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October 27, 1992 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-10-27

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Tuesday, October 27, 1992 Page5

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Mutiny, rebellion and 'The Jerk'

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by Skot Beal
"Our name, sad to say, is a typi-
cal rock & roll story," quoth Sandy
Smallens, telephone philosopher and
bassist for Too Much Joy. "The first
time a bunch of us wanted to take
mushrooms in high school we had
all these toys ready for the night's
festivities and we picked out all the
music we wanted to listen to and we
had this pad out 'cause we were
convinced that we were gonna have
all these brilliant artistic revelations.
But the next morning we woke up at
like one in the afternoon; the only
thing on the pad was a few scribbles
and Tim had scrawled the words
'Too Much Joy.' And we said, 'Hey,
if that's not a band name, what is?"'
Too Much Joy is, probably more
than any other band, what rock &
roll needs today: four friends without
annoying egos (Smallens, Tommy
Vinton on drums, Jay Blumentield
on guitar, and Tim Quirk handling
the lead vocals) who revel in the
spirit of rebellion that is crucial to
rock & roll music, but who go
beyond the conventions that dictate
the form that rebellion is supposed to
follow. Take, for example, the night
they spent in jail for playing punk
rock covers of 2 Live Crew songs at
the Florida bar where the infamous
rappers were originally busted, or
how hip this idea sounds:
"What we want to do in the fu-
ture and what we're trying to do
with this upcoming tour," Smallens
said, "is we wanna take rock & roll
out of this, like, elitist circus -
clubs and theaters where people
have to pay to see ... We're talking
about setting up surprise gigs, like,
setting up in high school parking lots
and street corners where no one's
expecting it. Like guerrilla-style
shows in a lot of different places."

Those people familiar with Too
Much Joy's past albums might be
surprised by the direction of their
newest release, "Mutiny." While the
music has always been in-your-face,
it now sounds more raw and pissed-
off. And while lyrically they've been
pegged by many as a silly band, now
they seem to have toned down the
silliness.
"The language we've always
spoken is sarcasm and wit," Small-
ens explained. "I mean, one of the
most defining moments in our
band's history was seeing the movie
'The Jerk' by Steve Martin. That
was more important to us than any
rock album. The problem is when
you speak that language, people can
only translate it as novelty. So over
the years we've learned to toss out
the parts of us that were dragging us
down and distracting people from
what we're really saying."
Of course, it's a fair question to
wonder what could be so influential
about a Steve Martin movie ...
"It was. just so self-aware,"
Smallens said. "It exploded so many
cliches of what a funny movie is
supposed to be. Steve Martin is a lot
like Penn & Teller (who directed the
video for Too Much Joy's latest
single, 'Donna Everywhere') in that
they brought to their art form a
whole new approach that said we
don't need to do what everyone else
has done in the past.
"Steve Martin doesn't need to
make fun of television commercials
to make people laugh. Penn & Teller
don't need to pull a rabbit out of a
hat to make people gasp. You have
to get beyond what everyone else is
doing in their relative art forms and
think about making new."
Practically every aspect of Too
Much Joy's new album reflects this

