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September 30, 1984 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-09-30

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Sunday, September 30, 1984

The Michigan Daily

Page 5


An honorable Altman premier

By Marlene Roth
IT WAS 90 minutes of first class
acting by Phillip Hall Baker.
Secret Honor, Robert Altman's latest
release, is must for anyone at all in-
terested in political history, the Nixon
years, or merely in seeing a powerfully
dramatic solo performance.
Not only did the film muse over Nix-
on's ordeal, but it also ripped into Spiro
Agnew, Henry Kissenger, and other
cabinet members, vandalizing their
Secret Honor's technique is to let
Nixon confess all the internal evils of
his administration into a tape-recorder
during an all-night rampage. Baker's

thoughtful expressions and gestures
along with his provoking monologue
convey a believeable personality within
a mythical character.
Nixon is in his Library - the only set
in the film - telling all to a set of video
cameras and a desktop cassette recor-
der. At times, Baker's delivery is a bit
rambunctious but it is always com-
pelling and of an intensity that leaves
the audience emotionally drained.
Nixon tries desperately throughout
the movie to clear the record of his ad-
ministration and to atone for his
mistakes and inadequacies of the past.
He speaks often of his battles as a
young congressman, his work on the
House Un-American Activities Com-
mittee, the failed presidential election
bid of 1960, and the successes and

failures of his term and a half as
After some preliminary confession,
Nixon reveals that his political career
started after answering an ad in the
newspaper that called for candidates to
be sponsored for their election to
The backers of this plan, the "com-
mittee of 100" as Nixon nebulously
refers to them, choose him and chart
the course for Nixon's subsequent rise
to power.
During the course of the rambling
confession, Nixon explains that time af-
ter time, it was the committee of 100
that ordered him to perform certain ac-
tions. And because the committee con-
sisted of tremendously powerful
businessmen, he was powerless to do

anything but obey.
These revelations and others turn
what might have been a stodgy one-
man show into a compelling mystery-
yarn. And rather than seeing a crazed
Nixon pitifully excusing his deeds, we
see a man who sold his soul to others
for their gain and his glory, glory that
later became forfeit.
Besides being an interesting film in
its own right, Secret Honor has the
distinction of being filmed on the
University campus. Plan to stay-until
the credits have rolled - not only did
students take part in the production,
but the music was composed by a
University music school faculty mem-
ber and performed by University


Daily Photo by JEFF SCHRIER
One of the wearable art forms displayed at a fashion show Friday at the Ann
Aror Inn.
Looking back: 20 years
after free speech drive

(Continued from Page 2)
puses. Violence, too.
In his quiet, bookish office today,
Heyman remembers the constant
threat of violence on campus. "So
much was going on elsewhere that this
looked like a much greater social
movement... Stanford was taking it on
the chin. Columbia was taking it on the
chin; Wisconsin, Michigan and
Washington, all over the place.
"THERE WAS a sense of not knowing
what the outcome would be."
The momentum was awesome, and
perhaps self-defeating. John Searle
reflects, "By that time, you see, all kin-
ds of commitments had been under-
taken. The feelings were so intense.
There was a kind of dynamic to a
demonstration, so that each demon-
stration had to be bigger than the last
one to maintain the momentum and the
What bound the young people of 1965
together was predestined to unravel.
"WHAT HAPPENED after 1965 was
that two subcultures developed,"
Searle says. "One which you might call
the hippie subculture, and one which
you might call the radical subculture.
People often talked as if they were the
same. They were not.. .
"I think they were both attempts to
change the culture-in different direc-
tIndeed, there was a new kind of folk
music in the land. Bob Dylan, Pete
Seeger, Joan Baez and others sang
songs that echoed a vague discontent.
Although he died in the 1950s, James
Dean and Rebel Without A Cause were
not forgotten. The year before
Berkeley broke out, Timothy Leary left
Harvard and became a rallying point
for a budding drug culture. The slaying
of President John Kennedy, and then of
his killer, lent a notion of justice left
GaDFREY HODGSON in his book
America In Our Time, summed it up
this way: "The schism between
political radicals and cultural rebels
opened very gradually. As early as 1965
the underground papers were already
showing signs of boredom with political
issues. In the same year (Bob) Dylan,
admittedly always a pathfinder, turned
from his political ballads to the smoke
rings of his mind. Increasingly, those
who were serious about political change
became exasperated by the dreamy
narcissism of those who sought a per-
sonal salvation..."
Searle, who found much to admire in
the non-violent beginnings of the Free
Speech Movement, says, "That
gradually degenerated. . . the
movement got much more violent,
irrational as time went on."
On the Berkeley campus, the Free
Speech Movement decayed into the Dir-


