Movie of the Week: “Easy Rider”

Easy Rider, directed by Dennis Hopper.

What is the big whoopee about “Easy Rider”? I mean, c’mon, two guys on motorcycles, selling a stash of drugs to pay for a road trip across the country to New Orleans. It’s 1969. They aren’t even hippies. They’re capitalists and their product is cocaine. And the love they’re getting ain’t free. It’s a coupla hookers they pick up in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

Give me a break. These two guys riding down the highways of America on bikes, their hair blowing in the wind. Was that the freedom all those boys were dying for in Vietnam?

They’re out to see America and we’re out to see it too. What could be more American than touring the sights with these two fellas, easygoing Captain America and uptight Billy the Kid? One can almost hear the voice of Horace Greeley himself, advising, “Go East, Young Man” as the two take their leave of California and cross the Colorado River.

They get to camp out, like boy scouts, and they get to ride those bikes like John Wayne and his pardners rode their horses. They could be outlaws if they had lived a century earlier. But they’re just wannabee outlaws. The clothes they wear are what the fashion-conscious Hollywood celebs might think would be appropriate to see America in. You just gotta love those designer sunglasses Peter Fonda wraps around his eyes.

Along the way they pick up a hitch hiker. A real hippie who thinks Porky Pig would be the thing to be. Takes the two on a detour to a commune. It’s a bit of a Noah’s Ark of a place what with the animals and the people. At least, the barn they are staying in looks like what the ark might have looked like. Then it’s back on the road again for the two wannabees.

The only thing I envied about Captain America and his partner were the motorcycles. Those were not motorcycles hippies would fly away on. They cost too much bread for any hippie. Then there was Jack Nicholson wearing that stupid helmet, riding behind Captain America. He was Jack being Jack as only Jack can be. Guess that was why he won that Academy Award. Nobody could do Jack better’n Jack.

It has one real downer of an ending. Kind of like a bad trip. They take a wrong turn and all heck breaks loose. Some might say the pair got their just end for their sins. Or maybe that’s what happens when you take a road trip in America.

But the music. Now that is something. That is something with a capital S. It was 1969 when I saw it, and it was the best music. The best I had ever heard in a movie that was not a musical. The movie’s titles start title-ing and the soundtrack cracks into one good road trip song, “Born to be wild” by Steppenwolf. There was Dylan, there was Hendrix, there was the Byrds and there was the Band doing one of my all time favs.

I had never heard “The Weight” before the movie. That darn fine piece of music laid the movie’s story out for me and it was off and running with “I pulled into Nazareth.” The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Later I bought the album and somebody else was doing that song. I took that vinyl and broke it into pieces. How could they cheat me like that?

Still the movie doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts. Some parts you like and some make you shake your head, wondering. All I know was that I walked out of that movie, thinking what was that. But then again, what isn’t that?

Is there a movie you think is way overrated by both critics and viewers?


Celebrating the Pyrate in Me

Since yesterday was National-Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day, I decided to let the pyrate in me leak out a bit. So I did what any decent buccaneer would do. I went looking for booty. Fer ye landlubbers, booty is pyratese for treasure, not that other kind of booty. And not just any kind of treasure. Had to be a shiver-me-timbers-and-blow-the-man-down kind.

First thing was to get properly dressed in a new set of long-john-silvers. Just can’t go looking for booty if you’re not properly dressed. I put on me tweeds, me silk shirt and me brogues and off I went shopping at the local pyrate store, Blackbeard’s. You know it’s the place to go if you want to be a well-dressed gentleman o’ fortune .

“Ye be going on the account?” the attendant at the clothier asked.

“No shippin’ off fer me. Looking for booty-hunting attire, matey,” I returned him with a smile. “And I don’t want to be taken for no sprog or squiffy. If ye scallywag me, I’ll keelhaul ye for the scurvy dog ye are.”

“Aye, I have just the thing, matey.” He adjusted his eye patch. “And keep yer black spot to yerself.”

Then he dressed me up in some fine loot-hunting gear: a red scarf for me head, an earring of the skull-and-crossbones for me ear, a linen shirt under me sea-green vest and a gray-and-white striped, cotton pants fer me bottom. And to top off me ensemble. A pair of black leather boots.

“By the Powers, all the lassies will give ye the swoon, me hearty,” he said.

I swaggered out of the store like the pyrate-for-a-day I knew I was.

If ye’re going booty huntin’, best have a map. So I went to me book shelves and pulled down an ancient tome. Opened it up and what do ye know. In me own back yard, the loot was buried.

I’d be in need of a shovel if I was going booty-huntin’. I went to the shed. Hadn’t been there for weeks. Maybe months. That was where the shovel had to be. Where else would a shovel choose to hide itself? Certainly not in the kitchen or the bathroom.

I dug and I dug till the shovel showed itself. I grasped it by the handle and went to the X-marks-the-spot on the map. I pushed the shovel into the ground and soon I was six feet and more into that earth I called a yard. All the while I sang the song every pyrate sings when in pursuit of loot: ” Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest—Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Drink and the devil had done for the rest—Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

Down I went, past the black gates of Mordor. Past the foul smell of Buccaneer’s Den. Deeper into the dark earth I dug. Tired, beswaggered, me sweat dripping its sweat, I continued, deeper in the earth than I had ever been. But where was the treasure I sought? Could the ghost of Captain Morgan his own self have stolen it?

Just before breaking through the ground and hitting China in the rump, thar she was. The booty I sought. In an ancient chest, it resided. I approached it, trembling with fear. Yet excitement too. This was it. Me treasure, me booty, me precious.

Me hands shook as I touched the large, rusty padlock. I would need a key for such a lock. But then, by Edward Teach’s beard, the lock dropped open, freeing the chest. I wrenched the lock free. The chest squealed a banshee’s cry as I opened it. I peered into the casket. There sitting alone on a scarlet cloth was me booty. It was a box of Cracker Jacks. And, yes, there was a prize inside the box. It was a gosh-darn truly doubloon. How ’bout that?

I breathed easy, a large grin on me buccaneer-for-a-day face, and leaned against the earth. I reached into the box and pulled out a handful of the molasses-covered popcorn and peanuts. I popped it into me mouth and chewed. This must be the ambrosia the gods spoke of. It was indeed bootylicious.