Letters 10-17-2016

Here’s The Truth The group Save our Downtown (SOD), which put Proposal 3 on the ballot, is ignoring the negative consequences that would result if the proposal passes. Despite the group’s name, the proposal impacts the entire city, not just downtown. Munson Medical Center, NMC, and the Grand Traverse Commons are also zoned for buildings over 60’ tall...

Keep TC As-Is In response to Lynda Prior’s letter, no one is asking the people to vote every time someone wants to build a building; Prop. 3 asks that people vote if a building is to be built over 60 feet. Traverse City will not die but will grow at a pace that keeps it the city people want to visit and/or reside; a place to raise a family. It seems people in high-density cities with tall buildings are the ones who flock to TC...

A Right To Vote I cannot understand how people living in a democracy would willingly give up the right to vote on an impactful and important issue. But that is exactly what the people who oppose Proposal 3 are advocating. They call the right to vote a “burden.” Really? Since when does voting on an important issue become a “burden?” The heart of any democracy is the right of the people to have their voice heard...

Reasons For NoI have great respect for the Prop. 3 proponents and consider them friends but in this case they’re wrong. A “yes” vote on Prop. 3 is really a “no” vote on..

Republican Observations When the Republican party sends its presidential candidates, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people with a lot of problems. They’re sending criminals, they’re sending deviate rapists. They’re sending drug addicts. They’re sending mentally ill. And some, I assume, are good people...

Stormy Vote Florida Governor Scott warns people on his coast to evacuate because “this storm will kill you! But in response to Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that Florida’s voter registration deadline be extended because a massive evacuation could compromise voter registration and turnout, Republican Governor Scott’s response was that this storm does not necessitate any such extension...

Third Party Benefits It has been proven over and over again that electing Democrat or Republican presidents and representatives only guarantees that dysfunction, corruption and greed will prevail throughout our government. It also I believe that a fair and democratic electoral process, a simple and fair tax structure, quality health care, good education, good paying jobs, adequate affordable housing, an abundance of healthy affordable food, a solid, well maintained infrastructure, a secure social, civil and public service system, an ecologically sustainable outlook for the future and much more is obtainable for all of us...

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Lost in Detroit

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - August 31st, 2009
Lost in Detroit
Short stories dust up urban grit

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli 8/31/09

The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit
By Michael Zadoorian
WSU Press - $18.95

It’s exciting to read something truly new, passionate stories woven as if from the web of the writer’s being. That’s what is found in Michael Zadoorian’s The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit.
These newly envisioned stories of Detroit come at you without apology for the gritty language of the city, the racism, the madness of everyday life. The whiff of ‘presence,’ of being there, grabs at your throat. I was compelled to read on by an author who knows how to involve readers with his implied promise: Stay with me here. I’ve got something new to show you.
In ‘The World of Things’ the son of a recently-dead mother has been tantalized for years by the kitschy detritus of her life, kept in a locked basement. My mother put a lock on our basement door when she decided I was after everything she owned, her son says. He is a collector of all things from the early ‘60s, that era when my parents were in their prime, living in a good white middle-class Detroit neighborhood.
He collects his mother’s memories, in the guise of Danish Modern and limned-oak furniture; things ludicrously self-serious with their commitment to the well-living of the American dream as if collecting her -- in bits and pieces. What he finds in that basement, kept from him for so long, is a rebuke for trifling with other people’s lives, and a slap at his need to collect what his mother once valued -- the bits and pieces that defined her, for reasons having nothing to do with family memory but having much to do with separating himself from his heritage.

Everything of urban life is here; nothing is glossed over. The stories are raw -- not with the fear and danger of a fallen city -- but with the human beings who inhabit that city and make it their home. I’m invisible, a homeless man declares on a downtown bus as he flashes his penis at the riders in the story ‘The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit.’ An elderly husband and wife from Detroit, who closely depend on each other, suffer loss at a ‘Mystery Spot’ while traveling to California. In ‘The Listening Room,’ a young man learns the secrets of sex through his parents’ famous lucky bed, but finds none of the answers. In ‘To Sleep,’ a woman euthanizes animals for a living.
“The worst part is what we call ‘ghosting,’ she says. That flicker in their eyes just a second after the Pentothal reaches the viscera, that moment, that last hundredth of a second of being as it folds into what comes after. The look in their eyes, during the wiping away of life, burns in on your soul like a klieg light on the retina.” She visits the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, on the Day of the Dead, when death is celebrated, the dead walk, and families gather in damp cemeteries. She joins the festivities through an altar in her hotel room; an expiation of her guilt.
There is much of the collector here. For very different reasons the characters collect graffiti in destroyed Detroit buildings, or collect the 1960s, or memories of Detroit’s vanished tiki palaces like the Mauna Loa, which I remember just as Zadoorian describes: 1250 Chinese coins embedded in the Lucite bar-top and bar tables made from brass hatch covers from trading schooners. A waterfall scurried down a mountainette of volcanic lava into a grotto lush with palm trees and flaming tikis. The waiters wore Mandarin jackets and turbans as they served you.
The Mauna Loa opened less than a month after the 1967 riots tore Detroit apart, and closed two years later.

In the story ‘War Marks’ a WWII soldier faces the spoils of war he had collected: “I knew about the souvenirs gathered during the war. My first glimpse of the enemy was of their dead, Jap soldiers lying in impossible positions, shirts ripped open, pants half off, slain and bare-assed in the mud. The flags and swords now hanging in rec rooms and workshops and finished basements and war rooms.” He discovers age has turned him into a different man, not the soldier any more: “I started looking for the flag I took from the body of my first Jap. When I finally found the thing, it looked different. I looked at the symbols smeared on it, and at the stain, and suddenly I didn’t want to put it up in our basement. It felt like something I had misplaced for five decades. Something that didn’t belong to me.” He begins his hunt for the family of the slain man through a Detroit translating store, needing to return his blood-stained flag.
This, and a few others in this collection, seemed to scream at me not to dare enter -- that I was in the hands of a master prose-maker who would grab me by the throat and make me see things and places I might not want to see. Like those tricky pictures where you have to narrow your eyes to get at the real picture hidden beneath the obvious, these stories take you to places inside that are almost indescribable -- almost. Except in Michael Zadoorian’s hands. As Madge, the Parkinson’s victim painter says in ‘Dyskinesia’ as she crudely slashes paint at a canvas, vibrating with uncontrollable internal energy -- arms and legs doing a jerky electric dance, “You’ve got to use it” she says.” Otherwise it’s just wasted energy, nothing.”
Zadoorian uses his city, and his talent, to paint a picture of what is, as it truly is, and finds its pockets of beauty, its stolid citizens, its places of the heart. Just as the bus riders -- black and white -- begin to laugh together when saved from the frightening penis-waver on the city bus, there is hidden hope revealed. Warts turn out to be only warts -- not cancer. People are only people -- not ogres. In Zadoorian’s hands Detroit is safe, painted with a silvery luster that falls just short of love.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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