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February 21, 2005 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-21

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Monday
February 21, 2005
arts. michigandaily. com
artspage@michigandaily.com

ARTS

5A

'Monologues' shock and inform

By Victoria Edwards
Fine Arts Editor
FINE A RTS REVIEW
The Vagina Monologues, a cel-
ebration of female empowerment and
sexuality, was an attempted balance

between shock
value and truth.
While the shock
value of yester-
day's performanc-
es initially drew
the audience in,

The Vagina
Monologues
At the Power Center

more often than not, it became distract-
ing and took the focus away from more
meaningful commentary. Through 22
monologues and ensembles. The word
"vagina," often labeled as taboo or
dirty, was used constantly and quickly
desensitized viewers.
Taboo subjects such as pubic hair
were explored in the first monologue,
"Hair." In this monologue, the sub-
ject of a woman's control over her
body was explored through the story
of her husband making her shave her
pubic hair. And though she suffers
though this discomfort to please her
husband, he remains unfaithful to

the end.
This was one of many monologues
where men are portrayed in a very
negative light. This definite bias was
illustrated through other scenes such
as "The Woman Who Loved to Make
Vaginas Happy" and "The Little
Coochi Snorcher That Could," which
portray male lovers as inflictors of
pain upon women or repressors of
natural instinct, in contrast with
female lovers, who represent sexual
fulfillment and sensuality.
For the most part, the prevalence
of the anti-male rhetoric diminished
the credibility of the monologues.
Although there was one skit present-
ing a man in a favorable light, the
production as a whole came off with
a definite bias toward lesbian love
and against relationships between
men and women.
But still there were many redeem-
ing features of this production. In
"My Angry Vagina," Morgan Willis
did an amazing job of commanding
the stage and bringing to light issues
that resonated with her audience. In
the scene, she rightfully asked why
products related with the vagina such
as tampons cannot be lubricated and

work in sync with women's bodies
instead of against them. Denounc-
ing sterile and uncomfortable
gynecology appointments involv-
ing paper aprons and cold stirrups,
she demanded fuzzy stirrups and a
comfortable robe, through it all she
fought for her vagina's right to be
comfortable and respected.
There are times, however, when
the production simply went too far
in its attempts to shock. There was
a constant stream of violence that
is expressed from he perspective of
women. Graphic images of rape and
violence are illustrated in "My Vagi-
na Was a Village" with the mono-
logue, descriptive and disturbing
images of rape hurled at the audience
by a girl who graphically recounted
how soldiers raped her, cutting off a
whole lip of her vagina.
Although informative and occa-
sionally insightful, the repeated
images of sexual violence became
overwhelming and extraneous.
"Monologues" is certainly not sub-
tle, but its content is legitimate and
important in a world where this sort
of violence and oppression still runs
rampant.

"You know what they say about men with beards? They have no neck."

IRON IS FINE
FLORIDIAN ROCKER EXPANDS SOUND WITH FULL BAND

San Francisco folksters score big
By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer

By Gabe Rivin
For The Daily

Mui EIE~

Curl up near a trash can fire in the
because Sam Beam, known better to
his fan base by the stage name Iron
and Wine, has a few stories to tell. The
banjos and slide guitars are staples of
Beam's production, and his bittersweet
weaving of intimate stories and folk
melodies can be found on Woman King.
Following last year's breakout release
Our Endless Numbered Days, Iron and
Wine hasn't altered the stable elements1
sonal success.

desolate countryside
Iron and
Wine
Woman King E.P.
Sub Pop
that defined his per-

Iron and Wine is a rarity among popular music; he is an
artist who actually belongs with a previous generation of sing-
ers. His turn-of-the-century train-track harmonies are anach-
ronistically sublime compared to the pre-assembled corporate
folk-pop of acts like Nickelback and Avril Lavigne. Beam, a
Florida native and father of two, began recording folk music
without celebrity aspirations of being recognized as "that guy
from the Garden State soundtrack." After catching the atten-
tion of Sub Pop Records, the label responsible for such bands
as Nirvana and the Postal Service, Beams received the chance
in 2002 to release his lo-fl collection of home recordings under
the title The Creek Drank the Cradle.
Two albums and one EP later, Woman King has Beam's
familiar whispering and introspective lyrics. However, it has a
much cleaner production due entirely to a professional record-
ing studio and the use of a full band of musicians. While fans
may find relaxation in his unintrusive music, Woman King
offers a new surprise to the listener: a distorted electric gui-
tar. In fact, while the tone of the album finds refuge in the
familiar styles that have defined folk for the last century, a
new aggressive attitude and stomping tempo drive the EP. In

