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John Hughes Not Ferris Bueller Like in Real Life

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"Variety says I have more starts than MGM," said John Hughes on the phone, a little baffled by Hollywood's reflexive embrace of him as the next great director.

Being the Next Big Thing in Hollywood was not necessarily his plan.

But things weren't zipping at the National Lampoon where some of the editors resented him shuttling from the north Chicago suburbs where he lived to New York City---like Goldman's Hank Paulson would famously do a decade latter.

Wasn't the Lamp supposed to skewer pretension not bestow it in the form of two residences?

He had resentments at the Lamp too.

He was not fond of a bleeding heart editor on staff (too "save the whales" he said) and an editor who would "stink bomb" staff meetings with "deliberate b.o." [body odor] in Belushi-style offense-as-wit. (See: "I'm a zit")

"I mean, grow up," Hughes said.

The self-enamored narcissism of another editor who published his own diary excerpts instead of satire and humor, said Hughes--before blogging--also irked him.

Of course Hughes contributed his share of frat-boy sex jokes to the satirical magazine which served as sacrilegious salve to Baby Boomer rage over the Vietnam war, the establishment, racism and Tricky, Rocky and Kissy in the 1960 and 1970s.

There was his "kiddie porn" cartoon--stick figures seemingly drawn by kids, proclaiming "I Like Sex," to make the mom and teacher mad (not that they knew what sex was yet.)

There was his sexist critique of women's bodies which included description of the "all night salute," "low slung butt" and observation--for both men and women--that "everything gets bigger, harrier and closer to the ground," as we age.

(He also blamed Republicans' inferiority feelings on their small "pee pees.")

But Hughes was more proud of his nuanced and researched pieces like a categorization of politicians as different species of bird with their legislative excesses put in Audubon terminology.

"I spent hours in the library to get this accurate," he told me.

Hughes "going script" in the 1980's while other Lampoon editors were still thinking long form magazine article and book contract was as prescient as writers going online in the 1990s. His secret, he told me, was a...computer (!) which let him writes scenes and try them out in different sequences. Quite a concept for Wite-Out/correction tape-ridden writers of the 1980s.

Chronicling teenage angst was not John Hughes' only first.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative pubic health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 
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