It was at the Byrd Theater in Richmond Virginia that I first saw the flick. I think it was ‘02 or ‘03 and at the time I didn’t understand why they were showing it on 4/20 when they could have been showing a Cheech and Chong movie or even Half Baked. The open sequence explained it and I knew that I was in for something that was a bit more than a movie.
When Easy Rider first premier in 1969, the US was, as it is now, in a state of upheaval. It was the first film of its kind, not just in the subject matter but in how things worked on the set. It wasn’t the guys in accounting pushing for a blockbuster, it was a couple of guys with a vision, a ton of good drugs and an original story to tell.
Peter Fonda’s Captain America was the hero we needed then and the same kind of hero we need now. He wasn’t cocky or arrogant and never lost his cool. He kept his eye on the prize the entire time yet was able to enjoy the moment he was in. Without a doubt a lot of people walked out of the movie shaking their heads. A few of them even went out and bought a bike then set out on the open road to find their own adventure.
Anyone who rides owes a debt of gratitude to the man. Anyone who’s ever just gotten in the car and headed into the unknown should be raising a glass right now. I’d be lying if I knew a great deal about the guy, I can’t tell you another movie he was in off the top of my head. At the same time, I’ve never walked out of a movie theater that stunned and inspired.
Years later, on my own road trip, I couldn’t help but laugh when “Born to be wild” came on as I was heading through the New Mexican desert. It’s one thing to see it on the big screen but when you’re flying down the highway doing 70mph, you start to understand what freedom really is.
Thank you Mr. Fonda for being the real symbol of freedom, for being the real Captain America. I know Dennis is waiting upstairs with some girls and some good acid.