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October 06, 1994 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-10-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Boy meets girl:
Dating. What's that? At this point
n my life it is something that I actu-
ally don't do much of. But, nonethe-
less I hear that there are people who
do partake in this pastime on occa-
sion. And from what they tell me it is
not fun.
Do people really date anymore'? It
seems that what we call dating in our
generation is vastly different from
what our parents did. My mom has all
tese stories about her college boy-
friend who would follow the tradi-
tionally accepted dating procedures
without fail. You know what I mean,
F *r
pek-n-heche kss F
JustaJ Thought
call her up and prearrange a time, then
*lke her out to dinner/movie/sockhop/
whatever and actually pay, then walk
her home and give her the typical
peck-on-the-cheek. kiss.
This has never happened to me
and I think my mom set me up for
disappointment by telling me her sto-
ries. It seems to me that what we have
today is a completely different type of
"dating." Now guys are not the only
nes who can call to ask for a date,
here isn't necessarily prearrange-
ment, often the outing centers around
beer and we won't even get into the
kiss.
Okay, let's talk about the kiss a
second. Recently a friend was ex-
plaining to me the tortures of the
moment just before the first kiss. He
described a situation for me in which
he agonizes for what seems like hours
ven if it really isn't, trying to read the
signs: Does she rub his hand with her
thumb or does she stand with her arms
crossed? Does she get close enough
to be kissed or does she keep enough
space between them for a whole foot-
ball team?
He explained that under these con-
ditions one couldn't possible be turned
on. Doesn't this defeat the point? Kiss-
g isn't supposed to be a hellish
experience, it's supposed to be fun.
The first kiss issue doesn't seem
to me to be a big deal for some people
I know who are completely satisfied
with random hook-ups. These folks
go out with the sole purpose of mak-
ing that physical connection (if you
know what I mean). So let's move on.
It seems like the lines between
what is a date continually get blurred.
S happen to have more male friends
than female, so I am always having
dinner or going to social events with
random men. But, this does not mean
I am dating no matter how much my
mother insists it does.
My mother says that anytime I go
out with a guy, I should call it a date.
I don't think she really understands
that there are other factors which
should be considered, like mutual at-
traction. But, maybe if I followed her
standards I wouldn't consider myself
such a loser in this area.
There seems to be one key prob-
lem with the whole dating arena; no
one knows what the hell they are
doing. It's not like back in the days of
our parents when the guidelines were
clear and accepted. Men called
'omen, women waited by the phone.
So, I think there should be rules.
That way all of us who grapple with

the questions about should we call or
not, should we try to kiss, do we pay
and all those other quandaries -which
ruin the actual date for us anyway,
would have something to go on. I
don't even care what the rules are, I
just want to know them. This way
none of us will have to spend unnec-
*sary time worry about the details.
I had a conversation with a friend
at a party one night about our method
for finding men. Her solution was that
we just go up to the person we are
interested in, point and say "You."
Seem{ s simple enough. My only ques-
tinvn is 'iuhnt ch-rnlrl vwnwnr rPC'nnca= h-i

I

I

I

72

4Jss,

By ALEXANDRA TWIN

aving just sat
through a three-
minute trailer for a
foreign film that
sounded some-
thing like "geritol," I was pretty much
ready for the regular film to begin.
Also, my friend kept nudging me and
saying "Geritol!" much to the dismay
of most of the people sitting near us.
Quickly, the lights came back up and
people in tuxes began passing around
popcorn buckets, asking for money. I
politely refused; the high-fat content
of popcorn is appalling, besides, we
already had a jumbo bucket. Then,
suddenly, it dawned on me: there's no
popcorn in there. They are actually
asking for money, after we've already
paid four bucks to get in. The nerve.
But then something else occurred to
me, how the hell can you possibly
maintain a theater the size and scope
of the Michigan, play "Geritol" or
"Germinal" or whatever and make
money? The answer is, you can't.
While not in immediate financial
distress, the Michigan Theater, Ann
Arbor's only.substantial not-for-profit
movie house, is going through some-
thing of a perpetual "depend on the
kindness of strangers" motif. While
pretty heavily funded by groups such
as the National Endowment for the
Arts and the Michigan Council for the
Arts and Human Affairs, the theater
does rely on fundraising, such as the
Fail/Spring popcorn bucket drives, for
about 15 to 20 percent of its annual
budget, reports Executive Director
Russell Collins.
That's a lot of nickels and pennies.
For a theater that's due to celebrate its
67th year of operation; you've gotta
wonder how they've been doing it all
this time. One also can't help but specu-
late as to why there may be a problem
now.
A little history ...
January 5, 1928 marked the open-
ing of The Michigan, a silent movie
palace and vaudeville house that
boasted an audience capacity of 1800
and a design to rival any upscale
Broadway theater. Silent for a year,
the theater flourished with the advent
of the "talkies," motion pictures with
sound, and soon found its place as the
most prominent of all Southeastern
Michigan theaters. With its striking,
35-foot long marquee supporting a 55-
foot "Michigan" sign and 3000 lights,
the theater stood as something of a
beacon of East Liberty: glamorous,

