The blog of author Dennis Cooper

River Phoenix Day


‘River Phoenix’s death has startled and depressed everyone I know, even people who had previously dismissed movie stardom as a form of corporate-induced mass hypnosis. About 72 hours after his fatal collapse, a cynical friend and I happened on a recent television interview in which the earnest young actor was laying out his future plans, and we burst into horrified tears. Weird. That’s what we keep saying: Weird that he’s dead; weird that we care so much. Phoenix seems to have been admired by a whole lot of people in relative secrecy- an artist whose work insinuated itself into viewers’s good graces, no matter how faltering its particular vehicle, nor how initially cold-hearted his audience.

‘To wit: As I write this, Hard Copy, hardly a show known for its moral fortitude, is heaping praise on a paparazzi photographer who couldn’t bring himself to document the actor’s dying convulsions. The word on the streets, even in the gossip columns, had always had Phoenix living a pretty honorable and pristine existence relative to the goings-on of his peers- a poetry-reading, vegetarian, open-minded, Democratic life, free of Shannon Doherty’s creepiness, Judd Nelson’s self-destructiveness, Mickey Rourke’s bombast. Occasionally you’d hear about him standing tensely and unsociably on the fringe of some art gallery opening; S/M performer Bob Flanagan, once a member of the improvisational comedy troupe the Groundlings, remembers Phoenix staggering drunkenly onto the stage during one of their skits. But big deal. He was a kid.

‘Mostly he seemed, if anything, too serious, too incapable of relaxing into a benign mindlessness, even for a minute. In a recent issue of Detour magazine, he positively excoriated many of his fellow actors for being ego-driven, and spoke of wanting to move not just out of L.A., but out of this wretched country entirely. Nonetheless, he did continue to live here, and he did apparently die under the influence of drugs at a trendy local nightspot. So it’s hard to know what to think right now. Death always focuses people, even if the demystification process takes years in some cases. It shouldn’t with Phoenix, since his sincerity and forthrightness have never been in question. Ultimately, barring unforseen revelations, his name, his work, will acquire that particular cult holiness that people naturally create to fill in the blanks around the prematurely taken.

‘Phoenix will be our James Dean, just like so many pundits are predicting. Meanwhile, by default, his fellow “outsider” types like Keanu Reeves, Matt Dillon, et al., are stuck being our Marlon Brando, if they’re lucky. And that’s because actors can’t compete with their fans’ imaginations, and the accomplishments we’ll fantasize for a hypothetical mature Phoenix can’t help but outstrip the potential feats of the bona fide middle-aged Phoenix. Life’s funny, and even a little disgusting, that way. Comparisons between Phoenix and James Dean are lazy, not to mention ubiquitous at this point, though they did share several of the qualities that separate great actors from mere signifiers of glamour. Both were extremely attentive to detail yet seemingly incapable of submerging their actual emotions under an artifical personality.

‘No matter how peripheral Phoenix’s role — the scatterbrained junior hippie in I Love You To Death, the poet/Casanova in The Life and Times of Jimmy Reardon, the loyal, spooked son of Harrison Ford’s megalomaniac in The Mosquito Coast — he was always a little more perceptive and soulful- more real- than anyone else onscreen. Even in as offbeat and dislocated a milieu as the Portland street-hustler scene of My Own Private Idaho, Phoenix’s Mike stood out as unusually lonesome- someone who was afraid of, and simultaneously astonished by, his squalid conditions, who desperately sought affection from others while at the same time avoiding sympathizers like the plague. It was a performance that, like most of Dean’s, seemed to distill the confused melancholy of an emerging generation.

‘Phoenix was the son of hippie parents. He sometimes described his acting style as an attempt to represent how he felt upon trading his family’s blanket humanism for the film industry’s hatred of the unrepentent individual. Actress-performer Ann Magnuson, who co-starred with Phoenix in Jimmy Reardon, once remarked to me with a kind of amazement how solid and unspoiled he seemed even then, in the teen-idol phase of his career. As someone who entered showbiz with her own mixed feelings, she wondered how or even if he’d survive its multifarious forms of corruption. Maybe that very struggle explains why, as he aged, his performances exuded ever more sadness and pointed discomfort. His best recent work found him playing overgrown kids who clung for their lives to youthful notions of a perfect romantic and/or familial love. In a profession that divides its young into marginalized wackos with integrity like Crispin Glover and John Lurie, or hipster sellouts like Christian Slater and Robert Downey, Jr., Phoenix was that once-in-a-decade actor honest enough to connect powerfully with people his own age, and skillful enough to remind members of an older generation of the intensity they’d lost.’ — Dennis Cooper, Spin Magazine, 1993





