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October 10, 1991 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-10-10

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The Michigan Daily
Look, no hands
Tihe Chinese Magic Revue brings
ys agile acrobats from Taiwan

ARTS

Thursday, October 10, 1991

Page 5

by Amy Meng
A row of tumbling, blind-folded
acrobats throw themselves fearlessly
through a ring of flames and piercing
knives. A woman stands on her
bands on an elevated platform, folds
her body in half so that her feet
nearly touch her ears, takes a hat off
and on, and smokes a cigarette.
These are some of the highlights
that the Chinese Magic Revue, Tai-
wan's internationally acclaimed thea-

The Revue is a show where
Eastern culture meets Western audi-
ences in a feast for the senses. Every
act demands one's constant attention
- whether it be flying acrobats
bouncing across the stage in a myr-
iad of colors or kung fu masters bal-
ancing a pile of bricks on their heads
as a ten pound sledgehammer slams
the bricks into pieces. There are acts
where flaming swords are swallowed
and where 14-foot steel rods are
wrapped around a performer's neck.
In another number, women balance
head-to-head, on-top-of-one-another,
in perfect harmony.
Most of the stunts performed by
the kung fu masters and acrobats
demonstrate feats which make use of
Chi, or inner strength and energy, an
ancient Chinese concept. Only
through the cultivation of this force
can one achieve peace and harmony
between the mind and the body. Per-
haps this explains why the Chinese
performers are able to display such
dexterity and elegance.
Performing with the Chinese Ma-
gic Revue requires immense stamina
and concentration and years of train-
ing; some members start their edu-
cation at the age of four or five in
order to achieve mastery. There are
schools in Taipei, Taiwan for dance,
opera and acrobats, specifically in-
tended for future performers. Hai Ken
Tsai, director of the Revue, works
with his brothers, Hai Ken Hsi and
Hai Ken Fou, in leading the troupe
to success.
The troupe's main desire is to ex-
hibit Chinese traditions, predomi-
nant in their own culture for more

It's a white liberal
thing...
Ricochet
dir. Russell Mulcahy
by Mark Binelli
Before I actually saw John Singleton's Boyz 'n the hood last summer, I
thought the "Hood" was the hood of a car. Seriously. I pictured this gang
of guys cruising around in a beat-up four-door causing trouble.
Of course, once I saw the movie, I realized that the title was referring
to a neighbor-hood, and I felt like kind of a geek. "I've seen all of Spike
Lee's films, I've read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, I listenĀ° to
Public Enemy," I whined to myself. "Why don't I get African-American
culture?" I wondered if I was just being another suburban voyeur, ifmy
fashionable leftism was just a more polite way of saying, "Really, some
of my best friends are Black..."
So the other night, I went to see Ricochet, a mindless action film star-
ring Denzel Washington as a good D.A. and John Lithgow as a bad so-
ciopath. The all-star cast also included Ice-T in a small role as the
friendly neighborhood drug kingpin; Jesse "the Body" Ventura, who: is
gored by Lithgow in a ridiculous American Gladiators-style prison
battle; and stand-up comic Kevin Pollack (Avalon), who,-as
Washington's cop sidekick, shamelessly works lousy impressions ;of
William Shatner and Columbo into the script.
Anyway, the weird thing was that with two prominent, talented
Black cast members (three if you count James Evans from Good Tinfes,
Ricochet naturally seemed like another
entry in this year's African-American film
renaissance. But director Russell Mulcahy.
churned out a film so excessively bad that Jt
lacked any perspective, let alone a Black
one
who plays Denzel's father), Ricochet naturally seemed like another
entry in this year's African-American film renaissance. But direetor
Russell Mulcahy (Highlander, as well as Billy Joel's excellent
"Pressure" video) churned out a film so excessively bad that it lacked
any perspective, let alone a Black one. Washington's cartoon yuppie cop
could have easily been replaced by any Aryan musclehead. Icd-T,
meanwhile, played up his standard gangsta' image to a brilliant (forgive
me) tee, but a caricature's a caricature.sy
The point is that even though Ricochet was so unbelievably dumb
that it was actually kind of funny at times (at one point, a guard says.to
Lithgow, "Parole board's ready. I hope you remembered to floss," to
which the two-time Oscar nominee wittily responds, "I did - with your
wife's pubic hair"), the film is basically a waste of time when compared
to earnest, if similarly lame, counterparts such as New Jack City, which
at least made an attempt to convey uniquely Black experiences.
Not to say that conveying "uniquely Black experiences" shouldbe
the goal of every Black artist, or that Ricochet should have been made
with a solely Black audience in mind. But if the alternative has to e a
bland, watered-down, colorless film with its sights set on, an
See BANG, Page 8
U 091

Hey, what's for dinner, Mom? Pineapple upside-down cake? Eggs, sunny
side up?Apple turnovers? Upside-down margaritas? Oh no, meatloaf
again?

