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February 24, 1999 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-24

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 24, 1999 - 7

Reuss to make last tour stop

'Root shiflesinto Pig

By Jeff Dmchniak
Daily Arts Wrter
Frederick Reuss, first-time novelist and
longtime writer, is saying all the right things
about the success engendered by his debut
novel, "Horace Afoot"
"I guess I'm not jaded yet,"he said in expla-
nation of why he honestly enjoys book tours.
He adds that he's most surprised at the fond-
ness and sympathy readers have had for the
book's admittedly odd title character.

Shaman Drum
Tomorrow at 8 p.m.

"He's very much in
the Cynical tradition,
and I don't mean the
modern sense of the
word, but the classical,"
Reuss elaborated. "I
had thought people
would be put off by his
abstraction, by his
"I just think the indi-
vidual, as we see things
in modern society, is
not looking to be
autonomous in that
uncompromising way"
like Horace.

Reuss' tour for the paperback release of
"Horace" will make its final stop at Shaman
Drum tomorrow with a reading by the author.
Perhaps his unspoiled attitude about touring
stems from the few local appearances he made
near his Washington, D.C. home when the
book debuted.
But the U.S. paperback rights were pur-
chased from the original publisher MacMurray
& Beck, by the more well-heeled Vintage

Reuss will make his last stop at Shaman Drum.
Publishing, the distinguished paperback arm
of industry giant Random House, and cirum-
stances have accelerated accordingly.
In the interest of precision, it should be said
that to label Reuss a "first-time novelist" is
deceiving. "Horace Afoot" is actually only
Reuss' first novel to be published. He dis-
paragingly describes himself as "never (hav-
ing) been gainfully employed," although he did
support himself and his family as a free-lance
writer and researcher in the Washington area.
But now, with the success and critical recog-
nition garnered by "Horace Afoot,' Reuss'
actual first novel is due to become his second
in less than a week.
But MacMurray & Beck plan to release his
first work electronically only, available for
downloading via its Website. Reuss added that

the price will be less than $10, and that print
publishing may be in the works for the future,
depending on how the Internet publication pro-
"I'm something of a guinea pig for this pro-
ject" he explained. "They're the first regular
trade publisher, by which I mean exclusively
publishing for the print trade, to publish a book
only for the Internet."
In any event, Reuss will make his return to
ink and paper at the end of this August, when
his next novel, the already-completed "Henry,
of Atlantic City," arrives in bookstores.
The forthcoming work appears to be a fan-
ciful work in the lightheartedly satirical vein of
"Horace Afoot." The book is about a young
child savant who experiences a dual existence:
with his family in their residence at the
Caesar's Palace hotel and casino on the board-
walk, and with the cohabitants of his imagina-
tive life in ancient Byzantium.
But Reuss offers the counterpoint that as an
artist, he has primarily a dark vision. "I'm
attracted to the dark side of things" he said.
Accordingly, he promises that the novel after
"Henry of Atlantic City" will be more repre-
sentative of these more ominous tendencies.
He's working on that novel now, that is,
when he's not fulfilling his tour obligations, as
well as those to his wife, two children and
diverse reading predilections, which range
from the Austrian Thomas Bernhard's darkly
satirical "Extinction" to "Such a Long
Journey," the first novel in a series by Indian
chronicler Rohinton Mistry.
Or anwering the questions of a faraway
campus newspaper. And even that, he says
he enjoys.

The Blind Pig
Tomorrow at 9 p.m.
folk band names

come over and play some
Metallica tunes with these
boys and tease them on how
shitty they were.
"Then one day they got
good and Mike and Tended up
hooking up with them. That's
how Taproot got together."
While most bands who play
aggressive style music usually
opt for names that carry with
it a sense of aggression, the
group chose Taproot because,
DeWolf said, "Thesaurus! I
was looking through a the-
saurus and found that name."
"We were looking at good
to ripoff!" added Richards.

