A Darker Shade of
" Crimson: Odyssey of
a Harvard Chicano
Ruben Navarrette, Jr.
Bantam Books, paperback
"A Darker Shade of Crimson" is
very much the "Odyssey" it purports
to be. It is the chronicle of a Mexican-
American's five-yearjourney through
the world of elitism, power and pres-
tige that is Harvard University.
Yet in recounting his experiences,
author Ruben Navarrette, Jr., has fash-
ioned something much fuller than a
memoir. In the course of relating his
story, Navarrette touches upon so
many other topics (love, friendship,
loss of identity) that the book is el-
evated to a higher level than mere
Hailing from California's San
* Joaquin Valley, Navarrette enters
Harvard in 1985 as one of only 125
Mexican-Americans on campus. Be-
lieving himself to be going to "a more
enlightened place without prejudice,
where excellence determined success,"
Navarrette soon learns otherwise.
His racial identity is still the main
means by which others view him.
Harvard, he feels, does much to foster
this. He joins the Mexican-American
student association and does much on
his own to combat the widely ac-
cepted notion that the poverty and
lack of education plaguing so many
Mexican-Americans is due not to their
inferiority, but to a society which
refuses to offer them any help.
It is a battle with few victories, if
any, and one which will change him
profoundly. Navarrette is forced to
confront himself and how little he
knows of his own true ethnic identity.
In thesearch forhisown true history
- for Harvard offers him little in this
regard - Navarrette takes classes in
Chicano studies at Fresno State during
what would have been his senior year.
He graduates from Harvard the follow-
ing year, though the reader senses that
it's not thejoyous moment that it should
be. For Navarrette, there is much more
work to be done to educate others in
matters of race and ethnicity. Regard-
less, he is now a Harvard man, and "so
it was that as Harvard embraced me,
finally, as one of its own, the last trace
of my resentment faded away and all
Throughout the narrative, there is
a certain rhythm brought about by his
* structuring of sentences and para-
graphs; when coupled with his effec-
tive use imagery and metaphor, it can
at times take on the flow of poetry. As
a result, the book moves swiftly
through 240 pages. What makes it all
the more readable is the honesty
Navarrette deals with in regard not
only to the behavior of others, but
also to his own; he is equally able to
criticize himself as he is Cesar Chavez.
There is a self-assuredness and
sense of conviction evident in
Navarrette's voice even during his
moments of greatest self-doubt. As
he says in the introduction, "There are
some things that happened to me in
college, at Harvard, that I need to say
out loud." At times, Navarrette speaks
very much "out loud." Yet he is
equally effective in reducing his voice
to a whisper or simply relying on his
powers of argumentative persuasion.
What results from this is a narrative
that is all at once, inspiring, inflam-
matory and courageous.
- Matthew Benz
Modern Tales for Our
Life & Times
James Finn Garner
Macmillan Publishing Co.
Bet ya didn't know that, in "The
Emperor's New Clothes," the Em-
peror wasn't fooled by the tailor; he
was "merely endorsing a clothing-
optional lifestyle," a trend which im-
mediately caught on with his people,
who merrily stripped of their clothes
and lived naked from that day forth.
Or how 'bout the fact that
Goldilocks was a rogue biologist who
"specialized in the study of anthropo-
morphic bears." And did you know
that the mirror on Snow White's
stepmother's wall answered, when
asked who is the fairest, that "Alas, if
worth be based on beauty / Snow
White has surpassed you, cutie?"
You'd know all this and more if
you read James Finn Garner's "Politi-
cally Correct Bedtime Stories: Mod-
ern Tales For Our Life & Times."
Mr. Garner ("the descendant of
dead white European males") must
have been a little tired of the PC trend,
since he goes to ridiculous lengths to
show just how overboard the idea of
politeness can be taken. For instance,
Rumpelstiltskin isn't short, he's "dif-
ferently statured," the tinker in
"Rapunzel" isn't poor but "economi-
cally disadvantaged," and the dis-
guised step-mother in "Snow White"
doesn't look old - she looks "chro-
Not only are the people's labels
silly, so are the stories themselves.
