* The Michigan Daily
Monday, November 4,1991
Gimme that love crush
Poet Barry Wallenstein reports on state of reality
by John Morgan
" Much of what we do is a lie.
At least Barry Wallenstein thinks so.
"We construct a whole lot of things that are
bluff," he said. "Look at our cities. But poetry must be
Wallenstein spoke these words from his home in
New York City, where he teaches literature and cre-
ative writing at the City University of New York. He
is the author of three collections of poetry, including
his most recent, Love and Crush. In addition, his work
has appeared in over 50 periodicals, including the
Transatlantic Review and the American Poetry
Wallenstein is interested in the combination of
poetry with jazz. He has frequently performed with
Charles Tyler, who plays saxophone to accompany
'So much of the language in
poetry is a cover for reality," he
said. "Emily Dickinson once said
that the only way to tell the truth
in poetry is from an angle. Direct
reporting wouldn't do that'
Wallenstein's verse. "I used to associate with a number
of musicians," he explained. "They started to impro-
vise around my poetry."
In fact, Wallenstein has found that musical rhythm
is often a source of inspiration. "If I hear a rhyme in a
phrase, I'll find some way to run with it... A few years
ago I saw a documentary about prisons. There were two
fourteen-year-olds talking, one of whom kept saying,
'Hey, check you out!' What she meant was 'I love you,'
but she couldn't express herself in that way."
Wallenstein found that phrase to be the perfect
foundation for a poem that is included in Love and
"I try to charge language in a way that will draw
the reader in," Wallenstein said, revealing an interest
in the use of language that he came back to many times
during the interview.
Wallenstein says that people often accuse him of
having "a real New York voice." "I greet this with a
mixed acceptance," he said, although he admitted that
living in New York City has affected his writing. "(In
the city), there is a tension, an acceptance of terror. I
suppose that shows in my work." Wallenstein has used
the experience of urban living as a backdrop for his po-
etry several times, as in "City Eyes" from Roller
Coaster Kid : "You can bolt yourself indoors / and
brace yourself against sudden shocks. / You can shut
your eyes / but you can't shut out / the city lights / that
Wallenstein has very specific ideas about how po-
etry must be written. "So much of the language in po-
etry is a cover for reality," he said. "Emily Dickinson
once said that the only way to tell the truth in poetry
is from an angle. Direct reporting wouldn't do that."
His introduction to Roller Coaster Kid states
Wallenstein's view of poetry: "In a way, poems may be
seen as models of freedom - freedom from the bonds
of common logic and ordinary perceptions."
Wallenstein frequently uses images derived from
nature in an attempt to make his poems "real." From
"Deception": "It's mid October / The tree is alive /
She's waiting for cold / growing stronger / She's wait-
ing for frost and the end of leaves / growing stronger /
She'll take the snow, shed it - / shine in ice and never
break. / It's mid October and the trees are fooling us /
looking, as they do, like dying and fever."
Wallenstein said that Love and Crush is exemplary
of his work, more so than Roller Coaster Kid, which
was written for a younger audience. One of many ideas
touched on in Love and Crush is that of birth and
youth. "Baby / in the amniotic dream / circles and
bumps: / no papers, prints on record / nothing yet / in
the eyes of the law. / My eyes are wild," he wrote in
"Not Yet the Child." However, it is impossible to
pick out any specific themes in the book. Although
many of the poems deal with similar topics,
Wallenstein said that they were definitely "inter-
connected," but that there was no unifying force behind
them. "They were not written to coalesce," he said.
At the time of this conversation, Wallenstein had
no specific ideas about what he would read today, but
nevertheless, it is likely that he will keep his audience
entertained. "When poetry is rich, it is the real thing,"
he commented. All of his poetry exhibits this philoso-
phy. Whether he is writing about urban life or a forest,
his writing is always striving to attain that most elu-
sive of artistic objectives: a reflection of reality.
Why poetry? Wallenstein's poem "Why a Poem?"
answers that question. "It could have been a melody /
sung up high / or brought down low... It could have
been anything / other than a poem: / Spirit words /
running themselves away / expanding / never ending."
