March 17, 2006 - Arts

NCECA convention visits LC

Klingons and Bardlets at the Nail

Assistant professor of Art Ted Vogel facilitated part of an international ceramic arts exhibition showcased at Lewis & Clark last week. The exhibition coincided with the ceramic art currently being featured at the Hoffman Gallery in a show entitled The New Utilitarian: Examining Our Place on the Motherboard of Ceramics.

The National Council for the Education of the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) provided the additional pieces. The organization is a collection of artists whose work focuses on ceramics and includes LC alumni. The council’s mission statement emphasizes a union of artists based on a “fascination with the responsive, captivating medium of clay and its potential for creative expression.” The statement adds that “NCECA members share a conviction that the work of the hand has the power to shape lives.”

The artwork at LC was part of the larger NCECA 2006 annual conference, which took place in Portland from March 8-11. The theme of the conference was Explorations and Navigations: The Resonance of Place. The conference brought over 4,500 ceramists and educators to the area to view work by regional, national and international artists, including an exhibit of modular wall installations that explore the artist’s research on organic growth systems.
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The lead singer of the Klingon metal band Stovokor (with microphone) punched a fan in the face during a brief alteraction at last Saturday's concert in the Rusty Nail.

Lewis & Clark’s small Metal community made themselves visible last Saturday, March 4, in a Rusty Nail concert that brought together Machine Gun and Death Metal, old school and new wave rockers, Shakespearean lyrics and Klingon drinking songs. Four local bands played, including Mustaphomond, the ten-year-old JonnyX and the Groadies, Dagger of the Mind and Stovokor.

Dagger of the Mind vocalist Jason Simms (’06), who coordinated the concert in participation with the LC Music coalition, said turnout was good with a crowd of around one hundred. Some were die-hard metal fans, others simply novelty seekers drawn to the odd synthesis of Star Trek and Shakespeare. Simms said that perhaps only half the crowd consisted of LC students—the rest came from the Portland community.

“It was the best Metal moment I’ve experienced at LC,” Simms said. “Sometimes you get a crowd that’s standing around with their arms crossed, but this one was rowdy.”

“Metal” is a broad category, with many subgenres beneath it. The concert displayed the full spectrum, with a fifty minute, single song set by Mustaphamond; Shakespearean lyrics delivered by the gladiator-like Dagger of the Mind; JonnyX playing hard and fast “Machine-Gun” metal; and of course, the Klingon death metal of Stovokor.

Violence and Metal often go hand in hand; however, the former is usually restrained by the unwritten rules of mosh pit respect. Those rules were momentarily breached during a short-lived altercation between the seven-foot, one armed pinLuk HoD—the Klingon name of Stovokor’s lead singer—and an unknown audience member. The audience member had apparently attempted several times to get a hold of one of the band’s microphones.

“The Klingon told him to quit a couple times, kind of joking, but kind of like ‘get the fuck off stage,’” said Alan Worf, who was attending the concert. In keeping with Klingon’s reputation for short tempers, HoD responded to a final assault by clouting the kid in the face, knocking him back into the moshing crowd.

The incident, though noteworthy, went unnoticed by most of the audience and did not lead to any serious problems.

“The guy was mad—he came back a little later and yelled at the band, they yelled back, and he left. That’s about it,” said Simms. The audience member’s problem, said Ben Schifman (’06), was with a joke about rohypnol that HoD made during their set. But, “…you have to take it in context,” Schifman said. “They also said they wanted to enslave the human race…so are you going to take them seriously?”

Otherwise, the event continued without incident.

“There were no complaints reported,” said David Rosengard, Director of Resident Life.

Stovokor is the name of the Klingon afterlife, where warriors soak eternally in the blood of their fallen enemies.

“It really is the perfect name for a Klingon Metal band,” said Ashley Smith (’06), a self-proclaimed Trekkie and authority on Klingon lore. Smith spent part of the concert backstage quizzing Stovokor on their Trek trivia—“They know their Trek,” she said—and getting background on the band’s origins. As described by the CD booklet given to Smith by the band, Stovokor hails “…from across the silent void.” HoD is from New York, though he traces his Klingon roots to the home world of Qronos.