Take how Esmeralda must learn to
make straw into gold in
"Rumpelstiltskin," so she carries the
straw to a farmers' cooperative to be
used to thatch a room. Drier houses
make more productive farmers, which
makes the children grow strong, which
lets them join a cooperative school,
which makes the kingdom into a de-
mocracy (whew!). When the new
money the farmers had invested comes
back with great returns, the farmers
remember the gift of the straw and
reward Esmeralda with gold. If only
real life worked so profitably!
My only complaint is that the book
went on a little too long. I would have
loved it if "The Pied Piper of
Hamelin," and "Jack and the
Beanstalk" had been left out. Although
they were somewhat amusing, I found
myself thinking that perhaps Garner
had to fill up extra space and was
simply reusing some of his jokes. The
stories were funny, but they didn't
have the "laugh out loud" quality the
other stories had.
But that one negative point doesn't
even begin to blot out the positive
aspects of this book. The rewrites are
clever andjust go to show even though
Barney might not believe it, it actu-
ally is possible to be too polite. Some-
times "I love you and you love me"
can get to be a bit much.
I adore fairy tales; I grew up on
them. After reading them as an adult,
however, I realized how sexist and
classist many of them are. Perhaps
this book is not the best way to fix
some of the problems in the tales. But
it's an enjoyable book anyway.
Whetherornot you support the "po-
litically correct" movement, you can't
help but get a kick out of this original
and absolutely hilarious set of stories.
- Holly Singer
Charles De Lint
Once again, Charles De Lint has
gifted the world with a beautifully
written book about the unusual won-
der of a magic most never see. In the
past, this prolific writer has inter-
twined Irish and Native American
mysteries into tales of magic in
present-day Ireland and Canada.
"Svaha" takes us into a new realm,
a future Canada, where the land is ruled
by a strict hierarchy of people of Asian
descent, with the exception of a few
pockets of Native Americans. Blacks,
whites and people who just "didn't fit
in" are relegated to a land ruined by
chemicals-an area where might rules,
and all who live there wish for the
benefits of those who belong to the
well-protected city's grand life.
The story's plot concerns thejour-
ney of a Native American named
Gahzee, his coyote friend, Nanabozho,
and a woman from the land of the
outcasts, Lisa Bone. Together, this
unlikely trio makes their way past
clan wars, intrigue and racial precon-
ceptions in an attempt to find a way to
help the poor and to begin healing the
toxic land. What begins as a meeting
of people from cultures so wildly dif-
ferent that they don't even speak the
same language ends up creating a
bond of friendship and love.
This novel is the first De Lint I have
read, which I would place in the "Sci-
ence Fiction" arena as opposed to "fan-
tasy." Like many science fiction nov-
els, it takes a bit of courage to wade
through a series of new vocabulary
words; some words get more under-
standable as you go along. If you stick
with the novel, you'll soon find your-
self so caught up in the intricate twists
and knots of the plot that a confusing
word here and there will hardly matter.
De Lint is an ideal writer in that he
managestocurl together excellent char-
acters with fantastic plots and superb
writing style. I have to admire anyone
who dares to grasp such a tangle of
seemingly mismatched rituals (some
beautiful and some horrifying) bor-
rowed from both the Native American
heritage and several Asian heritages,
and braid them together into a story
which ends up being absolutely lovely.
"Svaha" is a masterpiece not to be
missed. The end of the novel sets
itself up for sequels, and so luckily for
us all, De Lint is not through with the
land of wonder introduced to us in
this futuristic novel. I look forward to
my next brush with the world created
by this amazing author.
- Holly SInger
What's missing from this picture, Pearl Jam fans? Evidently Ringo Starr was busy when they took this shot.
Pearl Jam is stillahve
'Vitalogy' proves to be Pearl Jam's best album yet
By MATT CARLSON
Dateline: December, 1994. Three years after the Grunge
Revolt of '91 (dubbed Nirvanicide in the history books),
rock 'n' roll brigade commanders Pearl Jam return to the
front lines with their third fully automatic weapon,
"Vitalogy," and a reported deal with Hasbro for the rights
to the Pearl Jam action figures (Eddie with real pursed lips
S. ., tion mike stand!
" Stone with
Pearl Jam flame-throwing
Les Paul! - col-
s Vitalogy lect them all!).
