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July 22, 1976 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-07-22

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Page Six Thursday, July 22, 1976

Jeffrey Sebst
F~t.Ve Paray, the
I)SO, and
false advertising
PAUL PARAY is back again. This should be an occasion for joy,
and let's hope that he services the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
as well in his old age as he did in his prime. Paray is one of those
magic conductors that one gets to hear, if one is lucky, at least
once in a lifetime. One wonders perhaps why the Orchestra and
he ever parted company.
Of course, they did so right about the time of JFK's elec-
tion to the Presidency, or thereabouts, and no one remembers that
far back. Not if they have any sense, anyway. But it seems to
me that the administration of the DSO was somewhat enamored
of Sixten Erhling back then, and didn't much regret the loss.
That is a pity. What's more a pity is that, after the love af-
fair between Detroit's patrician arts patrons and Ehrling wore
off, for various reasons, he symphony went and hired a color-
less, perfectly terrible Aldo Ceccato. All looks and no technique.
Sixten Ehrling was a charm. AA reserved man, he preferred
modern music to museum pieces, French and Scandinavian music
to the vastly overplayed and ultimately boring German Roman-
tics so very much in vogue with hacks. He's now conducting for
the Metropolitan Opera and teaching at Juilliard, and I say good
for him,
THIS CECCATO-what has he to offer? Abysmal technique,
a repertoire that stretches from Beethoven's Emperor Concerto
to the silvery tones of the Overture of 1812. Nobody wants to hear
the Overture of 1812 more than once a season; few want to hear
it that often. But the fact is there - Erhling was undoubtedly
terminated because he was too far above the average Detroit
audience's head. The hiring committee almost certainly told
Ceccato that he'd better avoid that pitfall - one can just hear
them: "Mr. Ceccato, why don't you program some music that
people can enjoy? Something with good tunes in it, that you
can whistle on your way home." Nothing else could result is his
incredibly dull programming. I'm sure it was done with mean-
ingful glances, too.
But back to Paray. I became a Paray fan when I first heard
a scratchy old Mercury recording of Paray and the Detroit Sym-
phony Orchestra playing the delightful Sibelius Symphony No. 2
(and yes, Virginia, there was a time when the DSO was actu-
ally sought-after as a recording symphony. When was the last
Well, enough. We shall know, as they say, because Paray is
appearing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, at their sum-
mer home in Meadowbrook (Rochester, Michigan). There will
be a review in these pages Friday.
ELL, WELL. It seems that there was supposed to be a
"30's swing band" at Second Chance this week, called As-
leep at the Wheel. At least that's what I was told by the pub-
lic-relations gentleman who called me from -New York the other
day to tell me of their existence. Instantly I conjured up one
of two visions - either a serious attempt at duplicating the
Glenn Miller sound, which would be all right with me, or else
some Manhattan Transfer-esque tux-clad camp-group doing thir-
ties numbers. Which would also be all right.
What I saw, was a hillbilly band which had a fine female
vocalist, and did only one number in the first set, the Something-
or-other Boogie, that might even halfway qualify as the thir-
ties. The rest was pure hillbilly, including one asinine number
called something like "You can try and try and strive and strive
but you ain't gettin' out of this ol' world alive." Try and make
sense of that gibberish, will you? I confess that I rather gave
up after a few minute's concerted trying.
What annoys me about the whole affair is, not that I actu-
ally waster time at Second Chance listening to them, (though
there is something of a case to be made for that), but that
the gentleman who called me on the phone either a) didn't
know what on earth the band he was representing was actually
playing, or b) the cynical twink knew that none would waste
their time on another hillbilly band and resorted to false adver-
tising to push it. So go call the FTC. Who would ...
And that's the point. False advertising charges can be lev-
eled against pharmaceutical companies, against food processors,
against absolutely everyone you could think of. But go press
charges against a fly-by-night group of musicians. The only ques-
tions that remain are: are they for real?
WELL, THOSE JOKERS at the PTP will never give up. They're
so cute! They sent me one of their press releases for the
remainder of their Michigan Rep season, and I walked in and
saw it sitting there on my desk, and I nearly died. What won't
they think of next? I told them I'd never gine in, but then,
perseverance is what made Amerca great.