"Evening on the Ground," an aura of desperation lies behind
the fast-paced percussion and angry lyrics, "We were born to
fuck each other/ One way or another." Beam assumes the nar-
rative of a runaway slave in "Freedom Hangs Like Heaven."
The song gets its drive from a saloon-honky-tonk piano and a
hoedown beat.
Despite Iron and Wine's experimentation with instrumen-
tal and electric layering, Woman King thrives on its cozy
demeanor and timeless beauty.
Certainly Iron and Wine has not stepped out of the com-
fortable space of folk rock. Ultimately, the album's sound
does not depart greatly from his previous albums. The soft,
harmonized vocals become tiresome after too much listening,
and the broody lyrics resemble those sung by Neil Young 30
years ago.
Overall, Iron and Wine's latest EP adds beautifully to his
profuse collection of folklore rock. His increasing fusion of
textures shows a musical maturation, and sets a backdrop for a
more dusty and gorgeous rural folk tradition

Music RtIEW
Somewhere along Highway One, between the glittery excess
of Los Angeles and the pretentious art-
houses of San Francisco, some sort of
transformation takes place. For being so Six Organs of
geographically close, the two towns - Admittance
and the art they inspire - could not be
more different. Are we to believe that if SchFlower
a teenage Axl Rose had ditched the Indi-
ana suburbs for San Francisco instead Drag City
of L.A., Guns N' Roses might've been a
hash-smoking folk-rock band? That Appetite for Destruction's
artwork would've featured the sanguine tones of Six Organs
of Admittance's School of the Flower instead of the now-infa-
mous robo-rape cartoon?
Forgive the misleading introduction: The new Six Organs
record does not, in any way, bring to mind G N' R. It exem-
plifies the best of Northern California's fertile folk scene. Ben
Chasny, the mastermind behind Six Organs of Admittance, has
been mixing psychedelic excess and soft acoustics for nearly a
decade now. The recent attention paid to "freak-folk" artists
like Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, as well as East
coast troublemakers Animal Collective, has revived interest in
Chasny's work.
Despite the associations, the word folk, which implies a
structure and traditionalism foreign to Chasny's music, is
barely applicable to School of the Flower. Instead of its sound,
Chasny borrows folk's elemental mysticism and smears it liber-
ally over the eight tracks here. Chasny constructs an intriguing
paradox, burying his guitar in the red earth and sending his
sonic freakouts skyward.
Chasny buoys all of his experiments with simple, though
not uninteresting, nylon-string guitar beds. He sings occasion-
ally, using his high tenor to add texture to the compositions.
More intriguing are his noisy guitar jabs, which salt the songs
with everything from far-East drone ("Saint Cloud") to astral

warmth ("Home"). On the 13-minute title track, Chasny's
recent work with Northwestern guitar monsters Comets on
Fire shines through. Jazz drums try to eat up a simple, repeated
acoustic guitar riff before an ornery electric rips the song's sec-
ond half to shreds.
On "Thicker than Smokey," Chasny covers mysterious
early '70s folksinger Gary Higgins, whose whereabouts are
still, to this day, unknown. It is, not surprisingly, the album's
most structured cut, employing a whimsical melody and sparse
strumming. The closest Chasny comes to this type of straight-
forwardness by himself is the sweetly brief "Words for Two."
Chasny's voice rises from a dull chant, mutters the title of the
song, and fades back into the ether.
It's these sort of charming apparitions that keep School of
the Flower above water. Music this formless often teeters into
indecent experimentalism, but Chasny's presence humanizes
the record, pulling it back from the brink of self-indulgence.

