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April 02, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-04-02

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 - 5A

Sounds of Summer

pringtime is great for col-
lege students. It means the
end of the school year and
the beginning of a new baseball
season; the time for guys to wear
shorts and girls to boast their egre-
giously short skirts - a day, I can
assure you, all males on campus
look forward to.
For music fans
though, it signi-
fies something
far more excit-
ing: the chance
to listen to
spring albums
again. CHRIS
For those GAERIG
only peripher-
ally invested
in music, this probably won't
make any sense to you - there are
simply some discs you can't play
in the winter and vice versa. But
if your record collection at least
triples your IQ, you know spring as
the time to put away half of your
albums and joyously drag out the
rest: time to shelve The Smiths,
Bjdrk and Four Tet in exchange for
Creedence, Rich Boy and Animal
Collective. This list will probably be
redundant, but the for the lay com-
munity, listen close: Here's the best
summer soundtrack you'll ever see.
"Travelin' Band" - Creedence
Clearwater Revival: The ultimate
road trip song, "Travelin' Band"
sounds just as good rolling down
Main Street as it does Highway 61.
John Fogerty's searing screams
invoke thoughts of mindless mis-
chief while the energetic horns and
twanging guitars cut through the
humid summer air. The majority
of Creedence's catalog follows this
same trend, but this song in par-
ticular is not to be listened to when
the temperature drops below 60
degrees.
My Bloody Valentine >
My Morning Jacket: Though
Creedence's southern twang was
born of the summer, My Morning
Jacket's reverb-laden jams were
made for the winter. Assuming
these-are the only My bands in your
life - I am, of course, assuming
you've rejected the teeny-bop-
ping My Qhemical Romance as a
legitimate group - this is a simple
1:1 switch. My Bloody Valentine,
though blasting a relatively glacial
sound, has sunnier guitars than just
about everyone on the planet.
"Throw Some D's" - Rich
Boy: I don't care if you think Rich
Boy sucks. I don't care if you think
mainstream hip-hop is drivel with
nothing important/deep/intelligent
to say. You're wrong on both counts

if only for the sheer joy that tracks
like "Throw Some D's" invoke. The
best summertime song in the last 10
years, this track has all of the casu-
al drinking, promiscuous sex and
incredible cars that we've all come
to expect from our time away from
school. I'm sure Talib Kweli speaks
to your soul but it's time to get away
from the backpack and just "Throw
some D's onthat bitch."
"On To You" - The Con-
stantines: The hands-down best
rock'n'roll band on the face of the
earth, the Constantines made one
of the most gripping songs about
youth and lovelorn hearts in "On To
You." Singable melodies abound as
the group tears through the song's
glossy production and lead singer
Bryan Webb's cries of unrequited
love. Strangely, a great song wheth-
er you're single or taken, "On To
You" finds its place squarely among
the Summertime pantheon.
Lightning Bolt: To all of you
noise freaks, I'll throw you a bone:
Enter Providence duo Lightning
Bolt. As the most obscure art-
ist to make the list, Lightning
Bolt stands out as one of the few
bands that have absolutely noth-
ing in their catalog capable of
being played in the winter. The
bass-drum duo makes the most
energetic, enlivened, enraged (I'm
sure there are more "en-" words
to describe them, but I digress)
music you've ever heard. But being
cooped up in four blankets because
your landlord hasn't fixed your
heat yet doesn't lend itself to the
group's grindcore.
Missy Elliott: As the only per-
son to share "The most underrated
(female) artist of our generation"
title with Bj6rk, Missy Elliott's
schizoid flows and Timbaland's
unbelievable beats lend themselves
perfectly to the irresponsibility of
summer. Though you can listen,
to her ad nauseam any time of the
year, she's particularly potent in
the summer. Don't ask me why, she
just is.
There are countless others but
my ramblings must come toan end
sometime. Honorable mentions
go to Animal Collective, James
Brown, Wu-Tang proper (no solo
discs besides Ol' Dirty Bastard),
Jamie Lidell, TI., and Ted Leo and
the Pharmacists. So put aside all
your snowy albums and take some
advice from someone who either
has a really low IQ or an embarrass-
ingly large album collection.
Gaerig still grooves to LFO's
"Summer Girls." E-mail him at
gaerig@michigandaily.com

The Prison Creative Arts Project runs through April 9th.

