Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

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Tales of The City - Derf unveils his vision of America in *The City Collected*

Robert Downes - January 8th, 2004

Long before there were reality TV shows there was the grueling urban humor of Derf, a Cleveland-based cartoonist who slams a weekly slice of irony and grit down on the comics page with his strip, “The City.“
In his new book, “The City Collected,“ Derf offers the best of his strip over the past 14 years, with thoughts on America‘s obsession with body makeovers, trashing the environment, overconsumption and fear of the unknown (to name a few), all drawn in a style of contemporary baroque married to lank desperation.
Derf, whose strip has run in the Northern Express for almost a decade (often to the displeasure of our more staid readers), is featured in nearly 60 independent weeklies across the country. Derf writes the strip from the perspective of a street-roaming everyman, absorbing the foibles of an outrageous world with a sense of world-weary disbelief from across the counter of a coffee bar or in the desolation of a bus stop. While Derf frequently pokes fun at the super-straight patriotic superhero known as White Middle Class Suburban Man, he also takes care to lampoon fashion-addled hipsters, big-hair mall babes and assorted geeks, hard hats, cops, politicians and mentally unbalanced street-persons. He‘s equally comfortable poking fun at the body-piercing crowd or ripping the Bush administration a new one with his scathing political commentary.
Derf writes from the perspective of America‘s soul, best found in the Midwest. He grew up in a small Mayberry-style farm town of Richfield, Ohio, and claims to have attended school with serial killer cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, who was at least an acquaintance, if not a friend. He profiled the relationship in a comic novella called “My Friend Dahmer,“ a dark view of what goes into a troubled adolescent‘s mind. After dropping out of art school, he did a stint as a garbageman, profiled in another graphic novel entitled, “Trashed.“
“It was an idyllic childhood for which I‘m very grateful,“ he says in a forward to his book, written by Bob Ethington. “My teenage years, after some hideous hormonal transformation, were spent as an ostracized dork, face buried in a comic book, skulking warily through the school to avoid beatings by jock assholes. The stereotypical adolescence for a cartoonist.“
Drawing cartoons for the school paper at Ohio State University, Derf managed to generate hundreds of angry phone calls, letters and threats after one of his strips reamed local football heroes who‘d gotten in trouble with the law. It was the beginning of a career of aggravating those readers who can‘t handle “alternative“ comics. Derf was fired from a small paper in Florida for “general tastelessness“ before launching his career with the alternative press in 1990 through a now-defunct paper called the “Cleveland Edition.“ Even with a more receptive venue, several jittery papers have dumped his strip through the years, and “The City“ has gotten others banned from buildings -- more proof that Derf tells it like it is.
“I don‘t think my stuff is any more outrageous than what you see on cable TV,“ he says. “I think it‘s a puritan hang-up about comic strips. Some people think comix should only be like ‘Hi & Lois‘ and just can‘t get beyond that.“
No one escapes Derf‘s satrical eye, which manages to capture the humanity as well as the absurdity of any given moment in America. Check out his book, “The City Collected,“ $10.95 from SLG Publications, with additional info at www.derfcity.com.
-- Robert Downes
 
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