Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hollywood Finally Honors Dennis Hopper

It's about time this happened. Even though they should have done it years ago, Hollywood finally got around to honoring Dennis Hopper with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hopper's star is located in front of the historic Egyptian Theater.

The 70 year-old Hopper (pictured) is in the terminal stages of prostrate cancer and currently weighs only about 100 pounds, but his doctors OK'd his attending the ceremony. The native Kansan, who came to Hollywood at 18 years-old, told the crowd, "Everything I've learned, I've learned from Hollywood. This has been my home and my schooling." The actor wore a shirt decorated with scenes from Easy Rider (probably his most famous film).

Starting with his role as a teenage hoodlum in Rebel Without A Cause, Hopper has appeared in over 100 films. He has long been one of America's finest actors. He has played heroes and villains, and done both leading roles and character roles. Few actors will leave a legacy as rich as his.

Producer (and friend) Mark Canton spoke at the ceremony and said Hopper was "the coolest guy on the planet. . .He is a force of nature. He is a world-class original, a legend in his own right, whose impact on the arts and people that he loves so dearly is second to none."

Congratulations Dennis! It was a long time in coming, but you richly deserve the honor.


  1. I had no idea that Dennis Hopper was so ill. I've long been a fan of his, and agree with you that he was a great actor.

    On a personal note, as a survivor of prostate cancer (going on three years), it saddens me to read that anyone is still dying from this disease when the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test is so simple, yet so effective in diagnosing prostate cancer in its early stages. When Frank Zappa was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1990 (the PSA test was just beginning to be administered on a widespread basis), it must have already been too late for him; he died three years later in 1993 - another tragic loss.

    Ted, and any other men out there over the age of 50 (40, if there's a history of prostate cancer in your family), I hope you've been getting your annual PSA screening. If you haven't - start now! If caught early enough, the survival rate of prostate cancer is close to 100 percent.

  2. How are people supposed to be getting prostate screenings, when they have no doctor? Should they go to the emergency room? Perhaps they should sign up for months long waiting lists at public clinics? Many people avoid doctors, they can't afford to go, and even if they could, you can't get a straight price out of anybody in the medical profession. Nobody knows how much anything is going to cost until they send you the bill(s). It's a little late once a bill is being sent to you. It's like writing them a blank check.

  3. "How are people supposed to be getting prostate screenings, when they have no doctor?"

    Try this. It only costs $45. That's less than a dollar a week for an annual test.

    Where there's a will, there's a way.

  4. Hopefully, this will be a moot argument after the health care reform fully kicks in, and everyone will be able to get preventative care.

  5. While $45 seems like a reasonable price for a mail in prostate exam kit to you and I, it could be a lot for some folks. And if they do find out they have prostate cancer? What do they do then? With the way our healthcare system works, people are so afraid of any type of sickness, they would rather just close their eyes and hope nothing happens.

    If you don't have a family doctor, you, your wife, and your children probably aren't all keeping up with every little test and checkup that should be being done. Where are they going to get their sound medical advice from? PSA's during football games? During The Simpsons? Where? A poster at work? Scattered all over the internet?

  6. We shall see Ted. I have little faith in "affordable" insurance without a bunch of gotchas becoming a reality.

    How are health insurance company stocks doing lately? Up, down? I believe they have gone up.. probably because the insurance companies are expecting to make some bank. Insurance companies don't make money by providing care. This health insurance reform bill seems more like the lambs being led to the slaughter to me.

    I think all this bill will do is help to institutionalize our already damaged system further. If a public option / medicare buy in had been passed, sure. I would be willing to sign up for that. But I am loathe to give these scumbag insurance companies a dime of my money.

  7. In the meantime, the key is education. Dennis Hopper certainly had the means to afford the best health care available, but for whatever reason, he must not have gotten his PSA level checked annually.

    Some people avoid testing because of the cost of treatment should they be diagnosed positive. And yet since Florida began offering affordable catostrophic health insurance through the Cover Florida program in January 2009, less than one-tenth of one percent of uninsured Floridians have signed up for it.

    No matter how comprehensive health care may end up being, it won't work without personal responsibility. And that includes not only annual physicals for early detection of disease, but also proper diet, healthy habits, and exercise. It's no guarantee that a person won't be stricken with a debilitating or even fatal disease, but it certainly decreases the odds.

  8. Affordable insurance isn't the same as coverage for everybody. What's affordable to you, isn't affordable to everybody else. Some people slip through cracks, because they are homeless, change employment too often, etc..

    As to personal responsibility, we aren't all medical doctors. Not everybody has an IQ as high as yours CT. Some people can barely read, let alone research complex medical information.

    Maybe charitable organizations should try to get the word out. They do that now, how effective is that? Not very.

    Unless the information is coming from a huge, neutral organization such as the government, where is it going to come from? If it comes from the government, wouldn't that have to be paid for by tax dollars? But why would the government even care to inform us, if they aren't concerned enough to provide the service. What concern is our health to the government? Health care (not insurance) isn't a basic human right, right?

    We are pretty much the only country in the world (decent one anyway) that doesn't believe that basic health care is a right for everybody. It's such a basic, simple, moral issue, that I have a hard time understanding the disconnect. This pick yourself up by the bootstraps, every man is an island thing is ludicrous. We all depend on others in so many ways. We have the ability/technology/resources to care for others, not doing so is immoral.

  9. "We have the ability/technology/resources to care for others, not doing so is immoral."

    But as we've seen recently in Greece (and to a lesser extent, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain), there are limits to the government's resources. The same can be said of California and New Jersey here at home. And the federal government isn't immune, either.

