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April 09, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-04-09

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, April 9, 2448 -5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, April 9, 2008 -5A

Missed opportunities

I first came to the Daily want-
ing to do something this news-
paper doesn't do: I wanted
to review theater. I was dazzled
and not a little surprised at the
extent of accessible shows here. I
was hopped up on writing about
performance, having taken a mini-
course on arts
criticism right
before college.
But when I got
to the Daily,
my editor
explained that
reviews in the
fine arts sec-
tion weren't ABIGAIL B.
really done. COLODNER
By the time a
review of a pro-
fessional performance can hit the
page, the St. Petersburg Philhar-
monic or Caetano Veloso or Maya
Angelou have already left town.
And we don't want to discourage
already iffy attendance at some
student productions, so we shy
away from criticism in case it's too
liberally applied.
I disagree that those difficulties
rule out putting energy and space
toward reviews, but my caveat is
I didn't do anything substantial
to change the status quo of Daily
With some distance now from
pulling fine arts coverage together
each week as the Daily's fine arts
editor, I regret, more than ever, not
working on that. But in that posi-
tion, I began to see the frustrating
butlegitimate listof reasons why
things at this paper work as they
Limited page space, limited
staff, limited expertise, limited
time. The choice of what to publish
comes with enormous opportu-
nity cost. The general rule has
been that an event preview, which
should reveal the internal work-
ings of an upcoming event as well
as its nuts and bolts, takes priority
over a review of how that event
went down. The hope is that it can
provide some analysis and allow
people to attend.
I mourn the persistent missed
opportunity to talk about what
goes on after a member of Rude
M nechaicals urges us that lir -,
show "has something for every-
one," or whatever else we quoted.
We publish thousands of unan-
swered questions. Audience mem-
bers disperse on the steps of Hill
Auditorium, and a student heading
to Sushi.come realizes she just
missed somethingthat animated
or disgusted thousands of people
and figures she'll catch something
eventually this semester. The story
shouldn't end there.
Yesterday I spoke with an
adjunct professor of English here,
Thomas Lynch, who contributed
an op-ed piece to Sunday's New
York Times. Lynch, also a pub-
lished poet, wrote on the Universi-
tySymphony Orchestra's February
performance at Carnegie Hall, an
event Detroit-area and Ann Arbor
newspapers, including the Daily,
failed to report on.
That is, they didn't send some-
one to see the concert and report
back who attended, how they
reacted, if the first violinist had a
panic attack onstage or if the con-

ductor crowd-surfed. If the orches-
tra delivered an outstandingshow
that should be lauded for years.
"There'll be some notice, but
- and this is true for every depart-
ment - things become their own
sort of company secret," Lynch
The frequent MFA English
program-sponsored readings by
professional and often bestselling
writers usually happen at 5 pm,
which is great for students and
retired, often wealthier residents,
but not so much for the working
Before that stiff spends his cash
on one of those books being read,
he might want to hear from some-,
one who has put time and con-
certed energy - or, as Lynch said,
has "committed to legible prose"
- into that book.
"There's no shortage of ven-
ues in which to purchase a book.
And I'm not sure a review's effect
should be to increase sales, any-
way. It should be a more literate
culture. With that, the sale of
books will take care of itself,"
Lynch said.
Critics are consumer advocates,
althoughthere are surely many
who would cringe at that descrip-
tion. And they still are once Yo-Yo
leaves. They put the onus on read-
ers to confront a public dialogue
that isnactive and ready for them to
join in.
In Lynch's opinion, "the
review goes beyond the society,
the spectacle, and considers the
creative work itself." That's true,
but reviews can do reporting on
This is what
our fine arts
coverage lacks.
the spectacle one better - they
can report on how the spectacle
Lynch made a point I really liked,
commenting on a cornerstone of
investigative reporting: without
reviews, "no one is held to account."
(I've championed the fine arts sec-
tion for embodying investigative
reporting relativeto other arts
coverage butrecently find myself
reconsidering our success)
The Daily's website gives us the
opportunity to publish reviews,
until we find a sensible way to
negotiate page space. Reviews can
come out online fasterand on more
days than print, overcoming some
of the challenges for reviews.
of course I wantcpeople to go
see things. But if they don't, I
want them to consider, or perhaps
question, why they didn't, and
why other people did (and if other
people didn't, why the percussion
ensemble settheir drums on fire
or wept at the beauty of their own
music as their sobs resounded in
the empty auditorium). For thatcto
happen, the artists and the public
need to confront each other. A
reporter can help that happen.
Colodner hopes you'll review
fine arts for the Daily. E-mail
her at abigabor@umich.edu.

Vont you wish your grandparents were this cool?

Old time rock'n'roll

Scorsese's new film
captures the Stones, one
of rock's most beloved
and enduring bands
DailyArts Writer
Some time between the 1970s and today,
the Rolling Stones transformed from rock
legends to walking punch
lines in the eyes of many. **
Late-night talk show hosts
love to laugh at wrinkly old Shine a Light
Mick Jagger and company
every time they embark, At Showcase
on another tour, as though Paramount
they've lost their right to Vintage
play fantastic music in front
of sell-out crowds of adoring fans.
Thank Lucifer, then, for Martin Scorsese.
The director of crime epics and music docu-
mentaries like "The Last Waltz" and "No
Direction Home: Bob Dylan," filmed two
Stones shows at the Beacon Theater in New
York City on their 2006 "A Bigger Bang" tour
for his new film "Shine a Light." The end
product is a rapturous celebration of the four
men who personify rock.
The film opens with a brief segment of the
concert preparations, including an appear-
ance by the Clintons. Then, when the Stones
launch into "Jumpin' Jack Flash," the picture

blows up to cover the entire IMAX screen But the real stars are the Stones themselves,
and suddenly the theater explodes with ener- who make it clear they will not go gently into
gy. Right from the opening number, these that good night. Sure, the backup band and
guys make it clear they will not be treated vocalists do most of the hard work music-wise,
like rock museum relics. Jag- but no one would care about this show at
ger struts and stomps around all if it were not for the delirious on-stage
the stage, waving his arms antics of Jagger and Richards. (Wood and
like a maniac and baring his Watts, as usual, are content to stand back
midriff at every opportunity. and watch their bandmates in
Keith Richards puffs giant bemusement) Scorsese's cam-
clouds of smoke on his ciga- eras capture every devilish
rette while his guitar seems grin on their faces and every
to shred itself. Ronnie Wood dramatic pose they flash
and Charlie Watts are also in for the cell phone photogra-
fine form. phers.
Perhaps it's all the unfair In a brief archival inter-
criticism that has given the r=view from the band's early
Stones new vigor, but they years, Jagger is asked if he
sound, fantastic-throughout . can picture himself still
the whole show. They breathe playing music in his six-
new life into hits like "Just My ties. Instead of giving the
Imagination" and "Sympa- expected response of "no
thy for the Devil," but also way, man," he says that
make a strong case for less he absolutely could. He
mainstream gems like "She knows that this is what
Was Hot" and "All Down he was put on this earth
the Line." Guest performers to do. The Stones were
pop up sporadically as well. It's born rocking, and they
fun to see former Detroiter Jack will die rocking. Any-
White clearly humbled as he and one who thinks
Jagger duet on "Loving Cup." they should retire
And while she initially seems clearly wasn't
out of place, Christina Aguilera listening: Once
turns in a surprisingly soul- you start them
ful performance on "Live With up, they
Me." never stop.
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