Hippo Manchester
December 29, 2005


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Books: Belushi, by Judith Belushi Pisano and Tanner Colby (Rugged Land, 2005, 352 pages)


A biography via the oral narrative approach, Belushi is a sound-biting but touching account of late comedian John Belushiís life, as told by family, friends, fellow comedians and show-biz associates. This is Belushi Pisanoís second book on her husbandís life (the first being 1991ís Samurai Widow), but this time around she uses her writing to celebrate his legacy, rather than as a therapeutic exercise. Some of the recollections are a riot, such as the time that John and Dan Aykroyd prank-called Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner in the middle of the night during a cross-country road trip, one of them posing as Louisiana Sheriff Leander Perez claiming that he had arrested Aykroyd and Belushi for murder while they were driving a car registered to Rolling Stone Magazine. The snippets from friends like Aykroyd, Carrie Fisher, Penny Marshall and Bill Murray make a puzzle of a complex genius who was his own worst enemy. And though the collection is certainly buoyed by never-before-seen photos from private collections, itís the sentiment, not the snapshots, thatíll ache the heart. In the movie Animal House, Belushiís character Bluto attempts to cheer up Flounder after his car has been totaled. Director John Landisí direction to Belushi: Imagine youíre trying to make a baby laugh.

Belushi sails, and sometimes flails. We could do without the moral mush, and the glib comments about his final days and fatal drug overdose, via countless reprinted headlines, that should be fascinating but just feel morbid. His talent and his life are worth celebrating; you almost hate to tarnish them with something as trite as death.

ó George Pelletier