Tuesday: Break On Through To The Other Side

Ray Manzarek with Jim Morrison

Ray Manzarek with Jim Morrison

Good Morning!

Yesterday we lost another influential 1960’s icon. Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for the legendary rock group The Doors has died at 74, after a long battle with cancer. From The New York Times:

Ray Manzarek, who as the keyboardist and a songwriter for the Doors helped shape one of the indelible bands of the psychedelic era, died on Monday at a clinic in Rosenheim, Germany. He was 74.

The cause was bile duct cancer, according to his manager, Tom Vitorino. Mr. Manzarek lived in Napa, Calif.

Mr. Manzarek founded the Doors in 1965 with the singer and lyricist Jim Morrison, whom he would describe decades later as “the personification of the Dionysian impulse each of us has inside.” They would go on to recruit the drummer John Densmore and the guitarist Robby Krieger.

Mr. Manzarek played a crucial role in creating music that was hugely popular and widely imitated, selling tens of millions of albums. It was a lean, transparent sound that could be swinging, haunted, meditative, suspenseful or circuslike. The Doors’ songs were generally credited to the entire group. Long after the death of Mr. Morrison in 1971, the music of the Doors remained synonymous with the darker, more primal impulses unleashed by psychedelia. In his 1998 autobiography, “Light My Fire,” Mr. Manzarek wrote: “We knew what the people wanted: the same thing the Doors wanted. Freedom.”


It’s difficult to describe how powerfully I was affected by The Doors’ sound back in January 1967. I was 19 years old, a sophomore at Ball State University in Muncie Indiana.

I had purchased their first album in the college bookstore on a whim–based simply my intuitive response to the cover art. I had never heard of the group–their music wasn’t being played on AM radio, that’s for sure.

I bought a lot of albums “sound unheard” in those days–a new kind of music was being born and the powers that be in radio didn’t know what to make of it yet.

When I got home, I put the LP on my cheap stereo record player and sat on my bed to listen. As soon as I heard the sound of Manzarek’s “piano bass” on “Break on Through to the Other Side” and his amazing organ intro and solo on “Light My Fire,” I was transfixed. This was really something new and unique. It’s not an exaggeration to say that music changed my life.

Along with Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Jack Kerouac, and a few other musical and literary influences, The Doors music helped me begin to realize that I was not alone, despite my sense of being out-of-place in my dull Midwestern town–there were other people out in the world who were like me, who didn’t want to accept the status quo in those days, who didn’t want to settle for the unexamined life. Little did I know as I listed to those songs that I would be living in Boston just a few short months later–a place where so much was happening, where so many other young people were opening up to new ways of being, thinking, and feeling.

I guess that sounds pretty corny now, but it’s the truth. The late 1960s was a time of real change, when “the doors of perception” really did begin to open and a different world began to form.

Back to the Times obituary of Manzarek:

The quasi-Baroque introduction Mr. Manzarek brought to the Doors’ 1967 single “Light My Fire“ — a song primarily written by Mr. Krieger — helped make it a million-seller. Along with classical music, Mr. Manzarek also drew on jazz, R&B, cabaret and ragtime. His main instrument was the Vox Continental electric organ, which he claimed to have chosen, Mr. Vitorino said, because it was “easy to carry.”

The Doors’ four-man lineup did not include a bass player; onstage, Mr. Manzarek supplied the bass lines with his left hand, using a Fender Rhodes piano bass, though the band’s studio recordings often added a bassist.

Mr. Densmore said, via e-mail: “There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison’s words. Ray, I felt totally in sync with you musically. It was like we were of one mind, holding down the foundation for Robby and Jim to float on top of. I will miss my musical brother.”


From the Detroit Free Press: Ray Manzarek’s keyboards opened musical doors

It was the iconoclastic makeup of The Doors that helped make them a success from the monster debut of the group’s self-titled 1967 album.

