Letters

Letters 06-20-2016

More About Kachadurian Columnist Tom Kachadurian’s recent fit to slash out at the world of science and scientists is just another example of his profound ignorance and shallowness...

Love Wins Wow! Donald Trump scares me! He is a nasty individual who has the one thing that makes him dangerous…money! If he becomes president, the U.S. will be completely destroyed. It is already in serious trouble...

The New Normal Fifty more gunned down. They say it was a gay bar. Remember “saloons” had a connotation of a specific “type” of entertainment. Today, bars are simply social meeting places for all walks of life...

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Wesley the Owl

Books Elizabeth Buzzelli Wesley the Owl
Stacey O’Brien
Free Press Publishers
$23.00
By Elizabeth Buzzelli 3/23/09

Rene Descartes was wrong. The 17th century philosopher/mathematician/scientist declared absolutely that animals do not possess real feelings and with that pronouncement he wiped away centuries of experiential evidence. Then came B.F. Skinner in the 20th century likening animals to furry automatons. They care nothing for anything or anyone beyond their own survival, scientists proclaimed. A lab’s head in your lap when you’re crying means only that your lap is a convenient place to rest. A cat draping herself over your shoulders and purring in your ear signifies an automatic response. A bird needing to cuddle exhibits nesting instinct. They can’t love; can’t care about each other or anything else; don’t grieve; don’t worry...
Twaddle and hogwash, said Jane Goodall after her years of close observation of apes in their native habitat as they loved and mourned and interacted in complex ways, exploding the ‘furry automaton’ myth to pieces.
Now comes a charming little book about a girl and her owl, capturing the imagination of animal lovers everywhere and once again opening a world of possibility.
Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien, isn’t about anthropomorphizing her feathered friend, Wesley, but about finding true affection and continued understanding between two such disparate creatures as a biologist and a barn owl.
 
Monday, February 23, 2009

Historic Cottages of Glen Lake by Barabara Siepker

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli It is a bit like entering a dream, to open Historic Cottages of Glen Lake, and come across comfortable old places; meet the visionary families who built their residences along the shores of a lovely Northern Michigan lake so long ago. What struck me first was that the photographs, by Dietrich Floeter of Traverse City, were in black and white, not the sepia tones I was seeing. It was my imagination—the sepia. My own warming addition of memory and soft summer days to a book that allows for nostalgia.
 
Monday, January 19, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli Ahh—how I miss the scheming, the sex, the petty jealousies, the back-biting, the shameless snobbery, the hangers-on, and the social climbing, now that Sex and the City, has moved to rerun heaven.
I’m lost without my obsession with $900 Manolo Blahnik shoes, with $1000 Prada boots, and YSL bags at $1399. Take me back, oh Candace Bushnell! Take me back to the time of full-blown collagen lips and plastic noses. I want to feel, once again, how deprived I am because I don’t live in New York City, reside at one of the better addresses, buy clothes more expensive than my first house, and have friends who would drop me at the first hint of a pay cut or a loss of status.
 
Monday, January 5, 2009

Something fishy in the woods

Books Glen Young This time around, Grady Service might really be in the soup. Chasing suspicions that a long-time government contractor might be illegally mixing tainted salmon eggs in its caviar production, Service has alienated colleagues, irritated friends, and infuriated alleged foreign mobsters.
Service, the laconic Department of Natural Resources conservation officer protagonist of author Joe Heywood’s Woods Cop mystery series, is back in the sixth installment, “Death Roe.” Based on a case Heywood says he isn’t at liberty to further identify, “Death Roe” finds Service investigating allegations that a long-time, highly-paid, state contractor is illegally mixing salmon roe contaminated with the carcinogen Mirex with safe eggs, then selling the mixture to unsuspecting Caribbean cruise ship lines.
“When I write these books,” Heywood says, “I think it’s useful to use situations that will inform.” He says his books are regularly “based largely on real cases. Virtually nothing is invented in these books.”
Still recovering from the murders of his girlfriend and aspiring conservation officer Maridly Nantz, and his son Walter, Service again uses work both as focus and as distraction.
Navigating ever-changing territory, Service finds himself reluctantly coordinating with agents from IRS, FDA, FBI, as well as fisheries personnel from New York. He is working further outside the boundaries of his DNR confines than ever before.
 
