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April 24, 1991 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-04-24

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The Michigan Daily
T-Muse

ARTS
Wednesday, April 24, 1991
.t to themselves

Page 11

_. U _

s

by Annette Petruso

"We don't ever really have any-
thing to say... Don't speak until
spoken to, that's how we were
raised. We live by it," says gui-
tarist/vocalist Tonya Donelly of the
Boston-based Throwing Muses.
Talking to the band is like pulling
teeth: they are very reluctant to say
much unless goaded, giving them a
private, quiet, mystical air.
You wouldn't necessarily think
that the band would be so confiden-
tial after listening to their music.
But then again, it could make sense
- angst is something you want to
keep to yourself and if you express
it in your music, you probably don't
want to talk about it. Lead vocal-
ist/guitarist Kristin Hersch writes
most of the songs, all of which have
a revealing-of-inner-secrets-and-pain
aura to them.
On earlier records, like their
self-titled album and Chains
Chained EP, Hersch's voice, aptly
called "hemorrhaging" by Simon
'Reynolds in next month's Spin,
rails and writhes, screeches and
drones. On later works, Iunkpapa
and the new record, The Real
Ramona, she takes better care of her
vocal chords, singing more, but she
retaining the hurtful edge. She and
Donelly's guitars match but never
overwhelm the vibration of her
prematurely-aged sounding voice.
David Narcizo's off-beat drumming
complements their noise, accenting
her words and the guitars, often
changing the tempo in mid-song.
What Hersch, and Donelly, who
inks some of the tunes, write about
strikes a nerve of anyone going
through any kind of everyday anxi-
ety, from the pubescent kind of not
fitting in to more "adult" worries,
from "I hate God and blame Dad"
("Hate My Way") to "pushing a
ribcage/ makes it hard to breathe/
and yet we hold our sweaty hands/
year after year/ some new year/
without music in our head/ newspa-
per tenement/ coming up dead"
("No Parachutes"). Their word

s Keepi
choice and means of expression are
reminiscent of Patti Smith. "We
used to listen to her a lot when we
were younger, all the time, actu-
ally... She's more inspirational
rather than influential...,"says
Donelly.
All this earnest talk shouldn't
imply that the Throwing Muses
have no sense of humor or irony,
musically or otherwise - they do,
but it's subtle - or that they take
themselves too seriously. When
asked if God, if she exists, is female
or not, Donelly replies, "No, she's
totally amorphous. She. It. I think
God looks like the Swamp Thing."
And regarding another great band
from their current home, the New
Kids on the Block, Donelly admit-
ted to, ahem, admiring them. "I do
get pleasure from them, but I don't
necessarily like them. It's more of a
picking-a-scab pleasure," she says.
But musically, and in most of
their related public images, their
face is admittedly shy and sober. Is
this a sign that they are idiosyn-
cratic? "(We are) as much as anyone
else in the world is. In fact, we have
a lot less idiosyncrasies than most
people I've known," says Donelly.
Maybe it stems from the fact that
they are women in a very male-dom-
inated business. Regarding women
in the most hyper-male-dominated
music, heavy metal, Donelly states:
"To be honest, I think they look
kinda silly. I just think it's just the
same thing... They strike me the
same way women in business suits
strike me. It just seems like moving
in on that territory by acting like a
man. Or trying to assume tradi-
tional male roles and calling that
some kind of liberation which I
don't really agree with."
Perhaps that's where the Muses'
appeal lies. They do their music
their way on their terms, and
Donelly and Hersh don't feel
apologetic for being women or for
keeping their lives and feelings to
themselves. They reveal bits as they
want to. Take for example The Real
Ramona album: the photo on the

Illiberal Education:
The Politics of Race
and Sex on Campus
by Dinesh D'Souza
Macmillan Free Press/hardcover
University, conservatives and
liberals both, have been talking the
last few years about being "PC,"
that is, "politically correct."
Politically Correct, if you're not
already familiar with it, refers to
being of the left persuasion on
issues of racial and sexual equality.
Among other traits, a Politically
Correct person must be for
affirmative action, in favor of
women's choice in abortion,
accepting of lesbians and gay men,
and against United States
involvement in any Third World
country. In some people's minds,
Politically Correct means agreeing
100 percent with the agendas of
minority and left/liberal activists.
If you voice any disagreement,
say the Politically Incorrect, you
will be branded racist, sexist or
homophobic, a fate just as bad as
being tagged "soft on communism"
in the years of McCarthyism.
In the past few years, Michigan
students have learned they are not
alone. Newsweek did a cover story
in December exposing the PC
"thought police" at colleges and
universities across the country, and
numerous national publications
jumped on the anti-PC bandwagon.
On this campus, the Daily and
especially the Michigan Review
both turned more of their attention
to PC.
Now Dinesh D'Souza has
released a complete book called
Illiberal Education: The Politics of
Race and Sex on Campus, attacking
PC thought and the cults of
.diversity and multiculturalism.
D'Souza is an Indian immigrant
who attended Dartmouth. While he
is undeniably a "minority" and a
"person of color," D'Souza is a
conservative and far from PC. Need
proof? He was an editor at the
controversial Dartmouth Review

