Death


I am unabashedly a child of the 80s. Scour my high school yearbooks and you will find asymmetrical hair cuts, O-ring bracelets and other tell tale signs. It’s not just the clothes that might give me away or the year on my driver’s license. It might be my love for a handful of John Hughes movies that I clearly remember seeing at the theatres. I don’t mean 101 Dalmatians or Uncle Buck. While I did see those at the cinema, I mean the handful of movies that seemed to resonate with kids of my age when they were released.

Last night when I heard of his death, I realised something. It wasn’t only his films that resonated with me, it was the music… the glorious music that was tied perfectly to scenes in the films. Stop and think about a scene from your favourite Hughes film. Ferris commandeering a parade float twisting and shouting to the Beatles or Duckie tossing playing cards into a hat despondently as the Smiths play… maybe the strains of “Holiday Road” when you embark on a road trip or imagining badly dancing teens in prom gear when you hear a specific cheesy OMD song?

Whatever the scene, the music just fit perfectly. Musicians like Jesus And Mary Chain, Love And Rockets, Psychedelic Furs, Kirsty Maccoll, Kate Bush, Gene Loves Jezebel, XTC, the Smiths, EBTG, Belouis Some, Oingo Boingo, Altered Images, Flesh For Lulu, Stephen Duffy, David Bowie, the Vapors, New Order, Echo & The Bunnymen, and The Rave-Ups… are just some of the artists that appeared on a Hughes soundtrack. And I loved them all. Jolts of happy recognition when I would know a particular song. That made me feel cool and in the know, like a mix tape made to introduce someone to music they have never heard. The difference was that I had heard it and I did know it, so the films have more of a special place for me.

When I think back on some of his movies, I can’t honestly say if they had staying power throughout the decades. I know I still giggle at them but would jaded teenagers today would get the humour as much as I did in those darkened movie theatres in Houston? Or would they find the characters hackneyed and the situations trite? I don’t care either way. What I do know and care about is that the music he chose to punctuate and sometimes underscore his movies are what did reach out and grab me.

So for his infinitely quotable movies (Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?) and music, I thank him. Thank you John for helping me formulate my musical tastes and giving me refuge from the wastelands that was 80s music.

RIP John Hughes.

And now, on with the obit written by Roger Ebert:

Few directors have left a more distinctive or influential body of work than John Hughes. The creator of the modern American teenager film, who died Thursday in New York, made a group of films that are still watched and quoted today.

Hughes, who was 59, died of a heart attack during an early-morning walk while visiting family in New York City, his publicist said. He lived all his life in the northern suburbs of Chicago, southern Wisconsin, and on a farm which he operated in Northern Illinois.

Refusing to move to Los Angeles, he once told me why he preferred to bring his young acting discoveries to Chicago to film: “I like to check them into a motel far away from their friends, keep them out of trouble, and have them focus on the work.”

The list of films Hughes directed, produced or wrote includes such enduring hits as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Uncle Buck, Some Kind of Wonderful, Curly Sue, Mr. Mom, Home Alone, Pretty in Pink,
Weird Science, She’s Having a Baby, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Beethoven, 101 Dalmatians, and Baby’s Day Out.

His films helped establish an international notion of ordinary American teenagers, and he was as popular abroad as at home. Once when I was visiting the largest movie theater in Calcutta, I asked if “Star Wars” had been their most successful American film. No, I was told, it was “Baby’s Day Out,” a Hughes comedy about a baby wandering through a big city, which played for more than a year.

Hughes, who graduated in 1968 from Glenbrook High School in Northbrook, used the northern suburbs as the setting for many of his films, notably “Ferris Bueller” and “The Breakfast Club.” He converted the gymnasium of the former Maine North High School in Des Plaines for use as a sound stage, assigning his actors schoolrooms as dressing rooms, and corridor lockers with their own combinations.

Hughes was a star-maker for a generation. Among the actors he introduced or popularized were Matthew Broderick, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Macaulay Culkin and John Candy, who worked in eight Hughes films. Some of those actors, freed from their confinement under Hughes, later became famous as the Brat Pack.

He took teenagers seriously, and his films are distinctive for showing them as individuals with real hopes, ambitions, problems and behavior.

“Kids are smart enough to know that most teenage movies are just exploiting them,” he told me on the set of “The Breakfast Club.” “They’ll respond to a film about teenagers as people. [My] movies are about the beauty of just growing up. I think teenage girls are especially ready for this kind of movie, after being grossed out by all the sex and violence in most teenage movies. People forget that when you’re 16, you’re probably more serious than you’ll ever be again. You think seriously about the big questions.”

