John Hughes is Dead

How funny to be sitting in a coffee shop in the Valley on the day John Hughes died. I don’t know if all those eighties films were set in the Valley, but it feels like it. In my teens, the Valley was a slightly more exotic Irvine — which made it even more detestable. I’d moved up to UCLA, just 17 a few weeks earlier, and there were a few new friends from over the hill with ostentatious style that made my post-preppy/mod self cringe.

“Sixteen Candles” came out when I was 18. I liked “Breakfast Club” a lot better. And I hated that the Hughes Machine corrupted my precious Psychedelic Furs by inducing them to re-record “Pretty in Pink.”

But as cool as I wanted to be, I was swept up in the misfit romance of those films. Part of me wanted to be the dick that Andrew McCarthy or James Spader portrayed in those films. Part of me felt like Jon Cryer or Molly Ringwald. Really there was no one that really looked like me in those films, but it looked enough like the world I’d moved in just a few years earlier.

Then as the eighties and nineties moved ahead, I got to meet Jon Cryer one embarrassingly drunken night and Molly became a friend for a while after she’d seen my band play a few times. (Interesting that I never met the dicks.) My life really blended with the fantasy world of the Hughes entertainment. I was a geek who made it, at least modestly, to live the dream of making music, a beautiful partner, and seeing my friends do well. John Hughes films were kind of an ad for the geek dream. Even when it seemed kind of racist with Long Duck Dong, he gave kids who didn’t fit in hope. (Though I can’t really speak to authoritatively because I don’t remember a really stereotypical black character in his films.)

So somehow as the author of those dreams dies early (is ‘auteur’ appropriate?), it gives me an odd sadness. I’m sitting in a Coffee Bean. There are laptops everywhere. And we’re all a little out of the mainstream as we sit in this chain café. We all have modest dreams or even huge ones. Some people are dressed a little ostentatiously. I’ll never really understand Valley fashion. I’ll never understand why anyone would choose this place to live. (I’m house sitting and homeless at the moment…typing on my new MacBook Pro…It’s a strange world.)

How long do we have to dream? That’s the sadness. But I like the quirkiness here in this coffee shop and in the people passing by. John Hughes made it a little safer, or at least a little more imaginable for us modest misfits to dream. Thanks.

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