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February 12, 2009 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-02-12

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, February 12, 2009 - 3B

Bruises, bitches
and love ballads

reetings, fellow gossip
devotees ... Ow! Ow!
Sorry, my gossip-writing
hand hasn't been the same since
Chris Brown
attacked me
a couple days
ago. At least
I'm not faring
any worse
than Rihan-
na, whose
injuries MARK
star Brown
include major contusions, a
bloody lip and bite marks (!).
(Regarding these bite marks: Is
it now more appropriate to call
Brown the Ike Turner of our
generation, or the Marv Albert?)
In fact, the "Disturbia" singer is
so banged-up she recently had
to cancel her 21st birthday party,
which would've been carnival-
themed and sponsored by Ciroc
vodka. Ciroc, really? Get with it,
Rihanna; even my 21st was spon-
sored by Grey Goose.
But Rihanna's 21st birthday
won't be nearly as depressing as
the 40th of everyone's favorite
officially over-the-hill "Friends"
star, Jennifer Aniston. Not only
is 40 a tough birthday for every-
one - I believe Madonna cel-
ebrated hers by crying alone in a
champagne Jacuzzi - but John
"Ani's boy-toy" Mayer isn't even
getting her an expensive gift.
He's singing.
Now, I could be wrong here,
but I believe John Mayer sings
for a living. This would be like
Michael Jordan saying to his
wife, "Happy birthday baby. Now
watch me do 10 dunks in a row
with my tongue sticking out ...
just for you, of course." Johnny,
let me just say you should never
take your loved one for granted.
Sure, today she's healthy, writh-
ing half-naked in a tie on the
cover of GQ, but tomorrow she
could be in intensive care after
the most botched liposuction
since Butters's attempted "City
Wok" commercial - like Usher's
wife, Tameka Foster. I suppose I
understand Foster's insecurity -
I mean, she is married to Usher.
But going to Brazil for lipo?
Probably a mistake. The whole
South American continent is not
exactly known for its stringent
medical regulations. Was Foster
too ashamed to have her surgery
in the states, or did she just want
to be somewhere tropical to
show off her newly thunder-less
I can't say for sure, but I do
know one thing - Jessica Simp-
son got fat. I mean, when the
POTUS disses you in US Weekly,
you know you've become a
nationwide spectacle. Simpson
apparently blames her balloon-
ing weight on the holidays. Yeah
right. What did you eat over
Christmas, Jessica? The tree? All
right, enough fat jokes. They're
too easy. What astonishes me is
not so much Simpson's weight
gain but how she continues to
perform in low-cut blouses and
"Daisy Duke" cutoffs despite the

fact that, sorry babe, you don't
look like Daisy anymore.
Speaking of the '70s, I was
watching "Network" the other
day. It's an old movie from 1976,
back when "satire" and "comedy"
weren't mutually exclusive -
thanks aslot, Aaron Seltzer and
Jason Friedberg - and actors
whose names didn't rhyme with
'Wreath Hedger" won posthu-
mous acting Oscars (R.I.P. Peter
Finch). The most enthralling
performance besides Finch's
was Faye Dunaway's asa caustic,
nearly inhuman network execu-
tive named Diana Christensen.
Today, ina sign-of-the-times
sort of thing, Dunaway is being
dissed by none other than Hilary
Duff. To be fair, Dunaway started
it when she said, in response to
Duff's latest role in the remake
of "Bonnie and Clyde," "Couldn't
they at least cast a real actress?"
Damn, girl, gotta love that
passive-aggressiveness - Chris-
tensen would be proud.
Dunaway, of course, starred
in 1967's "Bonnie" with Warren
Beatty. Beatty himself probably
won't be happy to see the role of
Clyde go to Robert Pattinson or
Chad Michael Murray or who-
ever happens to be featured in
CosmoGirl the week of casting
calls. Whether she deserved it or
not (she probably did), Duff felt
obliged to defend herself, say-
ing: "I might be mad if I looked
like that too." Ouch. I won't even
bother to point out the fact that
not only is Dunaway an Oscar
winner while Hilary Duff is, well,
Hilary Duff, but that Dunaway
was actually pretty hot back
Hollywood stars
are at it again.
And again.
in the day. (Just check out the
original "Bonnie" if you don't
believe me.) I will point out that
Duff, whose star has fallen at a
fairly constant rate since leaving
"Lizzie McGuire" (just check out
the graphs I've made if you don't
believe me), might seem like an
odd choice to play Bonnie, but to
me it makes sense. After all, her
Disney nest egg must be almost
dried up and, after this movie
fails, she's only a step away from
actually robbing banks to support
that lavish lifestyle of hers. At
least now she gets some practice.
Speaking of losing money, if
you're playing beer pongthis
weekend, be sure to keep the
in-game betting to a minimum.
Michael Phelps didn't, and he
lost $2,000-while partying at the
University of South Carolina last
November. Wow, Mikey, what
were you thinking - were you
high or something?
Schultz is holding his own
auditions for 'Bonnie & Clyde:
Send him your glamour shots
at markhosylumich.edu.

