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October 08, 1998 - Image 21

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-10-08

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1OD - The Michigan Daily Weekend Magazine -- Thursday, October 8, 1998

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The Michigan Daily Weekend Ma

Oct. 8: It's not just for Christmas anymore
/What: Frakenmuth, MI
/Where: North of Ann Arbor toward Flint. MI'
/How: Take,1-23 North until it becomes 1-75. Follow I-
75 until to Birch Run Street in Frankenmuth. From there
you can pretty much follow the signs to anywhere in
own.
/How Long: 1 hour, 15 minutes.
/What's There: Besides the Christmas store, the town also
sports a Bavarian atmosphere, friendly folks and food worth
checking out. As the days get shorter and winter solidifies
its grip on Michigan, Frakenmuth transforms into a winter-
wonderland - so you might want to wait just a few weeks
or so before you jump in the car. Of course if you want to go
soon, before the roads get all slippery and dangerous, it's
still a place worth seeing. Traffic is not usually a problem
on 1-23 and 1-75 unless you are heading north onFriday
evening or trying to go during rush hour.
/ln Two Weeks: Northwestern University

Road-Trip of the Week
Frankenmuth offers Bavanan
Chisnas throughout the year

Tillinghast shows he's not afraid of the big

Daniel Wolfnan
For the Daily
Tourist-friendly Frankenmuth,
Mich. was open for business this
past week; therefore, it was
Christmas in Bavaria.
Frankenmuth is best known as the
sight of the largest Christmas store
in the world, "Bronner's Christmas
Wonderland," and yet to be familiar
with that fact is a wholly different
thing than experiencing it. Still, con-
veying the experience is even more
curious.
Driving into the parking lot of
Bronner's, one sees the sprawling
parking lot, capable of housing
1000-plus vehicles, then parks and
walks to the store. Nearing the West
Entrance of the store, one is sudden-
ly ambushed by the sight of a 20-
foot high statue of a smiling
Snowman, pipe in mouth. Dazed
tourists surround it. A perception of
enormity is spreading throughout a
first-time visitor's body.
Moving on, the visitor is greeted
in the small municipality of
Bronner's by hanging signs declar-
ing "God Bless You," and permuta-
tions thereof, in 75 different lan-
guages. A decrypting sign explains
that words in different colors mean
different things. People of all ages,
perhaps unacquainted with the Irish
Gaelic form of "Greetings," point at
the signs before finally entering the
enormous store.
Inside, however, is where suspi-

cion meets confirmation for the vis-
itor, for Bronner's isn't playing
around - Bronner's unabashedly
means business. Hundreds of Santa
Claus models adorn the west wing's
vestibule, and thousands of puppets
of angels hang from the 50-foot ceil-
ing. In a remote corner, a mechani-
cal Christmas tree sings "Jingle
Bells" with perfect syntax. Walking
under gigantic wreaths into a differ-
ent room, customers have choices
between a myriad of porcelain fig-
urines of religious characters, while
some are distracted by an intricate
10-foot long plastic presentation of
"Snow Village."
Most daunting, however, is simply
the sheer size of the store, as its
main showroom, the size of four
football fields, leaves not a cranny
un-Christmasized, nor a nook un-
Noeled. There is a dining room
named "Season's Eatings," and a
movie room playing videos of
Bronner's highlights. Outside, on a
section of the 27-acre Bronner's
grounds, stands a full-size replica of
the Silent Night Memorial Chapel
from Oberndorf, Austria.
How to interpret all this?
Reactions to the "Christmas
Wonderland" vary, but all contain
the element of awe. Judy Ackerman
of Saginaw makes the sojourn to
Bronner's at least once a year, and
describes it as, "An unbelievable

