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November 22, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-22

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November 22, 2002

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Former Pixies leader
Black comfortable
with his obscurity

Hayes aces 'Martin'

By Douglas Wernert
Daily Arts Writer

is jealous of Martin's talent and fakes
a stomach pain to get attention and
eventually steals Martin's lines. Mar-
tin's wife threatens to leave him
because of his mistress and he doesn't

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were
the biggest comedy team of the late
1940s and early 1950s. Their unique


By Keith N. Dusenberry
Daily Arts Writer

"I always like the idea of bor-
ders changing," Frank Black says,
though now he's talking about Los
Angeles city divisions, not the
time when his songs were the lit-
tle-known masterpieces pillaged
by bands from Aberdeen and Seat-
tle that initiated a musical revolu-
tion and dislodged Michael
Jackson from the top of the charts.
Black's legacy as the Pixies'
dynamic front man and alt-rock
pioneer often hampers public reac-
tion to his now lengthy and estab-
lished solo career, continuing last
month with the simultaneous
release of two new records, Black
Letter Days and Devil's Workshop.
"After someone has had a success
story," Black explains, "and then
they go on and do other artistic
endeavors and because they don't
fit in with that 'Magic of the
Moment' kind of thing anymore,
people tend to be very jaded about
it and kind of write it off. I think a
lot of them, I don't know if they
really listen to it."
But Black's not complaining
about going from underground
superstardom to relative anonymi-
ty, "It's just as nice to be obscure,"
claims Black. In fact, he hardly
seems aware of his own legacy,

"basically, you know, I write
songs, I make records, it's no big
deal." But a big deal has been
made about the way the most
recent of those records are being
made. Instead of the multiple-take,
multiple-track approach usually
taken in modern audio recoding,
the last five Frank Black albums
have employed a live-in-the-studio
recording method.
It's not that Black feels like he
can just pump out records without
regard for their quality, as some
reviewers have so accused him, but
he is perhaps a little less con-
cerned than most with polishing
every note. "It's like, Black and
Blue, people talk about what a
shitty Stones' record that is and I
understand their criticism, espe-
cially aimed at a couple particular
songs, but the fact of the matter is
that there are a couple songs on
that record that are excellent.
That's like - that's how I view
rock, that's how I view other
bands," says Black.
Always willing to-give other
artists leeway in their pursuits,
Black expects at least a little of
that understanding in return. He
says he will never make another
"normal" studio album again -
Frank Black records will be all
live-to-two-track for the rest of his
career. Black shrugs off the
shocked fans and reviewers, "It's
all a little too serious sometimes
... I feel like I'm just making
music and people are kind of com-
ing off like, 'How dare he make
that kind of statement right now!'
Like we're talking about foreign
policy ... it's just like, 'hey man,
we're just making records."'
On the first of those records,
1993's solo debut Frank Black, the
maestro proclaims, "I'm just try-
ing to be a guy / Who's hailing.
from Ann Arbor." The line refer-
ences Black's musical hero: James
Osterberg, or as he's more famous-

blend of Lewis' off-the-
wall antics and Martin's
smooth voice and dash-
ing good looks made for
an entertaining combi-
nation. The story of
their rise to the top is
brought to the small
screen this Sunday night
as "Martin and Lewis"
makes its appearance on
CBS for a two-hour
journey through the lives
performing icons.

Sunday at 9 p.m.

getting second billing,
either. The end result is
a fallout on stage, com-
pletely oblivious to the
audience, who all thinks
it's "part of the act".
Eventually, the stress of
fame becomes too large,
and the two split up, but
not after one last tense
The production of the
two-hour movie is solid,

of these two

Couresy o fiQR

The mercurial Frank Black.

ly known - Iggy Pop. Though this
may have summed up Black's cre-
ative ambition in those days, lately
an old time radio revival-style
show appeals to him. "I want to do
something a little different ... I
want it to be the power of the
broadcast," Black says. But don't
expect a weekly solo acoustic set,
"My wife is a comedienne and she
hangs out with a lot of comedy
actors and writer-types, so I'm try-
ing to rope some of those guys
into it." Black hopes that the group
will improvise the show, with the
stipulation that he, "be the butt of
a lot of the jokes."
Such a desire might seem odd,
even contradictory, coming from a
man who claims to "just want to
make music, make records" and
who half of the time doesn't both-
er to have his T-shirts for sale at
his shows, but Frank Black knows
dichotomy. While he disdains most
fans' ever present Pixies reunion
dreams, Black authorizes and con-
tributes liner notes to an expand-
ing discography of Pixies greatest
hits and rarities releases. He feels
an "obligation as the publisher of
(the Pixies') catalog to see to it
that the catalog is properly man-

aged." And as Black marches fur-
ther into Rock and Roll senior
statesmanship, his audience
remains nicely mixed, young even.
"That's a good thing," remarks
Black, who seems genuinely inter-
ested in not just making a buck on
what some might see as an act that
could easily mimic the feel of a
Paul McCartney concert - most
people aren't there to hear the new
stuff. Black often includes a Pix-
ies' song or two in his current live
sets, with "Where Is My Mind?"
(the Pixies song featured in "Fight
Club") topping the list. "We play it
a lot. It's sort of one of the 'golden
oldies' that people seem to be
especially grateful for, you know,
people get a little teary-eyed ... I
may have even seen a few cigarette
lighters and cell phones going up
in the air. It's very beautiful,"
quips Black.
With this tempered perspective
on his past successes, a genuine
enthusiasm for his current musical
incarnation and plans for the radio
show and many more albums,
Frank Black keeps thinking about
his borders and which ones to
expand next. Not bad for a guy
just trying to be"from Ann Arbor.

