Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


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Monday, June 1, 2009

Tastemakers: Taste The local Difference Guidde 2009/Short‘s Brewing Company Nicie Spicie

Dining Rick Coates Tastemakers: Taste The local Difference Guidde 2009/Short‘s Brewing Company Nicie Spicie 6/1/09

The small-local farm is making a comeback. In the 10 counties known as the Northwest Lower Michigan corridor of the state there are now 2,229 farms. A few years back the Michigan Land Use Institute launched the Taste the Local Difference initiative to help farmers connect to consumers. Fresh off the press is the 2009 version of their Taste the Local Difference guide. This 80-page glove-box friendly resource is packed full of information for those interested in seeking out local and fresh foods as well as other non-food agricultural products produced in the area.
The guide lists farms by county and each listing contains an overview of the offerings at each farm along with hours of operation and website and phone number for additional information. Also included is the listing of the 25 farmers markets in the region as well as restaurants and delis that use local products. Another helpful page is the fruit and harvest dates, giving one a guidepost as to what is in season.
Taste the Local Difference has a supporting website that allows users to search for specific items and farms in their area that offer those products. Another great online tool is the local food exchange where both growers and buyers may post items they are looking for or selling.Taste the Local Difference 2009 Guide
The small-local farm is making a comeback. In the 10 counties known as the Northwest Lower Michigan corridor of the state there are now 2,229 farms. A few years back the Michigan Land Use Institute launched the Taste the Local Difference initiative to help farmers connect to consumers. Fresh off the press is the 2009 version of their Taste the Local Difference guide. This 80-page glove-box friendly resource is packed full of information for those interested in seeking out local and fresh foods as well as other non-food agricultural products produced in the area.
The guide lists farms by county and each listing contains an overview of the offerings at each farm along with hours of operation and website and phone number for additional information. Also included is the listing of the 25 farmers markets in the region as well as restaurants and delis that use local products. Another helpful page is the fruit and harvest dates, giving one a guidepost as to what is in season.
Taste the Local Difference has a supporting website that allows users to search for specific items and farms in their area that offer those products. Another great online tool is the local food exchange where both growers and buyers may post items they are looking for or selling.
The Michigan Land Use Institute has been a longtime supporter of preserving farmland in Northern Michigan. while much of their work is rooted in legislative policy, the Taste the Local Difference program is not about politics -- it is about practicality. Supporting the local farmer makes sense on all levels from healthy eating to preservation of our land and agricultural heritage. To learn more, visit mlui.org or call 231-941-6584 to obtain a copy of the new guide. --Rick Coates

 
Monday, May 25, 2009

Tastemakers: Dining on the fly/Two Lads Winery

Dining Rick Coates Dining on the Fly
Rick Coates 5/25/09

Dining on the Fly is a unique collaboration of three Northern Michigan businesses. The Boathouse Restaurant, Bowers Harbor Vineyard and McCool Outdoor have put together the perfect day for the fly fishing, wine and food enthusiast.
The day begins with a guided fly fishing trip to one of the region’s blue-ribbon trout streams. Led by Certified Casting Instructor and Master Angler David McCool, participants are guided down the stream and given basic instruction of casting fundamentals and entomology (what flies to use). Upon arrival, McCool offers a sparkling wine toast and gives an overview of the sport of fly fishing.
After a few hours on the stream, it is time for Chef Eric Nittolo of the Boathouse Restaurant and Spencer Stegenga of Bowers Harbor Vineyard to take over. This extraordinary evening takes place under a tent next to the stream and is highlighted by a five-course gourmet wine dinner. The Boathouse and Bowers Harbor Vineyards are neighbors and have forged a wonderful relationship that has included several wine dinners in the past.
 
Monday, May 25, 2009

Doug Stanton‘s Afghan Adventure

Features Rick Coates Doug Stanton:
The Making of a Bestseller


By Rick Coates 5/25/09

After nearly a month on the road promoting his new book Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan, bestselling author Doug Stanton returns to his native Traverse City to conclude his nationwide book tour. He will give a reading and do a book signing as part of a fundraising reception for scholarships at Pathfinder School on Thursday, May 28 at the Opera House in Traverse City.
Stanton’s first book In Harm’s Way (the story of the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis during WWII) spent nine months on the New York Times Bestseller List in 2001 including several weeks in the Top 10. He has enjoyed a 20-year successful writing career contributing articles to Esquire, Outside, Sports Afield and he currently is a contributing editor to Men’s Journal. He has written in-depth features on George Clooney, Sting, Clint Eastwood, John Mellencamp and Harrison Ford among others.
His book is currently #10 on the New York Times Bestseller List and a week ago he graced the cover of their Sunday New York Times Book Review. In just three weeks since its release, Horse Soldiers is already in its fourth printing.
 
