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December 09, 1992 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-12-09

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-ARTS
'The Michigan Daily Wednesday, December 9,1992 Page 5
WIhiHAT An angry and spiteful journey to HAL and back

Road to Nirvana
Finally! An "alternative"
rock primer that educates and
informs the legions of freshly
converted alternateens (resplen-
dent in those store-bought
Nirvana tour shirts) on what
being punk rock in the '90s is
all about. The movie "1991:
The Year Punk Broke" will
thrill college rockists at the
Michigan Theater this Thursday
through December 26th. Follow
Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore
as he takes us on the road and
onstage with Nirvana, Dinosaur
Jr., and other garage rock
seminals. Wear a flannel and
bask in the glory of being
cooler than us.

by Jeff Rosenberg
"We have to call ourselves industrial,
'cause there's no other word," growls Myk
Willis, the throaty lead vocalist for HAL.
Willis inhales an entire pack of Camel Wide
Lights while seated in the comfy chair in my
basement. HAL is an angry, spiteful, ear-split-
ting band consisting of members from Ann
Arbor and Rochester.
It was born out of "communal dissatisfac-
tion," spits Michael Madill, HAL's behemoth
guitarist and chief songwriter, as he rips all my
CDs off the wall searching for his demo tape.
Programming addict Robert "Bob"
McCarroll paces back and forth through the
cloud of smoke emitted from Willis' mouth.
He elaborates on the nature of his technique,
which revolves around an Atari ST computer
and a mound of wires and gadgets so large
even a techno-geek like myself has trouble un-
derstanding exactly what went on during the
creation of "Pincushion," the first track on
their tape, which sounds a lot like ...
Sample slinger Justin Mysza threatens to

kick me in the head when I try to compare
HAL. He begins to sing an obscure industrial
tune in a Kermit the frog voice. This all im-
pedes my understanding of HAL's creative
process.
"See, we get fucked over, then we write a
song about it," grimaces McCarroll. The others
nod in agreement. Willis coughs. HAL's au-
tomaton drummer, Timothy "Clock" Flynn,
sits on a bar stool playing air drums to their
demo tape churning from my stereo, which
Madill has managed to find.
McCarroll continues, "but seriously, we
keep Mike in a cage and sit around drinking
beer telling him he can join us when he writes
some good lyrics."
Listening to the intricacy of HAL's demo,
"Downtime," leads me to believe that a great
deal more is involved than beer and a cage.
Grating bell sounds and crunched guitar leap
across the stereo field. Willis' vocals screech
along, in addition to the beats of Clock Flynn
and mechanical apparatus. "Yeah I've really
gone and done it this time / sticking pins in my

mind / a psychological voodoo doll." HAL
uses and credits samples from the stuff of Mr.
Rogers, Genesis, Stanley Kubrick, and
Machines of Loving Grace. I could swear I
hear some "Star Trek" music in there some-
where, too, but I'm not sure.
"Jerry Goldsmith," Willis barks..
A pleasantly grating surprise is the second
track on HAL's demo, a ripping cover of the
Violent Femmes' "Gone Daddy Gone." If it's
staid rehashes you want, these aren't the guys
to listen to. The flip side of the tape contains
two instrumental numbers - "One Down" and
"The Radio is Still Dead." Madill's guitar
scorches through "One Down" to the eventual
accompaniment of the HAL 9000 (if you'd
been looking any references to "2001," here
they are). It is these unique sounds that have
led HAL to receive fine audience response at
both the Majestic and St. Andrew's, where
they recently opened for industrial icons Noc
Barrage.
"We use the highest technology available to
us to express the lowest common denominator

of human feeling," Willis states.
"Yeah," Mysza snarls, "But live, the band
is more of a blistering show of industrial mind-
candy."
Live, HAL incorporates video imager
Kevin Leeser and other sundry effects. At the
show I attended at the Gallery in Detroit,
Mysza's keyboard found its way to the floor
more than once, and Willis' mic stand wrecked
one of their 8mm projectors. These and other
projectors made members of HAL look like
somebody was beaming them in from Pluto.
HAL thrives on live performance. Fortunately
I escaped the mosh pit before Willis jumped in
and acquired another of his many scars.
Willis wolfs another pack of Camels as I
ask about the future of HAL.
"We're gonna spend New Years' Eve with
a few thousand others in Grand Rapids," whis-
pers Mysza. "Call 741-HYPR for details."
HAL plays the Ritz in Roseville on December
30th. Call 778-8150 (or 741-HYPR) for infor-
mation.