By Ai~n Rosli
Daily Arts Writer
Ann Arbor band Taproot has been placed under the
blanket label of rap-core. Although the group does
have heavy riffs and a singer who occasionally raps
during verses, the term fails to do the band justice.
Odd guitar noises, unexpected time changes, occa-
sional drum machine beats and a knack for songs that
burst into surprising twists and turns raise Taproot
beyond a mere rap-core band.
Topping all of that off is the fact that they are an
exciting live band to watch.
The group is comprised of singer Stephen
Richards, guitarist Michael DeWolf, bassist Philip
Lipscomb and drummer Jarod Montague.
Richards shared the group's formative experience:
"Mike and I used to be in a band called Skumbag.
Long story short, Mike and I were already in an ear-
lier form ofTaproot. Mike was the guitarist and I was
the drummer, Phil and Jared both lived in a party
house with my cousin on Sylvan street, so I would

TapRoot will appear tomorrow at the Blind Pig.
from New Jersey."
Taproot has been busy playing everywhere possi-
ble, mantaining a perpetually visited website and
dealing with a brush of nearly getting signed.
Referring to the Ann Arbor heavy music scene,
DeWolf mentioned, "Heavy? There is none."
"Its all jazz," Lipscomb said. Montague con-
tinued, "The cool thing about Ann Arbor is that at
least they will give people places to play. Like, its
hard for us to get a gig in Lansing because its all
cover bands over there. Even though there's not
much of a heavy scene around here, at least we
get to play a little bit."
The group also mentioned a lack of venues in the
Detroit area. It has been financially stable, playing
places such as Kentucky and Pensylvania. A recent
Kentucky performance drew a gymnasium-filling
crowd. The band attributes its fan base to the Internet.
"It seems like one person will see our webpage
from somewhere, they'll order the CD and word just
spreads from there" Montague said.
Richards added, "On the mailing list from the site
I've got people, at least one, in every state. Just peo-
ple telling other people about us. Thats how we got
that Kentucky show."

Montague included, "Actually if you look up Taproot
on the Internet you could probably find a folk band

Continued from Page 2.
year's semi-finalists.
This year's competition expanded to
include media coverage on National Public
Radio, Public Broadcasting Service and
lack; Entertainment Television. The
inalist Concert will air on NPR and the
local PBS station for Detroit, WTVS. BET
plans to feature the semi-finalists on its
"Teen Summit" program.
The media interest reflects the impact of
the program. During the year following the
fust competition, the number of contes-
tants and financial sponsors showing inter-
est increased from the previous year.
"Especially in the music community,
within one year we've achieved recogni-
W of the event," Dworkin said. "We're
hoping to expand that out to community
The growing reputation of the competi-
tion could also draw potential applicants to
the University. "We hope that in future
years it will have a very positive impact,"
said Music Dean Paul Boylan.
The Sphinx aims to show minority
musicians that they are not alone in the
4ssical music world. "The problem is that
.;there is a perception that the minority
players aren't out there," Dworkin said.
""What we try to do is show that there are
players already out there and also show the
minority community, and especially par-
ents, that they're out there."
Dworkin envisioned the competition
based on his own experience. "Being a
black violinist myself, every musical expe-
rience I had growing up, I was the only
black strings player,"he said

White, for example, lives in Lansing,
where few other African American musi-
cians play at her level. White said she is the
only black student studying with Roland
and Almita Vamos at the Music Institute of
Chicago. "I think (the Sphinx) just opened
my eyes to how many good African
American musicians there are in the coun-
try," she said.
The Sphinx introduces the contestants to
each other, as well as providing scholar-
ships to summer programs at music
camps. "Other than our prizes ... and the
performance opportunities that go along
with that, we do our focus on the semi-
finalists as a whole," Dworkin said. The
competition "puts them in the context of
professional players."
As a result, the Sphinx concentrates
more on the contestants than the prizes.
College students act as liaisons to foster a
friendly atmosphere among the contes-
tants, many of whom continued to corre-
spond after the competition ended.
The camaraderie combined with the
musical excellence made several of last
year's semi-finalists enter again. Four or
five will be returning, Dworkin said,
although the competition was so tough that
last year's best tone winner didn't make the
White said she looks forward to a
reunion as well as meeting new people. As
for the future, she hopes to continue her
involvement in the competition as a con-
testant in the senior division and as a liai-
son. "Last year I wasn't so sad I didn't win
because I wanted to return,"she said.
Future Sphinx competitions will be
dependent on the organization's finan-
cial future. Although the contest received

