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 · Features · The Day Kiss Rocked Cadillac
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The Day Kiss Rocked Cadillac

Rick Coates - October 6th, 2005
Retired Cadillac High School teacher Jim Neff leans back in his living room chair each evening after dinner surrounded by his “15 Minutes of Fame.” The plaque on the wall above him reads “Jim Neff Honorary Member of KISS.” The guitar next to him is a Signature Model Paul Stanley given to Neff as a gift by the legendary KISS guitarist. There are photos, lots of memorabilia and news clippings from “Rolling Stone” to  “Billboard” and numerous publications inbetween, all with Neff’s name in them.
For the one-time assistant football coach/English teacher seeking out his “15 Minutes” was never the objective. Neff was simply looking for a way to motivate the football team that had named their defense KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). But the results of one special 24-hour period on October 9, 1975 went beyond motivating a football team; it brought students and administrators together and inspired a whole community. It also helped to shape the legacy of one of rock music’s all time greatest bands, KISS.
“It brought the high school together,” said then principal John Laurent. “For years, we had been trying to unite the student body and our faculty. Kiss accomplished that in one night. It’s also unlikely the impact the band had on Cadillac will ever be repeated.”

Their time in Cadillac also had a lasting impact on the band.
“We came to Cadillac because we loved football and we were excited that our music was the inspiration behind a winning football team,” said bassist Gene Simmons. “However, we (the band) were the ones who left Cadillac inspired. That concert, the parade and everything else from our time there will go down as one of the most important moments in our band’s history. We have performed hundreds of concerts in lots of cities all over the world and the Cadillac performance will never be forgotten by any of us.”
The Cadillac KISS concert continues to rank as one of the greatest rock and roll publicity stunts of all time, but Neff (the event/concert mastermind) laughs at that because it was never about the publicity for KISS or Cadillac, but was simply about celebrating the success of the football team as a result of being inspired by the band’s music.
“These guys were so sincere that getting publicity out of this was the furthest thing from their mind,” said Neff. “The publicity came after the fact and not during. Basically, we had some local media coverage but there wasn’t even one professional photographer at the concert. After this happened it became international news and, without knowing what we were doing, it resulted in millions of dollars of publicity for KISS.”

Even 30 years later Neff continues to receive inquiries from fans and media all over the world and figures he has received a couple thousand requests for information. Some of those requests have come from VH-1 for their documentaries on the band, including most recently “When KISS Ruled The World,” that features interviews with Neff and in-depth details on the Cadillac concert. The 2002 KISS biography includes a detailed account and 16 pages of photos from the Cadillac visit.
As with any rock and roll event of historical significance, the stories and participation become as mythical as the event itself.
“At best 2,000 people were at the concert, but if you count all the people who claim to have been there, then more than 10,000 people were packed into the gym that night,” laughs Neff. “Heck, I have had people claim to have been at the concert who were only three years old when it happened.”
Another thing Neff finds interesting is the hundreds of people who claim to have been involved in coordinating the event, when actually there were only about a dozen.
“Years later I would have students come up to me, often students of the kids who were from the class that has become known as ‘The KISS Class,’ and ask me if I was around when Kiss came,” said Neff. “Before I could respond they would tell me how their uncle or dad organized the whole thing.  One of my favorite stories was a boy who told me how his mom partied all night with Kiss. Well, I was with the band from the time they arrived to the time they left and there wasn’t an all-night party.”

The schedule was tight for the band when they arrived in Cadillac at noon on October 9, 1975. They headed to their rooms at Bill Oliver’s Caberfae Motor Lodge, put on their makeup, had lunch, and then headed to the fire and police station for an official escort to Cadillac High School. Upon arriving at the high school, the students had formed a tunnel along the walkway to welcome the band. Principal Laurent was on hand for a ceremonial ribbon cutting as the band entered the school.
Inside the school the band was treated to a screening of a film about KISS made by students; then it was off to meet the famed KISS defensive unit and the rest of the football team. KISS even took time to hang out with the marching band before heading into the gym for a sound check.
“As I reflect back on some of the memorable moments, the fact that they allowed several people from the community with small children to watch their sound check spoke volumes of the character of these guys,” said Neff. “Then they took time to take pictures with these young kids aged three to 12 and their parents. At homecoming there is always a ceremonial bonfire and it was before the concert. The band came for that and Gene jumped out of his limousine and blew two flames from his mouth. These guys did everything and more than we asked of them.”
Everything and more meant some special requests from the school administrators. Neff remembers that there was a lot of uncertainty about this, especially from some of the religious leaders from the community. The school administration was concerned as well, but Neff said despite whatever preconceived “bad boy” reputations that the band had, they were absolute gentleman during their visit.
“First coach Brines went to Paul Stanley over concerns to the introduction to the song ‘Cold Gin,’ explaining that this was a high school and they could play the song, but just pull the intro, and Stanley said sure, whatever you want, coach,” said Neff. “Another example was when Principal Laurent approached Gene Simmons about his legendary blood-spitting during concerts. He told Simmons that Cadillac was a conservative community and the blood-spitting might offend a lot of people. He also told Simmons that it was the band’s concert and that he should do what he felt was most appropriate. Simmons responded, ‘Out of respect for the school and the community, I won’t do it.’ “He kept his word.”
Simmons speaks with pride at the fact that in the history of hundreds of KISS concerts, the only time he has ever skipped his blood-spitting was in Cadillac.
“Look, we were guests in their home,” reflects Simmons. “If someone asks me to take off my shoes to enter their home I am going to respect that. There has always been this take on rock stars and in particular with Kiss that we are a bunch of self-centered egotists that didn’t have any respect for others. In the early days of the band we use to hear that we worshiped Satan and that the band stood for Knights in Satan’s Service.  I didn’t have to think twice when they came to me because they had enough respect to talk to me about it. They didn’t ask me not to do it, they respected my artistry and my ability to make the right decision.”

