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 Seger Turns a Page
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Bob Seger Turns a Page

Rick Coates - October 19th, 2009
Bob Seger
Turns a Page

Travelin’ Man On The Road and Behind The Scenes With Bob Seger
By Thomas Weschler & Gary Graff
Wayne State University Press

By Rick Coates 10/19/09

Rock stars have an inner circle and those that are a part of it live by a code: “What happens on the road stays on the road.” Because of that code, at times it is hard to get the real story and some musicians have tighter inner circles than others. Bob Seger is one of them. For his fans, little is really known about Seger except what can be deciphered through his lyrics.
Sure, there have been articles and interviews, but Seger really has only bared his soul on stage. Those closest to him have shared memories in casual conversations. But the man responsible for forging the Midwestern singer/songwriter sound has remained more of a “mystery man” than a “travelin’ man.”
Now, the silence that has surrounded Seger over his 45-year musical career might be changing. A new book by photographer and former Seger road manager Thomas Weschler and music journalist Gary Graff opens the shades of secrecy on Detroit’s favorite son, although only slightly.

Travelin’ Man On The Road and Behind The Scenes With Bob Seger was released last week by the Wayne State Press. It features the photographic work of Weschler and is a memoir (captured by Graff) of his days with Seger. While Weschler was Seger’s road manager from 1969 to ’73 (pre-Silver Bullet era) he joined the “inner circle” first as a roadie in 1968 but enjoyed access to Seger before and after his days on the payroll. That access paid off as Weschler recounts in his book when Seger and Bruce Springsteen met for the first time.
In September of 1978, Seger and Springsteen were both performing in Detroit when Weschler received a phone call from a Columbia Records promotions person.
“He called me to say Bruce wanted to meet Bob, and he’d like to bring Bruce out to the September 2 show, maybe shoot some photos… I asked John Rapp, Bob’s bodyguard, to keep everyone else out (of the dressing room) so I could shoot some photos of this first meeting between two great artists.”
The book is chock full of insights and tidbits of Segers career and does a nice job of blending photos with Weschler’s perspectives. One great insight is from the night Seger wrote the touring anthem. “Turn The Page.” Then, Weschler shares a story about the recording of the song at Leon Russell’s home in Tulsa.
Anytime someone from the media deals with the Seger camp they must first go through Punch Andrews, Seger’s manager for the past 45 years. Andrew’s management style is legendary in the industry, and if it is to be described in one word “protective” would be it. Andrews has guarded the Seger legacy like a pit bull, suspicious of everyone and barking at those who have trespassed on it. But he and the others in the Seger camp were remarkably cooperative with this project.
Andrews told Detroit News music writer Susan Whitall (October 6, 2009) “I was pleasantly surprised. I expected a C-plus to B-minus, so I was stunned when I saw it. I’d never heard the story told that way. It was his story and it was great. I’m pretty proud of Weschler.”

Maybe this book will soften Andrews a little and allow for future books on Seger. Andrews made two key revelations in his comments to Whitall. First he stated, “I’ve never heard the story told that way.” That’s because no one has been able to tell the Seger story to this point. Andrews, you have lived the story; the rest of us have only been given glimpses of it over the years.
Secondly, Andrews states, “It was his story…” Yes it is Weschler’s story and a good one, but it is not Seger’s story. That is what Seger fans are really yearning for, the man who put Detroit rock and roll on the map to tell his story.
For diehard Seger fans the closest thing to a Seger biography is the Seger File. Compiled by Scott Sparling, this is the most detailed collection of Seger information anywhere in the world. I am sure Andrews and others in the Seger organization (probably even Seger himself) use it as a reference. Considering that 850,000 have visited segerfile.com, book publishers should be chomping at the bit for a Seger biography. Sparling, a talented writer, would be perfect for such an assignment.
Weschler’s book references key moments in Seger’s career. For example, he gives a brief overview (150 words) of the KISS tour in 1976 when Seger and The Silver Bullet Band were the opening act. Weschler only scratches the surface of this pivotal moment in Seger’s career by stating: “That tour changed everything for Seger” -- but the “how” is not answered.
Certainly KISS and Seger fans would love to hear reflections of that tour (Seger has commented on it in the past, stating “we learned a lot, they were the nicest guys and it was tough because their fans were so loyal that a lot of nights after a couple of our songs their fans would start chanting ‘KISS, KISS, KISS,’ but we eventually starting winning them over. I learned from KISS the importance of treating your fans right.”).

Bob Seger is a perfectionist; his rehearsals are legendary. At the beginning of the book there is a list of 50+ who have been a part of his musical past. Some of his former band members have spoke to Seger’s work ethic and perfectionism. It would be great to hear their stories and reflections as well. Drew Abbott, Seger’s guitarist during the Silver Bullet years of 1975-’82, recently shared this in a recent interview on the Omelette & Finster Show:
“Bob had expectations and he wanted things done a certain way,” Abbott said. “I came from the blues and jazz world of improvisation. Seger wanted his guys to perform the songs the way they were recorded and if you veered from that he was not happy. When we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies I was asked to join him after not being in his band for more than 20 years. Well this was the band he was going to take out on the road for his first tour in years. During the playing of ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ I went off into a guitar solo that was not the recorded version. After the performance Seger told me I would not be a part of the tour.
“I am not being critical -- that is just the musical difference between us,” Abbott continued. “He is a genius and very few guys have ever treated band mates the way he did. He shared everything equally, and what is impressive is he did it all with a handshake. I didn’t have a contract and to this day he has honored that handshake and that says something about him not only as a musician but as a person.”
These are the types of stories that will be in the next book if there is ever one. The fact that they are missing from Weschler’s Travelin’ Man is no way a reflection on his book. Weschler never set out to capture the definitive Seger story; he simply wanted to give a reflection of his time with one of rock music’s greatest, and his book successfully accomplishes just that.
With the help of Gary Graff (he has been a music journalist on the Detroit scene since 1982 and currently contributes regularily to the Oakland Press), this is a well-written book that will help conjure up the reader’s own memories of seeing Seger live or simply listening to his music while making out in the back of a Chevy (ie. “Night Moves,” Seger’s best make-out tune).
The photographs tell Seger’s story. If Seger didn’t hook you with his lyrics he would reel you in with his smile. Weschler captures Seger’s infectious smile throughout his photos. From a Northern Michigan perspective it is also great to see a youthful Mike Parshall (owner of the former New Moon Records in downtown Traverse City for years) pictured in the book. Parshall was Seger’s first roadie and traveled with Seger through the ’70s. Other faces that are familiar to fans include Abbott (a 15-year TC resident) and sax player Alto Reed.
Another highlight is the historical perspective of Seger’s album covers. Weschler played a role in designing most of them and he offers commentary on the concepts of each one.
Two great rock stars also share their perspective on Seger. John Mellencamp writes the foreword and Kid Rock adds the afterword.
Both share the first time they heard a Bob Seger song. For Mellencamp it was in 1969, when at the age of 16 he was traveling down the road with four buddies and a Seger song came on the radio. He had the driver pull over ’til the song ended so he could hear the DJ announce who was singing the song. Mellencamp writes, “The song was ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man’… that night was the beginning of a long love affair with Bob Seger’s music.”
For the next generation of Seger fans Kid Rock sums it best, reflecting how “I’ve been spoon-fed Bob Seger from the time I was born… my parents would have parties and Seger was the soundtrack…he became part of my DNA.”
Travelin Man’ for now is as good as it gets for those looking to their hands on life inside Seger’s inner circle. Put “Live Bullet” on kick back and start “turning the pages” and enjoy the trip down memory lane, you won’t regret.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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