The event, he says, signified that the
schism was complete: "Two societies,
two cultures, two myths glared at each
other in total hostility, utter incom-
prehension. And yet they were as alike
as father and son."
John Searle, in his book, The Campus
War, saw the young middle class,
brought up in a "warm, permissive,
forgiving, child-centered style of home
life," being tossed into a world for
which it was not prepared.
organization of our society is not the
cozy suburban household, it is the large
bureaucracy," Searle wrote of the en-
vironment the students confronted.
"Take a close look, for example, at
Form 1040 of the Internal Revenue Ser-
vice: it is not a warm, loving, per-
missive or forgiving document." But
he says:
"There was during that period a kind
of general questioning of American
values and aspirations and traditional
American lifestyles. All of that was
useful in a way. It forced a
reexamination of a whole lot of assum-
ptions, just to mention two: it is not an
exaggeration to say that the women's
lib movement grew out of those events,
or that it did make a lot of difference to
the rights of black people and
minorities. In that respect, it was all
for the good."
NATHAN GLAZEIR was professor of
sociology at Berkeley through the tur-
bulent 1960s until he went to Harvard.
In "Humanities," published by the
National Endowment for the
Humanities, he writes:
"Commonly the president who had
the misfortune to be at the head when
the campus blow-up was fired: less
commonly there were some actual
changes in the governing pattern of the
college or university."
Black studies programs were
established all over, although few sur-
vive. Glazer says there were not
enough competent instructors, nor
enough interested students.
". . . THE BLACK studies movement
has been overwhelmed-in number of
programs, in student interest, and in
the level and quantity of research-by
the women's studies movement, a
development that could not have been
foreseen as emerging from the turmoil
of student revolt and that gained its
great strength after the movement had
peaked," Glazer says.
As for student involvement in the
governance of the educational in-
stitution, the revolt against what
University of California President
Clark Kerr called the mega-university,
Glazer says student interest fell away
in the 1970s, even when it came to the
rnnrc.Oc.narl nlcc~at,41othe I ORflo

The dB's - Like This
Most of us know the dB's, love the
dB's. The thing is, not many of us know
the dB's. It's a shame, because the dB's
play as energetic and unaffected a pop
song as is to be found these days, easily
knocking over any antiquated ideas you
may have had about what pop is.
The dB's were formed in 1978 by Win-
ston-Salem, North Carolina natives
Chris Stamey, Peter Holsapple, Gene
Holder, and Will Rigby. They moved to
New York and estalished themselves on
the club circuit, hoping to eventually
land a recording contract. However, it
was not in their stars that they would
land said contract - in this country, at
They took their aspirations
elsewhere, eventually getting a con-
tract with Albion in England. Their first
two albums, Stands for deciBels and
Repercussion, on Albion as imports
here established them a strong cult
following on both sides of the Big Pond
and culled rave reviews. But still none
of the American recording biggies were
beating down the dB's doors for
stateside contracts. After Reper-
cussion, the band took a vacation from
itself due to fatigue and internal ten-
During this break, Chris Stamey
struck out for a solo career. After a
while, it became apparent that
Stamey's vacation was of the per-
manent variety.
That left a lot of dB's fans wondering
about the fate of the rest of the band.
Little did they know, our boys were
regrouping and planning to record an
album for a real live American record
Bearsville records had signed them,
saving their fans from having to fork
over for another import album and
giving the band a chance for some real
exposure on their home turf.
Thus finally we have the Like This,
the dB's third album. It is yet another
generous helping of everything that
makes the dB's likeable - although
5th Avenue at liberty St

