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February 16, 1990 - Image 19

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-02-16
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State college comedy
champion Tom Franck hosts
r . r$ UAC's weekl Laughtrack
. 4 :4: ivF:F " . >a mater comedy contest

Ginsberg howls through meditative works

The powerful strains of the Star
Wars theme echo throughout the
Michigan Union ballroom, as
students watch white words scroll
up a blackened television screen.
A resonant voice on the videotape
proclaims, "This is uAc."
This promotional video was
introducing the University
Activities Center, one of the most
used and least understood
organizations on campus, to
students attending uAc's winter
mass meeting. The references to
the 1977 megahit seem
particularly appropriate, for UAC
encompasses the University
galaxy, be it through stand-up.
comedy at the University Club,
mini-courses, films, and countless
other offerings.
"We try to hit masses of
people," said UAC President
Lowell Cantor, an LsA senior.
"uAc is never geared toward one
specific audience."
Created in 1965 to oversee the
many projects of the Michigan
League and Michigan Union, uAc
became the primary student
programming organization in
order to "augment and enhance
the educational and social
atmosphere of the University,"
according to a 1964 report on the
Union-League merger.
And most would agree that it

has done exactly that.
Initially, UAc sponsored
Homecoming, Winter Weekend,
and Michigras (the University's
version of Mardi Gras). Since
UACc

group that brings bands to the U-
Club each Thursday, bring in
professionals, the emphasis is
always on the student.
"My philosophy is that
Laughtrack is for the students,"
movers

spectrum
stu denRt
then, it has expanded and now Birmingham add(
sponsors popular committees like them as much tir
Laughtrack, Soundstage, want... and if a si
Mediatrics, and Mini-courses. stand-up, we will
"We've sold out every show develop a routin
this year," said Laughtrack constructive criti
Committee Chair Kerry Mini-courses, i
Birmingham, an tsA senior. "We approximately 1,4
are expanding to weekly shows subjects ranging
and pulling in comedians from to ballroom danci
Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, not usually thoug
and Canada." activities. Mediat
Although committees like film co-op on car
Laughtrack and Soundstage, a recent and classic

of

Ruth LittmannlWeekend

irganizations

ed. "We give
me as they
tudent wants to
help them
e and offer
cism."
ntroducing
000 students in
from bartending
ing each year, are
ght of as uAc
trics, the largest
mpus, offers
c films every

weekend during the academic
year.
"We present a variety of genres
and even show sneak previews,"
said LsA sophomore Kevin
Sandler, Mediatrics chair.
UAc does not rely solely on the
popularity of its current
committees. It tries to respond to
students' needs and requests.
Amaizin' Blue, a 12-member a
capella co-ed singing group,
proved it had such an appeal.
"Amaizin' Blue wrote a
proposal three years ago," said
Engineering senior and Business
Manager Sarah Jackson. "We
were given a probationary
membership and deemed a
special project." The group was
accepted as a committee last fall.
"We are willing to do other
things and are always open to
enterprising students," said
Cantor. "We try to fill a void and
look out for the benefit of
students."
"We are not trying to compete
with the Dance Department,"
said LSA senior Lindsey Yeager,
Impact Dance chair. "We attract
people who like dance and also
who want to be entertained."
Currently made up of 17'
committees, UAc is one of three
student organizations directly
recognized by the Regents, the
others being the Michigan

Student Assembly and the
Campus Broadcasting Network.
Cantor, five vice-presidents,
and the advisors comprise the
executive committee that is
responsible for allocating funds,
selecting and overseeing
committee chairs, and forming
major policies.
But name recognition remains
UAC's biggest challenge. Vice
presidents of publicity and
promotions attempt to inform the
campus of UAc's existence. The
promotional Star Wars video is
one way of getting uAc's name
out; buttons and Union banners
are more standard methods.
"We've been trying to bring
UAc more into the '80s, and now
'90s, with promotions," said LsA
senior Jeff Lerner, vice president
of promotions. "I'm still working
on this video that we'd like to
show in residence halls at the
beginning of each term."
"I have no idea what uAC is,"
offered random LsA first-year
student Matt Ciaravino. "I've
heard of mini-courses but I don't
know what they are."
Cantor said, "Everyone knows
the individual committees but not
UAc as a whole. Everyone loved
the Rolling Stone exhibit (a
collection of photographs,
celebrating Rolling Stone's 20th
anniversary, brought to the

