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November 07, 1989 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-11-07

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Tuesday, November 7, 1989

The Michigan Daily

Page 7

Make like a tree
Screaming Trees leaves stereotypes behind

See, Woody Allen is in this film; in fact, he plays a bigger role in Crimes and Misdemeanors than he has in
anything in years. Here's the math: in New York Stories he played the lead in one third of the movie, while here
he stars in half the film. Fun fact: he has a neat cameo at the end of Godard's King Lear.
Crimes and Misd emeanors
*suffers from split personality

BLAH blah blah Washington blah mmrf guitars mmrf
blah grunge noise blrghl mrk HAIR A'WAGGIN' blah
blah Soundgarden Nirvana blah blah acid Zeppelin wah-
wah blah....
OK, now that we've got that out of the way, let's
get a few things straight. Yes, Screaming Trees have a
lot of hair. Yes, they use lots of wah-wah and flanger
pedals and all that noisy cool hippie stuff. Yes, they
play crude and loud. And, yes, that does bear a resem-
blance to Soundgarden and Mudhoney and Nirvana and
all those other hairball metallish bands that everybody's
into these days.
But Screaming Trees did it first, and they do it bet-
ter. Understand? Long before the abovementioned won
Flavor-of-the-Month status over the last year or so, the
Washington acid-thrash quartet proved their mastery of
the Marshall through several albums of metallic
psychedelia that feature creativity and songwriting skill
that their contemporaries, for all their made-for-album-
cover hair throwing and posturing, have yet to ap-
That said, Screaming Trees do wander the same dan-
gerous musical territory as the other postmodern long-
hairs - the many-snared wilds of Retroland. Their song
titles are the likes of "Other Worlds and Different Plan-
ets" and "Flower Web," and their patch cords are firmly
plugged, via four-dimensional soundboard, into the
amps and effect boxes of past guitar heroes like Jimi
and Jimmy.
What keep listeners from saying "So what? I've
heard this all before" - because they have - are
Screaming Trees' revisionism and out-and-out talent,
especially the latter. Unlike, say, the Cult, the band
takes the flower-metal genre and improves on it by
avoiding (usually) the indulgence and lyrical
Tolkienisms that made Cream and Led Zeppelin so
much fun to laugh at.
Instead, they infuse their music with plenty of noise,
speed, and guts; their delivery is so gritty and aggressive
that, on first listen, you might well not notice how
well-crafted the songs are. The Trees' trademark is gui-
tarist Gary Lee Conner's vicious riffing, heavy on the


What exactly is "a Woody Allen
film," anyway? Is it something like
Sleeper or Bananas or Love and
Death, his old Buster Keaton-esque
romps through the domains of sex,
death and oversized fruit? Or is it,
like Interiors or Another Woman,
an intense, mannered angst fest that
focuses diligently and intelligently
on the mid-life crisis and its ramifi-
All of these films are excellent,
and understandably Allen wants to
continue to create films about both
the comic and tragic aspects of the
human experience. Sometimes he
even pulls it off masterfully within

one movie - Manhattan, his best
film, is a shining example of this.
But that film focused entirely on
Isaac Davis, Allen's love-torn TV
writer, whose story was at times
weighty, at others lighthearted, and
at its best moments both. The great-
est flaw of his new film, Crimes
and Misdemeanors, is that it is a
cinematic diptych whose parts don't
really add up to a unified whole.
In the vein of hannah and her
Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors
tells two stories. Crimes refers to
the moral crisis faced by Judah
(Martin Landau), a "successful" oph-
thamologist who feels he has to end
his extramarital affair with Dolores

(Anjelica Huston), is detached from
the real world in his sterile dream
home, and makes a tragic decision
that changes his life. Allen's Clif-
ford, a documentary director of the
old school (meaning that he he
makes films, not videos, about
strange old philosophy professors) is
the focus of the Misdemeanors part
of things. He'd love to transgress,
but just can't seem to get it right.
Their two worlds, the suburban and
urban, the tragic and comic, are
linked through some pretty confus-
ing family ties -I'll set them
straight here so you won't have to
work them out while you're watch-
ing the movie. See CRIMES, page 8

Screaming Trees, against the backdrop of a San
Francisco hill, have the hair it takes to make it with a
wah-wah pedal.
distortion and wah-wah, and Mark Lenegan's gruff,
throaty vocals are the perfect complement to the multi-
layered swirl of noise laid down by the band. If the Mo-
jave Desert could sing, it would sound like Lenegan.
And their material makes full use of their technical
skill. Their songs are complex, but not distractingly so,
with interesting chord and time changes - check out
"End of the Universe" on their newest LP, Buzz Fac-
tory - and bridges so strong they could interest the
Alameda County Road Commission.
Factory, which the band is supporting now, differs
little from their three earlier efforts, except for its cool
blue vinyl pressing. But if you have to tread water,
there are worse places to do it.