River Phoenix @ IMDb
‘The Short, Happy Life of River Phoenix’
Rio’s Attic: The River Phoenix Encyclopedia
The River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding
My River Phoenix Collection, a Fanpage
Thew River Phoenix Blog
The River Phoenix Discussion Group
RIVER PHOENIX WAS HERE Documentary Official Website
Book: ‘River Phoenix: A Short Life’
Peter Bogdanovich interviewed about River Phoenix
‘My Love-Hate Relationship with River Phoenix’
The Death of River Phoenix Discussion Forum
River Phoenix Forever, a Spanish Fan Blog
Fuck Yeah River Phoenix
Fuck Year River Phoenix’s Hair
River Phoenix Lovers’ Journal
A Boy Named River Phoenix tumblr
‘A decade without River Phoenix’
‘The Strange Saga of River Phoenix’s Final Film’



Interview 1987

Interview 1988

Interview 1991

River Phoenix hometown tour

Trailer: ‘River Phoenix Was Here’, a documentary



A young River & Joaquin Phoenix in ”Afterschool Special: Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia”

River Phoenix’s Emotional Performance In ‘Surviving: A Family In Crisis’ (1985)

Very young River Phoenix sings ‘Rock Around the Clock’

River Phoenix in ‘Family Ties’


Songs for and by

River Phoenix singing ‘Lone Star State of Mine’

Japanther ‘River Phoenix’ (live)

Aleka’s Attic ‘Where I’d Gone’

Panter ‘River Phoenix’

John Frusciante & River Phoenix ‘Height Down’


Last Interview


A few days before his death, on October 31, in L.A., River Phoenix was interviewed by Premiere Magazine on the set of his last movie, Dark Blood, in Utah. He was 23 years old.

Your movies often contain an important social or political message. Is it a deliberate choice from yours?

River Phoenix: What inspires me first is the quality of the written word and script, and not some strategy. At the time of Mosquito Coast, I didn’t choose my parts yet. I went to a casting and I had the chance to join in such a movie.

Most young actors seem to make more commercial choices than you, is it right?

RP: Maybe some of my movies would have been successful if I hadn’t played in… These commercial stuff, I consider them as a pollution of mind. I don’t want to contaminate my work or my convictions with things that won’t contribute to my growth or to the development of my art.

Generally, how do you deal with a part?

RP: Usually, I write the detailed biography of the character. For me it’s the only possible way. To play a sad scene, many will only for example think of their mother’s death. I consider it’s a mistake for an actor to cross the boundary that separates him from his character. Because then you impose him your own references. That’s why I need to have landmarks that only belong to my character. For example, for My Own Private Idaho I wrote a lot. And once the movie was done, I burned it all.


RP: Everything was on the screen.

Was this also not to use it again?

RP: That’s right, even if, as an actor, I’m growing richer and learning with each character. And a new character will then be able to raise from this compilation of parts.

You’re vegan?

RP: I’m not eating any animal flesh and I don’t feel having the right to take the soul of any living creature. But the movie character, on his side, belongs to the natural food chain, like Native Americans or Inuit. He’s entitled to live on earth’s natural resources.

Could you describe what you enjoy as an actor?

RP: When you look at the movie history, you realize that there are gaps and missing links. My ultimate goal is to try to give in a competent way a voice to characters who haven’t had the chance to talk yet, those who never expressed themselves so far. Even if I’ve not always been able to do so. For me, the ideal recompense, what really fulfills me, is to create something new. Not only to be original at any cost or to be the first one to do it, but because these blanks need to be filled. Besides, I could play the same character again and again, in a different way each time. As many times as I have atoms in my body.

Are you satisfied with what you’ve achieved at this point in your career?

RP: Honestly, I don’t think this way. I never think of me as an actor. I see all of this as new experiences each time, like as many different lives. As many reincarnations. So when I watch my last movie, I’m unable to judge or to be critical. For me, it’s past, and I don’t feel any connection to it anymore, like if it was somebody else than me that I’m not responsible for. I immersed myself in another life that the character appropriated. He expressed himself through me, not the other way around.

