Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
– Hamlet, Act V
William Shakespeare 1564-1616
Death makes angels of us all
and gives us wings
where we had shoulders
smooth as raven’s
– An American Prayer
Jim Morrison 1943-1971
SAGE MOONBLOOD STALLONE
By Alan Graham
At 36 years of age, Sage Moonblood Stallone, the oldest son of Sylvester Stallone, was found dead in his Hollywood apartment. A housekeeper found the body of actor-director Stallone, according to his lawyer, George Braunstein.
Born May 5, 1976, in Los Angeles, Sage Moonblood Stallone was the first son of Sylvester Stallone and actress Sasha Czack. He began his acting career in Rocky V, the 1990 installment of the Rocky movie franchise. As a 14-year-old, he played Rocky Balboa Jr., son of his father’s Rocky Balboa character.
Young Stallone appeared again with his father in the 1996 film, Daylight, and had roles in nine other movies and short films. His most recent appearance was in a 2011 television documentary on the Rocky films.
In addition to acting, Stallone was co-founder with film editor Bob Murawski of Grindhouse Releasing, which specializes in the theatrical and video release of restored B movies from the 1970s and ’80s. The company’s catalog includes An American Hippie in Israel, I Drink Your Blood, and Cannibal Holocaust. Its latest release was 2010′s, Gone with the Pope.
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: “MichaelWhite ”
To: Al Graham
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 7:08 PM
Subject: Hey AL
I just got in and turned on the computer to see Sage Stallone is dead. I immediately thought of you, I know you two were close.
April 16, 2010
Do you remember me?
I was your bodyguard and soccer coach when you were four years old and you lived on Amalfi Drive in Pacific Palisades. We used to eat breakfast every morning at Mort’s Deli.
Check out my website at: www.irememberjimmorrison.com.
April 16, 2010
Oh my god! ALAN GRAHAM (forget about the soccer). Remember how you would ask me to grab the deli microphone and sing Morrison (who you made me a fan at such a young age)? We got in BIG trouble when I screamed WAITING FOR THE SUN!!!…etc.
Oh man! I always wondered about you. Possibly my only friend at the time. I remember the farm-like place you took me, and there’s only hazy recollections of great times and nice people. We need a phone call.
April 16, 2010
Call me anytime 24/7
April 16, 2010
Wiltz & Waltz
Last week I was talking to my oldest son Dylan about you and how we drove all over LA blasting The Doors in that Maserati from Rocky III. I used to tell you a story about “The Continuing Adventures of Wiltz & Waltz”. For you, they were real live characters who drove in and out of people’s driveways singing “In and out those darkie bluebells” as they grabbed flowers and hanging plants. You used to say, “There is Waltz on the back of that truck.”
It is very cool to hear from you again, in fact I was in Mort’s Deli a couple of years ago and the owner, Mort’s wife (Mort died) said you came in with some friends and you looked so grown up and handsome.
My oldest son Dylan lives in LA and I am often there, so please call me on my cell anytime 24/7. Al
April 18, 2010
My son Dylan asked me to tell some stories about you so that he can share them with his children; so I made this video. Let me know if you remember going to the junkyards with me. Al
April 18, 2010
Sage is writing:
Going to the junkyards or stopping by the beach with Alan was so much more valuable to me than finding a carburetor on a 71′ Dodge Swinger or looking for a perfectly tanned body in Malibu at sunset…it was my secret life. My real life, in the mansion with loud voices and security monitors beeping all day was a lonely one. Screwing about with Alan, I collected hubcaps on the highway at 75 MPH where he practically came out of it looking like a pancake smothered with strawberry jam. I loved cars, and hubcaps were the closest thing to having one.
Back at the old boring Rolling Hills mansion, my friend Alan and I had a typically great idea to build a hubcap mansion of our own (the hills of green were 10x’s the size of home, so why not? It was like the friggin’ Sound Of Music in the hills of Amalfi). When we started, there was already a miniature playhouse, well outgrown. Alan added a window or two along with some spiffy interior/exterior ideas that widened the shack by 3x’s. This obscurity became known to me as “Hubcap Palace” covered from wall-to-wall with some of the coolest antique caps from autos spanning 50 years. In fact, I spent so much time sitting in the wooden seat (as if driving a car round the world), family friends started donating some of the earliest hubcaps known to exist.