    Regarding other "decent" countries, I had a personal experience with European healthcare back in the late 70's. While stationed in Germany in a large city about an hour and a half from the closest U.S. military medical facility, I wrenched my wrist carrying something up to the office. Being in pain, I was authorized to go to a German doctor for immediate care. I was given some sort of heat treatment and was scheduled by the doctor to come back for 11 or 12 more sessions.

    Since the pain had subsided, I was able to travel to Bremerhaven (the closest U.S. facility) the next day. When I told the Army doctor that the German doctor had recommended a dozen heat treatments, the Army doctor basically told me to get my ass back to work. That was over thirty years ago, and I've never had a problem with my wrist since.

    I know this is only one anecdote, but one has to ask: Why did the German doctor recommend so many heat treatments? I think the answer is this: because he didn't have to worry too much about justifying the treatment; the government was going to pay regardless - why not make a few more bucks (or in this case, D-marks)? One need only look at the fraud and abuse in Medicare to realize that a universal healthcare system run by the federal government could compound this problem many times over.

    Now fast forward to 2010. Thanks to the miracle of podcasts, I've been able to follow the German news every day for over a year now. Because of the recession, the new health minister, Philipp Rösler, has recommended a system called "Kopfpauschale" - per capita health benefits not based on income, in order to contain costs. Even fiscally responsible Germany is learning that there are limits to government resources.

    The act of robbing Peter to pay Paul (taking half a trillion dollars from Medicare to pay for this new entitlement) is questionable - especially at a time when the Baby Boomers are going to be swelling the Medicare rolls over the next couple of decades. Are we really going to be able to weed out enough Medicare fraud and abuse? With Medicare solvency already in jeopardy, shouldn't those savings be plowed back into the system we already have in place before taking on a whole new program?

    We obviously need to care for those who can't fend for themselves: the disabled, the elderly, the unemployed or underemployed, the working poor, children. There are systems already in place (SSI, Medicare, COBRA, Medicaid, S-CHIP), but they certainly need to be improved and augmented. People who find themselves between jobs obviously need something more affordable than COBRA. Increased portability would help, as would competition across state lines. Tort reform would help contain costs by lowering malpractice premiums and obviating unecessary "cover your ass" tests.

    Then there's the problem of the dwindling number of physicians in this country. And the aging of nursing faculties makes it doubtful that we'll even have enough instructors and professors to train nurses in sufficient quantities to treat the additional 32 million newly insured patients.

    Maybe all these things will come together, and ObamaCare will be as successful as Medicare has been. But in the meantime, I feel a personal responsibility to take good care of myself and free up as much of the limited healthcare resources as I can for those who really need it.

    I also don't intend to retire until I'm physically and/or mentally unable to do so. We're going to need as many taxpayers as we can muster in the years and decades to come to pay for universal healthcare.

  10. Medicare has financial problems because it has a horrible client base. Any insurance company out there would go under if it had to take care of nobody but the poor, invalids, children and the elderly. If you want to have Medicare do better, get it "profitable" clients. You know, the same ones this bill has now mandated go to the private insurance companies.

    As to other countries cutting back on benefits, really, in a time of global economic decline, some countries might be trying to save a penny or two? Very surprising. Not only that, but the global decline was caused by our corrupt bankers / industry.

    As to waste/fraud in the medical system. Waste/fraud is everywhere, private insurance, hospitals, banks, schools, the local dollar general, etc..

    I don't hold every European countries system up as the gold trophy. There systems are certainly more equitable than our free for all though.

    The programs we have in this country to help the poor, elderly and children are VERY poorly run. Primarily because every state has to implement it in their own way. We make the system much more complicated when we needlessly reinvent the wheel 50 times over. Plus, some of the states don't want the programs, they actively despise them and couldn't care less whether their citizens have access to health care or not.

    Tort reform has been proven to do nothing to help lower medical malpractice costs in Texas.. maybe it will work better somewhere else. Here in Texas it barely lowered malpractice insurance costs to doctors, BUT it did increase malpractice insurance profits. I guess that's a WIN.

    COBRA is disgusting. Take somebody who is recently unemployed and force them to spend upwards of a $1000 or more per month to maintain their coverage. Many can't get on it because of this, and those that can.. it removes all the savings they needed to live on while they find another job. Unemployment benefits are a joke in this country as well.

    The dwindling number of physicians is because they find other specialties more lucrative. Many doctors aren't interested in providing care, but in maximizing their profit and covering their HUGE medical school costs. If you want more primary care doctors and nurses, how about covering their school costs and then requiring them to serve some time at public hospitals/clinics or accept medicare/medicaid. Kind of like Military enlistment, only less warmongerish.

    I don't care about Obamacare, he sold us out to the insurance companies.

    I try to take care of myself physically as well. It still doesn't mean that I won't fall victim to cancer or some other illness. Likely caused by the pollutants we have allowed our industries/corporations to dump on us for the last 30-40 years. Not only that, but we've allowed our food industries to provide almost nothing but junk to us for a long time. Thanks primarily in part to subsidizing corn and all it's derivatives.

    We're going to need all the taxpayers we can get alright. To fight our never ending wars of empire and to continue letting large corporations suck on our tits.

  11. Regular screenings are very important. At least one hospital in Laredo offers free screenings to the public. And the health department has a program where you can walk in and get a cholesterol check, liver function tests, etc.

    One just has to know where to look.

    Dennis Hopper is a great actor. Of course everybody remember him from Easy Rider. But other movies that come to mind are Speed, and one of the best movies ever, Hoosiers.

  12. Thanks for the info KR.

    Speaking of great movies that Hopper was in, I loved Cool Hand Luke, Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet and Rivers Edge.

  13. Let's no forget his first movie, Rebel Without a Cause, with James Dean, Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood. What a cast! But sadly, each of them suffered a tragic end.


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