Carrying the beacon of lyric
poetry in the musical tradition of
Sappho and William Blake, Allen
Ginsberg, the most persevering
Beat poet, will read and sing at
Rackham Auditorium Friday
night at 8 p.m., in an awareness
booster for Jewel Heart, a Tibetan
Buddhist meditation center in
Ann Arbor.
Ginsberg was first introduced to
Buddhism by Jack Kerouac in
1950. He became more involved
when he visited India for a year
and a half in the early 1960s.
Ginsberg's teacher since 1971,
Ch6gyam Trungpa Rinpoche, is
friends with Gelek Rinpoche, the
lama who runs Jewel Heart.
For Ginsberg, meditation helps
to catch himself thinking. He
explained, "I've always been
interested in the mind, and poetry
as a kind of probe into the mind
itself, and consciousness."
There are other techniques that
Ginsberg sees as awareness-
expanding, too. "Just as I was
always interested in meditation, I
was always interested in
psychedelics and interested in art
as a way of expanding awareness,
he said. Ginsberg views his poems
and his performances as "a way to
introduce people to meditative
poetry and meditation practice,
and to that whole atmosphere of
contemplative poetics."
Ginsberg will read poetry
expanding throughout his career,
from the "Howl" period to
contemporary material. Some new
poems include "May Day (1988
to the Present)," which Ginsberg
describes as "meditations on life
and death." He also has some
post-Panamanian material that he
has added to an older poem. "I
just keep adding stanza after
stanza to it as the saga of this
phony drug war goes on," he
explained.
Like William S. Burroughs, his
fellow veteran of globetrotting,
mind expanding, censorship
evasion, and avant-garde
existence in general, Allen
Ginsberg sees the drug war in a
different light than, say, nicotine
.ddict drug czar William Bennett
and the goons that allowed him to
assume said position. "What we
need here is glasnost, I think.
More meditation, more calm,
more glasnost, and less
government hysteria and less
government police state,"
Ginsberg said. He hypothesizes
that one of the secret agenda

items in the drug war is an
extension of army and police
surveillance over the civilian
population.
He also commented on the
Michigan bill that would allow
universities to create their own
armed police forces: "Just as
universities are getting liberated
from police intervention in
Eastern Europe, we're getting
all the worst habits of the
Stalinists."
Saturday afternoon Ginsberg
will conduct a workshop on the
relationship between mind,
meditation, and poetry.
Ginsberg cites his and
Kerouac's spontaneous verse as
coming from the tradition of arts
which utilize the "condition of
silent appreciation." This is a
method which is utilized in
such diverse artistic expressions
as Japanese haiku, calligraphy,
the spontaneous songs of
Tibetan yogis, and the swift,
gnostic aphorisms of pre-
Socratic writers like Heraclitus.
Ginsberg stops in Ann Arbor
on his way to the Naropa
Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
Naropa is the first accredited
Buddhist college in the West.
Ginsberg teaches there at the
Jack Kerouac School of
Disembodied Poetics, which he
and Anne Waldman founded in
1975.
Last November, Ginsberg
and composer Philip Glass
performed at the Michigan
Theater in another benefit for
Jewel Heart. Ginsberg does
benefits for other Buddhist
organizations, as well as for gay
organizations. After teaching at
Naropa, Ginsberg will go to San
Francisco to do a benefit for a
Zen Buddhist AIDS hospice.
Summarizing his plans for this
weekend in Ann Arbor,
Ginsberg said, "I'll read a lot of
poetry, sing a lot of songs, do a
lot of meditation, and hang
around with a lot of Buddhists."
Not wanting to exclude the
non-Buddhists, he quickly
added, "And whoever else is
around that wants to hang
around."
Call 764-8572 for more info.
by Greg Baise

Allen Ginsberg contemplates and meditates as usual. This
highter state of being is vividly apparent in his poetry and his I
choice of charities
Feel ik

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out of'
Call us to f frFl
for Fal
P rime
.Hou
761-l

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BEFORE
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Sat. 9-5

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In addition to thousands of students,:
the annual Homecoming parade
attracts local celebrities including
guitar legend Shakey Jake

I

14

WEEKEND OmIa56, 1990

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