“The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude” ~ Ferris Bueller
I can't write adequately about John Hughes. I could find some conceit to carry my point, I'm sure. I could share a list of the quotes from his films that framed my adolescence and teen years, that I continue to use as the anchor for my Facebook quotes alongside "Ramble On" and Walt Whitman and other words that make up my salad of same.
"That's very clever, sir. But what if there's a fire? I think that violating fire codes and endangering the lives of children would be unwise at this juncture in your career, sir."
"What in God's name was that ruckus?
"I was just in my office and I heard a ruckus."
"Could you describe the ruckus, sir?"
"Yes. I always carry this. much. shit. in my bag."
I could tell you the people I think I'm most like in the films, which seems to be the thing to do on the internet in response to his death.
(I actually voted for a mix of Alison and Brian (Ally Sheedy and Anthony Michael Hall) from the Breakfast Club with a dash of Watts from Some Kind of Wonderful, but whatever, little quiz and Laura. I guess I have to watch this again.)
I have seen the Breakfast Club more than one hundred times, more than the Wizard of Oz, I'd bet, and maybe more than The Sound of Music. I know every single line and visual cue in the film. I can recite it while it rolls along, something an ex challenged me to and lost, badly. I can mentally put my fist in the air like John Bender does at the end and I can feel the agitation because I'm quite certain, in my adult knowledge of endings that aren't always happy, that they did not all talk in the halls on Monday. John and Claire probably didn't date for very long, and Alison and Andy probably didn't last either (and I really hope she kept the patch from his jacket.)
It doesn't really matter. Maybe they're all off into the ether of adulthood except maybe they're awkward Facebook friends now. Maybe, except John Bender isn't because he doesn't believe in Facebook because why in the hell would he put all of that shit about himself online and freaking Claire does too many quizzes anyway, what, doesn't she have a life?
I also tear up every time Anthony Michael Hall kisses that paper he wrote the essay on at the end, because if you're going to wrap up something I love perfectly, it's going to be with something you wrote so well, even you know it so much that you congratulate yourself for it because you know no one's watching.
I always hoped he'd make another movie, something to bring it all full circle for us.
I loved John Hughes for the stuff he wrote, for the words he put in the mouths of characters just about my age at a time that summarily sucked for me. I disliked high school, for the most part. I was not a sunny person. I was socially awkward (that sounds really terrible. I hate that phrase even though I just used it, maybe because in some cases I feel like it so still applies, and it just means I'm sort of abnormally normal. The confidence thing? Lies. All lies, and ulcers, and utter denial, but I own my ability to fake it.) I was, in fact, quite the basket case. But what I always got was funny and I was a drama geek so that helped ease the pain there towards the end.
And really, it's funny to speak of all of this now. It seems pointless because it's been dealt with and worked through and I'm totally well-adjusted about it. It's no big revelation. It was such a long time ago. Oceans of water that won't fit under any existing bridges ago.
I survived on music, basically. That was what I did. And Cinnabon. And jean jackets. And spite.
I still think Simple Minds were one of the most underrated pop bands ever. This is the song from the movie, of course - from Live Aid, no less - but "Alive and Kicking," are you kidding me?
I had a little bit of a debate with one of my internet people yesterday about the loss of John Hughes. He wondered why people cared, if it wasn't a little much, if any of us whinging on about his 80s work could speak to any films he'd made recently, if it made any sense to grieve someone we didn't know personally? And I shared back with him a thought I've been carting around since Michael Jackson died, when everyone freaked out about people grieving a person accused of the things he was accused of. And in this case, in a very different circumstance involving a very different celebrity from a similar era, it is only the same in that it's not necessarily about the person himself. It's about something he created that had an effect on you at a very impressionable time, or is so evocative of that time that you can't separate it from your life experience.