It sounds like you’ve always taken care to separate your private life from your actor’s work.

RP: Absolutely. Quite often, when actors have such a strong charisma in real life, eventually it has to affect the characters they play. For myself I’m not charismatic in that way. I’m not a “performer”. Ideally I would stay mute as River. That’s the reason why, for a long time, I’ve said the opposite of what I really thought. In interviews, I’ve also played to be characters that I wasn’t. I’ve lied and often contradicted myself to dumbfound people. It’s all over now, because I have nothing left to hide. Eventually, I’m quite an ordinary person.


14 of River Phoenix’s 25 roles

Marvin J. Chomsky Robert Kennedy and His Times (1985)
Robert Kennedy and His Times is a 1985 American television miniseries directed by Marvin J. Chomsky, based on the 1978 Robert F. Kennedy biography of the same name by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’ — Wikipedia


River scenes as Robert Kennedy Jr

Watch the clip here


Joe Dante Explorers (1985)
‘For the children who watched in darkened theaters as Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix flew through space in a tricked out Tilt-A-Whirl carriage, the 1985 coming-of-age adventure “Explorers” was a defining moviegoing experience. The film is about a group of three boys drawn into deep space by media-loving aliens. The family sci-fi film is still beloved by a dedicated, albeit small, group of fans — those who may find it hard to believe that the cult film remains a sore spot with director Joe Dante. “It’s not a movie I revisit much,” the director told TheWrap during a recent interview, citing the film’s bad reviews and abysmal box office performance. Phoenix wasn’t thrilled about playing a geek, Dante recalled. “For him it was always a performance because he was vehemently not that guy,” he told TheWrap. “When a girl would come by he would always take the glasses off.”’ — The Wrap



Rob Reiner Stand by Me (1986)
‘Until Stand By Me, the only film River Phoenix had appeared in had been the teen flick Explorers; he had yet to really make his mark. But in Chris Chambers, he was able to exude that tenderness, vulnerability and understated cool he would eventually become known for. In a particularly heart-wrenching scene, Phoenix sits at the trunk of a tree, the campfire flickering in the foreground, and has a breakdown because he thinks he’s worthless. It was a tough one to get right. Director Rob Reiner asked the actor to think of a time when an adult had let him down. “When someone that you really looked up to, and really loved, wasn’t there for you,” he said. The next take, he got it. Reiner never did find out what Phoenix was thinking about. “He kept crying after that scene and I had to go give him a hug. It is a hard scene to play and then snap out of.”’ — collaged




Peter Weir The Mosquito Coast (1986)
‘The little Foxes are a rosy brood, and Helen Mirren plays archetypal Mother Fox with an eloquent, Meryl Streepish glow. She and the kids — River Phoenix as Charles, Jadrien Steele as Jerry, and kid models Hilary and Rebecca Gordon as the freckly twin girls — form a perfect family tableau. And Conrad Roberts becomes a part of the extended family as the compassionate Creole boatman who ferries the Foxes to their new tropical home. This fantasy family of pliable progeny never challenges Fox’s increasingly dangerous tyranny. Like Fitzcarraldo before him, Fox is transfigured by the tropics, a stranger in a stranger land. Theroux’s theme is handily adopted by Australian director Peter Weir, who works from Paul Shrader’s strange screenplay. Weir, who also directed Ford in Witness, has reworked the theme of cultural alienation time and again in such films as The Last Wave, The Year of Living Dangerously and Picnic at Hanging Rock. Here Weir wrestles with similar notions, but with an uncustomarily comic touch. So Mosquito Coast is stripped of its significance and deteriorates into an epic spoofed.’ — LA Times




William Richert A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (1988)
‘In his first starring performance, Phoenix plays Richert’s alter-ego, a middle-class dreamer in an upper-middle-class suburban world of mansions and country clubs and keeping-up appearances. Goodbye centers on Phoenix’s hapless attempts to scrounge up enough money to travel to Hawaii with blueblood girlfriend Salenger instead of following in his dad’s dispiriting footsteps and attending modest McKinley college in the heart of downtown Chicago. Goodbye belongs to the curious literary subset of fictions concerned with what young men do with their penises. I am, as a rule, not a fan of movies or books about brooding young hunks whose overpowering sexuality renders them irresistible to beautiful women. Yet I found it entirely plausible that every woman Phoenix encounters wants to fuck his brains out. There is a sweetness and a vulnerability to Phoenix’s performance that nicely undercuts the locker-room machismo of a guy making a movie about what a stud he was as a young man. Phoenix makes his character’s serial womanizing—in short order, he lapses into romantic clinches with a coffeehouse pick-up, Baxteresque buddy Matthew Perry’s bitchy girlfriend (Ione Skye), Salenger, and lonely older woman Ann Magnuson—seem like part of a noble search for experience and truth rather than a sleazy bid to score as much tail as possible.’ — Nathan Rabin