Prejean visits U' before Capitol

Courtesy of Aaron Dworkin
Isaac Stem and Aaron Dworkin meet at
last year's Sphinx competition.
contributions from companies such as
World Bank, Motorola and Ford Motor
Company, Dworkin is seeking more sup-
port from businesses in Ann Arbor.
"We've gotten some fantastic support
from national corporations, but we're
looking for more local involvement,"
Dworkin said.
Sphinx is just starting to receive its first
multi-year grants. Dworkin aims to get
more of these grants to ensure the compe-
tition's financial stability and longevity.
"It'll be the big issue; finding a more per-
manent base of support;' Boylan said.
But with the attention the competition
has received, the Sphinx has a good shot at
long term success. "It's certainly my goal
that the Sphinx would become a perma-
nent institution in classical music,"
Dworkin said.

By Jeff Druchniak
Daily Arts Writer
Sister Helen Prejean has had a busy last couple of days in
Michigan. Fortunately for her, that's nothing new for the New
Orleans nun and author of "Dead Man Walking" who, since
the publication of her memoir and the Oscar-winning film it
inspired, has become one of the most visible activists against
capital punishment.
For the past decade and change, Prejean has traveled across
the country and the world, speaking to campus and commu-
nity audiences about her experiences with Death Row
inmates and the providential turns her life has taken as a
result. And that's just what she did Monday afternoon at
But Prejean had two extra reasons to make this trip. One
was the jeopardy faced by the Prison Creative Arts Project, a
locally based group of volunteers, many of them University
students, who travel to Michigan correctional facilities and
engage prisoners in workshop activities involving visual arts,
dance, and improvisational theater. The workshop program,
under the leadership of University Prof. Buzz Alexander, has
recently been eliminated by the state Department of
The other reason prompted Sister Helen to journey on to
the floor of the state capitol in Lansing, where yesterday she
implored the state House of Representatives not to allow
Michigan to become the 39th state in the country with capi-
tal punishment. Afterwards, she held a press conference.
While in Ann Arbor, however, she found time to visit
Alexander's class and speak to students. She attributed the
PCAP's travails, which mirror a nationwide trend towards
removing educational and religious opportunities for prison-
ers, to the controlling mentality of prison adminstrations.
"It's the philosophy of warehousing people, making them
suffer, and it's retrograde because for prisoners who have this
opportunity, the recidivism rate is almost zero;" Prejean
observed during an interview with The Michigan Daily.

"But with the dynamic of a closed system, like in a prison,
you can run things however you want. It's only when you have
others coming in for these different programs, eyes from the
community with a whole different concept of the humanity of
these prisoners, that there is a countervailing force ... which
creates conflict," Prejean said.
Prejean also challenged polls that express the support of a
large majority of Americans for the death penalty, which she
called "a surface response."
"What I have discovered in my years of (public appear-
ances)," Prejean explained, "is that people, when they are
brought close to this issue, and given key pieces of informa-
tion along the way, most of them reject the death penalty.
"We lack the wisdom, and we lack the purity, to adminis-
ter such a thing," she said.
Prejean talked with humor and charm about a wide range
of topics, from the changes in the Catholic Church and the
struggles of women within it since she became a nun, to the
implications of the new conceptual physics and cosmology,
all subjects she intends to include in the new book she
revealed to be her next project.
"It's principally a spiritual autobiography," Prejean
said."It's about my idea of the Christian faith as something
that can be translated into social justice."
But Prejean, an English majo who has taught high school
and kept journals for over three decades, finds it a challenge
to write when she is traveling at least half of each month,
especially on such a diversity of issues.
"It's like currents in a river," she explained. "I do love to
write ... it's switching from wave to wave, channeling your
energy into different things, that I have to adapt to so quick-
ly. What I treasure the most is meeting so many different peo-
ple, and from prisoners to prison guards, to the Pope, to Tim
Robbins and Susan Sarandon, there's such a common human-
"The prisoners even more so than the Pope, because I only
got to see him for a minute," she said.

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