Easy Rider

I sat down to watch Norman Lear on The Dick Cavett Show.  I went off to work and became rather hungry at the end of the shift.  I stopped to get a burger, and saw everyone in the place watching the end of a soccer game on television.  Back at home, I watched “Easy Rider” on Blu-ray.  I don’t think I truly learned anything new watching it again.  The cinematographer was Laszlo Kovacs, who would work on “Five Easy Pieces,” “What’s Up, Doc?,” “Paper Moon,” “Shampoo,” “New York, New York,” and “Ghostbusters.”  I have always liked the part of the movie where Wyatt and Billy are riding their bikes before they get to the commune.  I wondered if having the plastic tube with the cork in the gas tank affected the motorcycle at all.  I wanted to know how those motorcycles got stolen, and what happened with them.  One person I really liked and miss seeing on the screen is Karen Black.  She, Nicholson, and Kovacs would all be a part of “Five Easy Pieces,” which was another strong movie.  The original cut may have been four hours long, and I wondered what happened to the deleted footage.  It might be worth seeing just for Laszlo Kovacs’ work.  I tried to imagine what “Easy Rider 2016” would be like if it were made.  It wouldn’t capture the imagination or be a cultural artifact.  Just picture two guys riding Harleys across the desert holding cell phones in the air, capturing video of the landscape.  When you do watch “Easy Rider,” you get the sense of missing footage.  Wyatt and Billy suddenly show up in the middle of a parade in a small town.  It looked like there wasn’t very much to the parade.  I wondered why they did anything at all that would attract the attention of the police.  These two certainly didn’t know how to avoid trouble.  I actually never understood why they would ride their bikes from Los Angeles through these Southern states to New Orleans.  Come to think of it, they should have skipped the riding altogether and taken a plane to Florida.  Florida was the goal for the two characters in “Midnight Cowboy.”  For its time, “Easy Rider” used music on its soundtrack in an unusual way.  Besides “Born to Be Wild,” I liked the way that “I Wasn’t Born to Follow” was used.  Jack Nicholson was barely in the movie, but I’ll always remember him for that weird thing that he did when he took a drink.  It made me think of Monty Python.  When those rednecks attacked him and Wyatt and Billy, I thought their injuries would be pretty severe.  They shouldn’t have been able to go around motorcycles, at least.  One thing that made me laugh was Wyatt removing his wristwatch and tossing it onto the ground.  He had to do symbolic for the camera and for the story, but a watch could be useful.  The movie could have ended with Wyatt and Billy making it to Florida and buying a boat, but I guess they had to be punished for making their big score with the cocaine.  After watching all those people toiling away, working on the land, it didn’t seem right that these guys made their fortune on other people’s addictions.  It wasn’t totally clear to me that Billy and Wyatt died, although it would have been a miracle if either of them survived.  Billy looked like he had already lost a lot of blood.  I guess it’s just wishful thinking to think either of them could have made it.  With the low budget, they couldn’t show the bodies getting mutilated.  It would make more sense in the story if they both died.  I think Hopper said that Billy was still alive, or at least could still be alive.  Seeing this movie again makes me think about what it takes to make a good movie.  Just a rejection of big money doesn’t do it, as plenty of small, independent films are stale and forgettable.  It helps to be in tune with the times, and maybe to be a bit desperate in order to be motivated.  You can spend a ton of money to make a money that the public instantly rejects, or put something out on a low budget that people still remember 47 years later.  Looking back on Jack Nicholson’s career, I find it hard to believe what he did from “Easy Rider” through “The Shining.”  I saw the highlights of the A’s win over the Rangers, which made Monday’s loss all the more aggravating.  I thought about sending a message about Sonny Gray to Chris Townsend, but restrained myself for now.  Some of the people who died on July 28 include Cyrano de Bergerac (1655), Antonio Vivaldi (1741), Johann Sebastian Bach (1750), and Eileen Brennan (2013).  Today is a birthday for Elizabeth Berkley (44) and Jim Davis (71).

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