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November 21, 2002 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-21

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12B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend M aazie - Thursday, November 21, 2002

The Michigan

Daily - Weekead Magazim

- ..._ ...., Da.l.,-. Weekend. Magazin.

Remember when Jackson
was still 'Dangerous'?

Thanksgiving horror stories
reveal day's deeper message

By Joseph Litman
Daily Arts Writer
Who cares about the monkeys,
little boys and experiments in cryo-
genics? Why do the failed mar-
riages, legal problems and facial
reconstructions matter? Do the
bizarre clothes, claims and litiga-
tions really warrant such scrutiny?
Can we not just enjoy the man's
For too long, Michael Jackson's
career and accomplishments have
been obfuscated by detractors who
dwell on his unfortunately myriad
undermining mis-
steps. However,
those so quick to
ignore Michael's
success and talent
should take some
time this weekend
to listen to his
grossly underrated
Dangerous. (And if you are only a
fan of his dancing, at least go
online and download his "Remem-
ber the Time," "Jam," "Black or
White" and "(Keep It) In the Clos-
et" videos. Magic, Eddie, Iman,
Michael, Naomi, Macaulay, Norm
- what casts!)
His fourth solo album,
Dangerous, seems to occupy an
interesting niche in Jackson's, and
therefore pop culture's, history.
Released four years after Bad and
four years before the ill-fated HIS-
tory project, the album was Jack-
son's last quality studio endeavor,
and it gets lost in Michael's transi-
tion over those eight years from pop
deity (forget royalty) to controversy
lightening rod.
In fact, given the failures of HISto-
rv and Blood on the Dance Floor and
the underperformance of last year's
disappointing Invincible, Dangerous
instead should hold a special place as
the last album when Michael Jackson
was Michael Jackson.

By Daniel Yowell
Daily Arts Writer

Starting with the sound estab-
lished by the record's opening song,
"Jam" - a fast-paced, hip-hop-
laced number - listeners embark
upon an energized 14-track journey
into the world of pop and R&B
fusion, taking a few breaks along
the way for Michael to show some
Dangerous really is a quintessen-
tial Jackson album: Hard bass lines
with keyboard and string melodies,
vocals ranging from smooth to
jagged with the seemingly requisite
grunts and hisses. a bevy of tones
and varied mes-
sages concerning
eclectic topics like
From interracial dating
Vaut1 and preservation of
the earth.
Those who
refuse to place the
album in the pan-
theon with its three predecessors -
Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad -
surely forget the strong bass of
"Baby Be Mine," the incessant
grunting on "Bad" and the sonic
diversity found when comparing
"Get on the Floor" with " I Can't
Help It."
If it were not enough for some
critics, let alone "fans," that Dan-
gerous has all the Jackson staples,
they should also note that the album
has great merit independent of com-
parison to Michael's other works.
Those listening to the record need
never skip a track, because all of
them are good - many better than
that. In an era when tons of records
released have a few listenable songs
and a great deal of filler, Danger-
ous' consistency is an important
Certainly, it is not the greatest
album of all time (some of
Michael's ramblings at the end of
"Heal the World" and a few mawk-
ish songs like "Keep the Faith"

ensure this lack of achievement) but
it is nonetheless very good.
Dangerous' most notable track is
likely "Black or White," given its
message of racial tolerance and the
fact that it ushered in Michael's
return from hiatus when the song
first debuted. It garnered additional
attention for its video, one that
starred Macaulay Culkin and
George Wendt, and featured the
unforgettable final montage of
diverse faces morphing into each
However, "Black or White" is
fairly bland, both musically and
emotionally, when compared to the
other material on the album. This
point is not offered to diminish
"Black or White" but instead to
illustrate both the album's strength
and the unfortunate fact that its
other songs are overlooked.
Among this group of neglected
works is "Give in to Me," a chilling
track on which Michael details a
fractured relationship.
The combination of Jackson's
emotional singing and the visceral
guitar playing provided by then-
member of Guns 'N Roses Slash
(Bucket who?) enraptures listeners
and illustrates how compelling a
presence Jackson can be.
"Give in to Me" is an almost har-
rowing song because of the feeling
that Michael is able to convey
through his singing and lyrics.
However, the engaging nature of
the King of Pop's pathos can be
found throughout Dangerous. On
"Remember the Time," Michael's
erroneous grunts and slurps actual-
ly embellish the track, conveying a
deep conviction that might not oth-
erwise come across from the song's
lyrics, despite their nostalgic motif.
Also meant to be as explicitly
evocative as the other two is "Who
Is It," a ballad about forlorn love set
to an up-tempo beat yet anchored in

the melancholy by its synthesized
chords and echoing woodwinds.
The dreariness and sadness of
"Who Is It" and "Give in to Me"
are matched by Jackson's energy
and concern on other tracks like
"Why You Wanna Trip on Me."
Over an almost sinister bass line,
the song addresses some of the
problems that chronically afflict
society, and Jackson attacks them
and their perpetuators with his sig-
nature zeal and harnessed anger.
This latter attribute has always
been a characteristic of Michael's
solo works, lending his voice a
gruff nature and his music a hard
edge when wanted.
The technique clearly surfaces
on Dangerous (and, for that mat-
ter, on all his other works), yet he
often uses it to enhance or diversi-
fy those projects. Contrastingly,
on his 1995 duet with his sister
Janet, "Scream," Michael allows
that tone (and the emotions which
fuel it) to dominate.
Wholly opposite in feeling from
the others are the jejune songs
"Heal the World," and "Will You Be
There." While both are well-inten-

