Soulbrother

At the New York University film School, I made a series of short movies and in making them I also learned about life in New York. In the class, we were divided into groups of four with rotating functions. So, one of us was writing the script, another was directing, the third person was editing it and the fourth was in charge of the camera. Anyway, there were two black guys in my group and when we’d be walking around Manhattan they’d occasionally meet other young black men and say, “Hi, brother.” And I was puzzled as I felt all these people can’t be part of his family, so I said, to him, “Why do you call all of these people ‘brother'”? And he said, “Because they’re all soul brothers of mine.” I felt that this was a great expression and fantastic way to but something as important as friendship and it stayed with me throughout my life. You see, not having any siblings of my own, I thought maybe there’s another way to have brothers and sisters in life. These cool, young black people had told me an important lesson. They opened my feelings for soul brotherhood.

21Dennis Hopper was a true soul brother of mine (unfortunately he passed away in 2010 and I still miss him). We met once or twice a year over a period of more than 25 years but each time we saw each other no time had passed. It felt like we had left each other yesterday. Believe it or not: he was for me the most cultivated American person I had ever met. He was a living encyclopedia of all arts, even classic music! He knew everything about the arts and the best thing was that because of his fame he had close friendships with many of the contemporary artist in all fields. Be it Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel, David Lynch or Frank Gehry (who built one of his first houses for Denis in Venice CA) just to mention a very few, he knew firsthand about their motivations and inspirations for their work and he had one of the most important, real private collection of art I had ever seen in my life (real private because most of the works were personal gifts by the artists to Dennis). My picture with Dennis and his wife Katherine La Nasa (who was a ballerina dancer and actress) show us dancing in front of the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland (the dancing was initiated by the energetic, happy Denis). This entire village is designed without right angles by the disciples of Rudolph Steiner. Dennis’s keen interest in architecture made me bring him there. The other picture shows us together inside the Le Corbusier Museum of my mother. Me with the Jimi Hendrix stile hair look of the time. Yet another picture shows us in his whirlpool in Taos, New Mexico, when I visited him on my around the US flight in a rented Cessna 182RG plane. This was during a phase of Denis’s life when he drunk a lot of alcohol. He knew I didn’t drink much and out of respect he always contained himself when we were together so we would not loose contact. I admired him for that.