There was Morrison’s otherworldly howl, Krieger’s Spanish-influenced guitar work, Densmore’s subtle, jazz-infused drumming and perhaps most striking of all, Manzarek’s keyboard, which did triple-duty as lead instrument, accompanying instrument and the band’s lone bass sound. Together, the group recorded numerous multiplatinum albums and had hits with “L.A. Woman,” “Break On Through to the Other Side,” “The End” and the Manzarek showcase, “Light My Fire.”

“You just can’t imagine ‘Light My Fire’ without Manzarek’s organ,” says Andy Greene, associate editor of Rolling Stone. “He was unquestionably one of the best rock keyboardists ever. But more than that, he was proud of the band’s legacy (after Morrison’s 1971 death in Paris). The Doors came back in a big way in the ’80s and Ray was mainly the one carrying the flame.”

Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, of which Manzarek was an inductee and at whose ceremonies he was a frequent performer, said the organist was “instrumental in shaping one of the most influential, controversial and revolutionary groups of the ’60s, (which owes) much to Manzarek’s innovative playing.”

For many fans and musicians alike, The Doors’ brooding and sometimes dark sound crystallized the experimental rock music emanating from Los Angeles, which stood in stark contrast to the lighter, soaring sound coming out of the San Francisco Bay Area that was typified by the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

A couple more links–an NPR interview of Manzarek from 2000 and a Billboard interview with Manzarek, Densmore and Krieger from 2006.

In other news,

The death toll from the Oklahoma tornado has been lowered considerably, according to the AP–to 24, including 7 children, as of now. The Chicago Tribune reports:

MOORE, Oklahoma — Officials lowered the death toll to two dozen this morning as emergency crews continued to search feverishly for survivors in the rubble of homes, schools and a hospital in an Oklahoma City suburb ravaged by a powerful Monday afternoon tornado.

Officials in Oklahoma City said on Tuesday that 24 bodies were recovered after a 2-mile wide tornado tore through Moore, a sharp decline from the 51 deaths they previously reported.

“We have got good news. The number right now is 24,” said Amy Elliott, chief administrative officer at the Oklahoma City Medical Examiner’s Office. The prior figure of 51 dead may have included some double-reported casualties, Elliott said.

“There was a lot of chaos,” Elliott said.

She cautioned that additional bodies could yet be recovered from the rubble.

At least 60 of the injured are children. Obviously, this story is far from over. I’ll update in the comments thread as I learn more–and please add what you hear as well! But it does sound like good news that there may be more survivors of this incredible storm than authorities originally believed.

More surprising (and disappointing) news breaking… From the BBC: Guatemala annuls Rios Montt’s genocide conviction

Guatemala’s top court has thrown out the conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity of former military leader Efrain Rios Montt.

The constitutional court ruled that the trial should restart from the point where it stood on 19 April.

On 10 May, Gen Rios Montt was convicted of ordering the deaths of 1,771 people of the Ixil Maya ethnic group during his time in office in 1982-83.

The 86-year-old was sentenced to 80 years in prison. He denies the charges.

The three-to-two ruling by a panel of constitutional judges annuls everything that has happened in the trial since 19 April, when Gen Rios Montt was briefly left without a defence lawyer.

The defence team had walked out of the court on the previous day in protest at what they called “illegal proceedings”.

The New York Times reports:

The decision by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court was a dramatic legal victory for General Ríos Montt, 86, and a blow to human rights advocates who had called his conviction a sign that Guatemala’s courts would no longer allow impunity for the country’s powerful.

General Ríos Montt was sent to prison immediately after the verdict on May 10 when a three-panel tribunal found him guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison but was soon transferred to a military hospital for medical tests. Monday’s decision means that he will return to house arrest, where he had been held since the case against him began in January 2012.

The additional effects of Monday’s court ruling were unclear. The court did not invalidate the entire trial, which began on March 19. Instead, the court ordered that the proceedings be rolled back and reset to April 19, when a complex decision by another judge sent the trial into disarray, causing a brief suspension….Legal experts said repeating the final days of the trial before the same tribunal would be unlikely because it would amount to a form of double jeopardy for the general. But it was unclear if the rest of the trial would remain in limbo or could be restarted before a new tribunal.

