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December 02, 2010 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-12-02

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4B - Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'iEATERS
From Page 3B
toward the outskirts of town, where
the land is cheaper.
Flight ofthe first-run films
Still, the lack of options and
big feature films close to campus
raises questions. There are two
movie theaters right next to cam-
pus. Why can't students see the big
titles there?
Louis Dickinson, the State The-
titer manager and Michigan The-
ater front of house coordinator,
said that part of the reason the
State and the Michigan don't show
first-run Hollywood films is due
to capacity. The two local theaters
don't have enough screens to make
showing big Hollywood films like
"The Dark Knight," "The Town"
or "The Social Network" attractive
to distributors, and the promise
of a certain number of screens on
Which to play the film is necessary
to make a venture profitable.
" 'Jaws' is what changed movie
theaters," Dickinson said. Before

the release of the 1975 Steven
Spielberg blockbuster, "you could
be a small one-screen theater. You
could have an engagement of a film
for a week. You could make a pretty
good return on it. And you could
change out another film after that
week was over."
According to Dickinson, "Jaws"
was the first film for which distrib-
utors required theaters to show a
film a certain number of times on a
fixed number of screens. Once the
film clamped down contractually,
its model started to surface for all
first-run Hollywood films.
Both the Michigan and the State
have only two screens, modest
next to the monster screen capac-
ity of Quality 16 or Rave.
LSA senior Amanda Seppala
doesn't feel miffed about the lack
of first-run films at the State and
Michigan.
"It makes sense that the State
and the Michigan allocate resourc-
es to movies people wouldn't nec-
essarily see," Seppala said. "I feel
more disenfranchised about the
loss of the dollar theater at the
(Briarwood) mall (this past sum-
mer)."
LSA freshman Adam Berkovec

agrees.
"I know that the movies at the
State and the Michigan aren't
mainstream movies, and it doesn't
bother me," he said. "It would suck
if I didn't have friends with cars."
In terms of whether he feels
the Michigan and State ought to
show big blockbuster films, Berk-
ovec said, "It might .be beneficial
to them. But it's also cool that they
don't show movies you can see any-
where else."
The film selections of the Michi-
gan and the State are also based on
ideology. The Michigan is commit-
ted to bringing films to Ann Arbor
that wouldn't normally get such a
big run.
In 1979, the Michigan Theater
was in danger of being torn down,
and the Michigan Theater Historic
Trust was established to save the
theater. Since then, the Michigan
has been a nonprofit whose central
mission was at first live theater and
music before transitioning to mov-
ies in the late '80s.
"The Michigan sets the trend for
a certain demographic," Dickinson
asserted. "I know that we show
films that wouldn't really fly at the
other two theaters. The hope is

that someone might come and see
a film here that they might not nec-
essarily seek out."
Despite a trend toward inde-
pendent, foreign and shorter-run
films, the Michigan has shown its
share of mainstream blockbusters.
Pixar's "Up" played there in 2009
and was the first movie to use the
theater's Sony 4K projection sys-
tem. The Sony 4K projector at the
Michigan is the most powerful 3-D
projector in the state.
"'Up' was the flagship movie -
we had to show it," said Dickenson.
Oddly, the projector has only
been used for one project since
"Up": "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dino-
saurs." It flopped. Dickinson said
that the film just didn't work for
their audience.
"We were able to market ("Up")
because it's a Pixar - top-of-the-
line 3-0 computer animation," he
said. "It fits into the art house men-
tality. Pixar films are gorgeous."
In order to get "Up" from its dis-
tributor, the Michigan had to open
at nine in the morning and show
seven screenings each day until the
theater closed at midnight.
LSA senior Courtney Rabideau
said that she sees a movie about

