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 · Random Thoughts · So long to Smoky...
. . . .

So long to Smoky Joe‘s Cafe

Robert Downes - June 21st, 2010
So long, Smoky Joe’s Cafe
I’ve been hanging out in smoky joints most of my life and have
probably inhaled enough second-hand cigarette smoke to fill a
But for many years I didn’t mind. Back in my college days in Detroit a
few ultra-smoky hang-outs that come to mind included the old Aorta
Bar, Cobb’s Corner, TJ’s, Coral Gables, the 20 Grand, West Side Six,
Silverbird, AC Lindell, Trainer’s, the Wagon Wheel and a couple dozen
other places that have long since disappeared in the haze of memory
and Marlboros. Those were the days, my friends, we thought they’d
never end; but now most of those dives are long gone -- and probably a
lot of the people who smoked in them too.
I’ve got a similar list of ‘usual suspects’ here in Northern
Michigan that have provided many an entertaining (and smoky) evening
through the years. Beyond the good times and the wet stuff, all of
those places had two things in common. One, the light was always dim
enough so that every woman looked like a Victoria’s Secret model along
about midnight if you were a single man and had downed a few beers.
The other common denominator has been the smoke. When friends used to
complain about some Smoky Joe’s Cafe sort of place, I’d point out the
bright side: they didn’t have to lay out $5 or more for a pack of
cigarettes -- they could just breathe in the smog and get a nicotine
high while enjoying their dinner or the band.
Yet even though I prided myself as being tough enough to take it, as
the years went by that nasty second-hand smoke started to become more
of a turnoff. Beyond your reeking clothes was the sensation that even
your skin had a greasy patina of grime exhaled from someone’s lungs
that had to be scrubbed off once you got home. My wife and I stopped
going to a couple of our
favorite places because they got even smokier as the years went by; as
other restaurants and bars started going cold turkey, the
anti-smoking movement drove even more smokers into our favorite
haunts, pushing us out the door.
So it’s been interesting to revisit some of those places during the
past few weeks since Michigan’s smoking ban went into effect. You
find yourself experiencing a strange sensation: you can breathe.
We went to a particularly notorious club with a low-hanging ceiling
the other night and it was a breath of fresh air to finally be able to
enjoy the place without a dense cloud of someone’s lung-wheeze
settling around your shoulders. Same deal at a concert a few nights
later -- it felt almost healthy hanging out at a nightclub. Then we
went to a smoky old diner in our neighborhood for the first time in 15
years because you no longer have the impulse to gag over breakfast
These days, you see crowds of people standing outside the bars
downtown now that the ‘smoking lounge’ has moved out on the sidewalk.
The bar owners I’ve talked to haven’t seen any big fall-off in
business, although one can imagine that the places that distinguished
themselves as the final holdout smoke pits may have a time of it
getting their old clientele back. Perhaps their business will even
boom as soon as it sinks in with non-smokers that it’s safe to go out
to dinner or a show at places that have kicked Smoky Joe’s habit.
Worth noting, in 1915 public health officials mounted an awareness
campaign to stamp out spitting in America in order to limit the spread
of tuberculosis. Hard to believe, but the time-honored practice of
spitting in a barroom or even on your kitchen floor was gradually
eliminated, and eventually it even got to be uncool to spit on the
sidewalk, if you can imagine. The anti-spitting movement played hell
on the spittoon industry, but that’s the price of progress.
So perhaps that’s the way that the time-honored practice of smoking
will go too, and it will eventually become as uncool to puff your
ciggies outside a bar or restaurant as it is to spit on the floor
inside. If nothing else, people will smell better.

Ain’t it a shame
The current issue of Rolling Stone is bemoaning the fact that this is
the worst summer in a decade for concert sales.
Limp Bizket, The Eagles, Christina Aguilera and the like have
cancelled shows for lack of ticket sales and, “artists catering to
every type of audience are dealing with empty seats.”
This is just a wild guess, but could it be because those of us who go
to these big concerts downstate are sick of getting hosed and we’re
not going to take it anymore?
These days it’s the norm for artists such as The Eagles, Madonna,
Roger Waters and the like to charge $75-$150 per ticket. Then there’s
the $6 or more “handling charge” for each ticket, the mailing fee, the
$12 parking fee, the $6 soft drink, $8 beer, etc.
And for the privilege of spending $300 or more to catch a concert with
your sweetheart, chances are you will have to stand up the entire show
because there are always a few lamebrains in the front row who won‘t
sit down and that causes a chain reaction that runs through the entire

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