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October 21, 1993 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-10-21

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4- The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, October 21, 1993

The love song of J. Alfred Heidelberg

I've always hated the idea of reading my
poetry to a group of people. I'm terrified of stand-
ing in a central spot with all eyes fixed on me.
What if I get up on stage only to find that I have the
stage presence and articulation skills of a dead
otter? On the flip side, what if I'm too animated
and charismatic and runaround stage not realizing
thatmy nose is running orthatmy fly is unzipped?
What if the microphone is too tall and in adjusting
it I accidentally blow out the audience's eardrums
with a shocking amplified noise, sounding more
like an siren than a technical difficulty?
Because of these irrational fears, no one was
more surprised than I when I announced my
intentions to read at Club Heidelberg's poetry
slam. After some prodding from my supportive
housemates, I realized that writers need practice
and exposure to bolster their confidence. Besides,
I thought, it will be dark and perhaps nobody will
recognize me if I bomb.
The bar is dark, butnot dark enough. The wood
tables are illuminated by peripheral lights and the
microphone on stage is in its predicted conspicu-
ous spot. Readers cannot avoid being clearly seen
and heard. No small crevice in which to take cover
in case of failure.
The man at the door sees my crestfallen face
and smiles at me as I ask where to sign my name
to read -an encouraging smile that seems to say,
don't worry about this because poetry is subjec-
tive and some people in the audience might think
it sucks but others will laud you as the next female
muse and who cares what these people will think
anyway because not everybody can be a
Shakespeare or a Seamus Heaney so stop shaking
like a silly schoolgirl and write your stupid name
on the damn list because you're holding up the
fucking line!
Of course, I could have been reading into it a
The bar is packed so I slink into a front row
seat. The people all around me are engaged in
typical bar rituals, making merriment while I stare

flatly atmy unopened notebook. Soon my favorite
"guy smiley" emerges and announces the first
reader, a regular feature and a talented musician.
I stare blankly as a 20-something woman ap-
pears on stage playing a harp. My trepidation
intensifies. I can't read after her, I say to myself.
I don't even have a harp. I don't even know how
to play any instrument except the clarinet and
after two years of lessons I could only play "Mary
Had a Little Lamb" and that sounded so cacopho-
nous my parents made me practice in the garage...
"When I lost the baby, blood poured out of me
..." The melodious voice of the musician sharply
contrasted with her graphic words. She certainly
didn't have to worry about being compared to a
dead otter. I question why I am here and consider
...Because of these irrational
fears, no one was more
surprised than I when I
announced my Intentions to
read at Club Heidelberg's
poetry slam.
crossing out my name. But Guy Smiley is holding
all the reader cards, and getting his attention
would probably be more difficult that learning
how to play the harp within the next 10 minutes.
I look up again and a young blonde man has
taken the stage. Oh good, I thought, he's probably
a nervous young English major, just like me. But
he is not like me. He is eloquent and confident and
people are encapsulated by his command over
language. The fact that he can do all this without
a musical instrument only exacerbates my situa-
tion. Oh God, Oh God, Oh ...
"O ... hio welcomes you!" The next reader
bellows into the microphone as he launches into a
soliloquy on the finer points of our neighboring
state. I have personally never felt so welcomed by
Ohio, with its seemingly endless turnpike satu-

rated with speed traps, industrial parks and towns
with names like Zanesville. Yet I would give
anything to be there right now.
I think about stopping with my family at the
Big Boy's between Mile Post 138 and 139 (we
always go there, for lack of a better turnpike
dining establishment in that fetid state) on our way
to Ann Arbor from Pittsburgh. I think about eating
delicious pancakes at 10:00p.m. (breakfast served
all day) and wonder if the waitress recognizes us
from the last time. Speaking of Big Boy's, I am
getting kind of hungry ...
"Our next reader ..."
Wake up. Come out of your stuporous Ohio
fantasy. This is your time! You can do it. Go!
I get up as I hear Guy Smiley mutilate my last
name. I don't bother to correct him as I take the
stage. I ask him to adjust the microphone for me,
in light of my fear of technology. He smiles again
and then leaves the stage.
Now I am alone. A whole night of fear and
anxiety culminates in this moment. The audience
is attentive but they are not smiling. The way I see
it, I have two choices: I can read or,-I can run.
"This poem is called ..." I hear my voice but
cannot believe it is really me. I have started, and
I cannot turn back. I cannot pay attention to the
intonations of my voice but I think I sound okay.
I look occasionally at the audience but mostly do
not move my eyes from my poem.
I am calm by the time I deliver the last line. As
my stiff legs walk off stage I can vaguely hear
In 20 long-short seconds it is all over. I touch
my nose. It isn't running. I look down and my
zipper is zipped. Nobody's eardrums seem para-
lyzed by a technical sonic boom. I sit down, still
shaking in aftershock that I actually did it. And
now my moment is over and guy smiley is butch-
ering someone else's name. It is all over. I breathe
a sigh of relief.
"That was really good," my housemate assures
me. "Were you nervous?"
"Naw," I shrugged confidently. "Not at all."

