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November 26, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-11-26

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ARTS

* 'The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, November 26, 1991

Page 5

Bogosian talks (dirty)!
The reticent, Garbo-like, shy actor comes out of
his shell in the new film Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll

Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll
dir. John McNaughton

by Jen Bilik

If there's anything Eric Bogosian can do, it's talk -
talk a blue streak, talk a line, talk your ear off. Living
with him would probably be an exercise in insanity;
105 minutes is probably the upper limit for entry into
the Bogosian mind, but it's a dizzying, brilliant time.
Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll is essentially a concert movie
made from his one-man play: Bogosian on stage - no
sets, few props, just Bogosian and his nine characters.
Bogosian's characters, which possess him com-
pletely, range from the high to the low, yet he makes it
all but impossible to categorize their role in society
and refuses to let the viewer completely identify with
or reject any of them. They alternate between muddled
confusion, uncanny prophecy, and repulsive morality.
While the Cockney rock star, the Well-Endowed
Redneck, the Italian Stud, the Music Executive and the
Man in Search of the American Dream economically
exploit the Homeless Disfunctional, the Shit-Fuck-
Piss Schizophrenic, the Homeless Rainman and the
Stoner Conspiracy Theorist, they too are victims of
their own desires and society's constraints. Everybody
is pathetic.
Bogosian's ability to talk fast and frenzied without
adopting traditional theatrical intonation makes him
the post-modern Everyman - a grandiose statement,
yes, but one that truly describes Bogosian's grandios-
ity. If in his first movie,Talk Radio, Bogosian serves as
devil's advocate and social critic, in Sex the society
speaks back.
The society is fragmented into the nine characters,
and the nine characters are themselves splintered into
self-parodies. Because it's impossible to unanimously
empathize with the characters, and it's also impossible
to condemn them and ignore Bogosian's complicated
social statements, Sex is a difficult film to watch.
Bogosian's humor is very sophisticated and multi-lay-
ered, yet one always feels guilt when laughing. We are

complicit with, repulsed by and identified with all the
characters simultaneously. As viewers, we sit perched
on the edge of Bogosian's crazy world, unsure of our
positions in relation to the insanity.
Each of the characters speaks directly to an audience,
sometimes the actual audience. This is the case of the
first character, a homeless man who's so aware of the
social ills that made him homeless that he cannot see
himself clearly (he describes himself as having come
from a family of "disfunctional codependents.")
Sometimes the audience is an imaginary other cha-
racter, as with the Cockney rock star who's being in-
terviewed about drugs (although his most creative ge-
nius took place on drugs and his best times were on
drugs, he tells the audience to "Just Turn Them In" af-
ter abstaining) and ethnocentric rock charity.
The Shit-Fuck-Piss Schizophrenic speaks to himself
about the ubiquity of excrement, and the Music
Executive talks only on the phone or through an inter-
com (interestingly, his unseen secretary is named Diane,
just like in Twin Peaks).
The dizzying nature of Bogosian's characters comes
from their self-absorption and from the often perverse
delight they find in telling their stories. They touch
the conflicts of contemporary society, especially class
and psychological issues and the discrepancy between
what the government tells us and what we really do.
One interesting theme is hedonism: many of the
characters are drug users, and they enjoy their drugs,
though the drugs sometimes lead to negative situa-
tions. How do we reconcile our human desires for en-
tertainment and escape with the unnatural "Just Say
No" mentality? Bogosian raises questions and presents
conflict for our consideration, but denies us the com-
fort of closure; ultimately, the film is disturbing,
though rewarding, to watch.
The film presentation is not that successful: it's
best when director John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait
of a Serial Killer) follows Bogosian himself. Bogosian
is riveting enough to eliminate the need for self-con-
scious camera movement.
SEX, DRUGS, ROCK & ROLL is playing at the Ann
Arbor 1&2.

Jethro
ain't}
A. . .
livig in
the past
by Kenny Bell

A fter listening to Jethro Tull's
latest album, Catfish Rising, I was a
little confused. Was this the same
folk-rock combo that wrote those
classic songs "Thick As A Brick"
and "Locomotive Breath?" What
happened to those catchy drum beats
with that mellow flute playing in
the background?
The answer was obvious. Jethro
Tull was back on the music scene,
with a new album and a completely
different sound. Instead of nifty
flute solos and cool electric guitar
riffs, the band's music had changed
into a rougher, more organic style.
Bass guitarist Dave Pegg says he
likes the new sound of Jethro Tull
better. "This time, there's a lot
more variety in the songs," says
Pegg. "I think the main reason it
sounds different is because Ian
(Anderson) wrote most of the ma-
terial on the mandolin family of in-
struments. This album's got a very
acoustic flavor to a lot of the mate-
rial."
It's no wonder the band follows
in whatever direction Anderson
leads it. The singer, songwriter,
multi-instrumentalist and producer
of the new album, Anderson has
been with the band for its entire 23-
year career. And there's no doubt
that he's the driving force behind
Jethro Tull. "If Ian wasn't in the
band, there wouldn't be a Jethro
Tull," says Pegg. "The way he plays
the flute is the main reason why we

