Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Easyt meets West: Chinese journalist Li Jin on her move to Northern Michigan

Rick Coates - February 22nd, 2010
East Meets West: Chinese music journalist Li Jin
on her move to Northern Michigan
By Rick Coates
Li Jin, a music editor and senior journalist with Music Weekly, the Chinese publication that covers the music scene both within and outside the People’s Republic of China, has been in Northern Michigan for the past week working on an article about Interlochen Center For The Arts. Jin felt the story on Interlochen would be relevant to the 40 million students of music in China and that their parents would be interested in what Interlochen has to offer.
Last week Jin spoke to an audience at Interlochen about life and music and China during their Cultural Revolution, and in particular, life after the death of longtime leader Mao Zedong. Jin said it is an exciting time in China right now as they balance their cultural heritage with many western influences.
This spring in China, Jin is marrying Dr. James Quinlan, an eye surgeon with Traverse Eye. The couple will reside on the Old Mission Peninsula where Jin will continue her writing career; and couple plans to start a family. Here is the second part of her interview and insights on the differences between the cultures of China and the United States.

Northern Express: In general American youth have less interest in classical music today than previous generations, their focus is more on popular music when studying and learning to play musical instruments. Is this happening in China as well?
Li Jin: I think it is a common social phenomenon for all countries that classical music becomes an acquired taste of aged favor. But, I also think that Asian countries have more potential to develop classical music, perhaps especially in China. This is a function of an ‘older’ culture and consciousness, perhaps, and perhaps this bias is more ‘Confucian’.
In the major cities of China, Almost every child studies ‘serious’ music: no matter (with) western instruments or folk instruments. Please look, we have 40 million children who are actively, seriously, studying music. I think, and I say this seriously, that future of Western classical music is in no small part under the patronage of China, and tied into the future of China.

NE: There seems to be an emerging rock and roll music scene in China.
Li Jin: I think many Chinese do not know what rock and roll means. Yet, in some ways, the same may be true in part as they go to the classical concert hall. Often they may not really know what they really are listening to. With the rise of more Western tastes in China today, people sometimes go to concert hall or go to rock and roll performance just for the superficial reasons they take western music or pop as fashion and trend. And much of it is easy to like: like KFC or the cheeseburger, it sometimes has more appeal than it is truly nutritious.

NE: Okay, but with many western influences making their way into China, why have many rock acts not performed there?
Li Jin: The reason that the Rolling Stones, U2 or other major acts have not been able to perform in China, as far as I know: we just may not have as the broad cultural basis for rock and roll in China as western countries. Rock presumes the centrality of the individual, and is about ‘expectations’. Chinese tend to live in linkage, over time and history. These are very different phenomena, though in some ways complementary.
The second reason is perhaps practical, in that our performing/booking agencies have not enough experience to handle such well known, mega-pop acts as big business.
The third reason that rock and roll does not have strong roots in China is that it is hard to let this tree to grow bigger. It is still an exotic, a minority, without true roots in our consciousness or history. It takes time for any tree to grow bigger, and not all trees grow well in all climates.

NE: With so much western influence in China, does the government support music and the arts for open study or are there guidelines and restrictions for performers?
Li Jin: Yes, our government used to support music and art for open study, but now more music and artistic institutions and companies have to be obliged to the market, to market forces. There are certain restrictions for the performers, such as indecent, anti-governmental shows, etc. Many of these values are cultural, often rooted in centuries of traditions, such as the balance and order and harmony of Confucianism, and may be better seen in that light than in merely against the backdrop of current political trends.

NE: You are getting ready to marry Dr. Quinlan and move to the United States. what are your plans for work; will you continue to write for the Music Weekly?
Li Jin: As for planning to move to U.S, I do not have accurate day yet. You know that I have my career here in China; it will take time to prepare for having a new family in a different country. I would like to continue to write articles for my newspaper, also to teach music. I am writing a book on Jewish music; it is an academic book that chronicles Jewish music written by Chinese. I hope to finish the book by the end of the year. I also have some other books I am interested in writing. But first I am looking forward to getting acclimated to my new home here.

NE: Dr. Quinlan, how did you and Li Jin meet?
Dr. Quinlan: Jin and I met through the kind intercession of a third party, a composer friend who had a strong (and accurate) sense that we would make a good match. Jin and I began a tentative, stuttering correspondence over a year ago. She has very good English, is worldly and incisive. At first we each intimidated the other.

NE: When did you propose and how did her family react?
Dr. Quinlan: I proposed to her in Beijing this past November. I met her parents, brother, sisters, brothers-in-law at that time as well. If one is courting the favored daughter/sister, and one is from a different culture and race, then one is always going to need to win approval and acceptance.
I am Irish Catholic, her cultural background is from up Lanzhou way, Buddhist tradition, up on the old Silk Road in the north, west of Beijing several hundred miles and higher in elevation. Fortunately, Jin’s family proved to be warm, supportive and loving towards me. I think that Jin’s happiness was my salvation in this process with her family.

NE: Will you get married in China and how do you think Li Jin will like living in Northern Michigan?
Dr Quinlan: We intend to marry in Hangzhou in the spring, with her family, and then go to Beijing to spend time with her comrades and then Traverse City (my mates) for wedding festivities.
I hope that she will find living up in the vineyards and orchards of Old Mission a suitable place to begin her family and new life. Jin is a resilient, flexible and a creative woman, but also one who is used to living in one of the top cultural and artistic centers of the world. I am totally confident that she will find her niche here in this special place. She has more books to write, and I have more than a few years of medicine, surgery and consulting left in me.
We hope for two children and that by speaking Mandarin at home, and by sharing such diverse and loving parents, that our children will be prepared to enter and help to guide a world that is no longer East or West, but is instead the refinement of the best elements of each.

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