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...

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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.
• 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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