You might not have known John Hughes, but his work has weight and meaning for thousands if not millions of people who grew up in some small way interpreting worlds in the light of his stories. The crazy things that happened to Michael Jackson in the aftermath of his most intense popularity - much of it at his own hands - couldn't erase knowing where you were and what was going on with you when Thriller dropped. These people and their work are for many people cultural and historical markers, and the grief for them is entirely selfish, which doesn't make it any less valid.
And whereas John Hughes may have been productive in other ways since then, creatively and otherwise, that was a different time and landscape. The era passed. He may have done other things - and I'll admit I have no idea - but after the films he had a part in making in the 80s/early 90s, he really didn't have to to cement his value or his legacy. (Just like I wish a lot of times John Irving had quit writing after A Prayer for Owen Meany, with the exception of Widow for One Year. That one worked.)
Because I was a dork, I used to make a mark in my journal whenever I rewatched this movie. I liked his other stuff too, of course. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of the funniest movies ever made. Everyone I knew including me loved Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The lists have been made and the memories set this week, and it's safe to say most people conscious of pop culture in this time will never forget which films were his.
But for me, what John Hughes did most notably was to give me 97 simple minutes of seven characters at Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois. I don't know all the reasons why it worked for and resonated with me 25 years ago, but it's something I can purely say that I love. It always makes me laugh and relate to a time when I thought I really, honestly, was all of those people in some small way, when I knew my perfect boy was a mix of all three in the movie, with some extra Bender, admittedly. When I knew I'd never be Claire but I'd never quite be Alison either, because showers were entirely too important to me and if I died my hair it was a tragic run-in with Sun-In, not black. It allowed me to safely go to darker places than was allowed in my school, in my circle at the time. That really hasn't changed very much. And I'll still always be sorry that he never brought it full circle, as much as I know that's part of the point.
Finally, if you read nothing else about this man this week or ever, I'd recommend Sincerely, John Hughes, a post by a woman who sought him out as a pen pal when she was just about my age in the 80s. He kept in touch with her for years. It's a fabulous story, and makes me, as I can tell my doubting internet friend, truly miss him as a kickass human being as well as a powerful creative force. There are 1,058 comments. It's that good, and that real.
When Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in a Paris tunnel,any remaining illusions I had of charmed lives for princesses did too. I was a teenaged Anglophile, one of the millions who woke up extra early to watch her wedding day on tv, and felt real sadness - whether I should have or not - in the years after as that initial fairy tale story crumbled.
There it was. Princesses - at least one,anyway - marry people who don't love them all that much, or at least not enough to cut ties with his ex-girlfriend. She gets an eating disorder and never quite gets over her parents' divorce. She goes through a series of bad relationships and then ends up unthinkably dead in a traffic tunnel. And this when it seems, only just seems, that she might be beyond the worst part of the learning curve.
I'm tempted to sugar-coat this as some kind of life lesson but I fail miserably at that, which may be why Dina Goldstein's Fallen Princesses photo series remains very much on my mind, a week after I saw it for the first time on the JPG Magazine site.
Even Cinderella's coach breaks down in a sketchy neighborhood. All images brilliantly shot by and courtesy of Dina Goldstein.
Goldstein takes princesses - the Disney versions, this time - and depicts what may have happened after the closing credits. Cinderella's hitching because she got drunk in a dive bar. Snow White looks miserable with a house full of children. And in the ones that hurt me to look at the most, Rapunzel holds her wig of long braids during chemotherapy, and Belle lies on an operating table during a plastic surgery procedure.
As a strictly in-the-moment shooter who knows and chooses not to take on the work that goes into studio photography, I'm impressed with Goldstein's work on a technical level and also of any use of photography to intentionally comment on larger issues. It's one of its most important uses, I think.. In Goldstein's words on JPGMag.com:
As a young girl, growing up abroad, I was not exposed to Fairy tales. These new discoveries lead to my fascination with the origins of Fairy tales. I explored the original brothers Grimm's stories and found that they have very dark and sometimes gruesome aspects, many of which were changed by Disney. I began to imagine Disney's perfect Princesses juxtaposed with real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues.