Richard Benjamin Little Nikita (1988)
‘Jeffrey Nicolas Grant (River Phoenix), a brash hyperactive high school student lives in a San Diego suburb with his parents, who own a successful garden centre. Keen to fly, he has applied for entry to the Air Force Academy. During a routine background check on Jeff, FBI agent Roy Parmenter (Poitier) finds contradictory information on his parents, making him suspect that all is not as it should be. Further investigations reveal that they may be ‘sleeper’ agents for the Soviet Union with a teenager son, Jeff Nicholas. Unable to arrest them as they haven’t actually done anything yet, Roy continues his investigation, and moves into the house across the street from the Grant family. He warms his way into their confidence.’ — Wikipedia




Sidney Lumet Running On Empty (1988)
‘In Sidney Lumet’s latest movie, Running on Empty, River Phoenix portrays Danny Pope, a. k. a. “Mike Manfield” and several other fictitious names. He is 17, in a state of emotional hibernation, and a mystery to his teachers. Yet he performs Mozart’s Fantasia, K. 497, well enough to move an entrance jury at the Juilliard School of Music to remark, “You are very talented, you know.” The pianism in the movie was the work of local pianist Gar Berke, who coached Phoenix for six months prior to filming. Berke’s rendition of Mozart is slower, more meditative than traditionally performed, but exudes the melancholy desired. While on camera, Phoenix synchronized his fingers with a prerecorded tape of Berke playing. It is an amazing feat by Phoenix, who until Running on Empty never studied piano and yet manages to keep alive the illusion that he’s actually playing for extended periods of time.’ — LA Times



Running on Empty – Interviews: River Phoenix, Christine Lahti, Judd Hirsch


Steven Spielberg Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
‘It was a touch of genius on the part of Steven Spielberg to cast River Phoenix as the young Indiana Jones. The director needed a youthful actor for a clever sequence explaining how our favorite archaeologist got his trademark hat, bullwhip, chin scar, fear of snakes, etc., so he enlisted the 19-year-old Phoenix for the role. The actor was fresh off of Little Nikita and Running on Empty, so it must have been pretty exciting to leap into a beloved adventure series. Mr. Phoenix was quite excellent as the young Indiana Jones, delivering a performance that was half of an homage to Harrison Ford and half just plain ol’ heroic derring-do. It’s a clever and very likable little performance, and one that indicated a little “action hero” potential from the young actor.’ — Scott Weinberg


RP in ‘IJatLC’ documentary


Lawrence Kasdan I Love You to Death (1990)
‘While the action takes us where we might expect — both to the hospital and to jail — its resolution does not. Joey emerges from his ordeal a changed man and refuses to press charges. “Somebody puts a bullet in your brain, it makes you think.” In reaching for a climactic coming-together, the filmmakers seem quite consciously to be reaching for that Moonstruck feeling. But here Kasdan doesn’t show Norman Jewison’s precision-grip sense of timing and structure. I Love You to Death is both pleasing and baffling. It’s a movie oddly out of touch with itself, simultaneously anarchic and flaccid. You can laugh at it, even love some of it, but just as likely, you’ll slip off to a dreamy world all your own.’ — The Washington Post




Nancy Savoca Dogfight (1991)
‘River was an absolute pleasure to work with and to be around. He bought a banged up Volvo wagon (his weekly per diem matched my weekly salary!) and chauffeured all his fellow “Bees” and me around town when we had days off. He picked up dinner tabs and made life at the Warwick hotel amusing and unpredictable. One night he and his younger brother, then known to all of us as Leaf (now Joaquin), showed up with motorized toy speedboats that we proceeded to take down to the hotel pool and put to the test. If my memory serves, Rob Lowe was in the vicinity (jacuzzi), dating – and eventually marrying – our makeup woman at the time. River was thoughtful and sweet, not an ounce of territorial actor neurosis, a rare quality. He was also pure as the driven snow, a quality that scrambles like an ant down a drain in a stiff rain in Tinseltown.’ — Lars Beckerman




