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, September 14, 2006

McLean & Eakin

Books Kristi Kates Julie Norcross is one cool booksellin’ lady.  The founder and owner of McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Norcross, even after 14 years in business, is always right on top of what’s going on in the publishing world, and is just as excited about it as the day she opened her shop.
And it all comes down to two things:  one, she loves retail, and two, Julie Norcross loves books.
Thursday, August 31, 2006

Let it Grow

Books Dianne Conners When early spring turned unseasonably warm this year, Kingsley area greenhouse farm-er Richard Zenner found himself with thousands of pounds of tomatoes growing faster than weeds after rain. Faster, he feared, than he’d be able to find buyers to purchase them on such unexpected short notice.
Zenner, however, is one of 200 farms now listed in the nonprofit Michigan Land Use Institute’s (MLUI) expanded and updated Taste the Local Difference food guide—which at the height of harvest season this Labor Day weekend links consumers to more than 120 products grown by local farms. The colorful print and searchable Web-based guide lists everything from peaches, sweet corn, and even burgers and brats for the grill, to jams, honey, and maple syrup for brunch or gifts. And the Institute’s www.LocalDifference.org web site clues those who’d rather not cook to more than 70 area restaurants and caterers (as well as stores and lodging facilities) that feature local farm foods.
Thursday, July 20, 2006

Color Tour

Books Shirley Murray Calvin Trillin once observed that mysteries are God’s gift to travelers. Reading Michael Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen mysteries in Italy, Julie Smith’s police detective Skip Langdon in New Orleans, or Nevada Barr in the national parks, gives us an insider’s feel for the mood of the area.
Up north travelers and residents experienced this with Aaron Stander’s first mystery novel, Summer People. Not since Robert Wilson’s U.P.thriller, Crooked Tree, was I so totally immersed in a Northern Michigan setting. A six-year hiatus for a Ray Elkins sequel was rewarded this month with the arrival of Color Tour. Once again, we sink into an area both familiar and mysterious. Stander’s Cedar County with its haunting sand dunes, woodlands and Lake Michigan -- alternately raging and serene -- shape and shade every character on the Color Tour canvass. “The murders are all fiction,” Stander says, “but the locations are real. I can take you to the scene of every murder.”
Thursday, May 18, 2006

Chasing the Dream

Books Robert Downes Brad Platt has a great setting for his new book, a cool title and a potboiler plot. Now all he needs is readers to make his dream of the writing life come true.
Deadstream is Platt’s first novel, the product of five years of interior monologues, sketching out the characters, crafting the plot, writing, rewriting and rewriting again. He’s shared his work at a prestigious writer’s workshop, parsed his prose and pared his tale into a hoped-for trilogy. He’s sought criticism from a writing coach. He’s put his money where his mouth is to get his book published. He’s hustled hard with the press to get reviews, and he’s pushing his book’s distribution.
There is, in short, a great deal of work to be done in getting a first book published, not to mention the hope of a bestseller; but no one can say that Platt hasn’t gone the extra mile on that score.
Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Passionate Moderate

Books Rick Coates It has been 24 years since Traverse City’s William G. Milliken walked the halls of the Capitol building in Lansing in an official capacity. As Michigan’s longest serving governor (14 years between 1969 and 1982), his legacy is now the subject of a new biography written by author and environmental expert Dave Dempsey.
Dempsey will appear at the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council’s (NMEAC)17th Annual Environmentalist of the Year Celebration, Friday, April 21 at the Waterfront Conference Center in Traverse City. Milliken and his wife Helen will be honored for their many contributions to the environment. Dempsey will speak about those contributions and read excerpts from his book.
Dempsey’s book “William G. Milliken: Michigan’s Passionate Moderate,” details Milliken’s life as a war hero in WWII (Milliken’s war experience included 50 combat missions on a B-24 and being wounded over Vienna, Austria, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart) and his public contributions both pre- and post- governor years.
Thursday, March 2, 2006

