The Austin Chronicle

Strange Days Indeed

By Greg Beets, April 18, 2007, 12:14pm, Earache!

America’s most phallic state may soon forgive Jim Morrison for a 1970 indecent-exposure conviction.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says he’s thinking about granting the Doors vocalist a posthumous pardon for allegedly brandishing his unknown soldier during an infamous March 1, 1969, concert at Miami’s Dinner Key Auditorium. Local officials also charged Morrison with using profanity.

Bootleg recordings of the Miami show demonstrate Morrison’s drunken, foul-mouthed invective, but the exposure charge has always been a matter of conjecture because accounts vary and no photographs of the unsheathed tool are known to exist. Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek has long maintained that Morrison was merely taunting the audience and never whipped anything out.

Morrison, a Florida native, was sentenced to six months of hard labor by a Dade County judge in September 1970, but he remained free on appeal. The case was still pending when Morrison died of an overdose in a Paris bathtub on July 3, 1971.

"He died when he was 27,” Crist notes. “That's really a kid, when you think about it, and obviously he was having some challenges."

Crist does not have the authority to pardon Morrison on his own. Two of the three other members of the Florida cabinet, which serves as the state’s clemency board, would also have to agree to a pardon. Moreover, Florida does not have a procedure for pardoning the dead.

Still, between this and his politically brave effort to restore the voting rights of most Florida felons once they are released from prison, Charlie Crist deserves to be short-listed for the title of coolest Republican governor.

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