Letters

Letters 10-20-2014

Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

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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
$19.95


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.
 
Monday, May 19, 2008

Visions of Mackinac

Books Robert Downes If there’s one book you simply must have on your coffee table this summer, it’s “A Picturesque Situation: Mackinac Before Photography 1615-1860” by Brian Leigh Dunnigan.
The book is a treasure trove of the days when the Straits area served as North America’s ‘wild northwest,’ lifting the reader’s soul with visions of our colorful, rough-and-tumble past. Filled with 330 paintings, drawings, maps and documents, “A Picturesque Situation” tells the story of the Straits area at a time when it was the western terminus to the resources of North America.
 
Monday, April 21, 2008

The Bush Tragedy

Books Robert Downes The Bush Tragedy
By Jacob Weisberg
Random House
269 pages, $26



With the presidency of George W. Bush wrapping up as an historic disaster, authors are lining up to dissect how the president managed to pull so many blunders, including the war in Iraq, the wreck of America’s reputation around the world, and the disaster of New Orleans, to name a few.
Author Jacob Weisberg offers insights in “The Bush Tragedy,” a biography that explores the psychological issues that influenced George W. Bush. The book also examines the motives of Bush’s misguided advisors, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, who led the inexperienced president into a series of poor decisions.
Weisberg compares Bush to Shakespeare’s Prince Hal, a ne’r-do-well youth who became the warlike and religious King Henry V of England. Like Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s plays “Henry IV” and “Henry V,” George W. stands in the shadow of a famous father: he’s desperate to live up to his father’s legend, and also to outdo his father to make his own mark as a man.
The editor of Slate.com, and a former writer for The New Republic, Weisberg notes that both George W. Bush and Prince Hal also play out roles drawn from even older stories: that of the prodigal son in the Bible and the father-destroying legend of Oedipus.
 
Monday, March 10, 2008

Strike Dog

Books Glen Young Author Joe Heywood genuinely likes conservation officer Grady Service.
Heywood, a retired pharmaceutical executive, believes Service, the curmudgeonly Upper Peninsula “woods cop,” has a big heart, a sharp mind, and a knack for finding the bad guys.
Service is the fictional creation of Heywood, and the two have returned for a fifth installment of the “Woods Cop” mystery series published by The Lyons Press.
Heywood has pressed Service back into active duty in “Strike Dog,” the latest adventure in the series that began in 2001 with “Ice Hunter.”
A 1961 graduate of Rudyard High School, Heywood now lives in Portage, near Kalamazoo. But every year he returns to the U.P., riding alongside conservation officers and scouting new locations and new ideas. More than anything, however, Heywood finds a greater appreciation for the real-life woods cops.
 
Monday, March 3, 2008

Skinny Bitch

Books Robert Downes It was just an obscure diet book on the shelves a little over a year ago, but today, Skinny Bitch and its sister publication Skinny Bitch in the Kitch
are two of the fattest books on the bestseller charts.
Specifically, Skinny Bitch has spent the past 30 weeks at the top of the New York Times Paperback Advice Bestseller List, with Skinny Bitch in the Kitch weighing in at number four, along with nine weeks on the list.
Both books offer “vegan diet advice from the world of modeling.” Author Rory Freedman is a former agent for Ford Models and a “self-taught know-it-all,” while Kim Barnouin is a former model who holds an MS degree in holistic nutrition.
 
Monday, February 18, 2008

Black Hole

Books Robert Downes If you’ve never read a graphic novel before, then “Black Hole” by Charles Burns is a wake-up call as to how disturbing and provocative these steroid-packed comic books can be.
Hailed as the masterwork of a comics superstar, “Black Hole” is a frightening trip into a nightmare of teenage anxieties, rendered with drawings that recall the darkness of both Rembrandt and Dracula.
The story involves a bizarre plague that infects a group of teenagers in the Seattle area during the 1970s -- a time when “it wasn’t exactly cool to be a hippie any more, but David Bowie was still just a little too weird.”
 
Monday, February 11, 2008

Why Mars & Venus collide

Books Robert Downes Is your relationship cosmically stressed out? Is a meteor shower of
hassles and time-pressure tearing up your world of love and commitment?
Is your rocket to romance stalled on the launching pad because you can’t
choose between Mars and Venus as a destination?
If so, you may wish to consult “Why Mars & Venus Collide,” the latest
self-help book for relationships by space explorer and love coach John
Gray.
 
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Local Pageturners

Books Rick Coates It’s that time again - time for last minute gift buying. If you are in that market, consider buying something made local, such as wine, works of art, functional handcrafted art (pottery, clothing, leather goods) or value added agricultural products from local family owned farms. Another great idea is books, and certainly going to the New York Times’ Best Seller list assures giving a book that has attained at least some national status; but why not consider giving a book from a Northern Michigan author? Even consider giving yourself a book - after all, you deserve a gift.
Northern Michigan has long been a haven for writers and authors. Certainly most notable is Hemingway, whose early writings were shaped and inspired by his time spent in the Petoskey and Walloon Lake areas as well as the Upper Peninsula. Then there is Jim Harrison (happy birthday to Jim, who last week joined his good friend Jack Nicholson in reaching the 70-year-olds club), who spent most of his adult writing life living on the Leelanau Peninsula. Harrison has a new book out as well (from last winter), titled Returning To Earth.
 
Thursday, October 25, 2007

Night Work

Books Glen Young Way out East, in Cottekill, New York, author Steve Hamilton is likely sitting down, even tonight, to begin his new novel.
Hamilton, a Michigan native who has called New York’s Catskills Mountain region home since his 1983 graduation from U of M, is well known to Michigan mystery fans. Since the early success of 1998’s “A Cold Day in Paradise,” Hamilton has penned six other novels starring retired Detroit policeman Alex McKnight. But his most recent success finds Hamilton leaving McKnight and Paradise behind for his adopted home of New York.
“Night Work” marks a breakout for Hamilton; a first commercial departure from his tried and tested fictional series. This time, instead of the slushy confines of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in winter, Hamilton’s story takes place in the Hudson River valley region of New York, near his own home. It’s a murder mystery in which the main character struggles both to exonerate himself and catch the killer.
 
 
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