Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Our own reverse Robin Hood

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Our own Reverse Robin Hood
“Savings almost depleted, might last through the winter. 59-year-old
male, unemployed, wife, disabled with no benefits. 99er! Please vote
for unemployment extension in lame duck session. I see no help coming
after Jan.”
-- Letter to U.S. Rep. Dave Camp from a resident of Empire
 
Monday, November 29, 2010

The Grow Store

Features Robert Downes Let the Sun Shine: The Grow Store trips the light fantastic
By Robert Downes
If Paul Watson has a pair of green thumbs, it’s because he spent 31 years as a commercial indoor grower, raising basil under artificial lights in Benzie County for local restaurants.
“Indoor growing is a lot of fun,” he says. “My passion for this started out with plugging in my first light bulb in 1980.”
Today, Paul’s thumbs are getting even greener from a crop of dollars provided by customers at The Grow Store he owns with his wife Kim. At times, as many as 20-30 customers pack the store near Chum’s Corners, south of Traverse City, seeking high-quality equipment for indoor growing, as well as the Watsons’ advice.
“We are as surprised as anyone by our success,” he says of the business which got its start in April of 2009. “We’ve got a huge amount of inventory as well as the knowledge to share about indoor growing.”
In fact, things are going so well that the Watsons plan to open a new 10,000-square-foot showroom and warehouse in mid December a half-mile down the road. In addition to a wealth of organic gardening materials and lighting equipment (which are literally stacked to the ceiling in the present store), the new location will offer displays of growing plants, with both hydroponic and soil-based systems for the enlightenment of customers.
 
Monday, November 22, 2010

The Sound of Music

Music Robert Downes Sound of Music :New amphitheatre dovetails with garden & barns project at GT Commons
By Robert Downes
A new 1,000-seat outdoor concert facility at the site of the historic barns of the Grand Traverse Commons could fill the surrounding hills with the sound of music within the next two years.
“We’re very excited about this project, which will combine the efforts of the Botanic Garden Society to create a new 25-acre botanic garden, along with a plan to renovate and restore the cathedral barns at the Grand Traverse Commons,” says Benjamin Marentette, executive director of the Recreational Authority for both the City of Traverse City and Garfield Township.
 
Monday, November 22, 2010

Music to our ears

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Music lovers in Northern Michigan have pined for another outdoor
concert scene since the days of the Castle Farms music venue back in
the 1980s. Happily, a new concert facility planned for the Grand
Traverse Commons within the next couple of years should make that
dream a reality (details on page 10).
 
Monday, November 15, 2010

20 years in the rear-view

Random Thoughts Robert Downes 20 years in the rear-view
Less than six months from now, Northern Express Weekly will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the paper.
We’ll trot out the old story of how my friend George and I launched the Express in my kitchen on Mission Peninsula with an investment on par with what you’d pay for a 10-year-old used car, and reminisce about the glory days. But mostly I think we’ll dwell on the past decade of the paper, since the first half of our adventure has grown rather mossy in the memory.
 
Monday, November 8, 2010

Job #1: downsizing Lansing

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Job #1: downsizing Lansing
There was an odd moment on TV 7&4 News last week that indicated where
we might be headed now that the balance of power has shifted in
government.
Greg MacMaster, who ran for office on a pledge to downsize state
government, said in an interview that he has 13 new bills in mind for
his role as the new State Rep for the 105th District.
 
Monday, November 1, 2010

Would you buy this bridge

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Would You Buy This Bridge?
Anyone interested in buying the Mackinac Bridge? It’s perfect for the
person who has everything, or that ‘hard to shop for’ person on your
Christmas list.
There was a flurry of manufactured outrage over an alleged plan to
sell the Mighty Mac last week to help patch the state’s $1.6 billion
budget hole. The idea seems about as likely to happen as selling 40
acres and a mule to homesteaders on the moon, but it’s worth passing
on.
 
Monday, October 25, 2010

Peter Mattiessen

Books Robert Downes On the Trail of Peter Matthiessen
By Robert Downes
Author Peter Matthiessen reached a summit in his literary career years
ago during an expedition to find a rare and elusive snow leopard in
the Himalayas. A student of Buddhism, the search for the nearly
extinct cat became a metaphor for his own quest for enlightenment in
the 1978 book, “The Snow Leopard.”
 
Monday, October 25, 2010

Trick or Treat...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Trick or Treat...
This used to be the time of year when you kept your black cat indoors
at night and peered out the window now and then to make sure that
young hoodlums weren’t out smashing pumpkins and acting up on “Devil’s
Night.”
Those were the days when teens were revved up to go out tossing eggs
and toilet paper at night, spray-painting graffiti, and role-playing
in inappropriate places like cemeteries.
 
Monday, October 18, 2010

For gay people, a dangerous world

Random Thoughts Robert Downes For gay people, a dangerous world
When an anti-discrimination ordinance for gay and lesbian citizens was
considered by the Traverse City Commission last month, some locals
wondered why such a measure would even be necessary in this day and
age in America.
 
Monday, October 4, 2010

David Grath

Art Robert Downes David Grath captures the Spirit of the Land
By Robert Downes
Painter David Grath has a funny story about his earliest days in
Leelanau County.
“I came up to Leland in 1957 and was wandering around Fishtown Harbor
with no place to stay,” he recalls. “Then I found this big
hollowed-out log on the beach just south of the harbor and I crawled
in with my sleeping bag and spent the night there.
 
Monday, October 4, 2010

A Republican for health care reform

Random Thoughts Robert Downes A Republican for health care reform
A Republican friend of mine -- let’s call him Joe, since that is in
fact, his actual name -- agrees with his party on most issues, with
one exception:
“Sometimes I wonder if the Republicans aren’t going the wrong way with
the idea of doing away with health care reform,” he says.
Joe reads two newspapers each day, especially the editorial pages. He
gets most of his TV news from FOX. He prides himself on having a
“point of view,” and it tends to be a strong one.
 
Monday, September 27, 2010

A canal runs through it

Random Thoughts Robert Downes A Canal Runs Through It
Travel is expensive, especially in America. Thus, the arrival of the
so-called “staycation,” the oxymoronic equivalent of a cruel joke
perpetuated on people who are unaware of cheaper options.
There is an exciting alternative with a rock bottom budget, however:
bicycle camping.
 
Monday, September 20, 2010

The bittersweet season

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The bittersweet season
Fall is that time of year when we “get our life back” here in Northern Michigan.
I’m always amazed at the hush that falls over the region just after
Labor Day Weekend. Suddenly, the road along the bay looks less like
the Daytona 500 and more like a country lane. As the smog and
automotive roar of the tourist migration dissipates, you can start to
see something of that small town we remember from way back when -- a
place more like Lake Woebegone than the Vegas Strip. Fall reminds us
that life here isn’t all just a cabaret, old chum... we get our sense
of home back.
 
Monday, September 13, 2010

Losing our religion

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Losing our Religion
Maybe it’s just a wild coincidence, but most of the Muslim people I’ve
ever met have been remarkably gentle and considerate.
Not a terrorist among them.
There was Darla, a college friend of Arabic descent from Dearborn who
aspired to a career in journalism. A mysterious beauty with a sense of
dignity and style, I can’t imagine she ever thought of a side career
in bomb-making.
 
 
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