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November 14, 1995 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-14

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The Michigan Daily -Tuesday,November 14, 1995 - 9

When the specific rings universal

Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D. Ken Smith

?instnt American Literature
-Fh Pcett Columbine
S:The coverof"Instant American Litera-
ture" boasts that inside this book the
reader will get "A complete education-
without the tuition!" Perhaps that should
read "a complete abomination," because
that is exactly what you'll find inside this
nauseating summary of American litera-
ture. Bibliophiles beware- author Laurie
Rozakis, a professor at State University
ofNew York has developed a new course
in iterary curnicula. Call it "Lit forTwits,"
because the reader of this work will come
away with nothing more than a sliver of
literary crumbs,just enough to sound like
a pedantic idiot at cocktail parties.
The book is nauseating to anyone who
really loves literature. Not only is it a
futile attempt to summarize the American
literarytradition in some200obnoxiously
crie ai poorly designed pages, but it is
overly pt1iticized,highlyjudgemental and
dismally, banal. If I were to write this
review ith thestyle andtonethatRozakis
uses Iwould simply have to say that"This
book sucks." But I will not stoop to that
level of juvenile humor. I will tell you
why this'book sucks.
Rozakis takes such a brash attitude
toward literature, that it seems clear she
is attenpting to make literature hip, slick
and easily digestible. But the works she
speaksofare too complex to fitthebook's
MTV-esque image, and she comes across
as with American Literature lessons that
are indeed instant, but alas, sadly idiotic.
For example, Rozakis does decent job
of simplifying Transcendentalism into
the barest possible explanation, but adds
an-idiotic comment that the philosophies
of blokes like Emerson and Thoreau "can
get you through a really bad hair day." I
know. That's supposed to be funny. Ha.
"Instant American Literature is also
full of little jokes that not only fail to
possesshumor,but seem almost blasphe-
nous to the world of letters, like her
asserion that Harriet Beecher Stowe was
"the Hillary Rodham Clinton of the reli-
gious set." Um . . no.
Rozakis doesn't limit such obnoxious
remarks; if she did, perhaps they would
be tolerable as sarcastic wryness. But
such silliness goes on throughout the book,
as she calls E.M. Forster a"Brit wussy"or
as she refers to F. Scott Fitzgerald in the
same breath as Joey Buttafucco, and it's
overkill. Humor definitely has a place in
literary studies; writer's are among the
most intriguing and eccentric of all his-
torical figures. But a little restraint and
intelligence needs to be a part of any
attempt at humor, and there's very little of
that here.
The ultimate insult comes in Rozakis'
~glib treatment of Ernest Hemingway,
which ultimately proves that this is not an
overview of American Literature, put a
hardlyhumorouscollection oftheauthor's
personal views of literature. Of
Hemingway she writes that he was "a
famous deadguy... an insensitivemacho
pig," then concludes "but we wouldn't
kick him out of bed for eating crackers."
Such opinions combine the attempts at
hipness, the unsupported opinions and
The "unfunny" triteness that plague this
book. To quote Hemingway, "The first
draft of anything is shit."
w "Instant American Literature" must be
a first draft. Please revise.
- Dean Bakopoulos

