Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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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.
Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Thousand Bones

Books Rick Coates Northern Michigan has served as the backdrop and inspiration to many a writer and author. Most notable on the list are Ernest Hemingway and Jim Harrison. Add to that list New York Times bestselling author P.J. Parrish.
Parrish is the author of the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Louis Kincaid mystery novel series, which uses the the Leelanau Peninsula as the setting to launch a new crime novel series featuring Joe Frye, a female police officer and Kincaid’s lover. The new novel, “A Thousand Bones,” was released last week and Parrish is touring through Northern Michigan doing a series of book signings.
Thursday, June 21, 2007

Killing Che

Books Robert Downes Walk into any tourist t-shirt shop on the planet and you’re likely to find the brooding image of Che Guevera in his star-topped black beret, ready to enlist the wanna-be revolutionaries of the world into what is now little more than a fashion statement.
But in his day, Che Guevera was a young man who shook the world as one of a handful of guerillas who waged a successful revolution in Cuba with Fidel Castro. He was a 34-year-old idealist who dreamed of exporting the same revolutionary tactics to South America when he was gunned down by the Bolivian army working with the Central Intelligence Agency in 1967.
But who was Che? The fun-loving young doctor of “The Motorcycle Diaries,” or the communist icon who talked a good game of freedom, but was just as willing to crush Cuba’s free press after the revolution?
Author Chuck Pfarrer offers some answers in his first novel, “Killing Che,” which is based on the revolutionary’s own field diaries. That, and Pfarrer’s own background as a former Navy SEAL, which provides some behind-the-scenes insight into how the CIA’s covert campaign against Che may have gone down.
Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tom Wright‘s Roadwork

Books Rick Coates Editors Note: Rick Coates detailed Tom Wright’s biography in a two-part article that appears in the archive section of northernexpress.com beginning with the August 28, 2003 issue. Tom Wright moved to Northern Michigan in 2000 to collect his thoughts and organize his photo archives. Coates also served as project facilitator for Tom Wright’s “Knew and Used Photography,” the international debut of Wright’s photographic collection, in November of 2003. The exhibition (one of the most successful in the history of the Dennos Museum) attracted thousands, including several rock stars (Rod Stewart, Uncle Kracker, Bob Seger and Ian McLagan), to Traverse City. Coates also edited the “Exhibition” catalogue that featured several of Wright’s best photos. For additional information on Tom Wright,visit tomwrightphotography.com.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

On the road with an Irish Pirate/Ramor Ryan

Books Holly Wren Spaulding In anticipation of his appearance in Traverse City next week, Irish author Ramor Ryan took time out to talk about his new book, Clandestines: The Pirate Journals of an Irish Exile, life in a conflict zone, and his political coming of age during the embattled Ireland of the 1980s.

NE: I understand you’ve read in Ireland, England, Germany, Mexico, New York, San Francisco — we’re lucky to make it onto your tour.
Ramor Ryan: I have to say that I have wanted to visit Traverse City for many years, as I have very special connections with the community there!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Love Blooms Anew/Liesel Lizenburger

Books Glen Young Writer Liesel Litzenburger is enjoying a success little witnessed in her business.
Litzenburger, a newly-40 blonde who grew up in Harbor Springs and now calls the Grand Rapids area home, can credit some of her good fortune to nine-year-old Annie Child.
Annie, the diminutive heroine of Litzenburger’s new collection of linked stories Now You Love Me, has been rediscovered. First published in 2001 by Carnegie Mellon University Press, Now You Love Me has become not only Litzenburger’s first book but also her second, thanks to its recent re-publication by new publisher Shaye Areheart.
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Book Roundup

Books Robert Downes Self-publishing has become a cottage industry in Northern Michigan with a slew of do-it-yourself authors making their mark on the literary world.
Here’s an update on who’s doing what on the shelves of local bookstores, borrowing freely from the authors’ press releases:

Murder in the Keweenaw
By Harley Sachs

Thursday, March 15, 2007

When Things Fall Apart

Books Anne Stanton I was at an Interlochen Pathfinder School ice skating party recently when my eye caught the name of a book left on a folding chair: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun.
As it turns out the book belonged to a woman who formed a “Chodron” book study group with two other women. One of the moms at the skating party asked if
she could join the group. I was tempted to ask, too.
Thursday, March 1, 2007

Signal achievement ... Anne-Marie Oomen

Books Robert Downes Anne-Marie Oomen is one of those irresistible writers whose work always packs a surprise. A poet and a playwright with the easyAA warmth that comes from a country upbringing, she weaves an endlessly inventive orbit, enveloping the sphere of life in rural Northern Michigan.
Her latest work is “Uncoded Woman,” a collection of more than 60 poems. The poems tell the story of a young woman named Bead, who is “running away from her life in a stolen pickup.”
Bead (short for Beatrice) seems to be seeking shelter from the storm of her life with a new beginning along the coast of Lake Michigan. She picks up a Native American hitch-hiker named Barn and accepts his invitation to stay at his trailer in the Glen Arbor area (we know because they have “charred burgers at Art’s Bar”). Under her new friend’s guidance, Bead renews her life, learning to fish on Lake Michigan.
Accompanying each poem is a semaphore message from the maritime “International Code of Symbols” used to signal ships at sea in the days before radio. Bead stumbles across the codebook at the lifesaving station in Glen Haven in Leelanau County and recognizes its blunt signals as metaphors for the perplexities of her own life. When she discovers a body floating in the lake, the cumulative codes help build a sense of drama and suspense in the reader’s mind. The mystery forces Bead to face her own demons. How will she decode her own life?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Got Energy?

