Page 8-The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition-Arts-Thursday, September 9, 1993
The jewel in the crown of A2
by Alison J. Levy
You've heard it all before. "When I
was young, I walked twenty miles
through ablazing snowstormjust to get
to school," or "We used to make our
own toys out of toilet paper rolls and
to eat fishcakes everyday and liked it."
Okay. Maybe the last two aren't so
common, butone thing you can bet your
parents did in the 'ole days was spend
many an afternoon at the movie palaces
checking out the latest serials and flicks
from their matinee idols. So, in this era
of buses, Sega Genesis and Lean Cui-
sines, the only way to bridge this gen-
eration gap is to head to the Michigan
Theater for a movie or two.
A recent interview with Michigan
Theater director Russ Collins revealed
the long and fabled history of the Ann
Arbor monument to movies. This au-
thentic cinema palace on Liberty Street
is one of the last remaining structures of
its kind in the country.
In the late 1920s, Angelo Pulos, a
Greek immigrant, decided to open a
theater in this area. He commissioned
architect Maurice Finkle to design the
elaborate facility. At the time, silent
movies were the norm, and vaudeville
follies regularly preceded each feature.
Thus, an elaborate organ was in-
stalled and a stage was constructed to
accompanyeach show. Finally, onJanu-
ary 5, 1928, The Michigan theater
scooped the reputable theaters of New
York with the premiere of "Hero of the
Night," with Glenn Tryon. And before
the show, fans were treated to the magi-
cal entertainment of Ida Mae Chadwick
and her Dizzy Blondes.
In 1928 the Butterfield chain bought
the theater and turned it into a movie
house. In those days, radio dramas and
comedy hours were quite a hit.
According to University communi-
cation professor Frank Beaver, "They
strung wires throughout the theater and
would interrupt the show to broadcast
The atmosphere and
film selection at the
Michigan Theater easily
surpasses the movies at
'Amos and Andy."'
Sporting events were also broad-
cast. Collins relates, "They would get
some guy reading baseball plays off the
ticker tape and making sound effects
with sticks and crowd noises." The the-
ater would fill up and people would sit
and listen, as if listening to the real
thing. Michigan Basketball games were
also broadcast. It was kind of like Pay-
In the 1940s the State theater was
opened by Butterfield and the
Michigan's marquee was remodeled.
However, with the advent of television
in the late'40s, Butterfield took steps to
bring people back to the movies. They
completely renovated and remodeled
During this era, the ornate design of
the palace was viewed as "tacky" com-
pared to modern times and all the plas-
ter was covered over and everything
was turned white. The ceiling was
dropped and new carpeting was installed
and enhanced by modern lighting. As
television continued to climb, the movie
During the free-love activist days,
students forewent frat parties and bars
to flock to the theaters. Movies came
out on Wednesday, and theaters were
packed with students eager to see the
latest release from Fellini, Godard and
Bergman, complete with subtitles.
The Michigan also showed most of
the family films. The State Theater had
the violent films and a campus cinema
on South University specialized in for-
Finally, in 1978, Butterfield's lease
on the Michigan was up and they de-
cided not to renew. At this point in
history, while you were all watching
Romper Room, cineplexes were begin-
ning to become the trend in cinemas and
old-fashioned movie palaces with sim-
ply one screen became dinosaurs. So,
the plan was to trash the theater and turn
it into a parking lot, a galleria or, gasp,
a bowling alley.
But then along came Henry Aldrich.
He was an aficionado of old organs and
organized a group to save the theater
and the organ. Now the theater is anon-
profit organization and in 1986 it under-
went its most recent transformation.
Old pictures were used for the colora-
tions of the plaster that was uncovered
and its original decadent splendor has
been restored. And recently, the theater
matched an anonymous donor's chal-
lenge gift to purchase a high quality
16mm film projector to make film view-
ing all the more enjoyable.
Unfortunately, it seems as though
many students are unaware ofthisjewel
on Liberty. According to Collins, "Stu-
dents used to provide the majority, now
they're the minority." It's really sad,
because the theater is a marvelous treat.
The Fox Theater in Detroit is much
larger and more ornate, but is quite a
The Michigan is without a doubt the jewel of Ann Arbor when it comes to movies, putting most places to shame.
drive and doesn'thave something every
The atmosphere and film selection
at theMichigan Theatereasily surpasses
the movies at B riarwood and Showcase
Cinemas. The theater shows an array of
old movies like "Casablanca" and a ton
of American independents like "Reser-
voir Dogs" and "My New Gun" -
wonderful films that wouldn't receive
an Ann Arbor release without the Michi-
gan. Critically acclaimed foreign films
such as "The Crying Game" and "Tous
les Matins du Monde" are staples of the
Michigan. And mainstream films such
as "Aladdin" get their play, too.
The interesting Ann Arbor Film Fes-
tival is held there annually along with
several animation festivals.And, in con-
junction with the Film and Video Stud-
ies department, the theater will show
Hispanic films weekly during the Fall
semester and will be open to the public.
