One of my favorite memories is being snuck into a late night showing of Easy Rider. It was in this trashy $2 theatre and being 15, I didn't fully understand the social implications of the film, but I knew that it was cool. And so did my friends. None of us had ever ridden a motorcycle and the only other movie I had seen Dennis Hopper in was Speed. I saw him then as some ancient, wide-eyed villain and cheered along with the rest of my friends when Keanu left him to his fiery demise. And I never gave him a second thought, until I saw Easy Rider.
Watching Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson (yes, that Jack Nicholson!!) sit around a fire, smoking and talking about the changes in their generation set me on the path to discovering a whole different history of America, so different from the one I had grown up with.
Coming from a 'Red State', where a densely conservative history was our curriculum, Hopper and Easy Rider were the catalysts toward the first steps I would take in finding an America I would fall in love with. A kinder, gentler America; drug culture aside, it was the discovery of self that I became enamoured with. Taking that journey to find out who I was and where I was going. Just like Billy and Wyatt were.
As I followed Hopper as an actor throughout the years I came to see a man who was complex: egotistical,childish, even brutish- but he would always remain the first man I ever loved.
Goodbye Mr. Hopper. And safe journey.