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 · Books · The Body in the Shoe Tree
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The Body in the Shoe Tree

Elizabeth Buzzelli - August 16th, 2010
The Body in the Shoe Tree
The Hanging Tree
By Bryan Gruley
Simon and Schuster - $15
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
I challenge you to read Bryan Gruley’s “The Hanging Tree” and then drive by the shoe tree on US 131 north of Kalkaska and not see a body hanging among the highest branches. As I drove passed the tree recently, there she was, Gruley’s Gracie McBride, swinging amid the sneakers and flip-flops. A truly sad and riveting image to begin a book.
In this second in Gruley’s Starvation Lake mystery series, Gus Carpenter, executive editor of the Starvation Lake Village newspaper, the Pine Country Pilot, is not only in trouble over negative stories that could cost the town a new hockey rink, but deeply involved in the mystery surrounding Gracie’s death. The verdict is suicide.
Gracie McBride used to live, over 20 years before, at Gus’ home. His mother, a sweet and caring woman, had taken the young girl in when her own mother was too involved with yet another man to look out for her own daughter. The thing is, Gus never really got along with Gracie and now there is, perhaps, a little guilt involved as Gus watches Gracie’s body swing high in the snow-covered branches. His married lover, a sheriff’s deputy, has to shut him out of the investigation or face losing her job. His newspaper has been pressuring him to tame his hockey rink stories down but Gus isn’t the kind of man who can turn his back on truth.
Quickly the people of Starvation Lake begin shouting “foul” over the verdict of suicide. Even Gus’ mom, who is growing older and having lapses of memory, still insists Gracie, a troubled girl to be sure, would never take her own life. Though she hadn’t seen her in the 18 years she’s been gone from town, his mother knows secrets that will eventually lead Gus to some hard places buried deep within the fabric of the town.

After finding little to explain Gracie’s death, Gus is certain “the answer was likely to be found somewhere other than Starvation Lake. Somewhere downstate . . .” where Gracie had gone to live so long before.
It is these 18 years that Gus is forced to resurrect, compelling him to face some of his own demons on a trip down to the Detroit area where he must retrace her past while reliving some of his own. Her past is not a gentle one. Her past is seamy and lurid. But what was there in that past to bring Gracie back to the village of Starvation Lake? And what was there in that past driving her to suicide? Or to something worse… being murdered?
The story really begins with this trip to Detroit. Past and present collide—for Gus and for Gracie. Sadness deepens as Gracie’s one real love slowly reveals itself. Gus’ investigation becomes a melancholy and vicious journey into deadly years where suicide or murder seem equally likely outcomes. Added to Gracie’s past is the rapid concern of a sports-mad village, hoping to get this new rink. A collision of interests must follow. It is up to Gus to weigh the truth and report what he knows even though doing so could cost him his job.
Our part of Northern Michigan seems to be getting a lot of literary attention lately with Jennifer Sowles novel “Admissions,” based in Building 50 and the surroundings of the old State Mental Hospital; with all the wonderful books by Jim Harrison; with Mardi Link’s award-winning “Isadore’s Secret”; Aaron Stander’s locally-based mysteries, and more books coming in daily that explore the secret and not so secret places in Northern Michigan. It seems, now with Gruley’s new series, to be a good time, even an historical time for the arts in and around Traverse City. New visual artists and photographers find us every month; writers, here for the National Writers’ Series, are drawn to our forests and lakes and people; Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival brings film makers and people who love film to the area for the first time.

As I write this review I’m sitting at a picnic table set on the beach of the real Starvation Lake, looking out on barely rippling waters where a single canoe glides passed two jutting points of land dividing the narrow lake. I can’t help wondering how this (I was going to say ‘bucolic’ but an editor has informed me that the word is overused so I’ll say . . . ) ‘tranquil’ setting has become the ersatz setting for so much murder and mayhem.
Speaking as a mystery writer I’m getting the feeling that writers and readers alike are tiring just a little of big city crime, gritty detectives, almost banal drug gangs, and murderers with little or no imagination. Maybe some real people are in order, with real grudges and novel ways of killing each other that only the truly creative folks back in the woods—maybe during an overly long winter—can think up.
As Gus Carpenter says, “I liked the lake in winter. . . the winter beach took me into a cocoon of wind and wet and cold that kept out the tinny claptrap surrounding the town’s preoccupations of the moment.”
Some of the true crime stories I’ve read from up here outdo almost all others for inventiveness. Why not deep woods and dark waters for dead bodies and new forms of evil? Why not a body hanging in the shoe tree?

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s latest mystery, “Dead Sleeping Shaman,” is in bookstores now.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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