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Remembering River Phoenix

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time? That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
–Hermann Hessee


Chloe of Gen X Pixels, remembers River Phoenix, one of the the first Hollywood icons from Generation X, in a recent post on her blog. He died in 1993, at the age of 23. Here is an excerpt:

“…People say there was something about him, that there was this bright spark in his soul.  He had this extra large portion of kindness and gentleness that radiated from him.  This is how I picture him leaving this earth: ascending quickly from the crowded shores of L.A. and then more slowly over open blue waters looking down at a thousand circling fish, watching the L.A. haze diffuse into the peaceful fog that hangs over the Pacific, and then realizing for the first time, he was utterly free of everything.

“River was, by all accounts, Generation X.  He was born in 1970, right in the middle of the first wave and the second wave of X. The first time I ever saw him was on VHS in my 4th grade classroom.  Our teacher had us watch Stand By Me. It seems strange now — 4th graders watching an R-rated movie in our classroom, a script full of so many heavy subjects, but we were a generation that grew up fast…”

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Remembering River Phoenix

Samantha Mathis, my favorite Gen X actressthing-called-love, was with Phoenix the night he took ill and stumbled out of the Viper Room. They say he died at the hospital, but really, his life ended on that dreadful Hollywood sidewalk. He’d overdosed on a speedball of heroin and cocaine.

Mathis and Phoenix starred together in Thing Called Love. one of my favorite movies. The two were romantically involved at the time of his death. Mathis was also 23 at the time, and called his death a nightmare that changed her. Here is an excerpt from an interview she gave in 1995.

“…It is a nightmare that will never end. He had gone to the club simply to play his guitar and enjoy himself, but his life at the time seemed under so much pressure.

“He had a lot of work and it seemed to get to him. He took the problems of the world on his shoulders and could not seem to shake off blacks moods of depression.

“But he never wanted to die. It was so far from his mind and, together, we shared a loving, caring life. Sadly, there is a feeling among some people in Hollywood that they are somehow invincible. Like them, River began to think that nothing could touch him.

To a certain extent, his sudden illness and death that nigh will always be surreal for me. I still can’t believe it. I spent a year thinking about it — a terrible year, and the loss is one of those things which, even now, is very hard to accept…”

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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