Gus Van Sant My Own Private Idaho (1991)
‘It’s been 20 years since River Phoenix’s death, and Gus Van Sant’s 1991 road movie My Own Private Idaho is still almost unbearably sad to watch. It isn’t just that Phoenix’s charisma and promise are on full display, though Idaho ranks alongside Running On Empty and Dogfight among his best roles. It’s the way Van Sant’s script leaves Phoenix in a state of constant vulnerability, like a turtle without its shell. At times, his character’s narcolepsy—in which he suddenly, unpredictably falls into a deep sleep—feels like a narrative contrivance, an ongoing deus ex machina calibrated to pivot the story in whatever direction Van Sant decides to take it. But it’s really more a metaphor for a lonely, loveless drifter who has no defense against a world that can take his money, his heart, and his life. Phoenix and his character aren’t one and the same, but they share an openness and sensitivity that’s keenly felt in My Own Private Idaho. They’re prey for a rapacious world.’ — Scott Tobias



Deleted scenes of River Phoenix in ‘My Own Private Idaho’


Phil Alden Robinson Sneakers (1992)
‘Written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams) Sneakers is a slightly dated, yet engrossing and humorous thriller about computers, cryptography, espionage, secrets, deception and betrayal. An industrious person could make the argument that this little-known gem – that came and went from theaters without much fanfare in the fall of 1993 – was a sign of things to come! Five techno savvy guys, led by Redford, who has been wanted by the feds since the early 1970s, are called upon to recover a black box that contains an array of computer chips that allow any computer or program to be cracked. This was one of the last films to feature the unbelievably talented River Phoenix, who died of a drug overdose on October 31, 1993, roughly a month or so after the film was released in theaters.’ — collaged




Peter Bogdanovich The Thing Called Love (1993)
‘In Phoenix’s first scene, it is obvious he’s in trouble. The rest of the movie only confirms it, making The Thing Called Love a painful experience for anyone who remembers him in good health. He looks ill – thin, sallow, listless. His eyes are directed mostly at the ground. He cannot meet the camera, or the eyes of the other actors. It is sometimes difficult to understand his dialogue. Even worse, there is no energy in the dialogue, no conviction that he cares about what he is saying. Some small part of this performance may possibly have been inspired by Phoenix’s desire to emulate James Dean or the young Brando in their slouchy, mumbly acting styles. And maybe that’s how Bogdanovich and his associates reassured themselves as they saw this performance taking shape. After all, Phoenix came to the project as one of the most promising actors of his generation, and perhaps somehow an inner magic would transmit itself to the film. It does not. The world was shocked when Phoenix overdosed, but the people working on this film should not have been. It is notoriously difficult to get addicts to stop their behavior before they have found their personal bottoms, and so perhaps no one could have saved Phoenix, who was not lucky enough to find a higher bottom than death. But this performance in this movie should have been seen by someone as a cry for help.’ — Roger Ebert




Sam Shepard Silent Tongue (1994)
‘Enough with the Rehashing of how River Phoenix, 23, overdosed on cocaine and heroin last Halloween outside the Viper Room, in L.A. Either Phoenix is reduced to another drug casualty for the just-say-no crowd to duck over, or he’s romanticized into pinup martyrdom – a James Dean for the ’90s. Phoenix’s talent and memory deserve better. He was an actor, an uncommonly gifted one. Evidence of that can be found in Silent Tongue, a haunting tale of love, death and shame in the Old West. It is Phoenix’s penultimate performance: The last film he completed, Peter Bogdanovich’s sweet but silly Thing Called Love, went swiftly to video. Silent Tongue, a mesmerizing mess written and directed by Sam Shepard (no acting this time), is a more apt swan song. It shows Phoenix at his ambitious best.’ — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone




George Sluizer Dark Blood (2012)
Dark Blood is a film directed by George Sluizer, written by Jim Barton, and starring River Phoenix, Judy Davis, and Jonathan Pryce. The film wasn’t completed due to the death of Phoenix shortly before the end of the project and remained unfinished for 19 years. Dark Blood consisted of roughly five weeks of on location shooting in Torrey, Utah and was scheduled to complete three weeks of filming interior scenes in Los Angeles, California on a sound stage. Filming was never completed due to Phoenix’s death on October 31, 1993. Production halted while insurers and financiers tried to determine if the movie could be completed, but with important scenes still needing to be shot the film was abandoned on November 18, 1993. For the 2012 release, these missing scenes were replaced with Sluizer providing narration.’ — collaged





p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. When I was a little kid I was seriously crushed out on Ricky Nelson. ** Dominik, Howdy!! That’s what I read: about the inability to run in dreams. If you read through yours, correct me if what I read was wrong. I’m perfectly willing to believe that when I’m asleep my legs want me to be killed. Yeah, it’s weird to be excited about freedom but find it very daunting. Curious to find out, though. I bought a mask finally, so I’m all set. Make the total best your ideally shiny weekend. Ha ha. Dog walking down the street in front of you turns its head, looks up at you, and says, ‘Hi’ love, Dennis. ** _Black_Acrylic, A thing of beauty is a joy forever! That phrase was coined for a very good reason. Hooray, whoop, on you winning the contest! But, oh, shit about the prizelessness. I really need to catch up with ‘Midsommar’ one of these minutes. Happy weekend! ** Joseph, Yes, how about that! The Dischord gift from heaven thing. Just in case folks reading this don’t know, I’ll spread your word(s). Everyone, Joseph passes along just the most excellent news if you don’t know it. Joseph: ‘Dischord records has dumped every release they’ve done onto Bandcamp for free. The sounds of which have been permeating this apartment all day as I do my silly job tasks from home. Perhaps you or anyone else here may have an interest in that. It’s filled with classics as well as very deep “this band existed for like 3 weeks in the summer of 83′ but then got in a fight’ cuts.’ Go find Dischord and get in on that, obviously. Treasures galore! Hm, you’re making ‘The Lucky Star’ seem kind of imperative, and curious to boot. Maybe I’ll go try Shakespeare & Co. on Freedom Day aka Monday if their reopening hits that mark. Wine time. You’d like it here. The French liking their wine is not an old wives’ tale (what a horrible phrase, I can’t believe it just popped out of me). Enjoy! ** No Power Pop aficionados here for me to talk with? That’s sad. Oh well. It’s time for River Phoenix Weekend. See you on Monday.


  1. David Ehrenstein

    The greatest line Truffaut ever wrote was in “Mississippi Mermaid” when Belmondo tells Deneuve “You’re so beautiful it hurts to look at you.” That’s precisely how I feel about River. When I met him and interviewed him for MOPI it was hard to keep from fainting at the sight of him. That movie is his most lasting legacy. He is however even better in “Dogfight” and “Running On Empty” as he possessed a sensitivity that made Anthony Perkins in “Friendly Persuasion” look like a cheap thug

    Here are some pictures I took of River He dyed his hiar blonde because he’s heard Gus was going to make a biopic of Andy Warhol and River wanted to play Andy

  2. jamie

    hiya Den — as always, i find myself stopped in my tracks by your prose (even words u wrote 27 f*cking years ago…). I wanted to ask: how much has brother Joaquin’s career carried River’s promise.

    thanks !

    “… No matter how peripheral Phoenix’s role — the scatterbrained junior hippie in I Love You To Death, the poet/Casanova in The Life and Times of Jimmy Reardon, the loyal, spooked son of Harrison Ford’s megalomaniac in The Mosquito Coast — he was always a little more perceptive and soulful- more real- than anyone else onscreen. Even in as offbeat and dislocated a milieu as the Portland street-hustler scene of My Own Private Idaho, Phoenix’s Mike stood out as unusually lonesome- someone who was afraid of, and simultaneously astonished by, his squalid conditions, who desperately sought affection from others while at the same time avoiding sympathizers like the plague…”

    • David Ehrenstein

      It was River who wrote the scene where Mike confesses his love to Scott. It wasn’t in the script and River felt the film needed it, so Gus put it in. River wasn’t gay but WAT “Gay-Friendly”

  3. MANCY

    Hi D – sympathetic power pop ear here. I’ve bookmarked the post for deeper investigation. I really love the older stuff like Badfinger, Big Star, Cheap Trick, but need to delve deeper into the wave that followed. I know Twiley’s stuff a bit.

    There’s an odd 80s tv show called High Risk up on Netflix at the moment. For being about taking risks it’s surprisingly boring, but there was one interesting segment I thought you may be into. About two guys who maintain a rollercoaster – walking and riding it multiple times each day before the park opens.