Talk about great logos and original hand-pounded craftsmanship. Although, when neighbor Vin Scully, a local baseball announcer and somehow mortal enemy neighbor of my Dad’s commented on a cap centered with a big V-8, it wouldn’t stop reminding him of the first car he bought. Anyways, Scully’s kids happened to appreciate what they now called “the piece of art” which now graced an empty, over-sized lawn. This project prompted young Cathy Scully to ask Dad if we could place a long time abandon VW Bug alongside as if really driving. Oh yes… I could just imagine Cathy climbing over the property line to fantasize about our drive to Spain or Greece. BUT, either way it was never going to matter… her bug, my hubcap wonderland was plowed down to dirt like an old drive-in movie theater by the time we got home from school the next evening. Ok, my credit to Stallone… he did leave a dented cap on my bed upstairs, but I didn’t bother looking at the grounds out my window until a red moon appeared before moving. -Peace & Love, Sage
April 19, 2010
Very cool prose, Sage.
The compound was more like a high security embassy with around-the-clock guards. I came to pick you up one morning, and as I entered the compound, Rocky was standing by the front gate giving an off-duty L.A. cop a bunch of shit as he was leaving. A powerful Santa Ana wind was in full affect. Because the house was not finished yet, the wind howled and whined through all the way to the rest of the rooms, down hallways, and even up the stairs. This was very disturbing to your father and it kept him up all night. At about five a.m., he walked into the kitchen and the cop had his shoes and socks off, feet up on the chair. All of the bullets were sitting in an ashtray and the idiot was cleaning his service revolver. Stallone gave him a ration of shit. “What if someone comes over that wall and you are sitting there with your feet up and an empty gun?” The cop did not respond but gave a sneer. So as he was leaving a little while later, he was given another bollocking and told not to come back ever again.
You came running out of the house, up and ready to go. Your dad came over to talk to me and he was carrying a copy of, No One Here Gets Out Alive. He was almost finished. He was a voracious reader/writer and he literally consumed everything. I asked what he thought of the book and he said, “I am thinking of portraying this guy, Jim Morrison. The book is badly written, but it is a fascinating story.”
Sasha and he were blown away when they heard you singing Doors tunes because you had an awesome propensity to retain and you knew all the lyrics. Stallone was even more blown away when I told him that Jim was my brother-in-law.
I would like to send you a copy of my book, I Remember, so please send me a mailbox number.
May 4, 2010
Happy Birthday, Sage!
“Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.”
In the early 1980s, while shopping the development of the story of my late brother-in-law, Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, I found myself in a situation wherein I became the personal tutor, confidante, and bodyguard to Sage Stallone. Sage and I developed a relationship comparable to mine with my own children. He thrived from receiving the undivided attention much denied him in his heavily preoccupied home of “The Rocky” era. My own upbringing in war-torn Liverpool had taught me the importance of improvisational play, and together Sage and I made games and fun out of the elements that surrounded us: To dive in the pool, or make a mud pool? To buy a new Maserati, or go to a junkyard and collect artifacts – tire rims and bumpers – with which to create art and music? Going to Mort’s in Pacific Palisades for breakky and singing Doors’ tunes to the applause of his fellow patrons, Sage was in a heaven not purchased by his father’s fame but by a wealth only to be found in the freedom of one’s imagination. Sage and Al traversed across the universe together, exploring.
By Alan Graham
(Excerpt from upcoming autobiography)
In 1980, Alan Graham had a lunatic construction crew that worked on many celebrity projects – among them, Richard Widmark, Jack Lemmon, and the megastar, Sylvester “Rocky Balboa” Stallone.
Graham’s men were a tough, hard-working, hard-partying bunch that descended on a job like marauding pirates. Amongst these ne’er do wells were Andrew Lee Morrison – a wandering carpenter, welder, and all around yarn spinner – and Alan Finlayson, one of Graham’s childhood friends who had recently emigrated from England. He and Andy Morrison were the terrible twins and provided much silliness and recklessness to the work environment.
The Stallone mansion sat above Malibu at the top of Amalfi Drive, a choice location with a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean below. Graham had been contracted to build an addition to the already sprawling Tudor-style home.
