Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on May 24, 2019

Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi was at the Chamblee library, and PG took it home. The book begins in 1979, when John was making The Blues Brothers. People were already worried about the amount of cocaine John was doing. The white powder drama gets deeper and deeper, for 405 pages, until John dies March 5, 1982.

Wired has the feel of a endurance contest. The drugs, and the bad behavior, pile up and up. Wired reminds PG of Ladies and gentlemen – Lenny Bruce!! The first chapter of that book is a 60 page look at one junkie day. The geezing gets so tiresome that the climactic OD comes as a relief.

Bob Woodward is the copyright holder of Wired. He is better known for political writing, most notably about Watergate. Mr. Woodward is frequently criticized. The one comment that keeps coming up is by Joan Didion. In a paywall hidden New York Review of Books essay, she says that “measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent” from Woodward’s books.

Wired is reasonably easy to read, in spite of the squareness of Mr. Woodward. He feels obligated to explain things. The Police were “an English new wave music group.” The book feels like it is written for people who think drug use is simultaneously terrible, and fascinating.

This attitude is seen in a Washington Post story about the book. “The strongest criticism of the book by those who knew Belushi–who played the chief fraternity prankster in “Animal House” and who was often featured as a huge, overstuffed bee on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”–was that Woodward concentrated on the dark side of Belushi’s life, providing exacting details of the drugs, alcohol and tantrums that characterized his final days in Hollywood.” If you read the book, you will know that Mr. Belushi hated the bee character.

One of the strongest critics of the book was Judy Jacklin Belushi, John’s widow. WaPo had an amazing quote. “The 33-year-old Belushi, who said she cooperated with Woodward for the book published by Simon & Schuster because he was not part of the world of drugs and booze that Belushi thrived on, said that she now believes she made a mistake by allowing someone outside the drug culture to write the book. “He doesn’t tell the story that drugs can be fun,” she said. “John and I both were drug users, and for a while it was fun….”

It is interesting to read Wired in 2019. After Mr. Belushi died, the federal government drug policy evolved. On the one hand, anti drug propaganda ramped up, with drug testing and increased enforcement efforts. On the other hand, the Reagan government was using drug runners to take weapons to terrorists in Central America. The planes were not empty when they came back to America. The story of drugs in America is bizarre.

Books are a way to pass the time, while you are waiting for other things to happen. You might could say the same thing about drugs. Or you could just put both aside, and do something else. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

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