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November 01, 2010 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

8A - Monday, November 1, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Someone to sing for

ne of the last things I did with my
mother was enjoy some music. Sitting
next to her whirring, plastic hospital
bed, I picked up her iPod and some portable
speakers borrowed from
my uncle and decided to
play a little game. I asked
her if she would play and
she nodded in agreement. I
played "God Only Knows"
and waited for a few sec-
onds, asking her, "Who
is this?" After a pause, J
she looked at me and over JOE
me, and her face slowly DIMUZIO
hosted a smile. "The Beach
Boys," she whispered.
From there I continued, from Reba McEntire
to The Beatles, strolling through her music,
the music she had given me. A few times she
couldn't remember the artist or repeated the
previous answer. Sometimes she didn't listen.
I played less than a minute of each song, hop-
ing she would answer, but in the end I didn't
care whether she got it right. Ijust wanted to
listen to all of those songs with her, all the way
through, all night.
A little over a year ago, Andrea was diag-
nosed with colon cancer. She underwent two
waves of chemo, afalse "all-clear" fromthe
doctors and months of stress. After learning
the chemo was ineffective and the that cancer
had metastasized into her chest and lymph
nodes, she stopped working and had to be
hospitalized. She passed away late last week
in Providence Hospital in Southfield, the same
hospital at which she spent most of her work-
ing life.
In her last week, all my family could do was
keep things comfortable. She had undergone
weeks of pain, medication and optimistic
return-home dates. She lost her voice, her
appetite and much of her ability to communi-
cate with us. Every day was different and every
day was tough.
During the month I spent visiting her, it
hurt seeing her change drastically from week
to week. Each visit seemed years apart. Last
night, I was clearing out my phone's voice mail,
and the last message left was from her, with an
upbeat voice, wondering where I was, what I
was up to, when I was coming to see her again.
When I realized the worst thingI could do
was visit her and sob, I focused on celebrat-
ing what she's done for me and all of the great
many things she was. She gave me big things:
time, money, love, life ... and little things, too.
Of all those things, the one I think of most
often is music.
I have both blurry and pristine memories
of dancing to The Immaculate Collection on
Sundays, as she cleaned windows, sang along,
dancing with my sister and me as we turned

Madonna's "Material Girl" into "Cheerio Girl."
I remember beingstrapped in a car seat on long
drives set to Les Misdrables and Phantom Of
the Opera cassettes. Jazz on WDET. The occa-
sional classical. Motown. Being terrified and
aroused by the red nails and lips on the ecstatic
chick on the cover of The Cars' first album.
Watching her stumble through old Oscar &
Hammerstein sheets, Christmas standards and
songs I have forgotten on the piano. Learning
to live with Reba and Andrea Bocelli.
Looking back, she gave me more than just a
variety of music - she gave me her love for it.
Music has always been a part of our house, and
all different kinds of it. My father keeps pretty
close to the rock realms of the late '60s and
'70s, but my mom was schizophrenic in com-
parison. Even better, she was unashamed of her
tastes. There were no obstacles when it came to
music. It was simple. She enjoyed it, she loved it
and she lived, breathed and gave it all to me and
everyone she ever met.
A musical note
to my mother.
One of the last times I could talk to my
mother, she asked me to sing a song for her.
I sing now and have since high school, but
this was the hardest request I had ever been
faced with. My sister and I were definitely
too fragile to carry a tune at the time, and
we had no idea what to sing. In minutes, she
drifted off the subject and into sleep. Inside I
felt terrible, torn apart, and I wanted desper-
ately to do what I have done for her so many
times before. There were so many songs I
could have sung and so many memories that
raced through my head. I could have chosen
anything ... but no song would have been good
In her last week, my mother said many
things that didn't make sense. They were
observations, questions, indecipherable repeat-
ed phrases. Once, she repeatedly whispered,
"Will you write me a letter?" I crumbled. Years
ago, I wrote her a letter I had planned to deliver
to her in that last week, when we knew she
wouldn't leave that whirring, plastic bed. By
that time, it wastoo late. She could never read
it, and I never got the chance to read it to her.
But I've come to realize I still have plenty of
time to write and send her letters. I consider
this the first of many. And that song? All those
songs? Every one I sing now is for her. Why else
would I be singing?
Dimuzio can be reached
at shonenjoaumich.edu.