“I’m going to do all my movies here in Chicago,” he told me. “The Tribune referred to me as a ‘former Chicagoan.’ As if, to do anything, I had to leave Chicago. I never left. I worked until I was 29 at the Leo Burnett advertising agency, and then I quit to do this. This is a working city, where people go to their jobs and raise their kids and live their lives. In Hollywood, I’d be hanging around with a lot of people who don’t have to pay when they go to the movies.”

After Hughes died today, some reports referred to him as “a recluse who disappeared somewhere in Illinois.” A few years ago, a friend of mine ran into him and kidded him about having disappeared from the Hollywood radar. “I haven’t disappeared,” he said. “I’m standing right here. I’m just not in Los Angeles.”

Hughes was incredibly productive as a screenwriter. He personally directed eight films, produced 23 and wrote 37, most recently “Drillbit Taylor” (2008). Such filmmakers as Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith cite him as an influence, Smith once saying, “Basically everything I do is just a raunchy John Hughes movie.”

Hughes is survived by his wife of 39 years, Nancy, two sons and four grandchildren.

I vacillate on my feelings about zoos. Whether or not they are a good thing or ultimately cruel, so this isn’t a blog about those. It’s a quickie paste of an article I found while visiting an online classical station’s home page.

I have been bereaved to the point where I took no solace in things that gave me joy before. I’ve lay in bed feeling like the weight of the world was on top of the covers and I wanted to do was to be left the fuck alone. I can also say that music (and other things) elevated me back to a head space of serenity or at the very least to be able to cope. And for some reason the image of an elephant transfixed by music made me cry and I don’t know why.

No, that’s a lie. I know why. I’m a sucker for the animal story, they just get to me. It’s also because I read about elephants and their grief a while back when I was randomly having one of my stream-of-consciousness Netsurfing days …

and yes, they happen often …

anyway, enjoy the article and remember how healing music can be. How pieces of music can bring me to complete silence by its artistry, drum up visions of creative daydream, give me shortness of breath joy, make the tears flow quickly, imbue me with energy and glee, make me want to dance until I can no longer dance, or instill in me an unfathomable longing when I close my eyes and let go …


Mozart can ease Suma‘s blues

Zagreb – Suma, a 45-year-old elephant and long-time resident of the Zagreb Zoo, was bereaved and inconsolable after her pachyderm partner of 10 years died of cancer – until she heard Mozart.

“Suma became very depressed after her room-mate Patna died in early May,” the head of the Zagreb Zoo, Mladen Anic, told reporters on Thursday.

“She was refusing to eat, became uncommunicative, showed all the signs of a serious depression.”

Then, by sheer accident, Suma’s keepers discovered that the healing power of Mozart extends to the animal kingdom too.

Earlier this month, the zoo the zoo organised a concert of classical music just opposite Suma’s dwelling, Anic explained.

At the sight of five musicians preparing themselves to start a concert, Suma became very nervous and aggressive, peppering the intruders with little stones that she blew out of her trunk.

“But as soon as the concert started what we saw was really fascinating. Suma leaned against the fence, closed her eyes and listened without moving the entire concert,” he said. Besides Mozart, she took in pieces by Vivaldi and Schubert too.

When zoo authorities realised that classical music seemed to help Suma cope with her grief, they bought a stereo and installed it so she could get a daily dose of music therapy.

The elephant especially adores Mozart, Anic said, but is also partial to the strains of Vivaldi and Bach.

“We are so glad that we can provide – at what is a rather advanced age for elephants – things that Suma really enjoys,” Anic said. – Sapa-AFP

Published on the Web by IOL on 2006-06-29 23:29:27
© Independent Online 2005. All rights reserved. IOL publishes this article in good faith but is not liable for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information it contains.

Seeya on the flip side 😉
– GermanCityMusicLovingGirl

Currently listening to the soundtrack to Master and Commander.

Meal: Happily digesting Mongolian Beef + steamed rice.

(I am pre-dating this blog entry because it was written on Tuesday though I did not get to paste it over here … )

To get my mind off my letter from the IRS, the monkey and I embarked out into the world of sun and breeze. We began at our neighbourhood favourite and learned that Kyung works lunchtimes so we’ll prolly stick to lunches here, since she’s so sweet!

Me – pork curry katsu, rice, and salad.
GC – chicken bento and all that implies.