glitzy and enticing.
Inside, a plush lobby decked in
baroque drinking fountains and mir-
rored walls led to a grand, sweeping
staircase and finally to a balcony over-
looking theenormous screen.Designed
by Maurice Finkel, the theater repre-
sented the Romanesque and Moorish
styles. It was built for $600,000 and
remained in that capacity until 1942,
when it was redesigned to look more
"modern" and "commercial"'
And commercial it was. Although
always supportive of and interested in
a bevy of stage and musical acts, by the
time the late '30s rolled around, the
theater's main fealty was to commer-
cial film. Paul Robeson, Helen Hayes,
Louis Armstrong, Ethel Barrymore and
Bela Lugosi may have all played there,
but so did just about every mainstream
commercial film of the era. Many were
accompanied by lavish orchestras, a
rare treat that continues to dissipate
year to year as the price for such en-
deavors ascends.
As operated by multiple movie-
chain owner W.S. Butterfield, the the-
ater was primarily a financial suc-

cess. Yet, with the inception of the
multi-plex, that wonderfully fabulous
creation that allowed for local view-
ers to squeeze into a variety of dirty,
cramped theaters and choose from
six, eight, 10 different films at a time,
regardless of quality, theaters like the
Michigan suffered.
Arguably, film as a medium also
suffered. The TV age coupled with a
general declining interest in film as the
primary and most accessible art form
may also be attributed to the theater's
then decline.
In addition, the expansion and ac-
cessibility of theaters like Briarwood,
Fox Village, Showcase and the State,
as well as the many campus cinema
groups, had and continues to offer the
Michigan some solid competition.
Director Collins attributes this to a
shift in the perception of film rather
than as a result of the growing range of
films available. "Film used to be the
alternative art form. In the late'SOs and
'60s, it's what students did to expand
their horizons. The college student of
the '90s has less interest in film as
Art."

Whatever the case may be, if the
theater reached its peak in the '40s
and 'SOs, it definitely saw the down-
side in the '70s. By 1979, Butterfield
was ready to sell.
After overhearing a private con-
versation between Butterfield and
another investor, regarding the possi-
bility of turning the theater into a food
court/mall, a group of musicians and
others began working together to de-
vise a way of buying and saving the
theater. Motivated by as much of a
desire to save the theater's organ (of
which a number of them were play-
ers) as to save the theater itself, the
group formed the Michigan Theater
Foundation, a strictly not-for-profit
corporation. With the help of then
mayor Lew Belcher, the group even-
tually did buy the theater.
"Butterfield just walked out and
gave us the keys." reports organist and
board member Henry Aldridge. Ini-
tially booking films and shows that
interested them, the theater soon began
to develop and thrive, building up a
steady patronage and reputation that
eventually allowed the group to re-

furbish the theater, in 1986. to near its
original visage.
Today the Michigan seats 1710,
garners a yearly audience of 180,000
and is as likely to offer an evening with
Mel Torme as an evening with
"Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."
It features the occasional, orches-
tra-accompanied nostalgia piece, like
last year's presentation of D.W.
Griffith's "Way Down East" and the
upcoming pre-Halloween "Nosferatu"
in addition to live organ music every
Friday and Saturday night before mov-
ies.
It offers plays and concerts, dolby/
stereo sound and ushers in tuxedos.
It hosts independent film festivals,
supporting everything from the current
Spike and Mike' s AllSick and Twisted
animation festival to the Spring's na-
tionally-respected 16mm Ann Arbor
Film Festival,which boasts entries from
all across the country and even the
world.
"It's got state-of-the-artequipment,
above average sound.really competent
projectionists and that enormous
screen," enthuises festival director
Vicki Honeyman. "I don't even know
if other communities have anything
like it."
The theater has premiered every
Hal Hartley film, every Gus Van Sant
film, most of John Sayles, Allison
Anders, Henry Jaglom and Steven
Soderberg's works. It has offered "The
Crying Game," "The Piano" and "My
Life As A Dog." It has paid tribute to
the likes of Orson Welles, Stanley
Kubrick, John Ford and Federico
Fellini, to name a few, in conjunction
with the University's department of
film and video. It has also premiered a
few films by local filmmakers, includ-
ing "Camus' Shoes," "When to Go"
and last year's "Harvest Moon."
If all these names sound familiar,
but a little obscure, they are. The the-
ater which once showed a considerable
number of big-budget Hollywood pro-
ductions and even more notoriously
bad "B" films is now exclusively con-
cerned with the promotion of quality
independent films.
"Frankly, we can't afford the ex-
pensive films," says Aldridge, "and
that's not really what we're interested
in. We want to show the most interest-
ing, challenging films that are differ-
ent from what you're gonna see at
your standard theater."
"It's very critical," asserts Frank
See MICHIGAN, page 4

Selected Upcoming Events (October)

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife
and Her Lover (1989)
Startling, original tale of domi-
neering gangster and his sulty wife.
October 6.

Michael Nyman band
Live on Stage
October 8, 8:00.

Live on stage
October 21, 8:00.

community support
hile not strictly devoted to the promotion of independent
film, (the theater did house the mid-west premieres of both
"The Player" and "The Accidental Tourist"), the Michigan

The Campion Sisters
Latcho Drom (1993) Four shorts from Jane and one
A panoramic view of the lives of from her sister Anna.

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