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 · Art · The Lord of the Gourd/Pat Harrison
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The Lord of the Gourd/Pat Harrison

Rick Coates - October 26th, 2009
The Lord of the Gourd
Pat Harrison is a professional pumpkin sculptor

By Rick Coates 10/26/09

Carver Pat Harrison from Cedar is nicknamed “The Lord of the Gourd.” This time of the year he finds himself in high demand. But Harrison is more than just a pumpkin carver; hence his nickname. He is now known all over the state and travels to all parts giving carving demonstrations. He took time from his busy schedule to answer questions about life as a professional pumpkin sculptor.

NE: How did you get started?
Harrison: By accident. I was attempting to carve a pumpkin late at night back in the mid ’90s and I slipped with a knife and cut a hunk off the pumpkin. I thought it was ruined until I started hacking more chunks off it and realized I was onto something.”

NE: So had you seen other pumpkin carvers before?
Harrison: Not up to that point. I had never seen anyone else carve that way, but now there are many pumpkin sculptors out there, some of them incredibly talented.

NE: Who up north do you put in that category?
Harrison: In this area we have Ed Moody from Frankfort who does giant pumpkins, and Ray Villafane from Bellaire is hands-down the most talented of all carvers I’ve ever seen. Downstate there’s Tom Nardone of extremepumpkins.com and Douglas St. Souver, both incredibly talented guys. I consider myself very fortunate to be counted amongst them as pumpkin sculptors.

NE: So is it competitive?
Harrison: None of us are rivals; we’re just guys who share a love for carving. It’s funny that when I tell people up here what I do, they say ‘you’re that guy who does the big pumpkins,’ and I say ‘no, that’s Ed Moody’, and then they say ‘oh, you’re the guy that sculpts sand and won the Food Network Challenge’, and I say ‘no, that’s Ray’. It’s hard being the new guy, but I’m developing a following up here.”

NE: Okay, you said you started carving by accident, but how did you start carving professionally?
Harrison: I got my start in Oakland County living in Ortonville. I stopped at a pumpkin farm one day and my then girlfriend told the farmer I sculpted pumpkins. He asked me to do one for him and once he saw my work offered me a deal: if I’d sit at his pumpkin farm and carve as an attraction on weekends in October, he’d give me all the free pumpkins I wanted and also allow me to sell them. I never thought anything would come of it, but the Oakland Press came out to do a story one day on the farm, and saw me there and ended up putting me in the paper. Then WDIV in Detroit asked me to carve live on their station on Halloween, and I did that three years in a row. Things snowballed after that and here, 10 years later, I’m doing it full time and having a ball.

NE: Are you the same Pat Harrison who plays music around the area?
Harrison: Yes, I am a folk and blues harmonica performer; so between music and carving I’m living the dream.

NE: So after Halloween and pumpkin season ends do you carve anything else?
Harrison: I carve fruit and vegetables.My big thing after Halloween is carvings that can be cooked and eaten, and I’ll be doing hubbard squash turkeys for Thanksgiving and Santa Clauses for Christmas. My theory is that as long as I work with food, I’ll never be a starving artist, and I tell kids that it’s not just OK to play with their food, I highly recommend that they do.

NE: You are pretty popular at kids events not just for your carvings but your storytelling.
Harrison: I live in a berm house, meaning that two-thirds of it is underground and we call it the cave. I paint a pretty vivid picture in children’s minds when I tell them I live in a cave in the north woods and carve pumpkins for a living and sit on the roof at night listening to coyotes. When you sit on my roof you’re sitting in the yard. I live between Maple City and Glen Arbor and share a home with my mother Sally, who is also an artist and a live-in guinea pig for many of my cooking experiments.

NE: So describe a typical day for a pumpkin carver.
Harrison You don’t really grow up planning to be a pumpkin sculptor, it just happened that way. I get to travel to different places and meet new people every day and I absolutely love my life. A typical day for me consists of rising after four hours of sleep, and while getting dressed I watch ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown’ every day! It gets me in the mood. Then I make coffee and pack for the next show. Some of them are up to 250 miles away. My day consists of making my appearance that day wherever I’m carving, packing up, and heading for the next show. I always show up at a new gig with two fresh pre-carved pumpkins, so that means I either return home or go to my motel and carve until the wee hours of the morning. I have been going nonstop for the past two months and have already easily carved over 300 pumpkins. It’s a crazy schedule and I had bookings 23 of the first 26 days of October, but I’m up to the task and spend all year waiting for pumpkin season to return.

To contact Pat Harrison call 231-228-7355.

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