The Mural, Marilyn, & Morrison

Earthquake Mural, Venice California

Excerpted from I Remember Jim Morrison.

Jim loved to show off his Hollywood. One afternoon, we drove into Westwood, home of UCLA, his college stomping grounds. We were once again in the Blue Beast, his cherished Mustang accompanied by Lady Shelby, it’s engine. It had just been repaired after the bad accident in “The Beechwood Caper” and was now ready for the Lizard King and Skull Man.

With the rain pounding on the panther’s roof, we were set for yet another adventure. We drove along with the bad girl in speed-of-light travel.

Geordie Hormel of Hormel Chili fame owned a three-story building painted a dirty jade green. It housed a recording studio on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Butler Avenue. We pulled into its parking lot and sat in our lady sharing our favorite malt liquor and Mr. Daniels too. It started to rain.

Jim pointed to a massive wall. As I looked over to see where he wanted my attention to set, my eyes focused on a 30-foot mural, which was in the process of being painted by some UCLA art students. The fresco depicted part of a collapsed freeway out in the desert with the ocean lapping wildly at its base. One half of the freeway had snapped off and was lying in the water.

We both stared at the mural as it started to rain even harder. We continued sitting in the parking lot listening to the radio and drinking our liquor fuel staring at this futuristic landscape.

It started to get dark as we pulled out of the lot. While we were driving along Wilshire to Westwood, Jim suddenly made a right turn down a narrow alley between a couple of high-rise buildings. We passed through the gates of what looked like a small, well-manicured park. Jim stopped the panther and lowered his voice conspiratorially, “Come on. I wanna show you something.” By now, it was completely dark and I couldn’t see where he was leading me.

Rain was coming down like frozen needles as we walked across an open green. Jim shushed, “Be quiet.”

Out of nowhere, he disappeared into an alcove. I waited there feeling like a fool in the painful rain. Finally, he whispered to me, “Why don’t you come inside?”

“This is starting to get too weird”, I thought, but I stepped toward the direction of his voice anyway.

Jim was leaning against the wall with a lighter in his hand. He didn’t say anything for a minute and just kept staring at me. He flicked the lighter once again slowly lowering it down the wall. My eyes followed the light until it read:

Marilyn Monroe 1926-1962”

Jesus H. Christ! Marilyn was interred in the wall. This was a mausoleum that the son-of-a-bitch had taken me to. He started laughing crazily as we walked back to the car.

In 1980, I went back there to recreate the event for a pilot I was doing at the UCLA film school. I discovered that this mausoleum was a very famous place. Armand Hammer had his own private crypt. Sweet Natalie Wood was buried there. Richard Conte and a host of other celebrity ghosts were interred here in the Westwood Cemetery. Over the years, many more celebrities have been buried here. It has become so popular that the place became full up. To make room for more resting places, they began using parts of the parking lot. Unfortunately, the once lovely cemetery has turned into a gaudy and tasteless mish-mash of garish, ill- fitting headstones, which looks more like an aircraft graveyard in the desert.

Isle of California mural Isle of California mural (2) Isle of California (4) Isle of California mural (3)


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