  4. Armando

    Rest In Peace And Rest In Power Richard Wayne “Little Richard” Penniman (1932-2020). Such an Enormous Loss.

  5. Armando

    What can I say about River?

    He’s always been one of my Biggest Heroes and Idols.

    Most importantly, I think, is how Extremely Gorgeous He was IN EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE SENSE AND WAY. Such a Great Man; Such a Great Human Being.

    I’ll always ADORE Him and be mourning Him.


    We all Miss And Love And Admire You Terribly, River.

  6. Misanthrope

    Dennis, I’ve been falling asleep so early these days. And like knocked out, not even just getting groggy and nodding out and knowing I’m going out. Like being roofied or something. Just wake up a couple hours later and am like, “What was that?” But I’ve been getting a ton of sleep.

    I just mentioned River yesterday in talking about something else with some friends. Oh, that’s right, he and Ian Curtis both died at 23.

    He’s still my fave, River. And MOPI is still my fave movie. I think Brad Pitt said that River set the standard for his generation of actors in that movie.

    My mom still talks about when he died and the look on my face when I got home from college that day and she told me.

    My friend’s bonfire thing got moved to next weekend. It’s going to be in the 30s here tonight. Not so next weekend. She’s got Mother’s Day stuff to do tomorrow, too.

    Me, I’m just boppin’ about. 😀

  7. Paul Curran

    That was a sad one. We’re the same age. 50 this year! I’d given up most things by then after being lucky enough to survive a few of those fit reactions. It seemed less predictable than KC’s six months later. The Australian band TISM wrote a dumb song called ‘You’ll Never be an Old Man River.”

    RiP Little Richard too.

    Some great power pop in there, Dennis! The Scientists’ first album (Pink album) could maybe also fit in, but more trash than power in the pop.

    Hope things are okay, Dennis, and everyone. I’ve had a pretty busy couple of weeks figuring out how to teach a 12-week uni semester online. Hopefully under control now. Love to all xx

  8. Armando


    How’re you? How’re things in Paris? In La France in general?

    *SIGH!*… So… the first professional review of my little pamphlet has been published. It was written by the Amazing Emily Colucci for Filthy Dreams. I was notified of it this past Sunday. I read it. It gave me a panic attack. Just can’t deal with it. Not used at all to compliments/people saying good things about me/things I do/have done/made; much, much, much less something like this. I’m still in a kind of state of shock or something. I still don’t believe this has happened. I’m still dealing with the anxiety and the panic. I’m completely fucked-up, lol!

    Well, here it is:

    Take care,

    Good day, good luck,

    Love, Hugs,


  9. Armando


    How’re you? How’re things in Paris? In La France in general?

    *SIGH!*… So… the first professional review of my little pamphlet has been published. It was written by the Amazing Emily Colucci for Filthy Dreams. I was notified of it this past Sunday. I read it. It gave me a panic attack. Just can’t deal with it. Not used at all to compliments/people saying good things about me/things I do/have done/made; much, much, much less something like this. I’m still in a kind of state of shock or something. I still don’t believe this has happened. I’m still dealing with the anxiety and the panic. I’m completely fucked-up, lol!

    Well, here it is: archive. is / YnI6r

    Take care,

    Good day, good luck,

    Love, Hugs,


  10. Ian

    Really a beautiful kid. Will need to watch some more movies with him. We are still getting snow flurries in mtl, wtf. Ready for warmth. Ian27
    Ps: read black acrylic’s short story. Very enjoyable.

  11. Steve Erickson

    As talented as Phoenix was, MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO took his acting to a new level. That felt like the start of the next phase of his work. Instead, it essentially marked its end.

    Here’s my review of the new Perfume Genius album:

    I watched 5 shorts and the feature NOTES FROM A JOURNEY by the British directorial duo Daniel & Clara this weekend, then sent them questions for an interview which will appear in Kinoscope. NOTES is really outstanding. Using images and sounds taken from a 2-week road trip across the UK towards the stones of Avebury, it uses color, sound design, editing and music in a disorienting but productive way. It sometimes incorporates straightforward images of their travels, but even more often includes 90 seconds of a completely white screen. The soundtrack dominates the images. It’s now streaming on Kinoscope, but I can imagine how much more impact it’d have in a theatrical setting with good speakers.

  12. _Black_Acrylic

    @ Ian, thank you so much!

