Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


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Monday, August 29, 2011

Tastemakers: Mode?s Bum Steer Rack of Lamb/Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale

Books Rick Coates Mode’s Bum Steer Rack of Lamb
As I was reviewing my notes from my dining experiences over the past five years for an upcoming “State of the Northern Michigan Restaurant Industry” article, I constantly found Mode’s Bum Steer with positive reviews in my notes. In fact, in the 50-plus times I have dined at Mode’s over the past five years, I described each experience as exceptional.
Recently I met with Epicurean Classic founder Mark Dressler who is returning the event to Traverse City (September 8-11). Dressler pointed out that one deciding factor to return the event to the region was “the quality and commitment of the culinary scene in the area.”
With so many new offerings in the region, sometimes there might be a tendency to overlook the “classic” places like Mode’s, Hermann’s and the Rowe Inn.
Anita and her husband Bob opened Mode’s Bum Steer 36 years ago. Bob passed away four years ago this past July, but Anita and their daughter Skylar have kept the tradition going. In fact the whole team has kept that tradition of exceptional service and quality menu offerings going.
I stopped in last week to enjoy my favorite, their Rack of Lamb with a classic wedge and bleu cheese, and I overheard Anita talking about the fact that most of the staff has been with them for 20 to 30 years and the “newbies” take quickly to the Mode’s way of doing things.
 
Monday, August 22, 2011

Nothing More To Tell

Books Elizabeth Buzzelli Nothing More to Tell
Stories by George Dila
Mayapple Press
$15.95

By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Once in a while you come across a book of stories so true you convince
yourself you’re reading memoir and you get mad or sad for the writer until
you remember this is fiction and you’re only getting pieces of a life and
maybe a made-up life. Then you get upset that you’ve been had so easily.
Then you understand what a good writer this is and you’re happy to be in
the hands of this magician and go on to the next story, the next life, and
the next twisting of your emotions.
 
Monday, August 15, 2011

TC, I Love Thee

Books Elizabeth Buzzelli The Traverse City Chamber of Commerce should be handing out Henry
Morgenstein’s new book, “TC, I Love Thee,” to every tourist and
prospective resident. Real Estate agents should buy cases of the books to
give as gifts at closings. If you would like to join in a song to our
beautiful area, this is that song.
Henry Morgenstein came to the United States in 1948 when he was brought to
New York City from first Belgium, and then Havana, Cuba. In 1971 he moved
to Traverse City, teaching English at Northwestern Michigan College for
the next 30 years until his retirement in 2001.
 
Monday, August 1, 2011

Suicide Sonnet

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli Suicide Sonnet
A sheriff’s past revealed in Medieval Murders
Review: Medieval Murders
By Aaron Stander
Writers & Editors, LLC
$15.95

By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Since reading the first book in the Ray Elkins series by Interlochen mystery writer, Aaron Stander, I’ve wondered about Ray. More than a capable sheriff in Cedar County, Michigan, Ray is quiet and caring and tenacious—but self-protective and slightly reluctant to open himself to anyone.
Ray’s a good cop. He always gets his man. He has eclectic tastes in music, literature and food (especially Stilton cheese), has good relationships with women, and is a thoroughly likeable man. But there was something more.
 
Monday, July 25, 2011

Misery Bay Probes an Unlikely Suicide

Books Glen Young Fictional sleuth Alex McKnight is back and his fans are pleased, but no
more so than his creator, Michigan-born author Steve Hamilton.
Returning in his eighth novel, McKnight ventures west from his home base
in Paradise to ominously named Misery Bay, where he is asked to
investigate the suicide of a college student, a young man who appeared to
have it all, but who instead hangs himself from a large, lonely tree near
the shores of Lake Superior.
 
Monday, July 11, 2011

Echoes

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli A Civil War soldier wins an inner conflict in
Echoes
Echoes of Distant Thunder
By Frank P. Slaughter
Arbutus Press

By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

You’re going to like Will Castor. This simple Civil War soldier is going to captivate you and show you a very different kind of war. “Echoes of Distant Thunder” by Frank P. Slaughter isn’t one of those big Civil War books we’re all used to, but something much smaller and more personal, a look into the depths and scope of one man’s soul.
The story begins in 1971 with an inheritance coming to Paul, Will Castor’s great great grandson: an antique wooden box containing some old letters, a pocket watch, and a Civil War-era revolver. The watch, inscribed “Love Always, Mollie,” is a mystery as is Will’s tombstone with the word “Peep” carved beneath the Civil War designation of Pvt Bat D 1st Mich Art (Private in Battery D, 1st Michigan Artillary).
With these two mysteries in place we’re sent back in time. Chickamauga, Georgia, September 20, 1863. Another sleepless night for Union private, Will Castor, and a day of relentless battle. The Union is losing ground. They are withdrawing. Since just before daylight the cold, heavy air had carried the deep rumble of artillery fire to them from somewhere over on the left, and it had steadily increased in volume and urgency as the morning wore on.
The battle continued: The guns of Battery D were taking a terrible toll on the Confederates as they crossed the old cornfield, but they could not fire fast enough to stem the tide, and all six guns were running out of ammunition.
 
