Letters 10-17-2016

Here’s The Truth The group Save our Downtown (SOD), which put Proposal 3 on the ballot, is ignoring the negative consequences that would result if the proposal passes. Despite the group’s name, the proposal impacts the entire city, not just downtown. Munson Medical Center, NMC, and the Grand Traverse Commons are also zoned for buildings over 60’ tall...

Keep TC As-Is In response to Lynda Prior’s letter, no one is asking the people to vote every time someone wants to build a building; Prop. 3 asks that people vote if a building is to be built over 60 feet. Traverse City will not die but will grow at a pace that keeps it the city people want to visit and/or reside; a place to raise a family. It seems people in high-density cities with tall buildings are the ones who flock to TC...

A Right To Vote I cannot understand how people living in a democracy would willingly give up the right to vote on an impactful and important issue. But that is exactly what the people who oppose Proposal 3 are advocating. They call the right to vote a “burden.” Really? Since when does voting on an important issue become a “burden?” The heart of any democracy is the right of the people to have their voice heard...

Reasons For NoI have great respect for the Prop. 3 proponents and consider them friends but in this case they’re wrong. A “yes” vote on Prop. 3 is really a “no” vote on..

Republican Observations When the Republican party sends its presidential candidates, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people with a lot of problems. They’re sending criminals, they’re sending deviate rapists. They’re sending drug addicts. They’re sending mentally ill. And some, I assume, are good people...

Stormy Vote Florida Governor Scott warns people on his coast to evacuate because “this storm will kill you! But in response to Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that Florida’s voter registration deadline be extended because a massive evacuation could compromise voter registration and turnout, Republican Governor Scott’s response was that this storm does not necessitate any such extension...

Third Party Benefits It has been proven over and over again that electing Democrat or Republican presidents and representatives only guarantees that dysfunction, corruption and greed will prevail throughout our government. It also I believe that a fair and democratic electoral process, a simple and fair tax structure, quality health care, good education, good paying jobs, adequate affordable housing, an abundance of healthy affordable food, a solid, well maintained infrastructure, a secure social, civil and public service system, an ecologically sustainable outlook for the future and much more is obtainable for all of us...

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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
Monday, September 8, 2008

What‘s Cookin‘? A look at the Epicurean Classic‘s cookbooks & classes

Books Rick Coates The Epicurean Classic, September 11-13, has become one of the top culinary events in the country. It attracts “foodies” and wine and beer enthusiasts from all over (even overseas) to the Great Lakes Culinary Institute on West Bay in Traverse City. Anchoring the event and setting it apart from similar affairs is its connectivity cookbooks.
Each year, a dozen or so cookbooks are released at the Epicurean Classic, with another dozen recently-released cookbooks and the authoring chefs on hand. Each chef offers a class or seminar based on recipes from his or her book. Wine and beverage experts are also present with their books, and also offer tasting seminars.
Each year, several cookbooks that were released at the Classic have gone on to win major awards. In addition to the seminars and classes, the chefs will appear on Saturday night to prepare recipes from their new cookbooks at the Grand Reception (see ‘Tastemakers’).
New this year at the Epicurean Classic is a pass program that allows for access to daily seminars and the tasting pavilion. Passes are available by the day or for two days. There is also the Gourmand Pass that gets the pass holder into the opening night reception, the Grand Reception, both days of the tasting pavilion, and all the seminars. Note that tasting classes are sold separately and not part of the new pass program. It should also be noted that tasting classes are now priced at $29 versus $39 last year.

