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March 06, 1989 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-06

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ARTS
Monday, March 6, 1989

The Michigan Daily

Page 7

Philadelphia's punk rock guys|Belton balances

Today New Zealand, tomorrow the world for Milkmen
BY BRIAN JARVINEN

intuition, discovery

0
4

JIM Walewander. OK, I've got that
out of the way. As all loyal Free
Press and record sticker readers have
already guessed, The Dead Milkmen
appear at the Nectarine Ballroom
tonight.
Philadelphia. Quartet. Fourth al-
bum. Beelzebubba. Actually
recorded in Texas. "Punk Rock
Girl." Obligatory comparison-to-
someone-more-famous: Camper Van
Beethoven minus the violins. Every
time they take an instrumental break
I keep waiting to hear them break
out singing "Club Med sucks/ Au-
thority sucks/ I hate golf."
And now, A Few Words With...
Dave Blood. He plays bass, accord-
ing to most, but not all, of their
press releases. The grain of salt you
take with this is only as big as you
make it.
On Touring: "We usually tour
the North in the winter and the
South in the summer. It helps us get
a lot of diseases that we build up
antibodies to, so when we stop
touring we won't ever get sick
again."
On Hipness: "Being a hip band
is not really important. Hip bands
come and go. We're a band that's
probably gonna outlast even the
Rolling Stones. At least for the
summer anyway. We're not really
after hipness, we're after World
Conquest. World Conquest kind of
bypasses hipness. Hipness is maybe

"Punk Rock Girl" is the first U.S. single from the Dead Milkmen's fourth album, Beelzebubba, but another
track, "Howard Beware," has become "the 'Stairway to Heaven'" of New Zealand radio, says Dave
Blood, second from left.

three years in a row, ummm, critics
like you. By the time the critics that
would make us hip, you know,
would be dead, we'll still be kicking
around and selling millions of
records. Monopolizing all the air-
time on MTV and stuff to keep Def
Leppard videos off the air."
On Their Van: "It's a Ford. It
has big lights on the top like police
lights. On the back it says 'Don't
Laugh Your Daughter May Be In
Here' on this big wheel in the back,
you know, it has a cover on it. And
it's painted. It has a dragon painted
on the side of it. Actually, it's a
minivan. It really looks cool. Oh,

wait a minute, my manager told me
we got this big license plate on the
front that says 'If This Ford's A-
Rockin Don't Come Knockin."'
On The Future: "It ('Howard
Beware,' from Beelzebubba) turned
out to be a smash hit. In New
Zealand it's considered the 'Stairway
To Heaven' of radio now. They play
it like at least five times a day. We
were really surprised by it because
we hadn't even released the record.
These people got a hold of an import
copy. And radio stations are just
playing it. They're playing off that
track, I mean they've disregarded all
of the other tracks. We're pretty ex-

cited about that. The thing is we
weren't thinking of touring New
Zealand but now the offer is there
and we just can't refuse it. It's gonna
help us get an Australian tour be-
cause we were haying trouble getting
Australia but now with this New
Zealand thing coming up it's gonna
pay. The gigs in New Zealand are so
lucrative they're gonna pay and we'll
be able to tour Australia. It's fasci-
nating how this crazy business really
works."
THE DEAD MILKMEN will play
tonight at the Nectarine Ballroom at
10 p.m. Tickets are $10.50 in ad-
vance.

BY JAY PINKA
AT the age of four, Philadelphian
Don Belton, now a University Pro-
fessor, was sitting at his Tom
Thumb typewriter and "imagining
that I was going to be a writer."
Fascinated by great works such as
Babes in Toyland, Belton "learned
how to put words together before I
went to school." The author's inter-
est in paradoxical themes of "love
and isolation" was foreshadowed in
junior high when he directed No Exit
and wrote a novel, which concluded
tragically - and tragically concluded
in the waste dump.
"People are afraid of themselves,"
says Belton, "that's the greatest form
of isolation. We live in a society
that tells you not to acknowledge
what you feel. If you're tired, have a
cup of coffee."
Fortunately, some of Belton's
other works have survived his exis-
tentialist approach. The writer, who
earned a B.A. in literature from Ben-
nington College (1981) and an M.A.
in creative writing from Hollins
College, V.A. (1982), published his
first novel, Almost Midnight, in
1986. Belton's integration of
"intuition with an action" in his
writing portrays a realism shown in
his comments on the book.
"It ends hopefully. Happiness is
relative. Everybody can't live in
suburbia." Internally motivated Bel-
ton thinks writers should focus on
"intuitive voice," not external ap-
proval. He respects author Alice
Walker for her "willingness to take
risks that other contemporary writers
lack in their overeagerness to be-
come commodities."
Belton expands his work through
self-knowledge: "I start out by caring
about what I write about... I write to
heal myself." Belton's sense of good
writing as founded in a spiritual
attitude toward character shows in
his affinity for work by Dosto-
evesky, Chekov, and Tolstoy. He
plans to learn Russian for fuller ap-
preciation. Concluding the list with
strict revisionist Flannery

