The Michigan Daily Friday, March 26,1993 Page 8
Banned 'Deception' tells truth about Just Cause
by Michelle L. Weger
The official United States govern-
ment figure stands at about 250. The
United Nations said it was near 2,500.
Local and international human rights
organizations estimated the number to
be closer to 3-4,000. So how many
people really died as aresult of the U.S.
The Panama Deception
Directed by David Kasper and
invasion ofPanamainDecember 1989?
Oscar nominee "The Panama Decep-
tion," a 1992 documentary which ex-
amines the media's representation of
Operation Just Cause, raises this ques-
tion and many others. So many and so
graphically, in fact, that although the
banon showing the filmin Panama was
lifted earlier this week, our own Public
Broadcasting System has refused to
The film was produced by the Em-
powerment Project (based until very
recently in Santa Monica, California,
but currently moving to its new head-
quarters in North Carolina), written and
directed by David Kasper and Barbara
Trent, who founded the organization in
1984. Using interviews with everyone
from lecturer / author Michael Parenti
to Pentagon spokesperson Pete Will-
iams, as well as clips from television
news reports, archival footage, video
from the Department of Defense and
original footage, taken by Panamanian
cameraperson Manuel Becker during
andafter the invasion, KasperandTrent
have created a disturbing portrait of
U.S. intervention in Panama.
Brave documentary reveals U.S. cover-up
In a telephone interview from her
home in Southern California, Trent said
that the goal of the film was not only to
raise awareness about the invasion, but
to point out that the mainstream media
deliberately misled the public. Viewers
and readers were fed tidbits of informa-
tion, but, "the media didn't put things in
context," she said. "We didn't compre-
hend the meaning of the event."
Take, for instance, the very reason
for the invasion. Ostensibly, the U.S.
was interested in apprehending Manuel
Noriega, commander of the Panama-
nian Defense Forces and ruler of the
Central American nation, whom a
Florida Grand Jury had charged with
drug trafficking. But "Deception" con-
vincingly advances the argument that
the Bush administration was actually
more concerned with keeping control
of a ten-mile strip of land known as the
Canal Zone, which was to be turned
over to the Panamanian government in
2000. While the mainstream media fo-
cused on the hunt for and eventual cap-
ture of "strongman" Noriega, they con-
veniently ignored the fact that while
Bush headed the CIA from 1976-1980,
Noriega collected a nice salary (raised
by Bush during his tenure) from the
Agency for his services as an informant
and, later, for his role in coordinating
weapons supplies to Nicaraguan Contra
bases in Costa Rica.
The coverage of the invasion itself
was similarly skewed. To be sure, the
Pentagon made it nearly impossible for
journalists to present accurately the
events of December 20,1989. The 16-
person press-pool didn't reach Panama
until four hours after the first attacks,
and were unable to leave the U.S. mili-
tary base where they were housed until
a day-and-a-half later. After that, they
were not allowed to go to certain areas
and not permitted to film certain things.
But it wasn't just the U.S. media that
were bullied. Radio and television sta-
tions in the capital city were taken over
by U.S. troops; an independent Pana-
film said that U.S. soldiers ordered him
to expose the roll of film in his camera
after they had seen him take pictures of
dead bodies lying in the street.
I dare you to see this
film - to watch images
of 20,000 people left
homeless, of bombed
and torched barrios, of
bodies being exhumed
from mass graves
which our own
existed - and to come
away from it
"The Panama Deception" attacks
not only our government's policy of
limiting the amount and kind of infor-
mation which reached theU.S., but also
what Parenti calls in the film the media's
"almost total collaboration" with that
policy. He also argues that the threat to
U.S. corporate interests in Panama was
a motive behind the invasion and the
media's misleading view of it. It's not
just that the media are deferential to
corporate America, he says, but that,
"The media are corporate America."As
he says this, the camera tilts up the great
tower of Rockefeller Center, home of
the General Electric-owned NBC.
In our interview, Trent stressed how
important it is that information consum-
ers think critically about their sources.
