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January 18, 1985 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-01-18
Note:
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

! ! w

V V V V V

It' sthe
real
thing
Hatful of Hollow
The Smiths
Rough Trade, import
The Age of Consent
Bronski Beat
MCA Records
By Dennis Harvey
ne of my pet annoyances during the
last year has been the extreme pop-
ularity of a chic androgene image
among (several of my generally least
favorite) pop stars. There's nothing
inherently wrong with crossdressing, or
with transvestism for that matter.
What's infuriating is the way in which
media, et al exploit the image of ex-
ploring. different sexual roles to sell
records while publicly denying that
they, god forbid, would ever have
anything to do really with same-sex
fiddling around in bed.
It's the same old thing -
tiomoeroticism is OK as long as nobody
admits they use or see it. Evasions along
4(0111 :100 KCS ,Pi '

this line have ranged from the hilarious
(Frankie Goes to Hollywood protesting
that the screwing anthem "Relax' is
really about 'learning to be yourself' or
some such, Boy George talking about
how straight he really is on the cover of
People, Michael Jackson's parents
saying Michael isn't gay because the
Bible says he can't be in Time) to the
depressing (David Bowie saying aw,
shucks, he was never really bisexual,
just experimenting y'know, in last
year's Time cover story).
While the lesbian community has
managed to build up a very strong
musical outlet for its creative and
political concerns with the Olivia/Red-
wood/etc. artists, the gay male com-
munity's musicl tastes have remained
rooted in the mainstream - which
would be OK if the mainstream were
less skittish than it is about sexual
mores. Disco hits like "It's Raining
Men," "So Many Men So Little Time"
and Diana Ross' "I Like Muscle" offer
the convenient compromise of having
female singers 'stand in' for the gay
point of view - a sort of surrogate
sexuality, allowing the artists to cash in
on the huge gay market without risking
the taint of direct association.
Still, all frustrations aside, there are
sv. -signs that homophobia in music
may be i nthe decline, at least to a
limited extent. it's been cool for wavin'
couples to go slumming at gay discos,
and it may be getting cooler for radio
and dancefloor listeners to flirt with
gay or bisexual themes in the music
they listen to. Last year saw the minor
success of a dismal but definitively
unevasive synthopop dance cut called
"I'm a Man Who Needs a Man."
Frankie Goes to Hollywood carries on
in the we're-sleazy-and-we-love-it
tradition of Soft Cell - NOT my fave
band image, to be sure, but at least
they're saying outright that whatever
sexuality you're into, it's still just sex.
And sex of any sort is obviously A-OK
with Fankie Goes to Hollywood.
The Smiths' debut LP last year
created waves with its refreshing
return to an uncluttered, riff-happy,
three-piece sound at a time when every
other British band was awash in
technology,and also for the intellec-
tual/sexual tease of leadsinger and
lyricist Morrissey. While bands like
Duran Duran have courted the
Beautiful Boy image with all that
money can buy but don't admit to it,
Morrissey openly set himself up as high
priest of the cult of Boy.

Bronski Beat: Neither straight nor great

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Well, semi-openly. With his imperfect
but still sigh-inducing baritone croon,
sublime-to-gushy schoolboy poetics and
the inevitable (essential, at least)
dashing looks, Morrissey presented a
persona that was a sexually ambiguous
extension of Leslie Howard and other
human masterworks of ethereality -
all bruised sensitivity, the glamour of
suffering, etc. He offered a terribly
pure image of romantic fervor that
shrank from actual vulgar contact;
polite disillusionment and yearning
nostalgia for the boy next door, along
with a rather less appetizing contempt
for the girl 'round the block. In a sense,
then, Morrissey was the intelligent
gay's own projection of homophobia; he
mooned and crooned around the subject
of Boys but never got too uncomfor-
tably specific.
If all this is beginning to sound like a
solid case for buying The Smiths, it's
time to confess that I begin to ignore all
critical reflexes the moment needle
touches vinyl. I've probably never
loved so much a band I find so difficult
to defend. Like all instances of serious.
self-indulgence, The Smiths seem stric-
tly a love-or-hate prospect (as they cer-
tainly were for both the U.S. and British
rock press). If their particular in-
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dulgences happen to be your own, all
blundering and pretension on their part
can be forgiven.
The new imported LP Hatful of
Hollow is initially disappointing in that
it's a bit of a commercial cheat - a
sort-of new album only, a combination
of studio and live-in-studio tracks that
includes versions of six songs already
available on the U.S. LP of last year.
It's alarmingly arrogant for a neophyte
band to exploit their immediate success
by meeting market demand with this
sort of not-exactly-fresh product. But
then arrogance becomes the Smiths -
a perverse side-effect of their rarefied
image is the feeling that we should feel
damn lucky to get anything at all from
them.
On the other hand, the number of cuts
is large (16), the price is right
(especially by import standards), the
unfamiliar songs are in the majority,
and the live tracks are generally excep-
tional. While the first album's opening
swoon pinnacle "Reel Around the
Foundtain" sounds weak here in a more
uptempo version, the other trots
through tunes from the previous disc
are mostly wonderful - a joyous
acoustic-based version of "This Char-
ming Man" manages the near-
impossible feat of being conceivably
even better than the original single.
The unfamiliar songs are a mixed
bag. Most of them are decent enough,
but it's a bit disappointing that The
Smiths haven't really progressed
anywhere, and as a result their
limitations are beginning to show
through the cracks. Only "'how Soon is
Now," with its enormous whirling-
psychedelia guitar reverb, breaks any
new ground. Guitarist/composer John-
ny Marr's tendency to write songs as
one constant riff rather than in a con-
ventional verse/chorus form has an un-
deniable hypnotic pull, but it can also
get monotonous. The Smiths thus far
have a severly limited repertoire of
musical moods to draw on.
Since the quality of musicianship and
writing is pretty constant, the frequen-
tly defining factor in any given song is
Morrissey's delivery and lyrics. On
Hatful of Hollow some of the ambiguity