Now, despite what any Facebook quiz would have me think, I am not any kind of Disney princess, unless upcoming releases include Princess Who Swears-a-lot, or @Laurie of Twitterlandia. I grew up in the generation after the classics were released - Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella, and they really didn't work for me. I was honestly freaked out even at an early age by the recurring theme of women needing to pass out for indeterminate periods of time in order for things to get better. No thank you. I was way into 101 Dalmations and Mary Poppins, stuff like that, and if anything really scarred me for life it was Bambi.
Real life has not been princessy either. Issues, I have issues. Externally, weight gain, a congenital facial scar, eyeglasses, unfortunate spiral perms. Internally, a crazy penchant for overanalysis and an occasional attitude problem. You name it, I got it. For more appropriate pop culture references, I was Winona Ryder in Heathers, minus the Christian Slater killer boyfriend, or Janeane Garofalo to my best friend's Uma Thurman in the Truth About Cats and Dogs. I maybe passed out sometimes, but there was no guy standing over me at the end crying. (And if there was, he needed money for the tab.)
Now that's just a cheap parenthetical joke. But the truth is, I've been jealous of women whose lives have appeared to be more charmed, more princessy than mine, at least aesthetically. I've thought that real-life girls who were popular, and pretty, and consistently boyfriended, were better off than me.
That's the truth. Sometimes I thought it because they strongly insinuated it, or because social interactions made me feel that way. Or maybe I thought it because of music videos, or movies with impossibly happy endings that looked nothing like my life (or to be honest, anyone's I knew, but we all kind of live in our own head until jarred out of it.) Even last night, watching a rerun of The Office at the gym, I was all, "Look how cute Jim is. Where's MY Jim? Pam's life is AWESOME. I'll just keep doing this here elliptical exercise for thousands more hours and some day, my Jim will come up to me in the parking lot with Dwight who will hand me things to photocopy!"
I said there were issues, right, just so we're clear? Now, I know and you know that Pam is not real, and in most cases I would not indeed like to be a paper company receptionist in Scranton, Pa., (unless Jon Krasinski really did work there, oh my word) but this is what happens to my brain while watching closed-captioned sitcoms while exercising. I have no real desire to fly around with a guy on a magic carpet Jasmine-style, or dance with talking tea cups and butter dishes waiting for a beast to transform in some creepy castle. I would not have argued, however, if Lloyd Dobler showed up in the Malibu. Alas, the person I mistook for him showed up in a trashed Jetta for which he paid $1 and moved into an undergraduate dorm five years later at an advanced age, leaving me behind with a stack of books about letting go Buddhist style and an assortment of irrational behaviors.
Would a princess have better luck? I don't know, because I haven't met any. But life proves to me frequently that real life is not charmed really, for anyone. Happiness is fleeting and weird. Princessy people are happy or sad depending, just like average people, whatever that may mean. I know people who I believe to be very attractive who pick themselves apart worse than I ever have, who are not happy with their internal or external selves. Beauty pageant winners are dethroned, while it is considered remarkable that Susan Boyle can sing at all given her physical appearance, and when she opens her mouth the world pats itself on the back for its enlightenment until she gets second place and ends up hospitalized (there's a Disney theme for you.) And you know, while I'm on the uplifting tip: nobody gets out alive.
Like my co-contributing editor and brilliant blogger Rita Arens wrote about the Fallen Princesses, happiness is relative, and hard-won:
In real life, happiness is the time spent being thankful you aren't going through hell anymore. In real life, we don't know happy unless we've been sad, really sad, or really angry, or really sick. Once we've been all of those things, we learn to appreciate moments when nothing is wrong --- and see them as happiness instead of the status quo.
If Rita's right, I should be accompanied by bluebirds 24/7, and even though I'm not currently bursting with joy, what I'm learning to identify as happiness in her terms is simple contentment, best experienced by not comparing other peoples' experiences and circumstances with mine. This may be why I choose not to watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey.
