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Dennis Hopper Vs Thomas Pynchon

August 29, 2012

 

Here’s one from Gupter zine [Issue 3]. Seems so long ago now…


I blinked, and I was coming off the campus in Berkeley with Fonda and Jack, and the kids were leading us somewhere, shit, to the streets, man, they were leading us to protest, man, and Fonda had his arm around my shoulder, and Jack was trailing a little behind, and I was just a little ahead, shit, yeah, that one kid in front, the one with the short skirt, she was leading us and talking back to us, or me, and she was telling me I hadn’t blew it, I hadn’t blew it because something had started because of me, something beautiful, but ugly, and I said back to her, yeah, baby, something beautiful, as my eyes went down to her swinging little hips and that tight little ass…

—-
I blinked, and I was back from Peru with a piece of shit film in my hands. I was sitting in my apartment alone, thinking of moving somewhere bigger before, but now I couldn’t, not now, man, not with this piece of shit in my hands. But maybe it wasn’t shit, maybe there was something there. Maybe if I took it up to Berkeley…


I blinked, and I was in the jungle. Francis…shit, Francis, man, he was saying something to me, something about my lines, but there was more than one Francis, shit, man, there were a thousand fucking Francis’ and they were luminous, or half of them were and, shit, man, I told one of them I’d make my own shit up…


I blinked, and I was on a beach getting married. Shit, man, who was the bitch? We were standing in front of a fucking rabbi and saying our lines…shit, man, a rabbi, was the bitch Jewish? And then she was kissing me and telling me there was a future for us and she knew I could be different for her, but I was already walking for the bar…


I blinked and Jodie Foster was coming out of a shower…shit, man, she had no fucking clothes on, and she was reaching for a towel, but I’d moved it, and she couldn’t get it, so she had to stand there with no fucking clothes on, and, shit, man, she was mad about that, she was shouting at me, ‘Dennis, fucking hell, where’s the goddamned towel?’


I blinked, and I was holding Sandra with that fake detonator thing in my hand. Opposite was that kid, Reeves, standing there straight as a fucking broom, man. Shit, I said, ‘I’m gonna be this nut forever, man,’ and Sandra said, ‘Dennis, it’s just a film.’ I scratched my head with the fake detonator, and rubbed my eyes, and told her back straight, ‘Shit, Sandy, you don’t get it, do you?’ She didn’t, none of them did…


I blinked, and some frizzy haired punk was sitting on a couch next to me, watching fucking soccer on the box. Shit, man, there were cameras too, they were everywhere, and I had lines again, but I didn’t wanna say them. Then that guy came in, the fat guy from the Sopranos and he said something, and I just looked back and said my line, but, man, inside I was a different vibe. ‘You’ve reduced me, man, you’ve fucking reduced me,’ that’s what my vibe was saying…


I blinked, and then coughed. I was in my apartment, alone. A bottle of Jacks was on the table beside me. ‘Shit, man, one bottle,’ I muttered through another cough, before I saw the second bottle on the floor.
Beside the second bottle, that book, the giant, green V.
 ******
End of an interview [a battle against retrospective]…


Interviewer: That moment, on film, felt like a release for you.
Dennis Hopper: Yeah…shit, man. A huge release. Just having that mask on, man, just feeling that pseudo-air, y’know, man, it just…it just…shit, man, Lynch knew what he was doing, I’ll say that straight, man. The guy’s a fucking God…Gods…he’s all of them.
Interviewer: And he’s still going strong, that’s the amazing thing.
Dennis Hopper: Man, he’s like a human battery. I don’t think he’s ever gonna stop. And y’know, man, we still talk a lot, so maybe, I don’t know, man, maybe we’ll think of something to do together.
Interviewer: Yes, sounds interesting. [The interviewer stands up]. Ok, thank you so much, Mr. Hopper, for your time, and I’ll let you know when the interview comes out.
Dennis Hopper: Shit, man, we’ve only just started, sit down, man, sit down.
Interviewer: I’m sorry, I think I’ve covered most of everything I need for the piece, if there’s anything else I need, I’ll-…
Dennis Hopper: What are you saying, man? We’ve just talked about the old shit. Shit, man, that’s not the extent of me, I’ve got loads of shit in the pipeline. Just sit down, man, sit back down. Come on…
Interviewer: Actually, this is kind of a retrospective, Mr. Hopper. We’re interested in your career as a whole, how you affected film in the 60’s and 70’s, Blue Velvet, things like that.
Dennis Hopper: Retrospective? Shit, man, that’s not cool. That’s not cool, man, that’s not what I came here to hear. The pipeline, man, what about the pipeline?
Interviewer: I’m sorry, Mr. Hopper. My editor’s the boss, not me.
The interviewer gets his stuff, thanks Hopper once more then leaves.
After he’s gone, Hopper puts his hand under his thighs and pulls out that book, Pynchon, the giant, green V.

