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October 09, 1997 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-09

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12B - Th ichiganDaily Weeken agazine - Thursday,_Octer_9,_1997 r
Q State of the Arts

The Michigan Daily Weekend Magazine - Thursday, October 9, 19 - 58
[i University Feature
Bentley Library peevshisoy1

We're here. We're queer. Get used to
This is one of many catch phrases
you may hear this week, this week of
celebration, this week of tossing your
inhibitions aside, this week of being
yourself, this week of coming out.
That's right, it's the time of year again
for National Coming Out Week. And
Coming Out Week isn't just about
telling the world you're gay, it's about
te4l4ng the world that it's OK to be gay.
In the spirit of telling the world that it
is all right to be who you are, I propose
that members of another minority come
out of their own respective closets -
guys who watch soap operas.
You know who you are, guys. You are
the ones who schedule your classes and
tee times around "Days of Our Lives."
You are the ones pissed off that Sonny
left Brenda at the altar. You are the ones
who can name all of Erica Kane's hus-
bands. You are the ones annoyed
because Sami is still alive. Face it, you
are the ones addicted to daytime dramas
- not that there's anything wrong with
Admitting that you're a male soap
opera viewer is nothing to be ashamed
of. It doesn't make you less of a man; it
doesn't say anything about your sexual

orientation; it doesn't give people cause
to ridicule you.
It does, however, instill in you an
enormous sense of pride. Take it from
me, I'm an out and proud soap-opera
viewer, flaunting my extensive knowl-
edge of "General Hospital" as if there
were no tomorrow.
Still, there is a stigma on television
lifestyle choices like mine. This stigma
has been created
by a society that
believes only
housewives and
F young girls watch
soap operas, and it
is reinforced by an
advertising indus-
try that creates
especially tortur-
ous tampon, yeast
Bryan Lark infection and baby
Daily Arts Editor wipes commer-
cials to air during
soaps, making it painfully obvious that
college-age males are not the target
But for me, what doesn't kill me dur-
ing my beloved soaps only makes me
stronger. I laugh in the face of Vagisil; I
scoff at Pampers Pull-Ups; I care noth-
ing of the new Tampax Multi-pack.

These sexist commercials are a fact
of soap-watching life and are but one
way soap society is prejudiced against
viewers of the male persuasion.
It is assumed from the get-go CBS
soap honcho Bill Bell and other big
cheeses that the core audience is entirely
female. What else would explain the fact
that female characters on soaps are either
virtuous.virgins or all-out vixens - two
categories of admirable femininity for
women to simultaneously identify with
and despise.
On the other hand, male soap charac-
ters are divided into three subsets: patri-
arch, lawyer and brooding gigolo: with
All three groups are too sexy for their
own good and are often shown fresh
from the gym or from the shower.
All this is great for women - some-
thing to enjoy on both intellectual and
carnal levels.
But where does that leave us? With
whom can we identify? Adam/Stuart
Chandler? Who are we supposed to
desire? Deirdre Hall?
Even though I'm not welcome at this
meeting of the All-Girls Club, I'm
going to stay just to spite them, damn it.
Are you reading this saying, "Gee, I
wish I could be like Bryan, flaunting
my soap opera pride as if there were no
tomorrow?" Well, you can, my friend,
by just following my simple steps to
find the out-and-proud soap viewer
inside yourself.
Step 1: Affirm your feelings.
Before you come out, make sure that
coming out is truly for you, that you are

