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 · Features · Meet The Advice Goddess
. . . .

Meet The Advice Goddess

Erin Crowell - February 8th, 2010
Write On!The Advice Goddess brings her wit & wisdom to Northern Michigan
By Erin Crowell
Amy Alkon, syndicated columnist, humorist and author, will tell youhow it is – and she’ll do it with ferocity and flare. Her “Advice
Goddess” column has appeared in over 100 newspapers, including theNorthern Express, where her sharp wit and candid humor has earned herdedicated readers – along with a few critics.Alkon will appear as a guest speaker at this year’s National WritersSeries, at the City Opera House, on February 11. She will discusseverything from her weekly column to her newest book, I See Rude
People: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society.
Recently, the Express caught up with Alkon via phone while she was at
her home in Los Angeles. Here’s what the busy redhead had to say:

NE: How did you come up with the idea for a book on rudeness?
Alkon: Well as you know, I’m from Michigan and I actually spent a
great deal of my summers as a kid up there. We would go to camp
Michigania on Walloon Lake and go around to all the places up there,
like Boyne.
I’m from the Detroit suburbs and people are much more decent where you
guys are; and I’ve experienced what it’s like for much of my life to
be around nice, decent people; and then, all of a sudden at some
point—maybe 10 years ago—I just woke up and realized we’re all living
in Mean Land. Very stressful, we’ve become the ME, ME, ME! Generation
and people are just behaving very odiously to each other and this made
me very upset and I had to do something about it -- One second, let me
just tell my little neighbor I’m home. (In the background) Hello miss
Lilly, aww, thanks for the hug. (back on the phone) She gives the best
hugs. They’re very well mannered children because their mother teaches
them to care about other people.

NE: Speaking of that, I loved the chapter on underparenting.
Alkon: Oh yes, I did a reading here in Roman’s in L.A. Oh, (the sound
of a small dog barking in the background) Lucy stop that. Naughty. No
noise. (Lucy stops barking -- back on the phone) Okay, we’re back.
So this reporter comes who’s going to do a piece on me and no sooner
do I start talking about kids—I think she’s a bad mother, maybe. Or
she feels like I classify her as one—and she threw a tantrum and
stormed out of the reading. But, this is the thing: I love hecklers. I
had a heckler in Portland and she sat in the middle of the front row
and stared at me with a look of hate on her face. In the middle of the
reading she finally says, ‘You’re rude!’ and I actually—the funny
thing is—all I could say was, ‘well, yes I am. You know, I’m very
rude. We’re all rude. I try to recognize the way I’m a jerk and try to
be better. We’re all human.’ So, I really love those people who do
that, who make it really fun.
Sorry, you were asking me?…I got off on a tangent.

NE: That’s okay, actually I was going to say that you have a lot of
critics out there. Like you mention in your book, people who say
really awful things. How do you deal with that?
Alkon: Oh yeah, in my advice column I get people who write me, ‘Dear
Bitch,’ you know? I’m used to this. If you can’t take criticism, you
can’t write things. The moment you put stuff out there, someone’s
going to tell you you’re a bad writer, that you’re ugly, that you look
like a man, whatever. I mean, people say the worst things. I’m a big
free speacher, so I really want people to communicate whatever it is.
So, I don’t mind that stuff.

NE: What would you say is the difference between standing up to
somebody and just being a plain bitch? Where does the line draw?
Alkon: Well, the coffee place I go to, they have a drink called
Witches Brew and I’m like, (in a sing-song voice) ‘Aww, they named it
after meee.’
Anyway, I don’t just go around shouting at people. There’s a purpose.
Basically, they’re stealing from the rest of us, and that’s what
rudeness is. But what people steal from us is our time, our peace of
mind, a good night’s sleep. We need to recognize these things so we
can say ‘Hey, you can’t do that. You can’t victimize me. You can’t
stand here in the drugstore line and be on your cell phone and scream
your dull life into my brain.’ So it’s reactive. It’s a defensive.
You’re defending against a bad thing rather than just lashing out at

NE: In your column, when you get a question worth answering, how do
you go about the process of finding an answer? Do you actually have a
process or is it just kind of common sense for you?
Alkon: Well, actually I do all kinds of research and I read the
same journals, I go to the conferences – anthropology, psychology,
sexology, other fields that are related, so I really know my stuff.
And I just felt a responsibility after starting out giving free advice
on street corners as a joke, that I’d better learn something.
I didn’t go to school for psychology. But I read everything: Freud,
Fritz Perls…and then I discovered Albert Ellis, who is really the
father of cognitive behavioral therapy. He’s dead now, but he was
something of a mentor. Using reason to solve emotional problems,
that’s the basis. Then I used data from studies. I know how to read
studies and I’m able to translate sort of ivory tower research that
you’d never see and put it in my columns in a way that’s
understandable to the average person, so they can use it to make a
difference in their life.

