Easy Scooter

Friday, 29th May 2009; 11:28 am - Location:

I may be old, but I was way too young to see Easy Rider when it was in theaters back in ’69. (The Love Bug was more my speed.) But it’s a legendary, landmark piece of cinema, one of the key films of the post-studio/pre-blockbuster era of the 1970s, and it’s about guys on a road trip riding motorbikes, so I figured I should see it before my ride.

The movie stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as Wyatt and Billy (think “Earp” and “the Kid”), bikers who smuggle some coke into the U.S. and sell it to Phil Spector, then set out from L.A. toward Florida, where they plan to live on the money they’ve made from the deal. Various things happen along the way, and something big happens right at the end, but that’s really the “plot” of the movie. What the movie is “about” is them and the people they encounter. These include a hippie hitchhiking to his commune, an alcoholic ACLU lawyer (Jack Nicholson), a couple Nawlins prostitutes, and a variety of “regular folk” (both decent and not).

Billy and Wyatt are the subject of both fascination and hostility for their “long hair” and scruffy appearance, which seems a little bizarre by today’s standards. It would never cross my mind to accuse shaggy, mustached Dennis Hopper of looking like a girl, and Peter Fonda’s haircut looks downright conservative to me. Not a body piercing, or tat to be seen. As one of their two-wheeling kin, I find it fascinating that these motorcycle-riding characters were once an archetype of menace to society. Maybe if they’d driven scooters instead of choppers…

Anyway, I suspect I’ll turn some heads along the way, but presumably in amusement, not fear and loathing.

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