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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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

4Play: Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi, Death Cab for Cutie, David Guetta, Deadmau5

Music Kristi Kates Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi - Rome - Capitol
Italian film music and spaghetti westerns were the influences behind this collaboration between Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) and Italian talent Luppi. Actually recorded in Rome (on top of the other inspirations), the pair worked with an eye toward copying the recording practices of the late ‘60s, recording live to tape and using mostly vintage gear. Another component of the album were the vocals, contributed by Jack White (“Two Against One,” “The World”) and Norah Jones (“Season’s Trees,” “Problem Queen”), as well as soprano Edda Dell’Orso, making for a pop (yes, pop!) record full of depth and complexity.
Monday, May 23, 2011

Taylor Hicks

Music Rick Coates America continues its fascination with American Idol as it continues week
in and week out to be the number one watched show on television. This
season’s finale will take place Wednesday, May 25 with the 10th winner
being selected. Past finale shows have brought back previous winners, but
producers are remaining silent as to who might be coming back this year. 
There is no secret, however, that season five winner (2006) Taylor Hicks
will be coming to Northern Michigan this weekend to perform at the Little
River Casino in Manistee on Sunday night. With a clear schedule for
Wednesday night and a tour that currently has him on the West Coast, the
speculation is that Hicks will make an Idol appearance Wednesday night.
“I will keep that a surprise for now; the show producers like to keep
things a secret so I guess people will just have to tune in and watch,”
said Hicks. “I will give you this bit of information: I am coming to
Northern Michigan and looking forward to that.”
Monday, May 23, 2011

Echos of Pink Floyd

Music Rick Coates Take a quick glance at the concert scene in Northern Michigan and it seems
like half the shows are tribute bands. But it is not just here, the
tribute band craze is literally all over the world.
That’s in part because the legendary rock bands are either rarely touring
or not touring at all and partly because of the economy. Tribute bands
typically are $20 to $25 a ticket versus $75 to $150 or more for the real
Monday, May 23, 2011

Rocky the Rhubarbary

Music Kristi Kates Why leave home to see a concert when you can have one at your own place?  That’s the spirit of the Rhubarbary Guest Concert series in Harbor Springs.
“In 2006, we put a timber frame addition on our house, which was quite a project,” Harbor Springs musician Dale Scott says with a laugh, “when we got done - we wondered why we had done it.”
Plenty of regional and national folk and jazz musicians know why. Because that addition would become one of Northern Michigan’s most unusual and intimate concert venues.
“We decided it would be the perfect spot for house concerts,” Scott says.
Scott and his wife, Maureen Scott, are well known around the region as the Peacemeal String Band, so who better to host those very concerts in the Scotts’ own house - and a concert series was born.
Monday, May 23, 2011

4Play: Sade, Eddie Vedder, Rihanna, Ben Harper

Music Kristi Kates Sade - The Ultimate Collection - Epic
Whether you term Sade a solo artist or a band, Sade’s jazz-pop is still of note, even though the bulk of their on-the-radar work was back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. This “ultimate” collection includes 29 tunes in all, including Sade’s best-known track, the Spanish-flavored “Smooth Operator,” as well as additional songs “Still in Love with You,” a standout Neptunes remix of “By Your Side” with added guitars, and a well-done experimental revamp of “The Moon and the Sky” which adds trip-hop beats and spoken-word overlays from Jay-Z. It’s a solid best-of that also includes four previously unreleased songs for added interest.
Monday, May 16, 2011

Rock steady

Music Rick Coates If you’re looking to get your summer off to a flying start, two headbanging events will get you there this week, with a run-up to Memorial Day Weekend:

Rock and Roll Circus
“The circus is coming, the circus is coming to town!” -- the four-ring Rock and Roll Circus that is. Ground Zero Nightclub in TC is hosting four nights of rock over the course of six days featuring 13 bands. 
Owner Doug Street came up with idea of packaging four concerts together with one ticket. For $67 and a $3 handling fee hardcore rockers will be able to see over $100 worth concerts. Individual tickets for all shows are available.
Saving Abel kicks it off on Friday, May 20. The Mississippi-based modern rockers roll into town with their number one hit “The Sex Is Good,” off their current “Miss America” CD. Saving Abel took their name from a Bible passage that said “there is no saving Abel.” They burst onto the scene in 2008 with their self-title debut CD that featured three top 10 songs on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Charts, “Addicted,” “18 Days,” and “Drowning (Face Down).”
Monday, May 16, 2011

4Play: Amon Tobin, Del and the Funky Homosapien, DJ Quik, Whodini

Music Kristi Kates Amon Tobin - Isam - Ninja Tune
IDM, or “Intelligent Dance Music,” is what producer/DJ Tobin calls the musical arm of his craft, in which he blends South American rhythms with hip-hop, breakbeat, and a dense layer of samples and cuts. More experimental than previous works, these tracks take some listening before the appeal becomes evident, as they’re crafted with a more haphazard overall feel yet with more attention to each element’s detail and placement. The melodic “Lost and Found” and the intriguing “Journeyman” are two of the standouts on this particular set, both rumbled through with heavy bass and Tobin’s distinctive mixes.
Monday, May 16, 2011

