Page 4-The Michigan Daily-Weekend etc. -January 30, 1992
Is World really that different?
I think NOT!
by Stephen Henderson
The name of the show is A Different World, but it really isn't so different
from where we come from. That's what comes to mind whenever I hear
the funky theme song for thsuccessful Cosby Show spin-off, which airs
Thursday nights at 8:30 on NBC.
Even though the show is set at a historically Black college in the South
- seemingly a far cry from Ann Arbor--the issues it tries to make sense
of and the characters it involves aren't necessarily foreign to any college
campus. I don't catch the program every week, but when I do, I can
certainly relate to what's on the screen.
It wasn't always that way, though. When the show first came on in
1987, I was hardly impressed.
The show focused on Denise-Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) and her friends in
the dorm, whose greatest concerns were finding a date on the weekends
and making sure their laundry was done.
Moreover, Denise was flanked by a number of undeveloped charac-
ters, including Whitley Gilbert (Jasmine Guy), a stereotype of the spoiled
Southern Belle, andDuane Wayne
(Kadeem Hardison), a goofy engi-
neering student whose sincere but
clumsy infatuation with Denise
made him all the more inept. Denise
also had a white roommate, whose
most notable trait was her self-
Of course, the show benefited
from Bill Cosby's humorous in-
fluence, but that was about it. The
plots were tired and the characters
the little >lctUr'e other than Lisa Bonet's were fairly
unimportant. To me, the show was no different than any other sitcom.
But Bonet left the show in 1989, which forced the producers to change
its content and fous. Since then, the previously stilted characters have
become real, three-dimensional people with thoughts and ideas irrespec-
tive of Denise Huxtable. They're people you can imagine hanging out with
rather than people you'd read about in a dime-store novel. I can draw
parallels from them that have real meaning for me.
Duane Wayne is now much more level-headed and pragmatic, and
Whitley Gilbert cares about more than nail polish and her father's money.
Additionally, there are a handful of new characters who play an active role
in the show. In fact, each episode revolves around someone different.
More importantly, the show's episodes have taken on bolder, more
socially conscious themes. Last week's show used a particularly innova-
tive plot to expose college students' attitudes toward former prison
inmates. And in the past year, the show has explored such issues as the
AIDS epidemic, campus racial tensions and the rise in Afrocentric
thinking among Black students.
These are issues that college students all over the country deal with and
talk about. And that's what keeps me watching the show. When I flick on
NBC at 8:30 on Thursdays, what I get is a pretty good reflection of life as
Isee it here in Ann Arbor, complete with a good sense of humor. And I
suspect it's a fairly accurate barometer of what's happening on other
The show's writers now seem to realize that there's more to college life
than dirty clothes and lonely Saturday nights; awareness and enlighten-
net also figure in. And the show successfully portrays that with a mix
of humor and realism you rarely get from other programs.
Win some loot,part II
It's been two weeks and the re-
"v; sponse to the trivia contest was so
great that we received a new ship-
r " ment of prizes. So, we've got tons o'
T-shirts and posters from Steve
Martin's latest film, G r a n d
Canyon. Now it's your big chance
to win one, while supplies last! Just
send a letter or postcard to Week-
end etc. trivia, 420 Maynard, A2
48104. Write your name, phone
number, and what you like most and
least about Weekend etc. and why.
Martin It's that simple.
An entertaining Bag
Ferndale stage plays with magic
Soundgarden: We're young, beautiful, and rich. Now if only we were
from Ann Arbor, instead of rainy old Seattle, life would be perfect.
Playing Ann Arbor
ain't so easy anym ore
by Scott Sterling
r"Our favorite place to play is easily Ann Arbor, Michigan. Really cool
town. " - Kurt Cobain, singer/guitarist for Nirvana
"A live music scene in Ann Arbor? I didn't know there was one left."
- Matt O'Brian, bassist for local band Big Chief
These two quotations accurately show how Ann Arbor's music scene is
perceived. It seems that the further away one gets from the city, the better
it appears. Bands from other cities, like North Carolina's SuperChunk and
Seattle's Soundgarden, have all expressed a reverence for the Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor's legacy is legendary. The Stooges, the MC5, the Ashton
Brothers, Destroy All Monsters ... this city has more cool rock music his-
tory than any other place in the world. Where else can you show people the
spot that Iggy Pop used to take cigarette breaks when he worked at Dis-
count Records? Or the place that G.G. Allin first got arrested for throwing
feces and assaulting his audience?
'I think it's the continued Birmingham-ization
of Ann Arbor ... Anything that's loud and
rebellious is frowned upon by city council and
various other organizations here in Ann
Arbor. They make it really hard for a bar to
get a liquor license and have live bands.'
bass player, Big Chief
Not only did Ann Arbor have more than its share of amazing musicians,
the city once overflowed with great concert venues. The Second Chance,
Joe's Star Lounge, the Michigan Union, even East Quad's Half Way Inn
once hosted legendary shows. R.E.M., Fugazi, and the English Beat are just
a few of the many bands that used to play those clubs.