Monday, December 29, 2008

Judgement Day: The trial of selecting Michigan‘s most notable books

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli It’s tough to sit in judgment on your peers. I’ve been on the Michigan State Library’s Notable Books Committee for two years now, with one more to go, and it didn’t get easier this year. I doubt next year will be any different.
I don’t remember why Kim Laird, who runs the group for the library, with Nancy Robertson, head librarian, as final arbiter, first asked me to join the 14 judges from around the state. Four of the judges come from the Michigan Department of History, Arts, and Libraries. There are librarians from as far away as Marquette, a representative from Cooley Law School, and another from Grand Valley State. There are book store people and newspaper people -- reviewers and columnists.
When Laird called, the job sounded challenging. I welcomed that, and maybe having a say in the kinds of books which would represent Michigan writing. I knew I could be impartial, only search out the very best, and grind no axes. What I wasn’t prepared for were my own biases, my own pet-peeves, and my inability—at a juncture or two—to give in when a book I didn’t think one of the best was close to making the final 20. I found I’m a lousy team player. I can be intractable. Dogmatic. And a few other things I don’t wish to confess to here. But all in the name of honoring the best writers among us.
 
Monday, December 1, 2008

Beauty in ruin

Books Rick Coates The buildings of the former Traverse City State Hospital (Northern Michigan Asylum) are among the most photographed in the region. The stunning architecture captures the eye of the professional and amateur photographer alike. For Geoffrey Vail Brown, just moments after setting foot inside one of the buildings yet to be restored, he visualized a photographic project of capturing “the ruins” by contrasting the gradual decay against the beauty of the nude body.
“I walked through a section of Building 50 a year ago and I was immediately struck by how the building’s architecture was such that it captured optimal lighting,” said Brown. “I saw an opportunity showcase the contrasts in the architecture by using nudes, so I have described this work as a celebration of the beauty within the ruin.”
That celebration will come this Friday night as Brown will host an opening reception at the Inside Out Gallery, located in the Warehouse District of downtown Traverse City. The evening will feature 20 originals from Brown’s collection as well as a book launch of Beauty in Ruin – The Asylum Nudes.
This is Brown’s first book of photography, which he self-published. His decision to publish a collection of photographs was driven in part by economics.
My thought with this project is that people are more likely to buy a book than go out and spend $800 to $1,200 on a print,” said Brown. “So essentially, I am testing that theory.”
As for choosing nudes versus clothed models, Brown sees it this way:
“Most of my photographic work is figurative. Had I used models with flowing dresses, that would have been a fashion shoot ,and that is something I do not do. What I wanted to accomplish was to show the contrasts, and with nudes I am able to do that. The bodies flow with the architecture and the lighting showcases the contrasts, whereas with clothed models, the focus would end up being on the fashion.”
 
Monday, December 1, 2008

Rubber City Rampage

Books Robert Downes Who knew? Akron, Ohio was at the epicenter of the punk rock movement at the dawn of the ‘80s, churning out some of the greatest bands of the era.
That’s one of the revelations in Punk Rock and Trailer Parks, a new graphic novel by Derf, the artist whose comic, The City has run in the Northern Express since the early ‘90s.
If anyone would know, it’s Derf Backderf, a resident of Cleveland whose work appears in alternative newspapers across the nation. Derf’s noir viewpoint is almost gothic in his approach to trolling the gritty, banal bottomlands of life in the Midwest -- an Ohio frozen in a New Dark Age and locked in medieval attitudes.
Nowhere is that exploration more evident than in his high school haunts of Akron, a town known as Rubber City for its tire factories, which also happens to be stalled by a Rustbelt recession as the book opens.
Yet there’s one bright spot for the trailer park kids doomed to life in Akron: by some odd confluence of fate, rage and despair, the town gave rise to a dynamic punk rock scene, starting in 1979, with acts such as Devo, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and other raw & ragged groups swept up by punk’s power. A lively club scene took root in a ruined bank, bringing in such iconic acts as The Ramones and The Clash. The punk rock eruption prompted Melody Maker magazine to dub Rubber City as “the new Liverpool.”
 
