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September 17, 1986 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-09-17

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Wednesday, September 17, 1986

Page 7

Mojo and Skid: Too
much of a great thing

By John Logie
Mojo Nixon and- Skid Roper
provided an extremely generous
helping of their characteristic
rock'n'raunch Monday night at
the Blind Pig. The crowd, huge by
*Monday night standards, greeted
the duo warmly, and throughout
the night responded cleverly and
in kind to Mojo's collection of
grunts, howls, and anti-
establishment meanderings.
When Mojo urged the crowd to
.join him in the chorus of one of his
new songs, "Burn Down the
Malls," the chorus mutated into
"Burn Tally Hall!" Had Mojo
,.,understood the gag he would have
been proud. This was not a crowd
so much as it was a self-deputized
batch of back-up singers.
Mojo and Skid were obviously
energized by the recognition and
appreciation voiced by the crowd,
and responded with a knock-
,>down, drag-out show which
featured, among other things,
Mojo leaping on to the floor and
rolling around, Mojo leaping onto
the floor and do-si-do-ing a couple
'of dudes, and Skid leaping onto

the guitar (a rare occurrence) and
kicking out the blues.
But for most of the two-hour
plus show, Mojo held forth on
guitar and vocals, and Skid
thumped and rubbed his "Busy
Bee" washboard. Reverend Mojo
poured out lunatic sermon after
lunatic sermon-the doctrine of
his Screaming Church of the
Epileptic Jesus:
The music was bare bones.
Mojo believes in the power of the
classic chords that started
rock'n'roll, and is more or less
singleminded in his presentation
of those chords. After reeling off
two sings with virtually identical
E to A chord changes he dubbed the
chords "the only two chords you
need." But this is only true in a
romantic sense.
The first time you hear Mojo
and Skid's washboard-and-gee-
tar combo, it is an epiphany. I
know Mojo and Skid were only
trying to appease a portion of the
crowd which had been seized by
legitimate Mojo-mania, but it
must be said that by the eighteenth
time the duo launched into one of
their hilarious but simple ditties,
the joke had worn off. By the end

of the set, the crowd had
experienced the musical
equivalent of a wedding of
mountain people, where all the
guests have six fingers because of
years of inbreeding. The first
guest you see is startling, and
exciting. The fifth is fun to shake
hands with. The thirty-seventh is
dull. Most of the songs were
kinfolk. Singly they are
remarkable. Collectively they
are less so.
Mojo and Skid were most
enjoyable when they careened
onto realms distinct from their
established style. Skid's blues
was without question a highlight.
So was Mojo's leaping about and
perching from various pieces of
furniture. So was his asking the
crowd whether he had slobbered
on himself, and when they replied
that he had, his self-satisfied
shout of, "GOOD!" So, in fact, was
Mojo's exhausted collapse into a
corner of the Sightless Swine near
the end of the show.
It's unfortunate that Mojo and
Skid became trapped by the
eventual usualness of their
unusualness. Then again, they
draw a crowd that has been

Daily Photo by SCOTT LJTUCHY
Skid Roper and Mojo Nixon play their own brand of scatalogical super-market rock.

attracted by their radical
departure from the existing pop-

music scene, and it's reasonable
to assume that such a crowd will

be delighted by departures from
the initial departure.

I

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-Back In The World
Tobias Wolff
Bantam
softcover, $7.95
240 pp.
I n comparing the American
short story of twenty years ago
with that of today, one cannot help
but notice that the form has
undergone significant change.
Although literary trends do not
,;,-easily lend themselves to
generalization, a definite shift in
the vision of the American
storyteller--a shift which insists
that not only the writer, but the
reader bring meaning to fiction--
has occurred.
Tobias Wolff s compelling
I new collection, Back In The
World, is at the forefront of this
quiet revolution. Comprised of
'ten stories, some of which could
actually be called sketches, Wolff
introduces the reader to ten
- strikingly different lives bound
to each other, paradoxically, only
by their isolation from others
around them.
While man's alienation has
.certainly been one of the most
Y prevalent themes in modern
American fiction--a vision of life
fueled by the Industrial
,Revolution and the fact of the

frontier--never has this theme so
insistently worked its way into
the stylistics of the short story
writer. Barth, Barthelme, Carver,
and now Wolff-- all integrate this
theme into their work until style
no longer only' relays meaning,
but is meaning, as well.
Meeting the characters of
Wolffs world is a continued
experience of deja vu, the wakes of
their troubled lives forever
crossing that of the reader. The
effect is more than mere "reader
identification," however, for the
development of the characters
which brings them to life is not the
act of the writer, but the reader.
In "Sister," Marty, a woman
haunted by a desperate need for
affection who is almost a victim
of hit-and-run, realizes that there
"is nobody to talk to about it, to see
how afraid she was and tell her
not to worry, that it was all over
now." Indeed, the apparent
feeling of senselessness that
hovers above all of these
characters' lives stems dir-ectly
from the acuteness of their
alienation in modern society.
Leo, a priest who invents sordid
secrets about himself; Jean, the
movie house usher who makes
lurid prank phone calls from her
boss' office--all of the characters
share in Marty's disillusioning
awareness of the disconnected

nature of modern life.
Undeniably, this minimalist
approach to fiction is often under
fire for binding interpretation too
tightly to the subjective experience
of the individual reader.
However, the enigma
surrounding the lives of Wolff s
characters does not, suprisingly,
distance the reader, but draws
him in, requiring that he flesh out
thoughts and feelings the
characters, out of fear, so
vehemently refuse to reveal.

At best, the collection renders a
vision of life in the '80's as
riddled with ambivalence, the
human heart endlessly
vascillating between a belief in
"The American Dream" and the
realization that such a lofty ideal
could never be attained. A
masterfully haunted work, Back
In The World is a collection
peopled by ghosts, the faces of
which are always on the startling
brink of recognition.
--S u z a n n e Misencik

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CALLERS WANTED
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PINT
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A pint of beer at the
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School of Education Staff will interview students by phone to call
alumni nationwide for alumni fundraising phonathon.
" Phonathon held Sunday through Thursday evenings
October 5 through November 20
* Callers will be expected to work two calling sessions
each week with some opportunity for additional hours

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