and worked in the Reagan
administration. Now he is a fellow
at the conservative think-tank
American Enterprise Institute.
Despite this background,
D'Souza's work is something
conservatives, liberals and radicals
should all follow. His attack on the
current state of higher education is a
devastating indictment of the sacred
cows of student activists,
sympathetic faculty members, and
cowardly administrators and
university presidents. For anyone
intellectually honest and interested
in the issues of racial and sexual
equality on campus, Illiberal
Education is a must read. It may
even make a great graduation
present. And whether or not one
agrees with it, it demands a
response.
In sum, the book is a
comprehensive attack on the ideas of
multiculturalism and diversity as
they currently operate in our
country's top - and often most
progressive - universities. D'Souza
mentions nearly every college or
university in the country, but he
dedicates six chapters to six
universities in particular:
California-Berkeley, Stanford,
Howard, Duke, Harvard and
Michigan.
D'Souza argues that the upsurge
of racial incidents on campuses in
the late 1980s is a result of the
"victim's revolution" seen in
nearly all colleges and universities.
He characterizes this revolution as
one in which minorities are given
special privileges in admissions so
that academic merit is all but
abandoned, while professors are
discouraged from presenting
material in class that may offend
minority students or feminists.
Further, students are steered away
from Western civilization and
"great books" courses, minority
students are segregated from the
rest of the university in various
"minority only" institutions and
social groups, and everyone is
See BOOKS, Page 12

Throwing Muses here show a lighter side than their music suggests.
Fred Abong, second from the right, is the new bass player, replacing
Leslie Langston, who left to do her own thing on the West Coast.

cover of the woman next to the car
is a relative of a band member.
"That's Kristin's grandmother,"
says Donelly. The name of the al-
bum itself comes from a find of
Narcizo's. "That was a postcard
that Dave found in an old junkshop
(of) a woman looking over a cliff.
She's standing over a cliff and it
says 'The Real Ramona' underneath
it. And it just sounds good,"
Donelly explains. A song on the al-
bum, "Dylan," is about Hersch's
young son, whom she just lost cus-
tody of in a bitter battle with her
former significant other.
While the Muses' musical style
may have changed (for the better or
worse, depending on who you are) to
a more "conventional"-sounding
standard-tempo/guitars/singing in-
stead of shredding, they still have
the grasp on beautifully expressing

basic human emotions, with the
dreamy quality still intact. Narcizo
describes to me the scene outside of
his window in daydreamy style:
"I'm sitting in the window sill ac-
tually staring at St. Patrick's. I'm
mesmerized by it. There's a really
great view of it from here... I was
just sitting here thinking, God, it's
just amazing. I could flip open this
window and swing my legs right
over the edge. This window just
opens and I'm sitting right on the
ledge."

T7E THROWING MUSES ponder
at the Blind Pig with ANASTASIA
SCREAMED on Thursday, May 2.
Doors open at 9:30 p.m. and tickets
are $12.50 in advance at
TicketMaster (p.e.s.c).

If you don't like the effects...

* by Forrest Green Ill
F eminists attack rappers vehe-
mently, an easy thing to do, consid-
ering that rap is no threat to femi-
nism in any way, shape or form. Rap
is not the true problem, only a sym-
bol of it. Actually, the feminist
movement in America is severely
crippled by its racial crux. At times,
feminists are freedom fighters de-
voted to their liberation from a pa-
ternalistic system, but with a single
turn they are crushing and dissuad-
ing every opposing or differing dis-
course, then forcing their own ide-
ologies upon all women without
question or hesitation.
The last truly relevant occur-
rence in this movement was, in such
a context, Sojourner Truth's exhor-
tation, "Ar'n't I a woman?" to fem-
inists Susan B. Anthony and
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, when ap-
pealing that the suffragists give her
a greater share of the brains of their
movement, over 150 years ago. This
speech was seismically liberating to