SCREAMING TREES will perform at the Blind Pig
tonight. Doors open between 9-9:30 p.m. Cover is $7.

Author balances
tuna salad, typing
"XWRITING bought my freedom," says Hilma Wolitzer, writer and
novelist for adults and young adults. Wolitzer had a belated - and one
might say harried - arrival to the literary scene. Appropriately inspired,
she plunked herself down and wrote, "Today a Woman Went Mad in the
Supermarket," got it published, and bought a car with the proceeds. Quite
simply, she says she continued because she "was hooked." On Fords?
No, this wife and mother of two defines writing in a refreshingly pure
and unaffected way as she says, "It's a pleasure."
Wolitzer enjoys writing about family and its "stresses, joys and tor-
ments." She looks to Jane Austen for inspiration because "she made art
out of small, domestic life." Wolitzer's five novels for adults include
Ending, In the Flesh, and most recently, Silver, where she analyzes a
couple breaking up before their silver anniversary from both the husband
and wife's point of view. Her four novels for young readers include Toby
Lived here and Wish You Were here. Wolitzer cares about her
characters and finds that when she believes in them, they end up telling
her the story. Though it would be easy to merely transcribe her own
family life onto paper, Wolitzer's stories are "wholly invented," with
only a landscape or small anecdote borrowed.
Wolitzer does not confine herself to the bookshelves. She has written
for the PBS series Up and Coming, an episode of Family, and Single
Women, Married Men, a television special aired a week and a half ago.
Despite the monetary rewards of television, she enjoys writing her novels
more for their freedom and autonomy. "Television writing seems easy
and seductive," she continues, "but you have to give up language and
keep it brief and structured." Jane Fonda currently has Wolitzer's third
novel, Hearts, under option for a movie.
But with a family to raise, where did she find all the time? "Ironically,
I was more prolific when the children were still at home. I started when
my last child had her first full day of school. I found a balance: I made
less Jello and plain tuna salad instead of tuna salad men - you know,
with the carrots - and no one suffered," she says. Her daughter, now
herself a novelist, said that her mother's typing was what gave her the
most comfort at night.
Ultimately, Wolitzer hopes to. refine her craft, "to have it grow in
vision and generosity." Though she has learned to be less vulnerable to
the critic's responses, she feels'she has been lucky in her reviews. Her
biggest following seems to be in her fan mail, from children as well as
adults, which she assiduously answers. And to the hopeful, tentative
writers asking advice she staunchly commands, "Do it! Read and write!"
IIILMA WOLITZER will read from hearts today at Rackham Amphithe-
atre at 4pm.

W, I

Arpilleras: Art of survival

AN exhibit of arpilleras -- hand-
stitched cloth wall' hangings from
Chile and Peru - exposes the
viewer to economic, social and polit-
ical conditions in South America.
Sewn by poor women, these colorful
textile pieces represent the artists'
experiences and aspirations. The
arpilleras are created for practical
rather than artistic reasons. The
women sew the wall hangings in
workshops and sell the pieces
through foreign organizations, and
use the small amount of money paid
for each arpillera to buy food for
their families.
Women in Santiago, Chile began
creating the arpilleras after a mili-
tary coup overthrew the democrati-
cally elected regime in 1973. Each
hanging is made by one woman,
who must remain anonymous for se-
curity reasons. The artists use only
scraps of old remnants and clothes
- materials that characterize their
work as a product of poverty. The
backings are made from burlap (the
English translation of arpillera)
which is taken from old sugar or
flour sacks. According to Residential
College Professor Eliana Moya-
Raggio, who has researched and col-
lected Chilean arpilleras, these works
"speak directly to the extreme
poverty and oppression which fol-
lowed the events of 1973." Through
the wall hangings, Chilean women
respond to the kidnappings, arrests
and unemployment that have af-
flicted their country.
The Catholic Church and human
rights organizations help provide
safe work areas for the women. The
arpilleras are seldom visible within
Chile, though, for they are consid-
ered subversive by the military gov-