with Stamey gone, there are some
notable changes in the sound of the
band. Like This often strays from the
pure pop of the first two albums into
rockier territory.
This is likely due to the fact that
Peter Holsapple, who used to share
songwriting duties with Stamey, now
writes all the band's material. Holsap-
ple's tendency to cut loose a little more
stands out particularly on the first cut,
"Love Is For Lovers."
Straight out, it has hit potential. It's
only apt that it's the album's single: it's
catchy, accessible, and sweet-
tempered. It is the most 'studio' soun-
ding track on the record, and although I
would have liked it to have the coarser
mix of previous dB's records, the sound
may help it get more mainstream radio
"She Got Soul" shows off the dB's
important 50's garage pop influences
with its wailing chorus and insistent
beat. Although not as lyrically strong as
I would have hoped, it's as musically
powerful a song as I've heard from the
"Spitting Into the Wind," on the other
hand, is no frantic frug-party tune. It's
dead serious and really sets off
Holsapple's lyric ability - witty,
warm, and slightly self-effacing.
Holsapple's gift has always been for
taking old pop cliches and twisting
them just hard anough to make them
into little parodies of themselves. It's
this kind of ability that is necessary to

keep pop sounding new.
Segueing into "Lonely Is (As Lonely
Does)", the album takes a turn for the
slower. Holsapple has an aptitude for
this kind of slow lament, and I'm happy
to say that the expanded instrumen-
tation shows off this song the way that
similar songs on previous albums
should have been shown off.
An up-tempo country tune, "Not
Cool", wakes -things up again and
proves the band is true to its Southern
roots. This and the following song,
"Amplifier", shows Holsapple at his
funniest lyrically..
"Amplifier," which originally ap-
peared on Repercussion is here in a
mix. It's about a suicide, but you'll be
tapping your toes until you realize just
what you're doing. The remix is a nice
addition for those who own Reper-
cussion and a nice surprise for those
who don't.
Side two kicks off with "A Spy In the
House of Love," a song at times sur-
prisingly Squeezeeque with great single
potential. Holsapple raves through this
song - he is having fun and makes it
The lyrics don't have the punch the
title implies, but the band more than
makes up for it in enthusiasm.
"Rendezvous" digs back into 60's
rock. This album tones down a lot of
previous"albums' psychedelic-influen-
ces (which presumably left with
Stamey) and stocks up on guitar pop.
There's another good vocal and very

sharp drum work from Will Rigby.
I would fault the Todd Rundgren-ish
synth solo towards the end of the song
-maybe a cheesy Farfisa organ
would've fit in better.
For some reason the next track,
"New Gun In Town," just doesn't excite
me. Perhaps it's because the band
usually has such a flair for making old
reliable riffs new and that just doesn't
show up here. There's nothing really
bad about it, it's just been done so many
times before that it grows tiresome.
"On the Battlefront" is a surprising
change for the band. An anti-war ballad
which the vocals float over a steady
snare beat and repeating guitar
phrases. It has a misty, contemplative
feel. It's a well-placed change of pace
on the record and demonstrates the
band's flexibility.
Finally, we come to "White Train," a
flagrantly shitkicking duet between Will
Rigby and Peter Holsapple. They camp
up their drawls to the point that it'd be
funny even if they were reading the
ingredients off a cereal box.
The song is an affectionate send-up of
country hymns and should elicit smiles
from even the staunchist Yankee. It
again firmly established the band's wit
and the fact that they have enough af-
fection for their genre to make it new
and yet allow it to sound a little bit oW,
-Julie Jurrjens

-..m I -




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