Letters

Letters 08-01-2016

Voter Suppression And Choice In 2013, five Supreme Court justices, each appointed by Republican presidents, knocked the teeth out of the Voting Rights Act. Immediately a majority of Republican-dominated states began passing laws aimed at suppressing the votes of their majority Democrat demographics: minorities, students and the elderly. These laws – requiring voter IDs, cutting early voting, eliminating same-day registration, closing selected polling places, banning straight-ticket voting, etc. — never flat-out deny a person’s right to vote; they just make actual registering and voting more difficult, and therefore make it more likely that individuals in certain groups will not vote. Think of voter suppression as a kind of reverse marketing strategy, one aimed at getting people not to do something...

Free Parking Patrick Sullivan’s good story on parking overlooked one source of “free parking” that has become an increasing problem in Traverse City: spill-over into adjacent neighborhoods. Instead of discouraging people from bringing cars downtown, we’re allowing them to park on both sides of narrow residential streets all day long...

Real American Duality Isiah Smith didn’t really put his deep thinking hat on before writing the “American Duality” commentary. First there’s geography. His daughter feels safer in Sweden than in the United States, at least partially because of the violence in Dallas, Baton Rouge and Minnesota. Really? Safer than in northern Michigan, which is further away from Dallas and Baton Rouge than Stockholm is from Ansbach, Paris or Brussels and no closer to Minnesota than Sweden is to Germany? Did Smith miss recent supremely violent events in those places? Alrighty then...

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4Play: Sade, Eddie Vedder, Rihanna, Ben Harper

Kristi Kates - May 23rd, 2011
Sade - The Ultimate Collection - Epic
Whether you term Sade a solo artist or a band, Sade’s jazz-pop is still of note, even though the bulk of their on-the-radar work was back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. This “ultimate” collection includes 29 tunes in all, including Sade’s best-known track, the Spanish-flavored “Smooth Operator,” as well as additional songs “Still in Love with You,” a standout Neptunes remix of “By Your Side” with added guitars, and a well-done experimental revamp of “The Moon and the Sky” which adds trip-hop beats and spoken-word overlays from Jay-Z. It’s a solid best-of that also includes four previously unreleased songs for added interest.
 


Eddie Vedder - Ukelele Songs - Monkey Wrench
Like the title says - and no, it’s no joke - this is indeed a set of tunes performed by Vedder, with vocals on… ukelele, including both covers and original songs that Vedder has performed live at times but never released. It’s an interesting and effective break from his role as Pearl Jam frontman; although most of the songs are sparsely arranged and devoid of much heft, they’re still performed prettily enough to be entertaining. “Can’t Keep,” “Without You,” and Vedder’s collaboration with The Frames’ Glen Hansard on “Sleepless Nights” are standouts; first single “Longing to Belong” is on its way to radio as you read this.
 


Rihanna - Loud - Def Jam
Several of the songs on Rihanna’s latest might have been better included thematically in her previous release, Rated R - or even X, for that matter. For such a hip-hop talent, it’s a shame that Rihanna has to be so gratuitous in her lyric-writing, which takes away from the songs themselves, but there are still a few tracks here worthy of attention. “What’s My Name,” featuring Drake, is a catchy throwback to Rihanna’s older work, while “Only Girl,” the first single, is set to stand out on radio, and “Complicated” is reminiscent of Destiny’s Child; “Love the Way You Lie Part II” might’ve worked if she hadn’t allowed Eminem to dominate the track.


Ben Harper - Give Til It’s Gone - V Records
Recorded in Jackson Browne’s L.A. studio (Browne also throws in some vocals on Harper’s “Pray That Our Love Sees the Dawn” from this very set), Harper’s 10th collection of tunes was influenced in part by folk-rocker Neil Young and was co-written in part with Beatle Ringo Starr. Starr’s contributions on the bubbly, ‘60s-inflected “Spilling Faith” and the mostly-instrumental “Get There From Here” are two of the album’s best moments, while first single “Rock N’ Roll is Free” was directly inspired by Young and showcases Harper’s retro abilities; “Don’t Give Up On Me Now” focuses on his more personal side.
 
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