Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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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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