Ken 's Guide to the Bible
Blast Books
You'lllaugh, you'll cry ... ifyouenjoy
it, you'll shoot straight down into the
flaming pits of hell! It's more than just
blasphemy, folks, it's "Ken's Guide to
the Bible."
Ken Smith, co-author ofthe bestselling
"Roadside America," is back, and his
latest guide is a sneering, leering truck
ride through the back hills of bible coun-
try.
From a front cover that promises "Vio-
lence! Sex! Absurdity! Weirdness!" to a
chapter entitled "Jesus Hangover," the
author manages to find something in the
Bible to offend almost any God-fearing
Christian.
Not one for subtlety, Smith compares
inconsistencies in David's census story to
draw a somewhat surprising conclusion.
The II Samuel version states that "... the
anger of the Lord burned against Israel,
and He incited David..." while the I
Chronicles version declares "Satan rose
up against Israel, and incited David."
Hey, forget possible problems with trans-
lation, Smith jumps straight into the fire
and concludes that "God is actually Sa-
tan."
Ifreaders are notoffendedby anything
else, they may at least find Smith's opin-
ions annoying. "Jesus teaches that it's
okay to be pushy and annoying as long as
the result is worthwhile" (Luke 11:5-
10) and "God doesn't want anyone near
him who sweats" (Ezekiel 44:17-18)
are just a few ways Smith slants certain
bible passages to coincidewith histwisted
take on religion. (Geez, who does he think
he is ... God?)
"Ken's Guide to the Bible" is a good
read for those with a strong stomach and
a weak sense of faith. Not recommended
for small children, people with heart con-
ditions, or anyone with a surplus of am-
munition who has been waiting and wait-
ing for Salman Rushdie to reappear.
- Kari Jones
Various Authors
The Wisdom of Jerry Garcia
Wolf Valley Books
The folks who bring us "Tbe Wisdom
of Jerry Garcia" have a few things going
for them. One, American's reading pub-
lic has gone hog-wild over the infinite
barage of cutesy-wutesy instruction
books, wisdom books and "Gumpism"
books. Two, Jerry Garcia is dead and on
the road to diefication. Capitalizing on
these notions, the neat little tied-dyed
cover, square-shaped books is bound to
make some dough, as well as causing
some shoddy T-shirt slogais to spring up
around Phish shows this summer.
Quips and quotes from Garcia are the
only things in this collection, a sort of
tribute to a wise and pithy modem-day
Buddha. Garcia would detest it. Garcia, a
gifted musician and pop culture icon, was
actually extremely humble, and saw noth-
ing divine in himself. His own words
prove that in this collection: "I'm only
human," he says. That's4why he would
view this book for what it is, a cheap and
likely successful attempt to sucker some
money from identity-less neo-hippies.
Garcia's humility is expressed in lines
like "I think of myself as a one-dimen-
sional artist, ifI think ofmyself as anartist
at all, which I rarely do' and "To me, it's

totally amazing that we even have an
audience."Garcia's originality and musi-
cal mind cannot be disputed, he was an
artist, had an extremely intense artistic
sensibility. But he was a man, and noth-
ing more, and the band was just a band
and nothing more. Garcia was bewil-
dered by his lofty status among fans, and
would likely be embarrassed to see his
life pared down into 96 pages of"Garcia-
isms."
Admittedly, there are a few treats in
this collection. Garciais dead-on (no pun
intended) when he talks about the agoniz-
ing difficulty that often can accompany
poetic self-expression: "Language is so
small, and ridiculously cumbersome, and
stupid." And though simply said, Garcia
does capture the feeling that in some
ways, all humans share a common thread
of despair, with his line "Every mind is at
least as heavy as mine is." Not bad stuff,
even if you don't like Garcia, but not
anything that Garcia would deem lofty
enough to merit a collection of his "wis-
dom."
Still, all in all, one gets the feeling that
this book, with lines like "I think con-
sciousness is really far-out stuff' will
simply be acollection ofslogans for some
trippy-hippie frat's Woodstock Revival
Raging Kegger.
- Dean Bakopoulos
Geoff Martz
How to Survive Without Your
Parents' Money
The Princeton Review
Those tender folks at the Princeton
Reviewhavecoddledyoufrom yourSATs
to your internship search to your GRE,
but then where ao tney gouo they leave
you gasping in the cold grey whirlwinds
of the real world, homeless and jobless
with a pocketful of degrees like Com-
parative Literature and Asian Studies?
Heck no. They give you a nudge to keep
on going, long afteryou've worn out your
welcome in both your academic micro-
cosm and your parents' basement. That
nudge comes from author Geoff Martz in
his book "How to Survive Without Your
Parents' Money."
So how does one survive without Mom
and Pops, Maw and Paw or Ma'am and
George? The obvious answer is"barely."
But Martz's book says that you can in-
deed survive long on your own, with a
little initiative and motivation, not to
mention a wee bit o' luck.
Martz's tone is one of optimism, and
his information is of infinite value. He
touches base on everything regarding the
job hunt- the search, the resume, the
interview. He even offers sound advice
on making ends meet while you try and
land the dream career. Plus, Martz's ad-
vice has more sympathy than dear old
maw and paw will have for you when you
return home the proud and directionless
owner of student loan debts and a degree
in Slavic TV & Film. Martz even offers
advice for those who need a little time off
before hitting the rat race. He even offers
a whole chapter of advice for those poor
wretched souls like myself who hope to
have a career in (gasp!) the arts.
Well-written, entertaining and blunt,
yet optimistic, "How to Survive Without
Your Parents' Money" is a wise invest-
ment foranyone nearing the doomsday of
graduation; but better buy it now while
the folks are still footing the bill.
- Dean Bakopoulos