Creativityfromthe

Annt
crea
One
ated in t
ber may
the pre'
crime a
even th.
es that
allocate
of crim
tion. Bu
tell us
aboutI
viduals
up this
The -Pri
Univers
use art
underst
does jus
TheI
tion, no'
until Ap
ter Gall
PCAI
English
Alexand
the exh
program
have gr

ial show provides The art exhibit wasn'testablished
until 1995, and its number of pieces
tive outlet for the and artists continue to grow. This
i a e t year features artwork from over 40
inaUrceradtedMichigan prisons. Three hundred
eighty-nine pieces by 233 artists
By PRIYA BALI create a kaleidoscopic landscape of
Daily Arts Writer thought and creativity throughout
the gallery.
in 100 adults are incarcer- Although some prisoners were
he United States. This num- artists before their incarceration,
y speak to most have had no formal training.
valence of The art not only varies in form, but
ndperhaps PriSOn in subject matter as well. Sketches,
e resourc- Creative paintings and drawings of land-
should b Arts Project scapes, nature and animals give
,d to forms Jintimate visions of a life imagined
e preven- Through outside of prison bars. Images of
t it doesn't April 9 childhood, human relationships and
anything Atthe Duderstadt shared culture become portraits
the indi- Center Gallery of past experience, and artwork
that make containing political and religious
statistic. statements testify to the process of
son Creative Arts Project; a human suffering.
ity organization aiming to "You can't think the same way
as a means to generate an anymore," Alexander said, address-
anding of those imprisoned, ing how this art challenges pre-
t this. conceived notions of prisoners and
project's annual art exhibi- prison life. "It could mean that
w in its 13th year, is running there is somewhat more receptiv-
ril 9 in the Duderstadt Cen- ity to prisoners who come home,
ery on North Campus. and somewhat more willingness to
P was founded in 1990 by advocate for them in terms of their
professor William "Buzz" health care, their rights to have
Ier, who is also co-curator of phone calls from family members
ibit. Since its inception, the and the rights of kids who were
's members and supporters incarcerated at age 14."
own enormously. Perhaps knowing that the artists

are prisoners isn't necessary, but
once we do, our understanding of
the exhibit changes. The artwork is
evidence of the humanity of people
who have committed unthinkable
crimes.
An artist with the initials F.S.B.,
whose painting called "Global
Warming" appears in the exhibit,
writes in his artist statement, "I find
psychologicalescape when releasing
my imagination via my art/drawing
ability."
Indeed, the exhibit is a valid form
of self-expression as it becomes a
mechanism for survival in a time
of confinement. A prisoner's jour-
ney toward rediscovery of his voice
is reached by escape through art.
"The art represents a resistance to
that traumatic situation. If you can
create something beautiful you have
said 'I am not going to succumb,'"
Alexander said.
As boundaries of the term "con-
vict" are stretched, alienation
caused by the metal bae separ-'
ing the individuals standing behind
them from the world is lessened.
Art is an unconventional yet effec-
tive approach to understanding
imprisonment. And if our connec-
tion with the prisoner is not discov-
ering self-recognition in the pieces
that engage us, then it's a common
realization of the necessity of art in
any circumstance - behind bars or
outside of them.

A Las Vegas film with too much glamour

The prodigal pianist

By PAUL TASSI
DailyArts Writer
"21" tries desperately to be slick
likeitsolderbrothers,the "Ocean's
Eleven" films.
It's got those
quick-cut,
whirl-around 21
camera shots,
the dazzling At Qualityl6
lights and ches- and Showcase
ty patrons of Sony
Vegas, and even
slowmotion struttinginexpensive
suits. So then why does it come off
as a cheap knockoff? Well, lead
actor Jim Sturgess ("Across the
Universe") is not the three-headed
behemoth of cool that is Clooney,
Pitt and Damon. Besides that, the
film overglamorizes a true story
that was actually pretty damn cool
to begin with, before it got all the
"Fight Club" camera effects and
"Snatch" twist endings.
The movie is (loosely) based on
thetruestorytoldinBenMezrich's
book "Bringing Down the House"
about a team of MIT students and
their professor who took Vegas
casinos for millions in the '90s.
Butbefore you get anybright ideas
know that card counting in black-
jack these days is nothing short of
impossible, with facialrecognition
software and multiple decks con-
stantly shuffled at random. And
these kids are the reason why.
Ben Campbell (Sturgess) has it
all: a 1590 SAT, a 44 MCAT and a
4.0 GPA at MIT - who could ask
for anything more? Well, his only
missing piece is cash; he needs
substantial funds ($300K) to be
able to attend Harvard Medical
School, his dream college since he
was a little boy. He tells this sad
story to an unimpressed scholar-
ship interviewer who reminds him
he needs something "special" that
really "pops off the page" because,
after all, last year this prestigious
full-ride was given to a Korean

chunk of money and also his spot
on the squad. Spacey is in true
form as the control-freak Profes-
sor Rosa, perfecting his anti-Tom
Hanks status as an actor who you
know is great, but find yourself
hating every single one of his char-
acters. When the good professor
takes all Ben's cash and threatens
to bounce him out of MIT with a
failing grade in his class, it's hard
to fall in love with the guy.
But Ben has a plan, and since
the actual ending of the true
story wasn't Hollywood enough
(the kids just slowly realized they
had to stop counting because
they kept getting recognized),
the end involves a chase through
the back hallways of Planet
Hollywood, complete with bag
Stick with the
book.
switching, limo kidnapping and
shady deals made at gunpoint
with the head of casino secu-
rity (Laurence Fishburne, "The
Matrix"). At the end you expect
one of those "Where are they
now?" montages, seeing as how
this is based on a true story and,
hell, they did it in "Alpha Dog."
But I guess real life wasn't good
enough for the producers, and it's
not impressive enough to saythat
the actual Ben Campbell, Jeff
Ma, now owns his own fantasy
sports company (go figure?) and
is not some famous doctor who
cured something after gambling
his way into Harvard Med.
All in all, "21" tries to be more
than it should be. The attempted
coolness justcomes off like a nerdy
MIT kid thinking he's the shit in a
flashy Gucci suit. No need for this
much glamour here, but a valiant
try nonetheless.