Monday, May 18, 2009

JTX Plans to party Boyne Falls like a rock star

Music Rick Coates JTX Plans to party Boyne Falls like a rock star
Rick Coates 5/18/09
Could a new generation’s rock star named JTX upstage one of the biggest band stunts in Northern Michigan’s history?
It is hard to imagine that the visit by rock superstars KISS to Cadillac High School nearly 35 years ago would still have an impact on the community and those who were part of it all. But the visit by KISS is still considered one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll publicity stunts of all time. John Neff who helped to spearhead the event says that “a month doesn’t go by that I am not asked about that moment and yes, it still has a positive impact on Cadillac.”
Jump to 2009 and such a concept probably would be more acceptable... or would it? Well the students of this year’s graduating class at Boyne Falls High School thought so when they sent a MySpace message to up-and-coming rock star JTX (J.T. Harding) and invited him to speak at their graduation. His story and music have served as an inspiration for students.
 
Monday, May 18, 2009

Tastemakers: Crystal Mountain Michigan Beer & Brats Festival/ Keweenaw Brewing Company Lift Bridge Brown Ale

Dining Rick Coates Tastemakers: Crystal Mountain Michigan Beer & Brats Festival/ Keweenaw Brewing Company Lift Bridge Brown Ale
Rick Coates 5/18/09

Crystal Mountain Michigan Beer & Brat Festival
Now in its fourth year, the Crystal Mountain Michigan Beer & Brat Festival (this Saturday) has become the festival Northern Michigan has been longing for to celebrate the craftbrew industry in the state. Two major festivals take place downstate; in August near Ann Arbor, and in February in Grand Rapids. While the 50-plus craftbrews from microbreweries around Michigan might be the attraction, it is the collection of brats that sets Crystal Mountain’s festival apart from the others.
 
Monday, May 11, 2009

Tastemakers: McGuire‘s Resort Famous Bar Cheese/ Guiness 250 Anniversary Stout

Dining Rick Coates McGuire’s Resort Famous Bar Cheese

Certainly McGuire’s Resort in Cadillac is known for more than just their “Famous Bar Cheese” -- after all, they are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. But the mere fact that they are able to take something as simple as bar cheese and make it exceptional has been their trademark since Curly and Velma opened their motel and rootbeer stand in 1949.
Back in the early days they were known for their “famous pancakes,” and patrons who inquired were always told the recipe was a family secret. Well, eventually it was discovered that the chef was adding root beer to the batter.
McGuire’s has built their reputation over the years on exceptional service and “out-marketing” their competitors. During the ‘60s, Curly’s son Jim took over as general manager and eventually, with his wife Sandy, they became owners. Jim became a legend in hospitality circles and helped to set the standard for the family resort business in Michigan. Now his son Mike has taken over the reins. The third-generation McGuire continues to keep the Resort family-focused and he often jokes with patrons that he and his wife Marsha are busy “grooming the fourth generation of McGuire’s to take over someday.”
McGuire’s Resort offers a couple of dining options with Curly’s Sports Pub offering a relaxed casual dining experience and The Terrace Room with wonderful sunset views and a fine dining menu. Both locations offer the Famous Bar Cheese.
 
Monday, May 11, 2009

Up in smoke

Features Rick Coates Up in smoke
Rick Coates 5/11/09
There is much speculation coming out of Lansing that Michigan might finally join the ranks of 30 other states and ban smoking inside restaurants and bars. While the focus of this debate is centered on eateries and watering holes, the proposed bills are actually for the elimination of smoking inside of any public place as well as public and private worksites.
In 1984, Garrison Keillor wrote a fictional tale for The New Yorker titled “End of the Trail” a humorous account of “the last cigarette smokers in America.” His parody is based on a fictitious 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution that banned smoking. The story chronicles five people -- who apparently are among the last cigarette smokers in America -- hiding out and “located in a box canyon south of Donner Pass in the High Sierra by two federal tobacco agents in a helicopter who spotted little smoke puffs...” Federal agents were sent in to apprehend the five who were later sentenced to write 20,000-word essays.
While Keillor’s humorous take from 25 years ago on the possibilities of a total ban on smoking in America seemed unrealistic then, one must wonder today if such a concept will become a reality. Especially in light of smoking bans in public places mandated by law and now in effect throughout the country. Even the anti-smoking movement believes that it is unrealistic to believe that smoking will ever become illegal and their efforts are better spent eliminating smoking from public buildings and workplaces.
 