General Ríos Montt was found to be responsible as commander in chief for a series of massacres and rapes and the forced displacement of the Maya-Ixil ethnic group during his 17-month rule in 1982 and 1983. During a month of prosecution testimony, the court heard wrenching descriptions by survivors of the army’s scorched-earth policy through the hamlets of the Mayan highlands.

I’ve long been appalled by the FBI’s use of elaborate sting operations to entrap hapless men in Muslim communities in the U.S. who would never have thought of or have been able to commit a terrorist act on their own. Here’s one recent example. In fact, I suspect that the Boston Marathon bombings may have resulted from the FBI’s targeting of accused bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

I recently read a book on this subject by reporter Trevor Aaronson called The Terror Factory, and I highly recommend it. According to Aaronson, there have been hundreds of convictions of American Muslims for supposedly planning “terrorist attacks,” but only a few of those involved actual attempted terrorist attacks. The rest were operations in which the FBI sought out a vulnerable person, provided the know-how, the plans, an the (fake) weapons. In many cases these men were very reluctant and had to be really pushed by the FBI “informants” who targeted them.

There have also been reports of the NYPD using similar tactics, and yesterday the AP focused on those efforts in one of their “big stories,” a report from an ongoing NYC trial.

A New York Police Department detective told a federal judge that he’s seen no evidence that one of his informants brought up the subject of jihad as a way to bait Muslims into making incriminating remarks. But text messages obtained by The Associated Press show otherwise.

And while the detective, Stephen Hoban, described the activities in a new legal filing in U.S. District Court as narrowly focused on a few people under investigation, text messages show a wide-ranging effort. Eager to make money, Shamiur Rahman, the informant, snapped pictures during prayer sessions, rallies and a parade; recorded the names of people who signed petitions or protested; and reported fellow Muslims who volunteered to feed needy families.

When the detective responded, his text messages nearly always sought more information:

“Did you take pictures?”

“I need pictures from the rally. And I need to know who is there.”

“Get pictures”

Rahman told the AP last year that he made about $9,000 over nine months spying widely on friends and others. He said the NYPD encouraged him to use a tactic called “create and capture.” He said it involved creating conversations about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the responses and sending them to the NYPD.

I wonder how many other large city police departments are emulating the FBI in this way? Could Boston be next? I sure hope not.

I’ll end there, and throw the floor open to your contributions. What stories are you following today?

51 Comments on “Tuesday: Break On Through To The Other Side”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Live updates on the Texas tornado at ABC News

    Not by Jonathan Karl….

  2. bostonboomer says:

    WaPo: Obama to tornado victims: Your country will travel this path with you

    But will Oklahoma Senators Coburn and Inhofe

    As frantic rescue missions continued Monday in Oklahoma following the catastrophic tornadoes that ripped through the state, it appeared increasingly likely that residents who lost homes and businesses would turn to the federal government for emergency disaster aid. That could put the state’s two Republican senators in an awkward position.

    Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, both Republicans, are fiscal hawks who have repeatedly voted against funding disaster aid for other parts of the country. They also have opposed increased funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers federal disaster relief.

    Late last year, Inhofe and Coburn both backed a plan to slash disaster relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy. In a December press release, Coburn complained that the Sandy Relief bill contained “wasteful spending,” and identified a series of items he objected to, including “$12.9 billion for future disaster mitigation activities and studies.”

    Coburn spokesman John Hart on Monday evening confirmed that the senator will seek to ensure that any additional funding for tornado disaster relief in Oklahoma be offset by cuts to federal spending elsewhere in the budget.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    WaPo: Inhofe: Tornado aid ‘totally different’ from Hurricane Sandy aid

    In the wake of the devastating tornado in an Oklahoma City suburb, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) rejected comparisons between federal aid for this disaster and the Hurricane Sandy relief package he voted against.

    That was a “totally different” situation, Inhofe said, arguing that the Sandy aid was filled with pork. There were “things in the Virgin Islands. They were fixing roads there and putting roofs on houses in Washington, D.C.”

    People were “exploiting the tragedy that took place,” he said. “That won’t happen in Oklahoma.”

