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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Paul Giamatti, January/February 2011

(continued from page 1)

Jim Belushi once threatened to kick my ass in front of a thousand people … and I still love the guy, anyway. That was 1985. The place was Lantz Gymnasium at Eastern Illinois University (there was no local auditorium big enough to hold the crowd), and Belushi had swung through that town of Charleston, Illinois on a stand-up comedy tour.

Four years earlier I became a fan of his—not because of his comedy, or that he was John’s brother—but because he costarred in Michael Mann’s fantastic 1981 film, Thief, as James Caan’s alarm-expert sidekick. A film your writer Marshall Fine never mentions by name but, instead, lets Belushi gloss over in a vague reference only as “Michael Mann’s first film.” But I digress.

In 1985, while I was an eager young journalism major at Eastern, I was especially thrilled Belushi—having had a role in my favorite film of all time—was going to perform there. So, I not only purchased my ticket early, but that night I also brought along my student press credentials to ward off security when I got out of my seat, along with my 35mm camera. It was the camera that got me in trouble. Well that, and me taking a dozen or more pictures with it from the foot of the stage with—I’m sure—its blinding flash.

At first, I got a single, somewhat jovial acknowledgement from Belushi that I was a bit of a distraction, and then after snapping another six pictures he turned, paused and pointed at me from 30 feet away—with a deadly serious look—and said, “Leave right now and I won’t kick your ass.” The audience roared its approval and, needless to say, I shamefully found an exit.

Thank you, Marvin, for letting Fine update Belushi’s fans on his career and latest ventures. He’s a huge talent in a town that seems to pride itself on churning out crap entertainment. I wish there were more like him to fill that seemingly bottomless void.

And all I can say to Jim after 25 years is, please accept the apologies of a pre-paparazzi-era student who simply got a little camera happy. What good came of it? I got a job after graduation when a prospective editor saw your pictures in my otherwise lackluster portfolio—an editor who also happened to be a big fan of yours. And, while he seemed to enjoy the story, the pictures were the deciding factor in him offering me the gig. Thank you for everything.

Timothy Bucci
Springfield, Illinois


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