Epic Early last
Vedder, spokesperson and frontman for the self-pro-
claimed Avenging Angels of Rock and Grunge Heroes
(A.A.R.G.H!), issued the following statement to the rock
press, industry experts and other associated sloth:
"There are TicketMaster spies everywhere, so I'll keep
this brief and cryptic like usual. I, uh ... I mean we, the group,
are sick of appearing like I, er, we hate being famous. Fuck
it. I mean what's the point? You found me, us, out - we're
the superheroes of rock 'n' roll, so I'll ... we'll stop pretend-
ing. We're making 17 videos for the new record, including
five for 'Spin the Black Circle,' one of which will depict
Bono and the rest of U2's herd running off a cliff. I'll be
starring in my own Fox talk show called 'The Eddie Show.'
Stone is writing and producing his 'Tommy,' tentatively
titled 'Stoned On My Throne.' Mike just bought Sony, and
Jeff is posing for Playgirl's 'Cocks in Rock' issue. Next year,
the group will launch a dome-only tour of Earth, charging 80
bucks a ticket - but with no service charge. We will not be
manhandled by corporate suits! Down with TicketMaster!
Praise Jesus! Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a date with
The preceding three paragraphs are excerpts from a
novel-in-progress currently titled "Eddie Versus Goliath."
In this chapter, we find our hero down and out after too
many bottles of Thunderbird and too few Rolling Stone
features written by young Generation X film directors (the
last one, by Ben Stiller, skirted a little too close to Eddie's
top secret missions for the CIA). Of course, the book will
be pure fiction based on fact, because the fact remains that
Pearl Jam does indeed stand as a Hall of Justice against the
vile music biz (however, let's not forget - Epic receives
its cash from King Sony), and anyone could crack under
the pressure (oh well, whatever, nevermind ...) as Ed does
in this work.
Another fact - "Vitalogy" will bear the distinction,
20 years down the road, of being Pearl Jam's best record.
"Sgt. Pepper's," "Are You Experienced," "Led Zeppelin
IV" and "Vitalogy" - mark my words, write it on your
calendar, call it from the highest mountaintops -
"Vitalogy" is the best Pearl Jam will do and will need to
do. Far from being perfect, however, the album spins two
ways - either as experimental artsy-muzak or stripped-
down rockin' roll power.
No guitar solos (!). No anthems for a generation. No
bullshit - except for three "tunes" that we all should
forget. Just call "Hey, Foxymophandlemama, That's Me"
Pearl Jam's "Revolution No. 9" and push the red reject
button on the musical assembly line plunging the "song"
to the depths of obscurity. "Stupid Mop" (another, some-
what more appropriate, name for the aforementioned
piece), "Pry, To" and "Bugs" (with Ed on accordion!), the
three losers on "Vitalogy," only end up illustrating what
happens when rock bands try to experiment - nothing.
Now, I could go off for pages here on the uselessness of
"experimental" bands like Pavement and Ween and piss a
whole lot of people off out there, but, seriously, what more
needs to be said? Bands expend way too much energy and
brain power these days on wacky image and "alternative"
packaging - they forget that they're supposed to be making
music. Of course, the kids eat it all up. Just the mention of a
team-up between the Silver Jews, the Jon Spencer Blues
Explosion and the Boredoms will have the fine folk at
Schoolkids Annex, and the even finer staff at Spin, creamin'
in their jeans for weeks on end. Every band in the nation these
days tries to come up with some unique, hip, new sound that
dulls every synapse in the brain.
