Letters

Letters 09-15-2014

Stop The Games On Campus

Four head coaches – two at U of M and two at MSU – get a total of $13 million of your taxpayer dollars each year. Their staffs get another $11 million...

The Truth About Fatbikes

While we appreciate the fatbike trail coverage, the quote from the article below is exactly what we demonstrated not to be true in most cases last season...

Man Has Environmental Responsibility

I tend to agree with Thomas Kachadurian (“Playing God,” Sept. 8) that we should not interfere with the power of nature by deciding what is “native” and what is not. Man usually does what is better for man (or so we believe), hence the survival and population growth of our species...

The Bush & Obama Facts

Don Turner’s letter to the editor on 8/25/14 stated that there has never been a more corrupt, dishonest, etc. set of politicians in the White House. He states no facts, but here are a few...

Ban Pesticides

I grew up downstate in a neighborhood without pesticides. I was always very healthy. Living here, I have become ill. So I did my research and found out a lot about these poison agents called pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers, etc) that are being spread throughout this community, accumulating in our air, water and soil...

Respect for Presidents?

Recently we read the Letter to the Editor that encouraged us to stop characterizing President Obama as anything other than an upstanding, moral, inspiring “first Black President”. The author would have us think that the rancor in the press, media and public is misguided. And, believe it or not, this rancor is a “glaring exception to … unwritten patriotic rule” of historically supporting all previous presidents...


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Random Thoughts

 
Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to the Basics

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Back to the Basics
My dad worked on his father’s farm outside Rockford until he was in his early 30s, just as countless sons had done for thousands of years before him.
He started out plowing the fields with a team of horses, tilling up the arrowheads of the Ottawa and Pottawatomi that my brother and I still own today. Later came a tractor, but not much in the way of a paycheck. Yet with his food and board covered by the farm, Dad was able to throw nearly every cent he earned into savings because there was no greater virtue in our family than thrift.
Dad’s family had survived the Great Depression by dint of the fact that they were able to grow their own food. Their one misadventure was when some desperate people stole a pile of newly-harvested beans.
Mom had lived the dirt-poor life on a farm too. By the time I came along, my parents were what would be considered the “working poor” today. Dad had saved enough to buy a Ford (no car payments, of course) and our family lived in a succession of run-down rental homes.
 
Monday, August 22, 2011

Shut up already

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Those of us who live here were thrilled that ABC’s Good Morning America
show cited the Sleeping Bear Dunes as being the most beautiful place in
the country last week. I myself put a link to the news clip on my
Facebook page to brag about my hometown to friends living overseas.
On the other hand, if you look at other “beautiful” places around the
country -- Carmel, Cape Cod, Bar Harbor, Hilton Head, Jackson’s Hole,
etc. -- it’s pretty clear what happens when you start waving the
figurative red cape in the bull ring of the national media.
 
Monday, August 15, 2011

The summer of 1811

Random Thoughts Robert Downes If you happened to be enjoying the beaches of Northern Michigan in the
summer of 1811, chances are you were a member of the Chippewa or Odawa
Indian tribes.
Imagine living in a bark lodge along Lake Michigan or the inland lakes
that summer. Much of the season was spent fishing and drying the catch in
preparation for the winter to come. Nights were spent under a fresco of
stars that we rarely see these days, yet these stars had gazed down on a
way of life that had existed along these shores for thousands of years.
Next year, we will honor the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 between
Britain and the United States -- a country which was barely out of its
cradle at the time. Northern Michigan played a key role in the war, and
the Mackinac Straits in particular were of global strategic importance.
So let’s set the Wayback Machine for the summer before the war to set the
stage for what we’ll be celebrating this time next year.
 
Monday, August 8, 2011

The true believers

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The True Believers
Blogging is where it’s at these days for alternative newspapers serving
the largest cities in America.
Blogging about local theater, trendy cocktails, city politics, transgender
issues, bicycling, Lithuanian hip-hop, video dating for dogs & cats...
pretty much anything an inspired (and often unpaid) blogger is willing to
peck out on a keyboard.
 
Monday, August 1, 2011

The 27 Club

Random Thoughts Robert Downes 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.
 
Monday, July 25, 2011

The Tipping Point... on saving our own skins

Random Thoughts Robert Downes There were a lot of complaints about the heat at the Ride Around Torch
bike tour a week ago, followed by a lot of complaints by the public at
large throughout the next few days.
Most cyclists rode a 63-mile loop around Torch Lake in Antrim County. At
the bayside park in Elk Rapids where the tour wrapped up, many talked
about how tough it was cycling the last few miles of hills in the
90-degree heat, glaring sun and high humidity.
Then we packed up our bikes, climbed into our monster SUVs and
emission-friendly pickup trucks and took off down the highway, no doubt to
crank up the AC at home, doing our bit with the rest of the human race to
pump 90 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every day of
the year.
 
Monday, July 18, 2011

What‘s new

Random Thoughts Robert Downes What’s New
New in this issue is a Public Safety Map on page 12 which will include a
snapshot of crime in the region -- assault, robbery, B&Es, drug busts and
car thefts -- as well as brief reports on emergency events such as
drownings and major collisions.
 
