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, September 5, 2011

Epicurean Classic Returns To TC‘s Warehouse DIstrict

Dining Rick Coates After a three-year hiatus the Epicurean Classic returns home to Traverse City this weekend, September 8-11. The four-day food affair left Traverse City in 2008 when title sponsor, Whirlpool, requested the event take place near its corporate headquarters in Benton Harbor.
“I am excited to see the event return to Traverse City,” said Mark Dressler, founder and organizer. “We ran out of space at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute and Whirlpool offered their facilities. Their location was close to Chicago so we gave it a try, but this event belongs in Traverse City.”
Monday, September 5, 2011

The 231 Project Photographer captures women of the 231 area code

Features Rick Coates Sarah Armstrong hurries home after work and grabs her camera bag and heads
out the door for her next shoot. A media consultant by day and
photographer by night, Armstrong is on a mission to photograph 231 women
from Northern Michigan for a new book and social media project.
Armstrong is not looking for societal supermodels for her project, just
women who who want to express their beauty regardless of size, shape or
Monday, September 5, 2011

Derek Bailey on Tribal Progress

Features Rick Coates It was just seven years ago that Derek Bailey started work on a Ph.D
program at Central Michigan University when he felt that he could best
serve the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians by serving on
the Tribal Council.
Bailey left school and successfully won a seat on the board. It wasn’t
long before he was elected the youngest tribal chairman of the Grand
Traverse Band (GTB) since its reorganization in 1980.
Monday, August 29, 2011

Tastemakers: Mode?s Bum Steer Rack of Lamb/Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale

Books Rick Coates Mode’s Bum Steer Rack of Lamb
As I was reviewing my notes from my dining experiences over the past five years for an upcoming “State of the Northern Michigan Restaurant Industry” article, I constantly found Mode’s Bum Steer with positive reviews in my notes. In fact, in the 50-plus times I have dined at Mode’s over the past five years, I described each experience as exceptional.
Recently I met with Epicurean Classic founder Mark Dressler who is returning the event to Traverse City (September 8-11). Dressler pointed out that one deciding factor to return the event to the region was “the quality and commitment of the culinary scene in the area.”
With so many new offerings in the region, sometimes there might be a tendency to overlook the “classic” places like Mode’s, Hermann’s and the Rowe Inn.
Anita and her husband Bob opened Mode’s Bum Steer 36 years ago. Bob passed away four years ago this past July, but Anita and their daughter Skylar have kept the tradition going. In fact the whole team has kept that tradition of exceptional service and quality menu offerings going.
I stopped in last week to enjoy my favorite, their Rack of Lamb with a classic wedge and bleu cheese, and I overheard Anita talking about the fact that most of the staff has been with them for 20 to 30 years and the “newbies” take quickly to the Mode’s way of doing things.
Monday, August 22, 2011

Suds & Song

Music Rick Coates The festival season is winding down and and putting an exclamation mark on
a stellar summer of events is the Third Annual Traverse City Microbrew &
Music Festival.
The brainchild of Sam Porter and Porterhouse Productions, the festival
will take place this weekend, August 26 & 27, at the Village at Grand
Traverse Commons. The Microbrew & Music Festival will feature over 50
craft breweries, wineries, cider and mead makers along with 10 local
Monday, August 22, 2011

BJ Thomas

Music Rick Coates B.J. Thomas:Still Hooked on a Feeling
By Rick Coates
B.J. Thomas has one of the most distinctive voices in popular music
history. His vocal talents have helped him reach the top of the pop,
country and Christian charts over his 45-year recording career. It has
been 25 years since his last Top 10 hit but Thomas’s popularity has not
waned with his fans as he continues to tour the country performing to
sold-out venues.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tastemakers:Saveur Thyme at the hearth & Vine/ Tandem Ciders Smackentosh

