Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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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.
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.