actually a soap addict. For instance, I
admit to watching "GH" on a regular
basis, as well as the rest of the ABC
afternoon lineup if it is presented in
front of me. I can also tell you what's
happening on "Young and the Restless"
"As The World Turns'" "Bold and the
Beautiful" and "Days." In case you're
not sure, this definitely makes me an
addict. If you're in anywhere near as
deep as I am, you should just come out
already! I'm tired of being a lonely
Step 2: Please yourself.
Not like that, pervert. Just ensure that
you're coming out for yourself and not
to please a psychotic soap-addict
columnist begging for a revolution.
Step 3: Steel yourself.
Be prepared for taunting at the hands
of the closed-minded. Prepare for peo-
ple calling you awful names. Prepare
for teasing calls of "Oh, sorry, did I call
during your soap?" Prepare to be on the
defensive when someone calls your
favorite soap heroine a dumb bitch.
Step 4: Realize that your favorite
soap heroine is a dumb bitch.
Until you view your soap and its
characters as a cheesy and vapid,
though passionate, exercise in pop
entertainment and not as an omnipotent
bible of social interaction, your confi-
dence in coming out as a super soap fan
can never be fully supported. Think
about it: How credible are you as a fan
if you actually believe that people
return from the dead; that most bodies
are never recovered; that so many

babies were switched at birth; that
demonic possession occurs every day;
that you have an evil twin or that your
girlfriend is your sister?
Step 5: Come out.
That was easy, wasn't it? Only five
steps and you're out. Why was that so
simple, Bryan? Because no one cares if
guys watch soaps, that's why. Soap-o-
phobia is a phenomenon that should be
non-existent in today's supposedly open
and enlightened culture.
So, go ahead, achieve daytime nir-
vana, watch your soap openly, discuss it
with friends, tell strangers, shout it from
the rooftops. Do whatever you want, but
just don't ever let anyone tell you that
you're strange or different just because
you've been watching "GH" since pre-
school, before being a soap addict was
Listen to this out soap fan, I'm OK
watching soaps; you're OK watching
soaps. But if you ever believe you're not
normal, whether you're buying a Soap
Opera Digest at Meijer, rushing home
from your evening class to catch Susan
Lucci lose another Daytime Emmy or
are contemplating a trip to this year's
Soap Fan Fair, just seek out those who
understand your addiction. There's safe-
ty in numbers.
We're your brothers, your friends,
your sons, your RAs, your Daily colum-
nists. We're here. We watch soaps. Get
used to it.
- You can get the week's soap syn-
opsesfrom Bryan Lark by e-mailing
him at blark@umich.edu

By Jason Stofer
Daily Arts Writer
"You bulls are the same, but the rea-
son for this note is to praise the ability of
Lt. Ron Leonard. He is one man should
I ever be cornered, I wouldn't kill.'
-A letter stored in the Bentley Library,
to Port Huron police, from infamous
mobster John Dillinger:
Tales of bayonets clashing and pleas
to distant loves; stories of athletic tri-
umph and crushing political defeat.
Within the walls of the University's
Bentley Historical Library on North
Campus, this lore of yesteryear lives on.
The Library, established by the Board
of Regents in 1935, draws researchers
from across the nation, seeking to tap the
archive's rich historical documents. The
collection, encompassing both Univer-
sity and state history, contains more than
30,000 linear feet of archives and manu-
scripts, 57,000 printed volumes, 1.5 mil-
lion photographs and other visual mate-
rials, and more than 10,000 maps.
These records give a glimpse into the
creative processes of some of America's
greatest artistic minds.
Arnold Gingrich was a Michigan
Daily editor who went on to become the
editor of Esquire Magazine. In the first
half of the twentieth century, Esquire
was one of the nation's most respected
literary magazines. The archive's Esquire
Collection contains Gingrich's commu-
nications with some of the industrial
era's most memorable and prominent
One of the more intriguing documents
is the first draft of Ernest Hemingway's
"The Snows of Kilimanjaro, complete
with Gingrich's editorial changes and
remarks. The collection also includes let-
ters and stories from such notables as

