Tuesday, January 20, 1981
The Michigan Daily,
Now we need a left-wing Bob Hope
"Ronald Reagan: Fascist gun in the West" it
says on a wall at East Quad. It says "Fuck a
:Reagan" next to it, "and kill them too" beneath
c One can envision how it all happened: A
couple of those loveable nouveau nihilists living
there were probably pulling each others' hair
out over long hours trying to figure a way to
cope with Reagan's ascendancy when the
'notion of graffiti came to light. So the paint was
splashed on the walls, and afterwards the
,dissenters returned to their rooms, smoked a
few joints, put the Dead on stereo, and asked
each other, "Hey, who says the '60s are over":
THAT MAY BE A little sharp, but it strikes
me as accurate. There's a similar sentiment
among some of the people around here, folks
who, like me, never quite believed The.Cowboy
would become president. There is a blanket
dread, a sneering despondency that can only
turn more ugly and cynical as time goes on.
The day after the votes were in-shock. 'A lot
if pasty faces on the streets, even a few black
a'rm bands, and one could hear the fear a lot of
folks had kept inside finally coming out. "I feel
like I'm under attack as a woman now," one
friend said. Another ghoulishly tacked up
photos of McGovern, Gaylord Nelson, John
Culver, Frank Church, and others, drawing a
skull and crossbones next to a sign that read
"1980 Gallery of Horrors."
"The secret message behind the election of
November 4th was that some people belong in
this country, and some people don't; that some
people are worthy, and some are worthless;
that certain opinions are sanctified, and some
are evil; and that, with the blessing of God,
God's messengers will separate the one from
the other," wrote Greil Marcus more than a
month after the election.
NOW MARCUS' words appear the best post-
election pronouncement so far. On November
5th, however, as I was swapping doomy new-
wave quotes with a friend, he grinned widely
and said, "It all just goes to show you how little
control we really have over our lives." Back
then, those few words appeared to say-it all.:
But the truth is they haven't said it all, unless
we sit stunned by what's going on, and remain
so for the next four years. The day after the
Raygun got us all, WCBN played almost con-
stantly for 24 hours Lesley Gore's "It's My Par-
ty." In retrospect, it was a prophetic gesture.
On its own terms it was a snotty punishment for
any listeners who had voted Republican, and a
self-indulgent, contemptuous slap at the rest of
us, just for the hell of it.f
It may have been the first display of cheap
By RJ Smith
and easy cynicism, but it was only the begin-
ning. That same day this paper ran a silly
editorial that said the end was near; since then
there have been'scads of graffiti, handbills of
Reagan with a cute little Hitleresque
moustache, a campus screening of Failsafe
planned for Inauguration Day, and much more.
And that is just the more overt stuff - beneath
it all is a sea of pessimism immobilizing some
segments of the votership in a way far worse
than during the Watergate era. It's good to put
your head down and worry, and plan, when'
something like this happens; it's important to
call up friends and tell them of the forbodings
one feels of an administration hell-bent 'on
bringing the clamps down on lots of us.
BUT WHEN certain private acts become
public obsessions they can have a debilitating
effect. Catty graffiti statements and trendy
apocalyptic one-liners by disc jockeys
("Remember: 1984 is closer than you think"
recites a familiar station announcement on
WCBN) are really the least consequential kinds
of cynicism, but because they are the most
visible, they help legitimize far more troubling
pessimism. And we're getting close now to a
pessimism that will have the ability to squash
meaningful protests and to certify our apathy.
One has to question the grief that has already
come from so many sources - nothing has
happened yet. Even so, what we have all over
the University is not trepidation but terror, and
all before the good general has mustered
support for unheard of amounts of military aid
to El Salvador, before Caspar (The Unfriendly
Ghost) Weinberger has committed us all to a
draft, before Jerry Falwell has appeared as
Time's Man of the Year. Some of what our
imaginations tell us will happen in the next few
years surely will, of course, and yeah, things
that we haven't even thought of will happen too.
But if we choose to hide from demonstrating
our anger, if we let our disgust and feelings of
helplessness overwhelm us, then the issue of
how much power we have becomes academic;
the terror of failure is avoided if we all become
cynical and detached from each week's
newspaper headlines. But in fact, our cynicism*
will help create those headlines.
WHAT TO DO? Well for starters, there are
certainly a hell of a lot of people all over cam-
pus today attending workshops, lectures,
demonstrations, and all of them saying no.
Loudly. Elsewise, there's a revitalization of the
CIA that must be fought; a mess of back-to-the-
nuclear-family folks that we have to do
something about; and right here, a Women's
Studies Program that will feel the force of the
rise of the right needs supporters. And Jesus,
Jesse Helms. Jesse Helms.