  13. Ian

    River was a very attractive kid. I will have to watch some more movies that he was in.
    Very cold in mtl, we have had snow flurries the last two days. I am working lots of 12hr days at a fish market but have still been able to make time to write. Enjoyed reading black acrylics short story.
    Waiting on the arrival of new books; Berg, God Jr and I hate the Internet.
    hope everyone is keeping sane while we wait for the world to open up. – Ian27

  14. Dominik


    It’s so hard to write something “original” about River Phoenix because everyone talks about his charisma and his physical beauty and they’re right. He’s the kind of actor – Person – whose scenes I can watch over and over again, regardless of the movie, simply because of his amazingly sensitive performance. Very human. (I’ve been craving a great book about him for so long too. ‘Last Night at the Viper Room’ just doesn’t bring it to me.)

    How was your last weekend before the end of the quarantine – or at least this hugely strict version of it? Do you have any special plans for Monday?

    I’d kind of shit my pants if a dog looked at me and said ‘hi’, haha, it’d be really cool. 16-year-old love secretly reading YAOI during chemistry class!

  15. Bill

    What a glorious and sombre tribute for the weekend. Sigh. I’m pretty amazed he actually wrote bios for his characters. I need to revisit My Own Private Idaho and see some of the other ones soon.

    I can’t say I’m a big power pop fan, though I do enjoy the odd track (and practitioner) on occasion. The intro to Three O’Clock’s Jet Fighter sounds almost like a Gary Numan tune, or is it just me?

    Been mostly cleaning up and reorganizing some old code, hopefully to be used in a new project soon. Finally saw Johnny Depp’s doc on Ralph Steadman; great fun with nice animations, could be a little shorter though.

    Enjoy your masquerade, Dennis. Do we get a selfie?


  16. Bill

    Dennis, have you seen Chambre 212, the new Christophe Honore? If so, what did you think? It just showed up on the Roxie’s streaming options.


  17. brendan

    Hi Dennis,

    I’ve been hiding out, but always lurking. So stoked about the Dischord thing. Nation of Ulysses was and continues to be my jam. And so many others of course.

    Dark times. Devastated about Little Richard. I used to say, when things were awful, “At least Little Richard is still with us.” No I’ve lost that. I guess I can move to “At least Little Richard existed.”

    Downtown LA feels more and more like a dystopia. The streets are empty at night except for all the people with no homes to go to. Lots of suffering. Nothing is open and there’s nowhere to go.

    And no baseball. The cruelest irony of all.

    I have been busy at least. Making a lot of photos from my 9th floor window. Happy with a lot of them. Lots of beauty happening at the end of the world.

    Hope you are good. I’m trying get out of my depression and say stuff more often.


  18. Jeff J

    Hey Dennis – I think the power pop post, which looks great, is going to soundtrack my work tomorrow. Excited to see the Quick on there, whose debut album I recently discovered and have been enjoying. More on all that later.

    I’ve had my nose in the new novel and not coming up for much else the past few days, which has felt nice.

    I really enjoyed this River Phoenix post. A friend who recently moved here wrote his biography a few years back, which is worthwhile. The stories he uncovered about River’s childhood and the religious sex cult his family belonged to in Central America are incredibly harrowing and chock full of years of abuse. He left out a lot for legal reasons and because he was hired mainly to cover River’s artistic Hollywood years, but what’s reported is horrific enough. It probably would take another entire book to do justice to his childhood and it’s no wonder his other siblings are pretty quiet about those days. A number of the cult members eventually ended up in jail for crimes against children that I hesitate to even list here.

    Anyhow… how’re things with you? How’s the tinkering with the possible new fiction project coming?

  19. Corey Heiferman

    I’ve never seen River Phoenix in anything not directed by Gus Van Sant so I have plenty of options, especially now that the video store opened back up.

    Quoting Keats and old wives’ tales, getting a bit stir-crazy? Enjoy your partial liberation! It’s been super uplifting to see friends again and bike around a lot, including to the newly reopened video store.

    I made two short audio works called ‘I Wish I Loved Computers’ and ‘My Tiny Little Corner’. Here they are:

  20. Armando

    Actual L i n k: filthy dreams [DOT] org  [SLASH] 2020 [SLASH] 05 [SLASH] 03 [SLASH] i-like-boring-things -a-w-w- bremonts- horrific-mundane-or-mundane-horror-in- hey-boy

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