Larry Mawby...by the book

Books Rick Coates Leelanau Peninsula winemaker and grape-grower Larry Mawby just wanted to see if grapes would grow on his property when he first planted vines 33 years ago. A lot has changed since he opened his tasting room in 1978 and planted those initial vines in 1973. Mawby is now one of 15 wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula that is producing world class, award-winning wines of distinction that have helped to make Northern Michigan one of the hottest wine destinations in the country.
About 10 years ago Mawby began focusing on sparkling wines. Success came quickly and today Mawby produces exclusively sparkling wines (this spring he will release a Vignoles that won’t be a sparkler).
A few years ago Time Magazine singled his operation as one of five wineries to keep an eye on in the country. Major wine critics such as London-based Tom Stevenson have been singing Mawby’s praises in recent years. For the past two years Stevenson, one of the world’s leading authorities on wine, has featured Mawby in the introduction of his book, “Wine Report.” The coveted annual guide covers the world of wine and every major region, and for him to write extensively about Mawby two years in a row says something about the quality of Mawby’s wines and how they stack up against the world’s best.
But a humble Mawby says these sorts of praises are really reflective of the region as a whole.
“I think whether it is my winery or any other winery being singled out, it speaks volumes of what we are capable of in our region,” said Mawby. “Each time any of us wins a major award and or are praised by major critics, it tells the world that there are great wines being made outside of California and France.”
Thursday, December 15, 2005

Who Killed the Black Dahlia?

Books Robert Downes The gruesome torture slaying of Elizabeth Short, infamous as the “Black Dahlia,” is one of the most spectacular unsolved mysteries in the history of crime in America.
A beautiful, poverty-stricken 22-year-old who aspired to become a movie star, Elizabeth Short wore her hair in black curls and dressed in chic, stylish black.  Friends in the sleazy L.A. underculture she frequented during the 1940s called her the Black Dahlia after a popular movie of the time, “Blue Dahlia.”
It’s a name that has resounded for decades in American criminology since   January 15, 1947, when the Black Dahlia’s tortured body was found posed in a trash-strewn field in Los Angeles, a “Joker” style grin carved in her face from ear to ear, half her blood drained from her body and her torso literally cut in half with surgical precision.  Other things were done to Short which are too gruesome to describe here -- sexual things of a necrophiliac nature -- she was literally strung up with wire and abused in extremely bizarre ways before being bisected.
The death of the Black Dahlia was followed by six similar murders along with a series of taunting notes to the police and local newspapers.
The killing was so sadistic and cruel that it sent shock waves resonating through popular culture: it influenced the hard-core, tough-talking detective fiction of Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, Dashiell Hammett and Mickey Spillane in the 1950s.  It upped the ante on Hollywood’s film noir movement, which painted the human heart a shade darker for shocked filmgoers.  It sparked a lurid genre of L.A. fiction and films such as “Chinatown, “ “L.A. Confidential,” and an upcoming film on the Black Dahlia herself by crime novelist James Ellroy which will star Hilary Swank as the ill-fated femme fatale.
Who killed the Black Dahlia? Traverse City attorney William Rasmussen thinks he knows the answer to a crime that has plagued armchair detectives and real ones too for the past 58 years.
Thursday, November 10, 2005

30 years ago... Book recalls the gales of November

Books Rick Coates The day President Kennedy was assassinated has been forever marked in the memories of many; they remember exactly what they were doing the moment they heard the news. The same can be said for those who remember the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald on November 10, 1975.
At 729 feet in length, nearly 40 feet tall and 75 wide while weighing in at 13,632 tons before cargo, the Edmund Fitzgerald was the pride of the Great Lakes and was thought to be unsinkable. But the Great Lakes have 6,000 shipwrecks to their credit, claiming over 30,000 lives. No ship will ever be unconquerable once in the clutches of these mighty waters and thrity years ago the invincible “Mighty Fitz” and the crew of 29 proved to be no match for the November gales of Lake Superior.
At 7 p.m. on that night a ship that had reached safe harbor had made radio contact with the Fitz and had the ship on its radar. The last words from the Captain were “ We are holding our own,” moments later the Fitz disappeared from the radar screen. The conditions of the lifeboats and the fact that no distress signals were given suggest that the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald (which now rests at the bottom of Lake Superior 530 feet below the surface) happened quickly, giving the crew no chance at survival.
Thursday, November 3, 2005