'Big Bus': Ideas left
in a nebulous stage

T HE Big Bus, a parody of to-
day's disaster films, is a
disaster in itself. The writers
arrived at some very funny
ideas, but left them at a nebu-
lous stage. The movie is a
would-be off-shoot of the Mel
Brooks School of Take-offs, but
it unfortunately lacked Mel
The movie begins with the at-
tempted unveiling of the bus,
but it is sabotaged with a
bomb, planted by a stooge (ac-
tually a brother) of an Arab oil
baron, who realizes that the
nuclear powered bus, with non-
stop service from New York to
Denver, would undoubtedly de-
crease future demands for oil,
A slightly sick note is inserted
by the role of the oil baron be-
ing played from inside an iron
Luckily for the Coyote Bus
Line, but unfortunately for mo-
vie audiences, the bus was not
damaged and the trip will go
on! However, the president of
the bus line was seriously in-
jured in the bombing - a St.
Christopher medal was pro-
pelled into his chest from the
explosion. And this is before
we have left New York.
The trip (and the movie) are
doomed from the beginning, if
only by its cast (Stockard Chan-
ning, Larry Hagman). The pas-
sengers on this virgin voyage
include a sado - maschistic
couple celebrating their di-
vorce, but making love in the
isles to eliminate their hostili-
ties (he was never able to ac-
cept her wealthy parents - she
is the daughter of the man who
invented poisonous gas: "Yes,
I am the daughter of poison-
ioon gaul"), a doubting priest,
a nymphomaniac fashion de-
signer and a man with only six
months to live.
designer of the bus and girl-

friend of its driver, gives us a
tour, showing how they have
managed to combine the worst
elements of a Cunard Liner and
a Boeing 747, including a bowl-
ing alley, pool and cocktail
lounge in the upper nose of the
bus, complete with Oriental de-
cor (gold laughing Buddahs)
and pianist "Tommy Joyce
. . . here to play your choice".
The bus, because of its non-
stop route, requires two drivers
-Dan (Joe Bologna) and
Shoulders, whom one would
think got his nickname because
of his size, but we soon learn
that it is because he has a
habit of driving on the should-
er of the road.
Dan and Shoulders met during
a barroom brawl. Dan had long
been black-listed among his
fellow driversbecause he wasn
accused of eating 110 passeng-
ers after a bus accident. He,
however insists that he only ate
a foot, which was disguised in
a stew. Shoulders helps Dan in
the fight by grabbing a milk
carton and breaking it off on
the barandthreatening the man
ssing a broken candle for a
The bus gets on its way and
Dan puts on his best uniform
for the Captain's dinner, serv-
ed in the new Bicentennial din-
ing room (you guessed it -
done in red, white and blue
stars and stripes).
But trouble looms ahead.
ANOTHER sabotage bomb
was planted and it exploded,
ruining the braking system. The
big bus is now running out of
control and even an attempt to
stop it with firemen's foam in
Springfield fails.
As the bus races through the
mountains, it misses a curve
and teeters perilously on a
cliff. Kitty, who had been in
the kitchen of the bus baking
pies is knocked unconscious.
Dan ponders the situation and

(remarkably) he has an idea.
If he floods the kitchen of the
bus with soft drinks, it will
balance out the weight. He
radios the kitchen to make sure
it is empty and the unconscious
Kitty is helpless. The flooding
begins and the carbonation re-
juvenates her. She swims to the
radio, amidst floating donuts
and calls for help. Oh no, an-
other decision for Dan to make
- whether to save the bus and
its passengers or 'his girl'. But
Dan is a man of action and
leaps to the rescue of Kitty. He
must climb out the window of
the bus, onto its roof (remem-
ber those chase scenes on the
tops of moving trains?) bat-
tling the elements and the auto,
music cleaning systems that
mistakes him (easily) for gar-
bage. He arrives as Kitty is
about to go under, her foot
caught in some mysterious kit-
chen machine. As he hopeless-
ly tries to save her, he declares
his steadfast love and gives her
a promise of marriage. She
asks in a gasp if he really
means it. What do you say in
such situations? Yes. "Good"
she beams, "my foot has been
loose for ten minutes. Let's get
out of here".
now re-assume his responsibil-
ity for the bus and passengers.
He cunningly fashions a Bat-
man - like rope-and-anchor de-
vice (of pantyhose and a can-
dleabra, no less) and pulls the
bus to safety. And again, they
are on their way.
The scenes the writers con-
ceived had endless possibilities,
but they were never born. A
good movie parody, and like
those of Mel Brooks, gets its
strength from a quick and witty
exchange of dialogue and
scenes. The ideas they had were
good, but there weren't enough.
This movie could have been a
scorcher, but they barely found
the match.

Sixten Ehrling

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