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March 08, 1989 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-08

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ARTS
Wednesday, March 8, 1989

The Michigan Daily

Page 9

Rebirth of a legend
Films resurrect performer Josephine Baker

BY MARK SHAIMAN
JOSEPHINE Baker used to walk her pet leopard down
the Champs-Elysdes. She could afford to - she was a
legend-in-her-own-time in Paris music halls and also
the highest paid entertainer in Europe in the '20s.
After sound came to motion pictures at the end of
that decade, Baker began to appear in films. In a time
when Black women in films generally played mam-
mies and maids, Baker had starring roles written for
her. Just recently two of her movies, Princess Tam
Tam and Zou Zou, have been re-released, offering a
rare opportunity to see this talented performer and per-
sonification of the Roaring '20s.
Baker was born in St. Louis, Mo. in 1906, and by
the age of eight she was singing in Harlem nightclubs.
At 13, she left home to join a travelling road show,
working her way up the ladder in all-Black revues, and
eventually moving to Paris before she was 20. In 1926
she was the headliner in the renowned Folies Bergere,
and her fame spread across continents, leading her to do
tours of Europe and South America.
In 1934, Baker starred in the autobiographical Zou
Zou. Here, Baker stars as a poor launderer who works
her way up in music halls, eventually becoming the
toast of Paris. The film was one of the top box office
hits of that year.
Her next film, 1935's Princess Tam Tam, stars
Baker as an African peasant brought to Paris by a
French author who was in Tunisia to find inspiration.
"He turns her into a proper lady in this variation on the

Pygmalion theme, which isn't so farfetched as it
might seem considering Baker's own enormous suc-
cess.
Of course it must be remembered that her success
came in France and in French films, not in the con-
fines of Hollywood where a Black actor was never
given a lead role, and especially not opposite a white
actor. So these Josephine Baker films not only are a
rare find today, but were unique at the time they were
released, too.
With the onset of World War II, Baker moved to
North Africa, worked for the Red Cross as an ambu-
lance driver, and entertained the troops. She was award-
ed the Medal of Resistance by Charles De Gaulle for
her efforts.
Following the war, Baker was still active in enter-
tainment and as a personality. She adopted 12 children
of different nationalities, and their care eventually led
her into debt. In 1951, she was denied service at New
York's Stork Club, so she sued the management and
created an international incident. Other concert and
stage performances brought her acclaim.
But Baker never again achieved the glory of her for-
mer days; a month after opening in France Soir in
1975, which was a box office smash, she suffered a
fatal heart attack. With the re-release of two of her
films, however, the apex of her career can be
appreciated today.
PRINCESS TAM TAM and ZOU ZOU will be
playing at the Michigan Theater tonight and tomorrow
night.

Josephine Baker, an American-born performer who became the toast of Paris in the 1920s, demonstrates
her singing and acting talents in the autobiographical Zou Zou.

Hope I die before I get old:

Who is rock for?

BY BRIAN JARVINEN
"WV ATCHING heavy metal
Metallica performI realized what it
is about heavy metal and rap music
that bothers me. Heavy metal and rap
are the Little Leagues of music -
entry level lyrics and chording. Your
child in the basement or garage can
do it. Child's play. It's kids'
attempts at music. In the best hands,
metal and rap come close to being
real music. But only close."
- Bob Talbert, The Detroit Free
Press, Febuary 26, 1989.
Unfortunately, audiences evaluate
columnists by how well they agree
{with their pre-formed opinions. So I
think this little digression probably
went over well with a majority of his

readers, despite the fact that it is the lots of kids trying to play music in
most ill-informed dumb-ass opinion the garage, and if any of them could
ever printed in the Free Press. play one Metallica song decently,
The first thing I thought of upon they wouldn't be stuck in their
reading this was I should finally get garages. And how's this for "entry
around to writing a Letter To The level" lyrics: "Independence limited/
Editor. I quickly rejected that; Talbert
already has enough readers writing
his column for him anyway. Besides,
my ego is better served with this
than it would by a two-sentence ex-_
cerpt from a letter with a dim chance
of being printed.
So, a-refutin' I will go: Even Bob
admits that Metallica uses chords - freedom of choice/ means choices
surely a sign that they are playing made for you my friend"? Am I evil?
real music. And anyone who plays Not always, but ignorance such as
music will recognize how compli- this can sure get me in the mood.
cated their song structures really are. To me, music is the expression of
With regard to kids being able to emotion using your voice and/or all
play it in the garage, well, I've seen those technical things such as har-

mony, melody and notes; complexity
doesn't necessarily equal excellence
(complex music can be quite good; I
like Metallica, remember). Some of
the best music ever made is the sim-i
plest. I could go on and on about
this, using the Troggs' "Wild Thing"
as being the best example of
simplicity, even if the emotion ex-
pressed is lust, but some of my fel-
low critics will put me on the spot
for copping someone else's idea.
This idea that music for teenagers
isn't really music has been around
since the birth of rockroll (to cop
some more crap) in the '50s. Change
the subjects in Talbert's column and
the date could be 1959. After the
aforementioned paragraph Talbert
goes on to complain about the bla-
tant sexual lyrics of today's rock,

right before extolling the virtues of
the new Chuck Berry box (Now let
me see, who would supply the best
definition of "entry level lyrics" in a
rock dictionary? It couldn't be Chuck
Berry, could it?). What does he think
Chuck means when he sings "Come
on little Queenie?" Teenagers in the
'50s sure knew "how I felt/ when I
couldn't unfasten her safety belt."
Since Dylan made the first rock
music for adults, it has been way too
easy for people like Talbert (who
trumpets the new Lou Reed album
- which anyone under the age of 20
would eject as soon as it hit the tape
deck - as an example of good rock)
to claim to still like rock music
while simultaneously putting down
new, youth-appealing styles, forget-
ting rock's prime ingredient: teenage
emotions.