I had a song lyric going through my head for
days after Jellybeans got elected. It's by The
Melodians, a half-remembered Jamaican
reggae group: "In times like these, when sur-
vival is the game, play on." And for some
people, survival is to be the only game-for
folks on Social Security and food stamps, for
inner-city teenagers with CETA jobs, for
children in grade schools who might not want to
pray in class.
For better off student-types like you and me,
the survival is more oblique, less of a bread=
and-butter sort. It makes apprehensiveness no
less real. .. but it makes the accompanying
current gloom seem a lot less sincere. "Tle
worst thing about that asshole getting elected is
that now we have to develop a left-wing bd
Hope," a friend said the other day. I like tiei
reassuring sense of humor. It's something that
leaves more room for action than all the
pessimism now on view.
RJ Smith is aformer Daily Arts editor.
y - ._ ....... . , - _1-. _- . r ___ .. .. _ _ __
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCI, No. 94
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
I AM C*)N6P V_
ZX A C'lMvc,.
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
:I AN ME(.
Iran: The end is in sight
S THE DEADLINE for this page relating to funds that were Iranian to
approaches, it appears that the begin with. His stalwartness on this
merican hostages may be on their point has most likely served ,to deter
Wvay home within the next few days. any future embassy seizures.
'resident Carter, speaking through Still, Reagan would do well to take
envoy Warren Christopher, has agreed preventive measures against the
do conditions posted by the Iranians. possibility that some other country will
e Tehran governnent has lessened imitate the:Iranians' criminal
s demands consideraly froi earlier _behavior._Other than threats of for-
rnmuniques. Donald Reagan, who ce-Ah option we would rather not see
will be inaugurated today, has in- employed-the opening up of
dicated a willingness to go along with diplomatic channels, including the
the provisions of the deal worked out World Court and the United Nations, to
, y his predecessor. Overall, the rectify past injustices is indicated. It
ation's hopes are -higher than ever would be in America's interests, both
Oefore. long and short term, to make clear our
i The mood of the country may be receptiveness to the examination of
faking a turn for the infectiously happy foreign countries' claims against the
in the next few weeks: Not only is our U.S, so long as they are pursued in an
longest-term worry coming to an end, acceptable and civilized manner.
but a president is assuming office who As for our relations with Iran itself,
has a strong mandate and, by and we believe the nation's temper and
large, the confidence of the nation tolerance to have been so severely
behind him. Indeed, Reagan must be tested by the hostage crisis that any
delighted -over the progress in the immediate attempt to normalize
hostage situation. He can hardly have relations would be futile. Perhaps in a
relished the idea of taking office with few years, when Iran has established
such a controversial situation already itself among its surrounding nations,
on his hands. and -Americans have been able to put
There was fear among some pundits some of the anguish and humiliation
ghat making any concessions to the behind them, talks of diplomacy can
4ranians might prod other Third World resume.
countries to try similarly illegal means In the meantime, we can only ex-
> publicize past wrongdoing on press hope that in the very near future
America's part. But President Carter, we will be able to join in' a hearty
quite rightly, refused to grant any welcome home to the 52 patient women
ranian demands other than one and men in Tehran.
I AM L-eAV4J6.
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I'll take it in a
Ronald Reagan's'inauguration I'll leave to
the many political pundits who seem more
numerous than the sperm cells contained in a
single human ejaculation (I'm taking Bio
123-"Human Sexuality"-and wanted to
exercise my new-found knowledge).
(There are 300-500 million, in case you're in-
The release of the hostages I'll leave to the
many journalists so desperate for a "new"
angle that they will be telling you.in intimate
detail about every breath the 52 patriots take
as they arrive home ("Two hostages wheezed
By Howard Witt
slightly tonight as they stepped off their plane
onto American soil, while several others blew
their until-now-held-captive noses ... ").
What I want to write about today is a sub-
ject far more profound and eternal in its im-
plications than the release of the hostages or
the ascendancy of President Reagan. It's a
subject as old as civilization, dating back to
the antediluvian time when a few of our ape-
like ancestors first gathered in one cave to
order raw venison and bludgeoned the chef
when it was served overcooked.
I want to write about restaurants.
I was in a fancy restaurant in Detroit recen-
tly that typified what I will call the "Etiquette
of an Evening in any Eminent Eating
Establishment." Now, most of what I have to
say will probably be old hat to all you
bourgeois diners who frequently eat in fine
restaurants. Me, well, I'm an old HoJo
veteran. If I have a little extra money,
sometimes I'll treat myself to a dinner with
the elderly at Bill Knapp's Asnackorameal.
