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January 29, 1992 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-01-29

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ARTS.
The Michigan Daily Wednesday, January 29,1992 Page 8
Take a trip for Lunch
Cronenberg's slime-fest exterminates the novel x s 5:

..44

Naked Lunch
dir. David Cronenberg

l

by Greg Baise
V ery few artistic creations can
match the intensity of the novel The
Naked Lunch's pornographic prose
pyrotechnics. William S. Bur-
roughs' banned-in-Boston book said
many an unspeakable thing when it
bubbled to the top of the under-
ground in the '60s. Its surreal
stream of consciousness manner
could repel the reader almost as

much as the narcosexual imagery.
Countless literary outlaws con-
tinue to feel the reverberations of
the novelistic fork which fed the
fringes of popular culture its ration
of the naked lunch. Now proto-
splatterpunk cinematic a uteur
David Cronenberg turns in his rep-
resentation of the workings of the
Burroughsian mind, fused with the
standard Cronenbergian elements
that admirers of such movies as
Scanners, The Fly and Dead Ringers
have come to expect.
Unfortunately, Cronenberg ne-

ver surpasses these expectations, and
indeed often falls short in a movie
that will raise the indifference of
Cronenberg devotees and Burroughs
fanatics alike.
Cronenberg serves up his cine-
matic dish with the protein of
merely two semi-orgasmic bursts of
cum, whereas the novel wallowed in
the semen and piss and shit and
blood of humans and more ambigu-
ous organisms, as well as wading
through the ruins of 20th Century
language and communication. Which
would you rather consume?
Probably the two most
"accurate" moments of the film,
from the Burroughs side of the cor-
pus calloseum, occur when Lee exe-
cutes his "routines," brief scatolog-
ical vignettes that are among Bur-
roughs' early literary trademarks.
Instead of embellishing these
morsels of flesh from the Bur-
roughs corpus cinematically, Cro-
nenberg relies on Weller to deliver
the anecdotes in his best derivative
deadpan. As in the novel, all of the
naked lunch is consumed in the
mind, served in the exploding frag-
ments of Burroughs' language.
The development of the word-
creator as arthropod flesh metaphor
seems pretty Burroughsian, espe-
cially when witnessing the gooey
libidinousness of typewriters and
seeing the lips of a talking asshole
emerge from beneath the roach-

toxic, but shoot it up, (or have your hubby (Peter Weller) rub it on your lips) and you can reach that Kafka high.

writer's wings. But this metaphor
strains under extended wear, and
would suffocate when compared to
the visual metaphors of Videodrome
or The Fly.
Although this movie is peppered
with fucking and other types of in-
tercourse between both humans and
the otherworldly creatures which
lurk beneath the metal of the most
innocuous of typewriters, this Cro-
nenberg movie curiously lacks the
fusion metaphor of previous works
like Videodrome and The Fly, at
least on the screen.
Sure, the writers in the movie
develop symbiotic relationships
with their machines, but more inter-

esting is the fusion of Cronenberg
and Burroughs off-screen. I think
Walt Disney accidentally got into
the transmogrifier as well.
Peter Weller embodies this syn-
thesis on the screen, portraying
William Lee with the hat size of
Lonesome Cowboy Bill, and the
eyeglass prescription of Gruesome
Canadian Dave. Oh, yeah: a healthy
dose of somebody's heterosexuality
got put in, too (part of the Bur-
roughs' shock value came from ho-
moerotic elements of his writing
and experience).
Weller does an adequate job of
portraying William Lee, as Bur-
roughs did in Drugstore Cowboy,

basically playing his own Catholic
doppleganger.
When it comes to the final gulp,
it seems that the intensity of both
Cronenberg and Burroughs has been
substituted by a strange gloss, ren-
dering the movie a mere two-dimen-
sional caricature (OK, "inspired in-
terpretation").
The signs of the auteur seem to
be placed by simulacra of Cronen-
berg, and not by the real thing. I'm
sorry, but I'd like more lunch meat
with my order of interpretation.
NAKED LUNCH is playing at the
Ann Arbor 1 & 2.

In William Lee's (Peter Weller) hallucinated refuge, Interzone, Hans
(Robert A. Silverman) introduces the drug of choice - the succulent
meat of the Giant Black Centipede.

