The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, Febuary 3, 1994 - 7
-Adventures of an intentional tourist in Paris
3y NATE HURLEY
Spring Break. France. My French IV class, Mme
.aVache included. Ten full days.
Those were the ingredients of my memorable trip
tbroad. Four years of cultural lessons, dialogues and
anguage tapes put to the test.
The culture shock set in as soon we got off the plane
md entered the Charles de Gaulle Airport. Gone out the
indow were American luxuries, such as separate men's
md women's bathrooms.
Both luxuries and windows were missing from our
'4ovotel-- a French hotel chain that pales in comparison
o Motel 6.
The location of the motel should have been our first
ndication. After taking the longest metro line to the last
;top - under the freeway and through the dark alley to
Novotel - we clung together in groups of at least three,
or safety purposes, you know.
The next morning, I learned that our desk clerk, like
;very other Parisian I ran into, spoke perfect English but
efused to use it.
After inquiring about how to use my calling card in the
gay phone, the short, dark-haired man responded with a
;mile of superiority: "Vous devez put 40 francs in le
tilephone pour utiliser your calling card."
He smirked each time he uttered a word of English, but
I kept my ground and continued to babble in my broken
"Merci," I replied, sheepishly.
After such a stunning performance, I was unanimously
elected as translator for our group.
My duties included finding bathrooms, finding post
offices and finding food - McDonald's.
But getting on with the trip.
Let me tell you about Jean. (For you non-French
speakers, that's "Zhawn,' not 'Jeen.') The relationship
was sparked as we boarded his luxurious (relative to the
Novotel) travel palace-on-wheels, embarking on a tour of
northern France. Our first stop occurred earlier than we
expected - earlier than even Jean could have predicted.
Just as we nestled into the itchy seats of our Mercedes
tour bus, he shut the door, checked the break and checked
the radio -but didn't check his blind spot. Crash. The bus
of Italian tourists parked behind us was just as surprised.
Sandwiched between the porta-bathroom and the
heavily-perfumed French chaperone who joined our en-
tourage, I took my first taste of the exquisite native cuisine
- bread and water.
Jean slowed the bus down to a mere 80 mph, and
deposited us at Rouen. There I was, anxious and giddy
from the eight hour ride, with my camera in hand to snap
a shot of my first French landmark.
A large pole.
A large stone pole.
In the center of town.
A commemoration of the burning of Joan of Arc.
After spending $2 on a Coke Light, $3 on enough ice
cream to satisfy a hungry snail, and 30 cents on a loaf of
French bread that was taller than me, it was back to the
Jean-mobile for another three-hour tour. A three-hour
Next stop - Montmartre, a church-turned-prison-
turned-tourist-trap-on-a-hill. We came, we saw, we ate
some more, then we waited an extra hour for the couple
from Southfield who were busy buying Eiffel Tower t-
shirts for their grandchildren.
During this free time, we took the opportunity to bond
with Jean, our fair leader, who up to this point had not
opened his mouth other than to down a couple glasses of
fermented grape juice, well, wine.
One of my less-than-fluent travel companions greeted
Jean with a hearty, American "bawn-jer."
"Boooonjoouurrr," Jean corrected. I began to wonder
if he was the man behind the deep, dry voice on the
language tapes I had come to know so well.
We returned to Paris to visit the renowned home of
Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" and that statue with the
arms cut off. After a few confrontations with a curator
who seemed to think she was guarding one of the world's
most valuable pieces of art or something, we decided to
move on to the next pop stand.
This was not your typical pop stand and these were not
your typical customers. While I had adapted to most of the
European customs, even paying for amenities such as
public restrooms-unisex, of course, I was still caught off
guard by the esteem in which the French hold their pets.
And the luxuries they treated them to.
I often reward Chloe, my Schnauzer, with doggie
biscuits, but bones are bones and a $5 sundae on the
Champs-Elysees is something else altogether. I'm not
even talking about silverware.
French food and the quirky etiquette that went along
with it was not something we shed tears about leaving
behind as we repacked our duffles and headed back to
Charles de Gaulle.
During the three stopovers on our direct flight back to
the States, we had time to reminisce about our first trip
abroad, between games of Taboo.