Here is a sampling of cookbooks and classes
offered at the Epicurean Classic this week:
Monday, August 25, 2008

Staying safe abroad

Books Robert Downes Ed Lee has lived a life of adventure, working in some of the most dangerous countries in the world as a security consultant. Riots, bombs, bullets and kidnappings -- he’s dealt with it all -- and he’s used his wits to keep himself and others out of harm’s way.
But today, Lee, 64, is relying on more than 30 years of experience as an international security consultant to help keep readers out of trouble overseas with his new book: “Staying Safe Abroad -- Traveling, Working and Living in a Post-9/11 World.”
The 327-page book, published by his own Sleeping Bear Risk Solutions press, is packed with hair-raising stories, timely statistics and common-sense tips that will rate as valuable cargo on your next foreign vacation. In fact, if there’s any fault to the book, it’s that you may not want to venture much farther than your back porch after reading its cautionary tales, much less across the U.S. border.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dave Dempsey‘s Great Lakes for sale

Books Rick Coates As the final beach days wind down for 2008, consider taking Great Lakes For Sale From Whitecaps to Bottlecaps along with you for that final beach read.
Now at first glance this might seem a little bit of a heavy read for a leisurely afternoon at the beach. But there is really no better place to read this book than gazing over the miles of Lake Michigan.
First of all, author Dave Dempsey has taken one of the most challenging and often misunderstood issues in Michigan and the surrounding Great Lake states and put it all in layman terms. Dempsey has made this an easy read, not one full of scientific mumbo-jumbo, but rather he has written a 100-page essay (easy to read in an afternoon) that puts forward the issues at hand and offers solutions as well.
Dempsey is one of the leading advocates and experts for the future of the Great Lakes Water Basin. He is a senior policy advisor for the Michigan Environmental Council and well known for his writings on environmental issues in the Great Lakes region. He is author of Ruin and Recovery: Michigan’s Rise as a Conservation Leader and William G. Milliken: Michigan’s Passionate Moderate.
Monday, July 21, 2008

Local writers celebrate Michigan

Books Glen Young Summertime is prime time to enjoy Michigan’s great outdoors. And whether on land or on water, the number of folks who take to Michigan’s wilds explodes in the summer months. John Knott of the University of Michigan has put together a successful group of writers and photographers to explore this call of Michigan’s wild in the new book “Michigan: Our Water, Our Land, Our Heritage.”
Published by the University of Michigan Press, in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy, the book is built around a solid collection of essays about Michigan’s many treasures. Several notable local authors are represented, including Stephanie Mills, Anne-Marie Oomen, Jerry Dennis, and Jack Driscoll.
Monday, July 7, 2008

Revisiting the Good Hart murders

Books Glen Young Much of what happened that summer day in 1968 is known. Six members of a prominent Detroit area family were gunned down in their summer cottage near Good Hart, north of Harbor Springs. No credible witnesses came forward to aid police. The community and the nation were stunned. These facts and a few others are prolifically documented.
What is not known is who committed the murders, or why. The uncertainty has haunted family members, vexed law enforcement, and intrigued the curious for 40 years.
Several authors are among those transfixed by the unsolved murders of the Richard Robison family at their Summerset cottage in the rustic Blisswood resort community. Traverse City area author Mardi Link has waded through what is known, what is suspected, and what is still a mystery for her new book “When Evil Came to Good Hart.”
Published by the University of Michigan Press, Link’s book is the first non-fiction examination of the family, the crime, and the suspects who were investigated by police both in the aftermath of the murders, and for years afterwards.
Monday, June 30, 2008

Do travel writers go to Hell

Books Robert Downes Indiana Jones, look out: when it comes to gutsy adventurers and studly chick magnets, you’re no match for Lonely Planet travel guide writer Thomas Kohnstamm, who has penned a gonzo memoir of six smokin’ hot weeks in Brazil.
Er, make that “ex”-Lonely Planet writer because Kohnstamm is currently persona non grata at the travel guide publishing house, owing to the damning details of his new memoir, “Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?” in which he admits that he made up much of the information he collected in a Lonely Planet guide to northeast Brazil.
And not only that, but in subsequent news reports, Kohnstamm outed himself as a fraud, claiming that he made up details in 12 Lonely Planet guidebooks and didn’t even bother visiting Columbia for his research. He wrote the book from his apartment in San Francisco.
“They didn’t pay me enough to go (to) Columbia,” he is widely reported as stating in what has become a Jayson Blair-style scandal in the travel writing industry. “I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating - an intern in the Colombian Consulate.”
Monday, June 23, 2008

