Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Creme Brulee
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Creme Brulee

Carol South - April 28th, 2008
An ambitious vision packed into a small space, Créme Brulee melds simple living with radical politics, grounding economic responsibility in funky creativity.
The micro boutique run by self-described revolutionary clothiers Ben Ruggles and Jen Liedel features everything from wallets made from National Geographic maps to clothing and accessories fashioned from rescued fabrics.
Créme Brulee also sells works on consignment by young artists as well as vintage and new clothing. The overall mix is about 60 percent vintage, including many pieces of locally-made recycled clothing, and 40 percent new items.
Opened two years ago in May at the Front Street Commons in downtown Traverse City, Créme Brulee is grounded in a philosophy that combines simple living with human empowerment –- of the owners, other young artists and their customers.
This commitment extends to refusing credit cards (if someone wants something badly enough, they are encouraged to visit a nearby ATM) and painting the formerly grim walls with broad primary-colored stripes only after multiple sources of paint came into their lives.

“I don’t believe we should be doing anything that isn’t empowering someone else, the empowerment of the individual,” said Ruggles. “Just being resourceful is a way for me to make my politics real in a relevant manner.”
Calling Traverse City an incubator for sustainable living in Michigan, Ruggles believes that clothing -- one of four basic human needs that include food, shelter and energy -- can also be sustainable. The store swims against the tide of consumerism, determined to spread a way of life as much as sell clothes and art.
“You have to separate need from want,” he said.
Ruggles and Liedel both note a momentum building for self-sufficiency, both on an individual and a community level.
“I just see more people wanting to know how to make clothing for themselves,” said Liedel, who also works at Mackinaw Brewing Company. “People being more aware of and interested in where clothing comes from and that supports local artisans.”
In keeping with do-it-yourself and re-use-it mandates, even 1970s polyesters get a new lease on life in Liedel’s hands as she transforms them into skirts. Their kicky designs and fun accessories are firmly 21st century.
“I draft some patterns on my own and some are vintage patterns that I update to make my own,” said Liedel, who along with Ruggles loves harvesting treasures at garage sales, trash days or used stores.

Liedel’s grandmothers provided the genesis for the business. No family member wanted the extensive collection of fabric, notions and sewing implements when the two women died. Liedel did not want everything going to Goodwill – wasting the passion pursued by each woman over her lifetime – so she took the material in for reuse.
“From that it just kind of came to the point where I sewed a little bit, it really picked up, and I found myself doing it more and more,” she said of a collection that included art deco sewing boxes full of old buttons. “[They had] nice little aesthetic things that make sewing fun and all of a sudden I had it.”
Ruggles fashions collages from rescued material for use as decorations on a range of items. The resulting shirts, pillows and bags encapsulate his philosophy as an artist.
“When you simply don’t have any money to spend, you turn to any sources you can – it makes you use your creative faculties more,” said Ruggles, who also works at Oryana. “It kind of winds in with the whole ethos of the store: the art and the thrill of the hunt.”

Situated upstairs in the Front Street Commons, Créme Brulee is open Monday through Saturday from noon until 6 p.m. See myspace.com/cremebruleemakingtcfreaky or email makintcfreaky@hotmail.com.
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