By Paul Spiteri
For the Daily
Before "The Crying Game," before
the appearance of a homosexual did not
define a work as a "gay show," before
the lesbians on "Friends," before the
A.I.D.S. quilt andthe acronym A.I.D.S.
could be said without cringing, before
all of these things, William Finn brought
the world his musical "Falsettolahd."
Now, six years after its opening, in a
country again losing its bigotry toward
gays after the A.I.D.S. revelation,
"Falsettoland"'s merits lie in its univer-
sal themes - merits overlooked, per-
haps, in earlier audiences focusing on
gay issues.
"Falsettoland" is the third chapter of
a trilogy started with "In Trousers" and
"March of the Falsettos." Both were
also written by William Finn. Set be-
fore the '80s rolled around (a decade
that arrived in a silver BMW, spilling
champagne on her silk Gucci blouse),
these first two shows did not anticipate
the complications AIDS - first called
the "gay cancer" - would bring to the
nation.
Poignantly displaying the fears and
anguish of people living in 1981, we
know more about the disease in the play
than do the characters.
Yet, through its music and its focus
on the less serious troubles of life (dat-
ing women your mother wouldn't like,
setting up bar mitzvahs, and dealing
with careers), "Falsettoland" brings a
level of intelligent comedy not seen this
side "Friends" (a good episode) and
avoids being melodramatic.

REW EW
FFalsettoland
Arena Theater
November 10
This weekend's production brought
out the best of these entertaining
sketches. The stunning choreography
made the most simple scenes hilarious
by the exaggeration of body language
and timely inclusion of dancing.
Director Job Christiansen deserves
much credit for bringing to stage scenes
like the one between Brian Mulay (BFA,
'96), and Seth Hitsky (BFA, '96), in
their vaudeville dance routine as Mendel
and Jason. Their rendition of "Every-
one Hates His Parents" left the audi-
ence laughing (and some nodding in
agreement). Even better were the scenes
in which the entire cast were out on
stage. The musical shined the brightest
and looked most like an off-Broadway
tour at these times with the smooth
orchestration ofindividual actions form-
ing one overwhelming complex dis-
play. It left the impression of continual
action, making the audience craning
over each other's heads not to miss a
beat.
For those too short to see the scenes
unfold on stage, the music alone was
enough to entertain. Musical director
Sam Davis led the actors on piano,
while the players complemented him
with their strong voices. Adam Hunter
Rosenblate (BFA '96) as Marvin and

Amy Eidelman (BFA '96) as Trinasang
with a clarity and a range that made one
have to remember the play was in the
basement of the Frieze building and not
the Fox Theater. Margaret Chmiel (BFA
'96) as Cordelia, the perky "lesbian
from next door," also made her pres-
ence known in a memorable perfor-
mance.
Surrounding them, Glen Seven Allen
(BFA '96) as Whizzer, Erika Shannon
(BFA '96) as Dr. Charlotte, Hitsky and
Mulay all showed talent. Perhaps with
the exception ofHitsky, all went through
their parts without missing a note. Re-
vealing more acting than singing talent,
Hitsky played a believable confused
adolescent.
Through all this music and disarming
laughter the script makes possible and
this production delivers, there is, how-
ever, a true test of the this musical's
worth that has more to with sorrow than
joy. At the very end of the show,
"Falsettoland" takes an unabashed look
at the pain of loss and the emptiness
death can leave. This is where the show's
ability to create empathy within the
audience makes it a success or failure.
In the last scene between Rosenblate
and Allen, those feelings came across,
even if their relationship was one out-
side the full understanding of the audi-
ence. Perhaps this feeling of loss we
have all felt makes this play universil
even if it has the label of a "gay play."
No matter what its themes, in its
polish and refinement, "Falsettoland"
deserved more than the Basement; it
deserved center stage.

RECORDS
Continued from page 8
The Mozartean
Players
Schubert Piano Trio in E-flat,
Op. 100 (D. 929)
Harmonia Mundi
Since their-inception in 1978, the
Mozartean Players have specialized
in the performance of the classical
composers Mozart, Beethoven, and
Haydn. By playing pieces on their
original period instruments, the trio
captures the true spirit of the era. In
their latest recording, The Mozartean
Players with Steven Lubin on
fortepiano, Stanley Richie on classi-
cal violin, and Myron Lutzke on clas-
sical 'cello depart from their normal
focus, presenting Franz Schubert's
Piano Trio in E-flat, Op. 100 (D. 929).
From the opening Allegro move-

ment, the group shows an understand-
ing of Schubert's music that lies
deeper than the simple use of period
instruments. On fortepiano, Lubin elo-
quently recreates the soft, lush piano
parts. And he attacks the strong melo-
dies of the Allegro movements with
vigor.
The cello parts serve mostly to
complement the violin and piano, and
Lutzke grasps this performance di-
mension soundly. Throughout the four
movements, Lutzke's cello playing
provided wonderfully rich undertones.
In the fourth Allegro moderato move-
ment, the cello is featured more often
- and Lutzke's beautiful, growling
notes play perfectly off of the more
delicate piano and violin soaring in
the upper registers.
The trio plays the lively themes in
Schubert's composition with.a bril-
liant, insightful touch. In several of
the more restrained portions, espe-
cially in the second Andante con moto
movement, the group lacks balance.

