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 · A New York State of Mind
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A New York State of Mind

Nancy Sundstrom - April 1st, 2004
Readers worldwide have had a longstanding love affair with books about New York City, a trend that has shown no sign of diminishing in the recent years, thanks largely to the works of gifted authors like Don DeLilo, Richard Price and Tom Wolfe, to name just a few.
Another in this distinguished lineup of usual suspects in Kurt Wenzel, whose ‘s second novel, “Gotham Tragic,“ is wonderful, witty and wise as a spot-on send-up of post-9/11 life in the Big Apple. Wenzel, a contributing editor at Privymagazine.com who lives in both New York City and East Hampton, New York, wrote “Lit Life“ in 2001, and this new foray is something of a sequel to that first novel.
Here, we‘re reintroduced to Gen-X writer Kyle Clayton, who hit fame with his debut novel and has run into a creative dry spell since. He has also recently converted to Islam to please the Turkish girlfriend he wants to marry. He‘s not doing well at incorporating his new beliefs into his big city lifestyle and penchant for its weaknesses, particularly when it comes to alcohol consumption. A case in point is that he is a regular customer at City, a hot new restaurant that employs a Muslim Mafia of doormen and food runners who are determined to help Clayton abide by Islamic asceticism, whether he wants to or not.
In the first chapter, “The Great Kurban,“ we meet Kyle and get a quick glimpse into his world, which is becoming increasingly complicated with the conflicts posed by culture clash:

“All Muslims are mad, of course. Not mad in the sense of angry, though they are certainly that, but daffy mad, glazed-eyed-crazy-stare mad, ipso facto mad.. . .
Slunk down in the back of the cab, rain rapping its knuckles on the roof, Kyle Clayton heard these lines turning over in his head. This was the opening to the novel he was working on, and since he was prone to fits of anxiety over new work, he often found the words brimming at the surface of his subconscious.
Plus, he was fond of them. They had just the snap, crackle, and pop that he liked. The culture had turned into a bum‘s rush, he‘d decided. You had to catch the reader early, kick ‘em in the shins, or else they were gone, off to a new thrill. As the downpour beaded the window, he allowed himself a smile as he repeated the words once more, marveling at their reckless audacity, the sheer stupid nerve of them.
All Muslims are mad, of course.
Ridiculous, those words. Mere literary provocation.
Hurrying from the taxi to the shield of the restaurant‘s canopy, Kyle was greeted by a large man in a long gray coat, shoulders clad in royal epaulets. As Kyle hopped the sluicing moat that ran along the curb, the doorman lowered his umbrella and mutely clapped his gloved hands.
“Mr. Kurban,“ he bellowed, half surprised. “The Great Kurban!“ Syeed Salaam was the doorman‘s name, and he did not refer to Kyle Clayton as the Great Kurban because he thought the young man anything special -- only Allah was truly great -- but rather because there are few things in this world more glorious to a Muslim than the presence of a willing convert, and however unlikely, Kyle Clayton was now one such proselyte. This conversion was the cause of no little humor among his friends, since of everyone they knew, no one was quite so Western, so quintessentially American, as Kyle Clayton. Kurban (chosen primarily for alliterative purposes, they‘d learned) translated roughly to mean “sacrifice.“ Funny, they thought, since the Kurban they knew had never engaged in sacrifice of any sort and, conversely, seemed wholly dedicated to the execution of extreme and reckless pleasure. In fact, Kyle Clayton was publicly notorious for being the very opposite of Kurban, and had achieved a modest fame by singularly embodying everything that sacrifice was not.
But Syeed Salaam, who was more popularly known as Rick, did not care for contemporary literary history and its various profligates.
One of the regulars at the restaurant where he worked had embraced the Religion of Truth, and it was a thing to rejoice.
“Assalamu ‘alaykum,“ Rick intoned, kissing Kyle on both cheeks and squeezing him with his powerful arms.
“Wa‘alaykum assalam,“ Kyle answered without a hitch, thereby exhausting his entire catalog of Arabic. Although there was no way for Rick to know it, the conversion of Kurban was not everything he might have hoped for.
“You pray today, brother?“ “Twice this morning,“ Kyle remarked, hating himself for the fib. To the left of the entrance was a shallow doorway used for deliveries.
Rick reached in and removed the clean cardboard sheet he used as a prayer mat. In order to pray five times a day, as was his duty to Allah, he had to get in at least two prayers at work. During the lulls after the lunch and dinner rushes, Rick would run to the alley on the other side of street to fulfill this obligation.“

There are other problems tied to the eatery, such as the presence of waitress Erin Wyatt, with whom Kyle had a drunken fling a few years back, and City‚s owner, investment tycoon Lonny Tumin, whose scheme to concoct a fictitious Internet company will end up ensnaring Kyle. In the meantime, though, our young author is knocking out a story about his religious conversion, and before all is said and done, a group of militant Muslims will declare a fatwa against him (a la Salman Rushdie) that they are determined to carry out, no matter what.
The dizzying plot twists are handled at roller coaster speed and the subjects of money, religion and greed all get a good going-over in the best black comedy tradition. The skillful development of characters and Wenzel‘s ability to load a paragraph full of ironic realizations and rich details make “Gotham tragic“ anything but. This is a truly pleasurable read, with a scope and punch as big and impressive as that of the New York skyline itself.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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