My Dinner With Jimi

No, this isn't another of my stories about meeting someone famous. Sorry. And it's not really a film review either. It's about something that happened to me last night while I watched My Dinner With Jimi, a film that was written by Howard Kaylan, who was the lead singer with the Turtles and went on to join Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

Maybe this film means so much to me because I too had a chance encounter with Jimi Hendrix. Maybe it's because I too was a performing musician in the L.A. area and grew up in southern California. Maybe it's because, although I never met Kaylan, we skirted around the same circle of people in Laurel Canyon. Maybe it's because I too felt just on the outside of things while meeting all the people who would later become part of the future Rock pantheon. Maybe it's because I'm currently spending all of my time in London of the late Sixties while writing my Rock trilogy. Maybe it's just because this is one damned good movie...

My Dinner With Jimi chronicles the Turtles' rise to stardom, but focuses largely on their first trip to London. It started out as a 15-minute film intended only for independent film festivals, but producer Harold Bronson liked it so much, he convinced Kaylan to expand it to 90 minutes. Although it was made in 2003 it has only this summer been released on DVD. I got it from Netflix and I'm not returning it until I watch it a couple more times.

Although it was made on a tiny budget of only $250K, it looks great because they used the kind of film that is used in Rock documentaries, and if you can get over the bad wigs and false facial hair (amazingly, the actors had only a week to prepare for their roles), you'll really enjoy it. The portrayals of certain Rock icons are particularly good, especially Royale Watkins, who plays the part of Hendrix. I can tell you for a fact that he has Jimi down, so much so that while watching him, I forgot that he wasn't the real deal. This is the kind of film that you watch in the same sort of attitude that you watch Office Space. It's funny, a bit spoofy, and eccentric. And it's all true. My kind of movie.

But what happened to me last night was something else. Looking back to the Sixties in my own life is impossible without struggling to make out vague images of fun and happiness through the clouds of retrospection. It's like looking through a kaleidoscope. I turn the lens to see more clearly and I end up looking through the broken fragments of abuse, grief, disillusionment and regret.

In 1967 I didn't know that in three short years I'd be a widow with a two week-old baby. I didn't know that many close friends would die far too young, or that my musical dream would never come true. All I knew was that I was young and at the precipice of life, and that anything could happen!

This film somehow created a wormhole for me through which I traveled back, completely bypassing all the crap. The Sixties were fun again—bad trips, hangovers, and all. And that was exactly the boost I needed to inject the true spirit of the Sixties into my current writing project. So thank you, Howard Kaylan. As I said in my email, I can't imagine my teens without your music. And thank you for this film. It has dissolved the block I've been struggling with for months!

I can't find a YouTube trailer for My Dinner With Jimi, but you can watch it by clicking HERE.