Letters

Letters 11-28-2016

Trump should avoid self-dealing President-elect Donald Trump plans to turn over running of The Trump Organization to his children, who are also involved in the transition and will probably be informal advisers during his administration. This is not a “blind trust.” In this scenario Trump and family could make decisions based on what’s best for them rather than what’s best for the country...

Trump the change we need?  I have had a couple of weeks to digest the results of this election and reflect. There is no way the selection of Trump as POTUS could ever come close to being normal. It is not normal to have a president-elect settle a fraud case for millions a couple of months before the inauguration. It is not normal to have racists considered for cabinet posts. It is not normal for a president-elect tweet outrageous comments on his Twitter feed to respond to supposed insults at all hours of the early morning...

Health care system should benefit all It is no secret that the health insurance situation in our country is controversial. Some say the Affordable Care Act is “the most terrible thing that has happened to our country in years”; others are thrilled that, “for the first time in years I can get and afford health insurance.” Those who have not been closely involved in the medical field cannot be expected to understand how precarious the previous medical insurance structure was...

Christmas tradition needs change The Christmas light we need most is the divine, and to receive it we do not need electricity, probably only prayers and good deeds. But not everyone has this understanding, as we see in the energy waste that follows with the Christmas decorations...

CORRECTIONS & CLARIFICATIONS 

A story in last week’s edition about parasailing businesses on East Grand Traverse Bay mistakenly described Grand Traverse Parasail as a business that is affiliated with the ParkShore Resort. It operates from a beach club two doors down from the resort. The story also should have noted that prior to the filing of a civil lawsuit in federal court by Saburi Boyer and Traverse Bay Parasail against Bryan Punturo and the ParkShore Resort, a similar lawsuit was dismissed from 13th Circuit Court in Traverse City upon a motion from the defendant’s attorney. Express regrets the error and omission.

A story in last week’s edition about The Fillmore restaurant in Manistee misstated Jacob Slonecki’s job at Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course. He was a cook. Express regrets the error.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton

Books Special Forces Ride to Victory in
Horse Soldiers
HORSE SOLDIERS: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan
By Doug Stanton
Scribner 5/25/09
Illustrated. 393 pp. $28

Author Doug Stanton’s first book In Harm’s Way enjoyed nine months on the New York Times Bestseller List back in 2001, including several weeks in the Top 10. His second book Horse Soldiers, a dramatic tale of a small number of Special Forces soldiers who entered Afghanistan shortly after 9/11 and eventually defeated the Taliban while riding on horseback, is expected to hit number 10 on the New York Times list this week.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read Stanton’s work over the years in a variety of publications including Esquire, Outside, Sports Afield and Men’s Journal, where he is currently a contributing editor, that he would follow up In Harm’s Way with another bestseller.
Stanton has a keenness to go beyond the surface of the obvious by using his journalistic instincts to get to what actually drives a story. In the case of Horse Soldiers he could have easily found himself caught up in the policies of the Clinton and Bush administrations on Afghanistan and distracted the reader by going into great detail as to how these soldiers ended up from a policy perspective in Afghanistan in the first place. Instead Stanton delves into what happened on the “war field,” not in the “war room.”
Too often battles and wars are reported or written from the perspective of those creating the strategies and the policies and not by those who carry them out. Stanton received unprecedented access to a group of Special Forces soldiers, whose modus operandi is to blend in versus seek the spotlight. He made the most of his access and as a result he takes readers right to the battlefield and into the minds and moments of this extraordinary group of human beings.
 
Monday, May 4, 2009

Is Glenn Puit the King of True Crime

Books Robert Downes Is Glenn Puit the King of True Crime
Robert Downes 5/4/09


By day, Glenn Puit spends his time as an environmental reporter, sifting through reams of boilerplate reports and conducting interviews with bureaucrats and eco-activists to promote a greener world. But at night, chances are you’ll find him wading knee-deep through the bloody history of the Las Vegas underworld -- a place where psychopaths present a smiling face to the world, yet roil with killer impulses; a world where upstanding citizens and pillars of the community set their colleagues on fire in the desert, or bash the brains out of their loved-ones.
 
Monday, May 4, 2009

When Grandma worn nothing but a smile

Books Elizabeth Buzzelli When
Grandma
wore
Nothing
But a Smile


Nothing But a Smile
Steve Amick
Pantheon Books

By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli 5/4/09

Nothing But a Smile isn’t about WWII, it isn’t about the porn industry, it isn’t even about your grandmother. Instead, this novel by Steve Amick, the Ann Arbor writer whose last book was the Michigan Notable Book: The Lake, the River & the Other Lake, is the intimate story of two young people during and just after the war, trying to make their way, suffering through tragedy, youth, impetuousness, and nobility as often as they suffer stupidity.
It’s about the kind of idealism that age crushes. It’s about America still reeling from loss. It’s about morality that deviates from the usual, proscribed morality of religion, springing instead from necessity, and then from joy. The war is over. They are the ones who lived. The future is theirs.
 
Monday, April 27, 2009

Can Bookworms solve a crime?

Books Mardi Link Can Bookworms
Solve a Crime?

By Mardi Link

That’s the question participants at the Petoskey Public Library will consider at an upcoming forum addressing Northern Michigan’s most notorious unsolved mass murder.
In June of 1968 all five members of the Detroit-based Richard Robison family were ambushed inside their Good Hart cottage. After more than four decades the crime remains officially unsolved, despite an exhaustive investigation by both the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan State Police. Law enforcement’s chief suspect committed suicide in 1973, just days before a rumored indictment and arrest.
How do you activate interest in a cold case when the crime scene is gone, the suspect is dead, the murder weapons were never found, and the evidence is ancient? You rally the bookworms.
First among those is Petoskey high school English teacher, Rick Wiles. At the time of the murder Wiles had been receiving a subscription to Impresario, the monthly arts magazine that Richard Robison’s company published. Wiles began keeping a scrapbook of newspaper articles on the case and eventually wrote a lengthy, unpublished research paper detailing the investigation and delving into the possible psychology of the named suspect, Joseph R. Scolaro, III.
Wiles’ research led him not to the police but rather to other literary types like himself. Namely Royal Oak psychologist and author Eleanor Payson, whose book The Wizard of OZ and Other Narcissists dissects the personality type Wiles attributes to the Robison family killer; and to Indiana writer and criminal attorney Frank S. Perri, who writes in forensic periodicals about the new idea that white collar criminals (theft) can become red collar criminals (murder) when they believe they are in danger of being exposed.
 
Monday, March 30, 2009

Eye Candy... Playboy takes a stroll down memory lane

Books Glen Young Eye candy... Playboy takes a stroll down memory lane
Glen Young 3/30/09

Okay, so no one is going to buy Playboy’s pictorial for the reading. Nonetheless, astute readers, as well as critics of the culture, will find as many insights into evolving mores in the essays as in the stylized and recognizable photographs.
Oh yes, the photographs. In living color spread across more than 637 pages are “The Complete Centerfolds,” those iconic images from Playboy, starting with Marilyn Monroe in December 1953, concluding with Sasckya Porto, Miss December 2007, and including every lovely lady in between.
 
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.”
 
 
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