The Neutral Zone has its own performance venue, record label and recording studio
Finding -their voices

The Neutral Zone lets Ann
Arbor teens get in touch with
music and other arts
Daily Arts Writer
It's a Friday night in February, and far from
the stretches of bars on Main Street and South
University Avenue, the streets of downtown Ann
Arbor are cold and desolate. But walk down East
Washington Street and follow the muted bass
beats to a small door on the backside of what looks
like a big, brick warehouse. High school students
spill out from the entrance and just inside the
door are dozens more, soaking up the warm bliss
of live music. This is The Neutral Zone.
On any given weekend, this is the scene you'll
encounter at the Zone. But stop in on a Monday
and it's clear that this local hangout is home
to a veritable mother lode of youth programs.
Located just off campus on East Washington and
South Fifth, The Neutral Zone is, as avowed in its
mission statement, "a diverse, youth-driven teen
center dedicated to promoting personal growth
through artistic expression, community leader-
ship and the exchange of ideas."
Founded in 1998 by a group of ambitious teens
tired of being banned from the 21-and-up scene,
the Zone provides a rare place where minors can
meet after school and on weekends away from
parental controls. Youth programs at the Zone
cover five basic areas: music, literary arts, visu-
al arts, education and leadership. They include
workshops in those areas as well as college prep
and drop-in tutoring. It's also home to youth
leadership groups that discuss everything from
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer
issues to the situation in Darfur.
On weekends, the Zone's performance venue,
The B-Side, hosts concerts and special events
organized by the Zone's music programs. These
programs encompass every side of the music
industry, including a record label called Youth
Owned Records (YOR), a professional recording
studio and The B-Side venue itself.
Continuing in its founders footsteps, the Zone
remains in the hands of those whouse it: the teens.
While adult workers and volunteers lend their
skills and experience, the Zone's youth members
call the final shots. The teens are the ones who

book and promote concerts at The B-Side and sign
bands to YOR (making it one of the only entirely
youth-owned labels in the country).
"There's a really strong feeling of ownership
for them because basically it's their space to do
what they want - even though, you know, we're
here sweeping and mopping it," YOR's music
coordinator Chris Bathgate explained.
The "we"he referred to consists of the 20-some
full- and part-time staff as well as a volunteer
core of more than 70 students and community
members. And it's not too shabby a group.
"We get in like really, really funky individuals
.. a lot of the people who work in these fields are
also leaders in their fields outside of The Neutral
Zone," said Nathaniel Mullen, a Zone volunteer
and University alum.
A good number of those volunteers are Wolver-
ines. Bathgate, an accomplished indie/folk musi-
cian, is a University alum with an Master of Fine
Arts from the School of Art & Design. Although
he wasn't directly involved with the Zone until
later, he was aware of it as a student and knew
people who had worked there.
The connection between the University and
the Zone is due in part to sheer proximity, but
also to a similar vision. "There's a lot of opportu-
nity for University students to be involved here,
and University students also have ... experiences
that they could give to teens," Mullen said.
The Neutral Zone provides students an oppor-
tunity to practice their skills in the real world and
share ideas and interests with like-minded peers.
"There's sort of a long-standing tradition of
people in the local scene sort of fluctuating in
and out and supportingthis place. And you know
that isn't limited to music; it's the same for visual
art and it's the same especially with the writing
workshops," Bathgate noted.
Bathgate's role now?
"I'm just there to support their interests, their
needs and basically to use the knowledge that I
have to enable them to do everything that they
want to do to the best of my ability," he said.
Bathgate's view is also an overarching theme
among Neutral Zone workers. High schoolers
and industry professionals interact as equals.
University volunteers act less as teachers and
more as mentors.
"They're leading programs - they're work-
ing with teens to, I guess, bringthem to the next
level. And that's on all sides; leadership, emotion-
ally and artistically," Bathgate said.