r

m

Welcome BAchl Show off your Tan
And come Lugh wth ust
LAUGI-i RACK
Presents the Hilarious Comedy of_
TIM SLAGLE
With Student Comedians..-
Dana Nessel
and
The Two Jons
10 pm
Wednesday, March 8
Only $1.50,..
Hail off the regular price
IN THE U-CLUB
s

V
h

Exhibit reveals Miro's world

BY JOHN KIPFMUELLER
HURRAH for the University Museum of Art! On
display in their main lobby is a series of prints by the
Spanish artist Joan Miro (1893-1983). This show is
entitled The Lively World of Joan Miro, and like most
of Miro's creations, these prints are indeed lively.
The works are taken from the core of the artist's
life, from 1938-1960. This show is a nice example of
the progressions that Miro went through during that
22-year span. The earlier works, especially the 1948
etching "Deadly Passage," are uncolored, small and
sinister. They speak directly of the problems of the
Spanish Civil War. While looking at Miro's work
from that period, one cannot but help to think of works
created by another Spanish artist, Francisco Goya, over
100 years earlier during the Napoleonic invasion of
Spain. The small, closely comprised eerie scenes of
Goya and Miro speak directly to the issues of occupa-
tion and bloodshed.
Not all of Miro's art bespeaks of terror; much of it

is whimsical and light. Some of the works from the
early post-war years are stern and heavy, but that is not
surprising considering the situation. The works from
the 1950s-1960s are lighter, and there is a marked in-
crease in the use of color. "Woman and Bird," a 1960
aquatint, shows a childish figure looking as if it has
lost its mother in a K-Mart. Another lithograph from
the same year, "Invention of Fire," features figures
looking like Chinese characters placed on a brillant red
background surrounded by an translucent white fire.
It is unfortunate that there are no examples of
Miro's works produced during the last 20 years of his
life, but the works that are displayed are well chosen.
One of the most intriguing things about The Lively
World of Joan Miro is that all eight works are part of
the permanent collection at the University Museum of
Art. One has to wonder what other treasures are lurking
about the basement of the impressive limestone build-
ing.
TIE LIVELY WORLD OF JOAN MIRO will be on
view in the Lobby Gallery at the University Museum
,f Art through Sunday, March 12.

PLASMA DONORS
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Positions Available
Assistant Account Executives: Assist Account Executives: Service advertis-
Account Executives with territories, 6 ers, 35 hours per week in summer; 12-
hours per week, unpaid position. 15 hours in fall. Paid position.

WEEKEND
MAGAZINE
r'ridays in The Daily
763-0379
BUIES ER3 ES-
-Get your buttons from Word Silkscreening.
We have the best prices. Call 665-6031.
2 PISTON TICKETS available for selected
home games. Great seats, parking. Call 761-
9610.
BIG $ for UM-ilhini basketball tickets. Call
PJ747-9528.
DESPARATELY SEE3G up to 4 tickets
to Illinois b-ball game. Call 761-3067.
DETROIT-NEWARK: March 24 and/or
Philadelphia-Detroit April 5th. Cheap! Call
764-5901.
FOR SALE: 2 one wa tkts. from Washing-
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26th (Easter Weekend!) Please call 996-9004
or7 791151.
NEED TICKETS: Michigan vs. Illinois. CAll
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Au~in and ppotuntie

---The Ann Arbor Repertory Theater
Writing Company is extending an
open call to all Michigan-based
playwrights to submit scenes of any
subject matter or style; 90 minutes
of material will be selected for a
performance. Scripts are due by
September 15, 1989. Writers may
submit work to Simone Press,
Writing Company Coordinator, at
415 N. Fourth Ave. Call 761-7410
for further information.
---The Detroit Center for the Per-
forming Arts is now accepting orig-
inal, unproduced, and unpublished
scripts by Michigan playwrights for
its Playwright Development Series.
Several will be selected and presented
as a staged reading during the 1989
DCPA season. If interested, contact
Paula Milatovich at the DCPA, 615
(;rixnlri t. A') TP.trnita NM

tions will be held at 7 p.m. at the
Performance Network, 408 W.
Washington. Call Peter at 663-0681
for further information.
---Sunday, March 12 and Mon-
day, March 13
Open auditions for The Three-
penny Opera, by Bertolt Brecht and
Kurt Weill, will be held in East
Quad on Sunday at 2 p.m. and on
Monday at 7:30 p.m. For further in-
formation call 995-0532.
Auditions and Opportunities runs
Wednesdays in the Michigan Daily
Arts section. If you have items for
the column, contact Cherie Curry at
763-0379.
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with a variety of person-
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Interviews begin
Monday, March 13.
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