Fighting Words: The bloody saga of George Armstrong Custer

Books Robert Downes A Terrible Glory
By James Donovan
Little, Brown and Company
528 pages • $26.99

“June 25, 1876. The air is filled with smoke, arrows, and the roar of hundreds of rifles. George Armstrong Custer and five undermanned companies of his famed Seventh Cavalry are trapped on a hill overlooking a river called the Little Bighorn. They are surrounded by more than a thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors...”
So begins the much-told tale of George Armstrong Custer, “the Boy General” whose hubris led more than 200 men to their death in what author James Donovan calls “The Last Great Battle of the American West.”
There have been many retellings of Custer’s last stand on a hill in Montana, but Donovan sheds new light on the battle by exploring unpublished resources and new forensic evidence. His claims are backed up by more than 80 pages of footnotes in small type, as well as a bibliography that cites hundreds of books, articles and unpublished accounts.
More to the point, his superb scholarship is matched by a spellbinding gift for storytelling: Donovan is adept at drawing pictures with his words, bringing the story of “the last cavalier” to life. That gift is perhaps a bi-product of the fact that he’s also the author of an illustrated book on the battle, “Custer and the Little Bighorn.”
Monday, June 9, 2008

The Great American Hamburger

Books Rick Coates “Hamburger America”
By George Motz
The Running Press

Sure, that old saying bills “apple pie” as American, but nothing says American like a juicy hamburger. Just ask filmmaker and author George Motz. Last month his book, “Hamburger America: A State-By-State Guide To 100 Great Burger Joints,” was released by The Running Press.
Now, usually movies are inspired by a great book, but “Hamburger America” was inspired by the documentary film Motz began in 2001. He had this idea of traveling the country, seeking out the best burger joints. The film focuses on what Motz describes as “eight historically significant hamburger counters in America.”
Released in 2005, the film won three Emmys, 12 Broadcast Design Awards, a Telly Award and a James Beard nomination for its contributions in recognizing America’s most iconic food. The documentary has even become required viewing for students at Princeton University who take the food course
Monday, June 9, 2008

Best beach reads

Books Robert Downes Back when I was a kid, our library used to have a summer reading club for those of us who enjoyed the escapism of a good book. I’m not sure that many kids actually made it through an ambitious summer reading project, but the idea of enjoying a big summer novel or nonfiction potboiler retains its allure.
So, here are a few tomes to chew on while you’re down at the beach, looking for something to do besides counting seagulls:
Monday, May 26, 2008

Five years in Guantanamo

Books David Swanson The guards at Guantanamo are terrified, ex-prisoner Murat Kurnaz writes. Even a man with no legs (amputated after being intentionally exposed to extreme cold by American guards in Afghanistan) is treated as a horrifying threat:
“The bandages wrapped around Abdul’s stumps were never changed. When he took them off himself, they were full of blood and pus. He showed the bandage to the guards and pointed to his open wounds. The guards ignored him. Later I saw how he tried to wash the bandages in his bucket of drinking water. But he could hardly move his hands, so he wasn’t able to. And even if he had, where would he have hung them up to dry? He wasn’t allowed to touch the fence. He wrapped his stumps back up in the dirty bandages.
“When the guards came to take him to be interrogated, they ordered him to sit with his back to the door and put his hands on his head. When they opened the door, they stormed in as they did with every other prisoner. They hit him on the back and pushed him to the ground. Then they handcuffed and bound him so he could no longer move. Abdul howled in pain.”
A man with no legs? No, a terrorist with no legs, a mythical evildoing creature with no legs. Hatred? Yes. Bigotry? Yes. But driven by fear instilled through training in the U.S. military, fear of monsters with superhuman powers, fear strong enough to make a team of armored storm troopers fear a legless man in a cage.
The passage quoted above is from “Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo,” by Murat Kurnaz, and reading his account might begin to make the reader, too, view the caged prisoners as less than human, were it not for the skillful way in which Kurnaz intersperses descriptions of his pre-Guantanamo life in Germany.