|Beatniks: Jim Morrison's North Beach Days
Excerpted from Feast of Friends by Frank Lisciandro
Jim was 13 when his family moved to Alameda, an island adjacent to Oakland, CA. The year was 1957. Rock and roll was making a strong foray into American Popular Culture, and On The Road by Jack Kerouac was newly published.
Jim met Fud Ford during the first weeks of 9th grade at Alameda High School. Fud's wit, street smarts and recklessness made it a sure bet he and Jim would become fast friends. Jim and Fud spent a lot of time together in the two years Jim lived in Alameda. Fud recounted some memories of Jim in Frank Lisciandro's Feast of Friends:
~We wanted to be beatniks like the characters in On The Road. We wanted to get on the road and travel, and go taste beer in Mexico, and see if we could pick up women in France. Just mostly fantasies: what turned out to be fantasies for me, reality for him ... And that was when the beatnik days were happenin'. We'd put on sweatshirts and Levi's and wear sandals and go over to San Francisco, to North Beach and hang out, you know, hang about in front of the coffeehouses, or go in and listen to the poetry sometimes. Try and steal wine. Spend time out at Playland at the beach, that was a great place to have fun for a kid. Gone now.
FL: So Jim was reading the beat writers.
He'd read everything from Mad Magazine to the beat poets and novelists of the time. Instead of listening to rock 'n' roll records he'd read Kenneth Rexroth and stuff like that ... Oh, we'd listen to music, but when he'd listen to rock 'n' roll, chances are it would be Elvis. He really liked Elvis, but more often than not, we'd listen to records, it would be comedy records or spoken word records. Ferlinghetti and Rexroth both had albums on Fantasy Records.
FL - According to Fud, Jim wasn't writing poetry, and except for Elvis he wasn't listening to much rock 'n' roll. I was almost afraid to ask about girls...
Yeah, oh yeah, he was popular with everybody, but especially girls. He didn't have a steady girlfriend. Lots of girls liked him, and during the summer we'd spend time going to different girls' houses, using 'em as much as possible for food and entertainment.
But you gotta remember that this is the fifties now, and sex isn't something to be taken lightly or messed with. There were no major diseases then. I think they had the clap back in those days, but you only caught that from Tijuana whores, a subject we discussed.
F.L. - And where did these two guys, just barely in their teens, get the material to discuss border town prostitutes?
Copyright 2002 by Frank Lisciandro/Waiting-forthe-Sun.net