Monday, July 4, 2011

A stoner goes sleuthing in Wire to Wire

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli Okay, Michigan’s in this book: Wire to Wire by Scott Sparling (Tin House Books).
Detroit. Hell. Traverse City. Charlevoix. Wolverine (not the real Wolverine, another Wolverine). So I get to review it. Here goes. Hold on to your seat.
Wire to Wire is called “a stunning homage to one of our most popular and enduring genres—the American Crime novel” by the publishers.
Oh yeah? Let’s just sink into this down and dirty mystery (?) with mean drug dealers and murdering creeps, with one stoned protagonist and his freight car jumping friend. Oh, and don’t forget the women—every single female character is dropped like mud on the page, for sex, for titillation, or to die. Their choice. Well, somebody’s choice.
 
Monday, June 27, 2011

Gateways offers a visionary trip to TC?s past

Books Robert Downes It only takes a few moments to fall under the spell of historian Richard Fidler’s “Gateways to Grand Traverse Past,” a beautifully-envisioned tale of the ups and downs of life dating back 100 years ago and beyond.
A former teacher, this is Fidler’s third book of history, primarily about the Grand Traverse region but in many ways roaming further afield. Here, for instance, are the scores of black hobos who traveled north on the rails in the 1940s, hoping to pick cherries in the region’s orchards, only to be succeeded by imported Jamaican labor and Mexican migrants. Here are tales of circuses which marched in a line of elephants down the muddy streets of Front Street in the 1890s. Fidler lifts history from its dusty grave and breathes life into the past through eloquent writing and intelligent observations full of perception and wonder.
 
Monday, June 27, 2011

Life in a Small, Superior Town

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli South of Superior 
By Ellen Airgood
Riverhead Books/Penguin Group
$25.95

As small towns go, McAllaster, Michigan, isn’t much.  Typical UP town.  It’s got plain people, a lot of characters, a few newbies out to change a culture in place for a few hundred years, and some who just want to fit in.  This town’s got elderly sisters and down-at-the-heels oldsters who live off the land.  It’s got struggling businesses, and people with hope, and those without hope.  Everything small town’s have is here in McAllaster, the centerpiece of a first novel by Ellen Airgood, who runs a diner in Grand Marais, and captures people, places, life, and small stories writ large in “South of Superior.”
 
Monday, June 20, 2011

Twittering History Posts give insight into the life of a boy at Fort Mackinac

Books Kristi Kates What could Twitter possibly have to do with a 10-year-old boy who lived on Mackinac Island in the late 1800s?  Plenty, if you check out web address www.twitter.com/@boyatftmackinac, the “Boy at Fort Mackinac.” 
The Twitter account chronicles several seasons in the life of Harold Corbusier, who was the son of an American commandant at Fort Mackinac. Harold and his family lived in quarters on the west end of the fort, and he began writing his diary on his 10th birthday:
“I am 10 yrs old today. We had turkey and other good things for dinner. The ground has been covered with snow all winter.”
“Harold’s father served as an American Commandant while the Americans were at Fort Mackinac in the late 1800s, towards the end of the time that the fort was still operated by the Army,” explains Diane Dombroski, the membership and grants coordinator of Mackinac State Historic Parks.
“By 1875, the fort had become the country’s second national park after Yellowstone,” she continues, “but the federal government couldn’t maintain it so they turned it over to the state of Michigan in 1895. By that time, the soldiers were leaving the fort, as there was no longer a strategic reason to have a fort there.”
So why Twitter young Harold’s diary? Because Twitter has become a worldwide phenomenon. The online mini-diary messaging forum - via which people type messages  in a mere 140 characters or less - has exploded in its membership and “followers,” providing a new venue via which past can meet present.
 
