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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Susan Kay Anderson: O.K., Who Gets To Be Jim Morrison?


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Tita's Burger Den sign, Yermo, California: photo by Cragin Spring, 30 December 2011




Could it be me with my white sunglasses I take off
in my car near Yermo? In the desert I learned how to drink
and the drink was taken in small increments
and then larger here in the desert. That’s all I can say
for now. It seems like such a waste. Which it is. A fragile
busy waste. I’m in Yermo and there’s nowhere I can’t see.
I hate what I’m doing here.

Or could it be him with his t-shirt and golfing visor
neutralizing his body. He’s sick of the relationship
and all I can do is listen to the crawl that is steady.
It avoids the corners of his mouth. 








Julia Doll closeup at Calvin and Ruby Black's Possum Trot, near Yermo, California: photographer unknown, n.d.; image by Visionary Road Trip, 22 November 2008 (photo courtesy of SPACES, Seymour Rosen Archive)


Yermo Store, Yermo, California: photo by ap0013, 24 April 20012


Yermo Store, Yermo, California: photo by ap0013, 24 April 2012



A view from above at Calvin and Ruby Black's Possum Trot, near Yermo, California. Begun in 1954 by Calvin Black (1903-1972) and Ruby Black (c. 1915-1980), and maintained until 1972, Possum Trot was a makeshift tourist attraction in Calico, a town in the Mojave Desert near Yermo. The site included a rock shop and the Bird Cage Theater, where the Blacks performed using over 80 life-size puppet-dolls they created, each with its own personality and costume. Calvin was an accomplished ventriloquist who sang and provided diverse voices for the puppets. The site included several rustic Ghost Town buildings and sculptural attractions, such as a wind-driven merry-go-round. Possum Trot was eventually abandoned, and the puppet-dolls were acquired by folk art collectors. The installation no longer exists: photographer unknown, n.d.; image by Visionary Road Trip, 22 November 2008 (photo courtesy of SPACES, Seymour Rosen Archive)



Fantasy Doll Show at Calvin and Ruby Black's Possum Trot, near Yermo, California: photographer unknown, n.d.; image by Visionary Road Trip, 22 November 2008 (photo courtesy of SPACES, Seymour Rosen Archive)



The Fantasy Doll Show at Calvin and Ruby Black's Possum Trot, near Yermo, California: photographer unknown, n.d.; image by Visionary Road Trip, 22 November 2008 (photo courtesy of Michelle Vignes, 16 April 2010)



The Stage Stop at Calvin and Ruby Black's Possum Trot, near Yermo, California: photographer unknown, n.d.; image by Visionary Road Trip, 22 November 2008 (photo courtesy of SPACES, Seymour Rosen Archive)



Exterior detail at at Calvin and Ruby Black's Possum Trot, near Yermo, California: photographer unknown, n.d.; image by Visionary Road Trip, 22 November 2008 (photo courtesy of SPACES, Seymour Rosen Archive)



Ruby Black at Calvin and Ruby Black's Possum Trot, near Yermo, California: photographer unknown, n.d.; image by Visionary Road Trip, 22 November 2008 (photo courtesy of SPACES, Seymour Rosen Archive)



 Possum Trot, near Yermo, California: photographer unknown, n.d.; image by Visionary Road Trip, 22 November 2008 (photo courtesy of John Turner, 6 April 2010)


Closed coffee shop, Yermo, California: photo by Cragin Spring, 27 March 2012


 Lonely sign off Highway 15, Yermo, California: photo by Cragin Spring, 27 March 2012

File:CalicoGhostTownMarch2010.JPG

Calico Ghost Town, three miles north of Yermo, California,
a now largely depopulated community whose name was derived from the Spanish word for wilderness. (Calico remained an active silver mining town from the late 1840s until the turn of the 20th century when it was no longer viable to extract silver ore from the local mines): photo by Mark A. Wilson (Department of Geology, The College of Wooster), 9 March 2010

9 comments:

Wooden Boy said...

"...him with his t-shirt and golfing visor/ neutralizing his body"
A brash and shining image.

I like those two questions, perfectly placed, that won't be answered.

These two sorts that you can't get a fix on: the first subject with the sunglasses put aside; the second with the T shirt and that golfing visor.

TC said...

WB,

I too like the active uncertainty prompted by those two questions, coming at what seems to be a crucial moment of (self) recognition.

The first question seems a self-interrogation, with a hint of self-mockery.

The rock star Jim Morrison could always be seeming to be cool behind the dark glasses, though in fact there was no coolness, merely the masking of feeling -- if indeed by the point of approaching apogee in the trajectory of the iconic charismatic rockstar fame rocket to the stars, any feeling remained at all. After all that false adulation, the conversion of your life into consumable product, the ubiquitous groupies & c., how to begin digging out of the ruins, to become a person again, and let your eyes be seen, revealing the vulnerability of your actual human expression? Your fear?

The speaker's initial gesture then, to implicitly volunteer to share in the sense of inauthenticity Jim Morrison should have felt over his pretense of impassivity and coolness.

But the narrator's generous falling-on-the-rhetorical sword, there, taking up the onus of inauthenticity when we are soon enough to discover the identity of the actual joker in this pack, to whom that onus properly belongs -- the neutralized visor wearer whose body as well as his eyes wins our sympathy for her, falling over to be more than fair to him like that.

He's sick of the relationship. He's a self-absorbed jerk. Yet not a word is said against him. It would bounce right off the mask, the visor, the shield of his steady stream of meaningless conversation.

He has already receded into the past, into the fragile busy waste of the desert, by the time we come to see that the facial muscles, which might reveal the truth, are complicit in the false-relationship lie for which his presence in this poem, which is really a kind of absence, stands as the distinguishing sign.

Sandra said...

I´d love to see those fantasy dolls!

Jonathan Chant said...

then the ghost town is an apt location, maybe...

barkstry said...

thank you tom clark blog for enriching my soul. am sitting under an umbrella in a rainstorm reading this loving being transported to the dusty hot images.

VINCENT FARNSWORTH said...

"if indeed by the point of approaching apogee in the trajectory of the iconic charismatic rockstar fame rocket to the stars, any feeling remained at all. After all that false adulation, the conversion of your life into consumable product, the ubiquitous groupies & c., how to begin digging out of the ruins, to become a person again, and let your eyes be seen, revealing the vulnerability of your actual human expression? Your fear?"

As good an explanation I've ever seen of why JM ended up a bloated, depressed shut-in in Paris before he died. Thanks, Tom, as always

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The dolls are safest
behind the fence

there in Yermo
the wind brushes
their creosote hair

from Calico Man--
his tools
(golfing visor
t-shirt)
laid out for spectators
of seemingly endless
desert pageantry
endless
dimension
less
dimension

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

People are strange
In Yermo

And not just there.

TC said...

This visit to the dollhouse in the desert puts one in a dusty rummage-sale sort of mood.

Just the time to try on Jim Morrison's Sunglasses.

And thinking a bit more about the two questions put me in mind of Jim's lucid coeval from the desert.

Ah, those were the days.

Charles Manson's Epic Question

Charles Manson's Epic Answer