On violin, Ritchie holds back to the
point of timidity, and his violin parts
became lost in the mix of cello and
piano.
The composition is one of two pi-
ano trios that Schubert wrote in his
lifetime, the other being the Piano
Trio in B-flat, Op. 99. When Schubert
first presented the Trio in E-flat to the
public, friends and music critics alike
found the final movement too long.
This criticism spurred the composer
to cut passages from the Allegro
moderato, final movement.
The Mozartean Players perform the
trio's four movements as Schubert
ordered, and they follow the fourth
and final movement with its original,
full length version. This dessert at the
end of the initial four movements caps
off an impressive period interpreta-
tion of Schubert's Piano Trio in E-
flat.
- Matthew Steinhauser
See RECORDS, page 10

U EM

The self-taught artist finds a home

BA'LTI MORE(AP)-Rebecca
Hoffberger had an epiphany early in life.
She was 5 years old and driving with
her father when they pulled to the side of
the road to pick up Bumblebee, a deaf
mute who often wandered their suburban
- heighborhood.
Bumblebee, wearing along winter coat
on a hot summer day, got in and turned to
lo6k at Rebecca sitting in the back seat.
"What's her name?" he signed to the
girl's father.
"Becky," her father signed back.
Bumblebee smiled and got to work
With a pair of scissors and some news-
print. When he got out of the car, he
turned to the girl and her father and let
a delicate cutout of the name "Becky"
fall between his arms.
"It was so intricate and so beauti-
ful," Hoffbergersaid. "Itwas frozen in
time for me."
Withthatpicture in mind, Hoffberger
a is putting the final touches on the Ameri-
can Visionary Art Museum, the first
museum in the United States dedicated
to "outsider art," works created by
mostly self-taught artists passed over
by fame.
The museum will be housed in a two-
building complex on the city's Inner
Harbor near a working-class neighbor-
hood in south Baltimore. It will exhibit

large sculptures in a former whiskey
warehouse with massive doors that open
onto a wildflower garden.
Between the sculpture barn and the
museum's three-stork main building
stands a 4'0-foot-tall rqd, white and blue
wind-powered sculptlure made out of
bicycle wheels, discarded oil filters and
other objects collectd by North Caro-
lina artist Vollis Si son.
Outsider art is mo t often associated
with self-taught, un ducated artists in
the South. In the past 10 years, it has
gained recognition 'and now can be
found in swank N w York galleries
where it commands six-figure prices.
It includes the works of mental pa-
tients as well as blue collar workers.
Hoffbergercame up with the idea for
the museum in 1985 after visiting the
Museum of Art Brut in Lausanne, Swit-
zerland, founded by the French artist
Jean Dubuffet in 1945 to exhibit the
creations of mental patients.
Hoffberger and!her husband, Leroy,
donated much of their own money and
sold some of their extensive collection
of German Expressionist art to raise
some of the $7 million needed to open
the Baltimore museum.
The museum already has an exten-
sive permanent collection but its galler-
ies will house a series of exhibitions

assembled by free-lance curators.
The museum's first exhibit, "The
Tree of Life," opens Nov. 25 and will
feature 125 artists. The exhibition in-
cludes a 16-foot model of the cruise
ship Lusitania that is made entirely from
toothpicks as well as more traditional
paintings and sculptures, said curator
Roger Manley, a North Carolina pho-
tographer and expert on outsider art.
Hoffberger hopes to attract a differ-
ent kind of museum-goer - working-
class people who can appreciate the
backgrounds and experiences of out-
side artists.
"I think it's going to be the first
museum they can really relate to,"
Hoffberger said.
An upcoming exhibit will include
customized Harley Davidsons.
Artists traditionally train for years
before signing with a gallery, and de-
veloping their careers. Outsider artists,
who typically have little education and
are self-taught, defy that standard, said
Salvatore Scalora, who teaches a course
on outsider art at the University of Con-
necticut.
"They have to make it for them-
selves," Scalora said. "That gives it an
incredible freshness. ... It's like a
peekaboo show: 'Oh my God! Now I
can see into someone's mind."'

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