Monday, April 18, 2011

Adoption: Guatemalan style

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli Adoption, Guatemalan Style: Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl’s Journey through Adoption
By Jacob Wheeler
University of Nebraska Press
$24.95
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
Jacob Wheeler may be too honest. He may be too perplexed by a heartbreaking reality. He may be so torn by the state of Guatemalan adoption that he can’t morally bring himself to make a definitive statement. All of that and more is evident in his book, “Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl’s Journey through Adoption.”
From wanting to applaud American couples saving children from poverty and early death to decrying the loss of a country’s babies, it is evident that Wheeler is torn.
On one hand there is the story of 14-year-old Ellie, a teenager from Traverse City, adopted at the age of seven from Guatemala. She was seemingly sought out by corrupt facilitators when an older child, rather than a baby, was sought after. Whether her birth mother gave her up knowingly with the expectation of being paid, or was tricked and tried to get her back—truth lies somewhere in a murky middle.
The story’s center swirls around Ellie at 14, after seven years still feeling ‘the hole in her heart’ where her other family lives. And there is her adoptive mother, Judy, who wants to help heal this child she’s come to love as her own through reuniting Ellie with her Guatemalan family—at least for a visit.
 
Monday, April 11, 2011

Sterling‘s stories 4/11/11

Books Glen Young Sterling’s Stories: Delving into the heart of Northern Michigan… briefly
In Which Brief Stories Are Told
By Phillip Sterling
Wayne State University Press
$18.95
By Glen Young
Phillip Sterling believes that although Northern Michigan is part of “the Midwest,” there is a sensibility in the Great Lakes state that separates us from our neighbors.

“It’s somewhere between Hell and Paradise. Not only is it geographically true, but I think it says something about the tendency toward exploring the extreme in celebrating American culture,” Sterling says about the competing tendencies of Northern Michigan.
“We’re called Midwestern but we’re not Midwestern in the sense of say Indiana or Illinois. We’re thought of as North, but we’re not North in the way of say Minnesota.”
Sterling is the author of the newly released “In Which Brief Stories Are Told.” He says our region’s connected separateness is a recurrent theme in the 15 stories that make up his new book, recently published as part of the “Made in Michigan Writers Series” from the Wayne State University Press.
 
Monday, March 7, 2011

1, 000 mile hike

Books Robert Downes 1,000 Mile Hike: Loreen Niewenhuis’s walk around Lake Michigan
By Robert Downes
Loreen Niewenhuis doesn’t have much of a background as an adventurer or a
long-distance hiker, but nonetheless, in 2009 she completed a walk around
the entire circumference of Lake Michigan.
Today, the 45-year-old author from Battle Creek is on a new adventure,
embarking on a tour in support of her new book, “A 1,000-Mile Walk on the
Beach,” published by Crickhollow Books, with stops at bookstores
throughout Northern Michigan.
 
Monday, February 28, 2011

Relatively speaking/It?s All Relative By Wade Rouse

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli Relatively Speaking memoir is a family affair
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
It’s All Relative
By Wade Rouse
Crown Publishers
$23.99
The thing about Wade Rouse’s new memoir “It’s All Relative,” is that you shouldn’t expect a clown show. Maybe his last memoir, “At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream,” began with a raccoon on his head but don’t expect this one to be all snickers and titters, though, of course, they’re in here too.
The ‘relatives’ of the title are his mother, father, extended Ozark family, friends, and his lover, Gary. The encounters with all of them are viewed not with a jaundiced eye, poking fun, but with loving honesty about the people of his life and about himself.
The book takes a look at a year of celebrations — not from any one year but celebrations from all the years of his life beginning with past New Year’s Eves, to Oscar Parties, Ash Wednesdays, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Easter, Secretary’s Day, Barbie’s Birthday, Halloween and, of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas. All those holidays we dread and look forward to and keep in our memories for the sweetness of them and for the disappointments (well, maybe not Barbie’s Birthday).
So, let’s jump into this swift-flowing river of memory, starting with some of my favorites, both funny and poignant. There is the Oscar party when Gary dressed up as Oscar himself, draped in gold lamé, only to find that gold lamé “Is highly chaffing.”
 
Monday, January 31, 2011

To Account for Murder BY William C. Whitbeck

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli Judge recalls a state senator’s assassination in 1945
1/31/11
“To Account for Murder”
By William C. Whitbeck
The Permanent Press, $28
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
Murder and politics made uneasy bedfellows back in the Michigan of 1945. It was a time, just after World War II, when governmental corruption ran wide and deep through the state; when contracts went to the one who most generously greased a palm or two; and when deals were hammered out in Lansing clubs and bars, and in backrooms where whiskey flowed and paid-for women freely entertained.
Then came crusaders like Judge Leland Carr and special prosecutor Kim Sigler, who later became governor of Michigan, with subpoenas and indictments flying in all directions, shaking up the Purple Gang -- which was behind a lot of the corruption -- and the politicians happily at home in the gangsters’ pockets.
 
 
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