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..

Home · Articles · News · Books · Is 15 Minutes of Fame So Five...
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Is 15 Minutes of Fame So Five Minutes Ago?

Nancy Sundstrom - March 18th, 2004
The book‘s title intrigued me first, but once I‘d confirmed its subject matter, I just planned on sitting down and not getting up until I‘d finished it off.
That‘s because like Eliza H., the heroine of Emmi Fredericks‘ delightfully funny and a-little-too-close-to-home novel, “Fatal Distraction: Or How I Conquered My Addiction to Celebrities and Got a Life,“ I tend to spend a tad too much time lingering at the water cooler poring over why the weekend‘s box office draw from “The Passion of the Christ“ would kick the butt of “Starsky & Hutch,“ opining about why the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake breast-baring incident is so five-minutes-ago, and arranging strategic social engagements around new episodes of “The E! True Hollywood Story“ and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.“
I‘m not proud about any of this, but I do own up to it, and truth be told, my head full of worthless knowledge makes others duke it out over me when it comes to needing a partner for Trivial Pursuit or any other game involving like sets of “skills.“ Like Eliza H., I suffer from “celebraholism“ and could readily benefit from the 12-step program prescribed in Fredericks‘ book. If you relate to any of this at all (and I know there are many of you out there who do), then you, too, are likely to find much to appreciate in this zippy, frothy concoction.
Eliza H. (just like in AA, she does not reveal her last name) is a New Yorker who works in publishing and lives vicariously through celebrities. She instantly consumes each new edition of People, Entertainment Tonight and whatever brand new special is gracing the E! Channel, much to the dismay of a number of relatives and friends.
Her obsession with celebrities and celebrity is steeped in her being raised as an only child whose dance teacher-mother left her in the company of an eclectic collection of babysitters as she pursued her career. To help pass the time, Eliza watched endless TV and movies and daydreamed about hanging out with movie stars and taking a walk down the red carpet to accept her own Academy Award. From the beginning, we know that Eliza being enamored with a world of fame, wealth and personalities comes from the deep void of loneliness that surrounded her while growing up. Despite all the yucks and inside jokes in the story, that alone serves to anchor it as a cautionary tale.
The first chapter, in fact, states as much:

“A warning to the reader. ..
This story is not for the faint of heart. While mine is ultimately a tale of triumph, it is also a harrowing chronicle of a trial of the human spirit. So, if you‘re not in the mood for peril and heartache, just put the book down. You can find enlightenment and self-awareness some other time. It‘s okay by me.
All right. Now that we‘ve sorted out the players from the poseurs, let‘s continue.
A plague is sweeping America. An addiction that afflicts the unsuspecting citizen without warning. Early symptoms are often missed. Denial leads to postponement of treatment -- or, indeed, failure to seek help at all. Inexorably, the sufferer is gripped by a state of near delusion. Relationships suffer. Isolation sets in. Normal, everyday life as most people know it becomes unbearable. Larger and larger cash outlays are required to sustain the habit.
What is the plague I speak of? The disease that enslaves and weakens millions around the globe?
Yes, you read right.
Celebraholism: a complex psychological disorder characterized by an excessive, compulsive need for exposure to celebrities.
To further illustrate the affliction of our age, I present two scenarios.
In the first scenario, you and I pass each other on the street. What happens?
Nothing. (What did you think, I was going to run up and assault you with a hammer?)
Second scenario: You and a celebrity pass each other on the street. What happens?
Your mind explodes. You think. ..
Oh My God, it‘s So-and-So! (Reader, feel free to supply the celebrity of your choice.) I can‘t believe it. So-and-So -- on the very same street that I am walking on.
You hope maybe they notice you, that your eyes meet, and they say, You. Yes, you. Come to me. Be my costar, my sperm donor, my slave...
Or you start wondering if maybe they‘ve had a little surgery since you last saw them. You sneak a look to see if the difference shows.
Or you think, Gee, he‘s shorter than I thought.
But whatever you think, however you react, these thoughts are not just passing impressions. These thoughts have far greater significance than, say, if you walked by me and thought, My God, that‘s an ugly sweater.
Skeptical? In denial? Let‘s take another look at Scenario Two. Maybe you pass a celebrity, and you don‘t think very much at all about it. But it‘s a good bet that at some point in your day you‘re going to say something like, “Hey, you know who I ran into today? So-and-so. He‘s shorter than you‘d think.“ And someone will say, “Oh, no, I knew he was short...“ And so on. You are now engaged in conversation, connecting with another human being. All because you ran into a celebrity.“

As she enters her 20s, Eliza‘s fascination with celebrity has only intensified, and pals like the spectacularly untalented Dinah, the gorgeous and gay actor Danny with whom she shares an apartment, basset hound Norm, and Ivan, an aspiring writer who wants nothing more than to have some genuine affection returned from Eliza, all play a role in the sit-comedy of errors that has become Eliza‘s life. Are her show-busy dreams to be realized at all? Will her fixations derail reality-based friendships and potentially deeper entanglements? Is there a chance that the scales will be tipped in favor of relationships with real people vs. those whom she fantasizes about in most of her waking moments?
“Fatal Distraction“ brims -- to the point of near overfill -- with quippy one-liners, celebrity trivia and, ultimately, a light-handed, but firm message about the seductive power that the infamous 15 minutes of fame holds over all of us, whether we want to admit it or not. This is a book that manages to be both funny and just a little scary, all of which gives it the heft it needs to be taken seriously. There‘s as much parody here as there is real heart, and in the final analysis, that‚s an accomplishment not to be taken lightly, while “celebrity“ is.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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