Shunningthe "revolving door" between
the White House, Pentagon and net-
Pete Williams, who, as a Pentagon
spokesperson, appeared in the film to
justify the military's actions, will be
taking a position as a correspondent
with ABC's Washington Bureau. She
also questioned the veracity of opinion
polls taken during both Operation Just
Cause and the Gulf War which showed
that the public felt that reporters should
be kept away from sensitive areas to
protect national security, and which
seemed to suggest that the public pre-
ferred to waive its right to know. "If
that's true, then why do people take the
time to go out to theaters to see this
film?" she challenged.
I dare you to see this film-towatch
images of 20,000 people left homeless,
of bombed and torched barrios, of bod-
ies being exhumed from mass graves
which our own government denied ex-
isted - and to come away from it
THE PANAMA DECEPTION opens
tonight at the Michigan Theater, as a
benefit for the Interfaith Councilfor
Peace & Justice, with a reception at
6:00 pm and the film at 7.00. $10!
$8,and March 29-31, $5/$4.
The Names of the Lost
Southern Methodist University Press
There is a certain fear most people
have ofbeinglost, ofbeing separated by
circumstances from the people you love
and the person you were. With a lesser
author, this idea could easily have come
across as trite and melodramatic. Liza
Wieland has written a haunting novel,
one which comments on human nature
and human relationships with extraor-
dinary insight and delicacy.
"The Names Of The Lost,"
Wieland's debut novel, is set in Atlanta,
Georgia in the summer of 1980. It was
asummer plagued with thekidnappings
and murders of black children. The fact
of these murders is not always central to
the various storylines.Indeed, they serve
characters. Though they are not always
the main focus, the murders do much to
aggravate each characters' feelings of
insecurity and desperation.
Wieland tells the stories of several
characters. There is no one storyline.
Her novel is, essentially, a symphony of
voices. Each character, nine in all, ap-
pears at least twicethroughout the novel.
All of the various characters' voices
weave throughout the text exploring
their own personal dramas and those of
their friends and enemies. Each charac-
ter feeds his or her story to the reader
slowly, a bit at a time, and the different
allow for variety and renewed interest
every few pages.
"The Panama Deception," shows Bush isn't such a foreign policy genius.
Serpent's Tooth Theatre presents
the premiere of "Josie!" a musical
comedy about a TV news anchor's
first visit to a psychotherapist. The
play is written by Ann Arbor native
Kenn Pierson. "Josie!" will be per-
formed from March 17-28 at the
Sheraton Inn. Call 437-3264.
'Tampopo," a 1986 Japanese hit
about the love of food, comes to Ann
Arbor this weekend. The film is a
series of zany comic vignettes. It's
playing tonightandtomorrow nightat
8'p.m. at the MLB 3. Then stay for
"Slacker,' the defining movie of our
so-called "Generation X."It's about a
bunch of college students who just
sort of hang out and offer their phi-
losophies on the art of film and every-
thing else for anyone who'll care to
listen. Sound like anybody you know?
Check it out.
B is for Mr. B
If you're not into basketball and
NCAAtournaments, try Mr. B, (actu-
ally, Mark Braun) who is widely rec-
ognized as one of the most exciting
young players of classic tunes by Lux
Lewis, Jimmy Yancy and Brother
Montgomery as well as others. The
show's at 8 p.m. at the Ark. Call 763-
Gamelan comes to
'U' from Java
by Keren Schweitzer
Gamelan music is not something one typically hears in the United States. It is
the traditional music from the Indonesian island of Java which was originally
performed in ancient courts hundreds of years ago. That's why it is such a treat to
have the University Gamelan ensemble performing this ancient music tonight at
Rackham. Under the direction of Marc Benamou, a graduate student in
ethnomusicology, theGamelanensemble willperformtraditionalGamelanmusic
on original instruments from Java. The concert is being performed in conjunction
with the chapter meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology taking place in Ann
Arbor this weekend.
Gamelan music began in the Javanese courts, but "there has always been much
interaction between the Java village tradition and the courts," Benamou said. The
music was originally sacred, but nowadays, "I can think ofonly one piece ofmusic
that is completely sacred," Benamou said. Gamelan music is used for all ritual
celebrations in Java, and it is still widely listened to by most Javanese adults.
Gamelan music is used for all ritual celebrations
in Java, and it is still widely listened to by most
The Gamelan ensemble consists of a large percussion section of bronze
instruments, a bowed fiddle or rebab, a female vocalist and sometimes a dancer.