  4. ecocatwoman says:

    I too was introduced to The Doors as a college fresh”woman”. While drawn to the music, Morrison & his overwhelming sexuality was the most powerful force for me. I had a giant poster of him at the head of my bed in the dorm – along with ones of James Dean & Christopher Jones. I was going to post the NYT piece on Manzarek but you beat me to it.

    Diane Rehm has Jane Mayer on in the first hour today discussing Mayer’s New Yorker piece referenced in jj’s post yesterday abut WNET & David Koch. Interesting & the Soros haters are calling in to “balance” the discussion. Mayer’s response; she’s done pieces on Soros’ donations to politics and would do a story on him if there was evidence he had killed stories about himself. Mayer is truly impressive, imho.

    Once again, totally agree on the whole terrorist entrapment schemes. I personally don’t think any of those “caught” would have tried, let alone succeeded, in pulling off an attack of any kind. I’m certainly not a fan of any religion but the hatred of all things Muslims sickens me. It smacks of the historical American record of anti-Catholicism, anti-Semitism and the ongoing demonizing of atheists. So much for freedom of religion & religious tolerance.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Mayer is amazing. Her name on this story makes it difficult for the Kochs to deny.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Trust me, their PR person sent a comment to Diane that said Mayer’s piece was not based on Fact. As if the Kochs would recognize a fact if it bit them on their arses.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Oklahoma officials now saying 24 dead, 9 of them children.

  6. ecocatwoman says:

    A friend just sent me a couple of links about the animals affected by the Oklahoma tornado. One has info as to motels/hotels that are animal friendly for people & their pets. In case ya’ll are interested: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-oklahoma-tornado-animals-20130520,0,762244.story?track=rss & http://www.examiner.com/article/moore-oklahoma-residents-get-help-for-animals-after-tornado The Orr Family Farm had thoroughbred horses. One employee who survived the storm huddled in a horse stall said only 1 horse survived. He thought there had been about 100 horses on the farm at the time.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Amazing video catches the moment an elderly woman finds her missing dog in the rubble of her home in Okla.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Charles Pierce has a powerful post excoriating Tom Coburn and other “monsters” like him.

    Remember that Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is often cited as one of the Republicans with whom the president might be able to do business. He is a conservative, but not a crazy person, like his colleague, James Inhofe. He can be expected to listen respectfully to other points of view and to at least consider the virtues of the kind of compromises that take the Davids, Gregory and Gergen, to their respective happy places.

    Then remember that, fundamentally, Tom Coburn is also a monster.

    “That’s always been his position [to offset disaster aid],” Coburn spokesman John Hart said. “He supported offsets to the bill funding the OKC bombing recovery effort.”

    This is a guy who, one day after a devastating natural disaster killed his own constitutents, said he will not vote to allevate their suffering unless he can inflict some pain on someone somewhere else in the country. And his spokesman defends this as a matter of principle, and uses the worst act of domestic terrorism in the history of the United States as a salutary example. (And the link demonstrates that Coburn’s aversion to tossing money down various ratholes is not universal.) Does Senator Coburn really believe you can budget for the unthinkable? That tornadoes are zero-sum events? That you can horse-trade on human suffering as though it were a line-item on a transportation rider? I no longer am willing to try to understand how people like this think. They are monsters and they operate on their own monstrous imperatives.

    The attack on the natural instincts of a self-governing political commonwealth has been a long one, a powerful one, and (alas) a very effective one. It has made the politically unthinkable a viable alternative in the face of the literally unimaginable. It is a return to the days where people died alone on the prairies during blizzards, or they drowned in floods along the plains, or they were lost in hurricanes that struck without warning. It’s not a great distance removed from staving off severe weather by judging the flights of birds or reading the entrails of a disembowelled goat on a rock. The idea that there is even a “debate” worthy of mentioning over this money shows how far we’ve fallen.

    • dakinikat says:

      These kinds of huge disasters are exactly why there are nation states. No small community or state can handle anything like this on its own. There are likely to be more superstorms given our complete refusal to deal with global warming. These republican senators who will go to war on a nation at the drop of a hat and spend billions of dollars doing it while ignoring the suffering of their own constituents and of our citizens deserve a special place in hell. Makes me wish there was one … but we should create a hell for them here on earth. Not put them in charge of things.