once every three weeks. When she
does, she isn't upset about them not
being first-run Hollywood films.
"AnnArbor prides itselfonbeing
a vehicle, a platform for older and
independent movies. It is a point
of pride for Ann Arbor," she said.
"You can't see movies you can see
anywhere else, because Ann Arbor
isn't anywhere else."
Music, Theatre & Dance sopho-
more Erin Mernoff said, "It would
be more convenient if the theaters
showed big movies," but added, "I
like that they show the indepen-
dent films because most theaters
don't mention them."
LSA senior Noah Stahl, a con-
centrator in the Screen Arts and
Cultures program and a former
writer for The Michigan Daily, val-
ues the unique experience he gets
from seeing films at the Michigan
and the State.
"Whenever I sit down in the
Michigan Theater, I have to take
a moment to appreciate this jewel.
It's like walking into a time cap-
sule," he said.
Stahl too enjoys the "grungy
'70s feel" of the State and claimed
the experience "takes you out of
Ann Arbor."

He assumes that people would
find it annoying to have to drive
out to Carpenter or Jackson to
see a film, but there is "some-
thing unique about having small
independently oriented theaters"
here in town. Stahl's bottom line:
"Both places - the Michigan and
the State - have a ton of personal-
ity. More than any of these multi-
plexes."
Despite the trial she faced
attempting to see a mainstream
movie her freshman year, Phil-
lips doesn't feel that the role of the
Michigan and the State theaters
should change. The films they play,
she said, "give (the theaters) a dif-
ferent atmosphere. If they showed
blockbusters, they'd be more insti-
tutional or commercial." However,
she admitted to never having seen
a film in either theater in all of her
time at Michigan.
In any event, the role of the
Michigan and the State theaters
doesn't stand to change any time
in the near future. For now at least,
most of those in student neighbor-
hoods will continue to spend Sat-
urday night in Ann Arbor having
a ball somewhere else besides the
movies.

The three main historical Michigan songbooks were published in 1889,1904 and 1913.
A snapshot of
$ONGBOOKS turn-of-the-century Michigan
from Page 1B

ties and happenings at the Univer-
tity."
These three historical song-
books - compiled in 1889, 1904
and 1913 - represent a golden age
of Michigan songs. Although two
more songbooks were arranged
in 1967 and 1990, only a smatter-
ing of newly composed songs were
added.
"There was obviously a need for
these songbooks and lots of songs
to fill them because there was so
much singing going on," Rardin
said. "These are the ones that have
1 een handed down to us and we
love them."
Smith, who sang second tenor
in the Men's Glee Club during the
mid-'60s, is a Michigan songbook
aficionado. He has made it his mis-
sion to collect every edition of the
three historical songbooks.
Along with Rardin, Smith
recently co-edited a new song-
book - "Sing to the Colors" - that
Was released earlier this year to
commemorate the 150th anniver-
sary of the Men's Glee Club. The
handsome hardcover volume is
the product of a year and a half
of research, compiling, editing
and notating. As an added bonus,
the book contains a small "pocket
songbook," which offers the gui-
tar chords, melodies and lyrics for
sveral Michigan songbook favor-
ites.
"With this one tiny little article
that we could stuff nicely in the
back cover, we were able to include
a great many pieces," Rardin said.
"The pocket songbook takes care
of our longing to sort of return
to the day when you would have
needed to carry around your song-
book to the football game or to the
tailgate or to the dorm meeting."

Rardin's remark reveals how
popular singing was on campus
around the turn of the century and
into the '40s. Michigan songs and
recreational singing were an essen-
tial part of social life, acid were
deeply ingrained in the residential
and Greek communities.
"The fraternity and sorority sys-
tems were extremely strong," Smith
said. "(Members) had to dress for
dinner, and they brought their
songbooks to dinner. They would
go around the table every night and
somebody would lead the group in
song. You didn't have the Internet,
you didn't have TV. Back in the teens
and '20s basically all you had were
parties. I imagine that (they would
sing) after football games, before
football games and at concerts."
"It was just a totally different
environment," he added. "It's hard
to imagine U of M with a third or a
quarter as many students as we have
today and no North Campus and no
Michigan Stadium - you played
football at Ferry Field or Regents
Field."
Though students today may
claim to be die-hard Wolverine fans,
their devotion is different from that
of early University students. While
present-day fans may claim to know
the lyrics of "The Victors" by heart,
students of the early 20th century
could sing an extra set of lyrics to
this march that are rarely heard
today. Moreover, early University
students had dozens more chants
and fight songs at their disposal to
cheer on their team.
"I love this place today in 2010,
but these folks back then must
have loved it an awful lot because
they generated all these songs to
sing about it," Rardin said. "I think
they're wonderful for modeling
loyalty to the University. Having a
high-profile athletics program as

