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April 23, 1990 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-04-23

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The Gargoyle struggles to

The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 23, 1990 - Page 9
find its place

by Andrea Gacki
THE Gargoyle, your campus hu-
mor magazine, has had its share of
Otroubles lately. Last year The
Michigan Delay, a humor publica-
tion that seems to have dropped off
the face of the earth, contemplated
taking legal action against the Garg
over a supposed copyright infringe-
ment. What incredibly original idea
inspired this true battle of the wits,
you ask? The column "Letters to the
* While The Michigan Delay was
in the wrong, its staff had every
+rrr-r~m.r rr.dm .d -
- a
Pog - -e - No
right to be suspicious. After all, a
custodian has never entered the Gar-
goyle's office.
Room 104 of the Student Publi-
cations Building, home of the Gar-
goyle, is a pigsty. Some of the
decor, like the drinking fountain de-
void of plumbing, is intentional.
But the dirt, the broken typewriters
and the boxes of unsold Gargoyles
shouldn't be there, and this chaos is
just a sample of the greater trouble
*the magazine faces - that is, its

Gilleran sums up the Board's atti-
tude toward the Garg: "If you want
to publish it, get your own money."
He adds, "For years, this magazine
has needed financial support, 'cause
there's no other way it can get pub-
lished. It's often lost money, proba-
bly more (often) than not." The
Gargoyle has been a campus institu-
tion since 1909 with brief rests, but
it has persisted without the benefit
of a lot of money. And unlike
staffers on the Daily or Ensian, the
Garg staff has never been paid.
Jennifer Piehl, past business edi-
tor of the Garg, has never received a
commission on an ad for the Gar-
goyle. "The job gave me experience,
and it felt good to sell an ad for the
magazine," says Piehl. "I never re-
ally wanted to get paid." Virtually
the entire staff considers it a privi-
lege to work on the Gargoyle. But
money is still a problem in publish-
ing the magazine, and the hand that

very existence. If The Michigan De-
lay may be defunct, the Gargoyle
isn't exactly a campus cause for
laughter as of late, either.
"What is wrong with the people
here who don't come to work on this
magazine - which I think is an ab-
solute privilege and joy - or the
people who don't buy it? Well, that
I can understand a little bit more..."
says Dave Gilleran, a past editor of
the Gargoyle. What is wrong, in-
deed? If history was repeating itself,
this semester's edition of the Garg
should already have been thrust in
your face on the Diag. So where is
"(The Gargoyle's) freedom is
limited only by our ability to create,
meaning that it's quite limited. Then
of course there's that Board of Con-
trol which so far hasn't objected to
our content, probably because they
don't read the mag."
-Gargoyle, "Michigan-Michi-
gan State Game Issue," Oct. '63
"That Board of Control," or the
Board of Student Publications, pre-
sides over the Gargoyle, the Michi-
ganensian and the publication you're
presently reading. It controls money,
and that's something the Gargoyle
needs right now. No money means
no magazine, at least for this term.

by it that there's no reason to con-
tinue it as an operation." Gilleran
adds, "I'm sure that those complaints
have been raised in the past - I'm
sure that there's someone who wrote
an editorial about the 1967 Gar-
goyle... I don't know. Maybe the
politics just aren't right."
The situation the Gargoyle is in
right now is in no way unique. Col-
lege humor magazines all over the
country are dropping like flies. The
New York Times even ran an article
about it on February 27, 1971....
"Even more debilitating to the
old (Princeton) Tiger and others in
the menagerie of college humor is
an increasing disaffection on Amer-
ican campuses with the therapy of
laughter. The issues of the day seem
too deep for spoofing, too sensitive
for light-heartedness, too divisive
for ridicule."
-Gargoyle, "Gargoyle Re-
turns!" edition after a two-year lapse
in publication, Nov. '71
The issues of today, like those of
'71, may simply be too sensitive for
a humor magazine like the Gargoyle
to exist. The summer Daily editorial
about the "Fear" issue described the
cover of the magazine as "a white
man, strangling a Black child with a
snake. The caption is 'FEAR.' The
image is reminiscent of the long his-
tory of lynchings. It is meant to
evoke fear and implies that the sub-
jugation of people of color is
funny." ("Gargoyle: It's not funny,"
5/5/89) The editors say that they
chose the cover because they thought
it was funny, that they never paid at-
tention to the skin color of the peo-
ple in the picture.
"That was one of the biggest
shocks to us, believe it or not," says
Tim Fitzpatrick, also a past Gar-
goyle editor, of the statement that
the cover was racist. Gilleran admits,
"There are some allegations that
can't be denied, that is, crudity... and
that it's mostly male-oriented." But