Books Robert Downes Author of Aaron’s Crossing looks to broader horizon
It’s been a thrilling year for author Linda Alice Dewey, whose first book, “Aaron’s Crossing,” has received a blizzard of publicity from Michigan’s press since she penned the 232-page manuscript a year ago about her encounter with a ghost in an old cemetary near Glen Arbor.
Much of that is due to Dewey’s considerable hustle: sending out waves of press kits and review copies, establishing a an elaborate website, and generating stories and reviews in more than a dozen newspapers and magazines, including the Detroit Free Press.
But a savvy P.R. campaign alone doesn’t move books, and it’s obvious from the ascendency of “Aaron’s Crossing” as a regional bestseller that Dewey has struck a nerve with local readers.  She’s sold out her first run of 3,000 books, primarily through test marketing the novel/memoir in northwestern lower Michigan, and now she’s heading for broader horizons.   Currently, she’s preparing for a downstate tour of Ann Arbor, Gross Pointe and Kalamazoo, followed by a national push this January through California, Arizona and onward.
Somewhere down the road, she hopes for an international bestseller, possibly a musical and a film, and definitely a follow-up book.  
Thursday, August 4, 2005

Terry Gamble‘s Good Family Revisits Northern Michigan

Books Robert Downes Terry Gamble’s first book, The Water Dancer, earned critical acclaim for its depiction of conflicts over race, culture and class among the residents of a wealthy resort on the north shore of Lake Michigan.
The resort was based on the Gamble family’s own summer cottage at Harbor Point north of Harbor Springs. She is among the fifth generation of her family to have summered locally as a privileged member of “one of America’s great industrial clans.”
Gamble writes from a perspective most of us will never know. For one thing, she is a descendant of Proctor & Gable co-founder James Gamble. And, as one reviewer notes, in her world, “cottage is a code word for 10 bedrooms and a servants’ wing -- owned by big-money types who could afford to take summers off.”
Thursday, July 7, 2005

Astrologer‘s Antidote

Books Robert Downes A
re you a wee bit paranoid about the state of the world? Cynical about the motivations of your fellow man? Do you fear that people are basically small-minded, violence-prone savages and that civilization is on the slide over an abyss of environmental and social destruction?
Relax, Rob Brezsny, the weekly columnist of Free Will Astrology, is prepared to put your mind at ease with his new book, “Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia.” In fact, he claims that “the whole world is conspiring to shower you with blessings,” and has 296 pages to prove it.
Thursday, May 26, 2005

Don‘t Panic... The drama of James Kunstler‘s ‘Long Emergency‘ ignores details

Books Oran Kelley The excerpt from novelist James Kunstler’s new book, “The Long Emergency” (Express 4/14), is certainly interesting. But unlike letter writer Ann Rogers, I think we ought to hesitate a moment before we plan our whole lives around Mr. Kunstler’s predictions.
If you missed Kunstler’s piece, he claims that petroleum production has already peaked, that supplies will be well short of demand quite soon, and that the suburban middle class economy that has been built around cheap oil is going to collapse, along with civilization as we know it.
Thursday, May 12, 2005

Northcountry Books

Books Robert Downes Books
By Robert Downes

Colorful characters drive the plot of fictional Weneshkeen

“The Lake, the River & the Other Lake”
By Steve Amick
Pantheon Books

If you’ve ever longed for a Northern Michigan version of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone, then delve into the riddles of “The Lake, the River & the Other Lake” by Steve Amick.
Amick has created a town called Weneshkeen on the shores of Lake Michigan, weaving several stories together in a plot whose characters become close-knit by book’s end. He even drew a map of the town on the book’s cover, which should add to its intrigue factor at local bookstores.
Thursday, March 31, 2005

Story Test

Books Bob Part 1
Thursday, December 23, 2004

Husband-wife Team are no Strangers to the Woods

Books Author and wildlife photographer Carl Sams grew up on an island near the mouth of the Au Sable River in Northern Michigan and spent much of his time playing sports, hunting and fishing. Carl’s wife, Jean Stoick, was raised on a farm in Michigan’s thumb near Vassar. Both have a passion for wildlife and dedicate their books and movies to “those who protect wildlife and wild places.”
Last week, the Milford-based couple were in Northern Michigan promoting their 1999 children’s best-seller, “Stranger in the Woods,” along with their new book, “Lost in the Woods.” Both are lushly photographed visions of Northern Michigan’s wildlife adorned with simple tales of life in
the wild.