The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, November 17, 2011- 3B
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, November17, 2011 - 3B
n the 11 previous install-
ments of this column, I've
been trying to convince you
that poetry need not be intimi-
rhyme or pop
song can be
every bit as
much a poem
as the stuff
in your text- DAVID
books and LUCAS
- ever - be boring.
Poets, on the other hand, can
be much more boring than you'd
expect. Or at least as boring as
the rest of us. Wallace Stevens
said "the poet is the priest of the
invisible," which sounds much
more poetic than his own day
job, as a vice president at the
Hartford Accident and Indem-
nity Company. I, for one, am still
waiting to hear the Geico Cave-
man recite: "Such tink and tank
and tunk-a-tunk-tunk, / May,
merely may, madame, whip from
themselves /A jovial hullabaloo
among the spheres." The Cave-
man or that Mayhem guy.
The poems of Stevens's near-
contemporary Marianne Moore
demonstrate an exacting atten-
tion to the details of the natural
world. Moore was also a keen
observer of athletic events, a fan
of the Brooklyn Dodgers and of
the young Muhammad Ali, who
was a poet himself with a pro-
ductive boxing hobby.
Imagine how Moore would
have gotten any poems finished
in this era of ESPN, ESPN2,
ESPNU and ESPN: The Maga-
zine. I've often wondered the
same thing about Charles
Wright, who shares with me a
reverence for the sports/argu-
ment series "Pardon the Inter-
ruption." Wright's poems - for
which he received the 1998
Pulitzer Prize - concern them-
selves with "language, landscape
oet's day o
and the idea of God." He is a poetry and Ducati-collecting
spiritual poet for our century much easier to justify as indul-
who also watches PTI with a genres.)
religious devotion. I also heard from former Poet
I recently asked Wright if Laureate Rita Dove, who had
he still watches. "Every day," recently spent her weekend "in
he told me. "It's the end of my an Argentine tango workshop."
day. I watch PTI and I have my She and her husband, the writer
martini and then I have supper." and translator Fred Viebahn,
For Wright, the pleasure is less took up ballroom dancing as a
the sports stories under discus- distraction after a fire destroyed
sion than the discussion itself their home in Charlottesville,
"I like (Tony) Kornheiser and Virginia. Dove also cites the
(Michael) Wilbon. They love to guilty pleasure of reading
bait each other, and that's what detective novels. "The dance is
makes the showso much fun." certainly more poetic than the
I thought I was the only poet detective fiction," she wrote,
who watched too much televi- "but the remedies for strained
sion. But even LSA Prof. Linda muscles and aching feet - ice
Gregerson, who has been cel- packs and Epsom salts - cer-
ebrated for her poetry as well as tainly qualify as 'unpoetic.'"
her scholarship on Early Modern MacArthur Grant recipient
England, confessed to watching Mark Strand started his career
asa painter, then became a poet
as well as a translator and a
critic of art and photography.
Lately, he has been makingrcol-
guilty pleasure. lages from paper that he makes
himself. He also likes to shop,
he said, adding, "but I don'tbuy.
I like to shop with my daughter
all 26 episodes of "Wallander," because I like women's styles -
the Swedish murder mystery they're much more adventurous.
series adapted from Henning "When I shop for men's cloth-
Mankell's novels. ing, it's really looking for an
LSA Prof. A. Van Jordan interesting texture or cut in a
would be watching NBA bas- jacket, but my daughter looks
ketball at this time of year, "but great in clothes and I love shop-
right now, with the lockout, I'm ping with her and I like to see
relegated to my comic book sub- her try on stuff." I did not ask
scriptions at Vault of Midnight." Strand whom he was wearing
The Flash, the Atom, and other during our interview.
citizens of the D.C. Universe I have my own guilty plea-
even show up in Jordan's third sures, of course, but I'll keep
book, "Quantum Lyrics." most of them to myself, atthe
Beth Ann Fennelly, author risk ofturningthe last appear-
of three books of poems and a ance of this column into a
memoir, likes "working out at Match.com profile. My only
the gym on the elliptical while guiltwould be if these columns
reading People magazine and haven't sentyou in search of the
listening to Snoop Dogg." Poet, various ways poetry can enrich
critic and essayist Meghan your life. Other than that, it's
O'Rourke reads design blogs. been my pleasure.
Fredrick Seidel is a noted col--
lector of Ducati motorcycles. Lucas is finished with his Daily
(Of course, being independently adventure. To wish him luck,
wealthy like Seidel makes both e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Gargoyle is moving away from 'esoteric, weird humor,"occording to editor in chief aod LSA senior Jacoh tosen.
Written wit at the 'U'
D T- VAT 'LET'S GET FREE' (2000), DEAD PREZ
Occupying the airwaves
By CASSIE BALFOUR
Daily Community CultureEditor
Dead Prez's album Let's Get
Free isn't easy listening. The
beats aren't polished, the pro-
duction isn't incredibly inno-
vative, the duo's rhymes aren't
approachable and they don't give
a shit about swag. But stic.man
and M-1 wouldn't want to be
radio friendly or become part of
the hip hop-industrial complex
they so aggressively disdain.