A larger aim of Goldstein's set might be to realize the very obvious and basic truth that is nonetheless easy to miss when you're caught up in bibbity-bobbity-boo and whatnot: I don't decide happy for princesses and their ilk any more than they ought to decide it for me, no matter what the zeitgeist says. And if I think for a minute that anyone is immune to common suffering like disease, addiction, lost love, or body image issues - no matter what slice of princess life we've seen in movies or through the media lens - that misconception is mostly on me.
As another well-known BlogHer, co-founder Lisa Stone wrote on Surfette in response to Rita's post:
Amen. We live, we learn, we grow up, we are thankful, we learn to find our happiness.
Unless, for some reason, we don't.
A Cup of Jo finds the series "genius and heartbreaking."
Kelly at DesignCrush liked "seeing the flip side of the typical fairytale."
The Queen of the Quarterlife Crisis was "enthralled" by the images.
My friends and I have been saying for years that it's really the fairytales we heard as children that actually fucked us up. These grand illusions of men climbing up a girl's braid to "rescue her" can really give a girl a COMPLEX. Anyhow, the artist here replaces the "happily ever after" with reality that addresses current issues such as war in the middle east, addiction and self-image.
I knew Ione Skye had some voodoo working, what with being the fictional girlfriend of the iconic love interest of a generation (that's Lloyd Dobler. Duh.), marrying a Beastie Boy and, I guess, being the daughter of Donovan.
Turns out she's connected to the Divine. At least according to Ben Lee's guru, who gave him all kinds of permission to marry her. And who also apparently has Ben speaking in the third person. God, I hate that. Maybe that's why I'm not so spiritually connected to anything divine except chocolate.
Ben's a blogger, how 'bout it, and he's blogging all over himself about his new life situation with Ione and Amma. See? Ben's all worked up about the engagement:
The night I asked Amma's guidance about my relationship was in some ways one of the biggest nights of my life. I knew the answer I hoped to hear, but was prepared for anything. After all, the path of surrender isn't guaranteed to be easy. They say you get what you need, but that isn't always what you want. After blabbering through my question, stating my fears of neglecting my career and spiritual path, running through the pros and cons, Amma told me: "The purpose of marriage in human life is to build a family. Partnership is not just for enjoyment, as it is for animals. Once you understand this, it will not take you off your path. Marriage will be good for Ben. In the past, Ben has wavered on his path as he didn't have support. Ione understands his job and profession and can support him. She is spiritually connected to the Divine. There should not be any problem with Ben and Ione. Every marriage has adjustments. You cannot plan for everything in life. But it can be smooth. Ben can ask Ione. Amma will bless everything."
I wandered back to my room that night walking on air. So happy. Knowing that my gut feeling was right, and I was ready to make this commitment. The following night as Amma was dispensing teertum (holy water), I asked Him "can Ben and Ione get married here with Amma?" Amma smiled and responded gently "Yes." So that is why I got home last night, proposed, got the all important answer from my love, and am lying here in bed in LA, jetlagged, sick with flu, but thrilled beyond belief. Life is full of suprises and the unexpected. But sometimes you get what you need AND what you want.
Go Ben Lee. The girl is spiritually connected to the Divine, Amma says. Not so surprising, considering she kissed John Cusack once upon a time, but then again I guess I'm kind of biased. Maybe Amma could help Laurie out too?
Watch it. Ambrosia will fuck you UP.
(That picture courtesy HeavyHarmonies.com. Hi guys.)
No, seriously. You don't want to meet this crew in a dark alley. See?
(Photo courtesy inertron.com who must accept my deepest apologies. And if you want to see it in its original glory, which you really should, plus watch David Pack LIP-SYNC the damned song I've had trapped in my head for 48 hours now, go here. Ashlee Simpson lip-syncs the pants off this guy, is all I can say.)
Could I call Burleigh Drummond's hat a bonnet? Or more appropriately a tam-o-shanter. A top 'o the mornin' tam-o-shanter, matey, but I'd still prefer to call it a bonnet.