But over the years, the club scene in Ann Arbor has dwindled down to.
almost nothing. There is hardly any place left to see live acts.
"Even three years ago, when there was the U-Club and Club Heidelberg,
See CLUBS, Page 5
by Josh Mitnick
Question: What's the use of trek-
king all the way to Detroit to hear
some music or see a play when
there's so much happening on the
Ann Arbor scene?
Answer: You neverknow what's
going to come out of the Magic
Stumbling over the Magic Bag
Theater and Cafe will be hard the
first time for most students - the
average entertainment seeker is not
usually disposed toward hopping
into a car on a Friday or Saturday
night and driving 45 minutes to
Ferndale when there are some good
shows only blocks away.
Butonce you getapeekatwhat's
going on inside the Magic Bag,
you' llprobably find yourself check-
ing the club's list of alternative mu-
sic, theater and film events to plan
the next visit.
Since opening last May, the
Magic Bag has filled a long-time
vaccum of alternative entertainment
in the Detroit area and booked big
names who didn't get out to Ann
Arbor, like the Max Roach Quartet.
Making excuses for missing shows
like this is pretty hard because the
club's central location - a mile
down on Woodward Ave. from 696
- makes it quite accessible if you
have the time and transportation.
"The Magic Bag is filling a void
that's been left by a lot of different
things, not the least of which has
been the lack of Eclipse
Jazz programming, the
lack of any major name
coming into any club.
or concert hall jazz-"
wise in this area," said
A good example of
this is the Magic Bag's
booking of the David
Whether it's listening to a big
name jazz ensemble, taking in a
rock'n' roll film or enjoying a play,
the Magic Bag provides an original
and intimate setting. The actual
room is the size of a small movie
theaterand live shows are performed
on a stage thrust.
The room's flavor and acoustics
differ depending on the seat loca-
tion. The front third of the room's
275 seats are arranged cabaret-style
around tables, creating the atmo-
sphere of a larger than average club.
But if you move farther back in the
room, the theater seats give the feel-
ing of a tiny concert hall or play-
Shows featuring electric instru-
ments might sound different in the
front, where seats are significantly
below the speakers and stage, com-
pared to the back, where you sit on
an even plane with both.
Steve Milgrim, owner and presi-
dent of the Magic Bag, explains that
the idea for the club was the result
of a personal fantasy, nurtured for
more than 15 years, of wanting to
create an alternative, intimate the-
ater for the arts.
"I've always felt that Detroit
needed an alte- ,-. -, arts theater, a
small theater for a - .,enter-
tainment," Milgrimn "Metro-
politan Detroit neeucu go.thing
Just what is alternative? "No
Rod Stewart, no Madonna, no For-
This means theatrical perfor-
mances like poetry readings, astage
rendition of the ever-so-culty Rocky
Horror Picture Show and produc-
tions by local goups such as Detroit
Playwright's Initiative and Theater
Grottesco, Detroit's only intema-
tional touring theater troupe.
In April, the Bag will begin a
classical chamber music series on
Sunday mornings. On the cinema
side, the Magic Bag's lineup is very
similar to the Michigan Theater.
Milgrim is no novice as a pro-
moter. As owner of Sam's Jams
new and used record shop, he has
been promoting free concerts in
Detroit for many years.
"He's obviously established his
committment to presenting music,".
said Nastis. "The Magic bag ex-
tends that idea into forms of theater
and movie showings."
Milgrim said he had been eye-
ing the venue for a
number of years,
which had been occu-
pied by a bar featuring
bottomless dancers a
la Ypsilanti's Deja Vu.
Despite protests from
the surrounding com-
munity, the bar sur-
vived until an Oakland
circuit court judge
forced it to close in
Ultimately, trash gave birth to
art. Milgrim purchased the site a
year later, beginning rennovations
in October 1990. The walls of the
new room feature a rotating art dis-
play by local artists. Gourmet car-
bonated fruit refreshments in the
outer lobby round out the artsy at-
mosphere of the Bag.
After eight months of operation,
Milgrim says the initial response by
the surrounding community has
been positive, adding that a high
percentage of shows have sold out.
Most performances are co-spon-
sored with local radio stations like
WDET, WLLZ and WEMU.
As good as it is now, the Magic
Bag is still far from its potential -
Milgrim talks of expanding pro-
gramming to include non-main-
stream rock shows.
Nastis said, "I would assume
that down the road, in a very similar
vein to Sam's, (Milgrim) -will
present all types of contemporary
music, not just jazz.
ff ~IAZZ CAFE
WINTER JAZZ SERIES
North Campus Commons
Ir Featuring jazz Ensembles . 1)30
from the jazz Studies Feb. 6
Program, Ed Sarath,
* Term Papers
* Laser printed
AIUE WJ I L-JKUI un IhtL