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 · Dead Dancing Women
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Dead Dancing Women

Elizabeth Buzzelli - November 17th, 2008
Some years ago I moved to Northern Michigan, to a small house on a small lake, to live a small life of eternal peace and quiet.
Yeah sure! That was before the crows got a hold of me, started directing my life and leading me from one dead body to another. Well, figuratively speaking, that is. But let me back up. It was a fall Monday, much like the days we’re having now. Monday is garbage day out where I live. so I was on my way up our drive to the road to collect the garbage can. The garbage guy had come and gone. Sometimes he would send my lid sailing like a Frisbee and other times he’d have it neatly returned to the can. I never knew what I was going to find and retrieving Frisbee shots in winter, with five feet of snow on the ground, could get treacherous.
This was a good week. The lid was in place but still the usual flock of carnivorous crows was there, squawking, bowing their awkward, aggressive crow bows, strutting up the road at me, jumping out of the burning maples. Any leftover treat could do it: a bloody meat wrapper, a wormy apple. They were brave and pugnacious souls. Sometimes I shooed them. I often threatened them. But it got to be a game. Then one day I picked up my garbage can and got hit with the big ‘What if?’ fiction writers ask themselves.
“What if there was something truly awful in there? What if the crows had reason for their hysteria? Hmm—what if there was a head in that garbage can?”

I was off writing what was to become Dead Dancing Women, a mystery about a cadre of elderly women who met around a bonfire out in the woods to celebrate their long friendship and to honor Mother Earth. First came the women -- a motley crew of old friends, and then came the suspects -- not too difficult to figure out; and then came my intrepid sleuths: Emily Kincaid and Deputy Dolly Wakowski of the two-man Leetsville Police Department.
Emily is a writer who quit her job on an Ann Arbor newspaper, divorced her philandering husband and came to Northern Michigan to write what turned out to be pretty crappy mystery novels. Deputy Dolly is an officious woman who looks a little like Barney Fife, only not as pretty. These two form an odd and uneasy friendship but stop arguing long enough to get the murderer.
The novel was brought out by Llewellyn Publishers Worldwide/Midnight Ink this fall with the second in the series, Dead Floating Lovers, to follow next July. A multi-book contract now promises a long life to Emily and Dolly, who will keep stumbling over bodies well into their dotage.
Northern Michigan is the perfect place to set mysteries. There are the deep woods, the expanses of water, all the little houses set back off the main roads, and most of all, the people.
Northern people are story tellers of the kind I hadn’t met since visiting Ireland, where I sat up late in Shakespearean pubs listening to wild tales being spun and shared. Every one up here is an individual with specialized knowledge.
I am always learning from people, such as my friend Theresa, who spent her winters making crafts to sell during the summer. A specialty of hers was a crocheted hat made of beer can fronts. She would come for me, down my drive, in her red beer can hat. Outside my window, where I sat writing, she would wave and yell that the morels were up. Like a Siren, she summoned me to the woods to find those elusive little brown mushrooms, and later there would be milkweed pods -- to be cooked in three waters, drained, and fried in butter. Still later would come the puffballs. One morning I found a bushel-basket sized puffball and that find is still lodged in my memory as one of my better achievements.

Then there was Old Carl, a stick-like man with skin as wrinkled as tree bark. Carl had been a skidder back in the logging days and came to take out trees for the new-to-the-woods folks from ‘down below.’ Old Carl told stories of the woods, the lumbering camps–tales of murder and intrigue.
One after another, stories about the people and places up here were handed to me. Bob Murray of Kalkaska told me about a used car salesman there in town who used to drive around in a hearse with the sign: “Before You Die, You’ll Buy From HI” on it. Perfect character for the third book in the Dead series.
But back to the crows. The first book was finished and turned in. I was working on the second and went out to a little lake where I’d laid the new story. The outline was done. I needed a little cabin on that lake, a little cabin I was going to burn down by the end of the book. There was nothing. No house. No cabin. Well, so what? A fiction writer creates whatever it takes.
Still, I was disappointed. A friend, along with me to take photos, asked a teenage swimmer if there had ever been a house on the lake. He shook his head but another boy piped up, “Not now. But there’s a foundation of an old house over there.” He pointed to where I’d put the house in the story -- before I’d come to the lake. At that moment, six crows flew overhead, toward where that house had been. I tried to ignore them, but they took such glee in being there ahead of me, in being more knowledgeable than I -- they were owed at least a slight bow for the gift.
And then came time to begin the third book in the series. It starts in the ghost town of Deward, between Mancelona and Grayling, where Emily goes to do a story on ghost towns for a local magazine, and to drown her sorrows over receiving yet another churlish rejection of her latest mystery. I knew I wanted a body found under a jack pine out there, but had no idea who the dead woman was, nor why she was there, nor who killed her, or why. Out at Deward I was led to the perfect tree by a trio of crows, and found what looked to be a rectangular dug-over place beside that tree. A grave? Hmmm . . . Suddenly I knew who the dead woman was, why she was out at Deward, who else had to die, and who the culprit was. A lot of help from a bunch of carrion eaters.
So. Inventive people. Amazing stories. Mysterious woods and animals and, of course, crows looking for a poor, lost writer to inspire. If asked what advice I would give aspiring mystery writers in Northern Michigan, I guess the only thing I could offer is this: find a willing bird and follow it. Sorry, that’s the best I can do– a conundrum, wrapped in a riddle, tangled in a metaphor.

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