See, I decided to confront this Ambrosia madness head-on, so I searched for the images and decided to, you know, snark it up around here a little bit. It's been too warm and fuzzy lately (yeesh) plus I need a new post today since every time the site pulls up so I can delete one of the million spam comments I'm getting I see my big old head and that's more shock than I need. It's like I'm staring at myself. Weird. And when I did the search, I realized that Ambrosia ALSO did that creepy "I see your face when I have sex with my wife" song, "How Much I Feel". So now they're doing battle in my brain. Because like I said, Ambrosia will fuck you UP. And don't even get me started on England Dan and John Ford Coley.
It's one of the two busiest times of the year at work for me, this one coming conveniently right after "holiday" exhaustion. I'm also in terrible chronic pain from falling in the yard of the house I just moved out of, and altogether this means that laughing at stuff like this and Aleve are just about the only things getting me through right now. Good thing, because I know no one really wants to hear about pain. It's the most boring thing to talk about, which is challenging when you hurt constantly and you're a verbal person and you just want to keep commenting on it. Like when it's 100 degrees outside and everyone knows it but you keep on saying, "My GOD it's so HOT. Stop the MADNESS." It's kind of like that. I might capitulate and go get a heating pad. Sad sad sad.
Should be a good weekend, though. I'm joining the sheep on the last day of the Annie Liebovitz show in DC (I don't like going on the last day of anything but...but...yeah) and the Ansel Adams show is still there, so I'll have time to see that too. too. Such different photographers, so the contrast alone should be interesting. I hope the rain stops and the weather's nice, because today sucked. If it is maybe I'll resurrect my SLR and do some old-school film shooting. I really want to do some Polaroid work. And I also need to spiff things up around here. So much, so much I want to do.
May all your weekendy dreams come true. : )
I was going to make some kind of lame, ironic comment on the whole pitiful, abusive, depressing situation involving a certain young celebrity from Louisiana (I know, you're like, 'Which one?', right? Where the hell is Hannah Montana from anyway?). To do so I was going to link to this dude, which I did several months ago when Britney's life began to completely fall apart.
But then, as is YouTube's way, I got sidetracked, and found something probably even more appropriate, so meta it hurts. Because this is just...just beautiful.
My favorite commentary on this whole mess is still Craig Ferguson's. You want truth about something of this nature with no bullshit? Ask an addict. Also, next time your life is fucked up, even if you went and made a public figure of yourself or maybe have acted out in a major way to call attention to it, ask yourself if you'd like someone to take several pictures of it happening. Because I don't know about you, but my friends try to grab my camera to delete pictures of themselves for much less serious reasons. I just think that anyone in pain is a sad, sad thing. I didn't think the videos of Anna Nicole were funny, and I don't think that the Britney coverage is funny or even particularly interesting. It's just another life, messed up and painful, it just happens to belong to a young woman who went a very peculiar path.
I haven't been around any 12-step meetings for many, many years, but one thing I did take away from that experience was "there but for the grace of God go I." Call it karma, whatever, but it just isn't cool.
Leave her alone. And please make that K-Fed lawyer SHUT IT. He's even invading the pages of the Washington Post (please stop it, Washington Post, with the celebritology overload) and I just can't stand it. Write another 1,000 words on the caucus(es). Tell me something I don't already know. Please.
I've so far avoided any comment on the Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy story, because honestly I just don't care. It seems that the media and the public at large (at least on the Internet) are trying to turn Britney's downturn in fortune and now her sister's admittedly likely problematic but NOT completely unheard of early pregnancy into some kind of commentary on how we're all doing out here.
Not so, not so at all. And have you ever heard the phrase "None of your business"? It's nicely applied here. But, and this is where I got on board with paying any bit of attention to this at all, when Uncle Odus speaks, I simply have to stop and pay attention. Thanks to People for the headline that grabbed me and wouldn't let go:
I presume those aren't shoes that glow in the dark? Or Pumas? Or Chucks? I'm thinking a nice, solid pair of loafers. Man shoes. Yes. Loafers for Christmas.
