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March 02, 1995 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-02

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8- The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, March 2, 1995

Bella Ciao: Cozy
hideaway, high quality


By James M. Nash and
Maureen Sirhal
Daily Staff Reporters
A quiet atmosphere and the sooth-
ing sounds of an Italian opera set the
tone for an enchanting meal at the
Bella Ciao Resteraunt.
Located on West Liberty Street in
downtown Ann Arbor, this cozy
hideway feeds into the more romantic
side of things.
The elegant decor adds to the re-
laxation of the food served at Bella
Ciao. A traditional Italian menu ranges
from antipasto (appetizers) dishes from
to hearty pasta dishes, priced reason-
ably but in moderate portions. A vari-
ety of rich-tasting pasta dishes adorns
the menu.
The gnocchi, a dish of cheese-
filled macaroni smothered in mush-
rooms and a marinara sauce, is rich in
flavor yet delicately spiced. Unlike
many Italian restaurants that drown
their entrees in oregano, the flavor
here is supplied by a medley of fresh
vegetables. And that flavor comple-
ments the mild blend of cheeses that
fill the soft - but not spongy - pasta
A vast price difference separates
the pasta dishes from the full entrees,

which run as high as $15. Overall,
prices are reasonable for a formal
Italian restaurant, but be forewarned:
A full meal for two, complete with
appetizers and dessert, could easily
run $50.
While there is no formal dessert
menu, the elegance and variety of the
choices differs from day to day. In
this particular encounter, the restau-
rant offered a selection that ranged
from mild to super rich. The desserts
included a wild walnut cake topped
with white chocolate and espresso
chocolate, a canoli, a different twist
on the classic lemon meringue pie
and a tempting lemon ice cream. We
recommend the chocolate napoleon:
Three layers of white and dark choco-
late sandwiched by chocolate ganache
and garnished with a raspberry sauce.
Served with a steaming cup of coffee
or cappuccino, this combination will
satisfy the most discriminating sweet
More disappointing is the bread.
Fresh, warm, slightly chewy bread is
a staple of any good Italian restaurant,
served in abundance with a dollop of
butter or olive oil. Bella Ciao offered
a slightly older herb-flavored bread
whose taste bordered on overbearing.
The waitstaff serviced the meal
with style and grace. While maintain-
ing a low profile, they graciously at-
tend to the needs of the patrons.
Although Bella Ciao is bit pricey
for the average college wallet it does
meet a very high standard of quality.
Yet it is informal enough to walk in off
the street.


Bella Ciao
118 W. Liberty

Hours: Mon-Sat 5:30-10, Sun 5-9
Price: Entrees $14-15, appetizers
$4-5, desserts $4-5
Vegetarian friendly
All non-smoking
All major credit cards accepted
Dining room handicap accessible;
restrooms unaccessible
Dress: Casual to semi-formal


Stars don't kill rock

By Tom Erlewine
Daily Arts Editor
At the beginning of each year,
reams of paper are wasted on crit-
ics' year-end lists. Most of these
articles run in December or Janu-
ary, but the granddaddy of all an-
nual music critics' polls appears on
newsstands this week: The Village
Voice's Pazz & Jop.
Over the years, the Village
Voice's Pazz & Jop poll has become
the unofficial final word in main-
stream rock criticism. While Roll-
ing Stone is more widely read, the
Village Voice polls nearly 300 crit-
ics from magazines and newspapers
across the country, making it an
accurate barometer of how rock criti-
cism is leaning each year. Most of
the time, the Pazz & Jop critics
manage to hand out a surprise or
two; at their best, they pick out
emerging trends quite incisively.
However, they are very rarely inci-
sive. As a quick look at their final
Top 40 shows, America's critics are
horribly unimaginative.
Like the majority of the year-
end polls, Pazz & Jop selected
Hole's "Live Through This" as al-






bum of the year. Hole's victo
surprising - Courtney Lov
riding on a wave of sympati
Kurt Cobain's suicide - b
discouraging. 121 critics
"Live Through This," gi
nearly twice as many point
second-place album, Pave
"Crooked Rain, Crooked
Rounding out the top ten is
table who's who of mainstr
ternative: R.E.M., Nirvan
Young, Liz Phair, Johnny
Guided By Voices, Nine Inc
and Beck.
What's discouraging ab
year's Pazz & Jop is not the
included in the top 40 - tha
down to a matter of taste. TI
lem with the poll is what is
tween the lines.
As with any poll, the e
problem with Pazz & Jop is its
pants. Although 300 critics
cluded in the survey, the maj
white males mostly over th
35. (The head of the entirea
Robert Christgau, the Village
music editor and self-appointe
of American Rock Critics" -
50 years old.) Sure, there m
norities were invited to par
but those votes cannot help
dramatically under the nur
older white males and their d
Essentially, a core group
older white males developer
tire practice of rock criticise
early '70s, rock criticism be
pearing across the country
rily in underground news
Soon, rock criticism began
inroads in mainstream publi
with writers like Christga
Marsh, Lester Bangs an
Marcus held as the experts
because they had been wri
longest. And that theory mak
sense - they invented th
theory that rock was dese
some coherent criticism.
However, these writer
writing when they were yo
passionate, totally immersir
selves in every record the
get their hands on. As the '
gressed, more and more reco