NE: Who do you go to for advice?
Alkon: Oh, well myself. I mean, if I couldn’t go to me for advice,
what would I be worth? I use reason. My first shot at solving any
problems is, ‘am I thinking rationally on this? What’s logical?’ I
have standards. I have ethical standards. This is the problem with
many people who write me. They have no ethics, no standard, no value,
so they don’t know how to behave.
Then there are people I trust. My boyfriend Gregg is incredibly wise,
so I’ll ask him for all sorts of advice on things I know he’s better
at giving. I’m the kind of person who likes to be told I’m wrong, but
only by people whose minds I respect.
Also, my little sister. She’s wise.

NE: What’s the age difference between the two of you?
Alkon: My sister and me? Umm, I think it’s five years. I never
remember. I barely remember how old I am. I only remember because
people in L.A. don’t tell their age and I don’t want to be associated
with that. So I know I’m 45, and I can tell people I’m 45. And I don’t
use Botox, and never intend to. I plan to wrinkle. You see 70-year-old
women in this town and their faces look like a bowling ball. It’s

NE: Another reporter here, Anne Stanton, is actually interviewing Gregg.
Alkon: Oh, she is? Oh, I met her.

NE: She’s interviewing Gregg, and–
Alkon: About me? Or something else?

NE: Well, that’s what I was going ask. I’m guessing she would ask him
some questions about you. Are you worried about that?
Alkon: Oh, no. He would never say anything to hurt me. He’s very
funny. This is probably TMI, but I have ADD or ADHD and he completely
gets me. Before he asks me something important he says, ‘Do I have
your completely divided attention?’ (laughs).
Yeah, he’s great. We’ve been together for seven years—in case you’re
going to ask this—and personally I don’t believe in marriage, I don’t
have kids… but I don’t believe in marriage for myself or living
together. So we live apart. We’re sort of dating and so I always miss
him. And every morning I can’t wait to talk to him on the phone. He
shot the cover of my book.

NE: So do you plan on staying in that stage of just living separately?
Alkon: Well, it doesn’t feel like a stage. ‘Stage’ sounds so bad. It
sounds like you’re on your way to juvey hall or something. We’re just
happy. I don’t see any reason to do anything differently.
Personally, I think relationships end because people get bored with
each other. We’re not bored with each other. I never thought I’d be
with someone this long, because I get bored easily. But he’s smart and
interesting and he’s very sweet.

NE: So do you guys have any plans for Valentine’s Day?
Alkon: I hate Valentine’s Day. It’s so stupid. No, in fact I forgot it
was Valentine’s. I find it our national day of insincerity. People who
are horrible to each other all year ‘round will spend money on, I
don’t know, chocolate crap for each other, or some night in some
But my boyfriend is sweet to me all the time. He’s romantic. We danced
in my doorway the other day. That’s our life all week. People who let
their relationships go and take them for granted, they’re the ones who
need Valentine’s Day. I think people should make every day Valentine’s
Day -- if that doesn’t sound too sappy.

NE: You’re coming up for the National Writers Series. Are you excited
about returning to your vacation area?
Alkon: Actually, the coolest thing is the Northern Express was the
second paper to pick me up and I’ve been in your paper for like, a
really long time, and I know people there and I like people in
Northern Michigan.
Hagerty used to be my classic car insurance company. They’re really
nice. I mean, I’m just happy to come up there, and also happy for this
cause. Plus, I’m really excited because up there, they have been
writing to me for years and years and years; and I wanna meet some of
them. It’s just a thrill.

NE: What kinds of questions do you get on a regular basis?
Alkon: Insane! Totally insane! This guy—I haven’t done the column
yet—but his girlfriend wrote me because he has a fetish –well it’s not
really a fetish, but a perihelia – but he likes to see her in wet blue
jeans and she wants to break up with him; and her sister says she
should. It’s like, okay, it’s not like he’s binding you and hanging
you from the chandelier. But, is getting in the bathtub with a pair of
blue jeans a really sick and horrible thing for you? She really likes
the guy, this is nuts. It might be a little weird. But many people are

NE: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your book?
Alkon: At the root of manners is empathy. It’s caring about other
people – knowing that other people exist, and not inflicting yourself
on others.

The National Writers Series hosts Amy Alkon at the City Opera House,
in Traverse City, on February 11. Alkon will discuss her book “I See
Rude People,” along with her experience writing as a nationally
syndicated advice columnist. The event features complimentary Indiancurries and food from Wellington Street Market, chocolates, music,silent auction and free tarot card reading. Doors open at 6 p.m., withthe event starting at 7 p.m. Afterglow reception to follow, along withpersonal book signing with Alkon. Tickets, $20 at the door, $15 forseniors, $10 for students, with discounts available for advancetickets. Visit CityOperaHouse.org or TreatTickets.com. Moreinformation on the National Writers Series available at

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5