From Page 6A
revenue brought to the private sector
through film crews coming to Michigan
presents financial drawbacks for the
"While the private sector receives a
positive net benefit, the State faces a neg-
ative net benefit in that the 'feedback' in
additional tax revenue from all of those
hotels, rental cars, lumber yards, florists,
etc. does not exceed the cost of the tax
credits," the report states. "The loss to
the State exceeds the gain to the private
sector. Using the figures from the 2008
Annual Report, the State spent $43.6
million to generate $25.3 million in pri-
vate sector benefit."
The report acknowledges the diffi-
culty of accurately assessing the merits
of film programs like Michigan's. It lists
some of the specific obstacles in analyz-
ing such incentive programs, pointing
out both the "confounding circumstanc-
es" that can come up in observations
outside of a laboratory setting, and that
some effects of the incentives, includ-
ing prestige for the state, are not always
observable or measurable.
Switalski and Cassis are co-sponsor-
ing a bill that would limit the expendi-
tures of the program. As an alternative
to the production of blockbuster films
like Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino,"
Switalski expressed a desire to see more
emphasis placed on small-scale films
that he believes will establish in-state
independent production houses and,
with them, the more permanent jobs
that Michigan needs.
"The only reason people are coming
here is the incentives; it's not building
a permanent industry here. Clint East-
wood comes in for a big movie, and it
makes everybody feel good, but in terms
of economics it doesn't really do any
good," Switalski said. "Those are exactly
the types of films that bring in their own
crews from outside the state. If you've
got a small film production, you're far
more likely to hire locally."
But the incentive program also has
some compelling support. Those with a
vested interest in the survival of the pro-
gram have become increasingly vocal
in opposing any interference with its
operation. Jim Burnstein, screenwriting
coordinator in the University's Screen
Arts & Cultures department, believes
that critics of the tax rebates simply
aren't seeing the whole picture when it
comes to the financial benefits the pro-
gram offers and the auxiliary industries
it pays into.
"We can go right down the line: trash-
hauling companies, security guards,
caterers, travel agencies. In 2009 alone,

there were 20,000 hotel room nights
booked by filmmakers," Burnstein said.
"Peoples' imaginations are too limited."
Burnstein faults the by-the-num-
hers approach adopted by critics of the
incentive program for only counting the
full-time jobs as viable. Even in the film
industry, he argues, part-time jobs exist
for Michigan residents with payouts
that render full-time work unnecessary.
"How is film-related employment
any different than construction work?
After a guy finishes building your
house, he's going to move on to the next
available job. The only difference here
is that the film jobs pay much more
highly," Burnstein said.
University alum Chris Farah, direc-
tor of the locally made film "Answer
This!" - which recently held its Ann
Arbor premiere on campus accompa-
nied by widespread grassroots pub-
licity - is a prime example of a local
resident who has reaped the benefits
offered by the incentives. An adamant
supporter of the incentive program, he
said many of its benefits are not neces-
sarily economic.
"Anybody that thinks that the incen-
tive program should be generating
more tax revenue than what it's paying
out never understood the program in
the first place," Farah said. "The pro-
gram exists on one hand to stimulate
the economy in the short-term, but
also to create a long-term, sustainable
industry with a strong infrastructure
that won't require a 43-cent on-the-
dollar return to entice out-of-state pro-
duction companies."
Burnstein echoed Farah's sentiment
by explaining how the incentive works
to keep young talent in the state.
"Movies, television production and
video games are 'cool,' and they attract
other young people to stick around in
Michigan, even if they aren't directly

related with the entertainment indus-
try," Burnstein said. "This state is not
going to stop producing talent, and the
most important infrastructure we can
build to forge a better reputation for the
state is an infrastructure of talent."
Many of the biggest names in enter-
tainment grew up in Michigan before
fleeing for greener pastures.
"Robert Shaye (founder of New Line
Cinema), Sam Raimi (director of the
"Spider Man" series), Bobby Kotick
(CEO/founder of Activision Blizzard,
Inc.), Jerry Bruckheimer (prolific TV
and movie producer), all these people
are from Michigan," Bernstein said.
"What if they'd stayed? As a state, you
simply can't afford to lose your creative
class, and there's never been a better
idea for keeping those brilliant minds
in the state than the Michigan film
Many financial analysts and media
pundits, including Detroit Free Press
columnist Mitch Albom, have proph-
esied that the incentive program is
doomed if Republican gubernatorial
candidate Snyder is elected tomorrow.
Much of Snyder's argument centers
around his belief that the tax incentives
do not provide for a sustainable indus-
try, but an environment in which out-
of-state production crews exploit our
incentives and proceed to cut-and-run
from the state.
Snyder supports "phasing out" the
incentives well before the end of the
five-year period that Burnstein and
Farah believe to be most crucial to
the state film industry's survival. And
with a likely win by Snyder tomorrow,
the Michigan film tax incentives may
be in jeopardy only three years after
their arrival.
- Daily'Arts Editor Sharon Jacobs
contributed to this report.

"Answer This!" is one of more than!??0 movies produced in Michigan with aid from the incentives.


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