Books Robert Downes Got Energy
Moving away from fossil fuels and nuclear power is the goal of author Hermann Scheer, whose book, “Energy Autonomy” (EARTHSCAN 2007) finds the solution in a scattershot reliance on renewable energy schemes.
A member of the German Bundestag (parliament) and president of the European Association for Renewable Energy, the author is also chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy.
With credentials like those, it’s no wonder Scheer is passionate in the search for alternative sources of power, including biofuels, solar and wind power, to replace the destructive aspects of burning coal or building new nuclear power plants. Scheer argues for a decentralized approach to providing local power, using renewable sources that are close to home.
“Energy Autonomy” is not an easy read; it’s scholarly in tone and Scheer lacks Al Gore’s skill at putting zest in his subject. Perhaps it’s the translation. But if you’re charged up over the quest for a new way to power the world, this “Hero for the Green Century” (Time Magazine) offers an encyclopedic overview.
Thursday, February 1, 2007

Gruesome Mio murders

Books Rick Coates In 1985 when two buddies from the Detroit suburbs ventured north to go deer hunting, their expectations were like many who come to Northern Michigan for a weekend getaway. A chance to enjoy the solitude the area offers and an opportunity to escape the “big city.” When Brian Ognjan and David Tyll didn’t return from their weekend excursion, their family and friends expected foul play.
They were correct, but it would take investigators nearly 18 years to solve this gruesome crime. Writer Tom Henderson – who splits his time between a one-room schoolhouse home east of Traverse City and in the Detroit suburb of St. Clair Shores – captured this spellbinding tale of two senseless and grisly murders near the small Ausable River community of Mio, in his book “Darker Than Night”.
Henderson’s book is part of the popular St. Martin’s True Crime Library Series and was published in the fall
of 2006.
Thursday, November 23, 2006

Dominic Sondy‘s Saigon Shuffle

Books Robert Downes Another war, another time. For author and photographer Dominic R. Sondy,
there are parallels between his days in Vietnam 38 years ago and today’s
struggle in Iraq.
Those similarities and contrasts make his new book, “Saigon Shuffle” all
the more poignant, weaving the tale of one soldier’s life in the mobile
infantry and behind the lens of a camera in the U.S. Army.
A trade show photographer from Traverse City, Sondy, 59, employs a
gambling metaphor to describe the workings of fate behind the “Saigon
Shuffle” of young soldiers betting their lives on the war. In his case,
the bet involved enlisting in the hope of obtaining G.I. Bill benefits to
continue his college education... if he survived the fury of Vietnam in
Thursday, November 23, 2006

Shopping made a Turkey out of me

Books Harley L. Sachs Don’t let anyone tell you that grocery shopping in America is boring. At holiday time, Thanksgiving and Christmas, grocery stores in the United States offer special deals. Cranberry sauce is suddenly cheap. Sweet potatoes, a staple on the menu, are also pullers. Then there’s the promise of a reduced price or even free turkey. This can be an adventure.
The store whose coupon we pursued offered three different deals. If we spent $25, our holiday turkey would be 49 cents a pound. If we spent $50 the price would drop to 39 cents a pound. If we spent $100 the bird would be free.
We had no intentions of going for a free turkey. We live in a studio apartment with a small refrigerator. A typical holiday giant frozen turkey would not fit in the freezer compartment. With only two of us to eat it, a whole turkey would last for weeks. At least, after several meals followed by turkey fricassee and even turkey soup, we would be satiated on turkey for a whole year.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Our Secret Garden

Books Robert Downes No one gets to the heart of Northern Michigan’s great outdoors like Jim McIntyre, who knows how to weave a spellbinding tale and has the theatrical skills and know-how to bring it to life.
Those skills come to bear in “Our Secret Garden,” a new spoken-word CD which tells of Jim’s many seasons hunting amid the fields and forests of remote Garden Island in Lake Michigan. The centerpiece of the four stories on this disc is the tale of a hunter killed on the island -- “taken out of season long before his time” -- an inconceivable death, given the island’s faraway, seemingly peaceful location.
Thursday, October 12, 2006

Detroit Rock City

Books Robert Downes If you’re a baby boomer who grew up listening to the sound of Detroit’s fabulous rock bands of the late ‘60s, you’re sure to enjoy the drive down memory lane with “Grit, Noise and Revolution: The Birth of Detroit Rock ‘N’ Roll.”
Recently issued in paperback by author and Royal Oak native David A. Carson (University of Michigan Press, $17.95), the book begins with blues pioneer John Lee Hooker arriving in Detroit in 1943 and chronicles the birth of the city’s blues scene along with the rise of Motown.