William Faulkner and Clarence Darrow.
Relevant archival documents date all
the way to the present. Just a few years
ago, Michigan architect Gunnar Birkerts
donated his entire cache of sketches to
the archive. Birkerts designed the
University Law School's underground
library, and is known as one of today's
great modernists.
Birkerts saved every sketch - from
his original conceptual drawings to the
polished final blueprint - for more than
30 of his most famous works.
Manuscript Assistant Sally Bund said
that with the days of hand-drawn archi-
tectural drawings giving way to technol-
ogy, preliminary sketches are will no
longer be saved. Thus, Birkerts' sketches
will prove invaluable to architectural stu-
dents in the centuries ahead, as they doc-
ument the entire creative process. "They
are a fascinating view of how the archi-
tectural mind works," Bund said.
William Wallach, Bentley's assistant
director, said Bentley's mission is
twofold - to serve as the University's
archive, while also documenting the his-
tory of the state of Michigan, its people
and its non-governmental organizations.
Perhaps Bentley's most sought-after doc-
uments are the letters of 27 of
Michigan's 45 governors.
For instance, the letters of Stevens
Mason, Michigan's first governor, con-
tain personal correspondence with
Andrew Jackson and accounts of the
infamous Toledo War, which pitted
Michigan against Ohio. Jackson mediat-
ed between the two states, and a com-
promise was reached - Michigan
received the upper peninsula, while Ohio
retained Toledo. At the time, many
Michigan residents thought the state got
a raw deal.

The archive's political collection,
while primarily local, does contain some
very important national documents. For
instance, in the archival stacks are the
cue cards from which President Lyndon
Johnson read his Great Society speech.
There is also a fairly detailed account of
the so-called "Polar Bear Expedition,"
- America's foray into the Russian
The library purchases almost none of
its documents, instead relying on
Michigan citizens' donations. However,
materials rarely land at Bentley on a sil-
ver platter - some of the library's more
intriguing tales surround how its collec-
tion was obtained.
After 130 years of repeatedly unsuc-
cessful attempts, Governor Alpheus
Felch's letters were recovered following
a phone call less than two decades ago.
The executor of Felch's great-grand-
daughter's estate called the library after
finding the papers buried in a dust- cov-
ered trunk. Within weeks, they were
delivered to the library.
Materials in the archive run the gamut
from war to politics to gender relations
to athletics. One of the collection's
strengths lies in its volumes of local
material. The John Sinclair letters give
an up-close view of the life and philoso-
phy of a controversial 1960s radical.
Sinclair lived in the building which cur-
rently houses the Luther Co-op and was
a leader in the Detroit music scene. He
also hoarded 1960s memorabilia - his
collection gives valuable insight on the
inner workings of revolutionary groups
like the Black Panthers.
The list of possible research topics
seems almost endless. The archive con-
tains a comprehensive history of
Michigan athletics, mapping collegiate

Bentley conservator JIm Craven preserves 19th-century advertisements.

Fram O
- s For More Information Contact:
o Loco in 1uco?? 800-875-4525
web sitn wwbianc-essicem

athletics' growth from its infancy to
today. Wallach said the library is active-
ly updating its extensive resources for
those researching various single-issue
groups, including gay and lesbian
rights, the civil rights movement, abor-
tion and the environment.
The archive also gives a comprehen-
sive University history. Bentley research
assistant and LSA junior Chris Frey said
the library contains all University presi-
dents' letters, and has "just hundreds of
boxes of material on the influential
James B. Angell." On the Bentley
Website, located at http://
wvswsumich.edu/-bhl/index.htm, the
campus' history and buildings are
brought to life on a virtual campus tour.
Given the rarity of its documents, the
Bentley library maintains closed stacks;
documents are retrieved by the library's
archival staff on a per-request basis. Frey

said this is done "not so much because
the documents are valuable, but because
they are unique and irreplaceable in
nature." Patrons must check their bags
and belongings at the door, and then are
allowed to request documents from the
librarys knowledgeable archivists.
People should feel comfortable
searching the archive, whether they are
seasoned University professors or are
making their first foray into historical
research, Wallach said. "We try to give
everyone the same kind of professional
attention --whether they be a profesion-
al scholar or neophyte"
Howevers, researchers should be
warned - archival work can be tedious.
While the research may be difficult,
results are often incredibly rewarding.
"It's a real detective job sometimes, but
as you discover things, it's fun," Wallach

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