Since we were the last lunch patrons, Kyung locked up while we finished. I took this opportunity to take some pictures of the place. They have a great little traditional room where we want to take guests when they visit. I love the cubbies underneath for shoes and the extra-long shoehorn that you can see to the right of the doorframe. There’s a little Tengu that I enjoy eating under and if you are remotely curious, go here. On the sushi bar itself, a traditional Japanese couple relaxing after a warm day! It just struck me as amusing – the way they are camped out in front of the fan like when everyone leaves, he turns it on for her with his left foot. Yeah, I’m silly, I know.

We finished our last cup of green tea, we headed out into the world to do some shopping for the house. Lately, it’s either unpacking, buying stuff for the house, or eating out. I suppose I should not complain or anything, it’s not like I have to wake up early and wrestle with some harsh-ass commute.

After our late lunch, we decided to take a drive with no particular place to go. We wound our way through neighbourhoods, giving a running critique of this house and that – our usual repartee to bolster whatever we are discussing at the moment. We saw some amazing bamboo in someone’s yard, as thick as a soft drink can – pale with striations of green. It was so beautiful that I had to circle the block to look at it again. I hope with GC’s mom visiting this week, we can get some bamboo planted but I’m not pushing – I know she’s here to soak up the area and check it all out.

We found ourselves back at Carkeek and as we walked around, we heard the distinctive sound of a train in the distance. We stood on the bridge that spans the tracks and saw one parked. We could see another one coming on the empty track. It dawned on me that my camera was in the car so I went back down and then back up again to get some pictures of the train.

Standing there on the bridge, vibrating from the sheer force of the hurtling train below … I immediately thought of the old movies where the gangs of scalawag bandits jumped on while it was moving. I saw Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson brawling … and then realised that trains from way back when went way slower than nowadays … and that movies make things like that look so easy. In reality? You would so get hurt!

After our sojourn to the park to sigh and marvel where we live (no real clue on when this will end), we decided to head to Lowes and return some organisational baskety things that were too tall for our needs. On our way there, I made a stop at a cemetery I have noticed on my way in and out of Seattle. The impressive rows of symmetrical white headstones reminded me of Arlington so since we had some time, I wanted to stop.

The first thing we saw driving around the windy roads of the cemetery was a rather large statue depicting a WWI “Doughboy.” The inscription is a truncated history of the statue. I found this afterwards when I wanted to learn more.

And as logic would dictate, I thought of my father and the stalwart love he had for this country, flaws and all. How tall he would stand when he sang the National Anthem or how he joined the Navy because he just inherently knew it was the right thing to do. How he’d mist up when watching Mister Roberts after laughing the whole way through or how reflective his face would get when he’s tell me about his Navy days especially towards the end. I felt the warmth in my cheeks, the involuntary downward tug at the corners of my mouth, the tears flow … and there on a Spring day in Seattle – I let the feeling wash over me amidst those stark white markers. It wasn’t one of those “I-miss-my-father” moments that sneak up on me now and again, more of this clear and present reminder of what others have sacrificed to give me the freedom I enjoy.

I could not capture all of them so I just end this with the ones that I did photograph.

Seeya on the flip side,
– GermanCityGirl 😉

Currently Listening: Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me by the Cure.

Meal: Quickie black bean + cheddar nachos with green onion.

Second row.

Tucked in my leathered aisle seat.

GC to my left, flipping aimlessly through the new SkyMall when it hits me.

Today was two years since his death.

The plane had leveled out and we were flying over darkness, that familiar incline gradually creeping higher and higher into the firmament. Pinpricks of light growing smaller, glittering far below like diamonds on velvet and I started crying.

I was thankful everyone was in their seats and that the cabin lights had been dimmed for take-off.

I could cry in the duskiness and not feel self-conscious with each passing person.

I don’t think about it as much anymore but there are times when the void is so great that it’s overwhelming.

I always think about it, sometimes longer than others but a lot when we travel. I grew up flying with my parents – perks of an airline-employeed mum. There were times when we’d sit two and one or all separately or there were times when we lucked out and got seats together. My mum was the champion of schmoozing the flight crew into bumping us into first class if it was empty – she had, how you say, the mad skills?

To anyone who loves their father as much as I did, it is hard to imagine that it has been two years since I heard his voice – or hugged him. It strikes me when we are in some random city and I am doing postcards for friends and family. I get in the groove of writing them and I catch myself nearly writing his name down on a card that I know he’d like and it hits me all over again.

He was and is my hero. I am so thankful for what he did for me and what he continues to do for me. If these words can transcend the frivolity and fun that fills my day-to-day life …

I miss him and just wanted to let someone know.

See you on the flip side (with a decidedly cheerier posting),
– GermanCityGirl

Currently listening: ( ) by Sigur Rós.

In-flight nosh: Dried apricots, snack mix with sesame sticks, and ginger ale + cranberry over ice.