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 · Devo this
. . . .

Devo this

Rick Coates - October 4th, 2010
Devo This: The Art of Mark Mothersbaugh
By Rick Coates
While Mark Mothersbaugh might not be a household name, his work
certainly is. From his work as the lead singer of Devo (“Whip It,
“Through Being Cool,” “Jocko Homo,”) to producing the jingles from
hundreds of commercials (Hawaiian Punch, Hershey’s, Coca-Cola,
McDonald’s, Nike, and Toyota) and several movie and TV soundtracks and
theme songs (Rugrats, PeeWee’s Playhouse), Mothersbaugh is near the
front of every Rolodex in Hollywood.
Devo and Mothersbaugh will not be making their way to Northern
Michigan anytime soon, but his visual art work will arrive Friday,
October 8, at the InsideOut Gallery in the Warehouse District in
downtown Traverse City. The InsideOut will offer an opening night
reception from 6 to 8 p.m. and Mothersbaugh has agreed to participate
via Skype to answer questions and comment on his work.
Mothersbaugh began his artistic adventures growing up in Akron, Ohio,
legally blind until a pair of correctional lenses gave him a new
vision of his surroundings. A strong believer that artists should not
limit themselves to one artistic medium, Mothersbaugh began pursuing
different visual arts mediums in school and carried that passion to
Kent State with him (he was at Kent State during the National Guard
shootings in 1970).
During his early touring days with Devo, Mothersbaugh  created
drawings on small postcard size sheets of paper. These drawings were
visual observations of the world around them. Sometimes he would
create 30 a day. He still maintains this daily ritual and his
exhibition of work is drawn from his many sketchings.
Mothersbaugh took time out to answer 10 questions about art,
commercials and the future of Devo:

Express: With your celebrity status, why is your work in a small town
at a gallery like the InsideOut, especially when you only do about 10
exhibitions a year?
Mothersbaugh: Well, because people like (gallery owner) Mike Curths
get it. I admire what they are doing; galleries like his are what is
keeping art alive today. I like using my celebrity status to help out
these galleries and I only exhibit in places like his. It carries
weight with the media as well when a small gallery owner calls and
says, “hey you might want to cover this exhibit -- it is the work of
the lead singer of Devo and I have an exclusive on it.” So this
gallery that otherwise goes unnoticed because it is not hanging pretty
impressionism pieces is now getting exposure.

Express: Okay, but why do the Skype Q& A?
Mothersbaugh: Look, I live in L.A. and the conversations around here
in the circles I travel are no longer about creating -- they are all
about the deal. You  are either talking about how you just got screwed
by someone over a business deal or you are talking about how big your
next deal will be. So when my schedule permits, I go to the openings
and in this case I can’t, so I am going to video conference. The
reason is because I am going to have conversations with people truly
interested in art and I love that.

Express: Have you ever visited or vacationed in Northern Michigan?
After all you grew up in Ohio.
Mothersbaugh: We used to stand at the border and look eagerly at
Michigan, wondering what was way up there. Growing up in Akron we made
tires, while Detroit got all the glory. We were Detroit wannabes.

Express: Many artists prefer their work not be functional but you do
not subscribe to that thought. Your rugs that will be on display
suggest you believe in arts functionality.
Mothersbaugh: Yes, exactly; with putting my art work on rugs the idea
came to me after I had this company make me a large welcome mat with
my company’s logo on it. As I kept walking over the rug and it was
getting battered, I liked the weathered look better than the original
look. I started thinking about public sculptures and how weather and
humans touching change the look of the piece over time. So I called
this rug company and asked if they could put my artwork on rugs. They
said, “No problem, but we make a lot of football rugs so don’t call us
during the football season.”
They are based in Kentucky and I am sure they get a kick out of every
time I call. I imagine some guy Bob saying, “Hey Chuck, it is that guy
from California and he want us to make some rugs with a couple of
birds shooting each other on it or that one that says ‘Are We Not

Express: What or who inspired you to pursue art?
Mothersbaugh: Andy Warhol was big when I was in school. He was so cool
and he was into making music, producing movies and creating visual
arts. I felt if I could be like Andy Warhol I would have all these
girls want to hang out with me as well.

Express: In high school, my art teacher told me that it was too bad
that schools were starting to eliminate art as a cost-saving measure.
She felt art was so important, that it taught students how to problem
solve. Your thoughts.
Mothersbaugh: Wow, too bad she was a vocal minority back then. It is
really sad to watch what our leaders have done to this country over
the past 20 years and the mess they have made from our wars, to the
debt, to the economy. To make matters worse, they are taking away
methods such as art in schools as a tool to help future generations
deal with the problems that these leaders have created.

Express: You have carved out quite the career making music for
television, movies and what might surprise some with commercials. It
seems sort of anti-Devo for you to be so commercialized.
Mothersbaugh: Look, I came from a generation and a time when hippies
and punks thought they could change the world. But what I found out
was that really no one was listening. I started looking around at who
really had the ability to change things and I found the answer was
Madison Avenue. People in the advertising business are capable of
changing peoples’ thought processes.
They have been quite successful of convincing people to buy a lot of
crap that they do not need. So I moved out to California 30-plus years
ago and set up shop with an idea to use commercials to change
mindsets. I started right away using subliminal messages in my music
with my first commercial. It was for Hawaiian Punch. I mixed in the
vocals “sugar is bad for you” over and over in the jingle. The
producers didn’t hear it so it aired as-is with that message. Next up
was Hershey’s Chocolate and I decided to make the sugar is bad for you
even louder. My partner could hear it and he chuckled and we figured
it would never fly because it was so obvious. Well, I was a little
scared when we were sitting around the conference table with Hershey
executives and the producers of the commercials. Well, almost in
unison they were bobbing their heads and tapping their pencils on the
table to the beat of ‘sugar is bad for you’ and they absolutely loved

Express: Thanks again, but before you run, what about the future of
Devo and how about the projects you are currently working on?
Mothersbaugh: Devo is alive and well. We just released a new album,
Something For Everybody, and we have been out touring. The need for
Devo is still out there -- it is obvious that our theory of
“de-evolution” is coming true. Just look around you. There is talk
that Devo will be on Celebrity Apprentice as well. For me, I have have
several commercials to create music for; four television shows to make
music for; and a couple of movie projects in the works. Plus my wife
and I have two young children who often ask why their father wears a
funny yellow suit with a flower pot on his head and goes on stage and
sings for people.

The Art of Mark Mothersbaugh will be on exhibit for the next month at
the InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City. On Friday, October 8, the
gallery will host an opening reception from 6 to 8 pm with Mark
Mothersbaugh participating in an audience Q&A via Skype
videoconferencing and there is no cost to the evening. For additional
details, find InsideOut Gallery on Facebook or call the gallery at
231.929.3254. To view a sampling of Mothersbaugh’s artwork check out

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