Guevara's young life captured in 'Diaries'

By Emily Liu
Daily Arts Writer

Originally garnering awards and
buzz at the Cannes Film Festival, "The
Motorcycle Diaries" has been released
on DVD just in time for the Oscars.
"Diaries" has received nominations
for best screenplay based on material
previously produced or published and
original song.
The film highlights the nine-month,
8,000-mile motorcycle trip around

Courtesy of Definitive Jux
"Too legit to quit ... wearing ladies underpants."
Underground rapper
combines personalities

South America
that 23-year-old
medical student
Ernesto Guevara
(Gael Garcia Ber-
nal, "Y Tu Mama
Tambien") and
his friend, Alberto
Granado (Rodrigo

The
Motorcycle
Diaries
Focus Features

Cuban revolutionary who was execut-
ed in 1967. Despite Salles' evident bias
towards Chd as a hero of the people,
the film still manages to tell a touching
story of the relationship between the
two men and their gradual maturation.
Bernal offers a stirring performance as
young Ernesto, who reaches out to all
of the destitute people he meets, speaks
with unabashed honesty and reflects
unhappily on the Spanish conquistado-
res in Latin America.
Cinematographer Eric Gautier effec-
tively captures the sweeping beauty of
the South American landscape, from
the Argentinean pampas, through the
snow-covered Chilean mountains and
on to the Amazon rainforest. In one
particularly poignant scene, Ernesto
wonders why the Spanish defeated the
Incan civilization as the camera pans
across the grandeur of Machu Picchu
before cutting to the urban sprawl of
Lima. The haunting stares of people
that the men meet also pierce the narra-
tive in black-and-white stills. The lack
of continuity in some scenes seems to
convey a real-time urgency; however,
these jumpy cuts are also irritating.
The DVD's special features, although
fairly extensive, containing the expect-
ed deleted scenes and "making of"
featurette that acts more as a summary
of the film's plot are not as compelling
as the film itself. Also included are

Courtesy of Focus Features

"I know, I know: We're gonna need a bigger boat."

By Chris Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer
Music R -E EW * * N
Aesop Rock is the most consis-
tent and profound underground rap-
per in recent memory. Much like his
contemporaries, he adopted an alter
ego - Bazooka
Tooth - to fur- Aesop Rock
ther entangle his
enigmatic lyrics Fast Cars, Danger,
and persona. But, Fire and Knives
where most rhym- Definitive Jux
ers only adopt
these names to
enhance their legacy and complicate
their identity, his differing guises

the EP's demeanor is bipolar. "Num-
ber Nine" is a lighthearted track that
leads way to the combative, dark
"Zodiaccupuncture."
Despite the EP's schizophrenic feel,
Aesop is able to craft catchy choruses
- the most common aspect miss-
ing from underground hip-hip - for
nearly every song. On past releases,
Aesop's tracks were five-minute rants
devoid of hooks and catchy lyrics. If it
weren't for his impeccable, intellectu-
al flow, his albums would be monoto-
nous soapbox screams.
Possibly the most valuable feature
of Fast Cars is the 88-page insert with
the lyrics to every Aesop track. Not
only do Aesop fans finally begin to
understand his flow, but it also gives

de la Serna), take in 1952. During the
cross-country journey, the men meet
many oppressed people, awakening
Ernesto's compassion and fostering
the beliefs of socialist freedom that his
future persona, Ch Guevara, would
embody.
Basing the story on the actual jour-
nals of Guevara, director Walter Salles
focuses on Ernesto's development
toward becoming ChM, the militant

two brief Spanish-language network
interviews with Bernal, focusing on
his interest in acting. Worthy of note
is a short interview with composer
Gustavo Santaolalla, whose minimal-
ist soundtrack perfectly complements
the story. In the interview, Santaolalla
discusses his insertion of Argentinean
folk music into the film and his use of
music to enhance critical scenes.
In addition, the real-life Alberto
Granado offers moving reflections
on Guevara. The footage of Granado,

singing with his wife and playing soc-
cer with his grandchild, is interesting
to watch. Unfortunately absent from
this DVD is commentary from direc-
tor Salles, who could have talked about
his motivation for making a film about
the young Ernesto Guevara. But this
powerful film is still definitely worth
a viewing.
Film: ****
Picture/Sound: ****I
Features: **I

U U

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Vietnam/Iraq
Comparisons

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