ByBEN VANWAGONER
DailyArts Writer
Every discipline has an artist
against who all others are measured,
whether it's because of their sheer
superiority or their crushing inepti-
tude. In the field of
classical piano, thatLagan
artist is Lang Lang. Ln
The question is, Tonight at
which is he? 8p.M.
Lang Lang, at 25, At Hill Auditorian
is very possibly the
most famous tour-
ing pianist alive. It's a testament to
the UniveYrsity's strong position in
the artsthatAnnArboris onhis route.
Imagine Tiger Woods dropping by to
play a few holes - that's pretty much
what's happening tonight, except
Lang Lang will be hitting ivories
rather than birdies.
Unfortunately, that's part of the
problem - he hits. Classical music,
from the traditional point of view, is
music of finesse even in the loudest,
most cacophonous pieces. It might
sound bizarre, but even Wagner
should be played with exceptional
poise and control - it's just loud
control. Lang Lang's infamous ten-
dency to fail spectacularly at this
may be his greatest strength and
most debilitating weakness. Rather
than a calculated finesse, he often
plays with unrestrained, youthful
passion.
A review in the New York Times
called parts of his most recent con-
cert, "infused with sublime beauty,"
and others, "sheer display...veering
headlong into vulgarity." No one can
agree. He is either the most promis-
ing new artist of the 21st century or
an embarrassment to the art - there
is no halfway.
Even his body gets a piece of the
action. Many pianists choose to
show physical restraint while play-
ing - not Lang. As he plays, he moves
with the music, swaying and even
bouncing on his stool with fervor.
His facial expressions vary almost to
distraction,rangingfromeyes-closed

expressions of bliss to angry, head-
tossing fury. His physical embel-
lishments more than anything may
be what draw fire from irate critics
bent on seeing the same wooden per-
formances year after year. Perhaps
it's distracting, perhaps it's exciting
- with Lang's pension for forming
love-hate relationships with his audi-
ences, it's hard to say.
Which is exactly why tonight's
concert should be so outrageously
entertaining. Snobby music crit-
ics aside, it's been far too long since
I've been to a classical music concert
-San Francisco Symphony excluded,
which was truly exciting. It's often a
battle to stay awake during the mid-
dle of 40-minute symphonies. They
may be beautiful and memorable, but
rarely do they really engage a listen-
er the way other concerts do; and if
Lang Langcan do it, he's a step ahead
of the rest.
Still, Lang isn't always excessively
enthusiastic. In fact, he's been toning
his theatrics down recently in what
may be a move to silence his louder
critics. Lang's tendency to heavily
contrast his pieces this way may be
another point in his favor. His gusto
during more lively pieces makes his
tenderness on quieter scores seem
all the more delicate. This oft-over-
looked ability to vary his emotions
so radically will make him a stronger
pianist as he matures, and even now
it makes him more entertaining to
watch.
The pieces for tonight's concert
should give the audience a fabulously
varied taste of his talent. The pro-
gram includes works from Mozart,
Liszt, Wagner, Schumann, and even
Granados in one of the most inter-
esting and diverse programs to hit
the Hill this season. The last pianist
to visit the University, Yuja Wang,
was effectively buried by unbear-
ably technical pieces - something
Lang's program is refreshingly free
of. It should be an exceptional survey
of classical music, made even more
exciting by the unpredictable nature
ofthevirtuoso responsible.

Kevin Spacey between takes.
immigrant with one leg.
After dazzling his teacher, Pro-
fessor Rosa (Kevin Spacey, "Super-
man Returns"), in class one day,
Ben gets his chance to break out
of the ordinary by joining the MIT
blackjack team, a bunch of card-
counting whiz-kids who make
hundreds of thousands of dollars
every weekend in Vegas.
The team most notably includes
klepto-Asian Choi (a very under-
appreciated and underused Aaron
Yoo, "Disturbia") and brainiac hot-
tie Jill (Kate Bosworth, "Super-
man Returns"), who proves that
just because you go to MIT doesn't
mean you can't have perfect bone

structure. Along with a few other
more forgettable members, the
team counts cards and flash secret
(yet ridiculously obvious) signals
at each other so the big player,
Ben, can rack up the dough while
everyone else plays it cool by bet-
ting the bare minimum.
After a fairly enjoyable start, we
soon find ourselves trapped in an
all too predictable story arc that
is kicked off by the nerdy kid put-
ting on a flashy suit after he starts
winning. Thinking he's now too
cool for school, Ben blows off his
old MIT friends, goes against the
team and starts gambling, rath-
er than counting, losing a huge

d

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