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October 21, 2010 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-10-21

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4B - Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Michigan Daily -- michigandaiiy.com

4B - Thursday, October 21, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom


usiCians: stick to lyrics,
leave poetry to poets

Cake is their canvas

ack when I taught high school, a
student - let's call him Dude
wandered into my contemporary
poetry class with a beef to settle. Dude
wasn't actually in my poetry class, but he
heard I had maligned
the artistic integrity of
his favorite poet. His
ethical and aesthetic
code required that he
skip his stats class in
The poet in ques-
tion? Jim Morrison, DAVID
legendary frontman of LUCAS
the Doors. Morrison __C __
was certainly a liter-
ary sort, naming his
band after Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of
Perception," which was itself taken from a
William Blake phrase. Of course, neither
Huxley nor Blake ever writhed around
half-naked on stage, calling himself the
Lizard King - which may be why there
are so few posters of a shirtless Aldous
Huxley in dorm rooms across the country.
But take away Morrison's brand of cha-
risma, mystery and danger, and what's left
of rock'n'roll? Well, lyrics, for starters:
The old get old and the young get stronger
May take a week and it may take longer
They got the guns but we got the numbers
Coonna win, yeah we're taking over.
("Five to One," 1968)
As poetry, that's decent. I like its jaun-
tiness, the brash ambition necessary for
so many young artists to start careers. I
like it much better with Ray Mazarek's
fuzzy bass lines and harpsichord, and
Morrison's voice sounding lost in an echo
Lyrics are one thing. Now try these
lines from Morrison's poem "The Opening
of the Trunk" (1967-1971):
I'm Me!
Can you dig it.
My meat is real.
My hands-how they move
balanced like lithe demons
My hair-so twined and writhing
The skin of my face-pinch the cheeks
My flaming sword tongue
spraying verbal fire-flys
I'm real.
Some of this is OK - the internal rhyme
of "lithe" with "twined and writhing" -
but the rest is an egomaniacal mess. My
meat is real? A tongue - wait, a "flaming
sword tongue" - that sprays ... what was
it? Oh yes, "fire-flys." Flaming sword
tongue? Is this "Dungeons and Dragons?"
It's not just Morrison. My personal
musical hero, Bob Dylan, is just as guilty. I
don't know of a lyricist better than Dylan,
whose lines have shown up in everything
from the scholarship of Oxford don Chris-
topher Ricks to the written opinions of
Chief Justice John Roberts. From the sec-
ond verse of 1965's "Subterranean Home-
sick Blues:"
Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tiptoes
Don't try "No-Doz"
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows

Now look what happens when Dylan
tries to write poems - or an experimental
novel - or whatever 1971's "Tarantula" is
supposed to be:
aretha/ crystal jukebox queen of hymn &
him diffused in drunk transfusion wound
would heed sweet soudwave crippled &
cry salute to oh great particular el dorado
reel & ye battered personal god but she can-
not she the leader of whom when ye follow,
she cannot she has no back she cannot ...
And that's how it starts. It's just not the
same without the screeching harmonica,
the nasal sneer Philip Larkin called "that
cawing, derisive voice."
Whatever the reason, pop musicians
seem obsessed with poetry. In the last 15
years, we've seen books of poems arrive
from Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pump-
kins, Paul McCartney, Tupac Shakur,
Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and, of course, Jewel.
The results have been mixed.
Luckily for musicians, lyrics aren't bur-
dened with having to make sense. They
have music to support them. Take my
favorite lines from Elton John:
("Crocodile Rock," 1972)
That's not much on the page, but the
music will have you crocodile rocking
well past your own threshold for annoy-
ance. This, of course, is the secret. A good
melody can support and redeem even the
most nonsensical babbling (see Dave Mat-
thews Band). Poetry, on the other hand,
has nothing to support it but the language
it's made of and the sound of the human
voice. So poets must be much more par-
ticular about choosing words that are
not only "deep," but also make music by
sounding beautiful.
Maybe that's why the most successful
crossovers start with poetry and move
into music. The best of these is probably
Leonard Cohen, who possesses the voice
I imagine God to have. Cohen published a
book of poems, "Let Us Compare Mythol-
ogies," at the age of 22, before he ever
stepped into a recording studio. Pulitzer
Prize-winner Paul Muldoon collaborated
with the late Warren Zevon, and David
Berman of the Silver Jews received an
MFA from the University of Massachu-
setts. His book of poems, "Actual Air"
(1999), is actually good.So are Patti
Smith's poems, but then she does just
Please put away your
flaming tongue.
about everything right.
So I'm sorry, Dude, but you'll have to go
back to matching up Dark Side ofthe Moon
with "The Wizard of Oz," or scouring
the cover ofAbbey Road to learn whether
Paul's really dead. (He's not - just really
lame.) Maybe, if you listen closely, you can
even discover who shot Tupac. There's
poetry in these mysteries, and even music
could use a little poetry sometimes.
Lucas is busy working on his seven-
minute iambic pentameter solo. To hear
him shred, e-mail dwucasumich.edu.