Stallone’s family was living in part of the house during the remodeling. A massive gate guarding the compound groaned under the steady flow of contractors, construction workers, and the rich and famous, passing through like rush-hour traffic on the 405. Recently, the actor had been involved in a major dispute with his co-producers over profits, and death threats had been made. A double cordon of security lent the property an atmosphere of a siege, as friend and foe alike were highly scrutinized.
The first layer of security was rather weak because the personnel were made up of amateurs – wannabe gangster actors, personal trainers, and a few look-a-like Chippendale male dancers – all vying for the chance to get a part in the next Rocky movie.
The second layer was, to any security professional worth his salt, even more terrifying: Stallone had hired off-duty L.A.P.D. patrol officers as night guards who were stationed in every room and hallway in the house. It seemed that after interactions with Stallone, the word was out that he was a “major dick” to work for, so only the most incompetent of L.A.’s finest showed up; and when they did, they were lazy, dumb, and downright reckless.
The visitors included Stallone’s mother and father, his younger brother Frankie, Mister T, from the upcoming Rocky II and the rest of the cast, high-priced entertainment lawyers, and agents equipped with armfuls of scripts and movie treatments for the superstar to read and, hopefully, finance or produce.
The compound was a beehive of activity. Sawing and banging echoed throughout the surrounding, normally serene, hillsides.
“Oh my God!” A woman’s alarmed voice rang out. “Sage! Come back, Sage! Oh my God!”
Stallone’s son Sage was four years old and beyond the control of the army of adults enlisted by his parents to watch over him. He was hyperactive, to be sure, but like any little boy, he just wanted to run free and be wild. This was not possible considering the current threat to his family, and so the child was held captive in a veritable high-security prison.
A tiny figure darted across the front lawn at full gallop followed by a screeching nanny. In turn, she was followed by Stallone, his wife Sasha, and several house servants. The boy laughed gleefully as he deftly eluded his pursuers – in and out of thick bushes, under cars and trucks, behind the dog kennels, and every other nook and cranny hard to reach. He ran dangerously close to power cables on the ground and the whole compound let out a collective gasp.
Graham caught the youngster as he tried to dart up the stairs to the half-finished addition. Wound tighter than a clock spring, the boy struggled to break free. His little coal-black eyes flashed like emergency lights with a desperate and urgent message: Help me escape!
Graham returned Sage to the custody of his nanny, struggling like a roped mustang and screaming at the top of his lungs, “I wanna play outside! I wanna play outside!” “It’s too dangerous and you can get badly hurt,” the nanny explained, but the child kicked and gnashed his baby teeth at the exhausted woman.
Normality returned to the compound, but not thirty seconds later the very same hue and cry went up again. Sage was loose, and like the Roadrunner, he escaped capture.
All forces marshaled against the boy were rendered useless. He disappeared behind a huge potted plant on the front porch as once more the entire compound joined the search. Sage stayed hidden as a demented mob called for him. Graham watched with amusement as the little rebel giggled each time a distraught adult ran by.
Grabbing a handful of nails, Graham began pounding them into a thick beam positioned on several sawhorses. With each blow, he exclaimed, “Yeeappp! Zadonk! Yakkamoogie! Ba-Ba-Ba-Boom!” He now had Sage’s attention. Holding out the hammer, he beckoned for the boy to join him. The little fellow beamed with delight, and he emerged from his refuge. The next time the search party came by, they were stopped abruptly by the sight of Sage holding a big hammer with two hands and screaming at the top of his lungs, “Yikka Woopie –Baddamm!” Graham carefully guided his hands over the child’s, and together they drove in the six-inch nails. Stallone and his wife were the last to arrive and were aghast to see their baby boy swinging a hammer wildly and grunting in some primeval language.
Sasha photographed the nailing demonstration while everyone else sat around watching. Sage yelled ecstatically, “Hey Dad, Mom, look at me!” His audience laughed at the tiny construction worker who, in turn, squealed with joy each time he received a great cry and applause.
The next morning, when Graham’s crew arrived, Stallone stood at the front gate waiting. When Graham walked in Stallone called him aside. But before he could say a word, Sage came bursting out the front door, and grabbing Graham around the knees, he yelled, “Kabooooom!” The boy attempted to drag him over to the woodpile. “Come on, Alan! Come On!”
