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October 19, 1995 - Image 1

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-19

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

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MICHAEL ROSENBERG
Roses Are Read

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Tonight at midnight, thousands of
people in this country will turn 21. It is
a wondrous occasion, a declaration of
newfound adulthood.
A great many of these people will
declare their newfound adulthood by
making themselves violently ill.
Don't be alarmed - very few of
them will do so by watching Geraldo.
In fact, most of the sickness will be
caused by an epidemic which is plagu-
ing modern society: friendship. Yes,
friendship.
OK, so the illness will not be caused
directly by friendship, which is, on
the surface, fairly harmless. ("Hey,
what's up?" has been declared a safe
phrase by the National Organization
of -Bureaucratic Stupidity (NOBS
(hey, I'm already IN parentheses; how
can I get out of this one (I guess I'll
just have to finish them all at once.))))
No, the direct cause will be alcohol,
or, more appropriately, too much of
it.
But people don't drink too much al-
cohol just because they turn 21. They
do it because their friends, in the spirit
ofcelebration, decide the birthday boy/
girl should take a closer look at the
previous night's dinner/supper.
If you turn 21 soon and you are wor-
ried about what your friends might do,
stop worrying. They are only doing it
becuse they love you, and they are genu-
inely curious about what you ate for
dinner.
But even so, you might want to bring
along this ...
Handy guide to what
will happen when you
turn 21
First of all, remember that the events
of this night are largely unavoidable.
You can control what happens about as
much as you can control the budget
deficit. So your best bet is to prepare for
it.
One way to deftly avoid puking is to
send your friends to the bar before mid-
night. If you are lucky, they will get
sufficiently liquored before you arrive
on the premises, and you will drink less
when you do arrive, on the premise that
your friends won't know you aren't that
drunk.
But if your friends have any intelli-
gence, or even if they are Rush
Limbaugh fans, they will wait until
midnight to go to the bar with you. And
when you go, the first thing you all will
do together is play a fun drinking game,
called Let's Make You Nauseously Sick,
with the "you" in question, ironically
enough, being you.
At that point, you must do what you
would do if you took a physics exam:
scream in pain and throw up all over the
place.
When the bartender kicks you out,
you will do what seems perfectly natu-
ral after you have thrown up your last
meal: get another one.
Once you walk outside, the first thing
you are likely to eat is pavement. After
that, anything will taste good, so you
will look for any kind of restaurant.
Seeing none, you will instead go to
Taco Bell.
Once you get to the Bell, things will
start to get better. Looking around, you
will notice that everybody there is cel-
ebrating your birthday. Goodnews! You
have A LOT of friends, and they all
took time out of their busy days to get
hammered with you. By all means, hug
them.

Once you receive your tacos, you
will immediately swallow them whole.
This may cause major stomach pains,
but that's good: at least the tacos made
it to your stomach.
It will then be time to make the long
stumble home. Problem is, finding
your house will be quite difficult. Is
this because you are ridiculously
drunk?
Actually, no. While you were in the
bar, the Ann Arbor zoning commis-
sion decided to move your house! Not
only that, but they put a slalom course
Y4ftraaecditrr.-l, r -.mtwn nm, r n '

