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Two years ago, I announced that I was working on a new book called which would be a look at the teen movies of the 1980s.

Today, I can announce that My new book Brat Pack America: A Love Letter to 80s Teen Movies has just been published and I’m Footloose-dancing which excitement. 


Brat Pack America is a nonfiction look at The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Heathers, Real Genius and Dirty Dancing, about where these movies were made and what that said about that moment in America, in pop culture and why they are as loved today as they were then. It's contains about 45 of your favorite movies from the 1980s and a ton of behind the scenes info and trivia. I also talked to some of your favorite actors, writers and directors responsible for these great movies, including the geniuses behind Fast Times at Ridgemont High, House Party and Heathers

The book also looks great thanks to the team at Rare Bird Books in Los Angeles, my publishers and friends, who have worked so hard to assure it a fighting chance at a bookstore, on a nightstand and in a purse and backpack near you. The cover looks like this 




I'll be touring across America this fall and next year in support of the book. See you on the highways and byways of Brat Pack America and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

The book may be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powells, Indiebound or your local independent bookstore. 

If you've like a signed copy, please order from Booksmith in San Francisco where I will be sending out books personalized to you by me. 

Thank your for support, dear friends. Let's make this DeLorean fly. 





The following is from my semi-regular newsletter The Smoke(ler) Signal
-- Ritualize creativity. Far and away the first reason I hear from students and my own head for why creative endeavors don't happen is "I can't find the time. I'd like to write/draw/paint/record more but practical shit always get my attention first." 

Solution:  Pair creativity with practical shit. I'll take a few notes after parking my car. I take a few photos while running a stupid errand. I sketch or doodle for about 90 seconds before morning meditation. 

Creativity happens regularly when it feels regular. If it's workaday, like brushing your teeth, it will happen as often as you brush your teeth. If it must be special and mind blowing and a great communion with the muse every single time, well how often does "mind blowing" happen? 

-- Read long and short. I'm in the middle of reading a mammoth book right now and while it's magnificent, it's also dense, slow and the size of an adult raccoon. Which means I can usually do about 5 pages a day before collapsing from reader's exhaustion then gazing with lust at the stack of shorter, more fun books that taunt me from the nightstand. 

I'm usually a one-book-at-a-time reader. But in this set of special circumstances, I've taken to reading my mammoth book and a shorter, fun book at the same time, I get to read the fun one after I've finished 5 pages of Gigantor. Candy after broccoli. 

-- Apple Trailers. You wanna know what movies are coming out, even to just add them to your Netflix Queue? Apple Trailers updates every Monday. I watch 15 minutes of trailers on Monday before getting to work and feel like Roger Ebert. And no, I don't find trailers spoil the movie for me. Usually all I remember from the trailer is the decision to see the movie or not. 

-- Music Discovery: Ancestors and Descendants. The AllMusic database is Wikipedia about musicians before Wikipedia existed. More importantly, each artist page (here's Prince) has a section that lists that artists' main influences and whom they influence, their parents and their children, musically speaking.

If you find yourself having a hard time discovering new music, start here. Pick 3 of your favorite artists, see who influenced them and who they inspired. You won't be straying too far from what you already like, musically speaking but you will also have kicked out the back door and gone outside. Which is a great start. 

 -- The Creative Ramp. Every creative endeavor that seems hard has easier, quicker pieces to it--playing scales on a musical instrument, warming up your voice to sing, taking notes to write. Always start with that simple stuff. Because trying out camera lenses or comparing paint colors is easy, right? It's photo spreads and finished novels that seem hard because they require several staircases to ascend. 

Don't try and broad jump to the top step. Begin with a slow, gentle ramp. then turn and look behind you. You'll be further up than you think. 





Silver Scales (San Francisco, August 2, 2016) 



 Today's Top Tune: "Love Sensation" by Loleatta Holloway





Art Deco entryway






Front Door Sunburst

Front Door Sunburst (San Francisco, July 16, 2016) 











-- The movie This is Spinal Tap was born as Saturday Night Live-sized comedy sketch, satirizing a rock concert  TV program called The Midnight Special

-- The very first host of "Shark Week" was Peter Benchley, author of Jaws. 

-- The word "moxie" comes from a New Hampshire soda pop and its slogan "you've got Moxie!" 

-- Until the 19th century, the word "conversation" also meant "sleeping with." 

-- Until 1970, gay characters in movies weren't referred to as such. Instead Hollywood screenwriters came up with aenormously weird set of euphemisms which are creative and sad all at once. 

My favorite? "Has a party with an open guest list." 
If this is your kinda thing, subscribe to The Smoke Signal, my occasional newsletter of the interesting and useful. 




The performer is currently in final rehearsals for his new theatrical piece, John Leguizamo: Latin History for Morons. The solo show — his sixth to date — begins its world premiere run at Berkeley Repertory Theatre on Friday, Jul. 1. Directed by Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone, it’s a 90-minute blitz through the much-overlooked contributions of Latinos to U.S. history.

Read the whole interview at KQED Arts




A little list I put together for Book Riot. 






John Hughes didn’t think we’d want a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” soundtrack, so we don’t have one. We can recreate, playlist or bootleg it, but we can’t possess something that never existed. Here’s the open secret of this movie and its soundtrack-that-never-was, three decades later: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t waste time on something you never had, you won’t miss it.

Read the rest of my essay on Ferris Bueller's 30th birthday and the movie's missing soundtrack in Salon




Over at Talking Pictures, the movie podcast I do with David Dylan Thomas, we've embarked on a 5-part series about race and movie genres. Between each episode, we issue a challenge to both ourselves, and you, our movie-loving listeners. 

Episodes so far...


  1. Race and Action Movies.

 The Challenge: Name 5 action movies where neither the hero nor the villain are white. 


       2. Race and Romantic Comedies.

The Challenge: Name 3 romantic comedies where neither member of the couple are white but their friends aren't all the same race either. 


If this sounds like your kinda podcast, you can drop this link in your podcast tool of choice or subscribe in iTunes