Pearl Jam offers something different, from both the
Matador art-farts and from what Eddie's crew has previ-
ously released, on "Vitalogy" - raw and straightforward
rawk songs with a level of intensity that is everything but
Trent Reznor's mock anger and patented artistic moodi-
ness. From the piercing repetition of the opening "Last
Exit," to the '70s punk stomp on "Spin the Black Circle,"
to the psychedelic, Beatlesque swirl of "Tremor Christ,"
to the Who-style classic rock on both "Whipping," and
"Satan's Bed," Pearl Jam's latest thrills more than '91's
"Ten," and holds together with more focus than last year's
"Vs." But Ed, babe, just promise to stay away from the
accordion ... please?
Blues for Thought
Terry Evans has come out with
this collection often cuts straight from
original blues tip. This ain't no made-
from-the-'90s shit; this is blues
straight from the old school.
Terry Evans has the rough, seem-
ingly raw, untrained voice that
stereotypically characterizes blues. He
can also play a mean guitar.
From the jazz/bass sounds of
"Shakespeare Didn't Quote That" to
the grass roots, roughneck sounds of
"Natcha Bone Lover" to the beautiful
love ballad, "That's the Way Love
Turned Out for Me," Evans will relax
you and then drive your emotions to
an emotional high in a matter of sec-
But, let's be honest. Blues is a
dying art. "Blues for Thought" does a
good job of temporarily reviving this
suffocating dinosaur, but a complete
Hidalgo, a member of Los Lobos and
a frequent contributer to Waits' bril-
liant albums of the 1980s.
Hidalgo's latest project is a far cry
from the ethnic pop of Los Lobos.
The Latin Playboys' eponymous de-
but is a spicy mixture of studio spon-
taneity, clanging guitars and stomp-
Songs like "Ten Believers" and
"If 'lean in a harsher, bluesy direction
while "Forever Night Shade Mary"
and "Lagoon" ("Last night I hung a
branch on the wall / To meet tomor-
row / To send me through my day /
Where a gray old dream meets the
water / And fades away") are nothing
short of beautiful. "Mira!" and "Viva
La Raza" are a bit more chaotic but
never lose touch with the more
The quality of this work is so
high that this has to be more than a
one-off side project. The world sim-
ply needs to hear more from the
T 'I, - ...nc
The "BLACKstreet Philosophy
Interlude," the LP's first cut, the mu-
sic sounds nice, but the spoken parts
are jacked up. "Baby Be Mine," song
number 2, is straight, but it isn't very
From there, things get really booty.
Songs like "You Blow My Mind,"
"Good Life" and "Make U Wet" (and
basically every song on
"BLACKstreet" before "Love's In
Need") are all wacked, jacked and
acked. These songs are pitiful and
pathetic, and they are definitely not
what one would expect from Riley.
But, don't trash "BLACKstreet"
just yet, because the tenth song on the
album, "Love's In Need," marks a
spectacular metamorphosis. From
here on, "BLACKstreet" spits hit af-
ter hit of which "Love's in Need" is
only one. "Joy," "Before I Let You
Go," and "Confession" are a few of
the last I1 cuts on the LP that show
something the first half of the collec-
tion didn't - these guys can blow.
The first half of "BLACKstreet"
is a big joke that Teddy Riley played
on himself. The second half, how-
ever, is a very notable collection of
music which saves the CD, and the
group, from utter ruin.
"BLACKstreet" is a nice CD - if
you listen only to the second half. My
only question is why would Teddy
Riley produce a 20-cut CD where the
first half of the sungs obviously suck
when he could have simply put out a
nice 11-cut album.
- Eugene Bowen
Do you identify as bisexual?
Are you a student (undergrad./grad.)
concentrating in psychology or an
affiliated faculty/staff member?
If so, you will definitely be interested in:
THE U-M BISEXUAL
An informal group now forming to provide
socializing, discussion and awareness of related
issues, and possible opportunities to collaborate for
much-needed related research.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL THE
UNDERGRAD PSYCH. OFFICE AT764-2580
As your collegiate student government here
on campus, it's our job to fill vacancies on the
LS&A Academic Judiciary. We need a few
dedicated LS&A students to serve, by. presiding over
cases involving serious issues like cheating. Now's
the time 1to get involve~d if vou areinterested. Just
- - 0 . I