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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Monday, April 25, 2011

A mission for Bliss

Music Kristi Kates A Mission for Bliss: New recreation center will energize Blissfest farm
By Kristi Kates
The Mission: To build and launch the Blissfest Arts Recreation Center, a
facility for cultural, recreational, and sustainable living experiences,
to be enjoyed in a quiet natural setting.
Monday, April 25, 2011

4Play: TV on the Radio, Telekinesis, PJ Harvey, Low

Music Kristi Kates TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light - InterscopeBrooklynites
TV on the Radio offer up their latest and fourth album complete with production by David Sitek, who offered up his Los Angeles home studio for the recording proceedings. A bright record than previous efforts, Nine… weaves in more human musicians and less electronic samples, with frontman Tunde Adebimpe in solid form, buoyed up by plenty of groove-based elements from the syncopated horn lines to the galloping bass, layered high-pitched chorus parts, and funky beats. Top highlights include the uber-catchy “Second Song” and the undiluted jam-stream the band calls “Caffeinated Consciousness.”
Monday, April 18, 2011

Goin‘ Dutch

Music Kristi Kates Goin’ Dutch: Band offers a blend of power pop & alt-country
By Kristi Kates
Musicians John Merchant and Greg Miller met while working at a music store in Muskegon and teaching guitar. They formed the band known as Dutch Henry “basically to have an outlet for our songwriting,” Miller says.
Focusing at first on being what Miller calls “a dyed-in-the-wool alt-country band,” the group’s first album was compared to Steve Earl and Jason and the Scorchers, and made a decent dent on college and XM radio; but changes were on the way.
Monday, April 18, 2011

Seasons of Swirl

Music Kristi Kates Seasons of swirl: Wine tasting & music energize Crooked Tree Arts Center
By Kristi Kates
“I like learning about the wines and asking about food pairings at Swirl…”
“It’s great to be able to view an exhibit with friends at Swirl…”
“Swirl is a great way to meet new people of all ages…”

But just what is Swirl?
“Swirl is an informal and informative wine tasting held in our galleries, with live music,” explains Liz Ahrens, the Crooked Tree Arts Center’s Executive Director. “Each month we invite a local wine purveyor to provide wines and appetizers, featuring their best or most unusual products,” she continues, “it’s the result of CTAC wanting to bring in visitors to the galleries in an informal and relaxed setting.”
Monday, April 18, 2011

4Play: Paul Simon, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Alexander, Robbie Robertson

Music Kristi Kates Paul Simon - So Beautiful, So What - Hear Music
Simon returns with some of his best music since back in the Graceland
days, featuring an emotional range of new songs fully graced (ahem) with
diverse worldbeat instrumentations pinned to intelligent-folk roots. With
vocals barely aged even as Simon approaches 70 years old, he crafts smart
storytelling vehicles via music that beckon the ear and spark discussion.
“Questions for the Angels” harkens empathy for the homeless through one of
Simon’s trademark ballads; “The Afterlife” throws a bit of humor into the
mix; “Dazzling Blue” mixes exotic percussion and fiddle; and highlight
“Love is Eternal Sacred Light” is as catchy as Simon’s music ever was.
Alison Krauss and Union Station - Paper Airplane - Rounder Records
It took a few years for Krauss and crew to craft something that they
apparantly felt would stand up to their 3-Grammy-winning 2004 release
(Lonely Runs Both Ways), but they’re back in full force with this one,
which showcases every facet of Krauss’ influences, from
Americana/roots/bluegrass music to country and pop. Krauss’ voice is a
consistent element throughout for the most part (three songs are sung by
Union Station’s Dan Tyminski), whether on the pensive “Lie Awake,” the
serene “Dimming of the Day,” and the slightly darker “Sinking Stone.” It’s
nothing particularly groundbreaking, but a consistent, strong, and
appealing set of tunes.
Monday, April 11, 2011

Courtney Argue 4/11/11

Music Rick Coates Courtney Argue: A Hopeful Star is Born…
By Rick Coates 
While American Idol and the soon-to-debut American version of The X Factor
look for the next big pop stars, Traverse City’s Courtney Argue has her
own plans. The 2008 TC West High School graduate has a big-time producer,
a major music deal in the works, and a reality television show in
Monday, April 11, 2011

Island 4/11/11

Music Kristi Kates Benefit for an Environmental ISLAND
By Kristi Kates
 Founded by Brad Kik and his wife Amanda six years ago, Bellaire non-profit
organization ISLAND - aka the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and
Natural Design - began, essentially, on a date… or several, according to
Brad Kik himself.
Monday, April 11, 2011

4Plat: Moondoggies, Middle Brother, Tino Ghost, Twilight Singers 4/11/11

Music Kristi Kates Moondoggies - Tidelands - Hardly Art
Seattle harmony-fans Moondoggies (think Crosby Stills and Nash, not Gidget) teamed up with Erik Blood, Kurt Bloch, and Phil Ek for this set, which finds the band in a more determined mood production-wise, and a more shoegazey mood musically (firmly within their Americana vibe, of course.) They’re strong on the melodies, too, with plenty of songs that offer hooks without pandering to radio - retrofied organ sounds coupled with simply mic’d pianos and guitars set the groundwork for songs like the languid, drawling “It’s a Shame, It’s a Pity,” the violin-seasoned “Lead Me On,” and the chugging, organ-tuneful “Down the Well.”

