Daily Archives: July 22, 2010

The Brat Pack book was great. And a twist in the travel routine.

One of the many, many reasons I love traveling is it gives me a chance to catch up on books.

I’m one of those people who always has 3-4 books on the shelf that I “mean to get to,” any day now.

Finally got around to reading something I’ve been wanting to read for months, Susannah Gora’s “You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and their impact on a generation.”

I was pretty darn sure I was going to love this book going in, as I wrote when I first heard it was coming out.

And it was pretty fabulous. Gora totally takes you inside the process of the making of some of the classic 80s movies, like “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Sixteen Candles,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and “Say Anything.”

She’s talked to just about all the key players, except the late great Hughes, who apparently wouldn’t give her an interview (it’s never made clear in the book.)

I learned so much about the Brat Pack and the movies I’ve adored all my life, like, did you know Molly Ringwald turned down “Pretty Woman”? And that she and Hughes had a nearly-inappropriate relationship while making her trilogy of 80s movies? Or that John Cusack was up for the lead in Ferris Bueller? (Man, would THAT have been a different movie.)

Gora was clearly a huge fan of these movies, and could’ve just written a love-struck fan kind of book. To be honest, some of the final chapters are quite a bit fawning toward my Generation X, but really, there’s some terrific background in here, on how difficult it was to make “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and how the label “Brat Pack” basically killed some of the members’ careers.

But the best stuff in the book is about Hughes, who I of course worship like the god that he was. What a strange, strange guy. Everyone said how great he was to work with in the beginning, but he was always obsessive and had strange relationships with his casts.

Then once his fame really took off, after “Home Alone” came out in 1990, he became impossible to work with, and eventually flamed out (it saddens me to know he wrote the awful “Curly Sue.”)

I won’t ruin the book by telling you all of it, but if you’re a Gen X’er like me who regularly quotes Ferris and John Bender (“this is what you get in MY house, when you spill paint in the garage!”), you definitely want to read this book.

***Returned from my Iowa/Chicago voyage Wednesday, and of course I had many scattered thoughts while sitting in the airport writing this:

  • Both at the Field of Dreams and at Wrigley Field Tuesday, I was again struck by how few African-American baseball fans I saw. This sport has completely lost black people to basketball and football. I blame Michael Jordan, myself.
  • No matter how many improvements they make, the automatic hand dryers in public bathrooms never really get your hands as dry as paper towels do.
  • Since I met my wife in 2003, I’d say 95 percent of my travel has been with her. When you fly and drive with one person fairly exclusively, you develop a sort of choreographed dance. She knows your routines, you know hers, and everyone compensates and manages fine. Traveling with my Dad the last few days has been … odd. Not good or bad, just odd. Like, I usually do the driving with my wife. But my father hates being a passenger, so he drove and I navigated. Which isn’t my strong suit. Eating schedules, sleep times, all that stuff is just a little bit different, and it throws you off a tad.Still had an incredible trip though, to two baseball shrines. Didn’t want to come home, and isn’t that the sign of a great vacation?