At Stallone’s request, Graham’s job would now be divided. He left his foreman in charge of construction and was now part-time bodyguard, tutor, and playmate to Sylvester Stallone’s firstborn son.
ROCKY BALBOA STALLONE/JIM MORRISON
June 9, 1981: 7:15 a.m. – Alan Graham parked his car outside the heavily guarded compound. Stallone was already pacing the grounds, checking on security guards, maids, houseboys, and construction workers. Perfectly suntanned, and naked except for a pair of red silk boxer shorts, he yelled at a painter: “I told you I wanted white paint, not dark! White reflects the sun! Dark absorbs and makes the room hotter!”
“Well, I’ll paint it over,” said the painter.
“So, I gotta pay twice,” complained Stallone. “That’s theft – outright theft.” He walked away in disgust.
The massive electric gate swung inward, and Stallone looked up to see Graham passing through.
“Good morning, Sly. How are you feeling?”
“Ahh! These goddamned people think you’re made of money. I’ll be glad when this house is finished.”
They walked together. Two workers were unrolling a 30×60-foot canvas of Rocky II by the noted painter, Leroy Neiman. It was gaudy, and the workers looked nervously toward its approaching subject. But Stallone nodded his approval of the likeness with deep satisfaction.
“I’m gonna hang it on the wall,” Stallone remarked to Graham. “Whatta ya think?”
One of the workers dropped his end of the canvas. Stallone tensed up, and three other workers ran to the mortified worker’s aid. Five people now buoyed the massive image with trepidation, each convinced it was his head that would be rolling.
“It’s a great portrait!” groveled one of the workers.
His comrades echoed: “Yes! Oh, yes! It’s magnificent!”
Beheadings postponed for the time being, Stallone continued his walk with Graham, passing a ten-foot bronze statue of Rocky I, which resembled a Cecil B. DeMille movie prop. Stallone stopped to admire it anyway.
It was a beautiful June morning. Stallone and Graham sat down on the patio and a maid brought coffee and Danish. They talked back and forth about Sage. Graham’s day began at eight a.m., when the five-year-old boy jumped for joy at the sight of him because it meant Fun! Fun! Fun!
The child was high-strung and extremely intelligent. Intense and insatiable – a force to be reckoned with – he could wear people down with the strength of thirty kindergarteners. Graham had worked with hyperactivity in the past, but this case was extreme. Unusual methods were called for.
Graham dug a huge hole in the middle of the back lawn. Sage gleefully filled it with water, and together they made the best mud hole in the world. The maid had the foolishness to pass by as it was being finished and was thrown in. Sasha joined in the fun, bringing a camera and Seth, Sage’s two-year-old brother. Everyone was muddied and photographed. The interior decorator offered to hold the camera and, much to his horror, was also muddied, to the puzzlement of Stallone, who stood some distance away watching the whole escapade.
Graham grabbed a plastic bucket, a rope, and a screwdriver. Punching twenty holes into the bottom and sides, he tied the garden hose inside the bucket. Hoisting the contraption over the branches of one of the massive pine trees, he and Sage turned the water on full blast, and everyone had a wild group shower.
Sage had numerous showers, followed by great mud fights, and more showers.
Stallone was even more bemused by the goings-on in his yard. He left the patio, returning in twenty minutes dressed and ready for the office. As he stood by his limousine, Graham and Sage, now washed clean, waved good-bye. Stallone smiled.
“Bye, Dad! Bye, Dad!” Sage yelled.
“What’ve you got planned today, Al?” asked Stallone.
Graham laid out the day’s events: breakfast at Mort’s, a walk in the beautiful hills surrounding the compound, a visit with the F.B.I. agent guarding Ronald Reagan’s old Pacific Palisades home (whom they had met on a previous walk), a run on the beach, a trip to the junkyard in Santa Monica (where Sage would engage in his passion for collecting hubcaps), a movie in Westwood, lunch, a nap, and in the afternoon, more mud.
Stallone seemed reluctantly satisfied, and as he stepped into his limo, Graham read the title of a paperback Stallone was carrying: No One Here Gets Out Alive, the unauthorized biography of Jim Morrison’s life.
