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 · Art · Chalice of Fire
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Chalice of Fire

Jeffray N. Kessler - May 3rd, 2010
Chalice of fire
In his convictions and his art, John T. Unger is a man of steel
By Jeffray N. Kessler
As he discusses art on the porch of his home outside of Mancelona, a
roofline shadow cast by the high afternoon sun splits sculptor John
Unger in half. The image is emblematic of a man whose talents are
bringing him success on two fronts. He is an internationally renowned
metal sculptor as well as a custom website consultant.
Unger greets each day scanning the horizon for the next big thing.
“When I wake up,” he says, “I first think of the things that must be
done, those that should be done and those I feel like doing.”
This daybreak philosophy has worked well for the 42-year-old who grew
up on Torch Lake and started out as a poet and graphic designer.
You’ll find metal sculptures in various stages of completion and a
line of large, rust-ensconced bowls at Unger’s studio, workshop and
home on M66, just south of Eddy School Road outside of Mancelona.
These are the “Great Bowls of Fire,” made from the ends of propane
tanks -- the large “pigs” that are common at homesites throughout
Northern Michigan.
“One day I was ‘shopping’ in a scrap yard and saw one of these tank
ends cut off and I asked myself, ‘What else could this be?’ How could
I *misinterpret* this in a useful manner?’ That’s when I got the
idea,” Unger recalls.

The result are large bowls, the edges of which are plasma-cut into
flames, waves and other designs. There is a hole cut in the bottom
for water drainage, and they are perfect chalices for fire or
fountains for gardens, decks and commercial settings.
Thanks to e-commerce and the Internet, Unger’s work can be found in
private homes, restaurants and hotels around the world, with orders
from Ireland, England, the Caribbean and Hawaii, among other places.
Originally sold in galleries, 95% of his sales are now over the
Internet and out of state. Demand for the bowls is now in its fifth
Unger says it’s ironic, using a fuel storage device for a product that
encapsulates fire. “There is a beautiful poetry about it. This is the
kind of pattern to look for in creativity. Pattern recognition is
key. I am not looking for what things are supposed to do. Instead, I
try to figure out how to deal with constraints and make them work for
Blogging about his work led to increased sales. “I started because I
just wanted better software and to sell my work globally. Blogging
has made me a success,”
That initiation led to his becoming a website designer for a time. He
has authored “coding” tutorials that allow people to customize and
improve their websites with nonstandard characteristics. “Like my art,
this was another case of reinterpreting something I saw. I got paid
rather well for being me and having fun.”

Unger has paid his dues, however. His success began with collapse.
In 1999, he suffered through the catastrophic cave-in of the dot.com
industry and lost his job. The year after, while removing the snow
from his roof (a foreclosed minimart), it collapsed.
“I literally rode it down,” he recalls. “I found myself in an
unheated building, in the dead of winter, in the middle of nowhere. I
started doubting myself and I thought about quitting my art.”
Ironically, it was art that lead to his revival. The bank that held
the financing on his collapsed home took an interest in his art and
struck a deal. Soon, he began buying the equipment he needed to do
his metal work. He currently is enjoying a more secure base. The
lesson, he said, “is to be willing to work hard, fail and not give
On the horizon for Unger is the expansion of his fire bowl line to
include diminutive bowls mounted on chalice-like bases made from
smaller propane tanks. He’s also creating torches cut out of fire
extinguishers; a new bowl made from welding two tank ends together;
and artwork that utilizes metal cutouts from his bowls.

Unger has also explored developing a venture capital fund for artists,
and envisions creating a website that would provide support for public
“As an artist, I have always felt that an artist has to communicate
something meaningful,” Unger says. In his case, communication takes
place on his twice-weekly blog-cast Internet radio show. “I have been
re-energized by this project. It is a new path of creativity, and I’d
like people to learn how to do good things for themselves as artists.
For years I’ve been giving advice to other artists, now I am making a
formal commitment,” he says.
The radio shows are ‘aired’ at 9 p.m. eastern time at
http://www.artheroesradio.com. His Tuesday night show always includes
an interview, while the Thursday night show is a call-in format.
“It’s an opportunity to talk to the most interesting people in the
world: artists, authors, cartoonists, broadcasters, entrepreneurs...”
Recently, Unger attended the Texas music and media conference, South
by Southwest, where he was a panelist speaking on the topic of
“Millionaire or Artist; How About Both?” His presentation addressed
art and business.
“There is a lot of snake oil out there being fed to artists. My
message will never be that. It will convey the hard work and
sometimes difficult paths to success. There are some people who
should not even take this path.”
On the heels of a severe recession, Unger sees new opportunities, just
as he sees art where others see scrap iron.
“The landscape is shifting,” he says. “The new economy will no longer
depend on the big corporations and all that job dependency. Instead
it will require *independency.* Individuals with the proper skills
and courage will need to find something that people want, and know how
to bring it to them.”
With his ability to see and communicate, John Unger is poised and
willing to support that movement.

Check out John Unger’s website at www.johntunger.com.

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