F or 64 cents a year, Americans are given
access to the world of the arts. Films,
symphonies, art galleries, poetry read-
ings and dramatic performances are among the
many events and activities funded by the Na-
tional Endowment for the Arts (NEA). From
"culturally hot" towns like Ann Arbor, to rural
counties in North Dakota, the NEA strives to
encourage and develop art and its appreciation
across the country. As an organization, the NEA
has had a long run. Since 1965, when it was
ushered in by Lyndon B. Johnson's administra-
tion, the NEA has encouraged individual artists,
developed educational arts programs and spon-
sored cultural events nationwide. But under the
new Republican Congress, the NEA is staring
straight on at a pack of budget-cutting lawmak-
ers, and many feel the entire cultural environ-
ment of the country is in danger.
Few deny that the NEA has successfully en-
riched the nation's cultural landscape in the past
30 years.
The most tangible way of seeing how the NEA
encourages the American arts is by looking at
some artists who have had their careers launched
with the help of the NEA. Maya Lin, the woman
who designed the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
in Washington D.C. was assisted by and NEA
grant; Alfred Uhry, who wrote the stage play
"Driving Miss Daisy" used NEA money to get
the production underway; the Broadway hit "A
Chorus Line" may have remained a pipe dream
had it not been for NEA dollars.
In the world of literature, Rita Dove (1994
U.S. Poet Laureate), John Irving ("The World
According to Garp"), Garrison Keilor ("A Prai-
rie Home Companion") and Oscar Hijuelos ("The
Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love") all received
NEA grants in their careers. And jazz master
Wynton Marsalis won the NEA Jazz Fellowship
at the age of 20 in 1981.
Federal funding hits home
It's also hard to argue against the NEA when
one lives in a town like Ann Arbor. This year, the
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs
pumped $95,000 in federal NEA money into the
city of Ann Arbor, and cultural life in Ann Arbor
would not be the same without some of these
partially NEA-funded institutions. The figures
from fiscal year 1995 indicate that federal money
is helping such Ann Arbor cultural centers as the
Ann Arbor Art Association, the Ann Arbor Sym-
phony Orchestra, the Performance Network of
Ann Arbor, the University Musical Society and
the Washtenaw County Council for the Arts.
Federal money also helps fund such Ann Ar-
bor favorites like the Ann Arbor Film Festival,
the Ann Arbor Poetry Fest and Ann Arbor Sum-
mer Festival. In addition, touring groups like the
New York City Opera Company, the Urban Bush
Women and the Acting Company of New York
have made stops in Ann Arbor in recent years

T

The University Musical Society kiosk displays ads for some of the shows and programs that benefit from NEA funding.

with the help of NEA grants. Many favorite Na-
tional Public Radio programs heard on WUOM-
FM 91.7 are produced with help from the NEA.
Even more money hits the Ann Arbor community
in individual grants to local artists, writers, per-
formers and musicians.
All ofthese localbenefitscomefromaminiscule
portion of the NEA's $167.4 million budget, and
cities across the tU.S. receivesimilar benefits from
the NEA. So then, why the outrage against the
NEA?Why has the NEA become a favorite victim
for conservative criticism? The organization's
entire annual budgeifis one-third of the cost of a
single military stealth bomber.
An unaffordable luxury
Simply put, the NEA, and the arts in general,
have always been an easy target, especially in
recent years when the grimness of an exploding
national debt has become clearer and clearer to

most Americans. But the past, Republicans have
not been as anti-NEA as the current band of Newt
Gingrich-era conservatives. In fact, during the
terms of Presidents Nixon and Ford, the NEA
budget grew by $82 million dollars, because
Nixon reportedly felt a presidential duty to sup-
port the arts. But today's Republican leaders
apparently feel they have no such duty. They
seem to feel that the mounting deficit has ren-
dered art an unaffordable luxury.
There are many who would agree with the
Republicans on that issue, even many people who
wouldn't classify themselves as GOP diehards.
Daniel Lyons, a graduate of the University's
M.F.A. in writing program and an Ann Arbor
resident, says he can understand that sentiment.
Lyons is the author of the "The Last Good Man"
(1993, University of Massachusetts Press), a short-
story collection that won the Associated Writing
Program Award for Short Fiction., His success
earned him an NEA grant in 1994 to begin work

Lyons says that the NBA is a very beneficial
organization, and he is very grateful for the help
it provided to him;but says he understands the
criticisms against the organization. "I'm very
grateful, but I feel kind of guilty," Lyons says of
winning an NEA grant. "Art is a luxury," and in
times ofa budget crisis, Lyons says that priori-
ties need to be decided. " am appalled by
people who get vexed about cuts to support
some arts program without realizing that there
are priorities;" Lyons says. While he thinks the
NEA is very important yo the nation's intellec-
tual life, Lyons says he would rather see the
NEA cut than eliminating programs to feed the
poor and provide medical care for senior citi-
zens.
Lyons' thinking sounds like a rational and
pragmatic way of looking at the NEA. But most
critics of the NEA have lost that sense of reason

on his next book. See FUNDING, Page 7B

Authors John Irving (above) and Erica Jong (below) have
both received NEA grants to help fund their work.

RL

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