The actor-director’s follow-up to Easy Rider was going to change Hollywood. That is, if he could get the damn thing made.


OCT 1, 2018


Courtesy of Areblos Films

Henry Fonda wasn’t holding back. Not even a little.

It was October 1970, and the 65-year old Hollywood legend had recently watched his son Peter on The David Frost Show.

Peter wasn’t the problem. Fonda’s son had come out, shaken Frost’s hand, and taken his seat—like a goddamn normal person. No, the thing raising Fonda’s blood pressure was what happened next, when Peter’s friend, Dennis Hopper came on stage.

“Dennis came out floating,” Fonda later told a New York Times reporter. He demonstrated what he meant by flouncing about the living room of his Manhattan apartment with arms spread wide and head tossed backwards. “And every time Frost asked him a question, he began giggling… Dennis is stoned out of his mind. He’d have to be to act that way.”

“Put that in your story,” Fonda told the reporter. ‘This is not off the record. Dennis Hopper is an idiot. Spell that name right D-e-n-n-i-s H-o-p-p-e-r!”

Reached at his home in Taos, New Mexico, Hopper laughed when told about Fonda’s rant. “Henry Fonda said I was an idiot?” Hopper said. “Well, I guess it goes to show you what the establishment view of me is.”


Courtesy of Areblos Films

Hopper could afford to be amused. After years of being regarded by much of the old guard as an ill-mannered, drug-addled lunatic, he was now possibly the hottest filmmaker in Hollywood. Easy Rider, which Hopper had made for less than half a million dollars, was the surprise smash of 1969, grossing $60 million and seemingly striking a death blow to the studio system that nourished the elder Fonda.

Hopper’s overnight transformation from unemployable fuckup to Wellesian genius was made exponentially more aggravating when Universal gave him total control over his next picture, on which he was currently in post-production: The Last Movie, which Hopper wrote, directed, starred in, and edited. He declared it “the first American art film.”

Hopper was keenly aware that the project would determine the course of his future, as he told the endless stream of reporters who visited him on the film’s set. “The Last Movie is the big one,” he told one writer. “If I foul up now, they’ll say Easy Rider was a fluke. But, I’ve got to take chances to do what I want.”

And, true to his word, that’s exactly what he did.

HOLLYWOOD, 1965-1969

The idea for The Last Movie came to Hopper in 1965 at a wrap party for the John Wayne film The Sons of Katie Elder in Durango, Mexico, a popular location for Hollywood westerns.

Katie Elder was Hopper’s first Hollywood movie since the 1958 western From Hell to Texas, also directed by Henry Hathaway, who had effectively blacklisted the actor after his Method approach slowed down production. Things came to a head one night when Hopper turned the set into his own personal Actor’s Studio, trying every possible approach other than Hathaway’s for eighty-five takes before bursting into tears of frustration and begging the director to give him his line readings one last time. When they were done, Hathaway threw an arm around Hopper and said, “Kid, you’ll never work in this town again.”


Courtesy of Areblos Films

For the next six years, Hopper didn’t appear in a single Hollywood film and struggled to find work even in television. But in late 1964, Hathaway and Wayne decided that the 28-year-old actor—who was then married to Brooke Hayward, the scion of a prominent Hollywood family, and had a young daughter to support—had suffered enough.

On his best behavior throughout the Katie Elder shoot, Hopper became fast friends with 22-year old actor Michael Anderson Jr. “We were the only two people under 100,” Anderson said. When the film wrapped, Hopper and Anderson attended a party thrown by a stuntman who’d rented a house in Durango. They spent the evening smoking pot and staring into an outdoor fireplace in relative silence, until Hopper turned to Anderson and said, “Hey man, I just had the best idea for a movie. It’s about making movies and the effect it has on people, and what they do when a movie company leaves town.”

Hopper teamed up with screenwriter Stewart Stern. Stern’s personal papers—containing everything from his high school academic records, correspondence with Joan Crawford and Paul Newman, and scripts for pictures like Rebel Without a Cause, his best-known movie (and Hopper’s film acting debut)—make up 22 boxes located in a special collections library at the University of Iowa. For years, only one of those boxes was unavailable for public view: Box 22, which contained the materials for The Last Movieand was placed under seal until after both Hopper and Stern were dead. Its contents tell a portion of the story of Stern’s collaboration with Hopper, which began when Hopper returned to Los Angeles and settled in at Stern’s house to write a treatment for what they were calling The Last Movie, or Boo Hoo in Tinseltown.

“Dennis would stride back and forth in the room and we’d spitball ideas,” Stern said. “I sat at the typewriter and he’d walk behind me with his joint and he’d be raving, ‘I bet you could really write if you had a little joint.’ I said, ‘Well I just won’t do it, it makes me hallucinate.’ So he said, ‘There’s something called a bong, you just inhale it over water.’”

