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 · Music · Mighty Mic: Anyone can Play Guitar...
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Mighty Mic: Anyone can Play Guitar (or Read Poetry or Pound on the Bongos) on Northern Michigan‘s Open Mic Circuit

Emily Groves - September 12th, 2002
“Sometimes it’s really good, sometimes it’s really bad,” confides Bob Thiel from his seat at the bar. Despite conflicting feelings, the Bo Beer liquor store owner has come over from his business next door to attend this Thursday’s open mic at ? in Traverse City. This evening, he and about 15 others are taking in a variety of performances at the Front Street bar. Standing amid an assortment of musical equipment including a drum set, bass, and electric guitars, host Dan Babiarz is calling names off a list of those who have signed up to play. On the wall behind him, someone has stuck a picture of a naked woman ripped from a magazine.
“We open it up for half an hour, then turn the show over to whoever wants to play,” says Babiarz, referring to his band, Incognito, which includes Darla Roland and Ed Roth. “It started as an acoustic open mic, but has kind of turned into a free form jam.”
Earlier, there was a bass-heavy Chili Peppers-style jam going on. Now a different performer is bellowing out his version of a classic rock tune, lively and heavy on volume. But it’s not all electric guitars. This event attracts an eclectic group of musicians and artists, including clarinet and violin players and free form poets. There does however, seem to be a limit to the types of suitable talents: “No humping the jukebox,” Babiarz calls in the direction of two especially animated spectators. “We go for most anything but that.”
Like many bars and coffee houses in Northern Michigan, Bo’s reserves one night of the week to turn the microphone over to anyone willing to step up. Open mics are great opportunities for the inexperienced to try their hand at performing and for the skilled to entertain in a more casual setting.
“There are fabulous local musicians in this area. We get good quality people here. We even get some girls who play,” says Marty Stevenson of Sunday’s open mic at The Loading Dock, which he co-hosts with Kurt Bowman.
An important factor in the popularity of open mics in the area is a relaxed atmosphere that gives confidence to first-timers.
“In Lansing, it was really hard to get up on stage. You had to know someone or be some whoop-ass guitar player,” says Bowman, who has been leading the event at The Dock for almost two years. “If you’re a beginner who plays at home and has never played in front of anyone, this is a perfect opportunity.” The bar provides a stylish, comfortable stage drenched in red light where the two hosts typically open the evening with a set of their own bluesy rock tunes and a few covers. Then they surrender the mic to the awaiting performers, carefully adjusting the sound for each via a professional soundboard. The response has been positive, and the Cass Street bar draws a sizeable crowd with a variety of acts including violinists, steel guitarists, and horn players.
Places like the Roast & Toast café and coffee shop in Petoskey are turning the microphone over to fresh voices as well. Recording artist and host Kristi Kates sees it as a great opportunity for people at all stages of musicianship. “Even when I go to New York, I still play open mics,“ she says. “They’re a chance to showcase original material. And it’s free entertainment.” While the show at the café is generally characterized by the sound of acoustic guitars, they “invite quirkiness” to their Sunday night affair.
In Gaylord, Harmony Grounds coffee shop holds its own event on Thursdays from 9 p.m. until midnight. With a variety of acts and instruments including a piano, the café offers “an outlet for the community to come play music and hear music, in an environment available to all ages,” according to owner Kurt Van Dusen.
Another place to let your talents be heard is The Key to the County in Lake Leenlanau. Gavan Thomson, who has been in charge of the Wednesday night open mic for several months, welcomes all. “Come on down. It’s a great opportunity—a breaking the ice thing.” The setting is cozy and informal, with spectators gathered on couches and a small stage with a drum set, bass, bongos, and acoustic guitars, all swimming in disco ball lighting.
Other open mics in the area include the Cedar Tavern in Cedar on Wednesdays, Wednesday nights at Union Street Station, and Tuesdays at G.T.s in Traverse City, Mondays at O’Keefe’s in Sutton’s Bay, Tuesdays at The Villager Pub in Charlevoix, and at the Town Club in Elk Rapids on Thursdays. Beginnning Sept. 25, The Mackinaw Brewing Co. in Traverse City resumes its “smoke free“ open mike with host Bill Dungjen.
Despite a relaxed and welcoming attitude on the Northern Michigan open mic scene, there are a few common pet peeves among organizers and spectators. Drunken behavior is never appreciated, and hosts like Thomson would rather not have to contend with it. “It’s a bummer to tell people to get off the stage,” he says. Poor etiquette by performers is another annoyance, as some take advantage of the limelight without reciprocating. “They come in to play and bring all their friends. Then, the second they finish, all their friends leave,” says Kates. Lack of volume control can also be a problem, something Loading Dock owner Ryan MacManus deals with by maintaining a strictly acoustic event -- no drums, no electric guitars -- as a courtesy to its patrons because, “God knows if it sucks and it’s really loud, you’ve got nowhere to go but somewhere else.”
For performers, open mics in Northern Michigan are an opportunity to be heard in a casual, unstructured setting. For spectators, they are free, unpredictable entertainment -- a fly-on-the-wall perspective of living room talent. If you’re like me -- and perhaps Mr. Thiel -- they can make you smile or squirm. You hope you will be pleasantly surprised and entertained and pray you won’t spend too much time flinching into your beer (or coffee). As an occasional open mic performer myself, I worry about eliciting those dreaded emotions. However, that uneasiness could simply be a symptom of taking the whole thing too seriously. In the words of one open mic regular, “More people should come out. They should just get over themselves and try it.”

SIDEBAR (Box in please)


Getting Poetical

Beginning Monday, Sept. 16, there will be a new contender on Northern Michigan‘s open mic scene: a monthly session dedicated to poetry at Horizon Books in Traverse City.
“Just come on down and read your work,“ says organizer Michael McManus, a Traverse City ophthalmologist who‘s trying to create a local poetry scene with co-host Todd Mercer.
The open mic poetry readings will be held on the third Monday of each month at the Horizonshine Café in the Traverse City bookstore. Be prepared to emote.

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