The instruments are divided into three musical functions: those instruments
marking time, those thatplay the balungan, or themelody, and those thatfillin with
musical elaboration. This music is based on two tuning systems, the pelog and the
slendro. The ensemble consists of anywhere from 14 to 24 players.
Gamelan music is arranged in a timed cycle marked by the hitting of the large
gong. These time cycles expand and contract according to the drummer's
indications. Player interaction is extremely important in Javanese music, and
"there is much flexibility in the performance," Benamou said. Nevertheless,
according to Benamou, "some parts in the ensemble are harder than others."
Tonight's concert will consist of several Gamelan ensemble pieces as well as
avocal piece and two dance pieces performed by dancers Esti Nugraheni and Gina
Buntz. In addition, "The Alyssa Variations," written in 1987 by Alex Lubet, will
be performed by the Creative Arts Orchestra using Gamelan instruments.
The novel begins with the voices
of three young women, best friends, and
the rest of the characters spring from
one of these women- a boyfriend, a co-
worker, etc. There is Robbie Lynn, an
18 year old girl left alone with her
brother by the death of their parents.
Her best friend, Noreen, and her boy-
friend, Ray, are siblings who have, quite
literally, lost their father who has left
them in hopes of pursuing other things.
Finally, Gus deals with the death of her
boyfriend, B illy March, struck down by
lightning just the summer before.
Wieland has fashioned her char-
acters with care, and she treats their
personal issues with delicacy and re-
spect. She is quietly honest in her
storytelling, never sensationalizing their
dramas with overwritten prose. Suffer-
ing is common toall in the world Wieland
has created, yet each voice is distinct
adding new perspective with sincerity.
Wieland's characters never become te-
dious because she does notrestrict them
to thoughts about their own grief. They
are very much alive even in the midst of
all of their confusion. Their comments
on human nature are wise and insight-
ful. "It kind of makes you sick inside,
the way people always like to brag
about being close to tragedy like they're
hungry for sorrow they think they won't
ever get in this world," says Gus.
There is terror in this novel, and it
isnotalways restricted to fear of the one
kidnapper/murderer. There is the terror
of having to shed childhood too early,
and having to do it alone. The smaller
children in the novel are terrified of
being snatched. Robbie Lynn's younger
brother refuses to get fingerprinted be-
cause he thinks the police are trying to
paint him black, trying to make him a
target for the kidnapper.
The older characters are afraid of
others being snatched from them -
their parents, their friends. Wieland
heightens this sense of mistrust and fear
brilliantly by making nature serve as a
mirror to mankind. Oftentimes, a famil-
iar lake or river is characterized as being
as deceitful and enticing, as nurturing
and as dangerous as the people in these
"The Names of The Lost" is a star-
tling journey into the minds of nine
people, lost in the mire of fear. The
novel is, quite obviously, not a light
read. However, Wieland makes the ef-
fort infinitely worthwhile. Their voices
slip in and out of the text, as elusive as
each character's sense of self and place.
Her characters are sewn together and
ripped apart by the events of the story.
Wieland is particularly adept at cre-
ating the dynamics among her charac-
ters with subtlety. Wieland's writing is
gorgeous.There is acertainmusic toher
language, and her writing is often more
poetry than prose. Wieland's style is
also both simple and controlled, modest
even. The great irony in the powerful
"The Names of the Lost" is the fact that
this writing style is used to describe
some of the mostheinous events and the
most terrifying revelations.
- Cara Solomon
THE UNIVERSiTY OF MICHIGAN GAMELAN.ENSEMBLE will perform
tonight at 8 p.m. at Rackham Auditorium. Admission is free.
Summer Session '93
Think or swim.
Our multicourse registration discount
saves you 20 percent on two courses,
25 percent on three or more.
Call 1-800-FINDS NU (in Illinois, call
708/491-4114) or mail this coupon.
I'm thinking. Send me a free copy of
the Summer Session '93 catalog with
financial aid and registration information
(available in March). Please send the
catalog to 0 my home 0 my school.
Summer Session, 2003 Sheridan Road
Evanston. Illinois 60208-2650
WRITE ABOUT CLASSICAL MUSICI
DISCOUNTED STUDEN~T fARES1
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