The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 4B
The Michigan Daily*
TOM Goss: MOVING BETWEEN TWO REALMS
this week in crunkjwith Evan McGarvey
THE KINGDOM OF CRU
By K.K. Schnier
For The Daily
Room 2095 Krauss Natural Science
Building. The sunlight pouring in through
the window appears to be the only link
between the laboratory and the outside
world. While students play Frisbee and
sunbathe in the Diag, these lab scien-
tists hover over test tubes. beakers and
microscopes. The lab is a kind of alter-
nate universe, a place where individuals
are so intent on their work that they can
tune out the noise from their outside lives:
a place where phrases like "interbacte-
rial contemplation." "binding revertants"
and "paraplasmic protein" are part of the
At his lab station, Senior Research
Associate Tom Goss pauses momentarily
to explain his work. It is only 12:15 pm,
but Goss has already been at the lab for
nearly six hours. His blue eyes sparkle
with pride as he points to the test tubes in
front of him. "I'm studying the way DNA
binds to protein," he says, simplifying his
words to make them comprehensible to a
nonscientist. "I love my job here. I don't
mind getting here at 6:30 a.m. to help
increase humans' knowledge of the envi-
Watching Goss in his white coat and
rubber gloves, one would not know that
this is same man students notice play-
ing the harmonica under a tree near the
Shapiro Undergraduate Library.
"I like to keep it separate," he says,
referring to his music. "It's a form of
stress release, when everything that's
work-related can take a back seat."
Indeed, the Goss who can be found
jamming near the Diag almost every
afternoon seems to be an entirely differ-
ent person from the Chicago-born bio-
logical chemist, who received his Ph.D.
from the University's Medical School.
This year. Goss celebrates his fifth
fall as a street performer at the Univer-
sity, a passion that allows him to shut
out briefly the demands of his job and
his role as the father of two children,
age 13 and 16. "Sometimes, I get a good
groove, a good synergy, and it's like an
auditory orgasm," he laughs.
Although he does not read music,
Goss has played the harmonica as a
form of relaxation for about 30 years. "I
have about 200 tunes in my head. Most
of them are show tunes that you would
know just from being alive in this cul-
ture, like 'Somewhere Over the Rain-
bow' and 'The Sound of Music,' " he
explains. "I have also been inspired by
harmonica players like James Cotton,
Peter Madcat Ruth and John Coltrane.
I'd like to play how they play."
Goss, who describes himself as "artsy-
fartsy," said he used to enjoy painting as
a form of creative expression, but loves
the interaction that comes with playing
a musical instrument. "I like when other
musicians come and jam with me," Goss
says. "It's usually guitar players, but I've
accompanied the banjo, hand drums,
and once, the trumpet."
While many musicians and passers-
by have welcomed Goss's playing, oth-
ers have greeted him with a less than
warm response. Some have taunted him
by sneering, spitting or throwing money
intended to injure him, he said, yet he
is determined to pursue his art form.
"Why should this be frowned upon?"
he asks, his voice rising. "If you're not
allowed to express your thoughts, what
good is a college campus?"
Goss's dedication is evident from his
commitment to play, even during harsh
Michigan winters. On one particular
16-degree day, he remembers fearing
that his fingers would freeze. "That day,
I stayed outside for about 40 minutes,
when I probably should have stopped
after 20," he recalls, shrugging his
shoulders. "Perhaps it's a little danger-
When asked what he hopes students
will take away from his music, Goss
responded that has an "evil plan to dis-
tract," to "make people get a tune stuck
in their heads that would divert them
from their tests and projects." In an
environment where individuals "have a
lot on their minds," Goss tries to infuse
his listeners with a sense of tranquility
amid their hectic lives. Goss, however,
realizes that he, too, must eventually
return to reality, which for him is the
world of 2095 Natural Science.
He is remarkably adaptable in his
moving between the realm of science
and realm of music. "It would be nice
to play outside all day," he admits, "but
after two hours, I'm satisfied." He stares
outside at the students walking through
the Diag. "It's a different world out
there; it's a different mindset. In one,
you're actively thinking about what
you're doing. "
He flexes his fingers as if he is pre-
paring to play. "The other," he adds, "is
T he fluid nature of any language
eventually allows corruptions, or
combination of words to assimi-
late into the previously established
vocabulary. Often times these words
represent the attitudes, cultural and inter-
national influences from a sub-group of
those people that speak the language.
In other words, Yeah! Yeah!
A time is upon us in the sprawling his-
tory of the English language in which a
single human, so bold and innovative can
shift the very way in which we commu-
nicate. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Eliot, and
now Lil' Jon. But what is this minstrel
of the Southland really proclaiming with
his embezzled chalice and clarion call?
