The Doors: A Retrospective

"Today, The Doors are considered to be one of the greatest musical groups of the 20th century…and for good reason."
“Today, The Doors are considered to be one of the greatest musical groups of the 20th century…and for good reason.”

One of the greatest bands to have ever existed in the 20th century, The Doors, are one of my favorite musical artists. I recently started listening to them about a year or so ago and have never looked back. They make a lot of the popular music produced in this day and age seem shallow and shortsighted in comparison. Part of the band’s appeal is the deep, existential lyrics of their songs that are woven through each and every one of their albums.

Jim Morrison, the lead vocalist, is the catalyst that made ‘The Doors’ what they were because of his un-disputable talent as a lead front-man and also as a great singer. In addition to producing excellent records in the studio, ‘The Doors’ were an electric presence on the stage and at their live venues where Morrison would captivate the audience with his eccentric motions and his crazy, inebriated antics. However, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore each contributed so much to the band itself that Jim would have been nothing without their musical talents.

Part of the appeal of The Doors to me has always been Ray’s enthusiastic and sensual keyboard/organ melody on a lot of the classic songs in the band’s collection. Robby contributed a lot of the writing for the lyrics to most of ‘The Doors’ song catalogue that Jim often mistakenly gets the credit for. Today, you don’t see these kinds of bands anymore that push the limits of experimental Rock and Roll. This particular genre was truly a late 1960’s to early 1970’s phenomenon partly due to the members’ heavy usage of psychotropic drugs that influenced musical groups such as ‘The Doors’, ‘Jefferson Airplane’, ‘Jimi Hendrix’, ‘Janis Joplin’, etc. Because of the uniqueness and the short period of time in which these groups surfaced and then diminished, a lot of these musical artists and groups still hold a high place in the hierarchy of Rock and Roll music.

Certain figures such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison have become American cultural icons due to their talent, but also for their erratic and unpredictable behavior, and the early deaths of these musical artists with suspicious circumstances attached to them has made them apart of the infamous ’27 Club’.

Above all else, ‘The Doors’ were one of the few bands that took an existentialist look at life, love, sex, death, and other mature topics that today’s mainstream musical groups rarely touch upon. It should come as no surprise then that the band’s name is taken from one of English author Aldous Huxley’s most famous works of literature: ‘The Doors of Perception.’ I think that is partly why I have become such a big fan of their music. They wrote about perceiving the human experience and all that it entails.

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The Joy of Reunions

We weren't quite as rowdy as these guys but they knew how to make a reunion special.
We weren’t quite as rowdy as these guys but they knew how to make a reunion special.

It is a very underrated yet a very joyous feeling to be able to meet up with friends who you have not seen in a long time. It is almost like you are meeting them again for the first time or that sometimes it feels like they never left your life in the first place. Unfortunately, people who you have met and befriended before in your life sometimes move around the country or around the world and it’s possible to lose touch with them.

I was lucky enough to see close friends of mine again in New York City a few weekends ago after not seeing them for over a year or so since I was overseas teaching English in Istanbul, Turkey. It was an ecstatic feeling being able to see all of these friends of mine who I had not seen in a long time and the memories came flooding back to me like it was just yesterday.

 The idea of a reunion plays into the very nature of human beings and how we are social animals above all else. We urge to be connected with each other especially after having not seen one another in a while. When we do reconnect, it’s like we had never gone our separate ways in life and the memories come flooding back. My experiences in life simply wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have good friends to share with it.

In all honestly, the people who you surround yourself throughout your life affect the experiences you have more than you would think. I believe that life experiences have a peculiar importance in not going through them by yourself because if you don’t have anyone to do it with, how will you ever be able to understand the significance of the event or the meaningfulness of it at the time. This goes along with traveling abroad, eating, drinking, dancing, and any other social activity that we human beings engage in throughout the course of our lives and they should be shared with others above all else.

 Reunions can be spontaneous and you never when they’re going to happen again. It is important to savor those chances to meet up with those people again that you have not seen in a long time. That way you will always know that there will be someone or a group of people in different parts of the country or in different areas of the world that you might be able to see again if you ever see yourself relatively close to them geographically.

 During this recent reunion, I felt many positive emotions brimming to the surface and I remember trying to savor each of those elated moments that night. I enjoyed every laugh, every inside joke, every story we each shared together and it really made me very happy and content to be able to see these friends again. It made me want to keep in touch with them even more and to see their faces again as well if the opportunity ever presented itself. Distance and time are strong barriers but can be overcome quite easily in this day and age if you try hard enough. It is safe to say that I am already looking forward to the next reunion.

The Conundrum of Choice

Life can be a lot like a cereal aisle sometimes. Too many choices, and not enough time.
Life can be a lot like a cereal aisle sometimes. Too many choices, and not enough time.

No other mental task can be so challenging and exhausting yet invigorating as making a choice. The concept of “Choice” is a behavioral process that we each undergo hundreds of times each day and they can either be the most routine, mundane of decisions to be made or those that are very rare and of great importance. These choices that we make can either have the most immediate or long-term impacts on our lives.

I tend to sometimes naively overlook how important choice is in determining one’s destiny or fate in life. As human beings, we make so many choices each day that it’s difficult to discern from what’s valuable to what really doesn’t matter in the grander scheme of things. This also plays into one’s individual perception of what is and what isn’t important in life, which is a long debate that should be left for another thinker. I was walking through the local grocery store going through the vast, tall aisles and felt completely overwhelmed.

