What’s the story on the mysterious box or suitcase labeled “123 Fascination”, stuffed full of his writings, that supposedly Jim left in New York?
Jim did leave a suitcase in New York–with me–full of clothes and writings and other effects, but it’s certainly not called “123 Fascination”…
Anyway, this is the story as I remember it being told to me, three or four years ago, by one of the principals in possession:
“123 Fascination” (or 127, or 125, or whatever the hell the numerals were) was the rather cryptic label on a safety-deposit box Pamela Courson left in a San Francisco bank, and which was still there when she died in L.A. in April 1974.
Some time after her return from Paris, she had flown up to San Francisco to visit our mutual friend Diane Gardiner, former Doors publicist, who had moved to Sausalito, in Marin County. Pamela, who apparently was carrying those particular Jim writings in a briefcase, went home with the cabdriver who picked her up at the airport and moved in with him, and the stuff in the briefcase went to the bank safety-deposit box for safekeeping.
Pamela obviously had at least some of her things shipped up to her from L.A., because my friend Gina Gangi told me she spent time with Pam and Diane in Sausalito, and there had seen Jim’s big purple Victorian-style chair that he used when writing (I confirmed that it had indeed been his, since I had spent a lot of time in it myself when I stayed with Jim at Norton Avenue before he left for Paris).
Anyway, Pam moved back to L.A. about a year later, and apparently forgot all about the box–and so did the cabdriver, who only remembered its existence after her death, when, I believe, the bank sent him a bill for the storage fee. I don’t know if she lived with the cabdriver all the time she was in Sausalito.
Subsequently, three individuals, one of whom was the one who told me all this, bought the box and its contents–various notebooks, papers and artifacts belonging to Jim, mostly from Paris, and some things perhaps of Pamela’s–from this guy, and were then promptly sued for possession by Pam’s parents; the defendants won. Beset by big legal costs for the court case–and jail time seems to figure in this somewhere–they sold a few pieces to collectors to get some money quickly, and divided the remaining stuff among them to sell later. I am told that–at least according to Ray Manzarek–Mr. Columbus `Corky’ Courson, Pam’s father, bought one of these thirds for $20,000, and reportedly has no plans or even intent to ever publish the stuff, though Ray has Xeroxes of it. The other two-thirds are apparently still out there–the owners tried at first to sell it intact, with an original asking price of $250,000, then split it up again, thinking it might sell more readily in pieces.
I was also told by this individual that there was a letter to Jim from me among this material–he had recognized my name immediately when talking to the mutual friend who had arranged our conversation, and he said he knew it from going over the writings in the box and seeing a letter I had written Jim. Though the alleged letter was not part of this guy’s particular share of the box material, he very decently promised to restore the letter to my possession–“It’s yours, it belongs to you!”–if ever he got his hands on it.
Of course, I have no way of knowing if there really is, among all this stuff, after all this time, a letter to Jim from me; and, frankly, I doubt it.
I sent Jim far fewer letters than he sent me, mostly because I could never be sure he would get them; even if he did, I was always afraid Pamela might get her hands on them and read them. I very much doubt he kept the few I did write: they were sent to him at the Doors office or at the Alta Cienega motel (well, I couldn’t exactly mail them to Norton Avenue, could I, and he wasn’t there most of the time anyway). I didn’t like writing him at the Doors office–not very secure, God knows what little piece of garbage might be reading the mail–but I didn’t have much choice…
I did send one desperate letter to him in Paris, mailed not long before he died in response to his last posted letter to me, begging him to save himself, to get out of Paris and back to me in New York before it was too late, but I do not know if he even lived to read it.
Maybe Pam intercepted it. Maybe that’s why she gave him the smack.
And I buried my last letter to Jim in his grave.