Time has failed to be kind (2/2)


  1. Writing an adventure story
  2. My seventh form art folio
  3. Being a rock star
  4. Looking cool
  5. Being a poet
  6. Being a playwright
  7. Being an academic
  8. Writing a novel
  9. Having a wildly successful blog

All you need to know about 1991 is that The Doors directed by Oliver Stone was released.

It would be an understatement to say that this movie had a big impact on me.  I remember going to see it with all my university mates at the Regent, and being so overwhelmed that when I staggered out at the end I actually had to sit down again on the steps and try and deal with it.  My head was spinning.  I had seen who I wanted to be, and that person was Jim Morrison.

I quickly began to investigate The Doors and Jim.

All purchased in 1991.

The stuff that really blew my mind was the whole idea of poetry and rock and roll and theatre blended into these epic ten or fifteen  minute songs like The End and When the Music’s Over.  I also loved all the stuff The Doors did after Jim died with his spoken voice  and their backing tracks.  For a while I was convinced that he actually was a poet.  I bought his poems and studied them.  I lent  this book  to a friend  whose mother found it in his bedroom, picked it up  and read  the following:

f*&ked  with the negroes

in cabs of the drivers

F&*ked little infants of North


Branded with napalm  and  screaming

in pain

Which I think might have been Jim’s anaylsis of the Western war machine, but didn’t impress friend’s mum who asked him to remove the book from her house and never let it cross her threshold again.

So, because of Jim, I wanted to be a poet, and a rock star, but I also wanted to look something  like him.  Which had obvious problems.

The orginal:

And me:

I’m not sure what’s going on with the shirt because I usually wore sort of paisley shirts open to the belly button with a t-shirt underneath and a couple of long necklaces flapping around.  One of the necklaces was even  the utterly conventional jewellery of the desperate to be unconventional: the peace sign.

Somehow it just never works: this desire to copy your heroes.  Whole industries are made out of it though.  You see the glamour and the fashion writ large in a movie, or in a magazine, and you try to emulate it out of the bargain racks at Farmers, or some cast off at a second hand store.  Jim  Morrison  stalks through your consciousness,  a silky poet of the shadows, while you plod through suburban Karori in sweaty cowboy boots and get told off by your mum for not mowing the lawns.

I “achieved” this look for all of about six months before the gods got a hold of me.  Firstly, I had started wearing contact lenses, mainly so that  I could wear sunglasses, and  picked  up a really bad dose of conjunctivitis which meant that I not only had crusty, watering eyes but that I had to give up contact lenses (and sunglasses) and go back to glasses.  Let me tell you, there is no way that you can wear sunglasses over a normal pair of glasses and look cool.  No way.  

Secondly, my premature balding picked up pace.  Again, no way you can look cool with long hair and bald patches.  Forget it.  My hairdresser said the best thing to do when you started to bald was to get really short hair cuts.  I followed her advice.

So now I was a guy wearing all this Jim Morrison gear with a short hair cut and glasses.  Sort of like a desperately sad accountant going to a rock concert.

Then came one of the few moments  in my life when I actually had an epiphany.  Not a religious one, but one where you suddenly realise something and make a radical change.  I was walking  from my mother’s house to the bus stop to catch the bus to university and I developed this odd feeling.  For a while I couldn’t figure out  what  the feeling was, and then  I realised that it was the feeling  you get when you realise you look like a total knob.  I mentally went through  everything I was wearing:

  • Biker jacket (but you’re not a biker)
  • Pirate shirt (but you’re not a pirate)
  • Peace necklace (but you don’t give a toss about peace)
  • Cowboy boots (but you’re not a cowboy)

I stopped, turned around, walked home and  took it all off.

Which was probably a good thing because I was never going to be Jim Morrison.  Failing to become Jim Morrison gave me a chance  to start becoming John-Paul.

Not that abandoning Jim made the fashion road any easier:

I  think this look could be called “Don Johnson at the wine bar”.  I used to love this jacket.  I thought it was dead sophisticated.  Unfortunately for this jacket – aside from the fact that it was white – it had shoulder pads which tended to look a bit ridiculous.  Nevertheless, even  though this particular outfit is a bit silly it was more or less where fashion was taking me after Jim had been  jettisoned: down the dark path towards normality.

Where I am happy now.  In my jacket and tie.

I am always pleased when a student  in one of my classes shows up with a ridiculous hairstyle, or wears the most outlandish possible fashion to mufti day.  It is as it should be.  The young laughing at the old; the old laughing at the young.

5 thoughts on “Time has failed to be kind (2/2)”

  1. I like the white sport coat look (a pink carnation would have set it off perfectly). If you’d been at university 20 years earlier you could have been an honorary member of one of the hottest clubs around.

  2. One day on the Hutt train, I saw a middle-aged woman and a teen schoolboy with pretty much the exact same haircut. Short, naturally dark hair with some unnatural looking blonde stripes, and then styled to be messily sticking up all over.

    They probably both felt like bad-asses, both expressing their wild spirit that was finally free after all those years of conforming.

    I don’t think they saw each other.

  3. Curmudge – I’ve heard of this club before from a certain bass player. He probably wouldn’t have let me join because I look like a christian.

    Robyn – Heh. This is one good thing about my hair falling out – no chance of having an attack of ennui at the hairdresser and saying: “Oh, what the hell, make me look fabulous.” My current hairdresser is from Iraq and uses a straight razor. I ask for a number two. All very sensible and manly.

    X – Sensible.

  4. I came home from school yesterday, after taking time to watch a NHOP video on YouTube and sat with my bass in the same position he used. It was perfect; I did an extra hour’s practice.

    I was king of the WSCPC society at university. We would have let you in – we had no style or dress sense. Well, Noel got in, but that’s another story.

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