The word "crunk" has shot into the
mouths of seemingly every American
youth with access to a television or radio.
While the word is obviously a manipula-
tion of the words "funk" and "crazy," Lil'
Jon did so much more than simply take
slang words and mash them together like
so many frosted diamonds in his mouth.
An entire clique, nay, a full lifestyle
of frenzied and raucous behavior has
sprung from the feet of this bold innova-
tor of language. Though the man himself
did add the squelching synth chords and
sonar whistles than have infected the air-
waves like some marvelous disease, the
history of "crunk" dates back to the very
seeds of human art.
Outlining the very elements of
"crunk" is as elusive a job as trying to
make Usher sound like a credible singer.
The people and objects that fall under
the umbrella of "crunk" all have a cer-
tainly earthy, revelatory, and often hedo-
nistic mood. So I must ask once more,
"what cha'll know about crunk historical
To start, Vaclav Havel, the first presi-
dent of the Czech Republic not only is
one of the most famous writers in Czech
history (any type of art is crunk) but he
also brought in Lou Reed as an official
guest of the state. Havel beat the com-
munists and turned Prague into the party
capital of Europe. Oooooooooookay! ! !!!
Most of us run into William Blake in
the dreary pages of some poetry anthol-
ogy but look at it this way: Blake knew
humans were flawed angels, hopeful
demons and something in between. He
was part of a small sect of Christian-
ity but never reigned in his passion and
zeal for reforming the church as a whole.
Plus he painted pictures to accompany
his poems. When you're crunked up
you need some visual guidance. "Tyger,
Tyger" is also fairly crunked out and
Closer to home, easily the most
"crunk" group of people on the Michi-
gan campus has to be the marching band.
First off, they're just plain dirty. What
other group of people can slam together
various pieces of music once a week and
still manage to hit almost every god-
damn note? Their parties rock and most
of all, they are so cocky about the fact
that they play in the band! All we need is
some Drumline-esque scene were Pete
Pablo runs in the middle of a halftim
show and rips some verses. Damn. The
he could party with the whole trump<
Most importantly, I'm the mo:
crunked-out writer at the Daily. Whil
other people are toiling away to brin
you vital news about some budget cris
Goss plays tunes on his harmonica outside the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.
Opportunities are available in the following areas:
POINT: TO THE MAN WHO DINGED MY BMW
COUNTERPOINT: THE PUBLIC BUS SYSTEM
IS DA BOMB
For the Daily
I don't know why this
always happens to me, but
some idiot dinged my brand
new BMW X5 today. I don't
get it, I'm responsible. I park
COURTEURYF OXin ding-free zones, far away
from the front door. Last win-
ter, I made my children walk nearly a half mile to
get to Chuck E. Cheese. They were closed when we
got there, but I think they learned a lesson about car
Do you know how much this is going to cost to
fix? The parts are German, which not only supports
their superiority but it means they're fucking expen-
sive. It took the dealership three days to work on my
beautiful piece of machinery - they had to give me
a loaner. Do you know what they gave me? A Geo
Metro. That's okay, take a minute to let that set in. A
GEO METRO!?! If I braked too hard, the car would
crumple up and kill me. I had to have the jaws of life
on speed dial.
So, this article is for you, "Mr. Swing-My-Buick-
My-Front-Seat." This is my letter to you, asking you
to come forward, put a shirt on and come forth to
the local police department, as soon as possible. The
sooner the better, too; I can feel my Beverly Hills
property values plummeting. Even Carl Weathers is
complaining - a true sign the situation is grim.
For the Daily
Listen, if these rich ass-
holes don't stop parking
all over town, I'm going to
have to keep hitting their
cars. These jerkoffs should
COURTESY OF 20TH learn to take a bus. That
CENTURY FOXway, there'd be room for my
mustard-yellow, vintage Buick.
After all, not everyone can afford a car that
still shines. If everyone learned to take the
bus, we could cut down on engine transmis-
sion and unclog the streets. Of course, some
of us "aren't humanoid," and "have trouble fit-
ting into a bus seat."
Let me make this very clear to you: If you
park in my neighborhood, and your car's not
on cinderblocks, then someone's going to try
and break into it. Can't you slither around in
a richer neighborhood? Must you plant your
demon-seed next to my chicken-pen?
Double-park your Bimmer in front of my
home one more time and I'll cut you into piec-
es small enough for the bus, bitch. Yeah, it's
a class war, but you probably didn't count on
the peons having razor-sharp boomerangs, did
QUALITY DRY CLEANING
& SHIRT SERVICE
(Across from Nickels Arcade)
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