Dear Dennis Hopper,
A few years ago, I used to be what some would call a “journalist.” I put that dirty word in quotations because I mostly wrote for online publications that no one really gives a shit about. We all know what the internet has done to “journalism” right? Nothing good. But it was during that time that we met. You probably forgot the encounter minutes after it happened. I never will. It was in June of 2006, when some people actually cared about the words I wrote.
I was at the closing party at the CineVegas Film Festival (obviously located in Las Vegas, Nevada). Taylor Hackford was there with his wife Helen Mirren. I think she won an Oscar the following year for something.
Cigars for Hopper (6/2010)
Anyway, I had to leave the party around midnight because I had to catch the redeye back to Orlando. It would be the last time I would ever travel for a film festival. I was walking out to find my ride, down a long corridor hallway at the Hard Rock Casino. I saw you standing there and I pondered what to say for a while.
I’ve met many celebrities I couldn’t give a shit about. You were different. I was/am an enormous fan of yours. Easy Rider changed my life. That was the first film I ever saw that said, “Fuck your cinematic traditions and let’s get real.”
I think you had a cigar in your mouth. You were waiting for someone too. What could I say to you? Should I ask about what it was like to rock and roll with James Dean during the filming of Giant? Perhaps I could tell you that My Science Project is one of the most underrated 80s flicks this side of the Monster Squad. Or that I secretly hate Blue Velvet even though I love you in it. You’re the only thing good about Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and you added a great deal of class to an otherwise mediocre action ride (Speed). I almost pictured myself saying, “I loved you in True Romance and Super Mario Bros.”
I didn’t say any of that. I just introduced myself. You were friendly. Asked me if I liked the festival. I did. I loved it. Vegas is a great town. We shook hands. I felt like the Terminator at the end of Terminator 2, shaking hands with Sarah Connor before lowering myself into the steel. And that was that.
Now you’re gone. So it goes.
I hate that you’re no longer here. You’ve had such a huge impact on me over the years. You’ve affected my general attitude and my overall feelings towards the Hollywood machine. You’re one of the reasons I hate so many films.
Hopefully the next time we meet, we can rock a drink. Then the two of us can team up and punch Brett Ratner in the face.
So it goes.