Bavarian culture
is never hard to
find - from the
architecture to
the spirit of the
locals.
Traverse City calls it "unreal." There
is, though, another view of
Bronner's people take: awed cyni-
cism.
"[Bronner's] is overwhelming,
such an onslaught of red and green,"
said Dance junior Jasmin Rae
Ziegler. "But it's so consumer-ori-
ented, it's kind of a joke. What are
they teaching their kids?"
But Frankenmuth is more than just
Bronner's; it proudly labels itself
"Michigan's Little Bavaria."
One follows the street signs point-
ing to the "Tourist District," drives
past Michigan's Own Military and
Space Musuem (where every day is
Memorial Day), past the Black
Forest Brewing Co., and on to the
Bavarian Inn Restaurant (est. 1888),
ready to eat a "World Famous
Chicken Dinner."
The architecture of the buildings,
a bucolic Bavarian motif, sets the
tone for the meal. Those dining are
given a choice between the
See ROAD TRIP, Page 11B

By Debby Hwang
For the Daily
English Language and Literature
Prof. Richard Tillinghast has noth-
ing to fear from Charlie Brown.
"Miss Sweetstory," thought
"Peanuts" comic strip character
Snoopy when the aforementioned
Brown claimed his favorite novelist
produced nothing more than cheap
pulp. After all, how could anyone
not grow to love'The Six Bunny-
Wunnies and the Female
Veterinarian?!"
Tillinghast doesn't need to worry
about such allegations he delivers
the goods - wether it be in a poem,
in front of a class, or in a recording
studio.
A student of the celebrated poet
Robert Lowell at Harvard
University in the '60s, Tillinghast
came to the University in 1983 to
teach in the nascent MFA Creative
Writing program and has been here
since. His list of recent publications
- poems, essays and reviews -
reads like a ripping Shakespearean
soliloquy and has included works in
journals and magazines renowned
nationally and internationally.
Tillinghast currently reviews books
and composes essays for The New

York Times Book Review, The Wall
Street Journal and The New
Criterion, among other periodicals.
Six poetry books and one literary
memoir later, he has also released
an album on CD. The prodigality -
and quality -of Tillinghast's paper-
work overwhelms even a reluctant
reader. Is the CD, an amalgam of
poetry and music, of the same cal-
iber of worth?
And why pick Poignant
Plecostomus to conspire with? Well
for one thing, the band - which
experiments in several different
musical genres - has garnered both
critical success and a loyal follow-
ing.
That urge to constantly rupture
the confinements of the known
arrested Tillinghast's attention; it is,
surely, similar to his own. Poignant
Plecostomus combines jazz and
rock with gyrating, fiery world
music undertones; many compare
them to the watershed Mahavishnu
Orchestra of the '70s. Tillinghast
certainly has a cosmopolitan back-
ground; he learned [and in some
cases forgot] Turkish, Farsi, Latin,
French, Italian, Hindi and other lan-
guages. He still lives part of the
year in Ireland.

"I could hear that they were doing
things that might go well with my
poetry, so we started doing a few
gigs together around Ann Arbor, and
then it began to evolve into some-
thing really hot," the poet explained.
More practically perhaps,
Tillinghast's son Josh is drummer
for the lauded fusion group. He is
joined by Joel Robbins on violin,
Shumit Das Gupta on bass, Pat
Farrell on Fender Rhodes and Toby
Summerfield on guitar.

The poet and band united
years ago and since then
received acclamation after accl
tion for both litheir present on-
and studio session performa
They are, a fan notes, "a pus
force-field with its diversil
mood and sound that's memc
long after they've left the stag
their next stop."
In June of this year, with fim
backing from a friend and con
nity support, Poignant Plecost

Used & Rare
BOOKS
Bought & Sold
113 W. Liberty
(12block Wof Main St.)
995-1891
Vintage
F Photography
Westside
Bookshop
since 1975

CAN THE
WOLVERINE
HOCKEY TEAM
WIN ANOTHER
TITE?
FIND OUT IN
FACE-OFF '98.
COMING NEXT

.. ..._

place"
Linda

Lamb, a visitor from

WEEK.

I

AUIANA YUGUVI./Uaily
A waitress at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant serves a "world famous chicken dinner."
To portray the culture, waiters and waitresses wear native outfits and are pre-
pared to explain the difference between Wiener Schnitzel and sauerbraten.
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