BARRY WALLENSTEIN will read from his work at
today at 4 p.m. in Rackham Amphitheatre. Admission
Overkill (from left to right, Merritt Gant, D.D. Verni, Sid Falck, Rob Cannavino, Bobby "Blitz" Ellworth) in their
leather jackets and long hair, certianly look like a very different kind of metal band.
Is ones progressive ban
can 't be accu sed Overkil
by Kim Yaged
President Reagan was having
this big fancy cocktail party at the
White House. Everyone was
there - politicians, actors,
celebrities, athletes. During the
party, Ron decided he needed to
relieve himself, so he went to the
bathroom. Too Tall Jones
happened to be in there, and
Ronnie happened to look over at
him while he was urinating. Too
Tall's dick was about this big.
("Blitz" holds up his arms at a
distance of about three feet
"Too Tall," Ron said ("Blitz"
is doing one of your better Ron
Reagan impersonations), "if you
don't mind me asking, how do you
get your dick so big?" "Well,"
Too Tall responded, "every night
before I go to bed, I wack it
against the bedpost a few times."
So Ron made a note to himself to
try this and went back to the
party. That night, as Ronnie was
getting into bed, he remembered
what Too Tall told him. So he took
his dick and wacked it against the
bedpost. Then he heard Nancy
whisper, "That you, Too Tall?"
So goes the paraphrasing of the
only joke, but not necessarily the
best story, told by Bobby "Blitz"
Ellsworth, the lead singer and ace
PR man of Overkill. He shared it
with me a couple of weeks ago
before he went on stage at.
Harpo's and slammed Detroit.
The band - Ellsworth, bassist
D.D. Verni, drummer Sid Falck,
axe-ist Rob Cannavino and fellow
strummer (and new man aboard)
Merritt Gant - is fresh on the
road in support of its fifth and
latest release, Horrorscope. As
Ellsworth describes, "It's an
album that leaves you with an
impact." This is the album,
"Blitz" says, that is supposed to
put the band "over the top."
"There's no tension in the band,
now," he explains. "You only go
around once, and if you have to go
around with high blood pressure,
it kinda sucks."
High blood pressure? "Blitz"
is a guy with a laugh that sounds
like a BB gun and a smile that
defies you not to laugh along
with him. And if you don't laugh,
it's all the funnier. This attitude
is obvious in Overkill's live show
as well. More than half of the
fans in the pit were on stage at
least once during the night, but
they never phased Ellsworth. He
made sure to slap every hand that
stuck out. This action is definitely
indicative of a reach-out-to-the-
people kind of band - Gant and
Verni often helped people off the
stage with a push, a punch or the
bottom of a boot.
That's the way the guys want
it, though. As "Blitz" screamed
from the stage, "It won't work if
you're not fucking excitable!" No
one's more excitable then
Ellsworth, a man who obviously
prides himself on being the best
thrash-it-up headbanger in the
joint. Not surprisingly, his stage
dive was the best one of the night.
This show is what "Blitz" calls
"an honest, all-out, aggressive
performance." (That description's
in the dictionary next to
But what does "Blitz" really
like to talk about?
I called him (Jesse, his son) up
yesterday. It's, like, I got all these
new dates that we're doing, ya
know, and Michelle (his wife)
wasn't home, so I said, "Get a
pen and paper. You're gonna help
me out." "I love to help."
(Ellsworth mimics his son as he
says this.) I had to give him like
fifteen dates, and he's not at the
age where he can spell things
from what you say. You have to
spell things for him. He'd
probably get through it if you said
it a few times, but it would take
"Las Vegas - L, small a...
Anaheim..." Michelle called me
last night. She goes, "I got the
dates from Jesse and, uh, where
the hell is Las Fresmo?"
At any rate, Ellsworth, pro-
bably unintentionally, has become
expert at the one liner. Some-
times, he even stops and tilts his
head as if to say, "Wow, that was
profound. Did I say that?"