0

Various Artists
Freedom of Choice
Caroline Records
Remember rushing home from
school to catch "MV3," blowing
your lunch money on checkered
high-tops, or living your life to the
credo espoused by "Square Pegs"
new wave Spicoli, Johnny Slash?
Too bad, cuz I do, and those were
times well worth remembering.
Thanks to "Freedom of Choice," a
compilation of underground bands
covering early '80s new wave clas-
sics (yes, classics) you too can be
transported back to the SPM
(Siouxsie pre-menopause) days of
plastic pants and flowerpot hats.
Sonic Youth shredding Plastic
Bertrand ("Ca Plane Pour Moi"),
Tiny Light's monster take on Iggy
Pop ("5 1""), Polvo sprinkling their
Chapel Hill guitar histrionics all
over Wall of Voodoo ("Mexican
Radio") - listening to "Freedom of
Choice" brings a tear to the eye.
It'Ws impossible to choose stand-
out cuts here - From Erectus
Monotone's basement bop version
of Missing Persons' "Destination
Unknown" to It's O.K.'s A.M. radio
static transmission of A Flock of
Seagulls' "Wishing," "Freedom of
Choice" will reduce ya to a non-stop
pile of mindless pogoing jelly.
My friends have been laughing at
me for months, ever since I began
insisting that a new wave revival is
just around the corner. Go ahead and
snicker, ye of little faith. Ten bucks
and a Haircut 100 45 say that soon
enough, USA Today will be report-
ing on the new phenomenon of kids
pogoing in skinny ties to Bow Wow
Wow. Find yourself some wrap-
around shades and be first in line.
-Scott Sterling
Beverly Hills, 90210
The Soundtrack
<Giant Records
The TV show is definitely a
cheese-soaked, campy good time.
No such luck with the soundtrack.
It's nothing more than a bunch of
tired, schmaltzy Top 40 crapola.
You get lame songs from the usual
suspects (Paula Abdul, Color Me

But what comes after
Nutcrac ker Barbie?
by Darcy Lockman
She's chic. She's glamorous. She's everything you'd expect from an up-
town doll. She knows just where the best shopping is. She's Madison
Avenue Barbie and she's $65 in the 1992 F.A.O. Schwarz catalogue. Six-
five.
It gets better - Nutcracker Barbie, the second in a series of musical
prima ballerina Barbies. Dressed as the Sugarplum Fairy, she stands on a
rotating box that plays "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy." $120.:I sold
my last car for less than that.
But wait, there's more. Madison Avenue Barbie and Nutcracker Barbie
have an expensively clad Barbie buddy, Empress Bride Barbie. And since
Barbie's wedding is naturally the most important event in her life, she can
only marry in the best attire - the best being a Bob Mackie gown, tulle
with a brocade overskirt and bodice embroidered in gold, with sequins and
faux pearl beads. Fully accessorized with beaded tiara and floor length veil,
earrings, necklace and bouquet. $260. Two-six-zero. Uh huh.
Now I don't know about your former Barbie habits, but the only thing
my friends and I used to do with our Barbies was cut off their hair and re-
vamp their clothing. Since these buxom blond pieces of rubber only cost
around seven bucks in my Barbie days, the ramifications of this destruction
were simply my parents' refusal to buy me more. I can hardly see a parent
being so understanding about the desecration of a $260 blond bombshell.
Hey, I can hardly see anyone spending that much.
But apparently people are. According to Cathy, at the F.A.O. Schwarz 1-
800 number, phones have been ringing off the hook for the last few weeks,
with as many as 300 customers waiting on the lines at once. And while not
every one of them is ordering Barbie, a significant number are.
I suppose the high price of these special Barbies only reflects the valu-
able end result they produce, teaching little girls everything they should as-
pire to be. Good shoppers, graceful dancers and beautiful brides. Uh huh.
Being on this campus inherently distorts reality, convincing us all that
the. world is changing quickly, and in a politically correct direction.
- Increased concern about the environment, raised consciousness about -isms,
t replacement of the blond-haired, blue-eyed, anorexic Barbie by the
t multicultural, realistically proportioned Happy to be Me Doll.
And then a glossy mailer from F.A.O. Schwarz ends up in your mailbox
s like a bad reality check. Happy to be Me didn't even make the catalogue.
- Does this mean people outside of Ann Arbor are still using Styrofoam cups
t too?
s Now who am I to say that those who can afford it and want their little
- girls (or boys - yeah, whatever) to be the inspired owners of these
megabuck kill-the-self-image Barbs should not indulge? Far be it from me
to question the American consumer's non-negotiable right to spend.
It's just that $65, or $120, or $260 seems like an inordinately ridiculous
- amount to spend on a carefully molded pound of plastic to place underneath
the Christmas tree. (Yes, these blond haired, blue eyed dolls are undoubt-
edly only meant for placement under large fir trees in the best of blond
haired, blue eyed neighborhoods.)
Apparently F.A.O. Schwarz and their many customers don't find these
cash amounts so silly. And they say we're in a recession.
When Barbie's price hits triple digits, you've got to wonder what's com-
ing next. Hundred dollar Mr. Potato Heads? Thousand dollar Candyland
Sets?
But hey, she does know where the best shopping is, she looks great in a
tutu and she's about to become Mrs. Barbie. If only my own resume were so
full..