Upon landing in Detroit, we resumed speaking in our
native tongue, not that we had spoken much else for two
weeks. I looked back on the four years I spent studying the
French I was told was a requisite to traveling to the
And, thanks to the instruction of Mme LaVache, I will
never forget such key French phrases as "Slow down,
Jean," "Non-pet section, please," and "Does toilet paper
We want respect, not a lousy year
By ALEXANDRA TWIN
Screen goddesses. Sexy, illustri-
)us women in distress. They've domi-
nated the screen since the beginning
of film and although there are the
xccasional segues into other dimen-
iions, they're essentially still the best
the movies can offer us. As what? As
role models? Is Melanie Griffith in
any number of her bimbo roles your
idea of a role model? Maybe. Maybe
not. I think that we can do a little
better. I think that film, if even only in
the space of somewhat recent and
sometimes less noticeable works, al-
ready has. So why still the preoccupa-
tion with woman as bimbo?
Some people will balk at the use of
*the word "bimbo." The word is not
meant to imply that these women sim-
ply are whatever the standard defini-
tion of bimbo would indicate; namely,
buxom, boppy and brainless. It's the
fact that these are the main elements
af themselves or their characters that
they are given the opportunity to ex-
pose. One can simply write the whole
thing off as being some sexist out-
rage, a Conspiracy on the part of the
Male Chauvinists in Power. But this
is too simple. Yes, of course that's
part of the problem, but how do you
explain "Point Break," an utterly ir-
relevant testosterone-fest produced
and directed by a woman? It's not just
women-good, men-bad. We need to
get beyond this Tarzan-like redun-
dancy of over-simplifying if we want
to get to the root of this problem.
0 Part of the problem is that when-
ever anyone decides that they've had
it with women playing centerpieces
and that it's time to make a good,
juicy film about women, the film im-
mediately gets marketed as a
"women's film." Why? Why is "The
Fugitive," an action-adventure about
two men, a film for the elusive every-
one, but "Orlando," or "Ruby in Para-
* dise," or even "The Piano" are
"women's films." If a film that claims
to be male-centered can and is ex-
pected to appeal to everyone, then so
should one about a woman.
Regardless of how much of a last-
ing effect you believe the work ac-
complished in the late '60s and '70s
(and even before) by various women-
oriented groups to have had, the fact
remains that the one thing women
have not completely accomplished,
and may never completely accom-
The fact remains that
the one thing women
have not completely
accomplished, and may
accomplish (since it's
nothing that you can
get in writing) is a.
"promise" to be taken
plish (since it's nothing that you can
get in writing) is a "promise" to be
taken seriously. We can argue this,
but it's basically all that anybody
wants: To be respected and to be
taken seriously as a human being. It's
a tired argument, but realistically, how
are young girls growing up today go-
ing to learn to feel confident about
themselves when the very same im-
ages that they are attempting to get
beyond are the very same images be-
ing shoved down their throats under
the guise of modern culture, under the
flailing banner of popular film?
How many big-budget whore films
have we seen in the last couple of
years? It seems kind-of ironic the idea
of a big-budget whore film, but how
else might one describe "Pretty
Woman," "Mad Dog and Glory," "In-
decent Proposal," "Born Yesterday,"
"Honeymoon in Vegas," - no, re-
ally, I'm serious. Yeah, these films
seem harmless, and granted, most of
them are really stupid, but the fact is
that according to Hollywood, the an-
swer to the question "and what do you
want to be when you grow up, little
girl?" tends to be, "at the disposal of
a powerful man."
What are we, living at the turn of
the century? "Gas Food Lodging,"
"Trust," "Like Water for Chocolate,"
"Orlando," "Ruby in Paradise," "Dog-
fight," "The Snapper." How many of
these films have you seen? Some, but
even "Thelma and Louise" or "The
Piano," two reasonably financially
successful films of late, have failed to
pull in the box-office sales that their
superlative-filled reviews might have
Why? Bad marketing? Yes. And
there's also the fact that people just
aren't interested. Or, they're just more
interested in other things. Is this a side
effect of the standard that says that
what men do is, by definition, of more
worth than what women do? Of
course. It's not that there's a shortage
of talented women out there with im-
portant, original things to say that can
both incorporate and transcend the
bounds of their femininity, it's just
that there's a lack of opportunity.
This is usually the case with unreal-
ized potential. It's not okay anymore;
it really never was.
There's no reason why I should
have to justify why Veronica Sawyer
from "Heathers" is more my hero
than anyone Julia Roberts could ever
play. There's also no reason why she
hasn't become available to every
young girl, every person, in the same
way that Vivian in "Pretty Woman"
has; both are going to be considered
morally inappropriate on somebody's
There's also no reason why a deep,
intelligent, sophisticated film like
"The Piano" should ever be so under-
mined as to be referred to and then
dismissed as being a good, but essen-
tially "women's" film: a film that is,
as one film critic so eloquently put it
recently, "only liked by pretentious
people who claim to understand it."