As Hopper blew smoke down the snorkel of Stern’s scuba mask, the pair wrote a 98-page outline for the story of a broken-down stuntman named Tex who shacks up with an indigenous girl and stays behind in a small Latin American town where a western has just wrapped. After watching the film company shoot their western, the natives begin to reenact its making as a religious ritual using the old sets, as well as cameras and other equipment they’ve made out of sticks. Tex, meanwhile, plans to seek his fortune by developing the town as a location for future productions. “He’s Mr. Middle America,” Hopper said. “He dreams of big cars, swimming pools, gorgeous girls. He’s so innocent he doesn’t realize he’s living out a myth. Nailing himself to a cross of gold.” The natives, however, do understand, and create a passion play of “greed and violence” using Tex as the doomed Christ figure in their deadly ceremony.

“The end,” Hopper said, “is far out.”




Showing this week: ‘Blue Velvet


Metro-Goldwyn Mayer … Late Taos residents Dennis Hopper, left, and Dean Stockwell co-star in one of David Lynch’s most iconic films, ‘Blue Velvet.’


Rated R for for strong violent and disturbing content, some graphic nudity and pervasive language.

On Dennis Hopper’s birthday Wednesday (May 17), the Rebel Film Festival, Taos Center for the Arts, and Hopper Reserve present a free screening of David Lynch’s 1986 classic surreal mystery. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. with food vendors and Hopper’s commemoration birthday cake celebration.

The film begins with a young college student named Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) who finds a severed ear near his home in the quiet town of Lumberton where he helps out at his father’s hardware store. Jeffrey is puzzled when the cops take the ear but brush him off as they investigate.

Intrigued, especially after befriending the cop’s teenage daughter, Sandy (Laura Dern), Jeffrey decides to find out more when Sandy, in an overheard conversation at home, learns that the ear has something to do with a nightclub singer named Dorothy Valens (Isabella Rossellini). From there the story takes a strange turn, very strange, especially after Jeffrey decides to sneak into Dorothy’s apartment.

While Jeffrey hides in a closet, he witnesses a visit by Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper.). This performance hit new levels of depravity, even for Hopper who was already well known for pushing the envelope while depicting cinematic oddity. Be forewarned: this scene includes extremely difficult to watch sexual violence.

According to, several of the actors who were considered for the role of Frank found the character too repulsive and intense. Hopper, by contrast, is reported to have exclaimed, “I’ve got to play Frank. Because I am Frank!”

Hopper and co-star Dean Stockwell, who both lived in Taos, offer performances that are truly memorable. Highly recommended. However, this film, while edgy in an artistic sense, is designed to confront psycho-sexual norms, while creating some of the most suspenseful visuals ever filmed.



After being taken to the hospital to be checked out, the man was arrested on suspicion of charges including driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and driving while ability impaired as well as for previous warrants for his arrest


SPRINGFIELD — A driver, who was pulled over for speeding, tried to switch places with his dog to avoid arrest, police in southeast Colorado said.

An officer watched him maneuvering inside the car before he got out on the passenger side on Saturday night in Springfield, a town of about 1,300 people on the state’s Eastern Plains, police said in a Facebook post Sunday.

The man said he was not behind the wheel and clearly showed signs of being drunk, police said. He ran from the officer when asked about how much he had had to drink and was caught within about 20 yards, police said.

After being taken to the hospital to be checked out, the man was arrested on suspicion of charges including driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and driving while ability impaired as well as for previous warrants for his arrest.

“It was discovered that the male was driving from Las Animas to Pueblo and got lost in Springfield,” police said in Facebook. 

Pueblo is west of Las Animas. Springfield is east of Las Animas.

“The dog was given to an acquaintance of the driver to take care of while the party was in jail. The dog does not face any charges and was let go with just a warning,” the Facebook post said.



This Woman’s Work

For most of civilization (and even now), the question was never what women could do — it was what we were allowed to do. Make art, live alone, have children, don’t have children: A woman’s choices are often circumscribed by the era in which she is born, and then again by how tolerant, encouraging or generous the men in her life — beginning with her father — are. Poor women’s lives are circumscribed further; women marginalized because of their race, sexuality or ability, further still.

I suspect many women, in America and around the world, feel they’re in a state of whiplash as they’ve witnessed hard-won freedoms and rights become imperiled in recent years. I always say that history is not a line but a loop, and it’s been dismaying and frightening for many to watch as we tumble down the other side of the curve. Yet if being a woman means always looking backward — to remind us of where we were, what we must avoid and how our predecessors managed in their own difficult circumstances — it means looking forward, too, as part of the ongoing exercise of hope that is also intrinsic to womanhood.

For this issue, we asked 33 mid- and late-career female artists and creative people (the majority of them over 45) to identify a younger female artist who inspires them. It didn’t have to be someone from the same field or discipline; it didn’t even have to be someone they knew — it just had to be someone who gave them a sense of hope, and in whom they saw either their younger selves or, in some cases, the self they wish they had been. Many of these older artists faced overt sexism or discrimination (when she began her career in the 1960s, the 83-year-old writer Margaret Atwood was told, “Well, of course women can’t write”); their very presence, not to mention their accomplishments, is a testament to their perseverance — an undercelebrated but necessary quality in an artist’s life. I was struck as well by how many of these artists’ younger counterparts see the lives of those who picked them as models of self-possession and assuredness, even as the older artists themselves claim this wasn’t the case: “What I think we all saw in Margaret was confidence,” says the 34-year-old comedian Atsuko Okatsuka of the 54-year-old actress and comedian Margaret Cho. “I often wonder what it must feel like for her, knowing who she is since she was born.” But “if I go back and look at my comedy sets from the ’90s, my voice was all over the place,” Cho says (in a separate interview). “[Atsuko] has a strong sense of self that took me a long time to develop.”