Let's Get Free isn't just a hip-
hop record. It's a manifesto for
the amateur revolutionary look-
ing to overthrow the capitalist
pigs standing in the way of the
struggle for freedom. At the turn
of the millennium, the rap group
was mad as hell and screaming
about structural inequality.
When I first listened to Dead
Prez, I was struck by the group's
militancy, unapologetic anger
and complete rejection of the
commercialism - not just of hip
hop (which is just a symptom of
something deeper) but of Ameri-
can culture in general.
Maybe it's just because my
least favorite holiday, Black Fri-
day, is fast approaching - that
great tradition of mouth-breath-
ers stampeding fellow humans
in order to continue on that
never-ending quest for another
flat-screen television. Or maybe
because Jay-Z hustled to capi-
talize on Occupy Wall Street
by selling "Occupy All Streets"
T-shirts (with none of the prof-
its going to the cause), but Dead
Prez seems to have the antidote
to vapid hip hop.
On perhaps the most suc-
cessful trock, "It's Bigger Than
Hip Hop," Dead Prez raps over
a scrambled beat about the
restraints of the music industry
and the "fake thug, R&B, rap
scenario all day on the radio."
It almost seems prophetic that
Dead Prez is condemning the
glamorization of the thug life
and decadence pervading the
radio from over a decade ago.
The group's thesis statement
seems to be contained in this
track: "You would rather have
a Lexus or justice? / A dream or
some substance? / A Beamer, a
necklace or freedom?"
The album has gritty tracks
that should be played in a dingy
basement. Even the most stoic of
hipsters won't be able to resist
the uncomfortable frankness
and infectious camaraderie the
rap group manages to create on
"- , " a«Ao AatTiro n f
A tale of two humor something."
Last spring, the Every Three
magazines and their Weekly proved its power as a pub-
lication when it ran the infamous
non-rivalry Karlos Marx for MSA campaign.
"We were trying to find a cre-
By LUCY PERKINS ative wayto poke fun at the upcom-
Daily Arts Writer ing MSA elections, to show how
pointless and ridiculous they are,"
Naturally, on a campus like the Field said. "Someone started talk-
University's that is saturated with ing about how it might be funny
intellect, students crawling from if we ran a fake campaign for a
coffee shop to library to coffee fake candidate, and we eventually
shop could take themselves too decided on Karlos Marx."
seriously. Is there an escape from According to Field, the E3W
the mental pressure of said sought- was trying to address what the
after academics? Humor may be a writers believe to be the generic,
good place to start. unilateral platform that MSA can-
"When students are walking didates usually use.
through the hallways going to the "The affirmative action party
bathroom or whatever, they'll grab only has one aspect to their plat-
the Every Three Weekly," said form, which is in the title," she
William Petrich, alum and former said.
Editor in Chief of the Every Three The creation of Marx's plat-
Weekly. "It's a go-to option for stu- form - abolishing the wage sys-
dents - I like to think that it pro- tem and establishing more places
vides a bitof levity and humorto an on campus to get frozen yogurt
otherwise fairly uptight campus." - was prompted by the flat plat-
The E3W and The Gargoyle forms the writers saw in previous
are the two student humor pub- MSA campaigns.
lications on campus. They cover Though Marx didn't win the
a wide range of topics in a satiri- election, he did receive some 520
cal newspaper format and literary votes for MSA president from
magazine, respectively. The Gar- students who read about his cam-
goyle is an entity of Student Publi- paign in the EW.
cations, along with The Michigan Despite the loss, Field was
Daily and The Michiganensian excited to see voters actively log
Yearbook. on and vote.
Though the two humor publica- "We wanted to get people to
ions coexist, they don't always see vote who hadn't voted before,"
eye-to-eye. she said.
From The Gargoyle's perspec- A writer is always putting
tive, the E3W doesn't put much himself or herself in a vulnerable
effort into each issue, something position, risking criticism from
The Gargoyle takes pride in. readers. One could assume the
"Look at their photo-shopped lack of bylines in the E3W simply
images and you can see how protects the writer, but in reality,
they're thrown together haphaz- anonymity plays an entirely dif-
ardly," said Jacob Rosen, LSA ferent role: It allows them to have
senior and Editor in Chief of The free reign over what they choose
Gargoyle. "Also, we have to run ads to write about.
and ask for money, so in that way According to Field, EW writ-
we're more like a real publication ers commonly create fictitious
while the E3W is more like a stu- authors whose opinions don't
dent group that happens to run a reflect their own.
newspaper." "It-makes sense not to slap your
But according to Petrich, The
Gargoyle doesn't try to relate to
students on campus.
