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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Back to that same old place


Signal we get.

* Regrettable | The troubling things I learned when I re-reported Bob Woodward’s book on John Belushi, by Tanner Colby. [Via.]

* Any time John Belushi comes up in conversation, I can’t be stopped from telling one of my Belushi stories. Also, I apologize in advance to anyone who's already heard it. So, here we go.

I remember it like it was just yesterday.... It was a chilly, damp Friday afternoon about 5:00 or so. I got off the L at Fullerton, caught the westbound 74 and slid into one of the last available seats. The work week was over. All pressures were lifted. Everyone was going home. It was time to put our feet up and relax.

I sat down across from the back exit door, next to a young nun. I knew she didn’t live at the convent across the street from my house because, one, she was wearing a brown habit, and two she was less than age 65. Much less. She was about my age. I couldn’t help but wonder about her. She was so unlike the nuns I saw everyday. I especially wondered, if in a different place and in a different time, if she and I would have been friends.

A couple blocks down the line, at Racine, as I was about to strike up a conversation with the nun, a young man got on the bus. Looking back, it seems like he went from the sidewalk to front and center of the bus in one smooth, sideways hop. One second he wasn’t there, the next he was. He was disheveled and out of breath, obviously from running to catch the bus. Something about him got everyone's attention.

He stood there. At the front of the center isle. Before the packed bus. Took a deep breath, and excitedly exclaimed, “John Belushi’s dead!”

Everyone on the bus gasped. And time froze. And the world went silent. And in that instant, all these strangers - old Polish women in woolen shawls, middle-aged Black men carrying home their lunch buckets, Latin teenagers with bright futures ahead, Sister, me - became bonded for life.

The young nun grabbed my arm, probably unconsciously and probably only because I was the closest human, crossed herself, bowed her head, and began to silently pray. When she finally lifted her head and opened her eyes, I could see her tears.

After about a block more, when everyone on the bus was either crying or talking or both, and everything was wall-to-wall noise, I got off and walked the rest of the way home in stunned silence.

* Back to the article, which I recommend reading in its entirety. After Woodward's book:

Belushi’s reputation never recovered.

I don’t doubt that to be true, but only in certain circles, i.e., the highfalutin Hollywood types who just had to divest themselves of their past association with John so they could go on with their magnificent lives. Or perhaps certain Beltway types who trust anything Bob Woodward utters simply because he’s Bob Woodward. And probably a few more.

But not the rest of us. Not his family and friends. Not the people who knew him (not me, but someone I knew). Certainly not everyone who’s been watching The Blues Brothers over and over for the last 30 plus years. Or every frat who ever memorized every line from Animal House. Or anyone who remembers SNL from back in the old days. Or even the general walking, talking, breathing public, whether born before or since 1982.

And definitely not the people on the Fullerton bus in Chicago on that Friday evening in March of '82.

For us, John Belushi’s reputation remains intact.

* Sweet Home Chicago.

Posted by Marie at March 12, 2013 10:01 PM