Cupcake Station and
Cake Nouveau indulge
A2's sweet tooth
Daily Arts Writer
A walk inside Cupcake Station on East
Liberty Street in Ann Arbor feels like a
scene out of a Brothers Grimm fairytale:
the hand-chalked sign outside announc-
ing "Monday Madness" and "Frosting
Friday," the aroma of fresh vanilla bean
and cake batter that hits you once the
door swings open, the giant tubs of col-
ored icing stacked against the wall, the
miniature bar stools lining the counter.
And the centerpiece - the row of neatly
lined cupcakes beneath the display case,
tipsy with sprinkle-flecked frosting,
with little paper tags announcing their
flavors: "Fall Into Pumpkin," "Southern
Red Velvet," "Vanilla Petals."
Cake decorator Sarah Ternes sits at
the counter, wielding a massive tube of
icing in one hand and a tray of newly
frosted cupcakes in the other.
Ternes scoops up a cloud of white
chocolate buttercream from the tub
behind her. It drops softly into the icing
tube. She holds the tip vertically over
an unfrosted chocolate cupcake, easily
swirling the frosting onto the cake's sur-
face in a matter of seconds.
"We can pretty much do anything
(customers) want," she said, crafting a
purple buttercream flower off to the side.
"We can do letters, roses, drop flowers,
petals, leaves, grass, fruits, dots. It just
depends on what they want."
While the Cupcake Station special-
izes in daintier confections, Cake Nou-
veau on North 4th Avenue, owned by
Food Network star Courtney Clark, has
elaborate tiered wedding confections.
Cake construction begins with a series of
sit-down or e-mail sessions between the
client and one of Cake Nouveau's consul-
Clark then takes the sketches from the
consultation and tries to replicate them
in cake form, sometimes adding a bit of
her own inspiration into the mix and
making her cake decorating an artform.
For Ternes at the Cupcake Station
- which also sells cakes - decorating
baked goods is more ofa family tradition,
she explained while putting the finishing
touches on her sample flower, the petals
looking like little pearl droplets curling
atop the wax paper.
"My great aunt was actually a cake
decorator, so I got started when I was
pretty young," she said. "I would go to
her house to hang out, and I would start
to pick up on a couple things ... Then
when I moved here, I found a job on
Craigslist that was advertising for a cake
decorator, and I was like, 'I'd like to get
back into that!'"
Ternes typically comes to work when
the store opens with a huge batch of
unfrosted cupcakes waiting for her and
steadily works her way through them
until the end of the day. The cupcakes
are made earlier that morning by the
store's bakers, but while warm cupcakes
may sound delicious, they usually don't
end up being the prettiest.
"If the cupcakes are a little warm from
the oven, you just wait until they're cool
to the touch," she said. "If they're too
warm, the frosting will start melting all
over the top, and it's just a big mess."
Instead of frosting, Cake Nouveau

Cake Nouveau is owned by Food Network star Courtney Clark.

promises each client a custom-designed
cake rolled in mounds of stretchy fon-
dant and finished off with a series of
molding chocolate or gum paste sculp-
"Fondant is basically sugar Play-Doh,"
Mayfield said. "It comes in a bucket. You
can stretch it, twist it, roll it out, make it
into a ball - you can literally do anything
with it."
"The difference between gum paste
and fondant is that fondant doesn't dry
hard," she added. "Gum paste is meant to
dry hard so you can make separate sculp-
tures with it."
The cake is generally baked 48 hours
before the date of the order by a special
pastry chef. The interior is usually filled
with a buttercream or chocolate ganache
"It's really just your typical sponge
cake, chocolate or vanilla," she said. "But
we can add additional flavors - lemon or
lime or mint."
All of Cupcake Station's frostings are
homemade and usually consist of a but-
tercream or cream cheese base. The tubs
behind Ternes read "Peanut Butter But-
tercream," "Lemon White Chocolate"
and "White Chocolate Cream Cheese."
The cupcakes are then finished with a
decorative topper - usually a butter-
cream flower, a few douses of multicol-
ored sprinkles or a drizzle of caramel.
"Sometimes we mix different things
in the buttercream in order to get dif-
ferent flavors," Ternes said. "The butter-
cream is easiest to work with. The cream
cheese is a little thicker, so sometimes
it's a little more difficult to use."
Cupcake Station also provides peo-
ple with a special custom cupcake ser-
vice for weddings, holidays and special

