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 · Bob Butz Explores
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Bob Butz Explores

Elizabeth Buzzelli - November 24th, 2008
An Uncrowded Place: The Delights and dilemmas of life Up North and a young man’s search for home
by Bob Butz
$21.95 - Huron River Press

Review by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

So many who come to Northern Michigan have faced the challenges Bob Butz has faced. Sometimes it’s that dark night of the soul, when you look at yourself in the mirror one morning and ask “Is this who I want to be?” Sometimes it’s simply the journey to be true to oneself. Sometimes it’s about things not yet discovered.
In An Uncrowded Place: The delights and dilemmas of life Up North and a young man’s search for home (Huron River Press), Butz’s search has brought him north to become the writer he wants to be, the father and husband he hopes he is, and a man at one with the natural world. What he achieves, as the essays—originally published in Traverse Magazine —progress, is an uneasy acceptance of life as it really is. All of this while engrossed in fly fishing, bow hunting, hunting for writing assignments in New York City while looking like a rube, camping, and taking care of his new son. This is a book of contradictions and semi-answers. It’s a book about people like him—those who choose to live in the country or wished they lived in the country.
Some of the best writing here takes place in the dark. Night dark. Three a.m. dark. A time when the body seems to disappear and all that’s left is the mind hunting for something, unseen hands feeling along into the forest; along a stream. Somehow Butz knew to challenge himself, knew that the dark we all fear holds answers and he goes out there into the woods: hunting, fishing, in the snow, in November, on summer nights of the big hex fly invasion.

In “Under the Hex,” the month is June. It is the ‘dusky hatching of the Hex,’ when the trout rise in the rivers to feast on the huge Mayflies. Butz isn’t alone. Hundreds of avid fishermen line the banks of the river, come after “a big old hooked-jawed brown, a slab-sided river fish as large as the blade of a canoe paddle.”
“The fishing is good during the hatch,” he writes . . . “perhaps some of the best you’ll ever find. But it’s not easy. After midnight, in the blackness everyday acts seem heroic. I’m thinking about the time my flashlight went dead sometime after midnight, right when the fishing was just taking off. I lost a fly to a fish and actually managed to tie on another, threading the monofilament through the hook eyes and everything, all by feel. Then a half-dozen fish later, I had to feel my way two miles back to the car, the whole while convinced something, or someone, was following me.”
Then again, in “Dream Fish, Night Fish” he braves the dark to fish. He writes, “Fishing at its best is done by feel. After dark, that’s all there is. I most like fishing for salmon at the river’s mouth, where you stand in water up to your armpits. There, under the wide eyes of the moon, in the near dark, I tie my knots by feel, by memory. . . The water presses against my thighs. I try to imagine what the lure looks like down there, flashing in the moonlight with every twitch of the rod.”
After his son is born, an unexpected consequence of fatherhood strikes him. He is changed again. It is three o’clock in the morning. His wife is home. It is “cold, dark, and lightly snowing, the boy was asleep. . I was going for my walk.”
He drives to a trailhead where he parks and sets out. What he discovered that night was what all parents find, that the mind has been taken over by a child, by the needs of another. Immediately uneasiness settles in. Butz writes, “When I was at home, all I could think about was getting away to the woods, miles away, if only for an hour to walk aimlessly alone breathing fresh air un-tinged by the smell of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Desitin. Now that I was here, the real joke finally hit me. All I could think about was home.”
That doesn’t mean turning his back on his love of the woods and waters. It’s more another change. What he’s learned becomes a desire to teach his son, to be with him until he’s of an age to hold a fishing rod, to let this new person into the life he’s found in the Michigan woods. He’s come to the sharing part of life.

“River Notes: Three Days of the Savage Life,” sums up what he’s captured along his way. He takes us to the river and the woods on a November Friday. A storm is predicted. He is canoeing along the Boardman, camping on the shore, bow hunting, fishing, killing a mallard to cook over his fire, and climbing into his sleeping bag at dark to be covered with a blanket of light snow by morning. Here exists much of what he’s come north to find. “The sky this morning was powder blue and streaked with clouds the color of fire. All the trees along the banks were bent over, their branches hanging down, laden with snow that everywhere glowed with a soft pink light. The arrow stuck in the riverbank, only its fletching showing. I pulled it free and paddled in close to shore, paddling slowly, languidly, watching for deer, for squirrels—anything that I might arrow for lunch . . .Suddenly, what has come to me is a feeling of belonging to this world.”
He is at peace with the life he’s created. He paddles along in the river, heading back toward home, to his wife and new son.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s novel, “Dead Dancing Women” is in bookstores now. She will be signing her book at Horizon Books in Traverse City on Dec. 19, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

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