This is the cover of the notorious "Fear" issue of the Gargoyle, the
University's 80-year-old humor magazine.

feeds, or the Board, has expressed
discontent with the content of the
In last summer's edition of The
Michigan Daily an editorial de-
nounced the Garg's "Fear" issue as
racist, sexist and homophobic.
Gilleran says that some members of
the Board believe that "there are too
many people who are too offended
by this magazine and too disgusted

Continued from page 8
one and only Juan Atkins supplied
the music. Dance to these rapturous
grooves and you'll burn in hell.
-Forrest Green III
Frank Morgan
Mood Indigo
* In the 1950s, Frank Morgan was
one of the brightest young alto sax-
ophonists on the scene, playing it
hot and cool in the language of be-
bop. He may have been a secret well
kept from the public, but the verdict
was out in jazz circles: he could
play. Unfortunately for Morgan, he
fell under the curse of heroin, whose
victims in the jazz world included
players like Bird and Sonny Rollins.
Bird died before he turned 35,
Rollins recovered through a series of
sabbaticals, and as for Morgan, he
spent the better part of the next three
decades in jail for his near-deadly as-
sociation with the drug.

Frank Morgan has returned to the
jazz scene after his lengthy hiatus,
and the results are nothing short of
phenomenal. His coming-out party
has made itself manifest in a flurry
of records in the past few years, the
latest of which is Mood Indigo.
Here, Morgan has brought along a
veteran crew to help him in the cele-
bration. Drummer Al Foster, bassist
Buster Williams, and pianists Ge-
orge Cables and Ronnie Matthews
provide a festive atmosphere for their
long absent friend, and he responds
in kind. Oh, and some young trum-
peter named Wynton Marsalis
crashes the party about midway
The mood of the album is at once
joyous and reflective. The George
Cables composition "Lullaby" pro-
vides the strong, pensive bookends
for the record. In between, Morgan
waxes exuberantly on standards like
"This Love of Mine" and "Up
Jumped Spring." He switches gears
to play a couple of duets with Ge-
orge Cables - on "Polka Dots and
Moonbeams" and "In a Sentimental

Mood" Morgan is subdued, maybe
even melancholy.
The highlights of the album are
the numbers where Wynton Marsalis
plays along. On "Bessie's Blues,"
Marsalis starts off simply enough
but then builds to a dazzling conclu-
sion, wherein he stretches the har-
monic and rhythmic limits of the
tune. Not to be outdone, Morgan
picks up the action in mid-stride
with a free-blowing solo of his own.
Once these two get acquainted with
one another on the Coltrane compo-
sition, they really kick it in on the
album's centerpiece and title track.
Here Ellington is treated in slow,
lilting New Orleans style, with
Morgan wailing ecstatically over
Wynton's rich, supportive harmony.
Both men give superlative solo per-
formances as well.
Morgan is not a dazzling techni-
cian, though his technique is by no
means lacking. His tone is adequate
at best. What makes his performance
so special is his total, passionate
immersion into his music. Though
much has recently been made of past
troubles in Frank Morgan's life, the
album's notes are quick to remind us
he "plays his music in spite of his
hard life, not thanks to it." Though
Mood Indigo's wealth of ballads
show Morgan in a pensive light,
there is an underlying joy in every
note that comes out of his time-
worn alto saxophone. This joy is, as
the album notes again remind us,
from a man "who realizes that it is
better to be alive than to be dead."
Frank Morgan sure sounds glad to be
-Ben Aquino