In days of old, when knights were bold ... um, well, back in the '80s, remember these Missing Persons? Erectus
Monotone cover "Destination Unknown" in "Freedom of Choice," the hot-off-the-press '80s new-wave colectip.n.

.r- i..

Badd) and some newcomers to the
world of lousy assembly-line gunk
(Jeremy Jordan, Geoffery Williams).
The one redeeming track is John
Davis' overblown, kitschy theme
song. This, along with babe-o-
licious pix of Donna, Dylan, ad
nauseum, are almost enough to
redeem the CD.
Yeah, right.
- Scott Sterling
The Devil Dogs
We Three Kings
Crypt
"Come on kids! Everybody
ready? We're going down to ROCK
CITY! !!!" The opening shouts of
"Rock City U.S.A." define The

Devil Dogs' music, just as "Kick out
the jams, motherfuckers!" did for the
MC5.
The Devil Dogs play a brand of,
loud, fast rock and roll that derives
much of its energy from the Ra-
mones but retains the boogie funda-
mentals of blues bands. "We Three
Kings" features eight songs written
by the band members and one cover,
which is the'best of the lot: "I'm So
Young," the doo-wop classic remade
with heavy guitars; Fabulous Andy
G.'s New York accent lends a touch
of nostalgia for the Schoolboys.
The rest of the songs are simi-
larly thrilling. The band plays with
fervor and skill (Crazy Stevie Bass'
bass work is outstanding) and sings
with abandon (pitching in on some

cool stretched-out harmonies, just
like the Long Ryders), making every
song into a high-impact rave up. The
lyrics are unintelligible (that's not as
bad as it sounds, because the song ti
tIes are vaguely threatening) but it
doesn'.t natter when. there's this
much fun happening. The enthusi
asm the Devil Dogs have for simply
playing together translates onto the
vinyl into danceable, listenable
thrills.
There's lots of energy and ex-
citement on "We Three Kings";
they're probably even better live.
"We Three Kings" is available
from Crypt Records International
Hopfenstrasse 32, 2000 Hamburg.
Germany.
- Steven Knowlton

Twiie Lite: broken dreams and dumb Americans

by Anabel Sherwood
"BAD" is more than a song by
Michael Jackson, Old Milwaukee
beer, or the checks you write to pay
the bills. According to Paul Fussell
in "Bad: or the Dumbing of
America," "BAD" is, "something
Bad: or, the Dumbing
of America
Paul Fussell
Simon & Shuster
phoney, clumsy, witless, untalented,.
vacant or boring that many
Americans can be persuaded is gen-
uine, graceful, bright or fascinating."
For example, "Twinkie Lites" are
bjust plain bad. By insidiously assum-
Ing the guise of low-calorie diet
* jood, these tasty little lard cakes be-
tome BAD.

strated by salespeople paid on com-
mission. BAD also abounds in books'
with "healing" in the title, and wall-
paper that simulates shelves of
books. In the chapter, "BAD places,"
Fussell notes "places in West
Virginia where the waitress serving
you will have no teeth at all and
where you will be urged to buy
jewelry made of little lumps of
coal." Their general rule for
BADness is that the thing under
consideration must achieve the fur-
thest distance possible between how
it is presented and what it really is.
In the chapter "The Dumbing of
America," Fussell attributes the
prevalence of BADness in American
society to a culture dependent on
TV, and the decline of the educa-
tional system. He cites the 60 million
functional illiterates in American
society. Fussell also notes what is
Qnite nossibly the enitome of BAD

L

examine them. For instance, the
chapter "BAD people," primarily
lists names of celebrities and politi-
cians who are offensive to Fussell.
He also complains about a lot of
things that aren't, as he suggests,
glaring indications of widespread
stupidity. He assumes that any intel-
ligent person already knows which
side of the check to endorse without
being shown, and ruminates over the
appearance of "Spell-Right" in
typewriters. Although the premise of
this book is valuable, the argument
against the superficiality of Amer-
ican culture dissipates into self-
indulgent quips and generalizations.
In the concluding chapter, Fussell
states that, "the only recourse is the
laugh at the BAD. If you don't,
you're going to have to cry." "BAD"
A A MIT i ! i e

gives humorous commentary about
American tackiness and plasticity,
but the book's arguments seldom get
past the surface, committing the
crime it denounces by packaging to-
gether consumerism, political cor-
ruption, and petty annoyances under
the simplified category of BAD.
AIR FORCE ROTC UNITS
FILLED TO CAPACITY
NOT!
Don't believe everything you hear.
The Air Force continues to seek
outstanding students to fill future
officer requirements. See yourself
becoming a leader, graduating
from college as an Air Force
officer with fully developed
qualities of character and
managerial ability. Notice, too,
Ia. s-sr-vr- nts _ , ir is a t

_

. ee 4eRd

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