Because of the theater's unique set
up, it's more of a multi-media presenta-
tion facility thanjustamovie palace and
the theater takes advantage of this de-
sign. It is also home to the Ann Arbor
Symphony. For those music fans with
more contemporary tastes, the Michi-
gan theater regularly attracts hot groups
like Mudhoney and Phish. Because of
the stage, theater presentations are also
regularly performed. Upcoming shows
this yearincludeLorettaSwittin "Shirley
Valentine" and comic Spalding Gray in
Another advantage of the Michigan
is the price. Films are $4 for students
and you can get a special pass that
amounts to ten tickets for $30. For those
with $500 to throw about, you can get
your own theater seat complete with a
brass name tag on the arm.
It's a shame that, in a town
overglutted with weak bars and coffee
shops, more students don't discover t
this theater. It's so close to everything-'
and there's only so much partying to be
done in one semester that there's no
excuse for not venturing to this old
fashioned movie palace at least once.
But, once you're there you'll want to go
again and again. Besides, years from
now, when you're breaking out the Visa
to take your grandchildren to see
"Freddy's Last Revenge: The Begin-
ning IV," you can tell them that you used
to go to a wonderful film palace to see
movies for four dollars.
Hitting the airwaves of metro Detroit
Ann Arbor and Detroit offer listeners a wide array of tunes and news along the dial
by Liz Shaw
The first thing you might notice,
rolling into the hopping metropolis of
Ann Arbor is that it doesn't have a lot of
local radio stations to choose from, com-
pared to, say New York City. But much
can be found on the dial, if you seek it
Ann Arbor's good friend and neigh-
bor, the truly booming Detroit, offers a
variety of airwave samplings. So, you
have to getyour radio andhang it upside
down from your curtain rod to get any-
thing good pumping into your room.
Depending on your tastes in music
this city's airwaves carry a little some-
thing for everyone.
So, let's start with you real college
students, into the news, into what's go-
ing on in the world you're about to
inherit. It's all those news and info sta-
tions, isn't it? I thought so. I admit it, I hit
99.5 (WOWF) or News Radio 95 (950
AM, WWJ) every once in a while. I'm
not a total breeze brain.
But if you lean more toward the
popular music stations, the four main
markets in Detroit are Top 40, alterna-
tive, R&B and rap.
If you're up, and coherent enough to
listen to the radio in the morning, Top 40
station 96.3 (WHYT) has a rather odd
morning show that is bound to get you
going, if just to get away from it. "Nuts
in the Morning"isgreat, but theirmix of
popular music and countdowns all day
long is even better, and definitly one to
check out. Locally, 103 (WIQB) offers
a bit more varied selection of pop music
for the average Top 40 fan.
Into the "alternative" scene? Know
what the alternative scene is? Just like
good music? Try hitting 88.7 (CIMX)
the infamous 89X that is probably one
of the most widely-listened-to stations
on campus. Besides, it's the only place
you can get your daily dosage ofAlice in
Chains. Or Spin Doctors. Or whoever
happens to be it at the time.
Alittle too sane for any of that? Well,
we still have 92.3 (WMXD) pumping
outthe soulful hits of today'smost popu-
lar R&B artists, as well as the motown
jams of yesteryear.
Still, the only place you can find
Mason and Company is 97.9 (WJLB).
Not only is he charming, but they also
have the best R&B and rap jams in the
city. They skip the teeny-bopper stuff
that you stopped listening to in the fifth
AWCBN disc jockey spins records from the station's SAB location.
Finally, you opposite-end-of-the-
spectrum folks, the true rockers and the
classical music buffs. First, you guitar-
solo loving, people - you don't know
what rock is until you roll your dial on"
For thoseofyou whoare charmed by
the finer things in life, we must not
neglect to mention the classical stations,
so you have something to listen to while
you ride around in your Rolls sharing
your Grey Poupon with your friends.
just waiting for your listening pleasure.
And, if you feel some odd loyalty to.
yournew school, 91.7WUOM hasclas-
Speaking of great local radio, neigh-
boring Ypsilanti's premier 89.1
(WEMU) broadcasts some of the finest
jazz recordings you'll find on the dial,
while also serving as the area's NPR
(that's National Public Radio) carrier.
NPR is broadcast journalism at its best.
Of course, local talent and entertain-
ing free-form radio comes right out of
the Student Activities Building, with
88.3 (WCBN). An eclectic mesh ofjazz,
blues, rock, alternative and virtually
every other music genre, be sure and
tune in especially to hear your fello,
students deejay on into the night. Soul-
ful reflections on life at the University,
accompanied by the likes of the
Ramones, Lady Day and Muddy Wa-
ters, can travel from SAB to your dorm
room as you study.
So be sure and turn off that CD
player now and then and turn on yout
radio. You just might find something
new and different to listen to.
*6 stylists--No Waiting!
LIBERTY OFF STATE 668-9329