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Further Phoenix
at Rio's Attic:

Gus Van Sant
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix

"You're just too good to be true..."

This part worries me a little. This is clearly one of the main elements of River's seduction. I suppose I was not the only one to be attracted by the mind qualities of such a nice young man. How can a boy be so nice, always, everywhere, with everybody, showing so much respect to other individuals, animals, nature, etc.? Isn't it too much? You've got to search a long time and very deep around you to find such a nice human being.

Was it true? Of course only his family and intimate friends could answer the question. They chose to remain silent and rightly so. Does it really matter after six years? Yes, it matters because I think we've got here one of River's strongest appealing features. Was that clean image created by the media (and since by the family), first for commercial needs (you've got to sell the films), then to save River's reputation in his last months and after his death (quite a noble goal)?

What we've only got here to make our judgement is the production of others, mainly journalists, with their often-deserved bad reputation. This was shown to perfection after River's death. Anyway, we can first rely on his films. As I said, I've no doubt they show the real River, his real personality.

I know the recent dead rarely receive bad treatment from their former friends or colleagues who pour gallons of praise on them! But in River's case, it's quite difficult to find a reliable comment against him, or about his behaviour evolution, from sweetness and gentleness to a rougher surface. There are some, very few actually. If I didn't know where it led, I'd have taken that as a relief. After all, this angel was able of anger, egotism and nastiness, like you, like me.

Well, about nastiness I'm not so sure. 95 % of the comments made by all the different sorts of people around him underlined that his last behaviour was only directed against himself, mind and body, but he never really intended to hurt anybody else, directly at least. And the post-mortem articles never mentioned any other bad behaviour than his self-destruction, drinking and drug taking tendencies. Once again, he was responsible for himself and was the only one concerned by his conscious or unconscious depressing or suicidal state of mind.

I was going to forget to point out what everybody agrees on: he was bright and clever, even with not much education. Read his interview of Gus Van Sant. It's witty, informative, and funny. He was clever in his job. His films were different. He put himself in risky roles because he thought they could bring something to him and vice versa. He was also clever when he explained his choices or beliefs about life.

This intelligence is not neutral in my affection to him. It's always easier to love an intelligent one, don't you think so?

Even though his real image was not probably as wonderful as the one projected around, at least I believe what my eyes have seen and I keep the memory of the true beautiful anxious-eyed River.

He is the one, who received, with no exception, the testimony from all his peers, namely all the father figures. Among them you find very big names and very decent people.
He was generous.

He was a decent and lovable young man with very few weaknesses. They concerned almost only him and they were not directed against other people.
He loved his family and friends.
He had respect for the others.
He was able of compassion to the pain of the others.
He had strong beliefs about life and about equality of all the living creatures.
He was faithful to these main beliefs about life and nature until he died.

Not so bad for a young one! How many of that kind do we have around us? Is it so ridiculous to love one when we meet one?


"Das Trinklied von Jammer der Erde"

"The drinking song of the sorrow of the Earth"

I'm reluctant to consider River's drinking a problem that can put a shadow on our affection to him.

Of course our judgement on alcohol depends on cultural background. What is taboo here is all right there. But I also believe he needs a little indulgence from me as I will be hard enough about drugs! We don't really know what was the size of the problem. Was it once a month, once a week, everyday? No I'm not nosy. I just try to find good reason to be indulgent. He was young. He was confronted to things he was far away before. So he probably felt their seduction more strongly. And if I don't accept the link between the possible pressure of his job and his drugs taking, maybe he needed a derivative to that pressure.

Would his drinking have been mentioned if he had been just an ordinary young man? It probably would have been told with a smile.

And once again, he was the only one directly harmed by what he did.


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