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John Belushi: the overdose that marked an end and a beginning in Hollywood | Culture

In Hollywood, the saying goes that the 1970s ended on March 5, 1982, the day that John Belushi died from an overdose of cocaine and heroin. “The game was up,” Taxi Driver director Paul Schrader would recall. “Some people stopped straight away; the feeling was that the rules had changed.” Bob Woodward’s 1984 biography of the comedian and actor, Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi, has recently been reissued in Spain, in which the journalist who uncovered the Watergate scandal paints a portrait not only of a man who was incapable of controlling his demons and impulses, but of a culture, that of Hollywood in the 1970s, that tolerated, facilitated and celebrated the rampant consumption of drugs.

It is hard to overstate Belushi’s impact on American culture, but it is also difficult to understand outside of his time. During an era of mistrust of the institutions and a crisis of values, after Nixon’s fall and the incapacity of Jimmy Carter, the US found a vehicle for its catharsis in Belushi. His humor was unpredictable, anarchic, uncomfortable, anti-system, surrealist and impulsive. “He adapted the counterculture to comedy,” says Toni García Ramón, author of the Spanish reissue of the prolog to Wired. “He was one of the first to pull jokes out of his sleeve, to improvise everything. He came from that dark, dirty, punk New York that Giuliani would later take on. Belushi was pure counterculture, he never bowed to anyone. He would walk into any sketch and blow it up. His greatest discovery was bringing street humor to the television, making the public at large laugh at the rough jokes people would tell in Hell’s Kitchen bars full of transvestites, punks and hookers.”

Saturday Night Live was the first show created by and for that generation who were born at the same time as television. Belushi used the platform to do things nobody thought could be done on television: he shoved cigars up his nose, smashed beer cans on his forehead, filled his mouth with food and spat it out. Through comedy, he dissected human behavior and parodied a masculinity that, in the middle of a second wave of feminism, had become childish, primitive and explosive. His style of humor was imitated so many times that it swiftly lost its impact, but in 1975 it made Belushi, 26, a national idol. “He represented all of the messy bedrooms in America,” said Steven Spielberg, who directed Belushi in 1941.

Belushi developed his ability to dissect American culture during adolescence. “He was a great observer,” says García Ramón. “He came from a family of immigrants that never integrated and knew little about the United States. He spent the afternoons at his classmates’ houses. He had to completely reinvent himself. And that’s one of the things that made him stand out as a comedian. He was the only person who could do it because he had invented it.”

In 1978, Belushi had the most-watched show on television, a number one record with the Blues Brothers, the duo he formed with Dan Aykroyd, to warm up the Saturday Night Live audience before filming, and the highest-grossing comedy movie in history at the time, National Lampoon’s Animal House.

“John would literally hail police cars like taxis. The cops would say, ‘Hey, Belushi!’ Then we’d fall into the backseat and the cops would drive us home.”,” writer and producer Mitch Glazer told Vanity Fair. For the first time in history, young people were in charge. The US had become one big university campus and Belushi was its demented dean. Comedian Nick Helm told The Guardian that in the 1970s comedians were the kings of New York. “He introduced [the idea of] funny people not just as rock stars but gods. And I think that the funniness of it maybe came second to the lifestyle. It’s hard to watch those SNL sketches and not smell the alcohol and drugs. They just smell of excess.” In one of Belushi’s most popular sketches, he is pretending to be Beethoven and after sniffing a white powder, he turns into Ray Charles. What he sniffed, live in front of 17 million viewers, was real cocaine. Belushi called it “Hitler’s drug” for the power it made him feel. He was convinced that his best impersonations, from Henry Kissinger to Joe Cocker, were due to cocaine. “The truth is that many on the show thought that you can’t do a ninety-minute live comedy show week after week without doing cocaine,” SNL writer (and future US Senator) Al Franken told People.

The budget for The Blues Brothers movie provided for cocaine, for night-time scenes. “Everyone did it, including me,” Aykroyd told Vanity Fair. “[But] John, he just loved what it did. It sort of brought him alive at night – that superpower feeling where you start to talk and converse and figure you can solve all the world’s problems.” In the documentary Belushi, there are letters the comedian wrote to his wife, promising he would give up drugs after the next movie. Belushi ended up spending $2,500 a week on cocaine. The more he earned, the more he took. And if he didn’t have money, it was given to him as a gift.