Monday, November 24, 2008

Bob Butz Explores

Books Elizabeth Buzzelli An Uncrowded Place: The Delights and dilemmas of life Up North and a young man’s search for home
by Bob Butz
$21.95 - Huron River Press

Review by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

So many who come to Northern Michigan have faced the challenges Bob Butz has faced. Sometimes it’s that dark night of the soul, when you look at yourself in the mirror one morning and ask “Is this who I want to be?” Sometimes it’s simply the journey to be true to oneself. Sometimes it’s about things not yet discovered.
In An Uncrowded Place: The delights and dilemmas of life Up North and a young man’s search for home (Huron River Press), Butz’s search has brought him north to become the writer he wants to be, the father and husband he hopes he is, and a man at one with the natural world. What he achieves, as the essays—originally published in Traverse Magazine —progress, is an uneasy acceptance of life as it really is. All of this while engrossed in fly fishing, bow hunting, hunting for writing assignments in New York City while looking like a rube, camping, and taking care of his new son. This is a book of contradictions and semi-answers. It’s a book about people like him—those who choose to live in the country or wished they lived in the country.
Some of the best writing here takes place in the dark. Night dark. Three a.m. dark. A time when the body seems to disappear and all that’s left is the mind hunting for something, unseen hands feeling along into the forest; along a stream. Somehow Butz knew to challenge himself, knew that the dark we all fear holds answers and he goes out there into the woods: hunting, fishing, in the snow, in November, on summer nights of the big hex fly invasion.
 
Monday, November 17, 2008

Dead Dancing Women

Books Elizabeth Buzzelli Some years ago I moved to Northern Michigan, to a small house on a small lake, to live a small life of eternal peace and quiet.
Yeah sure! That was before the crows got a hold of me, started directing my life and leading me from one dead body to another. Well, figuratively speaking, that is. But let me back up. It was a fall Monday, much like the days we’re having now. Monday is garbage day out where I live. so I was on my way up our drive to the road to collect the garbage can. The garbage guy had come and gone. Sometimes he would send my lid sailing like a Frisbee and other times he’d have it neatly returned to the can. I never knew what I was going to find and retrieving Frisbee shots in winter, with five feet of snow on the ground, could get treacherous.
This was a good week. The lid was in place but still the usual flock of carnivorous crows was there, squawking, bowing their awkward, aggressive crow bows, strutting up the road at me, jumping out of the burning maples. Any leftover treat could do it: a bloody meat wrapper, a wormy apple. They were brave and pugnacious souls. Sometimes I shooed them. I often threatened them. But it got to be a game. Then one day I picked up my garbage can and got hit with the big ‘What if?’ fiction writers ask themselves.
“What if there was something truly awful in there? What if the crows had reason for their hysteria? Hmm—what if there was a head in that garbage can?”
 
Monday, November 17, 2008

The English Major

Books Glen Young Native Michigander Jim Harrison is a man of large appetites and larger passions.
The writer -- whose new novel “The English Major,” a Kerouac-like road novel with Whitman-like sensibilities, is garnering widespread praise -- is also noted for his outsized ego. And though ego can insulate against public pressures, it is little help against personal anguish.
So when 70 year-old Harrison finished last year’s “Returning To Earth,” compelled in part by the death of his older brother John, he needed a reprieve. “After I finished ‘Returning to Earth,’ which is a tale of considerable melancholy, I was trying to figure out how to levitate my spirits,” he says over the phone from his home outside Livingston, Montana, inhaling audibly on an American Spirit cigarette.
“I began (writing the ‘English Major’) four days after finishing ‘Returning to Earth.’ I usually wait months.”
 
Monday, November 10, 2008

Planet Backpacker

Books Rick Coates Ever wonder what it is like to journey around the world? Planet Backpacker is a new release that chronicles the nearly five-month journey Bob Downes took last year at this time -- mountain biking, backpacking and hiking through Europe, Egypt, India and Southeast Asia. Downes, a first-time author, will host a book release party this Thursday, November 13 at the Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City.
Now, on the surface, some may call into question on two accounts the Express publishing this article. First, Downes is my boss and my “endorsing” comments are published on the first page of his book. So that might call into question my ability to be objective. Second, Downes is the editor and co-publisher of this paper, and so an article on his book might seem somewhat self-serving.
I’ll address the latter first. At the Northern Express we have always focused on “all things local.” Since the inception of the Express 17 years ago the paper has published numerous articles on local authors and musicians and their works of art. That has included from time to time writing about friends and colleagues. I have always disclosed my connection to my subject as have other writers here at the paper.
So with that in mind, Downes should not be overlooked because of his obvious connection with the paper. He is a local author, who coincidently owns the paper, and I am almost positive the Detroit Free Press has written with great pride about their columnist Mitch Albom’s books. Many readers of the Express followed with great interest Downes travels last year (we know from the several letters to the editor received) as he chronicled it in his columns and also on his web-blog. Now he has captured it all in book form for your enjoyment.
 