41

Michael Rapaport and N'Bushe Wright as Zack and Nikki in "Zebrahead."
A crescendoo rt
ofin donDetroit
by Camilo Fontecilla
"Zebrahead," writer/director Anthony Drazan's debut, is a nightmare
ride into the realities of urban America, where racial alienation is still an
unwritten credo. Set in the desolate landscapes of a once proud Detroit,
Drazan carefully outlines the living conditions of its inhabitants by pur-
posely freezing his camera on multiple ruined sites strewn around the city,
then shifting it to the middle class world. Balancing the best and worst atti-
tudes of both blacks and whites, Drazan cooks up an authentic set of rela-
tionships between the two racial groups, with a spectrum ranging from re-
spect to utter hate. The bottom line is clear, though: races may mingle, but
never pair up.
Most of the characters are regulars of a Detroit downtown high school,
where the principal rules with a hand of steel. Yes, this is a cliche, and there
are quite a few more here. Many of the students are merely stock characters.
However, the stereotypes become believable in the high school setting, a
place where individual self-definition is essential.
Zack (Michael Rapaport), the focus of the story, is a Jewish boy who has
absorbed the walk and the talk of the urban hip hop culture. Devoted to his
music sampling experiments, he finds true friendship only in Dee (DeShonn
Castle), a good-natatred pal who sees no problem in his being black and
Zack white.
The problem arises'when Nikki (N'Bushe Wright), Dee's beautiful
cousin, moves into town. Zack is instantly attracted to her, and with Dee's
blessing they begin a stormy relationship. Predictably, Nut (Ron Johnson), a
half-crazy black schoolmate who has been expressing interest in Nikki, can-
not deal with this situation, leading up to the fihn's violent climax.
Up to, this point, the movie is little more than a routine love story, with

Sandy Smallens (far left) and the rest of Too Much Joyjust can't seem to
close their mouths. It's a rock & roll thing, you wouldn't understand.

Dances worth the wait

Zebrahead
Directed and written by Anthony Drazan; with Michael Rapaport,
DeShonn Castle, N'Bushe Wright, and Ron Johnson

its unbearable moments of seen-it-a-million-times-before seduction. After
the film's climax, "Zebrahead" gains momentum with newly-sparked dis-
cussions about the need for violence in the racial struggle for respect. In a
memorable classroom scene, the students voice their opinions, but one
question silences the rest: what does race matter when there is friendship
and love? The question remains unanswered, leaving it to the audience to
draw their own conclusions.
The cast, although virtually unknown, works well as a whole: Zack fol-
lows an interesting evolution from a self-absorbed, sweet-talking teenager to
a substantial, emotionally strengthened man. Rapaport's hollow eyes gain
character as events spin rapidly out of control. Nikki also quickly grows out
of her initial flirtatious, naive persona into a woman in desperate need of re-
spect for her love.
N'Bushe Wright carries an immediately noticeable aura of energy, which
she focuses well according to her emotional state. DeShonn Castle, Ron
Johnson and Ray Sharkey (as Zack's failed but generous father) also shine
in supporting roles.
The movie succeeds because it operates on a crescendo, and even though
the early parts are a little flimsy, the final scenes make it worthwhile, as
does the beautiful cinematography of Detroit - a Gotham City become
real. For a first effort, Drazan has created a work that gracefully combines
meaningful images with spirit of change. However you feel about the sub-
ject, you won't come out of the theater untouched.
ZEBRAHEAD is playing at Showcase.

by Alexandra Beller
They say that the longer you have
to wait for something, the higher
your expectations are. In the case of
"September Dances in Exile," wait-
ing until October to see the annual
Performance Network concert was
well worth it.
Without a doubt, the two high-
lights of the evening were "Mem-
ories of a Dog" by University Dance
major Jeremy Steward and an
untitled piece by MFA alumna
Jessica Shinn. Both choreographers
incorporated humor and drama and
managed to layer them so as to
intensify the effects of each.
In Steward's poignant and well-
focused work, we see the idea of a
lover's relationship cast through the
metaphor of an owner/pet. He wres-
tled with the concepts of control,
vulnerability and the gap between
expressing needs and having them
met. The humor was bitter, but not
taut; it had the sense of laughing at
oneself for being too serious. At the
same time, the truth of Steward's
message was undeniable and univer-
sal. His often sexual, often childlike,.
controlled and controlling move-
ments created a textured physical
score to rival the actual Dvorak
score. It found its way past the criti-
cal eye and through analysis and fi-
nally struck the audience to its core.
Shinn's work, set.to a hauntingly
beautiful Chopin nocturne, measured
witty moments and gestures against

an aching black hole feeling. Per-
formed by Steward and Kande Cul-
ver, it examined the cool, composed
facade that is cast above the pain-
fully isolated reality beneath. The
dancers were exquisite, combining
DANCE R EVIEW

