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 · Music · Chris Smither‘s Long Train...
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Chris Smither‘s Long Train Home

Rick Coates - September 18th, 2003
Thirty-five years and 11 albums later, Chris Smither has found himself at
the top of the singer-songwriting-guitar playing circuit. His tri-fold
talent and musical range could easily find Smither in a variety of bands,
but he stands alone and he prefers it that way.
“I don‘t like over-instrumentation to my songs, I want them to stand alone,“
said Smither. “The only enhancement comes from my guitar and foot.“
Smither has just released his album “Train Home,“ where he again proves his
mastery of the guitar, his passion for catchy lyrics and his ability to
enhance a cover song. He returns to Northern Michigan with a Sept. 20
performance for the Blissfest fall/winter music series in Petoskey and
Sept. 21 in Traverse City at Union Street as part of the “Early Show“

The critics have met “Train Home“ on the streets for just 45 days with
rave reviews. He has been called an “American original,“ and referred to as
the “champion of finger-picking country blues.“ The Washington Post has said
that “Train Home“ is “among Smither‘s finest recordings,“ and Smither
couldn‘t agree more.
“I think it is my best ever,“ said Smither. “Then, I always think my current
is album is my best ever. It is the way it should be, you should get better
with every recording and performance.“
What Smither likes most about the album was the production process.
“I brought in Dave ‘Goody‘ Goodrich to produce it because the two of us are
on the same page,“ said Smither. “We both allow each other to do our thing
and the end result is an album that reflects where I am at musically, so I
am quite pleased.“
“Train Home,“ was recorded over a six-week period in Smither‘s Boston
suburbia home where Smither laid down the basic tracks and then added the
other tracks in the studio.
“This one wound up surprising me,“ said Smither. “It is by far the most
‘acoustic, rootsy‘ feel I‘ve ever had on a produced record. Working at home
and adding other musicians‘ parts later is something I don‘t think I could
have pulled off even a few years ago. To me it sounds surprisingly
spontaneous and unrehearsed, like people who know what they‘re doing and are
having a good time doing it.“
“Train Home“ features seven Smither originals and four covers including
Smither‘s take on Dylan‘s 1965 composition “Desolation Row,“ that features
Smither‘s longtime friend Bonnie Raitt on backing vocals and slide guitar.

Smither has a unique take on playing and recording covers. He recently told
No Depression (July/August 2003) “I will not tackle a cover unless I hear
something that I think the artist missed.“ He adds, “there are
songs that I love but would never do like Ray Charles ‘Drown In My Own
Tears,‘ because he hit every base and there is nothing left for me to do.“
While Smither does covers his songs have been covered by many including
Raitt, whose signature song “Love Me Like A Man,“ was written by Smither (his
version is “Love You Like A Man,“). “That one pays the mortgage,“ Smither likes to joke.
“In fact Bonnie has done such a great job with that song that I have a hard
time convincing people that I wrote the original version.“
His career has come full circle, and at 59, a mature Chris Smither travels the
land playing to full houses 150 nights a year. He has no resentment towards
the artists who used to open for him and have risen above him in
fame -- but not necessarily in talent -- like Raitt and Jackson Browne. He even
felt that at one point he would become a “household name“ himself.
“There was a time during the 1970s that I felt I had all the pieces in
place to become a household name,“ said Smither. “It didn‘t happen and I am
okay with that now.“

Smither takes responsibility for his downward slide toward the end of the
‘70s where he fell victim to his drinking, and has he puts it, was
“unbearable“ for several years until he quit. He entered a recovery
program and in the mid-‘80s he returned to the scene with a vengeance
and hasn‘t looked back, though he does remain critical and modest about his
guitar playing.
“I don‘t put as much emphasis on my guitar playing as I once did,“ said
Smither. “I don‘t believe that I am as good of a player today as I was when
I was younger, I focus more on my guitar work enhancing the song versus
dominating it.“
The critics are not buying it, as they continue to point to Smither‘s
intricate playing style. Raitt refers to Smither as her “Eric Clapton.“
Musically, Smither has come a long way, considering he was pursuing a career
as an anthropologist when he was called into folk music duty.
“Each year in college I found myself doing more music and less studying
until eventually I became a full time musician and dropped out of college. I have no regrets.“

Northern Michigan has two chances to catch Chris Smither: Saturday September
20, 8 p.m. at the Crooked Tree Arts Center, Petoskey to kick off the
fall/winter Bliss Music Series. For additional information visit
www.blissfest.org or call for tickets 231/
348-7047. On Sunday September 21 he performs in Traverse City at Union
Street Station as part of the Early Show Series. The show begins at 7:30
with special guest Ray Bonneville who is opening for Smither during the
tour. For ticket information phone 941-1930. Both venues are smoke-free

(SIDEBAR -- use small helvetica type for artists, if need room)

Blissfest‘s Fall-Winter Lineup:

The Blissfest Folk Concert series is in its 12th year of regular concerts at the Crooked Tree Arts Center in downtown Petoskey. The series features a diverse cross section of traditional American, ethnic and roots music including blues, jazz, bluegrass and folk as well as singer songwriters and other traditional artists. In addition to Chris Smither, the upcoming season includes:

Jack Williams - Fri. Oct. 17
A perennial favorite, Williams is making his way north for his annual fall color tour. Expect a brilliant technician, sincere and honest songwriting. Opening will be Dr. Goodhart’s Home Remedy as part of the month-long focus on area artists at the “new” Crooked Tree Arts Center.

Kirby and Friends - Sat. October 18
The Songwriters Showcase has become an annual event. This fall’s showcase features Kirby, Robin Berry and other area songwriters.

Michael Smith - Fri. Nov. 7
The thing that stands out most in Smith’s work is his unpredictable creativity. Just when you think you know where he’s going, lyrically or musically, he’ll turn a metaphoric corner on you, double back, sneak up behind you and slip a rainbow in your pocket.

Dorothy Scott - Sat. Dec 20
Scott is a dynamic singer who plays piano and acoustic guitar. She splits her time between Door County and Brooklyn, N.Y., and has been described as being a combination of Sarah McLachlan and Jimi Hendrix. Some call her “an eclectic Joni Mitchell.”

All concerts and dances will start at 8 p.m. unless otherwise stated. Advanced tickets are $10, or $12 at the door except for reserved seating which are $12 in advance, with discounts for Blissfest members, students and seniors. For ticket information call (231) 348-7047. Advanced tickets are available at the Grain Train and the Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey or Quarters in Harbor Springs. On line at www.blissfest.org
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