So anyway, I walk into this fancy
restaurant. Just inside the door I encountered
the coat check counter. Seeing that no one had
a coat draped over the back of a chair, I
decided I should check my coat. On the coun-
ter was a dish with two quarters in it; I star-
ted to anticipate my bill for the evening-50
cents for the coat check woman.
Then I walked into the "Gentlemen's
Lounge" and encountered my first burly
gave the washroom attendant a dollar. It
made sense, I reasoned: After all, handing
out towels is more difficult than hanging
coats, so the washroom -attendant deserves
more than the coat check woman..
My table was not yet ready, so the maitre d'
directed me to the cocktail lounge area.
This presented me with a host of problems.
By way of background, let me say that I am
not yet of legal drinking age in Michigan. I
hate going into a restaurant and trying to act
"grown-up," ordering a "St. Pauli Girl" beer
to sound sophisticated and experienced and
"old enough," getting carded, and ending up
sheepishly asking for a Coke.
It always feels like the whole world is wat-
ching my humiliation; half the time I expect
ABC World News Tonight to lead off their
broadcast with, "A naughty boy was carded
in Ann Arbor today as he attempted;.."
It is such an embarrassing situation that I
have learned to avoid it by not ordering
anything alcoholic in the first place.
So here I am in this cocktail lounge. I decide
not to sit at the bar for fear of creating a news
event; I walk over to a cocktail table. Nobody
told me that when you sit at a cocktail table
you are supposed to order a cocktail. When
the waiter came to take my drink order, I had
to think fast.,
"Oh, I just had a heart seizure and thought
I'd rest here a minute. I'd better not drink
anything," I said.
"Perhaps you might like to go to the Gen-
tlemen's Lounge?" the waiter asked me.
"You certainly can't sit here if you're not
going to order a drink," he cautioned.
Not wanting to pay the washroom gorilla
any more money, I ruled out the lounge idea. I
explained my dilemma to the waiter.
"Look, sir," I said. "The maitre d' told me
to wait in the cocktail lounge. You tell me I
have to order a drink if I'm in the cocktail
lounge. But I'm only 20. If I order a drink, you
will card me and then I will be mortified and
embarrassed. So what am I supposed to do?"
"Why don't you just try ordering a drink.
Maybe I won't card you," the waiter said,
winking and smiling.
Oh goody, I thought, he won't card me. I can
order a real live drink without being em-
barrassed. "Okay, then," I asserted confiden-
tly, "I'll have an Amaretto Sour."
"Do you have an ID?" the waiter demanded
in a voicejust loud enough to be heard across
the street. -
Well, the waiter came and recommended
the fish, so I ordered the fish.
As I waited for my expensive fish that I
.knew I would hate, I started to ponder the for-
ce of restaurant laws. You can jaywalk and
nobody will bother you. You can spit where it
ways "No spitting" and no policeman will-
arrest you. You can even evade your taxes
and the IRS probably won't get you. But God.
forbid you should fail to tip a washroom at-
tendant or order a drink at a cocktail table.
Needless to say, I didn't eat much of the
fish. I did eat the parsley on my plate (your
know, the green stuff they always give you),
which caused the people sitting at the next
table to stare at me in disbelief.
Not wanting to waste a $20 fish, I resolved to
ask the waiter for a container to use for tran-
sporting my leftovers home-I have a friend
who loves fish. Most restaurants'call leftover,
containers "Doggie Bags," a term I hate. I
mean, here you are in a fancy restaurant,:
using such haughty vocabulary as "maitre d'
motel" and "chateau beyond" and "filet
minyan" and then you're supposed to ask for-
a Doggie Bag?
Besides, it is such an inappropriate name..
You'd never bring home cold, greasy lef-
tovers from Burger King, right? You only:
bring home cold, greasy leftovers from ex-
pensive restaurants, to "get your money's
worth." Well, certainly after spending a for-
tune for your dinn'r and driving the . mess.
home on your lap (it will probably leave, a
stain on your pants), you're not going to give;
it to your dog.
So why the hell do they call it a "Doggie
I asked the waiter for a container to use for*
transporting my leftovers, consciously.
avoiding the loathsome term, and he looked at
me like I was crazy.
"You want a what?" he asked.,
"I want a leftover bag I can use for this
fish," I said.
"What kind of bag?" the waiter pressed.
I resolved to describe a "Doggie Bag" to
him without saying "Doggie Bag."
"You know, a bag I can put the fish in to
take home," I said.
"The fish is dead, sir. Why do you want to
take it home?" the waiter questioned, an in-
nocent look on his face.
"I want it to eat," I blurted. "I don't want it
for a pet."
"Pet? Pet?" the waiter nerked un. "Why *