Michel Petrucciani
Blue Note
Almost five years ago, when the
Blue Note record label was re-estab-
lished, one of their most auspicious
new finds was a diminutive, 21-year-
old Frenchman named Michel
Petrucciani. At the time he was
simply a promising newcomer. Now
he is more established, trying to
translate potential into performance.
On that charge, he cannot be faulted
for lack of effort. His new release,
Music, finds him as a jack-of-all-
trades, as he composes, arranges and
co-produces the entire album.
As a composer, Petrucciani is ad-
equate. He has obviously been lis-
tening to Latin rhythms; they domi-
nate his songs. His melodies are
pleasant enough, but somehow the
compositions as a whole are bland,
the lines tentative. It might have
been a better idea for Petrucciani to
have mixed in a few standards, be-
cause he seems to have put too
much pressure on himself by writing
every song on the album.
The blandness of Petrucciani's
compositions is not helped by his
arrangements. They are good from a
technical standpoint, but they are too
restrictive. Petrucciani shows very
little imagination, resorting instead
to staid, formulaic charts. He has
surrounded himself with a strong
cast of supporting players, but he
gives them few if any opportunities
to take solos. He would have done
better to open up his arrangements
and let energy flow from all mem-
bers of his band. This in turn could

the editors were surprised by the ex-
treme reaction to this edition, and
they think it hurt the Gargoyle.
The aim of the Gargoyle has tra-
ditionally been to insult everyone
equally. Past editor Dan King says,
"There's not anyone in this
magazine portrayed flatteringly. We
like to antagonize people but not
based on the fact that they're Black
or Jewish or female or whatever."
Present Garg editor Paul Golin
tried to clean up the -content of the
most recent issue which he person-
ally titled "Selling Out." But some-
one yelled at Golin on the Diag and
have fueled his own creative juices.
Most acoustic jazz fans will
cringe at the listing of "synthesizer"
among the instruments on the
record, but to give the producers
their due, the synthesizers are used
tastefully and blend well into the
mix. Overall, though, the production
is this album's biggest problem. In
an apparent attempt to reach a wider
audience, producers Petrucciani and
Eric Kressman have cleaned things
up, giving the album a very smooth
sound. Unfortunately, the resulting
flavor that the listener gets is, again,
a bland one. The album isn't over-
produced, but its passion has been
held in check. Very little of the raw
energy that fueled earlier works like
Pianism shows through here.
The record's flaws cannot over-
shadow the fact that Michel Petruc-
ciani plays exceptional jazz piano.
He shows good natured deftness on
the calypso influenced "O Nana
.Oye," and his ear for complex har-
monies shines through on "Happy
Birthday Mr. K." "My Bebop Tune"
is a technical masterpiece, and
though Petrucciani's tendency to
overplay is most pronounced here, it
is a fine song. The album's high-
light is the bittersweet waltz,
"Lullaby," on which Petrucciani dis-
plays a feather touch, not to mention
an ear for a good melodic line.
Next time out, Petrucciani would
do well to give up producing and fo-
cus on what he does best - playing
piano. This is definitely an above
average album, but a musician of
Petrucciani's caliber should by no
means be content with that.
-Ben Aquino

called even this edition sexist; the
person referred to a female-authored
fake ad called "Allways Answers,"
which tackled some "myths" of
menstruation. "I thought it was
funny," says Piehl. "But we got a
letter, accusing us of making men-
struation sound like a curse."
Both content and money may be
factors preventing the Garg's publi-
cation, but internal disorder is no
less to blame. "It's such a headless
monster," King comments. "As
much as I hate bureaucracy, there is
none here, and it doesn't help." The
Gargoyle has taken spiral dives into
non-existence before. It may be hap-
pening again.
"Yes, dedicated reader, the
very existence of our proud 80-
year-old publication is threatened.
Student Publications is getting aw-
fully sick of carrying our collective
sorry ass."
-Gargoyle, Nov. '89
Your campus humor magazine is
in peril. Gilleran suggested an end-
ing for this article: "You can't say
the Gargoyle is alive and well and
look for it in the fall, because the
people who are going to be reading
this article are the only ones who
can keep it going."
Don't sit back and let the Gar-
goyle disappear. Life is too pathetic
and miserable to make it worse by
refusing to be funny or daring. Heed
what a past Gargoyle denizen once
wrote: "Brush with danger. Then
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