events. People who come in for wedding
tastings get six to eight cupcakes for free
to try some of the different flavors and
frosting combinations.
The store also bakes larger cakes on
request, which can be tiered or unilay-
ered. Ternes outlined the difficulties
with decorating each type of cake.
"It depends on what you want to
do," she said. "Cupcakes can be easier
because they're smaller to work with and
a lot of times people just want something
really simple - you put something on
there and it looks really cute. But if they
want something bigger, like flowers or
letters, it's easier to do it on a cake."
To achieve the exquisite intricacies
found in Cake Noveau's creations, Clark
does not use the kinds of cake tools that
one would find at IKEA or Williams-
"This one she uses to thin the fondant
out so that can get ripply and crease-
y. This one she likes to use when she's
doing indentations for a person's face,"
Mayfield said, pulling out a bevy of cake
tools that resemble large plastic tooth-
picks. "They're all just - there's no name
for these. They're just special cake tools."
Whatever the tools or ingredients or
sizes involved in fashioning their respec-
tive cakes, these two locally owned des-
sert stores have won the hearts of Ann
Arborites, not just through their outside
decorations but also for their decadent
flavors underneath. One bite into Cup-
cake Station's "Boston Cream Cake,"
a cupcake covered in a dark chocolate
ganache and drizzled with white choco-
late and a sweet pink buttercream flow-
er, reveals an even sweeter vanilla bean
interior soaked ina rich creamy custard.
If only all artwork were this delicious.

From Page 1B
attention with its equipment. A woman
asked if the players were playing broomball
at an early practice. When she heard it was
Quidditch, she just had to watch.
"She said, 'My son would love this,' and
so she and a couple of other families came
to watch the game with their kids," Byl
said. "Obviously for us, it's to bring the
books to life. It was cool to bring the books
to life for them as well."
The team hopes to attract a fan follow-
ing for its upcoming games against Eastern

Michigan and Michigan State. The EMU
game will be in the Arb on Oct. 34 at 3 p.m.
Michigan will play MSU on Nov. 7, same
time and place.
"It's very entertaining to watch. We
really love having crowds. People do try to
get into the role of being wizards and not
Muggles," Byl said.
Before the big games, official tryouts
will take place Sunday, Oct. 24 at 3 p.m.
in the Arb. Until then, players practice by
scrimmaging each other with the names of
Quidditch teams from the books.
"Our first game was Gryffindor versus
Slytherin," said LSA sophomore Danica
Whitfield, who plays the position of Beat-
er. "People come dressed up; we have Sly-

therin people who paint their faces and
make t-shirts, and we have Gryffindor
people who decorate brooms and have that
whole house rivalry going on."
In the followingweek,teams were named
after professional Quidditch teams from
the world of "Harry Potter": the Applebee
Arrows and the Chudley Cannons. Byl and
her teammates enjoy these subtle nods at
Rowling's universe as a reminder of what
brought them all together.
"Everyone here is really pumped to play
Quidditch," said LSA sophomore Camille
Duet, who plays Chaser.
"No one's here because they have a Quid-
ditch scholarship," Duet added.
"You just get to nerd out with other

people," Whitfield added. "You can't really
express your love for Quidditch so much in
a classroom. When you're on the field you
can be like, 'Oh, this is just like in the book!'
... and you can actually do it because you're
Byl agreed that actually playing Quid-
ditch is a great way to make Rowling's fic-
tion into reality. "I have tried to bring the
books alive in many different ways. This is
kind of the easiest way because when you're
caught up in the game it's easy to kind of -"
"- immerse yourself," Whitfield fin-
"When I was first conceiving this idea I
definitely did go back and reread some of
the Quidditch scenes in the early books,"


Ided. "Just when they were describ-
uidditch to Harry for the first time,
.se it is such a bizarre game."
the same time, the team welcomes
players regardless of their level of
st in "Harry Potter."
a not the biggest 'Harry Potter' fan,"
an said. "I know people who know
than I do. I've read all the books. I
rent to the mass meeting and thought
nded like a good time."
onestly, anyone should just come out
>lay," Duet said. "Even if you don't
(the books), it's such a good time.
's a nice edge of competition but no
so gung-ho about it that we've had to
inyone to the emergency room yet."
Meanwhile, the competition is
what drives Morgan.
"I'm really excited to play
MSU," he said. "You may have
beat us at football, but we can beat
you at a fictional sport."
E-mail annaz@umich.edu for
information on joining.


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