Easy Rider (2 posts)

Wed, 26 Jun 1996 08:46:12 -0400

Sender: Eugene Levine <elevine@world.std.com>
Subject: Re: Easy Rider (multiple posts)

On Tue, 25 Jun 1996, Ron Jacobs wrote:

> Irwin Silber wrote a pamphlet in 1970 or so regarding this phenomenon
> [cooptation] and came to the conclusion that the only solution was to
> create an alternative distribution network. The closest the
> countercultyre.new left came to this were the underground newspapers
> and radio stations.

Ummmm...how about the 'Net?

gene levine

Sender: John Pastore <bwplacar@cancun.rce.com.mx>
Subject: Re: Easy Rider

Kent Manno wrote:


> I would think that the most extreme red-neck element would not be from the
> middle-class liberals...

Me too, and I thought that was what I was saying. The hippies in the
South when the movie came out were basically from Northern middleclass
backgrounds, and not Southern rural ones. The Southern rurals didn't come
into the movement until well after Dylan started Country-Rock, and rural
muscians had started picking up on that genre.

...more from the working class that might not be as tolerant and
> aware of the
> possible cashing-in.

By cashing in I meant taking advantage of a very basic misperception they
had. 'Rednecks' (from the rural South) did get in their pickup trucks to
drive all the way to 'Hotlanta' and, there, actually knock on doors in
the hippy neighborhood and actually ask if there was any free-love, as in
love for free, as opposed to love for sale. Sometimes they would be
asking transvestites and not know it. Good thing for the tv's, or they'd
have been rolled on the spot for gas and Bud money.

> >Their was, however, tension (bad vibes). But, like foreigners in a foreign
> land,long-time residents will have, surprisingly, far more tolerance than one
> would suspect
> >and absolve whatever friction with: "Well, they're just too stupid to not
> know any
> >better" --and leave it at that.
> This would have been my impression...growing up in southern Florida in the
> 60's...
> there was quite a bit of tension....and tolerance...

Allman Brother territory: South Florida, and then Atlanta, just before
the riot which made both the Allman Brothers and Atlanta famous!

> So you are saying that bikers and hippies just don't mix...and that maybe
> Fonda and
> Hopper should have been in a VW bus...:)....You would think they thought
> about this
> before writing the movie.

If Fonda and Hopper are suppose to be thought of as hippies. In Atlanta,
for example, bikers went into an early understanding with the first
neighborhood police precint ever in that city. The, then, governor of the
state, Lestor Maddox, wanted the hippies out. Room had to be made for
such commercial developments as Colony Square, but mostly because he just
didn't like 'heep-pies' anymore than he liked 'neeg-gras'. You remember

Lestor was the one who had the Pick-Wick(?)Fried-Chicken Restaurant in
Underground Atlanta and started selling souvenir pick handles when the
Federal Government forced intergration and, of course,
"miscengeeeeenation". He was the one who also knew how to ride a bicycle
while sitting on it backwards. He was also against the Federal Government
forcing the states to have daylight savings time. He was worried the
roosters wouldn't know when to wake up in the mornings.

Part of the very serious problems then were the bikers staking out
exclusive territories for themselves for the sale of drugs, including
very dangerous ones such as methedrine, and, when real LSD was
unavailable, and even when it later became impossible to get: horse
tranquilizers. The police not only tolerated the bikers and their
violence, as such was expected to drive the hippies out, but,
msyteriously, when anyone was ever busted for selling any pot, for
example, only half of the take would show up in court against the dealer,
while the bikers, who were never arrested for anything, would have
new stuff the following day. While, even during their shoot-outs with
such as the original Mi-Lai (sp?) defendents, and, not until the
discovery of a rather unique cemetary, did I know of a biker who, then,
was being arrested for anything. They patroled the main drag, and the its
sidestreets while flying their colors. The hippies stayed as cool as
possilble while paying the minimum amount of lip-service possible when
around them. Never do I remember anyone inviting any of them to parties.
The violence of the bikers then was highly volatile. I remember one
skinny hippy, for just one example, who had politely informed one who was
drunk and harassing his pregnant girlfriend that he was upseting her. The
whole gang then started. . .

The bikers were not hippies, and I never knew of even a so-called hippie
who understood what a hippy was, who would have ever had himself mistaken
for a biker by attaching himself to a bike. A VW Van may have been more
believable for the film even that early on,even if the Fonda and Hopper
characters were suppose to be depicting real hippies. Hitch-hiking,
definetly so. If they were suppose to be depicting real bikers, the
characterizations would have been equally ludicrous. The inspiration to
use bikes must have been based on (excuse me, the name of the film
escapes me right now) on a biker film made back in the fifties with
Marlon Brando playing the only kind of role I have ever seen him ever
play well: that of a vulgar moron --and, quite possibly, Hopper's intense
jealousy for Brando for having become noticed by it. A little of Jack
Kerouac's "Dharma Bums" must have been thrown in for atmosphere.