It's not pretentious to try to under-
stand uncommon achievements like
"The Piano"; it's just plain ignorant
By RACHEL SCHARFMAN
While the goal of many Univer-
sity students this Spring Break is to
escape harsh Michigan weather, ap-
proximately 115 of them are eagerly
heading into harsh conditions in an
effort to warm not only their lives, but
the lives of those in need, as well.
Run by Project SERVE, Alterna-
tive Spring Break (ASB), now in its
fifth year, will spend a week visiting
11 sites, up from just two. ASB works
to alleviate suffering, addresses so-
cial issues such as racism, drug abuse,
hunger, homelessness, crime, health
care and environmental destruction.
Kesha Anderson, an RC sopho-
more and co-chair of ASB, said the
Native American reservation site is
the most popular choice for the 280
applicants this year, and indicated.
this trend is due to the mystique sur-
rounding many people's ideas of res-
"It sounds like a mysterious thing.
A lot of times people are genuinely
interested, but also a lot of times people
don't really know what it's like, so
they want to demystify it," she said.
Anderson will lead the St. Paul
site this year, working in congrega-
tional-dining soup kitchens, with
Native American elderly and South-
east Asian youth. A native of St. Paul
herself, Anderson chose the site.
"When we were looking for new
sites, I thought immediately that I'd
really like to bring this home, to work
with the people that I kind of grew up
with, to help and learn from them,"
The urban sites deal with different
types of issues, noted RC sophomore
and site co-leader Melanie Smolev.
The group stays in a house run by
Quakers in the section of the city
known as Mantua.
The 11 students who will drive to
Philadelphia will visit a state prison
that has a high number of Muslims
and the only prison mosque in the
country. They will also attend ser-
vices with the Islamic inmates. Last
year, as Spring Break fell during
Ramadan, ASB participants were able
to witness that holy month's services.
"It's aconstant testing of our preju-
dices," said Smolev, who cites the
discussions with prison inmates as
one of the trip's highlights. Smolev
also said reflection time is set aside
during each day of the trip and "con-
sists of daily discussion of our reac-
tions, feelings, and emotions."
Funding ASB is among the chal-
lenges the students who participate
must contend with.
"Nobody will give us money, but
everyone likes to take the credit for
what we're doing," Anderson said.
ASB members have solicited the
Michigan Student Assembly, the
Greek System, alums and local busi-
nesses for contributions to add to the
minimal funds from the University.
"We're doing an amazing program
that really gives students a place to
make their education pro-active. It
(ASB) takes what you learn in the
classroom and makes it a catalyst to
go out in the community and really do
it, Anderson said.
This year's sites include Minne-
sota, the Su Casa center in Chicago,
Save Our Sons And Daughters
(SOSAD) and Alternative For Girls
(AFG) in Detroit, the reservation in
South Dakota, the Friends Work Camp
in Philadelphia, flood relief in Illi-
nois, two sites in Appalachia, an AIDS
hospice in New York City, and Wash-
Continued from page 1
test against. Either way, the BSU gets
what it wants: a protest. The only
question is who will pay for it and
organize it. And protest is a heavy
threat given the embarrassment that
comes with appearing to stand against
Black students on the day reserved to
commemorate the nation's greatest
civil rights leader.
This might explain the somewhat
timid position adopted by the com-.
mittee that organized the King holi-
day in response to the BSU's accusa-
tions and some rather unfair treat-
ment in the press. The letter Vice
Provost Lester Monts issued to the
community following the holiday did.
not mention the BSU by name, nor
did it directly answer the bulk of the
While the committee, including
Monts, stands by the quality program.
it developed, at an interview last week
Monts seemed to partly blame him-
self, saying his late arrival at the Uni!
versity may have contributed to orga-
nizational problems, and promising,
to be even more inclusive to student
groups next year.
What Monts does not understand
is that there is no way to create a
symposium that will please both the
community as a whole and the BSU:
their ideas are mutually exclusive -
not because the BSU believes in pro-
test (after all, so did King, vehe-
mently), but because what the BSU
really wants is a symposium many in
the community would find abhorrent.
What the BSU really wants is
Khallid Mohammad, of the Nation of
Islam. Mohammad has been casti-
gated by virtually every Black leader
in the country because of his racist
statements, but he was good enough'
to speakat the University's 1993 MLK
symposium. Not surprisingly, we; W
heard not a word of protest from the
BSU during 1993. Or perhaps the
BSU wants Dr. Leonard Jeffries,
whom they brought to campus a few
When people read criticism from
the BSU that the King Holiday is
"academic" or somehow less Black,
they should understand that the BSU
is really pushing for a University-
sponsored holiday that is more mili-
tant and hateful.