- 'Pazz &Jop'
pry isn't released in various subgenres. Fre-
e is still quently, these subgenres (such as co
hy from disco or electronic music) were dis- wi
)ut it is dained by the critics because it didn't me
placed rock. Instead of acknowledging the str
ving it diversification of popular music, th
s as the rock criticism became a rallying Li
-ment's point for rockers. When punk came cri
Rain." along in the late '70s and smashed mL
> a veri- the boundaries of rock'n' roll, most to.
earn al- critics recognized its importance yet Fo
a, Neil never comprehended what it meant. ba
y Cash, Punk marked a major turning point he
;h Nails in both music and music criticism. As as
it smashed musical dinosaurs like Bad he
out this Company to bits, it brought the un-
records derground to the forefront. Most punk gr
t comes bands were scathing guitar rockers alt
he prob- like the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks or tin
said be- the Ramones, yet within the scene -
there were artsier bands like Wire and all
Pssential Suicide that redefined what rock was. pu
s partici- Bands like the Clash and the Jam M
are in- fit into conventional rock criticism gic
ority are because they rocked like all bands all
e age of rocked in the past. Bands like Pere ink
affair - Ubu and Wire were different -.-
Voice's critics could appreciate their mu- wr
d "Dean sic, but they couldn't understand it. a.
- is over Granted, the more intellectual str
iany mi- critics (Marcus and Christgau) un- ve
rticipate, derstood what the artsier post-punk ye
but fall bands were doing but the people ne
mber of that were writing for local main- cr
lisciples. stream papers didn't. These are the Fi
of these people that followed in the foot- ro
d the en- steps of the old guard once rock pe
m. In the criticism was legitimate. The local al
egan ap- papers never praised anything ad-
,prima- venturous until they got a go-ahead m
spapers. from Christgau, Marsh or Marcus. b
making Fanzines, however, embraced the "1
cations, stranger music with open arms, pro- ab
u, Dave moting it for their own built-in audi- ro
d Griel ence. Throughout the '80s, the main- ki
,simply stream (which now included maga- n
ting the zines like Rolling Stone and Spin) ne
<es some and the underground papers pursued N
he entire different directions, without care of ki
rving of what the other was doing. C
So what does all of this have to g
s began do with the 1994 Pazz & Jop? -
ung and 1994's Pazz & Jop poll offers bu
ng them- definitive proof of how much rock pr
y could 'n' roll has changed in the past five se
70s pro- years and, along with it, music criti- g
rds were cism. w

It's a clich6 to say that Nirvana
mpletely changed rock 'n' roll
th "Nevermind," yet the state-
ent holds true. Just as the main-
eam listening audience embraced
e brutal, catchy riff of "Smells
ke Teen Spirit," the mainstream
itics realized there was a world of
usic that they were not listening
. This is not an exaggeration.
nrmer Minutemen and flREHOSE
ssist Mike Watt said recently that
's had a series of reporters that
ked him, "So how come I've never
ard of you before?"
Instead of diving further under-
ound when the mainstream became
ernative, underground critics con-
nued to promote their old favorites
- which made sense, since they were
in their 30s. (For proof, legendary
ink journalist Jack Rabid had Sugar,
orrissey, Kristin Hersh, Bad Reli-
on and the Beatles in his Top Ten;
J of those artists have been record-
g for at least nine years.)
And the newer, 20-something
riters? Since they were weaned on
combination of the fanzines and
raight magazines, their tastes are
cry similar to the 30-year-olds, 40-
ear-olds and 50-year-olds. Some.
ewer acts can slip through the
acks in Pazz & Jop (The Magnetic
elds placed at 29), but the whole
ck criticism enterprise is set up to
erpetuate the same artists that have
ways received favorable notices.
In the real world, none of this
atters. The five million people that
ought "Nevermind" and Green Day's
Dookie" don't care what is written
out either band. But in the world of
ck criticism, it's a major flaw. The
nd of insular thinking that domi-
ates in rock criticism promotes lazi-
ess in both writing and listening.
one of the younger critics have the
nd of insight that Marcus, Marsh or
hristgau had in the '70s. And the old
uys - especially Marcus and Marsh
- have lost touch with the record-
uying audience. So, the entire enter-
rise of rock criticism has become the
elf-perpetuating monster that the
eneral public has always claimed it

critics do


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