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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O‘Rourke & Zeitler‘s Irish afternoon

Kristi Kates - March 7th, 2011
O’Rourke and Zeitler’s Irish Afternoon
By Kristi Kates
Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, activist, purveyor of roots Americana and folk music.
These are all worthy subtitles given to not one, but two performers, namely Siusan O’Rourke and Zig Zeitler, the talented folk music couple who will be performing “An Afternoon of Irish Music” at Boyne City’s BAC (Boyne Arts Collective) as part of local St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
O’Rourke is daughter of a first-generation Irish family from Brooklyn, NY, while Zeitler is a gentleman of Irish, Scottish, French, and German heritage (“His Irish family was actually from the same county as mine - Maigheo, or in English ‘Mayo,’” O’Rouke explains, “the twist of the story was that we were feuding families, with an actual murder happening between the families - one dying and one being hung for it - amazing, but true.”)
The pair met, fortuitously, in Zeitler’s own recording studio in Freeland, Michigan (Mojatona Studios), when O’Rourke and another musician she was working with, harmony vocalist Joyce Hagerman, were seeking a facility to work on a “serious” recording, as O’Rourke puts it.
“We asked around the area for recommendations for studios that would be good at mixing acoustic recordings,” she explains, “and we were sent to Zig’s studio. Zig had shown interest in playing Irish music, so he, I, and Joyce ended up as a three-piece for a year - and then, when Joyce moved out of the area, we ended up as a duo.”
O’Rourke playfully calls the personal relationship that developed between her and Zeitler “The Bonus,” and says that being a couple has definitely made their music even better.

While their music most definitively falls into the “folk” category - and has heavy Irish influences - it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact folk genre. O’Rourke’s pretty alto vocals add a dense, classic, retro feel to their sound, while Zeitler’s talents on instruments from the harmonica to the guitar, fiddle, banjo, and Irish bouzouki add even more European flair and texture.
Their current home of Michigan occasionally finds its way into their songs (“Up on Saginaw Bay” being perhaps one of the more obvious), but for O’Rourke, it’s her Irish heritage that finds its way into everything she writes.
“It is very difficult to separate myself from a part of my life that is very much like a living limb in itself,” she explains, “I believe when I write I try to incorporate humor and light heartedness in my Americana material, more so certainly than when I write for the Irish genre, but I find very close similarities that maybe most folks wouldn’t recognize.”
What folks do recognize is an emotional component of the music, which O’Rourke explains is all about connecting with other people.
“I know this will sound corny but the truth is, the best part of a performance is finding the gem of the evening that might have helped me connect with someone, and it seems like it is never the same song that does it. Irish music seems to bring out a lot of experiences for the listener. I very often have had folks tell me a song might have reminded them of someone or something they had not thought of in years. We are always amazed at the common thread we find between ourselves and our audience, and we pretty much always leave feeling like we’ve met some great folks, having more in common with each other than we ever thought possible.”
Many stories of the old country find their way into O’Rourke and Zeitler’s songs, as well - whether in traditional form, or repurposed to reflect some of the happenings of today. O’Rourke’s own view of what Americans call “Celtic music” is an interesting look into both musical and cultural misperceptions.

“I find the common phrase Celtic to be a bit like calling the Chinese and the Japanese all Asian,“ she says. “We as Americans lose the sense of the importance of those individual cultures because we are a melting pot society. Irish music in the country has that as a battle - Irish, Scottish and Welsh all lumped into a pile. Renaissance festivals are billed as Irish festivals. Irish rock bands abound at some of the biggest festivals in the U.S. - but with very few traditional players present.”
“These festivals fill beer tents, but do nothing to actually pass on the culture,” she points out, “in an effort to bring in new fans of the genre we see a lot of diversion from the traditional pieces, so much so that the original music is unrecognizable within the new works.”
O’Rourke points out, however, that this doesn’t mean there’s zero room for growth.
“On the other side of the table, the traditionalists are grasping the Irish music so tightly in sessions that they are strangling it,” she says, “never varying from the written note. A lot of this certainly has to do with the history of the music itself, and how closely the Irish people came to losing their music entirely by the oppression of their culture. But when you travel to Ireland and sit in at a session, they are much more free with the movement of the music than we are here in the U.S. Maybe because we as Irish Americans cling to it more as a part of our connection to Ireland.“
“The beautiful thing though, is regardless of how old the piece is or how you arrange the music, whether you sing it note for note or bang it out in an Irish rock band, it is always, and will always, be contemporary, and folks will be drawn to it, these songs that are steeped in love and grief, separation and want, unrequited love and death.
“These are the constants throughout history that we all connect with, regardless of age, year or country of origin,” she concludes, “the human element is present in Irish music and that’s why it crosses borders and time and finds its way into so many other cultures.”

The Boyne Arts Collective Concert Series presents Siusan O’Rourke and Zig Zeitler live in concert on Sunday March 13 at 4:00 pm. Tix are $15 via www.boynearts.org, in-person at the BAC, or by telephoning Michael Lee Seiler at 231-582-2226.

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