O'Connor, Belton, who doesn't re-
vise extensively himself, affirmed
the necessity for industry. "One has
to be willing to work - to make
personal sacrifices... a commitment
to developing and sharing one's vi-
sion."
Belton's sense of inspirational
insight as nurturing is implicated in
his humanistic individualism. "One
has to stand up in one's own truth.
Nobody could write my novel for
me. I had to write it for myself."
The author, who teaches Myth
and American Community and an
advanced creative writing workshop,
offers insights that bring a sanctify-
ing humility to the educational ap-
proach to literature. "Fiction isn't a
cartoon... it's a kind of mystique.
See Belton, Page 8

GUADALAJARA
SUMMER
SCHOOL
University of Arizona
offers more than 40
courses: anthropol-
ogy, art, bilingual edu-
cation, folk music and
folk dance, history,
phonetics, political sci-
ence, Spanish langu-
age and literature and
intensive Spanish. Six-
week session. July 3-
August 11, 1989. Fully
accredited program.
M.A. degree in Span-
ish offered. Tuition
$510. Room and
board in Mexican
home $540. EEO/AA
Write
Guadalajara
Summer School
Education Bldg., Room 225
University of Arizona
Tucson. AZ 85721
(602) 621-4729 or
621-4720

And We Sold the Rain:
Contemporary Fiction
from Central America
Edited by Rosario Santos
Four Walls Eight Windows
$9.95/paper
"The key," writes Salvadoran
writer Manlio Argueta, "is to learn
how to hide your emotions. That's
very characteristic of this war. We're
not even allowed to cry." Argueta's
"key" not only unlocks the tension
buried at the heart of his story
"Microbus to San Salvador" - one
of the best in this collection - but
dramatizes the psychic toll that
'Central America's nightmarish con-
ditions are taking on its wearied, in-
creasingly despairing peoples. Emo-
tions are often a luxury in countries
where, as Argueta succinctly states,
"if we speak out, they kill us." And
even in countries like Costa Rica
and Panama - Where such an im-
mediate threat tolife rarely exists -
the cost of confr nting the daily dose
of subjection fnd humiliation ac-
companying U.S. political and eco-

nomic domination is often unbear-
ably high.
As one might imagine, the U.S.-
sponsored wars engulfing
Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua,
and El Salvador provides the vivid
background against which these
writers struggle to express the inex-
plicable. In "Microbus," a young
woman rides the same bus to San
Salvador on which, a year earlier,
she had watched the National Guard
seize her since "disappeared" husband
for union organizing. Though she is
eloquent in defending the political
life she and her husband chose, she
is more circumspect in describing
her personal life, as if that which
might kill her for speaking is less
the Guard than her own poignant
memories.
In Rodrigo Rey Rosa's "The
Proof" and Arturo Arias' heart-
wrenching "Guatemala 1954 - Fu-
neral for a Bird," two strangely
similar Guatemalan boys try to un-
derstand the meaning of death,
which, particularly in the latter case,
surrounds the protagonist in the

nightmarish forms of decaying
corpses. Unable to comprehend or
confront what it means for so many
people - including his own father
- to die, the boy in "1954" partici-
pates in a solemn funeral for an or-
dinary bird, displacing his crushing
grief onto a life whose death he can
actually absorb.
It is the trauma of wartime child-
hoods like these which, in so many
of the stories' adults, creates person-
ality disorders severely distorting
their ability to feel and project emo-

tions. In Pedro Rivera's "Tarantulas
of Honey" and Samuel Rovinski's
"Sodom," machisimo and its
humiliating degradation of women
provides men with a sense of
importance in a world where they
consistently feel inadequate, while
the lingering suspicion that "their"
women wish to exploit male
insecurities leaves these men even
further from the possibility of ever
relating to each other - let alone
See Rain, Page 8

YEI

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