Monday, May 4, 2009

The Bihlmans‘ are back

Music Rick Coates The Bihlmans‘ are back
Rick Coates 5/4/09

This month, as moviegoers flock to the theaters to see the much-anticipated dance film Love N’ Dancing starring Amy Smart, Tom Malloy and Billy Zane, they will hear several tunes from Northern Michigan’s own The Bihlman Bros.
“We are real excited about this opportunity to not only have seven of our songs playing throughout the film but to have three songs on the official soundtrack as well,” said Jeff “Jabo” Bihlman. “It is also really cool that our song “Better Place” is the theme song for Amy Smart.”
This week the Bihlmans -- Jabo and his brother Scot (“Little” Bihlman) -- are in L.A. for the official red carpet premiere of the film and the after party.
“We offered to perform after the film ends, but the producers were ‘no, no we want you to come and hang and enjoy yourselves,’ so we are cool with that,” said Little Bihlman. “So we are going out and hanging with the celebrities, the paparazzi, the critics and others at the Arclight Cinema for the showing of the film and then over to the Green Door (the hot spot for the who’s who of Hollywood) for the big party.”
 
Monday, May 4, 2009

The Bihlmans‘ are back

Music Rick Coates The Bihlmans‘ are back
Rick Coates 5/4/09

This month, as moviegoers flock to the theaters to see the much-anticipated dance film Love N’ Dancing starring Amy Smart, Tom Malloy and Billy Zane, they will hear several tunes from Northern Michigan’s own The Bihlman Bros.
“We are real excited about this opportunity to not only have seven of our songs playing throughout the film but to have three songs on the official soundtrack as well,” said Jeff “Jabo” Bihlman. “It is also really cool that our song “Better Place” is the theme song for Amy Smart.”
This week the Bihlmans -- Jabo and his brother Scot (“Little” Bihlman) -- are in L.A. for the official red carpet premiere of the film and the after party.
“We offered to perform after the film ends, but the producers were ‘no, no we want you to come and hang and enjoy yourselves,’ so we are cool with that,” said Little Bihlman. “So we are going out and hanging with the celebrities, the paparazzi, the critics and others at the Arclight Cinema for the showing of the film and then over to the Green Door (the hot spot for the who’s who of Hollywood) for the big party.”
 
Monday, May 4, 2009

Tastemakers: Giovanni‘s Roadhouse Prime Rib Dinner/Valentine Vodka

Dining Rick Coates Giovanni’s Roadhouse Prime Rib Dinner
Rick Coates 5/4/09

Giovanni’s Roadhouse in Interlochen is part of the TC Food family that includes Fire Fly, Bubba’s and Grandview Catering. Proprietors Jeff and Trish Wiltse are long time foodies in the region who have built their success on the foundations of quality comfort food and exceptional service. A few years ago they purchased Giovanni’s, and kept some of the original flavor that made the restaurant a popular destination for pre- or post-Interlochen concerts, while adding their magical touch and character to the operation.
The “foodie” movement today has many facets. One is the resurgence of standards. One of those standards making a comeback is prime rib and Giovanni’s Roadhouse does it up right. Thursday night is “Prime Rib” special night featuring your choice of an eight, 12 or 20 ounce portion. Prepared to perfection, this cut of beef calls out for a good bottle of wine and “The House” has an impressive and extensive wine list. The Condesa de Leganza Crianza from Spain hit the spot during a recent visit.
 
