Gary S. Vasilash

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Adverpop Rock

Doctors are prohibited from hawking products in television commercials. It’s a question of ethics. So, since the real ones can’t do it, stand-ins are asked to fill the prescription. Marcus Welby was never jumpy—and probably wouldn’t have been even if

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Detroit Shakedown

Stevie Wonder wants to become mayor of Detroit. He’s had some trouble determining precisely when the election will be held, but no matter. He believes that he can be the mayor of Motown in the 90’s. Now, this is no

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Surfin’ Safari

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to;
You would cry, too, if it happened to you.

—Lesley Gore, 1963

Mike Love’s churlish behavior at the third Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies should not have

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The Grammys’ Growl

It is encouraging to see that Michael Jackson is still capable of something more than Pepsi commercials. That he didn’t pick up an award is, as many have suggested, a backlash against the success of Thriller. But the correlation

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Music of the Peers

I recently attended a performance by the quartet known as Montreux, a group which, as you may know, records for Windham Hill. I had first seen Montreux perform a couple years back during Detroit’s international jazz festival that’s called, coincidentally

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Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo

You don’t hear much about groupies anymore. This is strange, since the demographics of the rock audience—ranging from about 40 to 10—suggests there ought to be more groupies than ever slithering around out there.

If Pamela Des Barres (I’m

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The Null Set

Less Than Zero
directed by Marek Kanievska
screenplay by Harley Peyton
based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis
20th Century Fox

Tom Waits recently suggested to Musician magazine that if John Lennon knew that Michael Jackson would control The

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Future Shock?

This won’t be easy. But, it may be the future, at least according to a number of science-fiction writers collectively known as the “cyberpunks.” More disturbingly, there seems to be a number of scientists and researchers who agree. Hang on.

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Summer of the Snake

In “Life-Line,” a story by Robert A. Heinlein, a scientist describes a man in the present as a “space-time event.” He explains, “Imagine this space-time event which we call Rogers as a long pink worm, continuous through the years, one

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Gluttons for Punishment

Recently, NBC News, and the Wall Street Journal devoted features to what they claim, to an editor, is an American “obsession” with being thin. There may have been many more reports devoted to the topic—now that the passive-smoke issue is

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Equal Opportunity Killer

It’s hip to be square—Huey Lewis’ new gospel—may have been announced prematurely. George Michael has a different message: “I can’t think of a better question for a 13- or 14-year-old child to be asking than ‘What does monogamy mean?'”

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The Righteousness of Rock?

The Fox Theatre—a grand movie palace of Detroit’s 1920’s, which is now used primarily as a venue for acts that won’t fill an arena—contained a chronologically mixed crowd in mid-March. Paul Young was in concert. Young, a slightly chubby, baby-faced

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Fillet of Soul

Entertainment industry awards shows are, almost by definition, public orgies of televised backslapping. Still, TV viewers stick with them, not so much to discover what the best movie, TV show, or record is—for each viewer already knows what’s best—but in

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Rock Around the Bank

Now that ain’t workin’
that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain’t workin’
that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and your
chicks for free

(©1985 Chariscourt Ltd./Adm. Almo Music)

 

Dire

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Death and Taxes

Death and taxes are only a little more predictable than the art of Andy Warhol. Just one month after Warhol’s death in Manhattan at age 58 from a heart attack the morning of February 22, the day after otherwise successful

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Desire & Death

Back in the days before OPEC became a notable force on American street corners, high school, for most of us growing up in Detroit, meant one thing: a driver’s license. All we had to do was spend 12 weeks with

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Out of Balance

Ray Pentzell, head of the Hillsdale College theater department, attended university during the heyday of improvisational theater off-Broadway. When he could, Pentzell traveled down from Yale to New York dressed in the “straightest” outfit he could put together. His objective

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Teenagers and Lower Forms of Life

While Teen Wolf was opening this past summer in 1,500 theaters. Kiss of the Spider Woman found only 15 receptive movie houses. This may seem odd, given that Teen Wolf is a formula flick, a werewolf comedy in which Lon

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The Cult of Personality

The life of Roland Barthes will never be serialized on Masterpiece Theater. Born in 1915, he contracted pulmonary tuberculosis as a young man (1934), and spent part of his life in sanatoriums. Barthes’s education was conventional enough: he received a

Waste of Money – Duo-Tone
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Waste of Money – Duo-Tone

G. Cabrera Infante: Infante’s Inferno; Harper & Row; New York.

A wire service photo run in some U.S. newspapers prior to the November “elections” in Nicaragua featured an image that is both familiar and disori­enting. The setting: a campaign rally

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Waste of Money – Marketing 101

Jean-Claude Courdy: The Japanese: Everyday Life in teh Empire of the Rising Sun; Harper & Row; New York.

Matthew Perry sailed into Tokyo Bay in 1853. President Fillmore was interested in putting an end to Japan’s isolation policy. Commodore Perry

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Waste of Money – Canonizing Eleanor

J. William T. Youngs: Eleanor Roosevelt: A Personal and Public Life; Little, Brown; Boston.

No First Lady in this century has so fully captured the American imagina­tion as Eleanor Roosevelt–only Jac­queline Kennedy has even come close. During the dark hours

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Waste of Money – Reinventing the Universe

Philosophy and Science Fiction; Edited by Michael Philips; Prometheus Books; Buffalo, NY.

It is not exactlv a new idea to consider the philosoplical dimensions of science fiction. This anthology, which seems designed for one of Prof. Philips’s fresh­man survey courses,

Wrangling with Words
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Wrangling with Words

Denis Donoghue: The Arts Without Mystery; Little, Brown; Boston.

 

Jacques Derrida, maître of the critical school of deconstruction, writes of his Of Grammatology, “writing, the letter, the sensible inscription, has always been considered by Western tradition as the

Reaping the Red’s Harvest
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Reaping the Red’s Harvest

Diane Johnson: Dashiell Hammett: A Life; Random House; New York.

Spade sat down in the armchair beside the table and without any preliminary, without an introductory remark of any sort, began to tell the girl about a thing that had

Fads, Facts & Fools
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Fads, Facts & Fools

The Fifth Generation: Artificial Intelligence and Japan’s Computer Challenge to the World by Edward A. Feigenbaum and Pamela McCorduck; Addison-Wesley; Reading, MA.

The Rise of the Computer State by David Burnham; Random House; New York.

A few years ago, CB

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Small is Significant

Walter Walker: A Dime to Dance By; Harper & Row; New York.

Geoffrey Norman: Midnight Water; E.P. Dutton; New York.

Existence — which is all there is, to answer Peggy Lee — consists of little things: there was

The Diaphanous Bud
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The Diaphanous Bud

There are innumerable ways to ap­proach The Name of the Rose. Its author, Umberto Eco, is an Italian, a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna. The book is a best-seller in Italy, France, Germany, and here; it has

A Dubious Discourse
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A Dubious Discourse

In 1963 Roland Barthes recommended: “watch who uses signifier and signified, synchrony and diachrony, and you will know whether the structuralist vision is constituted.” When Barthes put that remark into an essay entitled “The Structuralist Activity,” he was at the