Monday, November 10, 2008

Studs Terkel

Books Rick Coates Louis “Studs” Terkel passed away on Halloween, a fitting day for one of the great characters of the 20th century. Studs was a celebrated author, journalist, actor, activist and radio show host. For many a journalist, myself included, Studs was an inspiration.
He died at the age of 96, still enjoying his daily cigar and at least one martini. Up to his last days he continued what he enjoyed doing most in life: “Working.” He once wrote: “I took a vacation once - it involved a beach - and to tell you the truth, I had no idea what to do with myself. It was torture. Work is life. Without it, there is no life.”
Studs built a name for himself by seeking out the ordinary people of our world and showing them as extraordinary, and certainly seeking out the famous and making them appear ordinary.
“I have, after a fashion, been celebrated for having celebrated the lives of the uncelebrated among us; for lending voice to the face in the crowd,” he wrote in the opening line of his memoir “Touch and Go.”
He had a journalistic style like no other and scoffed at the notion of the most sacred word in journalism: “objectivity.”
 
Monday, November 3, 2008

Finding Isadore‘s Missing Sisiter

Books Mardi Link Share this scenario with just about any woman and you’re sure to get a shudder: A nine-year-old girl from a big city in the Midwest is orphaned after her mother is committed to a psychiatric hospital and her father is killed in a traffic accident. The country is facing economic strife, her parents were Polish immigrants and no relatives come forward to claim her. Her two teenage brothers are left to fend for themselves. They manage to make their way in life, barely, but are not equipped to care for their sister. It was as if bad luck and doom crossed paths one day and she was standing at the intersection, all alone in the world, even before her 10th birthday.
These circumstances would be dire today, but imagine now that the year is 1883. Options for women are few–for girls even fewer–and for orphaned girls like this one, there are none at all except for this: the convent.
This hypothetical lost little girl was a real person. In the end, the Catholic Church in Detroit took her in, and the Felician Sisters there –many of them Polish–fed her, clothed her, educated and even loved her. Not surprisingly, she became a nun.
 
Monday, November 3, 2008

Your Truest Self

Books Rick Coates For most of us, changes in life’s direction is a direct result of some monumental crises. A destructive relationship, a health tragedy, job loss, depression or substance abuse will often lead us to revaluate our path in life. Author and spiritual director Janice Lynne Lundy wants to encourage readers of her new book, Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be to start the process of a spiritual journey of seeking inner peace before such calamities arise.
Lundy found herself 15 years ago in pursuit of trying to have it all, and then some. Her desire to be the perfect wife, mother, employee, friend and trying to do it all for others led her down a path of exhaustion and facing her own major health issue.
 
Monday, September 22, 2008

The Great Book Round Up

Books Robert Downes Summer produced a slew of new books by Northern Michigan authors. In particular, local writers were absorbed with local history this season. Here’s a look at what you’ll find on area bookshelves:
Old Mission kids enjoying a trip by goat cart -- circa 1900, from A Century of Service.

A Century of Service -- The People and Places on Old Mission Peninsula
Edited by Jack and Vi Solomonson Photo editor Mary Jo Lance

Largely a picture book, you’ll find over 300 photos in A Century of Service, many of which are from the family albums of the residents of Old Mission Peninsula and have never been seen by the public.
Many of the photos date back to the early 1900s, with glimpses of farm life at a time when horses were still used to plow the fields and pull buggies to market.
Here too are photos of the “bustling port” of Old Mission Harbor, with steamships docking at the town. There are histories of prominent families as well as the Indian residents and humble postmen.
The reader will also find tales of how memorable sites on the peninsula came to be. Did you know, for instance, that Marion Island -- once a gathering spot for Indians -- was acquired by the Chicago Yacht Club and was later sold to Henry Ford for $100,000?
Published by the Peninsula Telephone Company, this book is full of such nuggets and is a must-have for any resident of the Old Mission Peninsula.
The Unraveling Thread
By Priscilla Cogan
$26.95
 
 
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