Who knew that choosing cereal these days could come with so many options to choose from? I was completely flummoxed at first and ended up just placing a random cereal in my cart out of frustration and bewilderment. This is an example of a choice that really is quite basic when you think of it but may have had it’s importance overstated since there are now more choices than ever.

Clearly, most people in this world today do not have access to these many choices as we do here in the United States and other developed countries but it makes you think that we should be lucky for all the choosing we get to do on a daily basis. We should not take for granted in our society how many choices we do have and how many decisions we can make as independent people who have the freedom to make these kinds of decisions.

 Many people living in the world today have very limited options and are unable to make choices because they are not allowed to or do not have the option to. Next time, you’re meandering in the cereal aisle for perhaps a bit longer than you should, think about the weight of this choice and whether or not it is worth the time or the effort because there are many other choices to be made throughout the day and they may be a bit more important than “Fruity Pebbles or Cheerio’s?”

Hitting The Gym: A Test of Willpower

It's easier now than ever to stay in shape but why do people still refuse to hit the gym? It's a test of willpower.
It’s easier now than ever to stay in shape but why do people still refuse to hit the gym? It’s a test of willpower.

 It’s a constant struggle. The motivation and perseverance needed to go work out after a long day at the office, school, etc. It’s become such a growing part of our society especially with the modern amenities, the number and size of these gyms increasing day by day. As I get older, it’s becoming more and more apart of my weekly routine as my daily opportunities for exercise and fitness are starting to decline due to sheer laziness or the business of my schedule.

It makes me miss those days before college where I would participate in mandatory gym class during school and then do varsity sports after classes ended. I think that despite the crowded treadmills, overworked weight-lifting machines and the sometime obnoxious guys who live for the gym experience 24/7, it’s not such a bad routine to get into for those who don’t really partake in it yet. It relieves stress, clears your mind and makes you stronger.

 People do a lot of things to make themselves feel good, why not add going to the gym to that list? It certainly would lead to a more fit and happy world in a sense especially if it’s not too expensive and could appeal to anybody. Who knows? You might just like it so much that you go four-five times a week and become super-strong. Personally, I don’t recommend doing that. My body usually gets sore and aches if I go more than twice or three times a week and that usually means you’re doing something right. The hard work of running, lifting, jumping, stretching usually pays off if you put in enough effort into it which is the main reason going to the gym is worth your time in the long run.

 My point is that most people in this world do not have the luxury of going to the gym or even having access to one let alone affording a membership. It is a luxury we often take for granted in our advanced society but those who are lucky enough to have the means to do it should not hesitate to indulge every once and a while. There are two extremes today when it comes to the relative fitness of the world. Obesity rates and the number of overweight people are increasing at an alarming rate within the developed world while there are still a billion or more people out there who starve and suffer for a daily ration of food each day.

This goes to show that Gyms are not for everyone and that not everyone needs or should go to the gym. I do see them becoming more central to certain people’s livelihoods who can’t live without them do to their busy schedules or lack of other means of exercise. The gym is not for everyone but it should be in a way. Gym class was my favorite in my elementary school and it was a great opportunity to mingle with my friends. Exercise is good for you and while the modern gym is not as accessible or as affordable as it should be, it’s a step in the right direction in terms of giving society the means to improve themselves physically and mentally if they so choose to.

Smartphones: Man’s New Best Friend?

Our choices for which Smartphone we use keeps increasing each year...
“Our choices for which Smartphone we use keeps increasing each year…”

 There is no invention more prominent in today’s society than the Smartphone. It is used everyday for things as simple as making a call to as complex as using an application to pinpoint your exact location on Earth. I am the owner of an iPhone and it befuddles me to this day as to how a phone has come to be so advanced and influential within our daily lives.

There’s not a couple of minutes that go by when I’m out walking where I see people absolutely absorbed to what’s happening on their smartphones, completely oblivious to their immediate surroundings. I fear that is a trend that is only going to get worse as technology continues to advance in the future. It can be a bit tiresome and annoying to have a conversation or dinner with friends when some people are too busy answering a text or checking their twitter.

 Now, I’m not against checking one’s phone from time to time or killing some time by looking at it but person to person communications have been changed significantly by the smartphone and I’m not sure if it’s for better or worse. The great irony of the smartphone is that while it has improved communications through texting, calling, social networking, etc., person to person contact has seem to be quite harmed by this technology.

There have been countless instances where people have whipped out their smartphones out of sheer boredom, nervousness or on purpose when they are out on dates, at dinner or waiting in line for a coffee. I recently watched a news report where they reported an increase in smartphone-related car accidents where people were too occupied in texting while driving or others were too busy texting then to look both ways before crossing the street.

 I am sometimes guilty of paying too much attention to my smartphone and I am trying to limit the amount of times I use it during the day. It is a greatly useful tool and has made my life and the lives of others a lot easier. I do worry about the negatives though in terms of causing too much distraction and also harming the way people interact with each other on a personal basis. I read in a recent Newsweek article that a lot of Americans sleep with their smart phone. I was a bit incredulous about this but I guess that’s what it should come to when a smartphone can basically do anything that we need ten different devices to do before.

 I’ll leave you with a moment that left me quite skeptical about the positives of the smartphone; I was hanging out with friends and having a couple of laughs when there was a moment of stillness in the midst of conversation. One by one, each of them started to take out their phones and I was then left as the only one not gazing into the alluring screen of an iPhone and other smartphones. I was disappointed by kind of resigned to the fact that I have to get used to this tendency of people today to grab for their phones for instant stimulation but I do miss those days when I didn’t have to worry about a smartphone coming between another human being and I.