“What do you think of that book?” Graham asked.
Stallone stopped. “Fascinating. Badly written, but a fascinating character. Did you read it?”
Graham had read it, cover to cover. He nodded.
“Morrison reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe,” said Stallone. “I’ve always wanted to do a movie about Poe. Morrison seems like that same tragic poet.”
“Are you gonna do a film about Morrison?” asked Graham.
“Someone sent me a treatment last week, so I got the book to read. I think it would be a smash movie.”
“Bye, Dad!!!” Sage was screaming from the mud pit. “Come on, Alan!! Come on!!!”
The limo whisked Stallone away. Graham stood looking after him. He thought to himself, One giant fucking adventure coming up, Al!!
June 11, 1981: 8:05 a.m. – Graham sat in the luxury Maserati sedan that had been used in the recently finished Rocky III and that was now Graham’s personal company car. The interior was of the finest soft leather, the dashboard resembled a 747 cockpit, and it boasted twelve powerful cylinders under the hood, capable of warp speeds. Graham pushed a tape into the cassette deck, punched up the awesome equalizer, and drove the sleek midnight blue sedan up to the front of the house.
“Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel…” Morrison sang.
Sasha was ecstatic, listening to Sage sing along with The Doors as she helped her son into the car.
“Come on, baby, light my fire…” Her son’s little lungs almost burst with enthusiasm.
Stallone pulled Graham to the side and voiced his pleasure in the changes he observed in Sage. The techniques Graham used on hyperactive kids in the past were now working very well on this violent and destructive child.
“He loves this music,” said Stallone, smiling at his son. “I’m glad you brought it because I can listen to it as well.”
Stallone held the Morrison biography as they spoke. Graham could see he had almost finished the thick paperback.
“I’d like to play this guy, but I hear the rights are not available – some problem with the family.”
“Well, the book was unauthorized and no one inside the family was happy,” Graham said authoritatively.
Stallone looked up with interest.
“His father’s naval portrait took up a whole page in the book. That’s quite a paradox,” commented Stallone; “the Admiral and the rock idol.”
“Yeah, he was very upset when the book was published last year. Jerry Hopkins, the writer, tried in vain to get anyone inside the family to contribute, but the Admiral wouldn’t have it. Like some unwritten rule, it was never even discussed – sort of like it didn’t happen.”
Stallone looked at Graham, surprised.
“I didn’t read that in the book.”
“It wasn’t in the book,” said Graham.
“Oh, yeah. Where did you read that? I gotta get all the info I can on this character. Can you get me the article?”
“I didn’t read it in a newspaper. I lived it. Jim was my brother-in-law.”
“Try to set the night on fire…” Sage ended the song simultaneously with Jim’s voice. The compound applauded. Sage was still rocking without the music. Time to go to breakfast. Corralling his charge, he buckled him up in the car.
Graham checked his gun, his glasses, and the rearview mirror. In it, Stallone’s face beamed like he had just found uranium.
June 21, 1981: 7 a.m. — The longest day of the year, a Santa Ana wind had been raging all night long and was still in effect. As Graham blew threw the main gate, Stallone was 100 feet away, chewing out one of the hired off-duty patrolmen.
“I don’t want to wake up in the night and find you with your shoes off, feet up, cleaning your gun when you’re supposed to be protecting my family!!!” Stallone’s face was vicious. The officer left with a scowl.
Stallone approached Graham, shaking his head. “That’s the fifth one this month. L.A. cops are scary, man. I’m not hiring them any more.”
The wind had howled all night long. The unfinished construction contributed to the eerie banshee moaning as it screamed through the unfinished windows and walls.
“I hate this wind, man. I’ve been up since two a.m.”
“Yeah. Thank God, it’ll be over today,” said Graham.
“Is that what the forecast calls for?” Relief shone on Stallone’s face, and for a moment he resembled nothing more than a kid let out of his room.
The two men entered the kitchen, and Stallone poured coffee for Graham. The Santa Ana stopped suddenly. The massive pines in the yard fell silent. Stallone’s eyes were calm and boy-like. Jim Morrison’s face gazed at the pair from his biography resting on the table. Motioning to the book, Stallone said, “I’ve just finished it.”