we do here, some of that's built in."
"It's easy to feel a certain sense
of allegiance," he continued. "But I
think for people to feel it on an artis-
tic level rather than on an athletic
level is very moving to me - the idea
that we could express loyalty to the
University through music."
The Michigan songs serve as
windows onto this long-gone era.
By reading the lyrics, one can get a
sense of how students lived during
the first half of the 20th century, as
well as how different campus was
then.
"Some of the songs reveal places
that are no longer there that are
interesting: Joe's and The Orient,
the P-Bell, which I think was called
the Pretzel Bell," Smith said. "These
were watering holes that don't exist
anymore. And I think those are fun
references to hear and think, 'Wait a
minute - I wonder where that build-
ing was,' or, 'I wonder what that's a
reference to.' That can, I hope, spark
some curiosity about campus as it
used to be."
Many of those songs serve as
a kind of map of early campus,
describing University buildings that
standtoday, and manythathavelong
since disappeared. The bittersweet
"Michigan Goodbye" from the 1909
Michigan Union Opera "Koanza-
land" gives a nostalgic picture of
campus: "Farewell to you, old State
Street / And so long Tappan Hall /
Good bye to you, dear Barbour gym
/Library chimes and all."
"The Bum Army" from the 1910
opera "Crimson Chest" makes sev-
eral references to social events
and practices of the time. The song
mentions an event known as the
"Junior Hop," or "J-Hop" for short.
This popular school dance was held
annually by the junior class begin-
ningin 1872.
"The Bum Army" praises the
beauty of the "Ypsi girls" and
"Ypsilanti maids." Smith explained
that at the time, Eastern Michigan

University was a "normal college"
meant only for education students.
Because students at normal colleges
were predominantly female, Ypsi-
lanti was an ideal place for a Univer-
sity of Michigan man to find a date
on Saturday night.
WWII: Beginning of the end
Yet just as these places and events
faded away with the passing of time,
so too did the tradition of singing
Michigan songs. Today, only the
Men's and Women's Glee Clubs and
the Michigan Marching Band keep
the flame of Michigan music burn-
ing through regular performances
of pieces from the songbooks.
There is no single explanation as
to why Michigan songs are no lon-
ger a part ofcampus life. In organiz-
ing the latest songbook, however,
the editors drew some conclusions
from their research.
"These books used to be pub-
lished every 10 years up to the 1920s
and '30s," said Gavin Bidelman, .a
2007 'U' alum.
He went on to explain that as the
years passed, the books were pub-
lished less and less frequently, in an
"exponential decline."
A doctoral candidate at Purdue,
Bidelman transferred vocal scores
from the original songbooks into a
computer to be printed into the lat-
est edition.
"It's probably due to the dying
interest in performance," he said.
"People used to sit around pianos
and sing at holidays, and I don't
think anybody does that anymore.
It's a different time - a difference
in era."
Smith pointed to an emergence
of popular new forms of media,
including the radio, phonograph
and television, as competition with
the performance of Michigan songs.
With the ability to listen to music on
records or over the airwaves, Smith
argued that live performance at
home or in the dorm lost its impor-
tance.
Perhaps the most significant fac-
tor leading to the demise of Michi-
gan music, Smith said, was the
second world war.
"You had a tremendous change
on campus during World War II and
focus really for the total war effort,"
he said. "Most major research cam-
puses of any large size turned their
total effort to providing officers and
other specialized training for the
war effort."
Smith said that following the
war, the University exploded in size,
leading to an entirelynew way oflife
on campus.
"I can only guess (it was the)
sheer size of the institution, change
in the atmosphere of students from
pre-World War II to post-World
War II, influx of G.I.s needing jobs,
less partying and more down-to-
work," Smith said.
"(A University education)

