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January 12, 2000 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-12

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8 Publisher and author Harold Evans discusses his book.
The photo-ifled text features an overview of American history
from 1889 to the present. Borders, 612 E. Liberty. Free. 668-
7652.

LOE

Weekend, etc. returns with a Best of '99 issue in terms of
cinema, music, television, books and performing arts.
Wednesday
January 12, 2000

5

I

Ice Cube melts

Hart visits diverse
'Territory' at the Ark

in

Next Fday

By Matthew Barrett
Daily Film Editor
*heck vourself before you wreck
yourself. Ice Cube is pretty hard to fig-
ure. He takes a role and delivers big time
in "Three Kings," one of the past years
best films; and then follows it up with
"Next Friday," a dismal sequel to
"Friday." Cube co-wrote, produced and
stars in the sequel, which pales in com-
parison to the not-that-funny original.
"Next Frid y" starts off with Craig
Cube) taking cover in his uncle's
hTse in the suburbs because word on
the street is that Debo (Tommy "Tiny"
Lister, Jr.), the
- neighborhood
menace from the
w om first film, has
Next escaped from
Friday prison (the possi-
bility for a funny
NoStars b r e a k o u t
At Briarwood. Quality 16 sequence is
& Showcase squashed when he
simply hops over
the wall). Craig
gave Debo a pret-
ty good whipping
before he headed
off to the clink, so
the escaped con is hot on Craig's trail.
Sadly, Craig's best bud from the original
Smokey (Chris Tucker) is off in rehab
and unable to tag along for the fun. It
cues as no surprise that trouble arises
for our hero once he arrives in the sub-
urbs.
"Next Friday" fails in just about every

possible area. The film's plot is muddled
and never very funny. The whole mov-
ing-to-the-suburbs business boils down
to Craig feuding with the whack neigh-
bors across the street while trying to get
it on with their cute sister. There's also
an unnecessary subplot of a jilted girl-
friend seeking revenge by destroying her
boyfriend's car.
Debo never confronts Craig until the
film's end, and when he does it's quite a
letdown. Because he's little more than a
bully, once Debo finds Craig there's all
of one possibility of what could happen
- a fight. Exciting. In addition, the
character of Debo isn't scary or that
intimidating, unless of course growling
and speaking in low tones puts fear into
your heart.
"Next Friday" relies on the fact that
viewers will find weed jokes and other
bathroom humor hilarious and entertain-
ing. An example of the film's comedy
comes early on when we see a dog let
loose a pile of stinking turd on the front
lawn. Seconds later, Craig's father comes
outside. Would you believe he slips on
that turd and even lands in it? He does
The joke continues when he gets bank
up, only to find his back pasted in feces.
Also, putting a few people in a room
and just having them yuck it up while
they share a joint isn't anything new and
it isn't funny. Another highpoint is the
slip something special to the pet scee, a
staple among most pot-humor movies.
Towards its end, the film stoops
even lower, by including a lame sub-
plot about Craig trying to right the

By John Uhl
Daily Music Editor
The picture inside the cover of Alvin
Youngblood Hart's latest recording
"Territory" is of a gruff-looking man
wearing a thick beard, dreadlocks and a
rough flannel shirt. Yet the album's first
tune, "Tallacatcha, croons softly with
the good-old-boy charm of vintage
Texas swing.
I sit and ponder these two seemingly
contradictory pieces of information, my
mind searches for lists to properly
describe the numerous influences that
play a role in Hart's development as an
artist.
First, there's the sprawling catalogue
of stylistic influences found within the
music of Hart: blues, jazz, rock, reggae,
ska, country, western swing, stride,
early 20th century pop, classical and a
myriad of folk variations.
By the time I reach the sixth song on
"Territory," "Ice Rose," I have just

Courtesy of New Line Cinema
ice Cube displays the warm, fuzzy smile that made him "the cute one" in NWA.

