on-stage excesses and appetite for sex and drugs were legendary.
"There's some troubling aspects to it as to whether there was a valid conviction. The more I learn about it, the more I'm convinced a wrong may have been done here. My heart just bleeds for his legacy and his family," said Crist, who leaves office in January and figures "it's sort of now or never."
Exactly what happened that night at the Dinner Key Auditorium is one of rock 'n' roll history's enduring mysteries. Morrison clearly teased the crowd and went into an obscenity-laced rant.
"He was baiting the audience, telling them., 'I'm going to do it, I'm going to show it to you. That's what you've come for isn't it?"' Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek told The Associated Press. "The girls were screaming 'Yes! Yes!' Guys were saying, 'No! Don't do it!"'
Manzarek said Morrison put a shirt in front of his crotch and wiggled his hand behind it. He briefly pulled the shirt away and said, "I just showed you. Did you see it?"
"And of course nobody saw it," Manzarek said. He and guitarist Robby Krieger said Morrison had recently seen a stage group called The Living Theater, which was performing plays in which actors disrobed. The concert was his first and only attempt to do something similar, but he didn't follow through with exposing himself, they said.
"I wouldn't put it past him. I'm sure he would have done it if he had been a little drunker or if (manager) Bill Siddons hadn't been holding his arms around his waist and preventing him from doing so after Ray said, 'Don't let him do it!"' Krieger said. "Really, as far as the pardoning thing, I don't think Jim would care one way or another, but his family would, so that to me is the most important thing."
Morrison was found guilty in 1970 of indecent exposure and public profanity and was fined $500 and sentenced to six months in jail. But he never did the time. He was appealing his conviction when he was found dead in a Paris bathtub in 1971 at age 27.
The governor said he plans to ask Florida Cabinet members to support a pardon the next time they meet as the Clemency Board. Crist needs at least two of the three Cabinet members to vote with him.
He has already received dozens of e-mails ahead of the Dec. 9 meeting, his final one.
"For what it's worth in your decision to pardon Jim Morrison, I along with a friend was in the front row of the concert and did not see Jim indecently expose himself. Was he drunk and raunchy, yes, but nothing else," wrote Helene Davis, who said she was 18 when she went to the show.
The idea of a pardon was first raised in 2007, when Doors fan Dave Diamond of Dayton, Ohio, wrote to Crist and pleaded the case for Morrison, saying there were no photos or video that could prove the allegations, and no witnesses who could say with 100 percent certainty that the singer exposed himself.
Diamond also noted that New York's governor pardoned comedian Lenny Bruce on obscenity charges in 2002, 39 years after his conviction.
Crist, a Republican-turned-independent who lost his bid for a Senate seat earlier this month, said Wednesday that he believes prosecutors were "trying to make a statement rather than have a hard-and-fast case" against Morrison, who was born and raised in Florida and attended Florida State University before dropping out.
But Morrison's own attorney, Bob Josefsberg, said there was some very believable testimony that the singer did expose himself.
"There were credible witnesses and an honorable jury," Josefsberg said. "This wasn't some kangaroo court that in the old South lynched someone without any evidence. This was a fair trial."
As for Morrison himself, "Jim didn't remember anything. He was a little drunk," the lawyer said.
Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson, who twice saw The Doors perform, supports a pardon. Florida's chief financial officer and attorney general said they have not made up their minds.
A pardon "would make a statement to a lot of people about Florida's attitude," Crist said. "We all have a responsibility where appropriate to seek forgiveness."
Claude Kirk, who was governor at the time of the incident, suggested Crist has better things to do.
"Are you kidding? It's all bull----," Kirk said. "It shouldn't be brought up, period. It's part of why the man wound up a junkie and dead."
Some of those urging Crist not to grant the pardon pointed out that Morrison, had he been convicted today, would be put on a sex offenders list, especially since he exposed himself to minors.
"Do you consider a sexual predator designation so low on the ladder of crimes that he should receive a pardon?" Alyce Burke asked in an e-mail. "Quite a strong statement to be made by you while the state and the country battle with sexual predators."
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in an e-mail that her office will not fight the pardon.
"In these tough economic times, it is not worth the time, the expense or the use of precious staff resources to uphold a pair of 42-year-old misdemeanor convictions," Rundle said. "While I can never condone Morrison's actions of exposing himself to an audience, I will not waste my lawyers' time in an effort to fight an attempted pardon."
Posted 19 November 2010 - 01:59 PM
On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence O'Donnell interviews Charlie Crist about the pardon.
Crist was on O'Donnell's show last night here's the segment excerpted in Doors Examiner Crist has 'Last Word' on Morrison Pardon
Also regarding the NY Times article abt the pardon reigniting the culture war, not exactly true if you read closely only one old warhorse says Morrison's conviction was justified. Here's my take Jim Morrison Still Provoking the Establishment?
Shebang-You stay right on those subjects!
Have a great weekend everybody!
Posted 19 November 2010 - 02:02 PM
On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence O'Donnell interviews Charlie Crist about the pardon.
Great interview! Thanks for posting. I loved the part where Crist says that as a former Attorney General, it's important to not only prosecute the guilty, but to exonerate the innocent.
Posted 21 November 2010 - 01:39 AM
Posted 23 November 2010 - 03:04 AM
zonadude at 12:18 PM November 22, 2010
So the good governer from F-L -A, as Lou Reed would say, has shown his true self after getting booted around for years by his own party. Do it baby! As Jim would say: "This is the end". Gov. Crist may well have attenended a"Doors" concert, as he is the perfect age for enjoying the "Golden Era"(arguably )of rock'n roll. This gesture, providing it is carried through will prove that damnit, it's OK for republicans to rock! It's OK for a man with the power and intellect to expose (pun totally intended, though accidentally at 1st) the huge gall, disgust, and loathing the cops brought to that gig before the first note rang out from Ray, Robbie, Denny, and "The Lizard King". The Guv' is showing great courage , even if motivated by his disgust by the way his own party turned on him for not being fascist enough. Jim, wherever he may be, and the surviving "Doors" must be a little miffed, and a lot delighted if this symbolic act of courage and fairness indeed comes to pass. Janis, Jimi, Buddy, Lennon ,Elvis, Gene Vincent, Brian Jones, Denver, Croce, Bonham, Entwistle, Mr. Moon, Valens, The Bopper,Stevie Ray, Harry Chapin, Nilsson, Phil Lynott , and all the rest,(forgive me for any worthy omission) are probably doin' a sound check for a "Great Gig in the Sky".Rock on Guv', with all of we dudes and chicks, ROCK ON!!
andytek at 10:25 AM November 22, 2010
Well, okay, give the pardon in the criminal case. But there is no forgiveness for "The Soft Parade".
Thelizardking at 1:08 AM November 22, 2010
Here's a funny cartoon about the pardon & incident that caused Morrison's arrest:
If you want to see what happened that night in Miami,check this video which was posted to youtube 3 weeks ago. Ironically it asks for a full pardon at the end. It has actual audio,photos and documents from the incident in question. Perhaps this is what Charlie Crist was watching in his spare time.Very amusing.Enjoy !
Posted 04 December 2010 - 12:32 AM
..long lay the world in sin and error pining til he appeared and the soul felt it's worth..
chains shall he break for the slave is our mother and in his name all oppression shall cease~
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