They talked for two hours about the biography. Graham explained why the Morrison’s were disgusted by the portrayal of their son. Stallone listened to Graham’s every word and in the process swallowed the bait, the hook, the line, the pole, and half of Graham’s arm. It was textbook: Was the dog wagging his tail, or was the tail wagging the dog?
Graham had his own axe to grind. Ray Manzarek, The Doors’ organist, was running all over town trying to hustle the bio of Jim to anyone who would buy it. Because of the lack of cooperation from the family, no major studio would touch it, but Travolta had come into the picture, and it started to look like a deal might be brewing. Graham hated the book; even though a lot of it was accurate, it was dark and evil, showing only half of the man. It would be a tragic movie. If that weren’t bad enough, Travolta wanted to portray this one-dimensional Jim Morrison. Until this moment, Graham had been powerless to move against Manzarek and Travolta, which had been his burning desire since publication of the book in 1980.
“Do you think you could get the Admiral to cooperate if I put a deal together?” Stallone now asked.
Graham laughed inside. Twist my arm a little, he thought.
“You’ve seen my movies,” pursued Stallone. “I could promise respect and integrity.”
Stallone had Graham’s shoulder down his throat.
“I hear Travolta is trying to put a deal together with Warner Brothers,” Graham baited.
Hate welled up in Stallone’s eyes.
“Can’t you see me portraying Morrison?” he challenged.
“Jim was intense and powerful like you,” Graham gagged on his own words.
Time to reel this baby in, Alan. Graham’s adrenalin raced. Deep in the brain, a Fourth of July explosion sent him into ecstasy.
“I’ll talk to my father-in-law.”
Stallone walked Graham to the Maserati, where they found Sage bashing the dashboard, trying to get the music to come on.
As Graham and the child drove off, Stallone called out, now the one doing the baiting: “Don’t forget to tell the Admiral about the integrity thing!”
Integrity thing – how eloquent! Graham laughed in his head.
That night, Graham discussed the day with his wife, Anne. Ten years earlier, they had heard the news on the radio of Jim’s death in a Paris bathtub. Anne had cried for days. No one had ever contacted them to let them know what had happened to her big brother. Jim’s girlfriend, Pamela, had been with him when he died and had lied to the Paris officials, telling them that Jim had no known relatives, effectively covering up his death. Three years later, in Los Angeles, Pamela was found dead of a heroin overdose, taking the secrets of Jim’s death with her to the grave.
It was still a very sensitive subject, but it was also Graham’s chance to fight back, and perhaps stop the Travolta/Warner Brothers production. Together, he and Anne could tell a better story about Jim.
“Who is going to portray Jim?” Anne asked.
With suppressed hilarity, Graham said, “Stallone wants to play him.”
Anne laughed loudly. She was very bright and extremely well educated, and she couldn’t help herself when she thought of Rocky doing Jim. They agreed to approach the Admiral anyway. Graham called him.
“Hello, Admiral. This is your son-in-law.”
“Well, hello, Alan. How are you, son? How’s the family? How’s your job with Sylvester Stallone?”
The Admiral was an expert on many things. He was one of the most well-read men in the world and a math genius. He was one of the youngest admirals in the history of the U. S. Navy, and with thirty years experience in dealing with thousands of men, he had developed a shrewd insight to human behavior. He was affable and friendly on the outside, but rigid and narrow on the inside.
Graham posed the question. The Admiral fell silent. Graham didn’t speak. A twenty-second awkward moment suspended itself between the men. This was the first time in ten years that anyone in the family had dared speak on the subject of Jim, and Graham felt as if he was just bringing his father-in-law the news of his son’s death.
Kill the messenger, thought Graham.
“Well, I can’t see what the story is,” the Admiral observed.
Graham patiently explained the Warner/Travolta/biography triangle.
The Admiral responded, “Well, I haven’t read the book, but I’m told it’s bad and wouldn’t make a good film anyway.”
Tell that to Hollywood, thought Graham; then, to the Admiral, “That’s Anna’s and my motivation to get involved and tell the true story.”
“Well, I don’t see how I could sign my name to a project that you may lose control of later and then end up with a bad movie.”
“A project using the biography is gonna be a pretty bad one, anyhow,” said Graham.