Dining Rick Coates Saveur Thyme at the Hearth & Vine
After two weeks of highlighting Chef Mario Batali’s love affair with Northern Michigan in Tastemakers and Bottoms Up, we find the chef still on his self-imposed PR campaign for the region.
Last week Batali appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America program after GMA viewers selected the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes region as the “Most Beautiful Place In America.” A camera crew followed Batali around earlier this summer as he highlighted some of his favorite places. When the results of the balloting were announced, Batali Skyped the show, answering questions from the host about Northern Michigan. In addition he had his New York culinary team prepare some of his favorite Northern Michigan dishes for the show hosts to sample.
One of the places Batali raved about was the Saveur Thyme at the Hearth & Vine, located on the grounds of the Black Star Farms Winery. Owned by Chef Paul Carlson and his wife Susan, Hearth & Vine is a cozy cafe and wine bar featuring gourmet wood-fired pizzas, delicious soups, salads, sandwiches, and more. Batali told viewers that Hearth & Vine is one of “his go to places” when he and his family visit Northern Michigan. He let viewers also know that he “spends his entire summer in paradise.”
Monday, August 22, 2011

Derek Bailey

Features Rick Coates Chairman Derek Bailey of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB) recently postponed a family getaway to the Upper Peninsula to speak at a memorial service. These constant schedule changes and being accessible 24/7 as the Tribal Chairman have become the lifestyle Bailey and his family have adopted since his election three years ago.
“We were looking forward to our trip, but I was asked to speak at a memorial service for Helen Hornbeck Tanner. I considered it not only an honor but my obligation to be there,” said Bailey. “Tanner, while not Native American, played several crucial roles in the recent history for Indian tribes of the Great Lakes region. She is not the only reason but she certainly is a key reason why we (the GTB) are where we are at today. It was important that I let her family and friends know how much we appreciate what she did for us and equally important that our tribal communities know of her importance.”
Monday, August 15, 2011

Mickey Hart

Music Rick Coates There is no “mailing it in” with Mickey Hart, the percussion guru of the
Grateful Dead, who could easily cash in year after year touring and
playing the hits of his former band.
“What’s the point of always doing the same thing? I don’t eat my favorite
meal everyday; I explore different foods in search of my new favorite
meal, and that is my approach to music,” said Hart. “My whole life I have
constantly been exploring different types of music, even during my
Grateful Dead days.
Monday, August 15, 2011

Brent James

Music Rick Coates It was just two years ago this weekend that musicians from all over Northern Michigan were gathering at Union Street Station to jam. The reason was a benefit for fellow musician Jason Kott.
In late July of 2009, Kott, who was 34 at the time and a popular bass player and musician on the Northern Michigan scene, was headed home to Traverse City from Petoskey the day after a gig when another car turned head on into him. The accident was serious, breaking his ankle, eight ribs and two vertebrae.
Lucky just to survive, Kott, a full time professional musician, was forced to cancel a full slate of paying gigs for the rest of the year. In addition to his solo work Kott was a member of Brent James and The Contraband and they were scheduled to go into the studio.
“We had been working so hard to get our big break and then I break myself up and there was no way I was going to let this opportunity pass by,” said Kott. “I toughed it out and was far from being healed and went to Nashville to record the record.”’

The fruits of that labor have paid off as their debut album “Moments of Silence” was released to stores and itunes two weeks ago and their first single, the title track of the CD, hit radio stations this week.
Now Kott will retrace his travels from two years ago as Brent James and The Contraband will perform Thursday and Friday night at Union Street Station in Traverse City. On Saturday they will headline the Festival by the Bay in Petoskey.
“I am not sure they will let me drive the van,” said Kott. “We are excited about coming home as we have been out touring with Alice Cooper and we did all the west coast dates with Ted Nugent earlier this summer.”
Kott grew up in Traverse City where he was active in music at TC Senior High School. After graduating in 1993 he headed off to Albion where he majored in classical voice. He returned to Traverse City where he has spent the past 14 years performing solo and as part of several bands from Dawn Campbell to Ron Getz and even a stint with The Bihlman Bros., among others.
“I am still doing the occasional solo gig around here but I have now put all my eggs in this basket,” said Kott. “And for good reason, Brent is an exceptional singer and guitar player plus we have Mike P on guitars and Matt Hayes who is also from Traverse City on drums and both of those guys are awesome.”
Monday, August 15, 2011

