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November 04, 1994 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-11-04

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

The Hidden
Leaders
Each of us have people who come
to mind when we think of great lead-
ers: John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X,
Eleanor Roosevelt. These are people
who have made their way into the
history books because of the changes
they initiated in our society. They're
people I look up to as amazing lead-
ers.
Here at Michigan we have a rich
4radition of student leadership. We
brag about Tom Hayden starting Stu-

dents for a Democratic Society. We
reflect with pride on the students who
Wd the Black Action Movement. Our
history has been filled with activism
led by students.
Recently, however, protests on the
Diag are rare, and when they do oc-
cur, the crowds are sparse. And now
we have to ask ourselves, does the
lack of active protests mean that stu-
dent leadership is dying on this cam-
pus?
& Some who consider campus lead-
ership to be determined by how many
people one can get out on the Diag
would say yes, leadership is defi-
nitely dead. But, if we stop for a
minute and look around we will no-
tice that students all over campus are
doing great things and building a new
type of leadership.
No longer is the main focus of
campus leadership to be strictly anti-
*dministration. Now students are
watching what is going on around the
University with a keen eye and ac-
tively trying to change what isn't
working for them as students.
But, to limit leadership to a cat-
egory which is defined by the admin-
istration ignores all the vision and
creativity students exercise everyday.
It ignores the movement by many
4udent to take back control of stu-
dent success by creating opportuni-
ties for themselves.
Leaders on campus today are those
people who don't wait for opportunites
to come to them; they create the op-
portunities. They are the people who
see something wrong and go out to
change it. And often they are people
who ask for no credit in return.
This is not to say that there is one
*pe of leadership that should be con-
sidered correct. That's the beauty
about leading, it happens in many
ways. And it happens everywhere.
It happens with members of the
Undergraduate. M-Club. Student ath-
letes are looked to as leaders by people
all over campus because they are our
athletic heroes. Our moods rise and
fall based on their performance and
Oe take pride when our teams suc-
ceed. But M-Club members are also
starting to branch out of their sports.
They are contributing to campus poli-
tics, joining other student organiza-
tions and working to enhance the im-
age of student athletics. They are
making new opportunities for them-
selves on campus. They are leading in
many different ways.
' Some of the best leaders I know
e those who don't make their pres-
ence obvious. They are the people
who go out and work for Habitat for
Humanity, work with troubled high
school students and take random
homeless people out to eat. Rarely do
you hear these people talking about
how great they are or see their names
in the paper. They are not necessarily
serving on task forces (although they
Oay be.)
But their leadership is invaluable.
We may not recognize them when we
see them on the street but they are
leading us to a better future. They are
actively working to make a difference
and it's not the glory they are after.

By irkMiler
The line that stretched around the second floor, down the stairs and outside of
Borders last Thursday for Henry Rollins was not indicitive of the response most
authors get when they go on a book tour; it was a response normally reserved
for concerts or opening night of blockbuster movies. However, it did
show a growing demand by publishers to get authors out on the road and
promoting their work for a shrinking literary audience.
Rollins was on the road to promote the audio version of his
own "Get in the Van," an occasionally entertaining but
painfully boring recollection of his days touring with punk
icons Black Flag. Although he is known for being extremely
clever and engaging in person and on stage, his writing not
the reason up to 700 people waited for hours to meet him (one
person insisted "Henry is going to propose to me, I just know
it."); the event exceeded even the best attendendence records
for readings by four or five times. There were so many people
that the entire book reading and question-and-answer period
had to be cancelled in favor of straight book signing. It turned;
into an assembly line where each person had to write their
name on a post-it note attached to whatever they wanted
signed. In one instant he transformed his personal pains of
ten years ago into a Generation X marketing ploy.
Before the tour started the short-and-beginningto-gray
Rollins had decided to "let the book speak for itself," y
thereby refusing all interviews (we must assume then that :
the "Detroit Free Press" actually had a small interview with
a different singer/author named Henry Rollins last week).
According to his publicist "Todd" this was the first time
Rollins had done any in-store appearances, with Ann Arbor his
first stop on a three-city tour. It was done at the suggestion ofa
megaconglomerate Time/Warner, who put out the audio version
of "Get in the Van" as part of a line of rock stars doing spoken word
(a hoped for title on Evan Dando titled "Get Off the Air" was
unfortunately only a false rumor).;
This is not the usual market or approach for book publishers, but
times for more underground or serious work are not promising. The
"New York Times" bestsellers list has turned into the equivilant
of Top 40 radio, charting forgettable literature like Faye Resnick's
private diaries of her friendship with Nicole Simpson, feel-
good religion via the Pope and the "The Celestine Proph-
ecy," and two or three big-name authors who sell books
more by bulk than literary genius (Anne Rice, Stephen King,
John Grisham). Even one-time bestselling authors like Bret
Easton Ellis ("Less Than Zero") are now competing in a limited
marketplace for a share of the literary market.
So most authors now turn to other routes they never considered before;
it's not surprising to see authors on talk shows with Jon Stewart and Conan O'Brien, or for
usually independent writers like Rollins and Stephen King to hook up with a larger company and
go on tour. Most promotional tours hit bigger markets like Los Angeles or college towns such
as Ann Arbor to generate publicity and guarantee a good-size crowd. However, there might be
more to it than creating awareness of a new book, according to Dallas Moore of Borders.
"It's free entertainment," she laughed. "It's a way to hear literature, and for learning. You're
seeing an author and learning the process of writing. We get students in here who talk to the
authors about what it's really like."
Moore has served two years as a coordinator and community liason for visiting authors at
Borders, one of several locations in town that sponsors frequent readings. The remodeled and
expanded Shaman Drum bookstore on State Street hosts many "smaller authors and