“Yes, but it won’t have my name on it,” the Admiral responded confidently. “I’d like to help you, son, but I don’t trust Hollywood people.”
“Would you mind if I went ahead with a fictional version?” offered Graham.
“Well, as I say, I can’t see a story. You have the right to try, but I don’t see people going to see it.”
The next morning, as he drove the Pacific Coast Highway, Graham analyzed the Admiral’s comments: “I can’t see any story here… what’s the subject… is it interesting enough for a film…”
Strange comments, considering that the smash Vietnam movie Apocalypse Now used The End for its title song and The Doors’ music was now selling faster than when Jim was alive.
Yes, Graham thought, people will go see it, by the millions, just like they are buying the music all over again. It is extremely strange how the Admiral can’t see that when it’s right in front of his eyes.
The coffers of the Morrison estate were swelling. The cash registers were ringing all over the world and still the Admiral asked, “Who’ll go see the movie?”
Graham squinted at the ocean. He scratched on a notepad, The Work Ethic.
Stallone was waiting for Graham. They went upstairs to the study. Stallone closed the door. Graham explained the Admiral’s position and told him of the fictional option. Stallone listened intently, and when Graham had finished, he said, “Can you come up with a script?”
Graham smiled as he pulled his shoulder, arm, pole, line, bait, hook, and sinker from Stallone’s mouth.
Stallone turned on a tape of Morrison’s song, End of the Night, saying, “I’ll be right back.” As he headed for the bathroom, Graham noticed a long white clay pipe on the table and a bag of hybrid Hawaiian grass. Stallone returned, sat down, lit the pipe, and offered it to Graham. They smoked. That small-boy look flashed on Stallone’s face.
Looking for approval, Graham thought, but for what?
My God, the grass was potent. Graham drifted with the music. Then, out of nowhere, Stallone started to sing: “Realms of bliss, realms of light, some are born to sweet delight…”
Graham froze. Dear God! Dear God! Rocky Balboa was singing along with Morrison – singing lyrics Morrison had stolen from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence – like Quasimodo would have!
“What d’ya think?” Stallone asked as he showed Graham the back of his head. Stallone had woven into his hair a long, 1960’s-style hairpiece.
Graham’s lungs nearly exploded, trying not to laugh.
Stallone sang along with Jim. He had learned the lyrics and was now pummeling them.
“Can you do Light My Fire?” Graham heard himself say.
Jim Morrison spoke to Graham from the grave: “What the fuck are you doing, Alan?”
“Stopping Travolta and Manzarek!” Graham responded.
“Not with him!!!” Morrison shouted.
“Calm down.” Graham whispered, “You’ll wake up the dead.”
Stallone was now moving around the room. A slight deformity in his left leg, arm, and jaw were ever more apparent and pronounced, Graham noticed, with grass-high perception. Stallone’s eyes rolled in ecstasy as he intermittently moved between personas. In the blink of an eye Rocky Balboa was present. Just as fast Sylvester Stallone appeared, then King Richard II – deformities and all. Rocky Fucking Balboa and Sylvester Stallone were now butchering The Doors’ music as surely as Rocky Balboa bashed in the ribs of that carcass before the big fight with Apollo Creed. The song ended, and not a nanosecond too soon.
“What d’ya think?” Stallone asked with childlike expectation.
Graham heard Jim breathing at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
“I was in a trance,” Graham admitted.
Morrison spoke from a long way off as he was leaving: “He thinks you mean his performance put you in a trance, Alan!” Jim’s voice had that Something bad is going to come from this warning tone.
Sage burst into the room. “Come on, Alan!!”
As they played in the mud hole, Stallone’s limo left the compound. Morrison’s voice echoed from inside. Stallone was singing along: “Oh, show me the way to the next whiskey bar…”
Graham laughed out loud – a great, free, happy laugh! Then “Mud Wars III” began.
All that day and night Graham wrote the synopsis in his head. He and Anne sat at the typewriter. In their fictional story, Stallone was a high-priced L.A. private eye hired by Anne to find out what happened to her dead rock idol brother who was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Romance blossomed between the rock star’s sister and the private eye. Together, they uncovered secrets of F.B.I. surveillance, espionage plots, spies, hit men, et cetera, et cetera.