September Dances
Performance Network
October 24, 1992
just the right amount of energy and
apathy.
Less successful was Barbara
Djules Boothe's "Echoes in the
Night," performed by Jazz Dance
Theater's Michelle Stauffer. The
choreography was straight out of a
classroom, the emotional tension
was strained and unjustified, and the
feeling was rather neurotic. "Best
Men," by Giles Brown had many
exciting and daring moments but
seemed, on the whole, under-re-
hearsed and lacking the visual music
to be in silence.
With combinations like Kevin
Clayborn's "Anima," a highly
charged sexual examination back-to-
back with Gordon VanAmburg's
"Kinetographic Study," a Cunning-
ham-esque trio which featured the
quality of the movement over the
personalities or emotions of the
dancers, the evening definitely kept
the audience's attention and was not
at a loss for applause.

approach to creating rock & roll,
from the cover photo of their first
tour bus being driven over a cliff, to
the name, "Mutiny,"as Smallens
explained:
"Everything about this new
record is about stripping things
down and there's something beauti-
ful about having a one word title that
just said to us what we're trying to
say with our music. Which is instead
of listening to people who are sup-
posed to know what they're talking
about and taking your orders from
RECORDS
Lou Reed
Magic and Loss Live
Warner Home Video
In some ways, "Magic and Loss
Live" is actually better than seeing
Lou in concert. The somber material
on the "Magic and Loss" album,
dealing with the death of two of
Reed's friends from cancer, didn't
always lend itself too well to a rock
'n' roll concert. Drunk bastards
would yell for their favorite Velvet
songs while Lou quietly intoned
lyrics about death.
yNow, with this "live" video shot
without a crowd in a studio, it's just
you and Lou. The intimacy of the
subject matter and Reed's delivery is
even stronger here. The production
is tastefully directed, without any
flashy cutting or special effects to
distract from the effect. It's not
nearly as exciting as Talking Heads'
great "Stop Making Sense," but it is

others, trying to take things into your
own hands. I mean, not in such a
pretentious manner but really it's
about overcoming restraints that
have been created by other people ..
And it's a cool word and it looks
good on a bumper sticker."
TOO MUCH JOY will be performing
tonight with Material Issue and the
Mighty Lemondrops at Industry in
Pontiac. Tickets are $8.50 and doors
open at 7 p.m. The show is 18 and
over. Call 763-TKTS.

a quiet pleasure.
And Reed's not one to simply re-
hash studio recordings. Lou doesn't
recite lyrics; he delivers them,
spontaneously and sincerely, lending
a freshness to the songs.
This fresh approach is especially
evident in the half hour of old songs
at the end of the tape. Unlike aging
rockers like Paul McCartney who
feebly rehash their fans' favorites,
Reed manages to breathe new life
into "Sweet Jane" and, especially,
"Rock 'n' Roll." Adding Jimmy
Scott's amazing falsetto (heard in
"The Power and the Glory" on
"Magic and Loss") to "Dirty Blvd."
and "Walk on the Wild Side" helps
considerably. For those who missed
the recent tour, or for those who
want a perfect distillation of it,
"Magic and Loss Live" finds Lou at
his best.
-Michael John Wilson

Write it. Read it.
Recycle itl
The Michigan Daily

THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Look fo t in the
Clas iedsr
(they really work!)

Taking tests, Finding Recommenders
Writing Personal Statements and Filling Out Applications
Wednesday, October 28,4:30 -6:00 pm
Wedge Room, West Quad, 541 Thompson Street
Undergraduate Psychology Peer Advising Program
K-210 West Quad, 764-2580
PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT

PROCTER & GAMBLE
PURCHASES
UNDERGRADUATE RECRUITING
Tuesday, October 27th
Recruiting Session A- 10:00 -11:30 a.m.
Resume Workshop - 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Recruiting Session B - 2:30 - 4:00p.m.

KMiLv IVIv431 %turkLlrlLv 0

11

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