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 · Random Thoughts · The 27 Club
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The 27 Club

Robert Downes - August 1st, 2011
The 27 Club
“They tried to make me go to rehab and I said no, no, no...”
-- “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse
Some 2,500 years ago, Buddha offered the advice that the best path through
life is the “middle way.” The former prince who gave up his kingdom and
all its pleasures to live naked and alone in the forest prior to becoming
a holy man learned that too much or too little of anything was no good.
In particular, he meant money, fame and power.
We seldom think about the benefits of the middle way here in the West
where songs such as “If I Had a Million Dollars” by The Barenaked Ladies
and “I Want to Be a Billionaire (so freakin’ bad)” by Travie McCoy spell
out the daydreams of millions of people. Winning the lottery, bagging the
cute bachelor on TV, dancing to the stars and the meth-rush euphoria of
being named an Idol are the dreams of our society as expressed in the
media. No one wants to get voted off the island, even though that might
offer a saner, happier life.
But considering the death of torch singer Amy Winehouse, one might pause
to consider Buddha’s advice on just how unhappy one can become by “having
it all.”
Winehouse is in the 27 Club now, occupied by musicians who died on or
around that age at the peak of their powers. Jim Morrison -- died of an
overdose in a bathtub in Paris. Jimi Hendrix -- choked on his vomit while
ODing on drugs. Robert Johnson -- poisoned with strychnine at age 26 by a
jealous husband. Hank Williams -- drank himself to death at age 29.
Janis Joplin -- heroin overdose. Kurt Cobain -- suicide by shotgun.
Winehouse picked up the torch dropped in the ’60s by British soul singers
such as Petula Clark and Lulu and turned its flame a cool blue. She had a
voice that could snake around a phrase like a python, embracing the notes
in a millisecond and squeezing the agony and anguish from a song straight
into your heart.
Add the beehive ’doo, the road map of tattoos, toothpick arms. alleycat
attitude and kohl-dark eyes of an ancient Egyptian princess and Amy
Winehouse was certainly a woman to remember.
But a lot of female singers have the ability to wrangle a note, even here
in Northern Michigan, and one could argue that what took Winehouse to the
top was her pursuit of dark material as exhibited on her breakout 2006
album, “Back to Black.”
On that album, which earned Winehouse several Grammys and critical
acclaim, the theme of the songs tended to be rehab, drinkin’ and “doin’
blow.” And of course the obligatory broken heart song or two.
One might argue that this would be fertile territory for a singer-surviver
who’s been around the bar and booze scene for a few decades -- Lucinda
Williams comes to mind -- but Winehouse was only 21 when she recorded this
material. Obviously, if you feel compelled to dwell on your rehab troubles
at that age, you’re neck-deep in trouble.
One could also argue that her get-drunk shtick did more to turn her into
the butt of jokes on Leno and Letterman than it did to advance her career
in the U.S. It seems likely that Amy will sell more downloads from her
coffin than she did while she was among us.
One of life’s great lessons is “be careful you don’t get what you wish
for.” The dream job turns out to be a nightmare; the beautiful woman or
handsome man you pursue and place on a pedestal turns out to be a monster
who eats you alive. The fame shot through your veins like a drug burns
you from the inside out... That last bit is the theme of Eminem’s albums,
“Relapse” and “Recovery.”
Pop music is full of stars who got the keys to the proverbial candy store
but were still basically kids and couldn’t keep a lid on their desires.
Members of The Doors reported that Jim Morrison used to line up a row of
screwdrivers on the bar -- his favorite drink -- and refuse to leave them
for fear one would get snatched. He’d piss his leather pants rather than
risk making the trip to the men’s room.
Even lesser talents come to doom on the road to fame and fortune.
Members of The Band, for instance, who served as Dylan’s backup group,
made musical history, and produced some of the most celebrated music of
the ‘60s. You’d think that with all their adventures, honors and
success that the members of The Band would have been reasonably happy,
but keyboardist Richard Manuel committed suicide while drummer Rick
Danko died in his sleep of a drug overdose.
Then there was Canned Heat, who had a lock on the boogie-woogie blues in
the ’60s. When the blues lost its mojo to punk and disco in the ’70s, the
resulting depression lead to the suicides and overdoses of three visionary
Successful musicians don’t have a monopoly on depression, drugs and
suicide. Author David Foster Wallace who wrote “Infinite Jest” in 1996
was at the peak of critical acclaim for his byzantine (and to me
unreadable) books with a blank check available on demand from his
But like grunge rocker Kurt Cobain, Wallace lived ‘too high up in his
head,’ so to speak and never could master his depression. He hung himself
at age 46 in 2008.
Sometimes “having it all” is a death sentence. For all her glory, Marilyn
Monroe got heartbreak and a barbiturate overdose at age 36. John F.
Kennedy, Jr. had the resources to buy his own plane, but went down in a
fog over the ocean at the age of 38 as night fell with his star. John
Lennon was shot at the age of 40 by a lunatic fan who thought he’d “sold
out.” Judy Garland’s emerald slippers couldn’t save her from a drug
overdose at the age of 47...
And Amy Winehouse? Farewell to a dark comet that crossed our orbit,
leaving a trail that others will surely follow at their peril.
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