Letters

Letters 10-20-2014

Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Music on Mt. Holiday

Music Robert Downes Music on Mt. Holiday
New concert venue offers dinner & a show
Robert Downes 7/20/09
Local musicians will hit a high note -- literally -- at a new dinner and concert series atop Mt. Holiday Ski Hill on the east side of Traverse City, beginning this week.
The new gig is called “Music in the Hills with Northern Michigan Songwriters in the Round,” to be hosted every Wednesday at the Mt. Holiday Lounge.
“This grew out of a music series we had last winter,” says manager Rick VanTongeren. “During the winter, a number of folksingers came in every Sunday evening and played in the lounge. It was a really popular event and a big hit with everyone.”
 
Monday, July 20, 2009

There aughta‘ be a law...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thought
There aughta‘ be a law...
Robert Downes 7/20/09
Here‘s another idea for marketing Michigan out of its troubles. Allow every restaurant in the state to sell Michigan-made beers and wines without a liquor license.
A bright spot in Michigan‘s economy is the success of our wineries and microbreweries. We have more than 50 wineries in the state, and as Rick Coates has noted in his “Bottoms Up“ column, Michigan is now considered one of the top destinations in America for the quality of its brewpubs and microbrews.
So what is Lansing doing to coax this goose into laying more golden eggs? Lip service.
 
Monday, July 13, 2009

Our magic bubble

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts
Robert Downes 7/13/09
Our Magic Bubble
The recession doesn‘t seem to be putting much of a dent in Northern Michigan this summer, where cool weather has driven tourists off the beaches and into stores and restaurants to benefit the region‘s economy.
Anecdotally, we‘ve heard from our writers that tourism is down in some of the smaller towns around Northern Michigan, but you wouldn‘t know that in Traverse City, where we‘re recovering from the National Cherry Festival and its 500,000 visitors, while bracing for the TC Film Festival to start at the end of the month. The sidewalks in town were packed in early July as we weathered temperatures that seemed more in line with October. Rest assured, tourists, we locals also look forward to beach weather, since we‘re barely out of our winter coats.
 
Monday, July 6, 2009

The Old Boat

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Old Boat
Robert Downes 7/6/09
I bought an old sailboat a few years ago and have since been soaked with the thrill of discovering the ‘other’ side of Northern Michigan that starts at the waterline.
“Missbehavin’” is a 31-year-old junker with an appalling number of broken, missing, loose or frayed parts. Since I don’t know enough about sailboats to know exactly what should go where or how, I’ve taken to patching Missbehavin’ up with bungee cords, the greatest invention known to man this side of duct tape.
Built in 1978, Missbehavin’ is a CL-16 dinghy, meaning a Canadian version of the 16-foot Wayfarer, which was a popular racing boat prior to the invention of the catamaran and the Laser. I bought it used from the Traverse Area Community Sailing club; apparently the dinghy once belonged to a well-loved sailor who used to ply it up and down Lake Leelanau. Since it‘s bad luck to rename a boat, I’ve kept the original name, even though she’s been behaving pretty good so far.
Since I’ve only had a couple of lessons from my much braver brother Mike, I approach the idea of sailing with a healthy sense of cowardice. Forget racing. The truth is, I’m mostly a self-taught sailor, and when the boat heels way over with the wind, I’m more likely to be filled with the terror of tipping over, than the exhilaration of ripping through the waves.
 
Monday, June 29, 2009

Health care reform hell: one way out

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Healthcare reform hell: one way out
Robert Downes 6/29/09
Recently, a writer from Vogue magazine caused a stir on the Oprah Winfrey Show by noting that people in Minnesota looked like “little houses” during her visit to that plump and voluptuous state.
“I’d just been on a trip to Minnesota, where I can only kindly describe most of the people I saw as little houses,” Anna Wintour said. “There’s such an epidemic of obesity in the United States, and for some reason, everybody focuses on anorexia.”
Wintour is right: on the whole, we Americans don’t do a very good job of taking care of ourselves, and that’s the 900-lb. hog on the table of healthcare reform in our country that no one’s talking about.
Who is going to pay for our sins, and how?
Consider that 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. The federal Centers for Disease Control reports that obesity will soon be the number one killer in America. Overeating also contributes to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer.
 