Smailer,
but
better9
By Laurie DeLater
Sorry - Due to a 10 percent bud-
get cut we can no longer supply rest-
rooms with paper towels. Please use
hand dryers.
B eneath this neatly type-written sign
in a bathroom in the School of Art,
someone scribbled "Next year it'll be
toilet paper."
The sign doesn't mean much on its
own. But it typifies the frustration and
loss felt by the three schools dealt
massive budget cuts last year. The
Schools of Art, Education, and Natural
Resources have been forced to operate
on smaller budgets as part of the
University's efforts to redirect $20
million over five years into "higher
priority" areas.
A decade of declining state ap-
propriations to the University has
meant lower salary increases for
faculty and staff, little upgrading of
research and instructional equipment,
and hefty tuition hikes. The situation
convinced the University's executive
officers three years ago that something
had to be done to maintain the Univer-
sity's reputation as a research in-
stitution.
Their answer was the redirection
process - dubbed the "Five Year
Plan"- which will trim funds to almost
all of the University's schools and
colleges over five years and has
already resulted in the elimination of
two institutes. The money saved will be
diverted to such things as faculty
salary improvements, financial aid for
graduate students, and new research
equipment.
In the cases of the Schools of Art,
Education, and Natural Resources, the
budget reductions were tied to secial
reviews of the school. Student quality
research productivity, declining
enrollment, and the "centrality" of the
school to the University's general
mission were the focus of the reviews.
President Harold Shapiro said the
reductions would make the schools
"smaller but better."
The review process was arduous and
lengthy. First, the schools- were
reviewed by a panel of faculty and
students. Recommendations by that
panel were sent to the University's
Budget Priorities Committee which
then advised the executive officers
about the size of the cut and how the
school should be reorganized to
strengthen its quality.
Next, each school formed its own
panel to recommend an alternative cut.
Billy Frye, vice president for academic
affairs and chief architect of the
redirection plan, examined both sets of
suggestions and decided upon the final
reduction.
Together the schools will save the
Universtiy almost $3 million over five
years through the elimination of 47

Ed. School faculty: Many won't be back

m

IKAKS111 ail KI1>>;Ziium

solidation of programs and support
staffs. The School of Education
received a 40 percent budget reduction,
the largest cut made in any of the
schools. The School of Natural Resour-
ces must trim its funds by 25 percent,
and the School of Art will lose 18 per-
cent.
The budget-cutting hasn't been easy.
"It's like putting together a jigsaw puz-
zle and someone comes along and kicks
the table, takes out some of the pieces
and maybe adds a few new ones." says
William Lewis, assistant dean of the art
school. "We're still putting the pieces
back together."
Enrollment in the three schools drop-
ped during the review process as uncer-
tainty about the schools' future spread
throughout the country. Even now
school officials and professors find
themselves at professional meetings
dispelling rumors about their school's
demise. They say it may take years to
re-establish the schools' reputations.
All of the schools are working to buck
up their fund-raising efforts, alumni
relations, and recruitment. The school
of Education has hired a recruitment
coordinatory; the School of Natural
Resources has coordinators for public
relations and development, research
development, and academic projects;
the School of Art has created an
assitant deanship for the graduate
program and alumni relations.
The three deans are optimistic about
the prospects for the organized schools.
Professors credit the deans, all of
whom stepped into their positions in the
midst of the budget cuts, with restoring
faculty morale and translating anger at
the University administration into
energy for rebuilding their schools.
Whether the schools will be "smaller
but better" depends to a large extent on
the faculty's willingness to work in an
environment in which they say they

Q
Z
~.a
O
C
d
O

Tribute to
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
guest speakers:
JOHNNY FORD
Mayor of Tuskegee, Ala.
President, World Conference of Mayors
DR. JEMADARI KAMARA
Professor, Afro-American Studies, U of M-Flint
SUNDAY, JANUARY 20, 1985
4:00 P.M.
MENDELSSOHN THEATER / MICHIGAN LEAGUE
ADMISSION FREE
Reception following program at East Quad
sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha and MSA

have been singled out as second-rank
researchers and instructors. Many say
they thought about relocating to
another institution or the private sector
after the review. Some are still looking.
But most will stay on, either because of
family or financial reasons or simply
because they know their department
will crumble if they leave.
"Most of us are not convinced that the
review was a wise or necessary thing,"
says Education Prof. Frederick Good-
man. "The thing that amazes me is that
there is as much good will on the part of
the faculty to make things work."
Students in each of the schools ban-
ded together with faculty to protest cuts
during the review process. For the most
part, that unity has grown into a deeper
loyalty to their school. But students,
too, say they still feel looked down upon
by the University administrators.
"I think we're getting the raw end of
the deal," says Cynthia Cappas, an art
school sophomore. "You can even see it
in the removal of paper towels from the
bathroom."
Frye says he still supports the "idea
of a selective review to make the cuts
we needed to make at that time."
But he adds that, if he had to do it
over, he would work for a more ex-
pedient and more open review. "I think
the period of uncertainty that the
faculty went through created a lot of
anxiety," he said.
Students, professors, and ad-
ministrators in the three schools were
asked about the direction their schools
are taking and whether the reviews
have created smaller buthbetter
schools. What: follows are the im-
pressions of those in the School of
Education. Similar stories on the
Schools of Art and Natural Resources
will appear in the Daily tomorrow and

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and a 35
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10 Weekend/Friday, January 18, 1985

Weekend/Frid

-f

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