Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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Sounds of the Season: What‘s New in Christmas Music

Ross Boissoneau - December 9th, 2004
Each year’s holiday time brings some treats for the season. This year is no exception, with new seasonal favorites sure to join the Christmas chestnuts you pull out each year.
Of course, there are some that don’t measure up as well. Maybe they’re like the proverbial fruitcake that gets passed around each year, and there are really only a couple clinkers. It’s Christmas time – we can wish, right?
Various Artists: I’ll Be Home For Christmas (Windham Hill)
Easily one of the best holiday discs of this or any other year. It covers a lot of ground stylistically, from light, swinging jazz (Phillipe Saisse’s “Winter Wonderland” and Sean Harkness covering the Charlie Brown classic “Christmas Time Is Here” by Vince Guaraldi) to more classically-oriented and new age pieces such as Tracy Silverman’s “O Holy Night.” Not that all is sweetness and light: Piano favorite George Winston grabs his harmonica for a way-too honky-tonk version of “Sussex Carol.” But for the most part this is engaging music with the spirit of the holidays intact.

Various Artists: Ultimate Christmas 2 (BMG)
When I think of Christmas, I think of... Britney Spears. Oh, yeah, and NSYNC. Doesn’t everyone? Here you’ve got Whitney Houston, Elvis, Santana, and, hey, it’s Kelly Clarkson, trotting out originals and Christmas classics. Do you really have to listen to know how this one turns out? Whitney’s overwrought as usual, Dido’s trancey “Christmas Day” is about as un-Christmasy as you can get, at least until you get to Britney’s “My Only Wish (This Year)” – the word abominable comes to mind. That’s also applicable to Christina Aguilera’s overdone hip-hop version of “Angels We Have Heard On High,” complete with drum machines, acoustic guitars and cheesy organ. Or the total twang of Alan Jackson’s “Honky Tonk Christmas.” When you see this on the shelf, run, don’t walk, the other direction.

Will Downing: Christmas, Love and You (GRP)
Holiday music all dressed up and nowhere to go. Smooth, soulful new jack versions of “The Christmas Song” and “White Christmas” don’t do much, and originals like “All I Want For Christmas Is You” with its party-down atmospherics fail to elevate the proceedings. Best to move on.

The Rugrats: Holiday Classics (Nick Records)
Nearly every year some cartoon group releases a holiday album, whether it’s the Chipmunks, Arthur and Friends, or this year, the (gulp) Rugrats. If you find the Rugrats’ antics amusing, you may enjoy this revised set of seasonal favorites. Kids will love to hear their favorite characters on these “improved” versions of “Twelve Days of Rugrats,” “Jingle Babies” or “Toys for the Girls.” Adults, however, will probably fail to see the novelty.

Various Artists: Classic Rockin’ Christmas (Koch Records)
The Pretenders, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, The Smithereens, Dave Edmunds, Bobby Helms, The Ventures – talk about your wild lineups. That would be true whatever the season, but it’s particularly true for a set of holiday music. There’s more rockin’ than classics here, but it is also more hit than miss. High points include the opening “Father Christmas” by the Kinks, “Christmas Song” by Jethro Tull, “Rock and Roll Christmas” by Thorogood, and Michael McDonald’s medley of “White Christmas/Winter Wonderland.” Less successful are Pat Benatar, the Pretenders and Billy Squier. As for the Ventures, well, listen for yourself to a surf guitar “Sleigh Ride” and see what you think.

James Taylor – A Christmas Album (Hallmark)
Here’s a twist: This collection of traditional tunes by America’s favorite troubadour is available only at Hallmark shops. No matter, as it’s yet another triumph for Sweet Baby James. Taylor only gets better as time passes, and this pairing of Taylor with Dave Grusin and a host of great musicians – Chris Botti, John Pizzarelli, Michael Landau, Vinnie Colaiuta – bears great fruit. The opening “Winter Wonderland” sets the tone for this heartfelt collection of classics, including “Deck the Halls,” “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” and even a duet with Natalie Cole on “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

Hiroshima – Spirit of the Season (Heads Up)
Hiroshima brings its exotic smooth jazz sound to bear on favorites like “White Christmas” and “Little Drummer Boy” as well as originals. Some feature vocals, such as the title track, which opens the set, while others are instrumentals, including an otherworldly “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” with a zesty mix of koto and trombone leading the way.

Nelson Rangell – All I Hope For Christmas (Koch)
Smooth jazz saxophonist Nelson Rangell turns in one of the most enjoyable and surprising records of the season. The surprises start right away, when he eschews his sax on the opening “Let It Snow” for the trills and thrills of flute and piccolo. He keeps things zesty with an uptempo “Do You Hear What I Hear?” this time with soprano and flute. Throughout, he’s smooth but also soulful, and consistently inventive with his arrangements.

Tingstad & Rumbel – Peace On Earth (Narada)
This is the 13th album from Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel, and it’s a lucky number for listeners. Both performers play keyboards, with an occasional assist from David Lanz, Garey Shelton on bass, and drummer Ben Smith, but the focus is clearly on Tingstad’s gentle guitar and Rumbel’s exquisite work on oboe, English horn and ocarina. That they make beautiful music together is hardly news. Those who long for simpler times or who simply wish to gaze out on a snow-covered field in the starlight will find this a perfect soundtrack.

Various Artists – Acoustic Christmas (Favored Nations)
After the promising “Greensleeves” by Andy Timmons opens the disc, it’s all downhill. Johnny Hiland, Adrian Legg and others are just too twangy, including Mimi Fox’s slowed-down-to-a-crawl version of “Winter Wonderland.” The album’s rescued by the closing three cuts, all originals. Pierre Bensusan’s “Fodere L’Astronome” is gentle, Pete Huttinger’s “The 25th Day” is melodic and Marty Friedman’s “Meditation From Thais” ventures from acoustic to swinging surf guitar to metallic shrieks that truthfully have little to do with the season, but presents such an engaging contrast it merits plaudits.

Various Artists – The Very Best of Celtic Christmas (Windham Hill)
This compilation includes over 75 minutes from the label’s Celtic Christmas series, and it’s a winner. You won’t find much in the “Greensleeves” or “Rudolph” category, as this is more in the line of traditional Celtic music. “The Wexford Carol” opens the disc on a high note, which the numerous artists continue throughout.

Also noted:
• Dianne Reeves – Christmas Time Is Here (Blue Note) The classy Reeves essays a variety of holiday tunes in a jazzy vein.
• The Trans-Siberian Orchestra – The Lost Christmas Eve (Lava) A heady combination of rock, jazz, new age and Broadway styles.
• Yellowjackets – Peace Round (Heads Up) Previously available only through their website, the jazz fusion quartet’s standout holiday disc is now available through stores or websites like Amazon.
• Chris Isaak Christmas (Wicked Games/Reprise Records) San Francisco’s love balladeer releases his first Christmas album of 12 songs, including five originals. For a preview, catch Isaak on “Soundstage,” WCMU Public Television, Thursday, Dec. 9 at 10 p.m. performing the album live.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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