Monday, June 22, 2009

U.P. Supermax desearves a look

Random Thoughts Robert Downes U.P. Supermax Deserves a Look
Robert Downes 6/22/09
Recently, U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak came up with an idea for pumping an extra
$1 billion or so into the economy of the Upper Peninsula. He was turned
down flat.
The idea? Turn one of the U.P.‘s prisons into a supermax facility and
transfer the detainees of Guantanamo there in exchange for a fat check
from Uncle Sam each year.
Stupak wrote a letter to President Obama in February, suggesting that the
30-acre Camp Manistique be converted to a high-security prison to house
the Gitmo prisoners.
 
Monday, June 15, 2009

Michigan still looking for a leader

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Michigan still looking for a leader
Robert Downes 6/15/09
Each spring in Michigan, you know that the season has finally turned when you see the first crocus flowers starting to bloom, often while there is still snow on the ground.
And so it is with state politics, where some of the hardier specimens of Michigan’s long, dark night are starting to blossom with the hope of being elected governor in 2010, after eight years of Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Love her or hate her, you‘ve got to admit Gov. Granholm was dealt a dead man‘s hand when she became Michigan‘s first female governor in 2003. She inherited a $1.7 billion budget deficit from Gov. John Engler, and it’s been downhill ever since with the meltdown of the auto industry, the loss of 140,000 manufacturing jobs, and budget deficits of $1-$2 billion each year. One can only imagine that Gov. Granholm will be happy to say “Take this job and shove it” on her way out the door.
But who will replace her? And who is up to the task? Michigan now occupies ‘last place’ in the nation for job opportunities. Michigan is also the only state in the nation to have experienced negative economic growth for 10 years in a row.
So far, we have a collection of “Great Unknowns” at the gate -- and untested, to boot.
Some might even say uninspiring.
 
Monday, June 15, 2009

Bike trails ramble on

Features Robert Downes Bike Trails Ramble On
6/15/09
Cyclists and hikers had plenty to celebrate on National Trails Day, June 6, this year. U.S. Senator Carl Levin cut the ribbon on a new hiking and mountain bike trail that connects Traverse City to Kalkaska.
 
Monday, June 15, 2009

Bike trails ramble on

Features Robert Downes Bike Trails Ramble On
6/15/09
Cyclists and hikers had plenty to celebrate on National Trails Day, June 6, this year. U.S. Senator Carl Levin cut the ribbon on a new hiking and mountain bike trail that connects Traverse City to Kalkaska.
 
Monday, June 8, 2009

That Wang-Dang Doodle

Random Thoughts Robert Downes That Wang-Dang Doodle
Robert Downes 6/8/09


“Tell Automatic Slim, to tell razor-totin’ Jim, to tell butcher-knife totin’ Annie, to tell fast-talkin’ Fannie,
We gonna’ jump and ball, down at the union hall,
...We gonna’ wang-dang doodle, all
night long.”
-- Willie Dixon, Wang-Dang-Doodle

I saw “Queen of the Blues” Koko
Taylor about 10 years ago or more at the Turtle Creek Casino, with her band perched up in a corner window, playing behind a row of slot machines.
She could belt the blues to make your hair stand straight up, but even then, Koko looked like she had barely a shred of tread left on her tires. She appeared leathery inside and out, and possibly as old as the pyramids.
But you had to hand it to her, because Koko was still doing that “Wang-Dang Doodle,” her hit song from 1965, and reportedly she kept performing close to 50 concerts per year right up to the age of 80.
She died last week, one of the last of the Chicago blues musicians who still recalled the days of performing with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, and the kind of sidemen who used to blow harp through the borrowed microphones of Windy City cabs, or pack .45s in their guitar cases.
 
