Ghost riders in Paris

By Michelle Campbell

In 1992, I took a walk around Père Lachaise cemetery and Paris with Joe Russo, lead singer of the Doors tribute band, the Soft Parade.

We took some shots at, and around Jim Morrison’s grave, and then went on to Saint Michel, an area that Jim liked to wander very much.

Here are some examples from that day of following in Jim’s footsteps.

Music world reacts to death of Ray Manzarek

Raymond Daniel Manzarek

February 12, 1939 – May 20, 2013

I can’t believe it. My sincere condolences to Ray’s family and friends.

Thank you for all the awesome music Ray. You enriched so many lives with your extraordinary talent. RIP

Homages from around the web

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Ray’s memorial service, June 10, 2013

Ray Manzarek memorial card given to guests at his memorial service on June 10, 2013 © Ben Fong-Torres
Ray Manzarek memorial card given to guests at his memorial service, June 2013 © Ben Fong-Torres

Thank you. I know that many of you wanted to know about such an event. And David Rubinson, the Grassroots and Tim McGraw are right: Live for Today. Live Like You Were Dying. Celebrate each other, now. Dianne and I spoke w Ray’s manager, who confirmed that it was all very sudden–diagnosis in March–and still very sad. And to my list, add Warren Zevon, who counseled, “Enjoy every sandwich.” — Ben Fong-Torres (Facebook, June 10, 2013)

French press

Feature image credit: RIP Ray Manzarek, The Key to the Doors. Illustration by Jean Jullien

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What happens to abandoned chapels in Père Lachaise?

Translated from French, Les chapelles du Père-Lachaise revivent. By Oihana Gabriel. 20 Minutes. Web. 31 October 2012.

Père Lachaise workyard © Mike Jennings via Flickr
Père Lachaise workyard © Mike Jennings via Flickr

A second wind for chapels in Père Lachaise

Along the tree-lined paths of Père Lachaise (20th), many funerary chapels are showing signs of cracks and rust. But this year, the cemetery is testing an innovative solution: Funerary chapels that accommodate the urns of eight families rather than the lineage of one family.

The objective is twofold: Make room for the increasing number of urns and restore abandoned chapels. Indeed, restoring these monuments, which symbolized success in the 19th century, is very expensive. After several years of administrative procedure, the Paris city government obtains ownership and converts the chapels, which are in turn rented for € 3,500 to each family.

Parisian cemeteries are transforming their abandoned monuments into columbariums

“For me, urns are the future and help preserve the cemetery landscape in Paris”, states Pascal-Hervé Daniel, head of the capital’s cemeteries. Near the writer Colette’s grave, one of three funerary chapels has plaques, a grille for each niche, plus a private space to leave flowers or an object in memory of the deceased.

“It blends in perfectly with the Père Lachaise landscape” adds Pascal-Hervé. “It was an immediate success with families. In one month, 24 niches were rented!” Following this successful experiment—which earned a prize for innovation by local governments—the Paris city government will renovate 10 more chapels in Père Lachaise, Montparnasse (14th) and Montmartre (18th).

Twenty Parisian cemeteries will follow, thus facilitating access for local residents to these sites which have been saturated since the 19th century.

Evolving funerary practices have resulted in an explosion of cremations. In addition to these funerary chapels, rounded stelae (funerary monuments in the form of a low pillar placed near the foot of a tree or grove) could be installed in these green cemeteries.

In 2013, this initiative will be tested in Batignolles (17th). “We cannot put a grave near a tree because the roots cause damage. There are many empty niches in the columbarium. Families want to bury their deceased outside, in nature.”

Top photo: Père Lachaise workyard © Mike Jennings via Flickr
All other photos © Paris Mojo

Content from 127 Fascination box for sale, includes photo of Pam by Jim in Paris

Source: Lucius Booksellers York, England

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 12: Personal note books and some of the last pictures of The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison are displayed at the Park Avenue Armory which is hosting the New York Antiquarian Book Fair on April 12, 2013 in New York City. This years fair, the 53rd year, features over 200 exhibitors of rare books, maps, manuscripts and ephemera.The New York Antiquarian Book Fair runs from April 11 through 14. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

When idol worship leads to desecration

An interesting article, despite several inaccuracies (see footnotes). English translation below.

English translation

When idol worship leads to desecration

Claude François’* family is going to press charges for vandalism. Located at his famous home at the Dannemois water mill in Essonne (1), the singer’s grave was vandalized Saturday night. When idol worship leads to desecration.

For 25 years, questions remain about who stole Jim Morrison’s bust from his grave in Père Lachaise cemetery. The theft is said to have taken place during the night on May 9, 1988. The story goes that two fans of the Doors’ singer stayed in the cemetery after closing, and then left on a scooter with the 128 kilo sculpture under their arms.

Some time later, Globe magazine even published an interview with the anonymous fans identified as the thieves of Morrison’s bust, named X and Y. Other versions claim the bust was taken down by the cemetery conservatory and is safe and sound in their storage.

Morrison fans, just amateurs

Morrison fans are just amateurs in comparison to Mister R., aka “Rochat”. A Polish refugee, Rochat was 23 years old in 1978. A couple of weeks before, Charlie Chaplin died and was buried in the small cemetery in Corsier-sur-Vevey. On March 2, 1978, during the night, and in the rain, Rochat and an accomplice desecrated Chaplin’s grave and took Charlot’s casket.

The next day, the horrified family received a phone call from Rochat asking for a million francs to return the body. It would take two months for the police to hunt down the guilty party and Chaplin’s casket which was buried hastily by the kidnappers near a lake. Rochat got four and half years of prison time.

The Italian police, for their part, have been working on a similar case for the last two years. On September 8, 2010 (2), one of Italy’s biggest stars, 85 year old Italian television host Mike Bongiorno, passed away. His was buried in Arona cemetery up until January 25, 2011… To the bewilderment of Bongiorno’s widow, his casket disappeared. To date, there has been no ransom request, no clues, no leads. Mike Bongiorno has still not been found (3).

This case, however, has inspired Art Funeral Italy to offer a casket anti-theft, called the “Mike”. This luxury, high-tech last resting place is equipped with sensors connected directly to the police to ensure eternal tranquility.

* Claude François 1939–1978
(1) Claude François’ grave is in Dannemois cemetery, not at his home.
(2) Bongiorno died in 2009, not 2010.
(3) Bongiorno’s body was recovered. Body of ‘Italy’s Bruce Forsyth’ finally found a year after being stolen by grave robbers Source: The Telegraph