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Further Phoenix
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Heart Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix, Leaf Phoenix

Hey Jude



George Sluizer

Dark Blood

Stand By Me

The Mosquito Coast

Running on Empty

My Own Private Idaho

Rob Reiner

Judy Davis

The River Phoenix Album

Penelope Dening

Thomas Hardy

Amanda Peterson

Lori Swenson

Vegan, Vegetarian, Vegetarianism
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

The River Phoenix Album

by Penelope Dening.
First published in 1995.

ISBN 0-85965-229-7 (Paperback, 80 Pages)

Upon opening this giant-size book to its first page, the reader is presented with the layout of a standard Hollywood screenplay. Although not immediately clear, it is in fact a River Phoenix script, and a particularly heart-breaking one at that. Yet it is not Rob Reiner's Stand By Me, nor is it the screenplay for My Own Private Idaho. It is not the script for Running on Empty, although with hindsight, that would probably be an apt title. In just four pages, the piece documents down to the smallest detail, the main characters, the bit-players, the locations and the various camera shots. It tells the story of River's last ever public performance.

It is the script of his death.

From that point on, the book begins its investigations into the life and influences that led up to these terrible events. It examines everything from the Hollywood myth-making machine, some of the more half-baked hippie philosophies and the morals of pushing dubious religion. As a result, the author succeeds in commanding the reader's attention not only from start to finish but also long after the book has been closed. In a sea of "Never mind reality, feel the myth" philosophies, a crime that we admit this web-site is certainly guilty of, this no-nonsense approach to a biography about River makes a very welcome change. Futhermore, the collection of nearly forty of the highest quality photographs is bonus that will delight any Phoenix fan.

Arlyn, now pregnant with her fifth and final child, had had enough. At least in America there would be welfare, if not work. According to River, the family was eventually helped to stow away.

It was probably on this trip, when Leaf saw the sailors killing fish by banging their heads against the hull of the boat, that the family became vegans. Claims that they had always been vegan are probably untrue. When you're down and out in South America you eat what you can get. And what is generally available of the streets of Caracas is not tofu burgers.

German Version
ISBN 3-8025-2405-5 (Paperback, 80 Pages)

On occasion, we may not like what we read within its pages, but that is hardly the fault of the book. Like many of you, we ache at the loss of River and are forever searching for answers to painful questions like "Why?" As with most medicines it might leave a bad taste in the mouth, but as a painkiller, the cold hard truth appears to exhibit some remarkable healing properties.

A river feeds the land and those around it; its path is shaped by external forces. It has no independent life but is simply a channel and it carries its burden without choice. As a family friend later remarked: "River was going to change the world. He was their new dawn. And that is a hell of a lot for any kid to handle."

River's second name would also be sadly apt, although its significance was undoubtedly unknown to John and Arlyn at the time. As far as they were aware Jude came from "Hey Jude", the Beatles' hit of the year of his birth. But if his parents' reading had extended beyond cult novels to the work of Thomas Hardy, they would have known that Jude is the patron saint of lost causes.

Variations on a Theme

Place of Birth:

A four-bedroom house which John and Arlyn shared with fellow travellers.

Cause of Death:

Morphine (metabolized heroin at four times the lethal dose).
Cocaine (eight times the lethal dose).
No needle marks or alcohol detected.

Boldest Claim:

River was a drug-taking, partying loud-mouth. His environmental concerns were his parents hand-me-downs, not his own self-developed ideals.

Blunder List

Front Cover
Not a "blunder" as such but still worthy of a "dishonorable mention." The teenage River featured on the front cover was suffering from a small facial pimple at the time that this photograph was taken. The publishers apparently thought it was necessary to digitally airbrush this blemish out!


Page 48
Touching on the movie Explorers, the book describes River as "one of four child actors". Either the author is including Amanda Peterson who played the small part of Lori Swenson or the author is confusing this movie with River's next project Stand By Me.


Page 74
The book discusses the tense atmosphere on the set of Dark Blood claiming that River and director George Sluizer were "often at loggerheads". It was actually co-star Judy Davis that was experiencing great difficulties working with Sluizer. River would be called in as a reluctant mediator on a number of occasions.


Back Cover
The books' claim that the photos illustrate "every period" of River's career is a bit of an exaggeration. The earliest picture is actually a publicity shot from The Mosquito Coast.

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