became more expensive, though
nowhere near as expensive as it has
been over the last four years," Smith
added. "But still, a real change in
atmosphere - new buildings, just a
sheer expansion in research, more
focus and attention on academics."
With a larger and more career-
oriented student body, the traditions
of the past, including Michigan
songs, became lost in the shuffle of
campus life. According to Smith,
students no longer had time to learn
fight songs or University hymns.
The songhooks today
Sixty-five years after the end of
World War II, the Michigan song-
books have yet to make an entrance
into contemporary student life.
Thanks to groups like the Men's and
Women's Glee Clubs, however, the
tradition of writing new Michigan
songs has not been wiped away for-
ever. In fact, Rardin recently wrote
a song entitled "Michigan Remem-
bers" for the newest edition of the
songbook.
"The words get to you every time
because it's a beautiful, beautiful
song," said LSA junior Matthew
Griffith, who serves as the public
relations manager of the Men's Glee
Club. "The imagery of it reminds
you of a fall semester in Ann Arbor."
"I think a lot of times we kind of
take for granted our college experi-
ence. We focus on work and getting
things done. We forget about how
unique and beautiful the college
experience is."
Although a handful of students,
alumni and faculty are still devot-
ed to preserving and expanding
the Michigan songbook, Rardin
believes it is unlikely that the Michi-
gan songs will ever gain the main-
stream appeal on campus that they
once had.
"I hate to sound pessimistic, but
I think it's a tall order," he said.
"Singing is so specialized now. Now
the view is that singing is something
you do if you're a music major or if
you go to church or synagogue."
While it is improbable that the
University will ever see a renais-
sance of Michigan music, Griffith
hopes that the Michigan songbook
will garner some interest among
21st-century students.

"It would make my heart warm to
have students know these songs," he
said. "Do I see them being as popu-
lar as they were in the past? No ...
but I think that there is still an inter-
est in these songs."
In spite of the songs' archaic
references and old-fashioned lan-
guage, there is much in the Michi-
gan songbook to which students can
relate. While it may be difficult to
imagine a modern frat boy in a bow
tie and tails singing "Goddess of the
Inland Sea," it's less of a stretch to
picture him holding a red cup and
belting "The Friar's Song": "Drink!
Drink! Joy rules the day, / Who will
have thought of the'morrow?"
The lyrics to Michigan songs also
reveal similarities between turn-
of-the-century students and those
of today. The 1904 song "Blue Book
Man" shows that blue books have
been a source of worry and distress
for over 100 years, as does 1918's
"Bluebook Blues": "Never miss'd a
test or got below a 'B' / Finished the
semester with a Bluebook labeled
'K!'
Another shocking similarity can
be found in the ditty "A Faithful
Pipe to Smoke" from the 1908 opera
"Culture": "Yet even such misfor-
tunes / To freshblown hopes will
lead, / Ifa fellow draws his troubles
/ In a pipeful of the weed." While
"weed" is probably in reference to
pipe tobacco, one can't help chuck-
ling at how pertinent this line is to
the a certain hobby of many stu-
dents today.
Although there is much for cur-
rent students to relate to in the
Michigan songs, these gems are in
jeopardy of being lost forever. Even
if the glee clubs and the march-
ing band preserve some remnant
of these songs, their fate lies, ulti-
mately, in the hands of modern-day
students.
Students may never again sit
around their dorm, fraternity or
sorority to sing one of the rousing
choruses from the Michigan song-
books. But one can still hold on to
the hope that one day, the students
of the University will once again
gather around the Tappan Oak to
join in the words of the alma mater:
"Sing to the colors that float in the
light; / Hurrah for the Yellow and
Blue!"

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