Monday, July 11, 2011

Losing Our Traditions

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Losing Our Traditions
For more than 20 years now, my wife has marched her little flock of day
care kids downtown to take rides on the pint-sized train at the former
Clinch Park Zoo. Many of the ‘kids’ are now grown and have children of
their own. They too are devotees of the Spirit of Traverse City, carrying
on a tradition that fills a child’s heart with joy and the air with
laughter and the sound of a chugging choo-choo.
But those sounds will cease forever after Labor Day when the old bugaboo
of budget concerns and other priorities kill off the little engine that
could. As noted in an article in this issue by Pat Sullivan, the park
designers ditched the train as being inconvenient when they re-imagined
the bayfront.
 
Monday, July 4, 2011

Paying for that vacation ...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Paying for that Vacation...
Since there will be upwards of 500,000 people in town for the National Cherry Festival this week, this seems a likely time to talk about how to pay for that vacation you‘ve been dreaming of all year.
How can one afford to travel up north for a week of carnival rides, hotels at premium rates, wine tours and dinners by the Bay? Not to mention expensive destinations all over the world?
Easy: save your money.
Okay, that seems like a no-brainer, but most of us have a tough time saving for college tuition or a new car, much less a ‘frivolous’ vacation. The most common complaint I hear from my non-traveling friends is that they “can‘t afford to go anywhere.“
Translation: they failed to plan for one of the most soul-nourishing events you can do for yourself and your family each year.
Those who do bite the bullet and go on vacation anyway often ‘put it on the card,‘ creating an unhappy post-trip experience for the payee, much like when the Christmas credit card bills come rolling in come January.
 
Monday, June 27, 2011

Bridging the truth

Random Thoughts Robert Downes If you’ve watched any TV at all in recent months you’ve been waterboarded
with a flood of ads lambasting the “Government Bridge” proposed to link
Detroit and Windsor in Canada.
These commercials have all the nuance of a wedding cake sliced with a meat
axe. It’s a wonder they don’t refer to the project as the “Gub’mint
Bridge” for Snuffy Smith types who can’t handle three syllables.
Backing the commercials is billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun, an
84-year-old trucking tycoon who owns the Ambassador Bridge which links the
U.S. to Canada. Moroun purchased the Ambassador Bridge 32 years ago and
has owned a monopoly over one of America’s busiest and most important
trade routes ever since.
 
Monday, June 13, 2011

Northern Michigan‘s top adventures

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Northern Michigan’s Top Adventures
When most people think of “adventure” in Northern Michigan, they tend to
imagine a weekend with the kids at the beach or an afternoon at one of our
water parks.
A pity, because mile-for-mile, Northern Michigan packs more outdoor
adventures than almost any similar-sized region on earth. Only a few
standouts such as Costa Rica, New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands come
close, and we dare say that the cultural and dining offerings in our many
beach towns help to even that score.
 
Monday, June 6, 2011

Fox wanted: Must be willing to relocate

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Saw a huge fox trotting alongside Crystal Lake in Benzie County a
week ago. At first I thought it was a German Shepherd because it
looked to be about four feet long from nose to tail; but drawing
closer, its low stature and rust-red fur revealed it to be a vulpes
vulpes, or red fox, for those of you who no longer speak‘a da Latin.
Anyway, this proud fox was trotting along unconcernedly by the side of
the road with a fresh baby bunny in its jaws, probably heading home to
its den to feed the kits.
Oh how I would love to borrow that fox for a weekend at the Downes
household where we are in the midst of a chipmunk and squirrel
population explosion.
 
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How we got started: 20 years behind the masthead

Random Thoughts Robert Downes How We Got Started: 20 Years Before the Masthead
       Simply put, Northern Express Weekly got started with an idea by my friend and co-publisher George Foster in the fall of 1990:  “What would you think of starting a newspaper about sports and fitness?” he asked one day as we were out running.
   Well, hell yes, why not?  In one of those lucky coincidences, we had a synchronicity of talents and experience: George was a certified public accountant, while I had been a reporter and editor in Detroit-area newspapers and a writer for  hospital public relations.  We were deep into the running, triathlon and XC-skiing boom of the ‘80s, and also habitues of the local nightlife scene.
   Both of us had grown  bored with our respective careers as well as the racing scene, so the idea of launching a newspaper was mesmerizing.  That’s what launching a new business is like: it’s a fever that consumes your every waking moment.  Soon, that fever was generating ideas for our new paper.
   We decided that the publication would need a larger scope to succeed; for starters, the region lacked an alternative newspaper similar to Detroit’s Metro Times, devoted to the arts, local issues, nightlife and the “underside” of the community.
 
Monday, May 23, 2011

A swinging situation

Random Thoughts Robert Downes A Swinging Situation
Malaysian Airlines offers a friendly reminder and a cheery welcome to the
country in big block letters in its flight magazine:
“BE FOREWARNED DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS UNDER MALAYSIAN LAW.”
That message is repeated on the documents you sign when you cross the
border, and in case your reading skills are not so hot, the country used
to thoughtfully scatter billboards around picturing drug dealers hanging
by their necks from scaffolds.
 
Monday, May 16, 2011

Scenes from an ongoing crisis

Random Thoughts Robert Downes There seemed to be more panhandlers than ever on a trip to Chicago this
spring. Especially along Michigan Avenue south of the river it was like
running a gauntlet, with needy faces floating up like balloons from
hoodies and ear-flap hats every 100 yards or so along the sidewalk.
“Can you spare me something? I’m hungry... God bless you, have a good day...”
It’s not long before you find yourself avoiding eye contact. I’m not
averse to giving money to street people, but they’ve got to have an
obvious mental disability or missing a limb to qualify, and some of the
people we saw on Michigan Ave. looked like pros or anemic junkies
 
 
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