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 · Music · Blissful John Hiatt
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Blissful John Hiatt

Rick Coates - July 5th, 2010
Blissful John Hiatt: Songwriting powerhouse headlines 30th BlissFest
By Rick Coates
John Hiatt’s musical career has woven its way through several musical genres over the past 36 years including rock and roll, blues, new wave, country and folk. As a songwriter his tunes have been covered by Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Paula Abdul, Iggy Pop, Jimmy Buffett, Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson and Keith Urban, to name a few.
Despite being a hit-maker for others, Hiatt has never achieved the mainstream status of the many who have recorded his songs. He has been labeled “The American Elvis Costello,” and often draws comparison to Bruce Springsteen by musical critics. The unassuming singer/songwriter has found his own way to hang on to a musical career that includes 19 albums and legions of dedicated fans.
Hiatt will headline the 30th Annual Blissfest this weekend, performing on the main stage Saturday night. It will be his first visit to Bliss and he is looking forward to it.
“We have played Northern Michigan before but never Bliss; (I’ve) heard a lot of good things about this festival and we are honored that they have asked us to be a part of the 30th festival,” said Hiatt. “We can be pretty blissful so I am sure we will fit in.”

He and his band plan to get a little golf in and enjoy some of the festival as well. Hiatt is out touring in support of his latest CD The Open Road. One might be under the impression that the album about life out on the road touring, but Hiatt says it goes beyond that.
“On one hand it is about my life touring because that is what I have been doing for the past 26 years,” said Hiatt. “But these songs are about experiences I have had along the way. The songs are more about looking for the open road and seeing what happens.”
Hiatt is not known for concept albums, so is this his first?
“No I do not believe in concept or theme albums,” said Hiatt. “If it seems like a theme album, it is purely by accident.”
With songs like the title track, “Haulin,” “Like A Freight Train,” and “Movin’ On” there is a common thread to the CD Open Road. All of the major music publications have ranked this work among some of the best in Hiatt’s career, giving the CD a four and five star rating.
His songwriting talents are known throughout the industry, but Hiatt chuckles when people suggest he is a master at his craft.
“I would describe my songwriting approach as pretty lazy. I wish I was as dedicated as guys like Bob Seger who head off to their studio everyday and write,” said Hiatt. “I am just casual about it. I built this writing shed on my property that is now a studio and whenever I get a hankering I make my way there.”

So what approach does one of the best songwriters of the past 30 years take to create his masterpieces?
“I start playing around on the guitar until I get a melody and chords that I can connect to,” said Hiatt. “Then I start jotting down a bunch of nonsense. After awhile there is usually a line or two from all that nonsense that I can use. So that is how I write a song.”
With so many others recording his songs, does Hiatt set out to write music for others?
“No, I write songs for me. People have asked me to write songs for them, but I am not that kind of writer,” said Hiatt. “So what happens is people hear one of my songs and since it has been recorded, they don’t have to ask my permission, they just have to pay me royalties so often I don’t know when someone is going to record one of my songs. It is kind of amazing to think that Bob Dylan is listening to my CD and then records my song, “The Usual.” I have been fortunate to have written songs that have connected with other artists. That was never my intention, it just happened.”
Is there one song that has been covered that is his favorite?
“It is hard to say, ‘Have Little Faith In Me’ recorded by Joe Cocker and so many others stands out,” said Hiatt. “That song has held up through the years and through many interpretations.”
Hiatt has connected with so many musical genres his music is often hard to label.
“Oh not really, just call it American roots rock,” said Hiatt.

Having faced several personal tragedies in his life from divorce, alcoholism, and having his second wife commit suicide, Hiatt’s life of the past 23 years has played out better. He is happily married, alcohol-free and carrying the American songwriting laureate torch passed to him from Dylan.
Hiatt often finds himself performing on late night talk shows. David Letterman, a big fan, had Hiatt on a couple of months ago to debut the title track from The Open Road. He is also much in demand at venues throughout the country. Hiatt says he loves touring, and unlike many of his music colleagues he still prefers the tour bus.
“I don’t know how these guys do it, the ones who fly from gig to gig. I know the big names have private jets but the others that fly commercial. I find airports exhausting,” said Hiatt. “I prefer the tour bus, it is relaxing and you get to see the landscape. I arrive at each show relaxed and ready perform. I don’t see that happening trying to fly to every gig.”
Now in his late 50’s Hiatt has no plans of slowing down.
“I feel very fortunate to have music choose me. I really believe that I didn’t choose this. it chose me. As long as people keep coming to the shows and feel a connection to my music, I am going to be out there. I love the road, the open road and performing. It is what I do; it is really all that I know how to do.”

John Hiatt and his band will trek across the open road of Canada some 700 miles to arrive at Blissfest. They will perform Saturday night on the main stage. For a complete list of performers, to get information on tickets for the 30th Annual Blissfest go to www.blissfest.org

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