everyone within the burgeoning sys-
tem, not only because it was so chal-
lenging to a white supremacist defi-
nition of womanhood, but because it
was a slap in the faces of every
group that might profit from the
system, and in turn the Black
woman's oppression.
In an era when a Black man
named Abraham Lincoln could be
elected president, the country was
rife with possibilities for change
and pithy, imperative statements
like Truth's speech. Black people
were not Black, in direct opposition
to whites, as much as they were still
struggling for an identity, and the
system's dissonance was its greatest
weakness, and so America's advan-
tage. But in 1990, the potential for
revolutionary thought - for all
Americans - has been stifled by as-
similation. The feminist movement
gurgles in a quagmire wherein its
boldest voice may be Madonna's
"Express Yourself." And "the last
voice of Black people," actually, the
last voice of America's counter-cul-
ture, is rap music.
Rap has been described by Chuck
D. as "Black America's TV sta-
tion," and if more Black Americans
tuned in, indeed, Gil Scott-Heron's
statement, "Women will not care if
Dick finally got down with Jane on
Searrh For Tomorrow, because

Black people will be in the streets,
looking for a brighter day," would
become prophetic. But rap is not a
perfect liberation movement for all
Blacks to live by, but rather, about
as corrupt as the system that gener-
ated it. Rap is a medium where fe-
male rappers like Yo-Yo are set up
to be thrashed by Ice Cube's saying,
"Stay down, and play the play-
ground, you little girl." Rap is a
medium where Black women can
call themselves Hoes With
Attitudes, or ask "Is the Pussy Still
Good?" and make a career out of it.
In a medium or country where
"art, advertising, propaganda and re-
ligion are finally one and no longer
distinguishable," and a rapper like
Tairrie B. is equalized to the likes of
Queen Latifah, there can be little
hope for a Black woman extolled by
the egalitarian Jungle Brothers, lit-
tle hope for a brilliantly intellec-
tual, non-physical Chuck D. For the
precious few who understand the
gaping inequalities between a white
woman and a Black man, there is
only an occasional scream of
outrage, to a feminist like Madonna:
"If you don't like the effects, don't
produce the cause!"
So when Ice Cube answers re-
porters' questions about his calling
Black women bitches as being equiv-
alent to their calling him nigger
with complacent affirmation, the
circle is completed. Cube shirks the
responsibility, claiming that this
corruption is inherent in the system
that produced him. Visible, vocal
feminists hypocritically attack his
sexism, all the while ignoring their
true enemy. And the white male
power structure, clad in impreg-
nable skyscrapers and suits, contin-
ues to rape young Black women in
their sleep, sending them to the
street corners, images of Dick and
Jane sauntering through their heads.
Louis Farrakhan often promises
to overturn the system by appealing
to its lowest common denominator,
by making shock waves from the

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have got some wicked riffs, but somefbody should wasn their airty mouths out with
soap and water - or Drano.
Turn around AX (et al.), I've
got some thoughts for you

by Kristin Palm
O K, so I'm still trying to figure
out if I'm a woman or a girl, I
haven't quite worked out my feel-
ings about Madonna and I don't
know where I'll be after May. But
this is not the only confusion inher-
ent in my life.
You see, through the years I've
+_ - a _C tt n. n"A T

greatness of Soundgarden and Guns
N' Roses (although, thank God, I
never said Gobblehoof was good),
what brings on this confusion, you
might ask? Well, the truth is, it's
been a long time coming.
The main catalyst behind consid-
ering the issue of sexism and misog-
yny in rock music lyrics came last
fall when my then co-editor and I
did a series on arts and censorship.
We spent a great deal of time talk-
ing to people about groups like 2
Live Crew and why that group's
lyrics shouldn't be censored - or
why they should. It's been long
enough since the series ran that I can
mn~an gr rnr.--. n..-,. 1 -. ..:...x-..

Boys into this; they're not worth
my time, either.) These are rap
groups worthy of the public atten-
tion and critical acclaim they have
received; yet they're as guilty of
misogynist sentiment as the next
guy. And the scary thing is, the next
guy is pretty damn guilty.
Of course, to only focus on rap
would be ridiculous. Mick Jagger
was shouting about keeping me un-
der his thumb long before Ice Cube
wanted to get a "bitch" pregnant
and then kick her in the stomach.
And not too long after that, Vince
Neil and his contemporaries were
putting said bitches into cages and
singinnasty thinkabouhnht them as

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