The band proved to Neff and Cadillac that their visit was sincere long after the concert.
“Every Friday night, no matter where they were at, they would have us call them or they would call us to find out how the team did,” said Neff. “This continued for at least a couple of years.”
“I could remember on several occasions our manager telling us that Cadillac had won their game and we would be giving each other high-fives backstage,” said Simmons.
Drummer Peter Criss feels that at times it is almost like the band attended the high school.
“Every so often someone from that class would show up backstage with the yearbook from that year,” said Criss. “We would flip through the book and look at the pictures, and while we were there just for the day, it was like we were there for the whole year.”
The Cadillac class of 1976 yearbook features several photos of the KISS experience and is a definite collectors item. Occasionally one appears on Ebay, selling for hundreds of dollars.
As for pulling it off again, Neff feels it would be impossible.
“We didn’t tell the students about the band coming until two days before it actually happened,” said Neff. “We only charged $2 to get into the concert and we kept 50 cents to pay for all the make-up we used (all the students, teachers and community leaders had their faces painted) and gave the band the rest. We only gave then $3,000 and that didn’t even come close to covering their expenses. They picked up the rest. The costs to do something like this again would make it prohibitive.”

So what about a reunion concert?
“The band and I have talked about it, but they are so big and their production is so large it would really be impossible,” said Neff. “Where would we hold it? How would we determine who gets to come? I guess we all agree that we wouldn’t be able to truly capture that moment again.”
Since 1975 only one member of KISS has returned to Cadillac.
“I had my own band,” said Criss. “We had played Detroit and were headed to Northern Michigan (Upper Peninsula) for a concert. This was I think 12 years ago. As we were headed north I asked my bus driver if we were close to Cadillac. He said yes, so I said let’s go there for the night.”
Neff remembers getting a call from Criss.
“I was at school and they had me come to the office and Peter says to me, hey I am in town with my band and we would like to play here tonight,” said Neff. “I had him go over to the Pines and boy was the owner surprised when Peter Criss came in and said, ‘Hey, how would you like to have my band play here tonight.”’
As for Neff, he remains friends with the band and their management.   Anytime KISS performs in the Midwest he is offered tickets and backstage passes. He has attended numerous concerts and has lots of memories.
“A couple years after they came to Cadillac they had this big New Year’s Eve concert in New York City  (at that time a Gallup Poll had KISS as the number one band in the world) and they flew my wife  and I to the show,” said Neff. “They gave us VIP treatment and after the show we hung out together. I even snapped a photo of Gene without his make-up. Gene said to me, ‘You know Jim, that picture would be worth a lot of money.’ I told him I would never sell it or show it to anyone. He told me he believed me and I kept my word.”

It has been a couple of years since KISS has toured and since Neff has last spoken to any of the members. He is not sure if they will tour again and jokes that maybe for the 50th reunion of the Cadillac concert, the band could come back and do an unplugged show (the band members would be in their late 70s by then).
But for Neff what is really important these days is spending time with his grandchildren, though a day doesn’t go by that he doesn’t give some thought to that magical 24 hours with KISS.
“My 15 minutes of fame has extended to 30 years,” laughs Neff. “I guess what makes me most proud is to know that at every concert since the one in Cadillac, our community is honored during their encore when the famous KISS Snowstorm takes place. Yes, we invented that at the Cadillac show and they have used it ever since.”
After a breakfast with civic leaders KISS particpated in a parade through down before heading back to the school to say goodbye. As KISS boarded their helicopter at the high school around noon the next day after enjoying a breakfast with community leaders, they paid Cadillac back by giving them a snowstorm of leaflets. The band members leaned out of the helicopter and threw out 4,000 fliers that read, “Cadillac, KISS Loves You!”
It’s a love affair that has lasted for 30 years.
For an in-depth look at the KISS in Cadillac experience visit Jim Neff’s website, www.neffzone.com , where copies of the original letters between him and the band exist, along with a detailed account of all the events that took place including the development of the famed KISS Snowstorm.

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