Both the University and the BSU
are searching for common ground and
hoping that they find it. But if the
BSU pushes for what amounts to an
angry symposium rather than an "aca-
demic" one, the University must have
the guts to say no.
one Says a
Why Maize 'n' Blue is
tougher 'n Blue Grass
No golden boy in 'Golden Gate'
By SARAH STEWART
"What comes first, the chicken or
the egg?" will try the minds of
"Sesame Street" fans for years to
come, but even more perplexing is the
question Matt Dillon fans will ask
Directed by John Madden; written
by David Henry Hwang; with Matt
Dillon and Joan Chen.
themselves if they bother to sit through
"Golden Gate," his newest film:
"What came first, the inferior films or
the bad acting?"
To Dillon's credit, he nailed his
role as a junkie in "Drugstore Cow-
boy" (1989) and succeeded as a lov-
able cabana boy in "The Flamingo
Kid" (1984). But unfortunately, his
more recent appearances in "Mr.
Wonderful" and "The Saint of Fort
Washington" are proof that for one
staying with the Bureau. The film
fast-forwards 10 years. Song com-
mits suicide after his release from
prison, and Dillon conducts a manda-
tory follow-up investigation. He natu-
rally falls in love with Song's daugh-
ter, Marilyn (Joan Chen), but every-
thing gets messed up when she dis-
covers Kevin's connection to her
father's imprisonment. In turn, Dillon
figuratively takes on the underprivi-
leged identity of the man whose life
he feels responsible for.
Kevin hopes to redeem himself
through Marilyn, and as you already
know, they fall in love. It's never
clear what motivates their love, as
Dillon and Chen disastrously fail to
present what is supposedly a passion-
ate relationship; in fact, the couple
seems to have a greater desire for
Chinese food and vanilla malts then
one another. At the same time, Chen
creates neither a sympathetic nor a
strong-willed character and therefore
appears wholly out of character after
and Marilyn, with the help of white
lighting, are twice singled out among
a crowd of dancers as they verbalize
apparently internal thoughts. Not sur-
prisingly, these scenes fail to elicit
the drama that would legitimize them
and consequently cheapen the other-
wise serious subject of Kevin's deep
On the other hand, maybe it's
Dillon's characterization of Kevin that
is troubled. From the opening scene,
it's clear that Dillon is doomed -
he's wearing a hat, he thinks he's "the
cat's meow" and he works for the
FBI. With all this going against him,
the audience's only hope is for the
glory of a dramatic comeback. In spite
of these high hopes, Dillon seems tq
accept defeat, evolving into the trans-
parent character of a tough boy gone
soft and delivering lines with even
less enthusiasm than they deserve.
But realistically, Dillon can't be
held responsible for the failure of an
entire film. At one hour and 40 min-
By DAVE CONTORER
Remember the movie "Planes,
Trains and Automobiles"? I sure as
hell do. Iremember two hapless trav-
elers unable to return home due to
inclement weather, inept highway
maintenance and, quite frankly, bad
During the week of January 16th,
my friend and I felt a lot like Steve
Martin and John Candy on our eight
day adventure through the Tennessee
Valley. While most of Michigan's
student body snuggled comfortably
indoors during the sub-zero wind
chills of the holiday weekend, we
sojourned by car and went gallivant-
ing around Atlanta.
At the time, there was no greater
pleasure than watching Michigan's
record low temperatures on the
Weather Channel. We visited friends,
dined in the finest restaurants and had
a smashing good time... until that
very same Weather Channel dropped
the big one on us. The state of Ken-
tucky was... closed?
Hmmm... We were shocked and
dumbfounded. How can an entire
state, with a population of 3,698,969
your chances further north. I'd sug-
gest you choose Knoxville."
After 'snow-writing' the message
"Kentucky Sucks" (in yellow "ink"),
and running out of options, we pulled
into a Red Roof Inn in Knoxville -
our home for the next two days.
Being the boy scouts that we are,
we tried to take full advantage of all
the exciting activities that Knoxville
had to offer. We worked out at a
neighboring health club, explored two
quaint shopping malls, mastered the
local geography, drove doughnuts in
an abandoned parking lot, experienced
the University of Tennessee, went
bowling, had ongoing, personal con-
versationswith the Kentucky and'Ohio
State Highway Patrols, and consumed
adult beverages and munchies in our
By Thursday morning, the goal
had changed. We figured that we could
get to Ann Arbor in high fashion by
way of St. Louis before the morons in
K could clear the road. We
Arriving in St. Louis, we immedi-
ately took advantage of all the Marriott
had to offer. We worked out in their