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Further Phoenix
at Rio's Attic:

Stand By Me

Chris Chambers

Charlie Fox

Danny Pope
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix

"Como o teu nome, diferente, nos induz uma paisagem de inocência"

"Like your name, different, suggests to us a landscape of innocence"

River is a beautiful name. In this other side of the Atlantic Ocean, everybody knows the fondness of the American for strange names whenever in Europe we stick to more common ones. But we know that "River" is, or now was, a little bit different even for the US. Anyway a really attractive name. Some thought it was an actor pseudonym. Some were quite impressed by its German literature origin when they learnt it. We've known the boy was not always pleased with it. But didn't you notice nobody ever questioned the way that name suited him so well?

I'm sure it's true in all languages. In French we've got two words for River. "Rivière" is a smaller river, a tributary. It's a feminine noun but it was all right when he was still a child. "Fleuve" is the other word. Amazon, Mississippi and the Nile are "fleuves". It's a masculine noun. And again it was perfect for an elegant young man. That name carried all the promises of his man's life. It would be stupid to say we love someone for his or her name. But names are important. They're part of the personality. And in River's case, we were charmed by it and we thank his parents to have been so creative with the most common thing on earth, water.

As a joke, I would propose to build a monument where we would pile up all the different words for "River" in our different languages!

When he grew up, he wanted himself to be called differently. But the change was not very impressive and the main reasons were not attached to the name itself but to the man who carried it. He also knew that names are important.

"Verweile Doch! Du bist so schön"

"Please, stay! You're so beautiful!"

Let's be frank. If he had been an ugly little boy and an unattractive teenager, would we ever have noticed him? Well, no film director would have remarked him and his future would have been different. Nature is unfair and some are more handsome than others. And, God, how handsome he was, when he left childhood to maturity. Of course we didn't love him only because of that, but we cannot deny his being handsome is important, can we? Because it was the first thing you noticed of him when he played Chris Chambers, Charlie Fox or Danny Pope. Even if we are taught not to judge by appearances, River's personality was so clear through his physical features. And this was a great asset because it helped the young boy to be such a good actor.

In the other side, thanks to all the pictures provided now, we can see the way his look changed little by little, a change his family and friends should have seen directly. And I'm not speaking of clothes. Look at his face. Even with his own will to "kill the myth" and to let down the perfect image of himself he couldn't bear anymore, can't we see the progress of something deep inside him? Call it drugs or change of mind or any oneself natural research by a young man. Even if pictures sometimes lie, we've got too many of them to ignore that change.

In some pictures, he looked so tired. He looked to be elsewhere.

But this physical evolution, what it reveals of his state of mind, didn't destroy at all our affection for him. The contrary probably happened. His body and his face indicated us he needed some help and we, I, would have been more than ready to provide it to him.

What strikes me the most in him? The eyes. The anxiety in the eyes. With sometimes a touch of provocation when he got older. But certainly the anxiety in the way he looked at people and things around him.

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