The band’s warlike philosophies, which propose to bring earthlings to heel, complemented the rowdy mood of the audience.

“Heavy Metal is the most appropriate genre of music for Klingons,” Smith said. “That or opera.”

Simms said the concert was probably the last one he would organize at LC, as he will graduate this spring; however, “There are some serious Metal fans at LC now,” he said. Who knows? Metal might be here to stay.
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OSAA Dance/Drill championship
The South Eugene High School Dance Troop performs a gypsy-themed routine during the 2004 OSAA Dance/Drill State Championships at University of Portland (author at center)

There’s no need to shell out for Cirque de Soleil’s newest show to get your fill of aerial acrobatics, lush costumes, and otherworldly dance moves, because the 2006 OSAA Dance/Drill State Championships are taking the city by heavily-costumed storm from Wed., Mar. 15 through Sat., Mar. 18. It’s an event so enormous it rages for four entire days at two separate venues, the Memorial Coliseum and the Chiles Center at the University of Portland, and last year over 16,000 people attended.

These championships are the culmination of the 2005-2006 competitive season for the best high school dance teams in Oregon—82 of them will compete on Friday and Saturday alone.

What you can reasonably expect to see is a veritable swarm of heavily made-up, outrageously costumed nubile young jailbait fluttering around the arena, screeching “oh my GAWD, I hit the ripple on the right count but I just couldn’t land my double,” batting their big fake eyelashes, each of them garishly outfitted as flappers or mad scientists or Anasazis or pirates or showgirls or whatever their routine’s theme mandates. Errant sparkles from costumes float through the air like confetti, while fifteen-year-old girls in pancake makeup shriek devilishly in high staccato spurts, ricocheting off the walls.

From the way the teams hurry around the place, feverishly fixing costumes and adjusting hairpieces, it might seem slapped together, but the girls typically begin learning and competing their three to four minute routines about three months before the state competition. Then figure in hours and hours of practices on four to five nights a week, countless run-throughs, myriad emotional and/or physical crack-ups, and several minor competitions all leading up to THIS—so by the first night of State performance tensions will naturally be running high. All the girls in their get-ups will be bouncing off walls and screaming like banshees through the corridors of the arena.

That is, until about ten minutes before their team is set to perform, when an eerie calm will pass into the girls’ rouged faces. You can almost see the moves working themselves through in their brains, their lips moving soundlessly over the words of the music, matching moves to exact notes—pique, pique, pirouette. They stretch and shake out just outside the doors of the stage, checking their costumes for last minute frays, listening faintly to the previous team’s music. And for a few moments there is a preternatural calm—and then the announcer’s booming voice bellows the name of their team, and they click like toy soldiers into line, marching with their heads tilted stiffly at the ceiling, chests out, stomachs in, onto the floor.

And they will, in the next three minutes and 36 seconds, execute the most amazing, acrobatic, manic set of leaps and turns and formations that one will likely see in this lifetime, perfectly in sync with the beat and with each other, covering up slips with indomitable finesse, brilliant bright white smiles pasted doggedly on their faces.

It’s practically inhuman—and I know, as once in a blue moon I competed the thing, a whole weekend of my life spent in a black spandex bodysuit, heavy gold gypsy belly chain, liquid eyeliner and fake lashes. In an astonishing upset, we took third; I bawled like a baby, and to this day I can’t watch a good routine without tearing up.

It would, I think, take an inhuman amount of effort on an audience member’s part not to fall for these girls and their routines. I heartily recommend attending one or more of this year’s championship sessions—and if you’re there, look for me. I’ll be the one getting misty high in the stands, clapping for all I’ve got.
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Library looks left with IWW art

A new exhibit entitled “A Glimpse at the Early History of the I.W.W.” opened at Watzek Library this month. It features propaganda put out by the Industrial Workers of the World, the “one big union” which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.