Monday, June 1, 2009

Tent worms & Gypsy moths/TC‘s new art form/Forrum to discuss future of print/ guns in our parks/Michael Moore‘s new film/new museum opens

Region Watch Robert Downes No fix for a plague of tent worms & gypsy moths
By Robert Downes 6/1/09

A devastating onslaught of tent worms is stripping forests of their leaves across Northern Michigan, with a similar invasion of gypsy moths expected in the weeks ahead and no remedy in sight.
“They are especially bad this year,“ says Cindy Rutherford, coordinator for gypsy moth control in the Grand Traverse Conservation District.
The two pests are often thought to be one and the same, but Rutherford notes that tent worms are actually a separate species known as the Eastern tent caterpillar, while gypsy moths hatch in the early summer and occupy the canopy of trees.
 
Monday, May 25, 2009

Let Him Be ... Not!

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Let Him Be... Not!
Robert Downes 5/25/09
Mark Staycer is getting the full-blown movie star treatment this week in Toronto, where the city is revved up over the premiere of his new film, Let Him Be.
Mark, who is Traverse City’s gift to the world for his ability to nail the music and mannerisms of the late John Lennon, is starring in the role of a recluse from northern Canada who just might be you-know-who.
In Let Him Be, two undergrad film students discover a musician named Noel Snow living in northern Ontario who’s a dead-ringer for a dead rock star, only older. Could it be?
That’s the coy part of the film because Staycer‘s character never claims to be John Lennon in Let Him Be. Nor are there any songs by The Beatles or Lennon included in the film. Staycer has also been instructed by the filmmakers to avoid discussing the co-leader of The Beatles, who was gunned down outside his New York City apartment building by a crazed fan on Dec. 8, 1980.
 
Monday, May 18, 2009

Tax revenues and marujuana

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Tax revenues & marijuana
Robert Downes 5/18/09
Legalizing marijuana to raise state tax revenues is one of those “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass“ sort of measures brought on by desperate times.
In California, they‘re thinking of breaking the glass on that taboo, and it makes you wonder: should Michigan break it too?
And should we get there first, before California captures a market worth billions?
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says it‘s time to debate legalizing the evil weed in California, which has a $42 billion gap in its budget. A California lawmaker has also introduced a bill that would legalize and tax marijuana.
Why? Because pot is California’s biggest cash crop. Growers raise an estimated $14 billion of it each year, none of which is taxed. It’s estimated that California could raise $1.3 billion per year in tax revenues by simply legalizing its biggest crop.
 
Monday, May 11, 2009

Claudia Schmidt

Music Robert Downes Claudia Schmidt
Robert Downes 5/11/09

Thirty years ago, Claudia Schmidt put her heart on her sleeve and released her first self-titled album that was brimming with optimism, innocence and the anything-is-possible spirit of youth.
Back in 1979, her first effort on Flying Fish Records was released on an LP record in tumultuous musical times. Acoustic music in the vein of Dan Fogelberg, Steve Goodman and The Eagles was huge; disco was still a major force; punk rock was blossoming; and rap was barely a rumor.
Today, LPs are antique curiosities and rap has largely replaced folk as the music of protest and social justice. But despite 30 years of mileage on her musical odometer, Claudia Schmidt is still barreling along in high gear, radiating the same optimism and energy that lit up stages three decades ago.
She is, as the liner notes of her DVD states: “An absolute force of nature.”
 
Monday, May 11, 2009

Lost treasure found in Detroit

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Lost treasure found in Detroit
Robert Downes 5/11/09

“Don’t forget the Motor City -- All you need is music, sweet music, there’ll be music everywhere...”
- Dancing in the Streets

Recently, National Public Radio aired a program wondering why it is that Detroit has created some of the best music in the world, and yet has failed miserably in marketing itself as a capital of creativity.
Good point: While Detroit and Michigan have obsessed for years over what to do about the auto meltdown, we’ve ignored the potential of our other top export: music.
Consider this partial list: Bob Seger, Kid Rock, Jack White, Madonna, Iggy Pop, Ted Nugent, Eminem and all the stars of Motown: Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Four Tops... Then there was Detroit’s electronic music scene in the ‘90s, which was better known worldwide than it was in most of Michigan.
To paraphrase an old Talking Heads hit, this ain’t no Arkansas, this ain’t no Wisconsin, this ain’t no fooling around: few states (or countries for that matter) can boast anywhere near the amount of musical talent that has come out of Michigan.
 
 
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