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 · Baby Plays Around: A Love Affair,...
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Baby Plays Around: A Love Affair, With Music

Nancy Sundstrom - March 25th, 2004
For writer Helene Stapinski (“Five Finger Discount“), there are a lot of
parallels between being in a relationship and being in a rock band. Hence
the title of her delightful and sometimes heartbreaking new memoir about
band life and marital problems, “Baby Plays Around: A Love Affair, With
Stapinski is a good-hearted Jersey girl who loves music and musicians, warts
and all. In this, her latest, she vividly recounts her somewhat wild years
in 1990s New York City as she tried to juggle a freelance journalism career
with drumming in a rock band and trying to stay married to her Daily News
reporter-lover, Martin. Any one of those endeavors would have been a
considerable challenge all on its own, and our narrator seems fearless as
she places her forays into those ventures - some successful and some not -
on a microscope, and does so with a Jersey accent and a steady backbeat.
In the first chapter, Stapinski introduces us to her world, where music and
marital strife seem on an inevitable collision course:

“We lived in Brooklyn on the sixth floor of a building that looked like
something out of a fairy tale. It had red pointed towers, with a slate
spiral staircase running up the outside, and a balcony--a breezeway, the
super called it -- with an ornate, black, wrought-iron railing. It ran the
length of the building, past everyone‘s front door, like the terrace on each
floor of a motel. Our breezeway looked out at the corniced tops of the
brownstones across the way, out at the Statue of Liberty and down at the
metal garbage cans and fire hydrants on the sidewalk, which was cracked and
cleaving from the deep roots of old maple trees.
I worked in that building most days, writing musician interviews, travel
stories, trend pieces, stories about New York, whatever I could scrounge up.
From my back bedroom office, I looked down at the soft tops of the trees in
the courtyard. The only noise, besides the incredible racket of the Tuesday
morning recycling truck and the occasional car alarm, was the nearby
Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, whose hum was so constant it sounded like a
rushing river. Or so I liked to think.
There were better ways to make a living. But there were worse ways, too. I
could be covered in yellow paint, working in the dip room of a pencil
factory, like my mother had when she was young, or sitting inside the little
emergency booth in the Holland Tunnel, watching the cars go by (which had to
be one of the worst jobs ever), or working in a fluorescent-lit office with
no windows, like my husband did most nights as a reporter at a newspaper.
I imagined the newsroom was especially depressing after nine p.m. So most
afternoons, to cheer him up, I packed Martin his dinner in a plastic
shopping bag. Rice and beans or pasta with homemade sauce. A piece of fruit
and a few cookies. Each night, he returned the Tupperware, one of the small
rituals of marriage no one ever tells you about.
We were still newlyweds. Only two years before, Martin had taken me to the
top of New York, to Rockefeller Center, to the Rainbow Room, on the pretense
we were celebrating the fourth anniversary of our first date, and with the
glow of the city lights like votive candles flickering below us, with the
big band playing “Stardust“ in the background, he had proposed to me. He
offered me a ring that his mother--a goldsmith--had forged. It had two thick
braids of gold and a round ruby that changed from stoplight red to
rose-petal pink as my hand shook that night and I hesitantly answered,
I fingered the ring now whenever I was nervous, whenever I had trouble with
an interview subject, whenever I had trouble writing a sentence. These days,
I was trying to get my pen in the door of the women‘s magazines--cash cows
with stories that paid double what my rock star interviews paid. One of my
former professors from graduate school encouraged me to write a pitch to one
of her old friends at Cosmopolitan that autumn, just as the leaves in our
courtyard were starting to turn from green to taxicab gold.“

Like most other kids, Stapinski loved rock ‘n roll early on, and learned to
play the drums by sneaking into her brother‘s room to play on his set. When
he discovered what she was doing, he took the kit apart, but she learned how
to reassemble and dismantle it, along with learning to duplicate the classic
drum solos and the bios of any drummer worth his salt.
Years later, she‘s a working writer, and when she goes to interview Julie,
the leader of a local band, she ends up snaring (no pun intended) a gig as
their drummer and another place for her husband, Martin (also a writer, but
on the graveyard shift), as a bassist. What was once a fairly pleasant and
routine marriage becomes infused with, and then dominated by endless hours
of rehearsal, late-night gigs, and all the drama that accompanies being part
of an aspiring rock band that might actually have a chance of reaching some
level success.
All of that proves to much for Martin but is totally addictive for
Stapinski. They drift apart - she into a world of dingy clubs and growing
camaraderie with her bandmates, and he into an affair with a co-worker. By
the time he confesses to straying, their marriage is all but at a
standstill, though Stapinski feeling completely betrayed, retaliates by
engaging him in violent skirmishes that end with visits from the police and
episodes of drumming that are - to say the least - highly descriptive as she
images her husband‘s face and that of his new love as being “mentally
planted on each drum skin.“
One could find a certain amount of cliches to be reckoned with by equating
married and band life, but
Stapinski ties them together so well and with such conviction that the two
institutions somehow seem to backstop each other. She has a true passion for
music (particularly that of Elvis Costello) that other like-minded
aficionados will identify with and embrace, and even if you haven‘t been a
part of a gigging bar band, Stapinski‘s eye for details and unique voice
make things ring true.
Most of us have to admit that the great relationships of our life - past or
present - have a soundtrack to them, and in “Baby Plays Around,“ we have an
anthem that rings with all the conviction and emotion of the cheesiest and
best power ballads.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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