Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Pure Boredom

Robert Downes - April 13th, 2009
Pure Boredom
“It was 1989, my thoughts were short, my hair was long,
Caught somewhere between a boy and man;
She was 17, and she was far from in-between,
It was summertime in Northern Michigan.“

-- Kid Rock, ‘All Summer Long‘

Have you seen the new television commercials promoting the state of Utah? They feature a funky, old beater truck loaded with kayaks, mountain bikes, surfboards, tents, beach gear. You see a family driving around to all of the spectacular sights in Utah, having a blast. They’re hiking through canyons, biking across desert plateaus, white-water rafting down a raging river -- the works.
Backed by a heart-pumping rock soundtrack, the “Utah Elevated” campaign makes you want to jump out of your chair and zoom off to Utah with the pedal to the metal to see one of the most beautiful states in the country.
Compare that to our state’s “Pure Michigan” campaign, which is so snoozy it might serve as a substitute for Lunesta. The commercials feature tepid images of golf courses, lighthouses and lake scenes of the On Golden Pond variety with a flat narration that is eerily similar to the guy who does the “Ketchup” commercials on Prairie Home Companion (if you don’t know them, substitute Wilford Brimley in the “Country Time Lemonade” ads).
Michigan is home to some of the most exciting music in the world, but our commercials feature a piano sonata soundtrack that makes you think of a time when ladies wearing white gloves and big hats festooned with passenger pigeon feathers sipped tea at 4 p.m. out on the veranda of some sepia-toned inn from the 1890s.
Oh, the commercials are “nice“ enough, but in a ho-hum, predictable way. You can only imagine viewers deciding to give Michigan a pass on their vacation plans -- our state clearly being such a dull place and all.
Hello?
• This is the state that gave the world Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Kid Rock, Michael Moore, The White Stripes, Marvin Gaye, Eminem, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent. Detroit is still considered one of the incubators of the best rock, soul, rap and electronic music in the world -- going head-to-head with places like London, Berlin and Los Angeles.
• Michigan is the land of the greatest freshwater seas in the entire world. The Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear Dunes are among the most spectacular geographical features in the entire country. We have more than 11,000 lakes and hundreds of miles of bike trails, snowmobile trails, hiking. We have some of the best beaches on Earth.
I mean, come on!
Some of the above is mentioned by the Pure Michigan campaign, but mostly in the form of a laundry list with zero ‘sex appeal‘ compared to Utah‘s freewheeling commercials.
Doesn’t it stand to reason that with all of our state‘s talent and attractions, Michigan could do a better job of selling itself? Especially when unemployment is over 12 percent in our state? Shouldn’t we be able to kick some tourist ass our way, at least on par with Utah?
The problem here, perhaps, is Lansing, which I assume is where the State of Michigan’s travel and tourism offices are located. Our state capital was established in 1879 at what was then the small crossroads village of Lansing to avoid the taint and sway of politicians in Detroit or Grand Rapids.
The problem then, as now, is that Lansing is a dreadfully dull place in the middle of nowhere. And, as the State’s official Pure Michigan campaign clearly shows, tourism officials in Lansing seem to suffer from a lack of imagination in regard to selling what Michigan has to offer.
As noted in last week’s Express in the article on “Silent Sports” by Rick Coates, Michigan is literally “missing the boat“ on billions of dollars as a global destination for kayaking, hiking, biking, windsurfing, kiteboarding, birding... We’ve got the steak here, but not the sizzle.
Solution? For starters, our tourist officials should call the filmmakers who did those Utah commercials. Then, get out of the way and let someone who knows how to have fun market our state.
Perhaps they could build a commercial around Kid Rock‘s mega hit, “All Summer Long,“ which is packed with imagery about the good times in Northern Michigan. Now there‘s a guy who knows how to get to the heart of Michigan and why we‘re worth a visit.

 
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