On Drugs: "(You) gotta
experiment at one time or another
in (your) life, but to live on it
because (you) think it's cool, it's
kinda like you can just be so out of
control that it just ends.... The
younger people think it's just a
cool thing to do. I think they
assume that people like me must
do it. 'Oh, wouldn't it be great to
go on the road and be able to do as
much coke as he does?' But I don't
do it, you know what I'm
On Integrity: "There's no
price (on integrity). You can't get
a refund after you sell it. You
can't go back and go, 'Look, I
know I sold my integrity. I'd like
it back now.' You have to earn it
back, and that road can be very,
very long and screw up a whole
lot of other things on the way...
People have presented us with
other things, different approaches.
'Don't do this, and don't do that.
What'd you put out a record
called Fuck You for?' Because we
On Selling Out: "All a record
is is a year of your life on a disk. If
it's a good representation of that
year then it's not selling out. If
we say we should change our
sound to this to fit this or that, I
can never see it happening, but I'm
saying, if it was a natural
approach to doing it, I wouldn't
consider it a sell out."
On The Music: "A lot of
people don't give (this audience)
enough credit, but they really get
into the lyrics. They know from
front to back... They love this
music. So, they know everything
about it. So, when they get into
those lyrics, they know what
we're talking about. It's not as
surface as, like, a C&C Music
Factory kinda thing or a Madonna
thing, ya know? Where she's like a
cat in heat constantly. Big fucking
deal! It's kinda old... (The rest of
the industry) is totally oversa-
turated with a lot of fucking
See OVERKILL, Page 8
So you say that you want your dance-pop ditties? So you say that you
want your silly, vapid lyrics? So you say that you want your Erasure?
Well step right up! We got a million of 'em. But one will probably be all
that you need to keep your toes a-tappin' and your butt a-wigglin'.
(Intellect is optional.)
But even if he never pushed a key
to the board in real-time, this album
is still a great Bell/Clarke collabo-
ration and you're still gonna want
to get up and dance your butt off for
about half of the album tracks.
What's the deal?
You've got the title track,
"Chorus," which will undoubt-
edly become a new standard for ea-
ger Erasure fans. It has the sixteen-
beat synth thing going on, drum ma-
chines pounding along.
Lyrics are a tad atypical here -
* "Go ahead with your schemin'/ and
b/w "Cicciolina" (single)
Detroitband Majesty Crush has
finally oozed their intoxicating,
swirling textures onto vinyl. These
local homeboys have built up a
loyal legion of fans on the strength
of their mesmerizing music and
trance-inducing live shows. Majesty
Crush's sound is a lush, powerful
din that invites comparisons to
bands such as the Cocteau Twins or
Chapterhouse. Fortunately, their
Aphn,.t nrln n .iCIPi n .. nr t han i lt .t
sordid subject matter. Singer Dave
Stroughter wraps his delicate voice
around a sonic sea of fuzzed-out gui-
tars and a stark, dense drumbeat.
"Sunny Pie" is powered by Hobey
Ehlin's thick, languid bassline, rem-
iniscent of early Sonic Youth or the
"Cicciolina," the Italian porn-
star-cum-politician,is the star of
the b-side. While the band weaves a
psychedelic web of sexy noise,
Stroughter bemoans his unrequited
love for Italy's favorite ambassador
of erotica. Murky bass notes collide
with Michael Segal's droning
bursts of distorted guitar lines, to
create a heavenly cacophony.
The drums on both songs are a
welcome relief from the dance-
Ballet Michigan brings fairy
tales to life; mob rules in Court;
'Reens rock without a crowd
Once Upon a Time
November 1, 1991
It was an evening of nostalgia
for some and simple storytelling
for others, as the Ballet Michigan
wove tales of childhood throughout
the Power Center in Once Upon a
and a clever set for Grandfather's
house. The three animals that be-
friended Peter (danced by Flavio
Olivares) were the Bird (Yumelia
Garcia), Cat (Myriam Guevara) and
Duck (Julie Barrows Powell), each
clothed in imaginative dress.
Olivares gave a suitably ener-
getic interpretation of the ebullient
orntar r f PDtr o c rnna nit r-ad-,
tinued to flap and flutter her
feathers in a naturalistic manner,
making the most of her flexed feet
as if they were actually webbed. The
attention paid to detail was what
made this first section so satisfying
Sandwiched in between the other.
acts, the excerpts "Three Move-
ment, for TEight" aind "The Dream"