univeristy professors for publication; other organizations such as the Women's
Studies department and Hillel have been prominent in getting authors such
as Jane Smiley and Naomi Wolf to speak. Borders also sponsors ficiton and
poetry readings with the Department of English at Rachkam Ampitheatre.
However, instead of having to solicit authors to speak, publishers have
been very eager to bring writers to town and present them in an
intimate environment.
"The publishers send them out on tour and contact me," Morris
said. "Sometimes I hear directly from authors who are interested
in reading." In the past this has included contemporary authors
like Ellis, Douglas Coupland, Gita Mehta, and Michael Dorris,
all who had previous bestsellers. Mehta had been on the road for
nearly two years to promote "A River Sutra" and "Karma Cola,"
two very successful books that she and the publishers still felt
needed to reach a larger audience.
"I don't enjoy being on the road," Mehta admitted in Septem-
ber. "I haven't met a lot of people and I always have to talk about
myself. After two years the book becomes more and more
distant."
With the exception of "authors" such as Rollins, the format is
usually pretty staid. The writer reads out loud from their old and
new works, then takes maybe up to half an hour to answer
questions from the audience. After this they usually sign books for
very appreciative fans and make idle chit-chat with the people in
line.
However, there have been interesting exceptions. When Ellis
was touring in early September to promote his trapped-in-the-80s
short story collection "The Informers" he was required by the
publisher's insurance company to have a bodyguard present at all
of his readings; there was still a lot of bent-up hostility left over
from his controversial "American Psycho" novel from three years
before. This was the work that aroused angry picketers, boycotts of
the publisher and even death threats. Some of this fervent reaction
lingered on; before Ellis showed up two people had called the store and
harassed one worker by reading explicitly violent and sexual passages
from the infamous book.
But meeting Ellis was also another shock. A very packed second floor
saw a very well-dressed and very shy man; he noticably blushed when
someone said, "You're not the prick I thought you'd be in real life." Ellis
admitted later that he'd never been on a book tour before and had been
^>.pleasantly surprised to find he enjoyed them.
But the positive response to even vilified authors like Ellis proves there is
an audience that is eager to see what the authors are really like. It doesn't hurt
sales, either.
"We have good sales that night," Moore said. "And there's some increase
the preceding and following days as well." She also points out that reactions to Ellis and Rollins have
been the exception for the usually more intimate setting of 100-150.
"Rollins happens to have a ... rabid following," Moore carefully picked out her words. "He has
a personality that attracts the age and persuasions of those in their 20s."
Borders, Shaman Drum and the other sponsors continue to have a long list of upcoming authors,
most notably poet legend Allan Ginsberg at Borders on November 13 (see below). The reaction for
Ginsberg will most likely be similar to the one he received last year at Shaman Drum, similar to
Rollins a line wrapped all the way inside the building and far outside. And like Rollins, there will not
actually be any room or time for a reading, just a signing of Ginsberg's new four CD spoken word set
from the literary under- ground of Warner/Elektra/Atlantic Records.
How we must suffer for their art.

Above: Rollins now.
Left Rollins on tour with Black Flag
Right: Rollins on tour with Black Flag, and bald.

Authors make their works known through appearances

By MATT BENZ and KIRK
MILLER
Now that you've read the book,
it's time to meet the author. In the
coming month, there will be no less
than seven reputable authors in town

Heafitz will be having a poetry read-..
ing and signing her latest work, "In
Darkness and In Light."
Sunday, November 13: Some
poet named Allan Ginsberg is sched-
uled to appear, although it looks like

Another champion of local au-
thors is the refurnished Shamen Drum,
a local fixture at 315 South State. The
readings are usually .more locally
based and at various times during the
day.

Wednesday, November 9: (4-6
p.m.) Philip Berryman will be read-
ing from his new book "Stubborn
Hope: Religion, Politics, and Revolu-
tion in.Central America." (8-10 p.m.
same day) Native American writers

Wipe away the bad taste of "The Bell
Curve" and attend the publication
party of "Race Rebels: Culture, Poli-
tics, and the Black Working Class,"
the new work by Professor Robin
Kelley.

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