Alvin Youngblood
Hart
The Ark
Tonight at 8

wrongs he feels responsible for dur-
ing his time at his uncle's house.
There's no reason for the makers to
include a lesson about doing the right
thing, yet they get a little preachy in
an attempt to make Craig seem like a
really great guy.
"Next Friday" is an abysmal film.
Those behind the movie should have

been clued in by the fact that neither
Chris Tucker nor F. Gary Gray, the
original film's director, returned for a
second go at it. If you really enjoyed
"Friday," you might get some pleasure
from revisiting a few of its characters
but other than that the film is a dud.
Ice Cube should know better than to
make a film that stinks this bad.

begin to apprcci-
ate the diversity
of the musical
palette from
which Hart
draws. Still, I was
not quite pre-
pared for the
authenticity of
this Captain
Beefheart cover
from a supposed-
ly folky "blues"
artist. An instru-
mental, this ren-
dition's layering

of Zappa and, particularly, its reitera-
tion through the overwrought exaltation
of early Metallica (am I the only one
who has ever heard shades of Zappa in
"Master of Puppets?).
To continue listing Hart's influences,
now in terms of musicians, one must
cite Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart,
Leadbelly, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy
Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Skip James, Roy
Rogers, Rudy Vallee, James P Johnson,
the Carter Family, Charlie Patton, Kurt
Weill and Bertolt Brecht, Woody
Guthrie and Bob Dylan.
I've finished listening to "Territory"
now, astonished that Hart has success-
fully manipulated a sphere of musical
styles more expansive than the geo-
graphic distribution of children illegiti-
mately sired by professional basketball
players. And his resources are not sim-
ply musical; Hart is obviously steeped
in a rich oral tradition. Songs like
"Countrycide," a half-spoken/half-sung
tale of racial unrest and gun slinging in
a small, old western town that is ren-
dered over a drone of eerie electric gui-
tars, suggests that Hart is as talented a
musical storyteller to come along since
Tom Waits.
Hart also lists extra-musical inspira-
tions of spoken word tradition, espe-
cially westerns and Native American
lore, riverboats, rare and vintage guitar
collecting and family.
The wide breadth of Hart's invento-
ry of influences alone shouldn't be
quite enough to provoke more than
some raised eyebrows. After all, this
kind of hodgepodge could easily
result in the sort of over-intellectual-
ization that left most progressive rock
stale. But "Territory" is no moldy
academic exercise and I suppose
readers will just have to take my word
on the fact that, should I compose the
longest list in the world, it still would-
n't account for the fact that this guy is
simply an original. So, when Hart
comes to the Ark on Friday, know
that, to keep up with him, you might
have to make a list or two yourself.

'Huricane' Carter still preachi g truths

The Washington Post
speaks not in sentences or paragraphs but in high-
l olished sermons delivered with the rhythmic
cadences of a gospel preacher Although he has sight in
only one eye, his gaze is piercing. And while his man-
telpiece displays a belt attesting to his honorary title of
middleweight boxing champion of the world, the fight-
er once known as "Hurricane" because of his punishing
left hook now concedes that he finds the sport barbaric.
His new passion: gardening.
What's most striking, however, is this: Despite spend-
ing 19 years in prison for a triple murder he never com-
rrd, Rubin Carter considers himself blessed: "I
would not change one thing in my life, not one single
thing," he says as he sits in his tidy brick house on
Toronto's west side. "Remember, everything that went
before has made me what I am today. And today I am
deeply and seriously in love with myself I don't want to
be anyone but who I am. I am perfect."
His story is movingly portrayed by Denzel
Washington in the film "The Hurricane," which is
opening to a full-buzz of Academy Award expectations.
His Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted
has helped spring high-profile prisoners from Canadian
jausing volunteer lawyers and gumshoes and DNA
evidence.
Yet Carter, 63, is estranged from much of his family,
his country and even those who worked hardest to win
his release.
The essential story begins in Paterson the night of
June 16, 1966. Two black men entered the Lafayette
Grill and opened fire with a shotgun and a pistol, killing
the owner and two patrons before fleeing in a white
sedan. Within hours, Paterson police pulled over a white
C lac driven by 19-year-old John Artis with Carter,
th r's owner, in the front seat.
Carter was known to Paterson police. As a child, he
was sent to reform school; as an adult, he served prison
terms for beatings and purse snatchings. Once his

