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October 03, 1996 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-10-03

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14B - The Michigan Daily Weekend Magazine - Thursday, October 3, 1996



The Michigan Day Weekend Ma

mu Sound and Fury

Ed About Town

Yet, that only sketches Fitzgerald's
huge impact. "Gatsby" continues to sell
300,000 copies a year. An F. Scott
Fitzgerald Society started in 1990. And
celebrations commemorating this
autumn's centennial, are being held
across the. world. Writer Garrison
Keillor hosted an unveiling of a
Fitzgerald statue in St. Paul; actress
Sharon Stone attended a Paris celebra-
tion honoring the writer. This month the
post office tips its hat with the F. Scott
Fitzgerald postage stamp.
Why such a fervor over Fitzgerald?
Dozens of other top American writers
see their centennial birth anniversaries
pass without such ballyhooing. What
did Fitzgerald do to that makes him one
of the country's favorites? There have
been better writers born since 1896. But
few have achieved the legendary status
Fitzgerald holds.
Fitzgerald captured the essence of the
American spirit more distinctly than
any writer ever has; "The Great Gatsby"
defines the American attitude. The
novel deals with hope, and Jay Gatsby
exemplifies the American tendency to
believe that they hope with more fervor


Very few writers actually know the
mark their works will leave on the
world. That includes F. Scott Fitzgerald,
born 100 years ago last week, Sept. 24,
1896, in St. Paul, Minn.
Fitzgerald said, "An author ought to
write for the youth of his own genera-
tion, the critics of the next and the
schoolmasters of ever afterward."

Fitzgerald heeded his own words.
Indeed, the youth of his generation
dubbed Fitzgerald a hero, prompting
Ernest Hemingway to call Fitz a
"prophet of the Jazz Age." Afterward,
critics of the next cooed at Fitzgerald's
repertoire, and today his most famous
novel, "The Great Gatsby," tops reading
lists of American Literature courses.

and dream, with more idealism than
anyone else.
In the last passage of "Gatsby,"
Fitzgerald suddenly shifts to the first-
person plural: "Gatsby believed in the
green light, the orgiastic future that year
by year recedes before us. It eluded us
then, but that's
no matter -
tomorrow we
will run faster, the esse
stretch out our
arms farther.... American
And one fine
morning - more dish
So we beat on,
boats against the any Write
current, borne
back ceaselessly
into the past."
Suddenly, Gatsby becomes "we"; his
hopes have increased to envelop our
hopes. Fitzgerald pulls off an ending of
such movement and heaviness, the
reader can't help to be crushed and lost
and hoping along with the characters.
This finale is of such brilliance, I'd
argue that no writer had been able to
match it to date.
The American character in the 20th
century shows that we are a quixotic
nation, and Jay Gatsby, who believed in
his dreams with as much fervor as
Cervantes' Quixote, has become a
model of that idealism. When we face
advefsity, our leaders still speak avour
the American spirit. We are told that
tomorrow, if we keep on reaching
around the corner, we can become a
golden city set upon a hill.
That's what Fitzgerald illustrated in
"Gatsby": The existence of hope, no
matter how foolish that hope seems.
This oddly optimistic message is
why, among the voices of today's angst-
.. , ., , nwcnsr art
pouting poets, Fitzgerald remains one
of our favorite writers.
It was hope that he would need most at
the end of his life. Early on, the young


Princeton fellow saw his career skyrocket,
his generation prosper, and he married a
beautiful, albeit unstable woman, the
famous Zelda. He soon became the voice
of a generation, and he accepted that role
with a certain amount of joy.
Later, he found it difficult to write
because his own
life was getting
worse. Success
Ce of the was whelming to
him, as was his
wifes worsening
Sl"' ?mental illnesses.
nctlythan His own infa-
mous battle with
referred to now
as the "Crack-
up, made his life seem even sadder.
By the time he turned 40, Fitz was
living in Hollywood, writing hack
screenplays and magazine articles for
money. Zelda was spending her days in
a sanitarium. The fair-haired, blue-eyed
golden boy of a Jazz Age, had hit his
own personal great depression.
Still, Fitzgerald never gave up his ide-
alism. He tried to give up drinking, and
for months at a time he would succeed,
spending those sober months sitting up
in bed, scribbling drafts for what would
be his last novel, "The Last Tycoon,"
which remained unfinished when
Fitzgerald died in December 1940.
L- mlt wxcrtTu, i drove e tnr'mnc,:,
the Midwest. It's autumn now, and the
world is alive with new wind and fresh
colors- reds and oranges and yellows,
but soon a long grey winter will arrive.
Fall in the midwest is a season of such
intense hope and beauty, that one can't
help to ignore the fact that winter is swift-
ly approaching.
It's fitting that a voice like Fitzgerald's
Wouid be bore tn, in the fall, in the mid-
west, bellowing hope and beauty despite
the certainty of winter. We are lucky that
the voice has remained with us for these
100 years.

