January 14, 2019

Easy Rider and Being Yourself


In 1969 there was a whole lot of shakin’goin’ on, makin’ love goin’ on, and fakin’ goin’ on (mostly the government trying to fake the common man on how the Vietnam War was going— like saying we were actually winning) and there was a movie that was released that made a big impression on a lot of people...it was called ‘Easy Rider’ and it starred Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson...without rehashing the whole plot which you probably know anyway, it was basically a ‘road’ movie featuring guys who were traveling around the country on their motorcycles...I think they were going from California to Mardi Gras...there they meet two woman played by actresses Karen Black who went on to a pretty good career, and Toni Basil (yes of the 80’s song ‘Mickey’ fame, you know Oh Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey!)...anyway the point is that in one scene three guys are sitting around talking and the Peter Fonda character (Wyatt) brings up the question of if you could be somebody else, who would you be...a stranger they had met says he’d like to try to be Porky Pig (might have been the drugs or alcohol talking)...the Peter Fonda character says that he never wanted to be anybody else...I don’t pretend to know the psychological implications or bimblafications of this, but I think it would be pretty cool to be so content with yourself that you never wanted to be anyone else...I think most of us grow up wanting to be somebody else...somebody better looking, or somebody more talented, or somebody more popular...we see some guy on TV and think “yeah, I’d like to be like him”...we may even try to imitate that person in some way in real life...but you know, you always go back to bein’ who you are...you can’t fake steak...you can change some characteristics, but trying to change your whole personality is tough...some people never grow out of it...always wanting to be somebody else instead of being satisfied with who they are...anyway, I think that was a pretty cool moment in a movie that I thought was just OK, but nothing great...the undisputed king of the ‘on the road’ scene (at least in the 50’s) was Jack Kerouac (he wrote and became famous for the massive scroll turned into a book ‘On The Road’) and as stated in ‘Kerouac In Florida, Where The Road Ends’ by Bob Kealing, Kerouac didn’t like the counterculture classic...he claimed whereas he and pal Neal Cassidy had a good time and celebrated America itself, the characters in the movie were just on drug fueled road adventure...“They’re trying to make heroes out of those guys, and they’re not heroes” Kerouac reportedly said...he also called the characters ‘criminals’...although to be fair, neither Kerouac or Cassidy were exactly like choir boys...Kerouac saw the movie just months before he died an alcoholic wreck in St. Petersburg, Florida which has also been called “God’s waiting room” because of all the old people who used to move there and wait for that grim grim grinning reaper to come by and do his job...by this point, the Beats had been replaced by the sunglasses wearing, finger-snapping, bongo playing Beatniks (that’s the image anyway), and then along came the peace and love hippies...some saw the hippies as an extension of the Beats and yes, they wanted to live an alternative lifestyle...but most of the Beats were aspiring writers who wanted to make money and become well-known for their literary talents...you hate to use a broad brush, but the hippies for the most part were pretty aimless if you don’t count the whole peace and love thing which was doomed to fail anyway and in many cases a charade designed for their own self-indulgent pleasures.