Thursday, June 08, 2017

The 50th Anniversary Of The Summer Of Love, 1967-On The Late Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider”

The 50th Anniversary Of The Summer Of Love, 1967-On The Late Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider”

Zack James’ comment June, 2017:
You know it is in a way too bad that “Doctor Gonzo”-Hunter S Thompson, the late legendary journalist who broke the back, hell broke the neck, legs, arms of so-called objective journalism in a drug-blazed frenzy back in the 1970s when he “walked with the king”’ is not with us in these times. In the times of this 50th anniversary commemoration of the Summer of Love, 1967 which he worked the edges of while he was doing research (live and in your face research by the way) on the notorious West Coast-based Hell’s Angels. His “hook” through Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters down in Kesey’s place in La Honda where many an “acid test” took place and where for a time the Angels, Hunter in tow, were welcomed. He had been there in the high tide, when it looked like we had the night-takers on the run and later as well when he saw the ebb tide of the 1960s coming a year or so later although that did not stop him from developing the quintessential “gonzo” journalism fine-tuned with plenty of dope for which he would become famous before the end, before he took his aging life and left Johnny Depp and company to fling his ashes over this good green planet. He would have “dug” the exhibition, maybe smoked a joint for old times’ sake (oh no, no that is not done in proper society) at the de Young Museum at the Golden Gate Park highlighting the events of the period showing until August 20th of this year.   

Better yet he would have had this Trump thug bizarre weirdness wrapped up and bleeding from all pores just like he regaled us with the tales from the White House bunker back in the days when Trump’s kindred one Richard Milhous Nixon, President of the United States and common criminal was running the same low rent trip before he was run out of town by his own like some rabid rat. He would have gone crazy seeing all the crew deserting the sinking U.S.S. Trump with guys like fired FBI Director Comey going to Capitol Hill and saying out the emperor has no clothes and would not know the truth if it grabbed him by the throat. Every day would be a feast day. But perhaps the road to truth these days, in the days of “alternate facts” and assorted other bullshit    would have been bumpier than in those more “civilized” times when simple burglaries and silly tape-recorders ruled the roost. Hunter did not make the Nixon “hit list” (to his everlasting regret for which he could hardly hold his head up in public) but these days he surely would find himself in the top echelon. Maybe too though with these thugs he might have found himself in some back alley bleeding from all pores. Hunter Thompson wherever you are –help. Selah. Enough said-for now  

DVD Review

Easy Rider, starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, directed by Dennis Hopper, 1969

In the recent Associated Press obituary for the late actor and director, Dennis Hooper, is quoted as believing that, for him, the 1969 counter-cultural classic motorcycle film that he directed, “Easy Rider”, was more a statement about the political landscape of the times than a male-bonding biker “road” movie. I agree with him, or at least that is how I have always viewed the film. The subjects of drugs, using and selling, dressing for “hippie" success, the hard road of rural communal living (or urban communal living, for that matter), and trying to cope with the “squares” and “rednecks” were all in a day’s work back in the days for those of us committed to “seeking a newer world.”

In that sense “Easy Rider” is a very, very different road trip from that of the literary one in Jack Kerouac’s 1957 “On The Road” (although the “action” of that book actually took place in the late 1940s). That small generational difference in time probably in cultural time was a matter of different epochs. The action of “On The Road” speaks to an almost subterranean escape from the bleakness of American conformity in the immediate post-World War II period behind the backs of the "squares". The bikers, Fonda and Hopper (Wyatt and Billy, alright), in “Easy Rider” are up front and public about their “making and doing” , as reflected the change in mores of their times as they confronted their version of American conformity in the 1960s. In the end they lost that very public battle, and we have been fighting a rearguard series of “culture war” battles ever since. But watch this film to get a slice of 1960s Americana. (Did we really wear that stuff and get all crazy like that? Yes, we did. Although under oath I will plead the 5th.) And if you are too young to know some of the references just ask mother and father (or the grandparents, ouch!). They WILL know.

Note: The late Doctor Gonzo”, journalist Hunter Thompson, rather eloquently in HIS countercultural classic, “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas”, mentioned toward the end of that fearsome saga that sometime in the late 1960s he could almost see the high tide of the movement ebbing before his eyes signaling the end of all those fierce dreams that we had of that “newer world” and the beginning of the approach of the “night of the long knives.” “Easy Rider” is the cinematic take on that proposition

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