If you like Tori Amos you'll like the videos I linked above. And even if you don't, it's pretty cool to watch two pretty different renditions of the same song. (I like the second link the best.) I think I noted here at one point that I'd bought her box set a few months ago, and I never do that. I'm much more a cd/album girl who reluctantly downloads because I'm essentially a sucker for that which is on my desktop, and there they put it! They just put it right there, for me to buy. How nice of those
thieves nice people.
By the way, speaking of which, could the little bitches who decided to remove The Office from iTunes please stand up and be recognized? I mean, really. So much joy for so many people? The networks deserve this strike (and how awesome to see Tina Fey and Seth Myers on the front page of Washingtonpost.com a couple of days ago.)
Okay, sorry, getting the chocolate of television in my music peanut butter there...sorry. I've been having a little trouble connecting to some of my music lately. It could just be the silly busy-ness, I don't know. Everything feels like a little bit more of a chore than it should. This is what usually has me leaving Delilah on the radio on the way home (or, COUGH, Kenny Chesney, who looked like a guy from my IT department at work on the CMAs last night. And by the way, SO OVER CARRIE UNDERWOOD. Who even USES the tired construction of "If you'd told me two years ago I'd be here tonight..." GAH! Stop it. Stop. Also, I love that she called country music a "format", as in "I am so proud to be in this format. That must mean she really feels it. Can you imagine Dolly Parton saying that? Or June Carter Cash? "AHM so PROUD to be in this here FORMAYAT." Whatever. Barf. Jesus take the wheel, indeed. Just steer her and her ilk somewhere else, far far away. Get her lessons from Jennifer Nettles or someone else who has real talent and heart for the gig. Corporate tools. And I wonder if they're legally required to thank American Idol in perpetuity when they win awards? That seemed really genuine.)
Oh dear. Attack of the parenthetical statement. Got all fired up about Carrie there. What was I saying? OH YES. I've been listening to Delilah prattle on pop-psychology style about her eight children and take calls from despondent listeners and listening to Kenny instead of something a bit more...inspiring in a good way, maybe? Today this madness ends. Girlyman tonight - two shows if I can manage to stay awake. Bruce Springsteen on Monday, which I'm promised will be awesome. Also, my mom is going and we're in the general admission section, which should be entertaining regardless.
Also, my friend Dawn Avery is performing a lot this month, including shows at the National Museum of the American Indian this weekend. The Washington Post wrote a very nice piece about her today, with a big picture, even. I'm very pleased, because sometimes the Style section's focus on local music is...umm, not there. If you're in the DC area, I recommend checking this event out, because she is truly an inspiration (not a word I throw around by any means. Real ones are rare.) Also, it's free! And the Museum's Cafe is one of the best places to eat on the Mall. I'm serious. It's broken down by region, with food from different tribal traditions. And can you say "Any excuse to eat fry bread is a good one?"
On a totally different side of a very unusual coin, this article from Popmatters about "Britney as Trainwreck" is actually quite well-written. Thanks, Josh Timmerman.
"Even with Botox and other less-than-seamless cosmetic alternatives to aging gracefully, Britney’s always had a built-in shelf-life, short of miraculous, Madonna-esque image reinvention. From “Gimme More“’s already-notorious declaration that “it‘s Britney, bitch!” (e.g., “I‘m still here!”) to probable follow-up single “Piece of Me“’s acidic self-examination (“I’m Miss Bad Media Karma / another day, another drama”), Blackout is the sound of Britney realizing that maybe she wasn’t in on the joke all these years, after all, and consequently raging against the machine.
And maybe the machine wins."
The conclusion isn't that simple, and I'm with him. I'm kind of pulling for her myself.
By the way, you can still download the new Radiohead record, "In Rainbows" for whatever price you want to pay, even if that's free dollars and no cents. Seriously. Are you broke? Radiohead cares about you. Genius move on their part, or maybe just nice.