Martin Hart-Landsberg, Lewis & Clark Professor of Economics and director of the Political Economy program, used his connection with an organizer of a handful of West Coast events commemorating the anniversary to bring the art to LC. “I hope it will encourage interest in the I.W.W. itself,” he said.

The I.W.W. (or the Wobblies, as they were popularly called) was founded in 1905 by a convention of socialists, anarchists, and radical trade unionists. They sought to unite all workers in one union and use this broad coalition to fight for progressive labor measures, including abolishment of the wage system. At its peak in 1924, the IWW had about 100,000 members and could count on the support of 300,000. In its early years, the IWW won many successes with direct action. They had an especially strong presence in the Northwest, where they organized mostly lumber and waterfront workers. The twenties and thirties, however, brought government repression and an internal schism to the IWW, resulting in a rapid decline in membership. By 1930, membership was only 30,000. Today, though reduced to about 2,000 members, the organization remains active leading small organization drives across the country.

The exhibit, said Hart-Landsberg, is an example of a different way of building a movement. “I think [the I.W.W.] has a lot to teach us in this current period,” he said, “They had a very broad and attractive vision of a new society. They were committed to building collective and democratic organizations, and they weren’t afraid to struggle.”

The I.W.W. was famous for its use of songs and political cartoons as protest. A number of these cartoons are included in the display. “I want people to see the joyfulness involved in working for social change. I think there’s a lot of humor in their work,” said Hart-Landsberg. He personally likes the workplace organizing and tactics posters-- “how they sharpen class differences and responses.”

Though there aren’t any official plans yet, the Political Economy program is considering having some type of formal reception for the display, which will come down after the academic year ends. Additional photos, currently up in the Economics Department on the third floor of J.R. Howard Hall, will remain up for public viewing.

Jenny Lewis at the Aladdin

The reigning princess of indie pop rock graced the stage of the Aladdin Theater last Monday, Feb. 6. Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley fame performed with the Watson Twins on the tour for her solo album Rabbit Fur Coat.

Folk rock singer Willy Mason opened the evening with a delightful set of acoustic guitar tunes. His brother played along to form an eclectic blend of strings. Whispertown 2000, previously named Vagtown 2000, was also scheduled to open but couldn’t make it due to weather conditions.

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, sisters Chandra and Leigh Watson who sing on Rabbit Fur Coat, entered the stage singing the a cappella hymnal “Run Devil Run.” The rest of Lewis’ songs were divided between country gospel and soul sounds, but she wasn’t singing to advocate religion. On the contrary, she debated God, forgiveness, life, love, society, and any other issue worth pondering from a California indie rocker’s perspective. And from what exactly should the devil run? In the final notes she answered, “From love.”

Jenny Lewis was gorgeous. She has a following of devout fans, consisting largely of teenaged girls wanting to be her and teenaged boys wanting to be with her, that were present in the front pit of the Aladdin. Overall, the crowd was fairly subdued, occasionally dancing to a few of the upbeat songs but generally listening respectfully to Lewis’ lyrics.

The rest of Rilo Kiley minus Blake Sennett, who played at the Aladdin last month with his band The Elected, provided the instrumental backup. Lewis’ boyfriend Jonathan Rice played the guitar and sang on a few songs. Rabbit Fur Coat translated beautifully to the stage with faster folk songs like “You Are What You Love” or “Rise Up With Fists” a heavier sound and the gospel ballads like “Rabbit Fur Coat” or “Melt Your Heart” a more stirring effect.

In “The Charging Sky,” where she questions life and God, Lewis replaced the original lyrics from Atlanta to Portland, singing “In the belly of the beast, in the Portland streets,” much to the delight of the crowd. She also sang a couple new songs, the lonely “Paradise” and the witty “Jack Killed Mom.” A disappointment for many fans was the omission of the song “Handle With Care,” a Traveling Wilburys cover that features Ben Gibbard, M. Ward and Conor Oberst on the album.