      • RalphB says:

        Their world view astonishes me. I can’t imagine how their completely selfish and stupid positions were formed? Hell on Earth is an excellent idea for those sociopaths.

  9. RalphB says:

    My ninth grandchild is due any day and I’m so excited it’s amazing. Up to now it’s been a balanced 4 boys and 4 girls. Ivy Claire will be the 5th girl and I can feel a massive disturbance in the Force coming 🙂

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Some positive news just breaking.

  11. RalphB says:

    Walter Pincus/WaPo: Fine Print: The press and national security

    Whoever provided the initial leak to the Associated Press in April 2012 not only broke the law but caused the abrupt end to a secret, joint U.S./Saudi/British operation in Yemen that offered valuable intelligence against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

    As journalists and politicians focus on what they say are too- broad subpoenas for records of 21 phone lines for AP offices and individuals, what’s lost is the damaging and criminal leak.

    Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s initial comment to reporters last Tuesday that “it is within the top two or three most serious leaks that I’ve ever seen” has been rejected. Journalists have heard that over the years.

    This is different.

    The AP was working on a story where lives really could be at risk. Also at risk were the relationships between U.S., Saudi and British intelligence.

    I believe Walter Pincus. If the WaPo had put his Iraq stories on the front page, instead of hiding them inside, the phony intelligence could never have been used to generate support for that lousy war.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Why would anyone build a school with no basement? WTF? Especially in tornado alley.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      I heard someone from Oklahoma (not sure what dept of gov’t) say that businesses & schools have different building codes than residential buildings. He also said that separate storm cellars or safe rooms are better than basements. They are surrounded on all sides by concrete and/or steel without the danger of the above ground structure falling on them. That was in answer to John Hockenberry’s question about whether or not the schools had basements.

  13. Boo Radly says:

    PetFinders.com Foundation is offering assistance and grants to local animal shelters. FB will not let me copy and paste so need to go to above address. Also, there is a large local farm that was unharmed by the storm. They are offering to house, shelter large animals. They even offer to come pick up the animals. I can’t find that link this minute. I will post when I find it if that is okay.

  14. bostonboomer says:

    Wonderful tribute to Ray Manzarek and The Doors by a young LA musician I’ve never heard of–Jake Duzsik of “Health.”

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I tend to hate people who hate the Doors.

    As a Los Angeles musician, this comes up a lot. Over the years I’ve come to employ the question, “What do you think about the Doors?” as a litmus test for whether or not I want to suffer the 2 a.m. musings of some barroom pontiff. If it’s late, and I’ve been drinking, and you respond with, “Always hated ’em,” chances are I’m going to tell you to go to hell. Especially tonight, because I love the Doors, and Ray Manzarek is dead.

    More at this link.

  15. bostonboomer says:

    Incredible video of yesterday’s tornado.

  16. RalphB says:

    Reuters: What was James Rosen thinking?

    Rosen’s journalistic technique, if the Post story is accurate, leaves much to be desired. He would have been less conspicuous had he walked into the State Department wearing a sandwich board lettered with his intentions to obtain classified information and then blasted an air horn to further alert authorities to his business.

    The other journalist outrage scandal. No one, other than Fox, would have even published his story.

  17. Boo Radly says:

    Seems this farm is offering assistance for horses only – Any body needing a place to take their horses due to the storm are farm has plenty of room and we are willing to help any way. We are able to pick them up if Need be pass it on. I can be contacted at 405-448-1008 or on fb or at Winter Creek Farms – still a wonderful thing to do. The gentleman’s name is Robert Williams.

  18. BB, I know I’m way late on this, but this was the opposite of corny. I love your remembrances told through your boomer voice, especially when one of the greats pass….

    I really love this quote in the youtube below BTW:

    “‘You don’t make music for immortality you make music for the moment of capturing the sheer joy of being alive on planet earth, WOW! is this fun… this is just the greatest everybody should live it that way.” — Ray Manzarek