Hopper and Michelle Phillips [two brief scenes]…


A man and a woman sit on a beach and watch the tide coming in. The man, Dennis Hopper, has his arms around the woman, Michelle Phillips, his body closed around her like a shell. The tide comes in and they don’t move. They laugh as it hits and goes under them and slowly rises up to their waists. Hopper kisses her and asks her why the whole world can’t be a beach.


 A man sits alone in his apartment on the phone to a woman. The man, Dennis Hopper, has his hand on a glass of Jacks. The phone rings for a long time and finally a woman answers. ‘Mishellaneous,’ Hopper says as a greeting. ‘Dennis, is that you?’ she says back. ‘Sure, baby, it’s Dennis.’ They talk for a while. Hopper asks her what she’s doing and the woman, Michelle Phillips, tells him she’s working in TV.  Hopper tells her that’s great, and that he’s working on something new, something she might be interested in. ‘Not Pynchon?’ she asks. “Baby, it’s real. I’m getting in.’ She says she doesn’t believe him. She says it’s the same line he always uses when he’s drunk and wants her to come back to him. ‘Come back to me, Mish, I’m changed,’ he pleads. ‘Fuck you, Dennis. Fuck you.’ She reminds him of the times he used to beat her black and blue, and sometimes green, and he says back that it was never really him, it was the “prison of the mind.” She reminds him of the time he couldn’t find anything to hit her with, so he went to the hardware store and bought a hammer then brought it back home. Hopper says again it wasn’t him. She hangs up. Hopper reaches for the next bottle of Jacks. He screams at the wall as he pours. He drinks the bottle. He cries.
 ******
I picked up the book, the giant, green V., and read it again, all through the night, shit, man, all through the fucking night, from the start to the tedious bit in the middle with those fucking Germans in Africa.
‘Profane, man. I am Profane. Or I was him, man. I’m not shit anymore, but back then, when I was flying, I was him.’
I read the parts with Profane, with the alligators and the way he went down there, shit, with a fucking shotgun, man. He shot those big, green bastards to shit.
I phoned my agent in New York and told him I was fucking exhausted with LA and I was coming up there to find Pynchon.
“God, not again, Dennis.’
“Don’t take that vibe with me, man. I’m fucking coming, no obstacles.”
“Who’s after him this time?”
“No one’s after him, man. I’m after him.”
“Not Jack? Warren?”
“Shit, man. You still calling me a disciple, fucking Jack this, Warren that. I’ll show you, man, I’ll show you.”
“Dennis, look. Pynchon is impossible. No one gets him. No one. You know that.”
“I don’t know shit, man.”
I put the phone down, breathed then picked it back up, redialled, and told the agent I was still fucking coming and when I got there I wanted to see a list of all the directors interested in doing this.
“Dennis…”

******

List of all the directors who said no [including reasons]…


Fincher – It’s Hopper, no way.
Soderbergh – I’m busy filming tribesmen mating, sorry.
Sayles – I don’t do the work of others, even Pynchon.
Cuaron – I don’t get Pynchon, sorry.
Spielberg – I don’t feel Pynchon, sorry.
Coppola – I’m reinventing myself. No more adaptations.
Beatty – It’s Hopper, no fucking way.
Tarantino – Pynchon’s a fucking snob, man.
Araki – I’m not big enough, sorry man. And it’s Hopper.
Polanski – I’m too depressed to do much of anything, right now.
P.T. Anderson – It’s Hopper, I don’t think so.
Scorcese – If there’s room for Leo, sure. Hopper? Jesus, I don’t know…
Ratner – Pynchon? Dude, where do I fucking sign?
 ******
He looked at the list. Everyone’s out, everyone’s burning bridges.
“Ratner’s interested…you see, at the bottom there,” the agent said.
Hopper scrunched the paper up into a little planet and threw it on the floor.
“Shit, man…”
The agent rocked back in his chair.
“There’s always Howard?”

******
Hopper phoned Howard. He was still on set for that fucking Da Vinci crap. Hopper didn’t want him, but, shit, man, he had to get someone, and the ginger little sell-out was still a name.
“Shit, Ron, how’s it riding, man?”
“Dennis, I’m in.”
“What’s that, man?”
“Your guy told me all about it. Pynchon, right? You want to do Pynchon? Well, buddy, I’m your guy. I am your guy.”
“Shit, Ron. That’s news I wanted to hear, man.”
“You get the rights, we’ll start asap. ASAP, Dennis.”
******
A conversation the night before [between Ron Howard and Ewan McGregor, in a bar in Rome, with a bottle of wine already drunk]…