“I swear, you’d walk down the street with him, and people would hand him drugs. And then he’d do all of them — be the kind of character he played in sketches or Animal House,” the director Penny Marshall told Vanity Fair.

Some of the stories Woodward relates in his biography are as sad as they are terrifying. One night he turned up on set at SNL in such a bad state that the producer, Lorne Michaels, called a doctor, who said that if Belushi performed he may well die. “What’s the probability?” Michaels asked. Fifty-fifty, came the reply. “I can live with that.” John Landis, who directed The Blues Brothers, found Belushi found him semi-conscious, soaked in urine and next to a pile of cocaine. “John, you’re killing yourself! This isn’t financially viable. You can’t do this to my movie!” His wife, Judy, wrote to Belushi’s dealer. “I understand it’s your job, but please stop selling him cocaine.”

As Belushi had been banned from all the bars in New York, he opened his own in an abandoned building on Hudson Street. Among his regulars were David Bowie, Keith Richards and ZZ Top. “It was tiny, it smelled awful and the bathrooms were filthy… it became the most fashionable party in New York,” Glazer recalls in the documentary.

Belushi spent the first week of March 1982 in Bungalow 3 at the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard, trying to rewrite the script for Noble Rot, a romantic comedy he hoped would help him mature as an actor. Paramount instead proposed he film The Joy of Sex, a comedy that required Belushi to wear diapers. The failures of 1941, Continental Divide and Neighbors had made him feel like a Hollywood pariah. Belushi, despite being anti-system, carried positive reviews around in his jacket pocket.

Bungalow 3 became a 24-hour party. To be able to sleep, Belushi had to rent a room at a nearby hotel. On March 5, Robin Williams came by to say hello and Robert de Niro stopped for a couple of drinks, but he didn’t stay long as he was uncomfortable around the mess, with bottles, overfilled ashtrays and leftover food everywhere, and because he didn’t like, by his own description, the “tawdry woman” accompanying Belushi.

That woman was Cathy Smith, a groupie who had lived in the Rolling Stones’ mansion for a couple of years and was then running errands for rock stars. Smith had taken up residence with Belushi at Chateau Marmont with the task of injecting him with speedballs, a mixture of cocaine and heroin, because he didn’t like needles. At dawn the next day, Smith took him a glass of water in bed and he told her that he was fine but asked her not to leave him alone. But she had errands to run. When she returned, the hotel was surrounded by police, reporters and onlookers: At midday, personal trainer Bill Wallace, who was helping Belushi to lose weight, had found him dead in his bed, naked and in the fetal position. He was 33 years old.

That morning, Hollywood awoke from a party that seemed it would never end but had stopped being fun all at once. “Before that day, nobody thought you could die from it,” Franken said. Belushi became a fable, with cautionary tale included, about the moral corruption of Hollywood and the suffering of its stars. Woodward’s book definitively inscribed the myth in the folklore of the city: “He made us laugh,” the reporter summed up. “Now he’s making us think.”

Photographs from Belushi’s funeral capture a generation of comedy stars in a state of shock. Cathy Smith gave an interview to sensationalist tabloid National Enquirer whose headline, I killed John Belushi, prompted the reopening of the investigation into his death. Smith was sentenced to 15 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter. She died in 2020, aged 73. The New York Times published an obituary describing her as “one of the most notorious footnotes in pop culture.”

Chateau Marmont, which had always been a discreet refuge for the stars, entered into the black chronicle of Hollywood after Belushi’s death. With the passage of time, the coaches carrying tourists around added it to the list of obligatory stops. Bungalow 3 became a place a cult worship and pilgrimage. New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat would always stay in Bungalow 3 during his trips to Los Angeles (he died in 1998 from a heroin overdose). In the late 1980s, writer Jay McInerney traveled to Hollywood to work on the movie adaptation of his novel Bright Lights, Big City, which was released in 1988 and starred Michael J. Fox and Kiefer Sutherland. On getting out of his taxi, the movie’s producer told McInerney he had a room reserved for him at Chateau Marmont. “Is it any good?” asked the writer. “Is it any good?” the producer replied. “John Belushi died here!”

Have you heard our Spanish news podcast ¿Qué? Each week we try to explain the curious, the under-reported and sometimes simply bizarre news stories that are often in the headlines in Spain.

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Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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— By Darren Wilson, Team VoiceOfEU.com

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