Monday, May 4, 2009

The simple philosophy of John Gorka

Features Rick Coates The simple philosophy of John Gorka
Rick Coates 5/4/09

Folk troubadour John Gorka has enjoyed international success as a singer/songwriter and returns to Northern Michigan this week. He will appear at the Bay Theatre in Suttons Bay on May 7, continuing his lengthy tour.
“I started this tour 25 years ago and it just keeps going,” chuckles Gorka. “I feel very fortunate to have come into the music industry when I did.”
Gorka won the coveted Kerrville Folk Festivals “New Folk Award” in 1984. He was immediately signed with Minnesota’s up-and-coming Red House Records before landing with Windham Hill a few years later. Gorka has since returned to his roots and is back on Red House with a new CD coming out later this year.
He has toured relentlessly over the past 25 years, averaging 150 shows annually and building a fan following across the country, as well as in Europe, where his tours led him through Italy, Belgium, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Switzerland and Germany.
 
Monday, April 27, 2009

The R. A. G. E.

Music Rick Coates The R. A. G. E.
Rick Coates 4/27/09
You never know what might happen as a parent when you sit down and have a conversation with your children. In Lauri (Laura Belle) Newton’s case after a kitchen table conversation with her daughter Jasmine Lace Petrie last September, they started a “revolution.” That simple conversation has caught on in Petoskey as their “Revolution Against Garbage Everywhere” (The R.A.G.E.) and is gaining momentum in the community.
“The R.A.G.E. is a community-minded project seeking to encourage creative arts, awareness, and peace by bringing people together from all walks in an open stage and expo situation. It is a ridiculously huge idea born simply out of a conversation with my daughter,” said Newton. “She came home from college so upset after seeing a video in class about how much plastic is in the ocean and how animals are eating it and dying.”
Their conversation on garbage expanded beyond just the physical.
“My daughter said something so profound that a flood of thoughts came rushing in. She said to me: ‘Mom it is not just the garbage on the ground, in the air or in the water, it is the garbage that starts in our minds and comes out in the form of gossip, reported in the media and sung in the songs of today.’ I thought to myself wow, she is right,” said Newton. “There is so much gossip out there that is garbage that is so hurtful. Gossip has become a destructive force in our schools, communities and society in general. There is so much music today that promotes negative and hate and there is so much garbage coming out of the media. It is all having a negative impact on us.”
 
Monday, April 27, 2009

Little Richard

Music Rick Coates Good Golly Miss Molly
It’s Little Richard

By Rick Coates 4/27/09

“The Architect of Rock-n-Roll” Little Richard is closing in on 60 years as a performer. Now 76, Little Richard is still putting the “Wooo” and “A-Wop-bop-a-loo-lop a-lop-bam-boo” in his music.
“Plus I still look good,” laughs Little Richard. “God has blessed me with a long and healthy life, so I plan to keep making the most of it.”
Little Richard rolls into Northern Michigan this weekend with his 11-piece band to perform at the Odawa Casino Resort in Petoskey on Saturday May 2. He brings a repertoire of songs that laid the foundation for rock-n-roll, including such hits as “Tutti-Frutti” “Long Tall Sally” “Good Golly Miss Molly” “Lucille” “Jenny, Jenny” and several others. Little Richard is known as rock music’s “great emancipator.” Some feel he is the true “king” of rock and roll.
“I always say if Elvis was the King, then I am the Queen of Rock-n-Roll,” said Little Richard. “Sure, I appreciate the accolades, but for me this about performing for the fans, it is how it all started and it remains my focus. For 60 years I have loved all aspects of show business.”
 
Monday, April 27, 2009

Tastemakers: City Park Grilled Salmon/Mackinaw Trail Winery

Dining Rick Coates City Park Grill Salmon 4/27/09

Legend has it Ernest Hemingway frequented the City Park Grill during his youth, where he was seen scribbling what would eventually become his “Nick Adams” stories. Since opening in 1875, the Park Garden Café (which became City Park Grill in 1997) has been at the center of Petoskey’s social scene. It continues to have a vibrant live music scene featuring the best musicians the region has to offer along with the occasional traveling band.
 
Monday, April 20, 2009

Tastemakers: Morels are here/ The Spirits of Michigan

Dining Rick Coates A few weeks back I appeared on the Omelette & Finster Morning Show on KLT as the guest news anchor. As part of an April Fool’s prank I made up a story along with the hosts that the weather conditions had eliminated this year’s morel crop. Both Omelette & Finster played the story up and we even had a person pose as a Professor of Botany from MSU call in confirming the story. We eventually told everyone that it was simply an April Fool’s joke. Well not everyone heard that we were just joking and organizers of various morel events in the region have been getting calls asking if there were going to be morels this year.
 
 
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