Chased From Jim Morrison’s Grave

It is 1990. I am photographing the grave of Jim Morrison in Père Lachaise cemetery in Morrison's GraveParis. At 5:00 pm the gendarmerie begin ushering people away from the grave, which is festooned with candles, incense, graffiti and a wedding photograph in a frame. It is closing time, but the gathered acolytes don’t seem to care. I have met people from Switzerland, Italy, from all over Europe who have come here just for this. They sit around the grave rolling spliffs and speaking in hushed, revered tones.

Suddenly the police begin pushing people. Before I know it I have photographed police shoving people to the ground. They look up and see me taking pictures, speaking to each other urgently in rapid French, which I do not understand. Two of them break off and come towards me. I turn and run.

I don’t know where I’m going and run on adrenaline and instinct. I’m scared and my heart is pounding. I’m wearing heavy hiking boots and running through grass in need of cutting, like the dream of trying to run and not being able to. I glance back over my shoulder as I pass a large marble monument. The police officers are still chasing me. As I look forward again my eye catches the name engraved in the marble: Balzac. I can’t believe it. I am being chased through Père Lachaise cemetery by the police and happen to run past the grave of Honoré de Balzac.

About this time I see another monument off to my right. My legs are screaming and I am sweating in the late summer heat. My camera is slamming against my chest as I run. There is a name carved in the large stone to my right: Chopin.

Morrison being buried here is like a fart in a museum. Or laughter in church. I want to laugh, but I don’t have the wind.