The members of Jethro Tull (clockwise from bottem left, Martin
Allcock, Doane Perry, Dave Pegg, Ian Anderson and Martin Barre) look
really old, yet they are still going strong. Yay.

have such a unique sound. It's proba-
bly the only flute ever played in a
rock band."
, Pegg also pointed out that the
new album also contains some rock-
orientated songs. "It's really a mix-
ture of all we do. There are more
flavors in this album than a lot of
the others," he says. Surprisingly
enough, Jethro Tull's new album
even contains songs that have a
country-blues feel to it. "Roll Yer
Own" and "Sparrow on the School-
yard Wall" sound completely dif-
ferent than anything Tull has ever
done before, and the songs mainly
evolved out of Anderson playing
the flute and mandolin.
When asked about the current
tour, Pegg says that the band has
still included a lot of the old Jethro
Tull songs. "We'd never imagine
doing an evening without playing
the songs 'Aqualung' and 'Locomo-

tive Breath,' for example," says
Pegg. "We like to do different old
songs from the last time we were
out. There's a lot we can pick and
choose from."
As for the future of Jethro Tull,
Pegg says that the band still plans
on experimenting with new, unique
sounds. "We've always done ex-
actly what we've wanted to do,"
says Pegg. "We're not trying to
make three-and-a-half minute sin-
gles or all come up with the same
haircuts and make videos for MTV.
It's never been fashionable and it
never will be, and I think that's one
of the reasons we've lasted for
twenty-three years."
JETHRO TULL performs tonight at
8 p.m. at the Fox Theater. Tickets
are still available at TicketMaster
for $25, plus the evil service
charge.

Public Enemy
Apocalypse 91... The Enemy
Strikes Black
DefJam/Columbia
While the expansive theme of
Fear of a Black Planet remained un-
derdeveloped at best, its successor
comes with a programmatic attack
name and follows up to the hilt.
Chuck D. is ready for confrontation
of the evils running rampant in the
Black community, and his beats ap-
propriately reflect this new atti-
tude. The Imperial Grand Ministers
of Funk Stuart Robertz, Cerwin
Depper, Gary G-Wiz and "The JBL,"
alongside Commander of the Flight
Deck Hank Shocklee, kick funky
beats as inexplicable as a stealth
bomber pattern and searing grooves
almost too jarring for the human
heart.
Apocalypse 91 thematically re-
volves around Chuck's observation
of economic slavery and militaristic
domination in the '90s, "Can't
Truss It." Thusly, the album's
songs promote Black unification for
the survival of a group that has al-
ways been dealt with as a monolith
anyway. Rapped over an unsettling
collage of high-pitched squeals and
whistles over dense beats, "Can't
Truss It" is a statement of superfi-
cial, deceptive improvements for
equality made by the Civil Rights
movement. The Hard Rhymer's
flow is violently mobile, "But then
I got a story that's harder than the
hardcore/ Cost of the holocaust/ I'm

talkin bout the one still goin on,"
while his analysis is relentless,
"And that aint it, think I'll ever
quit/ Still I pray to get my hands
round the neck of the man with the
whip."
Yet, if Dr. King's struggle
proved itself disappointing in the
long run, the Enemy is not hesitant
to give up the dues in the wrathful
"By The Time I Get To Arizona."
Chuck's mission statement is to
punish the legislators of Arizona,
including redneck Governor Evan

Mecham, for trying to destroy
King's national holiday. The deci-
sion to respect a man who preached
non-violence, with violence, is only
added to by a disorienting barrage of
loud, massive funk hits while Chuck
muses, "I'm on the one mission/ To
get a politician to honor! Or he's a
goner." Chuck remains impeccable
in his politics, as well as his sense in
and of history.
For example, "Rebirth" ends
with a clever statement of warning,
See RECORDS, Page 7

U U

Tired of
spending a
fortune on
coupon books

I

that miss

r

who what where when)

their mark?
Close only counts with hand grenades.
So, this term invest your money in
14 IPOl aan n1ig's Coupon Book:
coupons that work and are

Is your soul yearning for a spot
S of folk rock? If so, check out Billy
Bragg as he takes the stage tonight

guitar-oriented music. Don't Try
This At Home, Bragg's latest album,
is easily some of his finest work.

1 l a

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