Martin Luther King, Jr. was a
complex man who meant different
things to different people. Some ad-
mire him for his compassionate teach-
ings of peace and brotherhood; oth-
ers admire him because he inspired
Blacks to stand up against racism
and discrimination through protest.
King saw discrimination as con-
nected to a variety of injustices -
hence his action on fronts ranging
pi 0 ing9
By Daily Arts Editors
Illustration by Jordan Atlas
from Native American issues to unions
to the Vietnam War.
King's diverse legacy eludes easy
categorization. It follows that some
degree of conflict is to be expected
every time the University sets out to
honor him. But no evaluation of
King's life could possibly have pre-
dicted the pitched, ugly conflict that
occurred over this year's MLK Day.
The politics and motives of the Black
Student Union (BSU) are to blame.
The Black Student Union seized
on the King holiday for one simple
reason: to foment an environment ripe
for protest. To achieve this, the BSU
skillfully drew stark divisions between
a variety of elements in the commu-
nity: Black versus multicultural, ac-
tivists versus academics, students
versus the corporate-liberal adminis-
tration. The BSU then criticized the
King symposium when it was too late
to change it, and presented the Uni-
versity with demands it could not
,meet, such as the creation of an office
of "institutionalized activism." Then,
the BSU unleashed its protest against
the "homogenizers" and stuffy pro-
The BSU cited two main reasons
for the boycott. First, members
claimed they were not sufficiently
consulted by the symposium commit-
tee, organized by University's Office
of Academic and Multicultural Initia-
tives. While the committee is the first
to admit it would like to do a better job
of soliciting input from student groups,
the BSU's accusations are exagger-
ated. A member of the BSU attended
an October meeting of the committee,
and the committee dispatched one
organizer, Michael Jones-Coleman,
to meet specifically with the BSU
about the King symposium.
* Second, the BSU was dissatisfied
with the content of the MLK day
program., The substance of the criti-
cism was outlined in the BSU's offi-
cial boycott statement which appeared
in the Daily January 17.
"The 1994 King Symposium does
not honor the history of activism out
of which the symposium was created,
nor does it seek to focus on issues of
asocial, political and economic em-
powerment urgent to African Ameri-
can, Latino and Asian communities
... There was hardly any incorpora-
tion of community activists or
grassroots organizers into the four
panels. The focus of the symposium
is academic and limited to the Uni-
But if hardly any community ac-
tivists were included, what do you
*call Hardy Frye, who served with the
Students Non-violent Coordinating
Committee during the 1960s? And
what do you call Sharon McPhail,
who ran a populist campaign against
Dennis Archer for mayor of Detroit?
Granted, there were quite a few Ph.D.s
represented on symposium panels, but
many of them had activist back-
grounds and all of them had some-
*thing to contribute to a discussion of
Martin Luther King.
But even if we grant the BSU's
criticism that this year's MLK Day
was somehow too "academic," it is
hard to comprehend what the BSU
expects the University to do.
This is. after all. a university. What
As usual, I hope to spend my spring break with my
good friend roaming the country in search of Bob Mould.
We'll load up his little Chevy Van with a couple of quarts
of Wild Turkey, stacks of Gram Parsons and Beach Boys
bootlegs and two shotguns, because as soon as we find we
Bob, we must show him how much his music means to us.
If all goes as planned, we'll wind our way through
Michigan, only to have the van break down in
Illinois, preferably near Chicago. As we go
into Guyville, we split up in search of help.
As I make my way into the downtown, a car
stops and asks me if I need any help. Turning around, I see
that the woman in the car is none other than the supremely
lovely Liz Phair.
With visions of
ing in my mind, I
"Why, yes I do. It
seems that my car is broken."
Liz invites me to stay with her
while I try to find transportation.
She whisks me away to her apart-F
ment, where she plays me her origi-
nal "Girlysound" tapes and shows
me her 4-Track tape recorder (whoops,
ting her con-
fused with Polly
Harvey). After a
cating evening of con-
versation, she takes me
to her bedroom and we
make love for what seems
You're in New York City, and after a day of shopping,
you're dining at Sardi's. You're sipping a glass of Chi-
anti. Scanning the dining room you spot Tony Kushner,
Liam Neeson, Bernadette Peters. You're hobnobbing
among the elite. You're wearing silk. (This point
is absolutely imperative.) Then you spot him.