Dennis Miller's not laughing

Continued from page 1
headquarters. But I wouldn't say
I'm politically active. While I do vote,
I find politics frustrating because noth-
ing ever seems to get done.")
While comedians are making
names for themselves all over prime
time network television, this very
venue is one that Miller has happened
to avoid. Barring some irresistible
offer, he intends to keep himself clear
of the sit-com phenom. "I like Jerry
(Seinfeld)'s show, but I never think
sit-com. Maybe I will in the future, if
I find other avenues closed tome. But
that's not my first choice of things to
Right now Miller's first choice
also seems to be his only choice, tour-
ing the country in order to accrue
enough material to do an HBO spe-

cial next year, hence his visit to Hill
Auditorium tonight.
But why the push to get back to
work when Miller is "having such a
great time"?
"I'm an adult who's got to support
his family. I'm in no huge rush to start
working again. But I should probably
start sniffing around.
"I might consider going back to
late night if that were an option, but I
just don't sense that that's going to
happen. You might as well live in the
real world."
A task that must be difficult, for
the real world is not always kind to
comedians. Even those who look the
best behind their imposing, ma-
hogany desks.
DENNIS MILLER will perform
tonight at 8p.m. at Hill Auditorium.
Tickets are $10 and are available at
the Michigan Union ticket counter.


Really, 'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia,' please

With a title like "Bring Me the
Head of Alfredo Garcia," you prob-
ably think that you know what to
expect. A bunch of guys running after
this Garcia guy and at the end he
either gets away or he eats it. Wrong,

all wrong. The reason that particular
plot synopsis could never happen is

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Garcia" is similar to early Peckinpah
films like "The Wild Bunch" in its
extreme violence and decadent char-
acters. The film differs, however, in
the way the protagonist is drawn out.
Warren Oates certainly doesn' tcower
away from violence, buthe'snotprone
to it like his character in "The Wild
Bunch." He just wants to get out of
Mexico and try to start over again.
Oates plays this loser with so much
conviction that it's difficult not to feel
happy for him when the film finally
The film also doesn't contain as
much violence as "The Wild Bunch."
Peckinpah is creating a bizarre road
movie, featuring two of the coolest
cars in film history. We know almost
from the start that Oates is far from
perfect. "Nobody loses all the time,"
he says at the beginning. But by the
time Oates stops losing it doesn't
matter. He has lost everything and all
his new triumphs become pathetic
moments ofmachismo and death. And

and nothing is ever simple in a
Peckinpah movie.
Warren Oates stars in this film as
the consummate loser. He's stuck in
Mexico playing the piano in a crappy
bar. He sees his chance to escape his
lowly life when two men come into
the barlooking for Alfredo Garcia. Or
rather, for his head. Oates thinks he
knows where Garcia is sohe jumps at
the chance and makes the biggest
mistake of his life.
"Bring Me the Head of Alfredo

no triumph will ever be big enough.
He's lost too much to fill the void.
The violence the film does con-
tain is much like Peckinpah's film
"Straw Dogs." It's exciting and cool
to watch the protagonist killing all of
these people, but the reasoning be-
hind the murdering is dense. It's im-
possible to ever figure out if the ac-
tions of a Peckinpah protagonist are
"right." And that's the beauty of a
Peckinpah movie. The complications
of the protagonist bleed into the audi-
ence, making them as guilty or heroic
as the film's main character.
For fans of action-adventure auteur
John Woo, "Bring Me the Head of
Alfredo Garcia" is a must see. Woo
admits that Peckinpah is a huge influ-
ence and watching this or any other
Peckinpah film makes it obvious. The
quick cutting editing style of the vio-
lence combined with deep melodrama
is as evident in "Garcia" as it is in
"The Killer."
At least two of the popular movie
guides in bookstores claim that
"Garcia" is for Peckinpah fans only.
That may be, but it's more than likely
that after you rent "Garcia" you'll be
back for "The Wild Bunch"or "Straw
Dogs" next weekend.
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