Micky Free

Music Rick Coates Micki Free might be the best guitarist no one has ever heard of -- well
the general public that is. Mention his name to people in the business,
such as Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Bill Wyman of
The Rolling Stones fame and they will all sing his praises. In fact, all
three legends are currently working on projects with Micki Free.
Ask KISS frontman Gene Simmons his thoughts on Micki Free and a smile will
come over him.
Monday, August 15, 2011

Tastemakers: Mario Batali Arrabbiata Sauce/ La Mozza Aragone

Dining Rick Coates A recent visit to some of the farmers’ markets in Northern Michigan produced everything I needed to make fresh pasta sauce. We are so fortunate living here with our agricultural diversity and for the next couple of months the harvest is on which bodes well for all sorts of canning projects. Making homemade salsas and tomato sauces are easy and not as time consuming as one might think.
During a recent interview with Chef Mario Batali he emphasized that every “great recipe and meal starts at the store.” He took it a step further about getting the freshest ingredients as possible and knowing where your food comes from. Batali, in addition to being a celebrity chef and owner of several top restaurants, is also a bestselling cookbook author. Many of his cookbooks have an Italian theme with plenty of pasta sauce recipes.
While making homemade pasta sauce is relatively simple, it is not always convenient. Unlike many celebrities who lend their name to just about anything, Mario Batali does not. He is hands-on at all of his restaurants as well as his Italian winery (see Bottoms Up) and so when you see his name on a product, you can expect that it meets his high standards. A few years back he released a collection of Mario Batali Pasta Sauces.
The collection of sauces include Pizza, Marinara, Alla Vodka, Arrabbiata, Cherry Tomato and Tomato Basil. My personal favorite is the Arrabbiata because I like spicy foods and this has some zip to it. The sauce is made with crushed red pepper and San Marzano tomatoes with a nice balance of capers and fresh garlic.
Monday, August 15, 2011

Sup Dude?

Features Rick Coates Surf’s up on Lake Michigan? For that matter, all of the Great Lakes have
become a surfers’ paradise in recent years. While these salt-free waters
may not get the big waves enjoyed by surfers off the California, Hawaiian
and Australian coasts, one must not forget that the waves of the Great
Lakes have sunk hundreds of large ships.
Part of the surging surf scene in Northern Michigan is due to the growing
popularity of Stand-Up-Paddle-Boarding (SUP). This Saturday, August 20 at
the Open Space Bayshore Park in Traverse City the first ever TC Waterman
Stand Up Paddle and Expo will take place.
The event is being organized by Todd and Michelle Mackey and is open to
Monday, August 8, 2011

Colt Ford

Music Rick Coates Real country musicians have an edge and attitude. Just ask Colt Ford, the
Georgia-based former professional golfer turned country singer. Of course,
Ford has to have an attitude since his way doesn’t fit the corporate
profile Nashville looks for in today’s country superstars.
“Yeah you could say I am on the outside looking,” said Ford. “Country
music today is still using that big corporate model that was developed in
the ’80s where they tell you how to look, sound and what to do. There are
very few independent country artists that have much success. It is a very
corporate world with a few people making all the decisions.”
Ford is frustrated trying to find his place.
Monday, August 8, 2011

Tastemakers: Mario Batali on Northern Michigan

Dining Rick Coates Mario Batali sightings around Northern Michigan have become as common as cherry pie and t-shirt shops. Ever since the celebrity chef of Food TV Network fame began summering in Northport 10 years ago (he now owns a place there and spends Thanksgiving and Christmas there as well) he has actively embraced the Northern Michigan lifestyle. Batali has been spotted at area wineries, farmers’ markets, restaurants, golf courses among other attractions.
Batali has not kept his love for Northern Michigan a secret, often sharing with the national media his summer exploits and even allowing journalists to visit his home.
Most recently he discussed with Bon Appétit magazine some of his favorite things in Northern Michigan (Google the Bon Appétit Blog to see the postings “How Mario Batali Escapes New York” and “How Mario Batali Gets His Drink On In and Around Traverse City, Michigan”).