As they finished the script, Graham felt Morrison’s presence, but the ghost didn’t speak. He went out to the back porch and sat looking at the night sky. Morrison was there – just breathing, not saying anything. Graham wondered if the ghost haunted Manzarek, too.
Stallone loved the script. His house was packed with celebs invited to watch the rough cut of Rocky III. Graham was introduced to some of Hollywood’s top ass-kissers and assholes.
“Oh, I think Stallone would portray Morrison superbly! After all, he’s the only one who could bring the dignity thing into play,” said a size-10-sphincter lawyer. A small amount of cocaine rocks were still stuck in his nose hairs. Morrison belched loudly. Graham tasted dead flowers. Stallone handed out glasses of wine in $150 crystal goblets (a bit of info gleaned from the sphincter-10). They entered the recently finished viewing salon that featured an elegant bar and plush pool table. Sasha was about to sink the 8 ball when Stallone “accidentally on purpose” bumped into her. She got to take it over again, but missed. Stallone smiled the smile of a small, insecure person. Graham did not miss this.
The rights to The Doors’ music were now owned by three different, and hopelessly polarized, groups: the three remaining Doors, the Admiral and his wife, and the dead girlfriend’s parents. The biography No One Here Gets Out Alive had shredded Pamela’s reputation beyond repair, not to mention what it did to Jim’s. Her parents wouldn’t cooperate and the Admiral wouldn’t play.
Nevertheless, a deal was still being considered, headed by Ray Manzarek. In the ensuing weeks, Graham learned that the Admiral could override everyone if he would just step forth and take control of the estate, which was being badly mismanaged.
Graham called the Admiral again, this time to assure him that he could maintain control of the script. Once again, he refused.
Graham wondered why his father-in-law was blocking the deal. Perhaps he knew something no one else did. Graham’s first movie deal of his life had happened accidentally. Within weeks he had a major star, a major studio, and all the money in the world at the ready, and it was all riding on the stroke of a pen. He listened for Jim. He listened for a long time. No ghost. No sound. Nothing.
The deal wouldn’t fly without the music and portrayal rights. All the major hitters wanted the whole package or nothing. Stallone was bitterly disappointed. In the next month, Brian De Palma started to put a deal together using Travolta in a fictional caricature of Morrison called Fire. Every major and minor male star in Hollywood came out in the media claiming to be the only one who could portray Jim. Stars like Timothy Hutton, Richard Gere, John Cougar Mellencamp, Kevin Costner, Harry Hamlin, as well as many not-so-famous actors like Stallone’s own little brother Frankie, was vying for the role of the century.
The Morrison deal was all over town. Every high-priced and two-bit promoter and producer was trying to net it first. Graham watched the events closely wondering the whole time who opened the fucking floodgates. Morrison laughed and laughed from down in the dark tunnel. It was the mocking, daring laugh he had used in life. Graham jumped down into the tunnel. He heard Jim’s footsteps running away.
“I’m coming!” Graham shouted, adjusting his deerstalker and yanking the leash of the straining bloodhound. “I’m coming, Mr. Lizard King!”
The night after the Oscars of 1981, Graham sat at a table in Mort’s Deli with all the newspapers he could find. The L.A. Times reported that Jim Morrison’s brother-in-law was coming out to tell the true story of Morrison and was threatening to sue all other parties attempting to make a fictional version.
Graham received many nasty and threatening calls from people who had been trying to put a deal together, some for more than a year. Then Entertainment Tonight ran a story stating that the family of Jim Morrison was looking for a co-producer to work with Graham. The phones really started to ring. Graham was a producer, by God!
The Admiral was on the phone to Graham. Everyone who ever knew him or knew someone who knew him had called him to find out if he was going to star in the movie – Admiral’s uniform and all. Graham had visions of Jim and his dad performing Anchors Away on stage.
Jim was listening from down in the tunnel as the Admiral said, “This is exactly why I didn’t want to get involved.” He was livid.
Jim’s laugh echoed in the background. The Admiral heard it, too.
The summer vanished. Sage, now five years old, went to school. Stallone wanted Graham to stay on and work with the kid part time, but the Morrison project would consume him for the next ten years. Sisyphus would now find serious competition in Graham.