I

I iU-'11i1i k
Teenage Fanclub
Bandwagonesque
DGC
What makes an album truly great
and memorable? Is it enough for the
album to be simply worth listening
to from time to time, or should the
music somehow move listeners into
thinking that they are better off for
having heard the album?
Your answer to this question goes
a long way toward determining what
you'll think of the latest album from
Teenage Fanclub, Bandwagonesque,
their first on a major U.S. label.
This album is undeniably attrac-
tive in many ways, but at the same
time, if ever a self-indulgent, "rip-
off: ideas from every old record we
can get a hold of' band existed,
Teenage Fanclub is it. TFC pays
quite a bit of homage to older per-
formers such as Alex Chilton (Big
Star), Velvet Underground, and even
young R.E.M.
A combination of these sounds
could be expected to produce some
interesting results, and possibly
that's where TFC goes wrong.
Whereas bands like the Replace-
ments, and even R.E.M. for that
matter, have done excellent jobs of
of writing songs that add freshness,
yet hearken back to the days of
Chilton all the same, TFC doesn't
have this same creativity.
Most of its songs try desperately
hard to simply duplicate the sound of
the "old-timers." Whether anything
is inherently wrong with that is a
matter open to debate.

Taken by itself, without reference
to other performers, Bandwagon-
esque is a good production. Tighter
and more polished than TFC's first
album, A Catholic Education, Band-
wagonesque is truly a great piece of
pop-rock.
The meaningless guitar solos
which plagued many of the tunes on
the first album have been toned
down considerably, and the band
now seems to play better as a unit.
Comparable to their Glasgow,
Scotland hometown heroes, Jesus
and Mary Chain, and other distorted
guitar-driven bands like Sonic
Youth, and Dinosaur Jr., TFC also
throws in a few jangly guitars and
the occasional brass and strings sec-
tion.
Songs like "Metal Baby" and
"Star Sign" feature most of the band
harmonizing over the standard layer
of distortion that has become so
popular for a great number of bands.
The members of TFC prove that
they are not afraid to sing, and inter-
estingly enough, are fairly good at it
- so good that the singing alone
saves a few of their songs, as in
"Guiding Star."
Other songs, ranging from the
annoying appeal of "Sidewinder", to
the syrupy ballad style of
"December", as well as the album's
first cut, "The Concept," which
pokes fun at trend followers (thus
the album title), all possess a charm
that makes it exceptionally hard not
to like this album.
Granted, there is something to be

said about the lack of chord progres-
sion throughout the album and the
lengthy musical interludes that still
rear their ugly heads from time to
time, but TFC remains a good band.
Ultimately, the listener will
decide how much worth to place on
this group. But keep in mind that
sometimes the inanely unoriginal is
a profound masterpiece.
-Nima Hodaei
Michael McDermott
620 w. Surf
Giant/Warner Brothers
Mike McDermott is an A&R
man's wet dream. He looks like
someone on Beverly Hills 90210,
sings a little bit like the Boss, and
writes songs about dealing with the
inner self.
To be sure, McDermott's talents
were not wasted on a poorly pro-

WC and the MAAD
Circle
Ain't a Damn Thang Changed
Priority Records
While still paying their dues, rap
act Low Profile broke up, leaving
premier turntable instrumentalist
DJ Aladdin to mix for Ice-T on his
O.G. Original Gangster album.
Meanwhile, gangster mack WC got
it together with his brother DJ
Crazy Toones, rapper Cooley-O and
Street Knowledge producer Sir Jinx
to form the Minority Alliance of
Anti-Discrimination, otherwise
known as the MAAD Circle.
A few things have changed in the
427 years of African-American his-
tory, but WC has quite a knack for
putting it all in perspective here.
Ain't a Damn Thang Changed is a
raw assortment of grooves and sto-
ries, all fused together like the ner-
vous system of an inner-city manic-
depressive - frenetic and frighten-
ing in its vision of urban dystopia.
There's the obligatory police
brutality track, "Behind Closed
Doors," the requisite journey
through the penitentiary, "Out On a
Furlough," and near the album's
end, "Back To The Underground," a
statement of reclaiming rap from
the commercial mainstream.
But what makes WC's latest so
effective is the ease by which it
plunges us into the depths of hu-
manity's degeneration. Scenarios
like "Smokers La La Bye" - a dis-
arming audio display of a suicide -
or the surreal, patricidal "Fuck My
Daddy," attack us with startlingly
confrontational production.
The shrapnel of Toones' and
Jinx's sonic attacks is simply un-
avoidable. We are continuously hit
with a solid beat and surrounded by
a bassline so ponderous that it en-
velops us in darkness.
Indeed, we are left believing
that, as WC says, "Ain't a damn
thang changed / It's only gone from
whips to billy clubs." Ice Cube put
it best when he said that street
knowledge is givin' a punch - WC
and the MAAD Circle happily beat
us down with their wrath of the ur-
ban underclasses. And they only
lose a few points for either throw-
ing "The Funky Drummer" into
their "Ghetto Serenade" or just de-
pressing the hell out of me.
-Forrest Green III
Airrmmv4 tl-lrl

