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..

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Relatively speaking/It?s All Relative By Wade Rouse

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - February 28th, 2011
Relatively Speaking memoir is a family affair
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
It’s All Relative
By Wade Rouse
Crown Publishers

The thing about Wade Rouse’s new memoir “It’s All Relative,” is that you shouldn’t expect a clown show. Maybe his last memoir, “At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream,” began with a raccoon on his head but don’t expect this one to be all snickers and titters, though, of course, they’re in here too.
The ‘relatives’ of the title are his mother, father, extended Ozark family, friends, and his lover, Gary. The encounters with all of them are viewed not with a jaundiced eye, poking fun, but with loving honesty about the people of his life and about himself.
The book takes a look at a year of celebrations — not from any one year but celebrations from all the years of his life beginning with past New Year’s Eves, to Oscar Parties, Ash Wednesdays, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Easter, Secretary’s Day, Barbie’s Birthday, Halloween and, of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas. All those holidays we dread and look forward to and keep in our memories for the sweetness of them and for the disappointments (well, maybe not Barbie’s Birthday).
So, let’s jump into this swift-flowing river of memory, starting with some of my favorites, both funny and poignant. There is the Oscar party when Gary dressed up as Oscar himself, draped in gold lamé, only to find that gold lamé “Is highly chaffing.”

There is the childhood Christmas when an X-rated Santa Claus made an appearance. And there is “My Plastic Peeps” which seems to celebrate the Pez Collectors National Convention during which Wade learns some hard lessons in collecting, chief among them that you can’t love what you collect, too much, or you destroy their value.
“Pretty Pink Peonies” takes the reader out on an Ozark Memorial Day devoted to visiting simple graveyards. Wade visits with his mother and grandmother, bringing small American flags and his grandmother’s special peonies to each grave of a cousin, an uncle, a war veteran, a friend. Then they would stand beside the grave and share stories about the dead person. Those peonies always stayed in his mind. Years later, with his grandmother and her peony beds long gone, he is shattered when his mother comes to Michigan; Gary, an avid gardener, has taken starts from those original peonies, nurtured the plants, and can put those same peonies into Wade’s mother’s hands. Garysexplained what he did:
“The earth is what grounds us and connects us all for a very short time. That’s why I like to grow and share starts of plants with others — like your grandmother’s peonies — because it’s like sharing a memory with the world.”

In “The Wonder Years” a stray dog finds its way to their Michigan home. “The dog was a dirty, dingy, pee yellow, and there were burrs and cuts and dried blood strewn throughout its fur. Its nails were so long, they had curled and bent and grown into his pads, which were infected and raw.” This dog couldn’t be saved. But what a wonderful last few hours they were able to share with him. I guess a lesson in quality versus quantity.
My favorite here is the last; my own personal pet peeve: the Christmas letter. Those impersonally copied lists of a year’s achievements that leave out Uncle Pete’s incarceration, Jessica’s unfortunate and inopportune pregnancy, Aunt Matilda’s short stay in rehab, and all the little interesting warts and mishaps that make up a life I could actually believe in. Rouse calls these things “the most vile of holiday traditions” and cured me of ever seeking revenge by writing one.
“I was especially surprised,” he writes, “to receive an eerie form letter from a woman whom I’d always deemed a true friend, a funny, smart, creative, hip woman with whom I’d stayed in touch...” Since the letter was “so crass, so impersonal, so devoid of human emotion that it shook me to the core of my soul” he is driven to craft a hilarious letter of his own, including: “March brought some very EXCITING news for Gary. He was promoted to junior assistant director to the associate vice president for marketing, who is a DIRECT report to the Company’s junior VP for branding. WOW!!!!”
And then a Christmas he goes back to the Ozarks to be with his mother who is dying of lung cancer. Her dream is to visit the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, though they aren’t Jews, and place her prayer in a crack in that historic wall. He writes “As my mother gently rocks me, like she did forty-three years ago when I was a baby, I realize I must do this one thing for her—after everything she’s done for me . . . I have no other choice but to fulfill her final prayer and get her to Jerusalem.” But he can’t. She is too sick to travel. Instead he finds another way, another wall, and learns that her prayer, all along, was for him.
Oh, and Barbie’s Birthday — a kind of freedom day for two boys who wanted a Barbie doll all their lives and received Daisy BB guns or train sets instead. They are grown now, in love, dedicated to each other, and off to buy a Barbie, only to be confronted with rows and rows of Barbie choices. They made a choice, took her home, let her share their lives, but then shelved her. After many moves she was found, “Her clothes were a bit flattened, her hair a touch more ratted, and one leg looked as though it might have been truncated after being wedged under a concrete garden gnome for years.” They celebrated her 50th birthday with her, only to discover Barbie doesn’t easily forgive the treachery of being forgotten.
With some writers, their books are sometimes barometers of how they’re doing and feeling during a particular year of their life. I suspect this latest memoir from Rouse was written that way, governed by emotions including sadness, joy, retrospection, pleasure, and gratitude. Which pretty much covers a year in anyone’s life, if they’re lucky enough to live it full tilt, which Wade and Gary do.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s next mystery from Midnight Ink, “Dead Dogs and Englishmen,” will be published in July, 2011.
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