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October 29, 1986 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-10-29

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The MichiganDaily

Wednesday, October 29, 1986

Page 7

Benson: Intriguing performance

By Lisa Nicholas
Eclectic. Unfocused. How do
you summarize a performance
without a theme? For an hour and
a half, Steve Benson, poet,
performance artist, and used book
store manager, stood in front of an
audience and, well, performed. It
was a small audience, mind you;
only nine people. Most of them
were members of Eyemediae, the
sponsoring organization.
The production was a series of
poems presented in a "stream of
consciousness" style. They ranged
from treatises on sex and love ("I
don't know what love is," he said
and the audience had to sympathize)
to feelings on being surrounded by
cows after throwing out his back in
a small cottage in Ireland.
Disjointed, he created a "crazy quilt
of images" that drifted into the
subconsciousness of the audience.
He was eclectic in media, as well.
To his live reading, Benson added
films and a tape recording of music,
noises, and readings that had been
recorded earlier. His show was often
improvisation and sometimes the
prerecorded images fit what he was
doing live, other times they did not.
The result was a compilation of
aural and visual sensations that
bewildered the eye, ear, and mind.
The effect, however, was intense.
For instance, the poem "Echo" had
Benson echoing his recording with

a sudden switch of order in the
middle. The result was a work
whose meaning came to life both in
the words themselves and in their
entity as performance. The
combination challenged the listener
to supply his or her own meaning,
which was the intention of the
On the negative side, much of
what was supposed to be perceived
as impetuous was obviously
preplanned. Still, the result was a
unique presentation of art.
As a performer, Benson is not a
"giving" poet. He does not impart
energy to his audience. His reading
was tight and strained. The words
often struggled from his lips,
giving the impression of pain and
sacrifice at revealing so much of
himself. The personal content of
his work and his manner of
presentation indicated that he was
indeed showing aspects of himself
but if the audience wanted to grasp
it, they would have to reach out and
take it. Part of this results from
Benson's own theory that his poetry
does not exist to give people a
precise interpretation. He wants his
audience to be mentally "free to
come and go and daydream." Much
of his work is im provisiational and
even his straight readings have a
performance atmosphere.
Benson began as a writer "out
of a sense of play ...of curiosity,"
and continues this attitude in his
performance art. Many of his

books, including Blindspots, The
Busses, and As Is, contain
transcripts of performances and oral
perambulations. On the other hand,
his poems like "Echo" and
"Narcissus" are the result of careful
vision and revision. Though his

writing, filming, recording, and
performing, Steve Benson is just
"trying to understand what life is."
A rather difficult goal, but Steve
Benson is to be commended for

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The Center for Japanese Studies
A Brown-Bag Lecture by
Director, Center for Japanese Studies
12 noon


Call 764-6307
for further

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Guitarist Sam Lapides will be performing solo and with The Mortals
tonight at 10 p.m. at The Blind Pig. Lapides can normally be seen in the
West Engineering Arch, where he plays his original, accoustic folk-rock
- -Songs.


Bad Brains.
I Against I
In all likelihood, the Bad Brains
are the only all black, Rastafarian,
punk-rock band in the world. For
the past nine years they have been
combining the social and political
conviction of reggae lyrics with the
power of hardcore music. At one
point, the Brains were one of the
premiere punk bands in the world.
H6wever, because they haven't
released an album since 1983's
Rock For Light, their reputation
and legacy has faded. The Brains'
new album I Against I should
change all that.
I Against 1 shows that the
Brains have grown as a band.
Vocalist H.R. can be heard
intelligibly for the first time. Gui -
t arist Dr. Know, too, has matured
from a thrasher to a genuine rocker.
Additionally, bass player Darryl
Jenifer and drummer Earl Hudson
have incorporated rhythms into the
Brains' music that reflect then jazz-
fuk fackgrounds.
" :The Brains as a unit have
hanged, as well. Whereas on
previous albums they belted out
one and a half minute hardcore
songs, on I Against I they loosen
:thir collars a bit and stretch out the
bongs past the three and four
:r, nute mark. And it seems that it
JS here that they are most

comfortable. But despite any
musical changes, however, the
Brains have (thankfully) retained the
intelligent lyrics that separated
them from the "bitch and moan"
bands of the early punk era.
This intelligence is found
throughout the album. Several
tracks emphasize the need for social
change ("I Against I," "Let Me
Help") and faith in the Almighty
Jah ("House of Suffering," "Return
to Heaven"). All of these tracks,
plus several others, have the
honesty and integrity that may
bands lack these days. The Bad
Brains don't just see injustice and
complain about it, they live the
injustice and it shows in their

writing. This album is dedicated to
"all artists and supporters of the
under-privileged." The Brains
certainly fit both categories.
The highlight of this album is
"Sacred Love," which is about the
relationship between a prisoner and
his lover outside. Ironically, the
vocal track of this song was
recorded over the phone from
H.R.'s jail cell as he was serving a
sentence for marijuana possession.
As pretentious as that sounds, it
makes the track very powerful.
While there are a couple of
points on the album where the.
music drags a bit, have no fear, the
Bad Brains' lyrical intensity is
sufficient to hold the listener's

attention throughout the entire disc,
making IAgainst I a super album.
-Steve Kasiborski
2 or-1 arnatini
S(Good U99il1811516
Onpr ctmr pr week S
- - - - - - - -


Your education will not end with
graduation. As a graduate nurse
at Rochester Methodist Hospital,
you will receive a comprehensive
twelve-week long orientation
where you will further develop
your professional skills. Beyond
orientation, you will have the chal-
lenges and the growth opportuni-
ties that a world-class medical
center can provide.
December grads apply now for
positions available in early 1987.
Starting salary $23,681. Attractive
benefit package.
Rochester Methodist Hospital is
an 800 bed acute care facility affil-
iated with the.Mayo Medical Cen-
ter. Choose challenge. Choose
growth. Choose Rochester Meth-
odist Hospital.
Rochester Methodist Hospital '
Personnel Services
Nursing Recruitment Section
201 West Center Street
Rochester, MN 55902
Call Collect: (507) 286-7091
An Equal Opportunity Employer

Applications are now available in Room 160,
Rackham Building. For seniors and First Year
Graduate students who are U.S. Citizens.


*... .. ~........


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The Center for Japanese Studies Presents
Nagisa Oshima's

Taken from an actual incident involving a family
living on the outer-most edge of Japanese society, "Boy"
examines the conflict between family relationships and
social responsibilities so common in modern-day Japan.

7- 9 p.m.
Japanese with
English subtitles
Angell Hall


The University of Michigan Telefund Program
is willing to pay $4.00 - $6.00/hr. plus bonus
for your time -- a few evenings a week beginning
If you are mature, reliable, and can talk
about the University and its needs, we can
train you to be an effective caller. Help
Michigan reach out person-to-person. Your mind,



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