By Nick Farr
For the Daily
"Indie doesn't mean anything any-
more," Schoolkids Records and Tapes
employee Byron Bull noted. "Indie has
been beaten into a meaningless term.
Independent music stores like
Schoolkids are slowly disappearing."
Leaning in front of one of his many
homespun album descriptions, Bull
rambles on for a while about the sad
state of music - everything from radio
to press, companies and culture.
"It seems like big names on big
labels automat-
ically get a
good review.SchOolkid
People come in and
here all the
time and tell ~ What: An indep
me they bought store.
a really bad ~ Where: 523 E.

Indie Schoolkids Records offers
actual vinyl, alternative music

Being receptive involves more than
opening stores. One of Schoolkids'
strong points is its staff. Bull, who has
worked at Schoolkids for eight years,
said he enjoys "doing a little bit of
everything. Every employee here is cru-
By Bergman's own admission,
employees at Schoolkids work long
hours for little pay and stand little
chance of promotion within the compa-

Sean Westergaard, a store manager at
Schoolkids, said his job is to "try to be
about getting good and varied music
into people's ears. We try to be an edu-
cational resource. We have a deeper and
more varied catalog. People come in
going, 'What's good? What are you
going to sell me today?'
"Because we are an independent
store, we're disposed to tracking stuff
down and getting it in the store,"
Westergaard said. "We can react a lot
faster to requests, because we talk
directly to the manufacturer. We carry
things that just scream National Public
Radio profile. NPR used to send peo-
ple to the New York Tower Records
"Because we're a smaller store, our
best people are really focused on the
music. When you walk in here, you
could be serviced by the owner or the
buyer for the company," Bergman said.
Bergman claimed one of the key rea-
sons behind his success is his advocacy


"We work here more for the love of
music than
anything else,"
Records Bull said. "At
the end of the
s day you have
int record to live with
ty St. A few for-

Student David Wallace checks oul
for consumers and artists.
"All of us firmly believe the
we're working here as opposed to
where else is because we're here to
cate for artists and customers," Be
said. "That means we don't sell wl
like. We'd probably go out of busin
we have an artist that we know has
ket out there, we get a lot of plea
hooking that artist and that custom

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the review was
great," he said.
"Pop is just the

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And music stores?
"You see the same chains everywhere
you go," Bull said. "When was the last
time the average person walked into a
really good independent music store?
That's the thing about Schoolkids
Records. It's like an oasis in a desert of
nromlng but sand."
Steve Bergman, owner and founder
of Schoolkids, explained why he's per-
severed for 20 years under the same
ominous awnings of the Michigan
Theater building.
"We realize how important indepen-
dent retailing is to the entire industry,
and what a precarious position indepen-
dent retailers find themselves in,"
Bergman said.
Things were not all that different in
the spring of 1976 when he decided to
start a new store for the Schoolkids
Cooperative, a group of University of
Florida students who owned a chain of
record stores across the country.
Bergman ventured north from Florida,
started an Ann Arbor outlet and broke
off from the co-op six months after he
opened for business.
"The kind of store I wanted to do did-
n't seem compatible with what they
were doing with the co-op," he said.
"We had a grander scheme of carrying
all types of product. Everyone else
wanted to run a hip record store."
Since then, Schoolkids has grown to
become one of the leaders in indepen-
dent music retailing. The Schoolkids
site has sprawled fromethe original
1,000-square-foot store, to a 7,000-
square-foot site with separate classical
and used record stores.
One of the expansion's products,
SKR Classical, was not entirely about
making money.
"We opened a store more toserve a
need. That's what good independent
record stores do-- they're receptive to
the needs of the community" Bergman

Rykodisc label, currently manages his
company's U.S. distribution from
Minneapolis. He worked at Schoolkids
from 1980 to 1983.
"in general, consuners rarely care
about the politics of retail, whether
=." Y aV mg rneir recores from a
chain or from a mom-and-pop store,"
Simonds said.
What sets Schoolkids apart from
other stores, he said, is its extensive col-
lection and attention to music.
"They do what they do very well, in
terms of stocking, hiring knowledge-
able sales people, and orienting them-
selves toward people and consumers
that love music and that have an appre-
ciation for that;' Simonds said.
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