Many of these women speak lovingly and movingly of the importance of mentorship — “Mentorship’s not a candy store; it’s a relationship,” says the 72-year-old playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith — which, it’s worth clarifying, is not the same as mothering. But we also talked to seven artistic mother-and-daughter groups, ones defined both by blood and, in the case of the writer and illustrator Sybil Lamb, 47, and the writer Imogen Binnie, 44, by kinship: trans women who found inspiration, comfort and understanding through each other’s work.

Artists, all artists, never stop searching for ways to live and ways to be, for lessons from other people’s lives — “Oh,” you think, “if I had her bravery, if I had her tenacity, if I had her industriousness, if I had her lack of self-consciousness, then who might I become? What might I be able to create?” History is a loop, and time is short. We’ll find instruction from whatever source we can, whether looking back or looking forward. The march goes on. — HANYA YANAGIHARA

At top: Katy Grannan and Yumeng Guo (Joan Baez and Lana Del Rey), Carolyn Drake (Marlee Matlin and Teyana Taylor), Alima Lee (Margaret Cho and Atsuko Okatsuka), Nick Perron-Siegel (Danai Gurira and Dominique Thorne), Hart Lëshkina (Naomi Watts and Elle Fanning), Chase Middleton (Laurie Simmons and Lena Dunham), Flora Hanitijo (Anna Deavere Smith and Michela Marino Lerman) and Melody Melamed (Margaret Atwood and Mona Awad).

Covers, clockwise from top left: Chiuri and Xa: Photographed by Hannah Starkey. Chiuri and Xa wear Dior clothing. Baez and Del Rey: Photographed by Katy Grannan. Salt-N-Pepa and Rae: Photographed by Renee Cox. Styled by Ian Bradley. James wears a Vince dress, $425,; Zana Bayne belt, $290,; Christian Louboutin boots, $1,495, (212) 396-1884; David Webb earrings, $62,000, necklace, $74,000, and cuff, $44,000,; and Tabayer ring, $13,000, Rae wears a Proenza Schouler dress, $2,690,; Stuart Weitzman sandals, $475,; Lisa Eisner earrings, $3,000,; Bulgari cuffs (from left), $27,000 and $17,100,; and her own ring. Denton wears a Versace dress, $3,475,; Bottega Veneta shoes, $1,600,; and a Van Cleef & Arpels necklace, price on request, Tsang and Klein: Photographed by Delali Ayivi. Watts and Fanning: Photographed by Hart Lëshkina. Styled by Tess Herbert. Watts wears a Bottega Veneta dress, $6,600, and boots, price on request; and Ana Khouri earrings, price on request, Fanning wears a Bottega Veneta dress, $20,000. Cho and Okatsuka: Photographed by Kanya Iwana.

Digital production and design: Nancy Coleman, Danny DeBelius, Amy Fang, Chris Littlewood, Carla Valdivia Nakatani and Jess Vanam.



Pema Chödrön quote



Excerpted from:
The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving-Kindness
by Pema Chödrön,
Page 14
March 29, 2023 
The Innocent Mistake
The innocent mistake that keeps us caught in our own particular style of ignorance, unkindness, and shut-downness is that we are never encouraged to see clearly what is, with gentleness. Instead, there’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to get away from painful things, and that if we could just learn how to get away from the painful things, then we would be happy. That is the innocent, naïve misunderstanding that we all share, which keeps us unhappy.




A grateful letter with a thoughtful compilation of poems. The letter is addressed to Kubota Shunko (1744-1850) and his son Ryushi. They both were Issa’s students. But their relationship with Issa went far beyond that. The Kubota family was very close and supportive. Issa had been living in the Kubotas‘ storehouse for many years and Kubota Shunko inherited Issa’s diary about the 35 last days of his father. The original manuscript was handed down from generation to generation until in 1922 it was published as Chichi no Shuen Nikki.

Yesterday I didn’t have any ink left so I could not write any poems. – In the future I will be prepared earlier. And next year I will be back home so I will be prepared early enough. So as for now I am deeply grateful for the consideration from both your families. You really should not have. Thank you so much!

Frost on chrysanthemum
Pine trees are here and there
A horse neighs – autumn has come

Chrysanthemum flowers
In my eyes
Burning flames.

In the woods
Autumn leaves
warm my hands

Autumn leaves.
A father breaks branches,
A child picks them up.

Whom are you attracting,

These imbecilic verses are for your enjoyment. – Issa

And send my regards to your wonderful families and Master [Nakamura] Kocho.

Kobayashi Issa (1763-1850)