Walking in with Tony Randall. He smiles in
Mandy Patinkin: How ya' doin' Melissa?
Melissa: Great! And you?
Mandy: Just stopped in for some of that
Melissa: I hear it's fabulous.
Mandy: Listen, I've got to get going, but Tony's
having a post-theater party tonight. A bunch of
people from the National Actor's Theater, some cast
members from "Kiss" and
"Angels." You should stop
Melissa: I'd love that.
Mandy: Here's his ad-
dress. Looking forward to
it. (Mandy leaves.)
I'm so excited I can barely sit through
David and Sean Cassidy in "Blood Broth-
ers." So I'm on my way to Tony's
} bash. ....dI'm
/ . '''r"- .'' ._ .M.'1 look-
I wake up in
that I'm stuck in Big Rapids,
with my good friend Mr. Woodstra
trying to sell me a nine-CD Split Enz box. I
i n g
T i g h t
black wool skirt, black suede
pumps, emerald green silk blouse
(showing some cleavage), and a smile
that could melt Ben and Jerry's. I no-
tice a run in my nylons. I dash into Sears
to buy another pair. I brace
t h e
left is poly-
ester. To my
right, Visa, the
freedom fabric. And in the distance -
acrylic. It's worse than I had ever imag-
Leaving Ann Arbor. Why
does every Spring Break fantasy entail leaving Ann
Arbor? I dream of the third week in February, of having
the entire town to myself. I can get a parking spot in front
of Ulrich's. I can get a pool table of my own at
Scorekeeper's. I can turn the heat up to 75 degrees in my
house and turn the volume on my CD player up to 10 and
not have anyone complain that it is too hot, or too loud.
No shower for seven days. Changing my clothes? Yeah,
right. I'll have the Michigan Theater to myself, and the
State and the Fox Village. No line at Amer's at lunch
time. No wait for a IICX at Angell Hall. The streets clear
out and it is August all over again, give or take a few
degrees. I am alone, and I am free. Misanthropic and
Staying in Ann Arbor. Every Spring Break nightmare
entails staying in Ann Arbor. I dread the third week of
February, of having the entire town to myself. Sure I can
get parking spots, but that only means more tickets. I can
get a pool table at Scorekeeper's, but who will I challenge
to a game? I'll turn the heat up to 75 degrees and turn the
volume on my CD player up to 10, and the gas bill will
come and the noise violation will be given and there I'll
three days away.
Sun, fun and surf.
You're heading down to
Daytona, the height of deca-
dence and you can't wait to get there. The sea
water is tickling your tongue before you even get
in the car or bus. And you know when you get
there you are going to meet the coolest people
you've ever met. In fact, you're going to be the
coolest person these people are ever going to meet.
And you can be anything you want to be because none of
this is going to matter. You aren't going to be tied to any
of these people in any way.
But reality sets in on the drive down there. You and
your closest friends don't seem all that close anymore.
Did you have any idea that their taste in music was that
bad? But before the shock of how culturally bankrupt
your friends are hits, you have arrived in paradise. Or a
close renlica. But before you can enjoy it your friendshins
"Attention, shoppers, Sears will
be closing in five minutes."
Okay, nylons. Where are the
nylons? Time is running out.
There are the bras. Teddies.
(Who buys lingerie from
Sears?) CLICK! Blackout.
I scream. No one responds. I'm developing a rash. I'm
breaking out into hives. Bill Clinton is standing before
me, holding some french fries. This must be Hell. I
collapse into a sobbing, wretched heap. And needless to
say, I never make it to Tony's party.
My dying words (as overheard by a
Sears Security Guard): I want to be
buried in silk!
I don't hold a lot of expectations for Spring Break. I'd
rather just let it happen to me, without fear of mishap or
expectation of great adventure. If you travel and travel
intensely - that means not staying in expensive hotels,
but just going with the flow of things, checking stuff out,
packing light and staying cheap - then you'll definitely
have more than your fair share of both nightmares and
adventures. For me this is the way to go; it's an ideal
Spring Break. If you pack as much hell and paradise and
unexpectedness and misadventure as possible into your
vacation, then you'll have experiences to remember and
stories to tell.