"When I was with the E3W, ,'
we'd make fun of Mary Sue Cole-
man, whereas when I.picked up a
copyof The Gargoyle, I would read Make Friends
a first-person narrative where
they wrote from the perspective U IL
of a McDonald's fish sandwich and
Count Chocula humpingthings." I
Yet despite their differences,
Petrich denied any existing rival-
ry between the two humor publi-
"Rivalry at its heart requires
competition," Petrich said. "The
Gargoyle is more of an after-
thought and has become irrel-
Perhaps one reason for Petrich's
claim that The Gargoyle is less
relatable to students on campus
is its one-of-a-kind literary maga-
zine format, chock full of hand-
crafted graphics. 9 3
"We went to a national humor
conference last year and no other 4
magazines were like us," Rosen
said. "Our writing pieces are
pretty much standard sarcasm, 7 5
but our art sets us apart. We have
a lot of amazing artists and comic 9g
According to Brenna Field, cur- -I8
rent Editor in Chief of the Every
Three Weekly, humor is one of
the most effective ways to raise
awareness about important issues
in the college community because
many young adults don'thave time
to read straight news stories or
simply aren't interested. 5
"If you spoon-feed it to them
in a way that's funny, it'll go '
down a little easier," Field said.
"It does make them think about
name on something that repre-
sents an opinion that you don't
have," she said.
In this way, writers can take
their pieces to any and all extremes
without worrying about the arti-
cle being connected with their
personal views. The anonymity
allows them to reach a large audi-
ence through fictitious personas.
According to Rosen, The Gar-
goyle is also making an effort to
cater to a larger portion of the
student population, a motion
aided by the publication's recent
expansion from eight staff mem-
bers to nearly 40.
"We've definitely gone through
some changes in the last few
years," Rosen said. "We've moved
away from esoteric, weird humor
- god, I sound like a fucking ass-
hole - to 'campus humor. (The
Gargoyle) used to be in a rut -
frankly the Every Three Weekly
was more relevant then. We used
to be a niche humor market, but
that's changed a lot."
Contributions from a diverse
staff for the Every Three Weekly
allow the publication to be acces-
sible to many University students.
Petrich said the publication's pop-
ularity and humor have triggered
mfnyto join itssadff.
"Wehave jocks and frat bros,we
have Kerrytown-type RC kids, we
have totally normal, meat-eating
sports fans and music nerds," Pet-
rich said. "We hadsorority girls
applying but we also have people
who abhor sorority girls applying."
The commitment to the acces-
sibility of humor will allow pub-
lications like the E3W and The
Gargoyle to continue cracking
jokes students will want to read
because there are simply less limi-
tations and more ways to whack
the funny bone ofthe student body.
"I think we'll stick around,"
Field said. "As long as we keep
thinking of ways to engage the
campus community and not recy-
cle jokes, we'll be funny and we'll
ity to e
like "we want Freedom" - - - -- rV
combines an inflamma- LouD
ample of a Black Nation- ited asa producer on "It's Bigger
anting, a hard beat and Than Hip Hop." This shouldn't
icably a pan flute). But come as much as a surprise
guys also have a soft side: because Kanye has shown the
er track, "Be Healthy," stirrings of a conflicted revolu-
isteners to eat more fruits tionary on his past records and
getables. in his personal life. Like when
d Prez still isn't to a lot of he showed up to Occupy Wall
's tastes, and many would Street dripping in jewelry worth
the group of advocat- more than a lotof people's yearly
lence. But I would argue salaries (Kanye, you're doing it
a superficial take on Let's wrong).
ee. Both of the rappers are This is why Dead Prez's album
frustrations with acountry needs to make a comeback.
llows structural inequal- While Kanye and Jay are anoint-
xist, and that's the corner- ing themselves kings and rapping
if hip-hop music. Rappers aboutthe new"elite,"they're also
rand Kanye bury their own trying to convince listeners, like
beliefs behind layers of on "Murder to Excellence," that
oduction while sprinkling they, too, can make it ("Power to
yrics with heavy doses of the people / When you see me,
ys. Dead Prez doesn't pull see you"). But they don't let you
es and doesn't want to be in on a little secret: Not everyone
your top 40 anyway. can be king.
Dead Prez doesn'tgive a damn
aboutbecoming king. These guys
urn on the are of the people and call upon
listeners to pick up arms in the
dead Prez. Revolution. While Kanye feebly
attempts to fuck the man, he's
also quick to enumerate on his
expensive stuff. It seems Kanye
ve mainstream swagger- and Jay merely measure success
d gold-plated hip hop, and by material wealth (an argu-
Jay-Z and Kanye's last ably out-of-touch viewpoint in
Watch the Throne, is still this economic downturn), but
stay in my earbuds, I can't Dead Prez just wants freedom.
ut find the entire album "I don't want to drive no fancy
ibly hypocritical and dis- cars / I just wanna be free to live
ous. Let's Get Free offers my life," Dead Prez sings on "We
rnative to the often unbri- Want Freedom."
elebration of gluttonous Dead Prez's album is a
nption. In this time when reminder that Freedom is big-
are questioning the ram- ger than hip hop. It's bigger
eed that is atthe forefront than your bank account. And it's
tle's minds, Jay and Kanye bigger than your dick. Let's Get
n it while simultaneously Free is a reminder that you can't
for a revolution. become the man and still be part
fact: Kanye West is cred- of the people.
0 K U