The Michigan Daily
Tuesday, November 14, 1989
Mind and wiratter
Author Ethan Canin intertwines thought, action
BY ROB FLAGGERT
YEAH. Once again the Blind Pig
turns into a grunge-fury/follicle-
laden pillbox tonight as WCBN con-
tinues its infamous Wah-Wah Night.
Nirvana. Flaming Lips. Big Chief.
Mudhoney. Screw that.
Tonight the forefathers of some
of these great bands take the stage -
a band that dared to experiment with
the grueling effects of the foot-pedal
long before Mudhoney muffed them-
selves to fame or Dinosaur juniored
themselves. This is Wah-Wah's big
brother's night. And they intend to
take full advantage of it as
Twin/Tone bigwigs Das Damen
,brush out a set of everything from
. "Tsavo" to "Click!" tonight at 208
S. First St.
The New York-based quatro first
hooked up in late 1984, but didn't
appear on the nationwide scene until
1986, which saw the release of their
first vinyl, a six-song EP on
Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace la-
bel. The self-titled EP, upon which
was ground out such gems as the
*fury-fed "Tsavo" and the roughly
hewn power ballad "Trick Question,"
earned them their first U.S. tour and
a record deal with the California-
based SST. The short-lived Ecstatic
Peace EP was immediately re-re-
leased, increasing both notoriety and
availability. The lineup has been
somewhat fluid through the years
with tag-team bassists, but the
arnen are currently back to their
original lineup: guitarists/vocalists
Jim Walters and Alex Totino,
bassist Dave Motamed,, and drummer
Discography since the first EP
BY THOMAS SMUTS
ETHAN Canin published "Emperor of the Air" last
year when he was 27 years old and in his fourth year
of medical school. Before then his work had appeared
in The Atlantic and Ploughshares and had been in-
cluded among "The Best American Short Stories" of
1985 and 1986. Canin comes to Ann Arbor tonight
to read from his works.
His stories tend to be ambitious both themati-
cally and structurally. He addresses issues of life and
death, and his characters are given to reflection about
the wider patterns of their lives. As here: "(W)hen I
recall my life my mood turns sour and I am reminded
that no man truly makes proper use of his time. We
are blind and small-minded. We are dumb as snails
and as frightened, full of vanity and mis-informed
about the importance of things." Such, in a story-
which narrates the renewal of his love for his wife,
an old man thinks.
But Canin's stories are also wonderfully full of
action. One of his strongest talents is the ability to
use reflective characters in a plot that focuses their
lives. The climax tends to be an event, rather than a
thought. So, for example, a son and father wrestle at
the conclusion of "The Carnival Dog, the Buyer of
Diamonds"; in the wonderfully physical scene the'
reader senses echoes of the fear of death and of love
that make the story so beautiful.
Or, for example, the carnival whirr of ther final
paragraph from "Lies": "I'm on the way to Fountain
Lake, going fast in a car, the red arrow shivering
around 75 in the dial, a girl next to me, pretty,-
smelling the way nice girls do. And I turn to her and'
I don't know why except you get a feeling when you
finally bust out, and I say, 'I love you Katy,' in= a
certain kind of voice, my foot crushing the accelera"
tor and the car booming along the straightaways like
it's some kind of rocket." The narrator here is 1',
has just quit his job at a movie theater and is about
to marry Katy. Canin's prose captures the deceiving
feelings of power and freedom.
Canin's intricately crafted stories mix the carniyal
and the reflective, things of the world and of the
spirit, to great effect. They are well worth reading'
This picture may look kind of familiar, like d lot of other ones that have
sappeared on this page with some regularity. But this week's Wah-Wah
Night is special: Das Damen grinds its hairy bretheren into the grunge.
ETHAN CANIN will read tonight at 7.30 p.m.
Hillel. Tickets are $5 for students.
has grown like fungus; each year
sees at least one new slab. 1989 is
no different. The band has a new
contract with the Minneapolis record
company Twin/Tone, and their latest
album - Mousetrap - has been
making waves nationwide. The new
album is good, but Twin/Tone un-
fortunately utilized their seemingly
omnipresent insistence of overpro-
duction and kept it well out of range
of greatness (e.g. Soul Asylum, Re-
placements). The ballads are pitiful
examples of rock 'n' roll lameness,
weak at best. Nothing like the hard-
edged, slow-tempoed "Slave Bird"
from the first EP. Even the explo-
sive drum/riff-ridden tune "Demag-
netized" is castrated by the over EQ-
ing of the vocals. Twin/Tone pro-
duction is like a fucking leash
around their necks. Screw it. Take
your dog to the Arb to run - take
Das Damen to the Pig.
Fortunately, T/T won't be there
tonight. And Das Damen live is not
to be missed. After the re-release of
the debut EP, the Damen began a
two year touring bout a la SST, as
in playing almost constantly. DD
first gained attention as a live band
in NY, but it wasn't until the first
SST tour with Black Flag and Gone
that they were really noticed. After
shaving the skulls of Gone with
their psychotic wah-wah work and
blasting the tattoos off Flag with a
jackhammer rhythm, these wig-wag-
ging, rock-maestros took their right-
ful place as the new band on the
block. Dinosaur jr.-esque guitar and
split-ended drops and starts add to
their naturally conditioned stage per-
sonalities, as anyone who has seen
them live can attest.
DAS DAMEN play their Hendrix/
hearts out tonight at the Blind Pig.
Opening for DD are Twin/Tone
stinkers Skunk. Cover is $5 at the
door, and doors open at 9:30. If you
don't show you're a sissy.
He avyPe tti'ngmae
BY MIKE KUNIAVSKY
Younger generations have always
looked upon their ancestors with a
kind of sarcasm: the mistakes, fash-
ions and fads of their mothers and fa-
thers are taken, exaggerated and spit
right back out, sometimes just a
generation later. The recent popular-
ity of designer-ripped clothing, acid
house and long hair (but with a pony
tail to show greater restraint in the
repressed '80s) all point to a mock-
ing, reactionary reverence for the
Youth Movement without the bur-
den of any of its convictions.
Into this foray comes Obie
Benz's (The Atomic Caft) latest
documentary, Heavy Petting. It pre-
sumably seeks to uncover new truths
about the current status of sex and
interpersonal relationships by exam-
ining the dichotomy fed Young
America in the '50s and early '60s.
Lamentably, all it accomplishes is a
narcissistic, self-indulgent trip
through Benz's Little Black Book.
The film is structured as a series
of interviews with various personali-
ties about their adolescent sexual ex-
periences, intercut with shots and
scenes from instructional and feature
films of the '50s, some of which are
edited to music from the same pe-
riod. The talking heads range from
Laurie Anderson, David Byrne and
Spalding Gray to Josh Mostel, Ab-
bie Hoffman and William S. Bur-
Unfortuately for Benz, even
though these people are generally
talented and interesting in their own
right, they often do not have that
..is just one of the merry hipsters
reminiscing in Heavy Petting
much to say (or that much that's in-
teresting) about their sexual matu-
rity. For example, William S. Bur-
See HEAVY, page 8
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"Everyone in my family has driven a Volkswagen
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And my brother, who's also a student, drives an
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"So when I saved enough money to buy a car
there was only one logical choice. A Volkswagen.
My car's a'79 Rabbit. With 145,000 miles on it.
Ten years old and all those miles and it's still
"If you ask me, it's the perfect student's car.
Good on gas. Fun to drive. And big enough to
carry four friends." Even so, Kimo is already think-
ing about his next car. Another Volkswagen?
"Absolutely. A GTI. White. Gotta have white."
n~it's time to think about