ernment. Although the economic
conditions in Chile have improved
since the early '70s, a large portion
of the population still struggles on
the subsistence level. Arpilleras are
often the only source of income for
such Chilean families. As Moya-
Raggio describes, "the pieces are
conveying a history of struggle for
survival... a struggle to resist the
miserable conditions aggravated by
political repression." In one
arpillera, small cloth figurines gather
in front of a justice building, carry-
ing signs that ask, "Donde estan los
detenidos desaparecidos?" (Where
are the disappeared arrested?). In
another scene, women march with
signs that demand, "Democracia
ahora!" (Democracy now!). These
arpilleras do not express helpless
defeat but depict determined action.
The Chilean arpilleras are created
by urban dwellers who struggle with
city life. The artists are not peasants,
but women who face the urban prob-
lems of poor housing, inadequate
healthcare, and insufficient food sup-
ply. In contrast, the women of Pam-
plona Alta, Peru are not urban, yet
they participate in the same cohesive
arpillera work circles as do the
The Peruvian wall hangings are
called "cuadros," meaning pictures.
Women of Pamplona Alta were first
inspired to make the cuadros after
seeing the Chilean arpilleras. Peru's
domestic situation has gradually and
continuously declined over the past
couple of decades. The Peruvian
works reflect living conditions on
the outskirts of Lima, in pueblos
also afflicted by food shortages, med-
ical problems and political violence.
The Peruvian government is in con-
stant, bloody battle with domestic
terrorist groups. According to Pro-

Peruvian cuadros (like the one pictured above) arertextile wall hangings
inspired by Chilean arpilleras. While the cuadros are not as overtly
political, they are still products of an impoverished society.

fessor Barbara Cervenka, who has
visited and studied the communities
where Peruvian arpilleras are made,
2,000 people have disappeared and
11,000 people have died from terror-
ist attacks since the late '70s. Car
bombings, assassinations and kid-
nappings affect not only government
officials but tourists and civilians as
well. Political turmoil and economic
instability jeopardize the daily well-
being of the people in Pamplona
Professor Cervenka describes
Pamplona Alta as a "combination of
urbanand rural.... A bleak, color-
less, sandy area." The lively, decora-
tive colors of the Peruvian arpilleras
are far from bleak, though. Like the
Chilean wall hangings, the cuadros
are alive with charming details and
creative stitching. They are a beauti-
ful combination of artistic creation

gathering plentiful crops and fami-
lies celebrating bountiful harvests.
Out of desperation and poverty, the
arpilleras emerge with poignancy and
The arpilleras present women in
action - collecting food, opposing
oppression, and organizing health-
care. These vivid textiles document
the hopes and victories of a willful
people rather than the despair and de-
feat of a submissive social class.
The arpilleras at times present
painful realities, yet the scenes are
imbued with optimism, strength and
courage. The arpilleras are visual di-
aries - presenting the artists' story
through decorative patterns, bright
colors and imaginative details. It is
poverty which unites the women
but, as Moya-Raggio states, it is "a
group... where much more than
arpilleras are made. Solidarity and

Happy Mondays
You don't drop Happy Mondays, nor do you
inhale or inject them. But you might want to turn
it up - as loud as it can go. This band of merry
1 English are a delightful reminder of the sounds of
vmetiawo~ar is M. .al n . - s h.c-:a ...:.r x wt

fills the spaces with a delightfully colorful noise.
The resulting groove actually functions on an
anti-country level, given that the genre is derived
from blues, which is much too limited for this
musical spectrum. Lead Singer Shawn Ryder is ef-
fective mostly through his amusement value; he

trippy fretwork. Poppy synth arpeggios ring out
in endless succession; sort of an anti-pop mock-
ery. The Mondays know that they're goofy, and
exploit that to an apex. Ryder spouts off nonsen-
sical child talk lyrics and escalates the joyous
mindlessness a bit more.
. J -._ . . 1A.. _ _L__ T


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