Ewan puts his glass on the side. It wobbles and falls backwards, onto the floor.
“I was thinking, Ron…”
“Yeah, Ewan, that’s great, really…”
“I was thinking about you, Ron. That’s what I mean.”
“Great, Ewan, what were you-…”
“I was thinking about the abuse you always get, Ron. You know? From them, the critics, the cunts. And I get it too, man. Right? I did Star Wars, they jumped on me. I did this, they jump on me again. All that shit about the paycheck, right, that’s what they bitch about, and, whatever…but you…Ron, you get it worse, man. You know what they call you? The Hack-man. No shit. They call you the Hack-man. Why? Because you have no character, no flair, no…what is it? No style on film.”
“Oh, Ewan, you’re on the money there, it’s so true. They really do give me a hard time…”
“They do, Ronnie. But it’s shit, isn’t it? I mean, how bad are you, man? Really? I mean, you’re not, are you? Not in the slightest. You’ve done some great fucking films, man. Apollo 13, Beautiful Mind, the others ones…and you’re solid too, You’re always solid. That’s a good thing, man.”
Ron reaches for the bottle and pours some more red into his glass.
“Solid, Ewan, gee…that’s something, I guess…”
“Solid as fuck, man. You are SOLID AS FUCK. Don’t forget that.”
Ewan leaves an hour later. Ron stays for another bottle, staring into the mirror opposite the bar, trying to think of imaginative places to put the camera if he were filming this scene.

*******
I told my agent that now we had Howard, all we needed were the rights. He said again it was impossible, but I wouldn’t hear it. Shit, man, I mean, if you start thinking things are impossible then what you got?
I told him there was only one way to get to Pynchon and I knew exactly what it was.
I sat in my hotel room, a three star place with shitty room service, and made my plan.
Pynchon had a wife, you see. And, shit, man, she was here in New York, just round the corner. And that meant that bitch was going out of her office, every night, getting in her wheels and going back home to Pynchon. So all I had to do was go with her. Shit, man, why was I the first to think of this?

*******
I stood opposite the building she was in.
Melanie Jackson, literary agent, how the fuck did a hack like you ever get someone like him? Shit, man.
I put my hands into both pockets. There was the gun in one, and the book, the giant, green V. in the other. It was perfect.
On my face there was no mask. Why would I need one of those, man? I was a face myself, and if this did get fucked up then all I had to say was I was wearing a Dennis Hopper mask. No one would think it was really me. I mean, shit, man, I was Hollywood.
She took a long time to come out.
I passed the time by imagining myself as all the characters I’d been, standing there, different motives, different plans for how this thing should be done.

The plan and motivation of Frank Booth [Blue Velvet]…

Cuckoo in the hole, baby, I see you coming, I see you.
[Breath]
You won’t make a sound, baby, will you? Shit, you’re a good girl, you’re from a good house, you won’t make no noise for uncle Frank, will you? And it’s just a good time, baby, nothing out of the normal. Me, you, in the car, we’ll drive up there with a smile, see Tommy P and-…you will smile, won’t you, Dorothy? You know how to smile? Good, baby, because I don’t wanna have to help you with that, really. You gotta do it your own way, baby, on your own terms…
[Breath]
Ok, get in the car, Dorothy, get in the car…a little drive, baby, come on, start the car, we’re going for a little drive…
[Breath]
 Shit, baby, don’t call me Dennis…I don’t know any fucking Dennis…it’s uncle Frank, baby, don’t make me say I’m anything else…I’m uncle Frank…
[Breath]
Keep driving, baby, wherever it is you go, just keep driving that way and we’ll be loves young dream. What? This? This, baby, stop looking at it…nothing but a gun, nothing but a tool….you don’t need to be worrying about this, baby…not when it’s uncle Frank holding it…
******
I blinked, and… man, I was in a car.
There was a woman next to me, driving. She was shaking. I was holding a gun.
“He’s not in, please, he’s not there…”
I looked at her. It was the man’s bitch, Melanie Jackson.
“Shit, man, you’re Pynchon’s wife…”
“Please, please…I don’t-…what do you want?”
I scratched my head with the gun.
“Shit, this is not cool, man, this is not cool…”
Outside were all the cars and the people and the houses and the whole rest of the city that would know about this soon, the next morning even. Dennis Hopper kidnaps wife of famous writer. Hopper off the rails. Hopper blew it.
“Shit, pull over, let me out.”
“What?”
“I said pull over, bitch, Pull the fuck over, let me out of the fucking car,” I screamed.
She pulled over and I opened the door and put one leg out, but, shit, man, I had to explain this, I had to tell her what the thing was…
“Shit, listen…I didn’t mean to-…”
She screamed ‘bastard’ at me and accelerated with my other leg still in the car. I fell down and got pulled along a couple of meters before being released.
“Shit, bitch, what the fuck you-…”
I got up quickly, clutching my leg, and hobbled off, hobbled far away from all the faces gathered round me, whispering ‘it’s him, it’s Hopper’.
******
I sat in the prison cell alone, with no glass of Jacks, no phone, no bail, no anything except a sprained ankle and grazes on my face.
And one other thing, man. In my jacket pocket, that book, that giant, green V.

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