Mullen first fell into the Zone in the summer
between his sophomore and junior years at the
University. Searching for something "produc-
tive" to do with his summer, he walked by the
building and noticed the art in the windows.
"Thatwas definitely something I figuredrfcould
contribute to, so I walked in, talked to some people
and wound up volunteering," Mullen said.
It was such a success that he is now complet-
ing his Americorp service learning at the Zone.
"It worked - it just clicked really well," he con-
Volunteers like Mullen help the Zone remain
an integral part of the Ann Arbor community,
especially for local teens. The Zone offers them
a fun and safe alternative on Friday and Satur-
day nights. It's the only consistent all-ages venue
that's geared toward providing young musicians
and artists a venue for their art.
Bathgate mentioned how frustrating it can be
to be a music fan asa minor.
"They're sensitive to (the local music scene)"
he said. "Their finger's on the pulse, but they
don't have access to it."
Most music venues double as bars and clubs,
hosting late-night shows to audiences 21 or older,
preventing teens from seeing their favorite acts.
"It's a total bummer. It's a hard world when
you want to be part of something and you don't
get that sort of jurisdiction," Bathgate added.
r Not only are teens often denied access as-an
audience, but also as performers. Charlie Held is
the drummer for the YOR-signed band Echoes.
His favorite part about the Zone is the oppor-
tunity it provides for students like him to play
Promoters at The B-Side venue book a wide
variety of acts, including local high school and
middle school bands, college bands and even
the occasional national act to attract a broad.
"We also really want to connect more with the
U of M campus. We try to cater to their tastes.
We'd like to see the phrase 'all ages' expanded,"
Bathgate said.
Take it from Mullen. "It's all about coming in
and being willing to help,"he said.As he describes
it, "The Zone is hot!"
Get a glimpse behind the scenes at The
Neutral Zone. Check online at michigandaily.
com/section/arts for a video.

From Page 1B
place for both new customers and
new players of the games."
Horvath is committe d to main-
taining this environment for gam-
ers, and he makes a personal effort
to see that the store remains con-
"I remember noticing one par-
ticular player - you know, a little
older, maybe college-age, maybe
mid-twenties - really trash-talk-
ing a younger kid," said Horvath,
before doing an astonishingly accu-
rate nerd-bully impression:" 'Augh,
that's the worst deck I've ever seen.
What are you doing? That's awful.
You're stupid."'

That didn't sit well with Hor-
"I didn't stand for it," he said.
"I literally kicked him out of the
store and told him he couldn't
come back."
This focus on building a healthy
community, along with the many
scheduled events and always-open
table space that let people play
together, makes Get Your Game
On the epitome of what gaming is
all about: having fun socializing.
But with more magic and elves.
To those who have an interest.
in gaming but fear that they might
not fit within a group of nerd -
caricatures, there's no reason to
fear. Get Your Game On attracts
a far more diverse clientele than
one can imagine.
"To be honest, I was probably

expecting more of the stereotype
when I opened the store: the glass-
es, the pocket protector, the really
introverted non-social," said Hor-
vath. "But that's not what we get.
We get very much mainstream."
Horvath attributes the trend of
more mainstream customers to
the fact that his products and the
town of Ann Arbor both appeal to
the same demographic.
"In general, a lot of the stuff
that we carry here requires
thought. It requires a deal of
intellect and thinking and I think
that attracts all kinds of people,"

said Horvath. "Ann Arbor is really
good for that. It's a very intellec-
tual community."
Whether it's gaming strategy
and problem-solving, the socially
and community-oriented envi-
ronment or the fantasy worlds
and imagination that come with
these games, there's something
about gaming that makes it hardto
resist. So stop trying. Get out your
battle-axe, rally up some friends,
roll the dice and have yourself a
good time.
As they say in the nerd world:
Gamers unite!


Work for our online staff.
E-mail graca@michigandaily.com

18 APRIL 2009

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