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jesse Winchester 4/4/11

Music Kristi Kates Jesse Winchester: 40 Years of Songs
By Kristi Kates
 When asked what the audience can look forward to at his upcoming City
Opera House show in Traverse City, singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester is
either the humblest of performers, or merely the soul of brevity.
“(It’ll be) me, playing my guitar and singing. Doesn’t sound like much,
does it?” he says.
Monday, April 4, 2011

Steel Wheels 4/4/11

Music Kristi Kates Steel Wheels’ Rolling Medicine Show
By Kristi Kates
 Blissfest’s concise description of the four-piece band known as The Steel
Wheels is simply this: “an old time medicine show with modern energy and
an Americana heart.”
Monday, April 4, 2011

4Play:Badly Drawn Boy, The Apples in Stereo, Eels, Autumn Defense 4/4/11

Music Kristi Kates Badly Drawn Boy - It’s What I’m Thinking: Part One - The End Records
Chock-full of emotional filling and dusted with instrumental sugar, Badly Drawn Boy’s latest - like so many of his best albums - is another musical treat that’s light enough to not be overwhelming, but still a rewarding and smart listen. His personal lyrics tell the stories, while the melodies remain as catchy as always, right from the temperate opener (“In Safe Hands”) to the reflective “What Tomorrow Brings,” the simple but effortlessly pretty balladry of “Saw You Walk Away” and “The Electric,” and onward to the slightly more musically-adventurous “A Pure Accident” and “This Beautiful Idea.” It’s fairly apparent that most of the album is inspired by relationships - but hopefully something else he’s thinking about is how to make more great music like this.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Disco Inferno 3/28/11

Music Rick Coates Disco Inferno: ‘Best Band’ winners change name to Ella R!ot
By Rick Coates
For the past couple of years Ann Arbor based My Dear Disco has been making regular stops in Northern Michigan. The band recently headlined the Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival and just last week they performed to a packed house at the Loading Dock in Traverse City.
Voted “Best Band” in Northern Michigan, the players are getting ready to embark on a national tour. Guitarist and band co-leader Robert Lester sat down to give an update:
Monday, March 28, 2011

Miriam Pico 3/28/11

Music Rick Coates Miriam Pico : Best Solo Performer
By Rick Coates
Singer/songwriter Miriam Pico has been on the Northern Express radar for the past six years; in our recent survey, readers of the paper selected her as Best Solo Performer in Northern Michigan.
Releasing three CDs since she launched her professional singing career at the age of 21, Pico is now 27 and performs at several venues in the region, most notably Phil’s on Front. Her 2009 release “S’bout Time” with pianist David Chown has sold well and when the duo gets together to perform it is a big draw for area venues.
Monday, March 28, 2011

In the name of Black Sabbath 3/28/11

Music Tom Carr In the Name Of… Black Sabbath
By Tom Carr
Eddie Janes bears a striking resemblance to Ozzie Osbourne, which instantly puts In The Name Of above other Black Sabbath tribute bands.
Janes has been stopped on the street by people telling him he looks like the legendary heavy metal frontman. When he drops his Midwest accent and goes into a British semi-mumble, the transformation is nearly complete.
Put him with a tight band that covers Sabbath to a tee on a stage amid skulls with lighted red eyes and Janes singing in a high-pitched, metal wail, and you’re getting eerily close to the real thing.
Janes sings for In The Name Of, which will play a show at Ground Zero at Streeters Center on Saturday, April 2.
Monday, March 28, 2011

4Play:R.E.M., Beady Eye, The Strokes, Elbow 3/28/11

Music Kristi Kates R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now - Warner Bros.
The Little Athens Band That Could harken back to their good old days with their newest set, as produced by legend-in-the-making Jacknife Lee. Tracked in New Orleans and at Berlin’s famed Hansa Studios, the album includes special appearances by Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith, and Hidden Cameras’ Joel Gibb - but the real elements to note are the songs themselves. “Discoverer” is classic R.E.M. (their more optimistic side, as well), with big Peter Buck guitars and an undeniable hook; “Uberlin” and “Oh My Heart” showcase R.E.M.’s ability to craft evocative indie ballads; and album closer “Blue” lets Stipe’s speaking voice take center stage.