> Unfortunately, I think there are still some that believe many bikers were
> hippies.

Some what?

> Let me assume that you are saying that Fonda and Hopper would be the extreme
> redneck element of the hippie movement.

OK. They represented the redneck, 'silent majority' types, who were not
killers and from whom many did, later, become hippies (though not on
bikes, a couple of old Sears Scooters) but, in that act of becoming
hippies they rejected the heritage of their roots, to provoke, no matter
how inadvertantly the, 'extreme'-rednecks who then took them as traitors:
"Who do you think you are, better'n us? You are us! And here y'are. You
want some shit, boy?"

These 'extreme' red-necks never became hippies, much less, considered
rejecting their heritage, though by the time they might have thought
twice about it when admiring the likes of, say, Willie Nelson. But, by
then, the hippy movement was over. Relative to the rest of the hippy
movement only, though, the characters depicited by Fonda and Hopper
represented its extreme redneck element --but that would have nothing to
do with their ultimate doom at the hands of their rejected brethren.

The vast majority of the hippies of those times were the, transplanted,
Northern liberal types. They would, as the no-threat, "being too stupid
to know better types", who were not even middle-class Southern White
Anglo Saxon Protestants, not have been regarded as traitors to their
class, and, thus, not provoke the ire of the extreme 'rednecks' to the
point of murder --or, at least, make it fashionable.

As incongruous as it might first seem, can you imagine if Cheech and
Chong, a middle class dope fiend (but not a Southern one), and a
non-squatting ethnic dope fiend, instead of Hopper and Fonda, played the
leading roles, that the shooting scene could have been believable?

Fonda's red, white and blue get-up begged, white, blue-collar, red-neck
America, as did Hopper's floppy leather cowboy hat (even when riding) and
leather tassles, and not the rest of the America of Cheech, Chong,
Hoffman, Ginsberg, etc.
> I think I need to find out more about the biker scene of the sixties(can you
> recommend
> any sources)...

I have been living in a city which has had no libraries for as long as
the 17 years that I have been living here, so I can't reccomend what
might be available, as if anything avaiable in literature on such a topic
would be stocked here by a library even if they was one. Sorry :)

...or maybe change my concept of bikers and hippies...Can it be
> assumed
> that some bikers were hippies? Or was this not acceptable in the biker realm?

It was acceptable in neither realm. The initiations of prospective bikers
into clubs, and all the violence which subsequently emanated from them,
made them diametricaly opposed to everything about the hippies: the
'flower' children. The bikers did stay close, in proximaty only, to the
hippies, to stay only that much closer to their market and enjoy their
concessions to deal. It was relatively easy given the unwritten license
given by the police and the total pacificism of the hippies themselves.
There are those who speculate that the influx of drugs into the U.S.A,
may have been planned as early as Madam Nhu's brief visit to the states,
while on her way to France, immeadiately after the C.I.A's assasination
of her husband.

> As Fonda wrote the film...I don't think he said it because he was being paid
> to...I think there
> was a message here...maybe I'm wrong about this.

You're probably right that Fonda wrote it and maybe he had thought he had
incorporated a message. The same message I suppose which prompted him to
use bikes, streamers, red, white and blue field jackets, etc., which were
quite novel at the time, but never went over except with a very few,
plastic, flamboyant types, who let their jackets first get somewhat worn
or cast to the trash before too much more time was spent in them. Real
bikers wouldn't be caught dead in them. And the others who wore them,
while not even having bikes were immediately regarded by the bikers as a
source of trouble, or rather fun. The nerve of those few guys to show
colors! If there was a message, apparantly, only Evil Kineval caught it.
Doesn't say much about Fonda, but I've never heard him say much, either
then, or since --or, even, anything at all. As for Hopper, as they use to
say: "Get real."

The movie was to make money. Fonda and/or Hopper sensed, or saw, the
tensions mentioned and, I think, said: "Hey, won't it be fun if we make a
movie about these rednecks really going so far as to start shooting these
hippies? Get the camera Dennis, I'll write the five pages of dialog as we
go along. Don't worry about the bucks for the film and processing. Daddy
wants to do something for me now that Jane has Barbarella." They may have
been inspired, in part, by Bill Dickey's "Deliverance". At least by his
book, if, by then, the movie had yet to come out.
> >
> >Well excuse me if it sounds a little heavy, but those were heavy times, and
> I think the
> >film, as a film, was over-rated then, as it is now.
> >
> Point well taken.

Thanks, and do be careful where you look for 'biker' sources. :)

John Pastore
Hotel Plaza Caribe
Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mx.

"...she entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as
sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with
pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in
the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks
which passed within his view..."

---Charles Dickens