The Lucas Paul Band

Music Kristi Kates The Lucas Paul Band are Ann Arborites at heart, but often make Traverse City their temporary home away from home, at least on stage.
“We have and always will have plans to come up to Traverse City frequently because we get the best love up here of anywhere,” says the band’s namesake Lucas Paul, “hands down.”
The band is comprised of Pete Birchler on lead guitar, Bobby Streng on sax, Mark Damian on drums, Matt Henninger on bass, and Paul on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, 
In early 2006, Paul explains, he was a “lost soul” - freshly out of college, but with no job prospects and no band.
“I would frequent Goodnite Gracie’s in downtown Ann Arbor every Wednesday and Thursday to watch local blues prodigy Laith Al Saadi,” he explains, “and every night found myself staying until last call because his band was that good.”
After months of persistent begging to Gracie’s manager, Terry Martin, Paul got a shot to perform before one of Al Saadi’s shows.
“Eventually, Laith handed me a few gigs of his own that he couldn’t take,” Paul says, “so I put a band together. After getting our foot in the door, other nightclubs became interested in what we had to offer.”
Monday, May 9, 2011

Asia brings continent-shaking prog rock

Music Rick Coates Bass player and vocalist John Wetton’s middle name must be “Supergroup.”
Wetton was on the forefront of the Progressive (prog rock) scene in the
late ’60s and its heyday of the ’70s lending his vocal, songwriting and
musical talents to several “super” groups, including King Crimson, Roxy
Music, Uriah Heep and UK before forming Asia in 1981. 
Monday, May 9, 2011

Dan Hicks

Music Robert Downes When you ask Dan Hicks what to expect from his upcoming show in Traverse
City, he counters by asking if the concert hall is big enough to
accommodate his band’s elephant. “We travel with a live elephant and I’ll
be riding him out onto the stage,” he says.
One can assume that this master of funny, thoughtful songs dredged up
from the muddy currents of Americana, swing jazz and cowboy music is
kidding. But elephant or not, at the very least you can expect to hear
some choice pickin’ and vocals clickin’ when Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks
perform at the InsideOut Gallery in TC this Monday, May 16.
Monday, May 9, 2011

4Play: The Cars, Stevie Nicks, Matthew Morrison, Jennifer Lopez

Music Kristi Kates The Cars - Move Like This - Hear Music
Back after nearly a quarter-century out of the loop as a band, ‘80s hipsters The Cars reconfigure their jittery, poppy brand of new wave into a slightly more modernized set that’s still just retro enough to bring back their old fans while most likely snagging a few new ones, as well. The synths, jagged guitars, and distinctive Ric Ocasek vocals are all present and ready to be called to order within a series of well-constructed pop songs reminiscent of Devo, Talking Heads, and, well, The Cars of yesteryear. “Sad Song” debuts first with its accompanying Rene-Magritte-meets-the-’80s video; production by Jacknife Lee adds consistancy.
Monday, May 2, 2011

Interlochen 2011 lineup

Music Interlochen’s Summer Concert Series caters to every interest
Interlochen’s most happenin’ season in years brings several new cultural
icons to the Arts Festival this summer, along with some old favorites.
The former includes the likes of revered songwriter Elvis Costello, the
indie acoustic pop of The Decemberists, alt-country chanteuse Lucinda
Williams, and country rocker Dierks Bentley.
Monday, May 2, 2011

Rothbury returns as Electric Forest Festival

Music Summer Surprises
Barring some last-minute upheaval, the Electric Forest Festival is charged
up and ready to go as the replacement for the former Rothbury Music
Located in the small town of Rothbury in western Michigan between Muskegon
and Ludington, the Rothbury Music Festival made national news and had a
two-year run before tanking and sitting out last year.
Monday, May 2, 2011

Mexican pop rocks

Music Kristi Kates Mexican Pop Rocks! Rock your Cinco de Mayo with these South of the Border bands
By Kristi Kates
Mexico isn’t necessarily the first country you might think to look into while searching for up and coming new indie pop and rock bands. But in recent years, and especially with the ever-growing influence of the internet, Mexico’s been fertilizing its own burgeoning crop of Mexican indie-rockers, and there are plenty of them cool enough for school - so, for our Cinco de Mayo issue, we’ve rounded up a few of the best for you to take a listen to, complete with a starting suggested single. Disfrutar de la msica!
Monday, May 2, 2011

4Play: Beastie Boys, Friendly Fires, Panda Bear, Fleet Foxes

Music Kristi Kates Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 - Capitol
Not since the late ‘90s have the Beasties made such a festive, sassy racket. Opening with first single “Make Some Noise,” the Beasties are back in grand form, modernizing their production values while (thankfully) sticking masterfully to their own brand of retro hip-hop sound - no need to conform when you’re this cool. That aforementioned opening track has synths and knows how to use ‘em, while other influences surface, too, just for texture, such as the punky rhythms on “Lee Majors…,” the shoutouts to classic rap on “Nonstop Disco Powerpack,” and the intergalactic funk of “Here’s a Little Something For Ya.”