Sean Hayes ("Will & Grace") por-
trays Jerry Lewis, the zany, desperate-
for attention comic with no
microphone skills who is trying to
make it big in Buffalo. His act of pan-
tomiming an orchestra and an endless
array of outrageous facial expressions
grows old quickly and he desperately
needs a partner. In addition, he's
vying for the attention and praise of
his father, Danny, who's also an enter-
tainer. Through all of this, he meets
Dean Martin (Jeremy Northam, "Gos-
ford Park"), a suave New York City
nightclub singer who always carries
with him an aura of self-confidence
and a curled upper lip a la Elvis Pres-
ley. Lewis's constant interruptions of
Martin's swooning ballads and the
resulting banter between the two men
lead to the creation of a team, with,
Martin as the obvious straight man.
The rest of the movie chronicles
their rapid ascent to stardom, which is
all complicated with mistresses,
movie careers, inflated egos, and dis-
sention between the two men. Lewis

as John Gray ("Brian's Song") directs
the tale well, as he has a little help
from John Stamos (of Rebecca Romi-
jn and "Full House" non-fame) as an
executive producer. They do a solid
job of capturing the 1940s feel with
big band music, cigar-toting men in
leisure suits, and attractive women in
conservative dress. The movie posters
of the many Martin and Lewis flicks
also provide a nice transition between
scenes. A blurred shot of an injured
Lewis being carried off on a gurney
and repetitive shots of fake audience
laughter are a little too overplayed,
but overall, the men behind the cam-
era do a fine job.
This is not just a movie for your
grandparents to watch. Young viewers
will grow attached to Lewis, who
brings out the little kid in all of us,
and feel sorry for his struggles.
Everyone will appreciate Martin's
larger-than-life image and adore his
tolerance for Lewis. This movie gives
the viewer a chance to see the men
for who they are, instead of "the
celebrity roast guy" and"the telethon
guy." That is a credit in itself.

'Titanic' musical set to make a big splash

By Daniel Yowell
Daily Arts Writer
The story of the Titanic has captivated imagina-
tions since the great ship sank in 1912, taking with

it over a 1,000 lives. It has inspired
numerous adaptations over the years
across all media, from books to tele-
vision to film and, in 1997, to both a
film and a musical adaptation, both
critically acclaimed and award-win-
ning. MUSKET will be performing
the Broadway musical "Titanic," the
winner of five Tony awards, this
weekend at the Power Center.
Although they share the same title
and source material, James
Cameron's film and Maury Yeston
and Peter Stone's musical have less

Power C
Friday and S
8 p.m. andS
2 p.i
in common

revives the lost hopes of so many passengers on
the "ship of dreams," exploring the promise of
new beginnings, the division of social classes and
the timeless struggle between man and nature.
One of the most striking aspects of the musical
is that many of the characters are
based directly on real people. "Titan-
ic" is not merely a fabricated plot
NIC: line pasted into a historically accu-
JSICAL rate setting. The authenticity of the
story adds even more strength to an
enter already powerful production, filled
with highly expressive and moving
Sunday at songs that range in emotion from the
M. purest hope and optimism to the
ET deepest despair.
"'Titanic' is about man's genuine
desire to create and accomplish gone
awry," says School of Music senior and director
Ian Eisendrath. "J. Bruce Ismay, owner of the
White Star Line, became solely interested in
speed, fame, and progress. Captain E.J. Smith
played fast and loose with his tremendous power
and responsibility. Thomas Andrews, designer and

shipbuilder, grew obsessed with achieving artistic
and technological perfection. When their ship col-
lided with an iceberg, over two-thousand hopes,
dreams, and lives collided as well."
MUSKET's production of "Titanic" is intend-
ed to be highly personal, placing its greatest
emphasis on telling the stories of the ship's pas-
sengers, rather than attempting to depict its actu-
al, physical sinking. A thrust stage will be used
to decrease the physical distance between the
actors and the audience, drawing theatergoers
into the story.
Rebecca Winston, graduate student in the
School of Social Work and stage manager, com-
mented on some of the challenges of putting on
such a big production.
"I would say that the most difficult part has
been making due with the short amount of time
we've had to work in the Power Center. It's very
different from our rehearsal space, and making the
show work there in less than a week has been a
challenge, but we're lucky to have a very dedicat-
ed cast and crew. Everyone has been working real-
ly hard to make the show a success."

than one would expect. While Cameron's "Titanic''
centers primarily around an insipid love story and
a fortune's worth of special effects, Yeston and
Stone's musical truly encapsulates many of the
themes that the movie only glosses over. "Titanic"

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