Ribbon dancer

ter, comedy, circus, dance, opera and
martial arts troupe, will perform.
Doing a vertical handstand at the
top of a pile of chairs supported only
by a four-legged table and four cham-
pagne bottles is a far cry from
pulling a rabbit out of a hat or mak-
,ing a glass of milk disappear into
thin air, These acts aren't the razzle-
dazzle and hocus-pocus to which
magic show viewers are accustomed.

than 2000 years, to the United States
and other countries. This is the 16th
year that audiences world-wide have
experienced the troupe's fanciful,
magical entourage. The National As-
sociation for Campus Activities
awarded the Chinese Magic Revue
the Campus Entertainment award for
Major Performances in the Per-
forming Arts in 1986. The troupe

was also featured on That's Incre-
dible, as well as on other public
television specials.
THE CHINESE MAGIC REVUE
will perform tonight at 7 p.m. at the
Power Center. Tickets are $15, $10
for students and children. Call 645-
6666 or 764-TKTS.

Jim would've said,

'Just say no,' right?

by Annette Petruso
I thought Danny Sugerman would
be an asshole. An aide to the Doors
'and friend of Jim Morrison since his
'early teens, Sugerman's written at-
titude led me to believe that talking
to him would be an exercise in
"avoiding pomposity. But the co-
author of the ultimate Morrison
worship, No One Here Gets Out
Alive, and the author of his own
fucked-up years autobiography,
Wonderland Avenue: Tales of Gla-
mour and Excess, was actually a
thoughtful, civil person who didn't
string every two sentences together
with the name Jim Morrison.
Morrison was mentioned often
in the course of our conversation,
but it was in the context of his role
as a mentor who still plays a large
role in Sugerman's life, rather than
as a name dropped to impress me. Of
course, I might have been duped, but
if so, I was taken in by an acting job
Val Kilmer himself would have
been proud of.
Sugerman, whose speech will
kick off Alcohol Awareness Week
at the University, will read from
Wonderland Avenue, an all-too-
painfully-detailed description of his
experiences with addiction. "I re-
gard the book as an anti-drug story,
an honest one that shows the plea-
sures as well as the pains," Su-
german explains. "I qualify it with
that comment because it's gotten
some criticism for glamorizing
drugs, 'cause drugs are used in a

glamorous environment. People
think you're glamorizing them, and
if you like them, I guess you get ac-
cused of glamorizing them... I
mean, no one starts taking drugs
with the intention that they're go-
ing to be an addict. You become an
addict because you can't stop doing
them, because you've fallen in love
with the feeling."
One of the more thought-provok-
ing insights in Wonderland is Su-
german's musings on peer pressure,
cited as a leading cause of drug ex-
perimentation among children. He
writes, "Peer pressure. It's a myth.
It doesn't exist. The pressure comes
from within. It's me pressure. I
want to belong. They don't give a
fuck whether or not I do what they
do. They're probably too worried
about who the fuck they are and how
they fit in to be concerned about
who they're gonna give free dope
to."
"Even when I was in high school,
in junior high, I mean, the media in-
formation, the propaganda, was that
peer pressure leads to drug abuse,
and I remember being aware and at
the time thinking, that's bullshit,"
Sugerman comments. "I mean, it ne-
ver happened in my case or in my
crowd or (to) anybody I knew. Of
course, I never knew anybody that
became an addict that wasn't also
into the whole lifestyle of drugs
and music. So, I come from, from
high school as well as afterwards, a
rarified circle of drug users.
"I'm not saying my experience is

universal. I'm saying that it was my
experience, that I needed something
to make me feel like I belonged and
to engage in a behavior that made me
feel like I belonged...
"No one ever said, 'Come on, do
this,' or 'Come on, I won't charge
you,' you know, 'It's free, go
ahead'... And we never said to any-
one else, 'Oh, come on, you know,
it's really good, try it.' In fact, I
remember just the opposite, resist-
ing giving it to people.
I had a girlfriend... that wanted
to try it when I had gotten back on
it. I resisted her for months. Fi-
nally, she stole it and did it anyway
to find out what was so great about
it. She ended up getting strung out,
and I felt horrible about it. I don't
know how anybody could turn
someone else onto a drug like heroin
or cocaine and live with that on
their conscience..."
It would seem, then, that Su-
german might have some regrets.
"I'm sort of beyond regretting it
now," he says. "There was a period,
yeah, when I thought I blew a decade
and a couple of million dollars. I
guess regretful would be a mild

way to put it. But you make your
peace with yourself, you have to."
Sugerman still works for the
Doors and writes books about the
Doors, and it would seem that Mor-
rison's overblown image would be
at odds with his own tales. "We
were working on the Doors - Live
at Hollywood Bowl project when I
got off methadone and became en-
tirely drug-free," Sugerman says.
"And there was one point in
there when I realized what Jim re-
presented, where I had to get over
the fact that Jim really made get-
ting fucked up look romantic... I
was afraid of the conflict, but the
conflict never arose... I mean, Jim
lived and died the way he wanted to
live and die. If anything, the lesson
smart people should get from Jim's
life is if you live like Jim Morrison,
you die like Jim Morrison. It does-
n't mean his art's worth any less, his
work is worth any less...
"And one of the things I say in
my lecture is that you think my re-
action to Jim Morrison's death, you
think the intelligent reaction would
have been, 'Jesus Christ, you live
See DOORS, Page 8

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