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 · When Grandma worn nothing but a...
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When Grandma worn nothing but a smile

Elizabeth Buzzelli - May 4th, 2009
But a Smile

Nothing But a Smile
Steve Amick
Pantheon Books

By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli 5/4/09

Nothing But a Smile isn’t about WWII, it isn’t about the porn industry, it isn’t even about your grandmother. Instead, this novel by Steve Amick, the Ann Arbor writer whose last book was the Michigan Notable Book: The Lake, the River & the Other Lake, is the intimate story of two young people during and just after the war, trying to make their way, suffering through tragedy, youth, impetuousness, and nobility as often as they suffer stupidity.
It’s about the kind of idealism that age crushes. It’s about America still reeling from loss. It’s about morality that deviates from the usual, proscribed morality of religion, springing instead from necessity, and then from joy. The war is over. They are the ones who lived. The future is theirs.
Still, the book begins with a grandchild cleaning out the attic.
Sally Dutton, the boy’s grandmother, is going to live somewhere else. In the attic lie secrets. The grandchild finds antique photo equipment from the days when Sal and Wink, an injured vet, began their girlie business in Chicago, while they waited for Sal’s husband, Chesty, to come home from the Pacific.
And then there are the photographs, revealing the famous ‘Two Sallys’, beautiful, half-naked girls caught in photo shoot after photo shoot, in magazine after magazine. These are the unattainable pin-ups found in lockers and on board ships across the world. These are the girls guys lusted after, but wouldn’t want to marry—not when they got back home to the folks, the old friends, and to childhood sweethearts. Here comes the double-standard which catches Sal and Wink firmly by the neck as Chicago settles into post-war chaos.
It began for Sal (one of the Two Sallys) when the Chicago photography store her husband and his family had owned started losing money. With the war on, cameras aren’t selling, photo stock is in short supply, and even their photo developing business has dropped off. Sal has to find a way to exist, until Chesty, the true photographer in the family, comes home and takes back the shop.
Sal’s got two things going for her. She knows how to take photos and she’s got a good body. Together, the two spell out cash—not a whole lot, but enough to keep her and the store alive.
Wink is a wounded veteran, home due to his injury. A cartoonist, Wink’s hurt his right hand, his drawing hand. He tries to retrain his left, but it isn’t happening. Instead he finds photography.
Wink’s the noble sort. He checks in on his buddy, Chesty’s, wife, Sal, to see how the store is going and that Sal is okay. A break-in and a scared Sal brings Wink an offer of an empty apartment above the store, security for Sal, the answer to a prayer for Wink. The apartment leads to an affair with one of Sal’s friends, Reenie, and the branching out of the small girlie business into a full fledged company with their famous ‘Two Sallys,’ photographed in all states of undress and coyness. Pure World War II stuff. A lot of hypocrisy; a lot of scary government men hunting for Reds and subversives; and even run-ins with petty crooks sniffing around the photo store for a piece of the action.
Maybe the story sounds straightforward, a slight entertainment, but it isn’t. Twisted together with a gentle and slowly unfolding love story, this is a story of the times: treatment of GIs right after the war, the scarcity of goods and living spaces, government paranoia that began as the war ended and culminated in the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s. There is a lot here.
Some of the research sticks out a little—but how does a writer drop in famous people of the era, songs, places, events, without the reader’s eye being drawn to that name, or song, or fact? Amick sets his scenes well. Like a Hopper painting, things in this part of Chicago are a little down-at-the-heels, a little stark, and a little depressed; the perfect backdrop for the seedy little business that these people get themselves into, never once thinking there might be consequences.
The two Sallys wear wigs. Of course, no one will ever recognize them. They set up a photo shoot on the Chicago lakefront—of course no cop will be around to arrest them as the women strip. And of course, real life won’t settle in on them like an iron fist, with death, fear, fire, and fate overtaking them. Ever.
But back to that attic where the ‘Two Sallys’ have been hidden since Wink and Sal ran to Michigan respectability, a new life, a kid, a grandkid, and the hidden boxes. Amick never tells us what the grandson thinks as the nude or nearly nude women, one his grandmother and one his aged aunt, come to light.
What you find yourself hoping is about what you’d hope for from your own grandkid, or son. Maybe little bits of Wink and Sal in his blood. Little bits of our braver selves. I wanted the kid to take a look, give a big thumbs-up, then put the family photos away to show his own grandkids some day; to prove to that kid how people never really change—generation to generation, only the way we judge each other.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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