Ride-In Movie – Easy Rider Event Report

The Saturday, 18FEB2017 Ride-In Movie “Easy Rider” was a blast from the past.

Attending the movie was most enjoyable however there were not as many bikers attending as I thought there would be. Don’t get me wrong, there was a good turnout so I’m not complaining. 🙂 I think everyone enjoyed seeing Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson again in their young respective roles.

Cowboy HD surprised everyone by changing the advertised menu. Instead of providing popcorn as advertised they provided plenty (at least 20 boxes) of fresh pizza and keg beer! I bet the turnout would have been much better had people known they were going to receive a good meal instead of just popcorn. 😉

The outdoor screen was different to any I had seen before. It resembled a flat wall of one of those inflatable bounce houses, and there was a good sound system.

The movie was started just after sundown when there was still a lot of light in the sky.

The first few minutes of the movie was a little washed out because of this but that didn’t last long.

The rear-projection picture was clear once it got dark.  We enjoyed a brisk, clear evening sky, a good movie, and the camaraderie of other bikers.

This is normally where I would end an event review however this Old-School biker is going to take the opportunity to wax nostalgic. Easy Rider brought back a lot of memories of both life and riding in the late 60’s and early to mid 70’s… some good, some bad. The period music was great, and contrary to a lot of the so-called music today actually said something, with meaning, and complimented the scene(s) it was played with. Whoever chose the specific locations for filming did great!  A significant amount of beautiful scenery, iconic old towns, even shanty areas accurately depicted the era. The desert ruins were **exactly** like the ones I remember on a ride through west Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona on US-90 and US-60/70 during the 70’s, and the “old-fashioned” store fronts were what I grew up with in a small town. Even the depiction of a commune, something that was common during that era, fit neatly into the overall theme. “Back then” there was virtually no visible pollution and plenty of crystal clear skies. Riding was often a pleasure with little traffic and gorgeous views in most places.

Unfortunately there were also “accepted” drawbacks during that time period, especially for bikers, which the movie depicted rather well. The diner scene showed both a budding fascination with bikers, especially among young people who had been taught strict, sometimes Puritanical, “core values” from an early age, and the prevailing prejudice against anyone who was different to an area’s “norm”, especially if they had long hair. The general public didn’t understand a person’s need for individual freedom as was quite accurately explained in Jack Nicholson’s freedom speech to Dennis Hopper. Most people thought you were out-of-sync to want something other than the status-quo, either in appearance or attitude, and were considered a truly bad person should you actually pursue your own version of personal freedom like riding a motorcycle whether it be locally or God-forbid cross-country. Bikers were all considered as “outlaws” on sight and were seldom given the chance to prove otherwise.

The television show “Then Came Bronson”, which came out at approximately the same time as “Easy Rider”, attempted to correct this stereotype by showing a lone biker trying to influence people’s lives for change/good, and is the primary catalyst that caused me to fall in love with both motorcycles and the open road. Of course “Easy Rider” solidified this desire. 🙂 As the movie showed, it was often difficult for a biker to even get a motel room, one reason I often chose to find a nice tucked away spot most nights when on the road. Getting a room just wasn’t worth the hassle **and** the worry of what might happen to your bike once you fell asleep. Fortunately the general public’s acceptance of bikers has significantly improved over the years. Now a biker is often the subject of fascination and (good) envy. I can’t count the number of times in the past few years that (non-biker) people have struck up starry-eyed conversations with me at gas stations and diners, much like the one held at a traffic light during the “Then Came Bronson” opening credits, when I’m traveling on my bike. Those conversations usually end with my saying something like, “Well, you ought to try it. I bet you’d love it.”

In closing I must say I wish the end of the movie had been different, and heard comments from those around me expressing the same opinion as I was preparing to leave… in different words of course. No, I’m not going to spoil the ending for you by elaborating in case you haven’t yet seen this iconic movie. You’ll just have to find that out for yourself.

I sincerely hope Cowboy HD makes ride-in movies a somewhat regular occurrence in the future. 🙂