tioned works meant to promote
compassion and awareness, Jack-
son allows his tendency toward
occasional sappy songs to get the
best of him.
While neither track is ostensibly
horrible - they don't hurt ears or
redefine "music" in a bad way -
neither is a reason to be excited
about Dangerous. Yet these few
digressions from what is otherwise
a concentrated emotional master-
piece do not ruin the album.
In fact, very little could dimin-
ish Dangerous, a record that
should be rightfully seen in histor-
ical perspective as Michael's last
great opus.
VH1 used to have Michael Jack-
son concert marathons during
which people could watch endless
hours of Eastern Bloc teens swoon-
ing and fainting when they heard
the first note from "Beat It" or had
a chance to see (SEE!) Jackson on
stage or walking to his bus.
While those days may have
passed here (who knows what's
going on there?), Dangerous serves
as a keen reminder why those days
ever existed. Long live the King.

As the kickoff to the winter holi-
day season and a chance for students
to catch their breath before taking on
final projects, papers and exams,
Thanksgiving break is an occasion
that students always appreciate.
However, the mention of this time-
honored American tradition encom-
passing such cultural mainstays as
family unity, televised pro football
and afternoon naps on the couch
brings to mind the image of only one
thing said many Michigan students:
The opportunity to go home for a
big turkey dinner with family mem-
bers is undoubtedly something to be
thankful for, even among students
who hate turkey and their families.
After all, a four-day weekend can
never, in itself, be a bad thing. What
is most disconcerting, though, is the
fact that turkeys alone are involved
in the vast majority of Thanksgiving
disasters. Although none of them
involve anyone getting a turkey stuck
on their head like Mr. Bean, students
right here at the University have
some interesting stories of Thanks-
givings gone wrong.
It seems as though everyone has
heard of somebody who cooked a
turkey with something inside of it
that definitely did not belong there,
most commonly giblets and their
packaging. The end product of this
mistake is a melted plastic surprise
inside of the turkey for the whole
family to enjoy. A number of stu-
dents claimed to have experienced
"the giblet phenomenon" firsthand or
knew a friend or family member who

had. It seems to have become some-
thing of an urban legend, as LSA
freshman Katy Larson can attest.
Katy and her family shared a few
colorful anecdotes on the topic of
things not conventionally cooked
inside of turkeys while having a non-
turkey dinner at the Union.
Katy's parents, both Michigan
alumni, were among the many to
have experienced "the giblet phe-
nomenon," but allegations were also
made that one family member
dropped a turkey on the ground last
year and then tried to act nonchalant
in the hopes that no one would
notice. The accused did not make a
statement regarding the alleged inci-
dent. Katy's father, Steve Larson,
generously provided a tip on how to
avoid overcooking a turkey.
"The way to tell if a turkey is
done," says Larson, "is that you put a
cup of popcorn inside the turkey, and
when the popcorn pops up and blows
out his ass, he's done."
Effects even more unusual and
much more damaging to reputations
than cooking plastic or popcorn in a
turkey or dropping it can also occur
on this joyous holiday. LSA fresh-
man Lakethia White told the horror
story of one Thanksgiving when her
grandmother tried to make cornbread
dressing and it gave her entire family
diarrhea for days.
"She tried to blame it on the
chocolate cake that one of my aunts
made, but it wasn't the cake, because
some people didn't eat the cake, but
they did eat her dressing," White
Lakethia also has a theory on how
that tainted stuffing came to be so.

"My grandmother was drinking
gin while she was making the dress-
ing. That's her favorite drink. So
that's what happens when you drink
gin and make dressing for Thanks-
giving - people get sick. That's the
moral to the story."
Judging by stories like these, this
whole turkey thing doesn't seem to
be worth the trouble. That four-day
weekend that is so vital to students'
sanity could easily be spoiled by a
bad case of diarrhea. Maybe if peo-
ple would just skip the turkey, every-
thing would work out fine.
Unfortunately, this is not so,
according to an LSA senior who
wished to remain anonymous for
the sheer novelty of it. He once ran
into a problem the day before
Thanksgiving, before even leaving
the dorms.
"Thanksgiving of my freshman
year I was carrying a big load of
stuff out to my car - it was parked by
the side entrance to Bursley Hall -
and I saw some guy in a pickup truck
backing up and heading straight
toward my car. My hands were total-
ly full, so I couldn't get his attention,
and I yelled, but he couldn't hear
When a judgment call came up,
the student chose letting his car get
hit over dropping his handful of
important things, like his Playstation
and CDs, which could have been bro-
"I heard this big crunch and pieces
of one of the taillights went all over
the place, but the damage wasn't too
bad. The guy who hit me felt really
guilty and offered to pay for it, so I
got his phone number. I was angry at
the moment, but after a while I real-
ized that my car wasn't that great
anyway, so I never got it fixed."
If it's not the turkey, it's something
else. It seems like there's really no
way to avoid mishaps, even on a hol-
iday that's supposed to be nice and
relaxing. But it's exactly these kinds
of stories that drive home the true
meaning of Thanksgiving. After all,
even with a dinner filled with foreign
objects, a lack of bowel control and a
smashed up car, we all have a lot to
be thankful for, right?


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Going home for the holidays can often be a stressful event.


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