Otherwise, the night went without a glitch. During the encore, Lewis and the Watson Twins involved the crowd with the hand clapping a capella song “Bye Bye Baby,” and they said their goodbyes.

As a devout Rilo Kiley fan, it’s hard to say if Jenny Lewis is better alone or with the band. Perhaps she can continue proving her dexterity by switching off between groups.
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LC students get low

Low, perhaps the most high-profile band brought to campus this year, graced the Rusty Nail’s stage last Saturday for a quietly beautiful performance, captivating a mid-sized audience of LC students who would, at that time on a weekend night, normally be in the thick of raucous revelry.

The night began with a performance by LC student band Stem Cell. They were followed by Bright Red Paper, a local band that played on campus last semester for Amnesty International’s Darfur benefit concert. Their atmospheric, experimental, instrumental brand of indie rock, highlighted with an expertly played cello, was a crowd pleaser. Finally, after adjusting the lighting and setting up their instruments themselves, Low took the stage.

Low formed in 1994 in Duluth, Minnesota, a place that guitarist/vocalist Alan Sparhawk, as he took the stage, said is “pretty much exactly like this place.” At the core of the band is the husband-and-wife team of Sparhawk and drummer/vocalist Mimi Parker, but their sound is augmented by bassist Matt Livingston. The band debuted in 1994 with “I Could Live In Hope” and swiftly garnered a fan base with their fragile, sad music. They soon became the vanguard of the slowcore genre, which uses minimalist composition and a crawling pace to create a sound that embraces the silence within music.

The performance on Saturday night exemplified this style, although occasionally the band broke the pattern with louder, more mainstream songs from their latest album, “The Great Destroyer.” The room’s ambience mostly remained serene. Sparhawk wryly joked with the audience between songs, while Livingston and Parker remained silent. To create Low’s signature sound, Parker used metal brushes, rather than drum sticks. At times, her angelic voice seemed to hypnotize the audience. For some, the effect was soporific. Lynnae Griffiths (‘09) said, “They were really good musicians…I kind of wanted to fall asleep, though.”

The show was hosted by the LC Music Coalition, who paid a well-spent $4,000 to snag the band as they passed through the Northwest on tour.
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Reed poets read at Watzek series

Jim Shugrue and Lisa Malinoswki Steinman read at Watzek Library last Wednesday as part of the Aubrey R. Watzek Library Poetry Series, an ongoing event that brings renowned poets to the Lewis & Clark campus.

Jim Shugrue is a finalist for the Oregon Literary Award and founding editor of the Reed College poetry magazine Hubbub.

“‘Loosely affiliated with Reed’ means that I work at the bookstore,” he confessed as the reading began, revising his introduction. He then admitted to “googling” himself on the internet, and proceeded to read an obituary he found about a man with his own name. And with that interesting turn, he moved on to read a few of his poems.

A few of Shugrue’s poems were about the Portland weather. One was about country songs. Shugrue’s style is a bit pessimistic, with tones of a truly Bohemian love for the road; one poem featured travelling jazz musicians. Often his poems focused on leaving things behind.

Steinman was next, a little woman in contrast to the barrel-chested Shugrue, who spoke of little things and little annoyances. Steinman is a professor at Reed College and has received National Endowment for the Arts and Rockefeller fellowships. She has published two books called Made in America and Masters of Repetition. One poem Steinman read was a lovely description of a cat standing in the frame of the door, waiting to decide whether to go out or not. One poem, entitled “Crankiness,” was universally relatable.

“You can see it’s all wrong.” she said. “Even bird song rubs you the wrong way. / You try to rub back: clatter of dish / & pots on sink.”

Shugrue and Steinman have been married for 15 years.

The next installment of the Watzek Library Poetry Series is next Wednesday, Mar. 22, in Templeton Council Chambers where poets Judith Barrington and Ursula K. LeGuin will be presenting.
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