career took off, the brash middleweight talked openly of
blacks using guns if necessary to protect themselves
from bigoted white cops and judges.
But witnesses, irluding a victim who was still con-
scious, declined to identify Carter and Artis as the
shooters. Carter arnd Artis were supported by lie detec-
tor tests. The guns were never found.
Several months later, police claimed two petty
thieves saw Carter and Artis flee the bar. Their testimo-
ny won them immunity on burglary charges. An all-
white jury convidted Carter and Artis. Both received
life sentences.
Carter refused to wear prison clothes, eat prison food
or take a prison job; winning long stays in solitary con-
finement. He read law books and wrote an eloquent and
angry biography, "The Sixteenth Round;" that helped
make him a hero to the radical chic. He insisted guards
and inmates call him Mr. Carter.
Finally, after Alfred Bello, one of the. two thieves,
recanted his story in an interview with the New York
Times, Carter and Artis were granted a new trial in
March 1976. But police pressured Bello to recant his
recantation. Carter and Artis were convicted a second
time.
Then, in 19$0, Carter opened one of the letters he'd
let pile up. It was from a black 17-year-old, Lesra
Martin, who had fbund "The Sixteenth Round" at a
library sale. Martin had been adopted, in effect, by
some lefty University ofToronto graduates who were as
impressed wilh the Brooklyn teen as they were appalled
by the ghetto conditions in which he lived. He moved
into their group house in Toronto and received tutoring.
"The Sixteenth Round" was the first book he had read
and his lett* to Carter the first he had written.
"I threw that book out over the prison wall hoping
that somebody would see its message bobbing on the
ocean of life, pick it up and come rescue me," Carter
recalls. "And Lesra Martin did just that."
There was correspondence, then visits - from
Martin, Gus Sinclair, Lisa Peters, Terry Swinton, and

Sam Chaiton. Carter's plight appealed to their leftist
politics, anti-American bias and determination to stamp
out racism and injustice. "We were dubious at first,"
recalls Myron Beldock, Carter's lead attorney. "We had
a hard enough job as it was, with no resources, and
when these bunch of amateurs showed up one day at
our office, we thought it would be a waste of time."
The Canadians turned out to be terrific at organizing
the mass of material, tracking down leads and turning
up new evidence and witnesses.
While the movie version of "Hurricane" ends with
Carter drinking in the sunshine on the courthouse steps
after a judge's decision freed him, the real-life story was
more complicated. He joined the Canadian group
home, but came to view their rules as a new prison. He
began to resent that much of their income came from
selling his story. His relationship with Peters, always
tempestuous, turned more so almost immediately after
they decided to marry.
In 1991, Vancouver television producer John
Ketchum optioned rights to "Lazarus and the
Hurricane" for S 100,000. The script went through 27
drafts. "I wouldn't allow my image to be portrayed in
an undignified manner," Carter says. "So I threat-
ened to close it down four or five times."
Later, Carter spent time with Washington. "I
remember after one particularly intense conversa-
tion, we went around the corner for lunch," recalls
Carter. "After the meal ... I found Denzel in the foyer
just staring at himself in the mirror. ... When he came
back to the table, he looked different to me somehow,
although I couldn't put my finger on it. And the more
we talked, the more I began to like him. It was a real
emotional surge. I liked the way he moved, his
vocabulary. I like his tenacity. I like his stridency. I
loved his laughter. ... And then it hit me like a double
left hook to the jaw: When I had seen him at the mir-
ror, he was clearing his canvas, so to speak. From
that moment on, he was giving me back to me - and
I was loving what I saw."

electric, lap steel and synth guitars stew
themselves into a quirky electric melee
that actually bears a somewhat stronger
similarity to (Beefheart's friend and
collaborator) Frank Zappa's sound
scope than to Beefheart's usual conflict
between noodling instrumentation and
his own bearish vocals. Especially near
the stately middle section of the song,
as a single guitar proudly sails over the
marching beat of its accompaniment,
"Ice Rose" recalls the symphonic pomp

3
' 4
, '__ . :
;.
"X : a,
:;3,.

Courtesy of Ryko
Alvin Youngblood Hart's music encompasses elements of everything but boy pop.

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