His love is a river..
Everyone knows the guy's voice, but Alex Chilton's real accomplish-
ments remain hidden under layers of Replacements tributes and Let's
Active rip-offs. RykoDisc, however, will soon be reissuing his seminal
band Big Star's third album. After singing such Atlantic soul hits as
"The Letter," "Soul Deep," and "Cry Like a Baby," Chilton became co-
resident genius of Big Star, and then resident genius when Chris bell
left after the first album. After Big Star disbanded, Chilton spent the
rest of the '70s on a hellish descent into obscurity before being raised
from the morass of unappreciation by such opportunities as producing
the Cramps and helping out Tav Falco and Panther Burns. Chilton plays
at the Blind Pig tonight. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. $7.50 in advance at Tick-
etMaster, $10 at the door.
who whatwherewhen

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McDermott
duced record. The company made
the right move by letting Don
Gehman, who has done great things
for John Mellencamp and R.E.M.,
control the knobs. The result, 620 W.
Surf is a tastefully mellow disc
made for fans of James Taylor, In-
digo Girls and Bruce Hornsby -
who himself plays piano on "Fools'
Avenue."
Some tunes sound like Mellen-
camp's Lonesome Jubilee, but that's
almost a compliment. "A Wall I
Must Climb" introduces the disc
well with the harmonica, acoustic
guitar and drums locking in to form
a sweet groove.
The lyrics consist of interesting
images like, "Have you ever looked
at your face until it became askew? /
Because the road that's less traveled
is the one that leads right back to
you."
Other highlights include the epic

Tish O'Dowd Ezekiel, the di-
rector of the Undergraduate Cre-
ative Writing Program, will read
from her soon-to-be-released second
novel, Catbird Court tomorrow.
Her first book, Floaters contained a
wash of memories from an Irish-
Catholic childhood. The next James
Joyce? You be the judge in Rackham
Amphitheatre at 5 p.m. Admission
is free.
Starbound wants you to sniff
the finest in campus talent at "Gee,
Your Talent Smells Terrific" this
Friday. The evening will showcase
singing, stand-up comedy, and as-
sorted performing arts. It is also a
benefit for AIDS research with pro-
might have smashed my tape.
Actually those two songs are so
good, that when you see this in the
budget racks for three dollars, it
might actually be worth the price.
"Pray" is gospelly, but it is the
only such tune on this record that
works. The harmonies that repeat
"pray no more" throughout, the
horn section and the melody all
work perfectly with the groove. The
highlight of the tune, though, is a
descending run played simultane-

ceeds going to American Foundation
for AIDS Research. And to top it
all off, the audience will judge the
performances by ballot, so you
could pick the winner. Don't miss it
this Friday at 8 p.m. in Mendelssohn
Theater at the Michigan League.
Admission is $3.
One of the best films of the year
premiers at the Detroit Film Theater
this weekend. Hearts of Darkness:
A Filmmaker's Apocalypse was di-
rected by University graduate, Fax
Bahr, and is a documentary about
the making of Francis Ford
Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Go the
distance. Call 833-2392 for info.

Channel Z
Anglophiles Unite! The British
Mini-series of all time (OK, OK,
Jewel in the Crown runs a very
close second) originally shown on
Masterpiece Theater in the early
'80s returns to TV tonight.
Brideshead Revisited (10 p.m.,
PBS, Channel 25 on A2 cable), the
stunning adapation of Evelyn
Waugh's novel, stars a very young

Mal

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