Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Char Brickel

Art Al Parker It’s easy to see that artist Char Bickel is serious when it comes to joy and fun.
“It’s good to keep in touch with that childhood joy,” advises the smiling Northport resident who creates evocative, handsome shadow boxes of painted silk and cotton fabric that is painstakingly cut and glued. “I loved making art as a kid and I still do.”  
Paying homage to collage, Bickel’s works draw their inspiration from the nature that surrounds her in Leelanau County and most of her works include images of animals – rabbits, fish, birds, and most noticeably, bears. In fact, her haunting image of a Juggling Bear has become synonymous with her work, appearing in a variety of her shadow boxes.
“There’s something about the shape of bears,” she says. “I’ve been doing the Juggling Bear since 1992. It’s sort of a logo for me now. To me, it reflects that you should handle parts of life in balance and joyfully.” 
Bickel’s shadow boxes begin simply with white silk that is screen printed with splashes of color. Then she cuts and glues the silk into images as simple and subtle as bears flying kites or ponies romping on a beach. The scenes may seem other-worldly, yet are rooted in the familiar. Take a closer look and you’ll see sturdy stitching linking a stone to the beach or fixing the moon in the sky.
“I like adding detail,” she says. “I like to start with a strong image first, then see something else and something else, adding details.”
 
Monday, December 20, 2010

Dining with Gusto

Dining Al Parker Dining with Gusto! in Suttons Bay
By Al Parker
Just for the record, the colorful Italian eatery in Suttons Bay is pronounced “Goose-tow,” not “Gus-tow.”
“I don’t care how they say it, as long as they come in,” laughs Sam Hybels, owner of Gusto! on M-22 just a couple of doors north of Suttons Bay’s south blinker light.
In a prior life, the building housed Hattie’s, operated by noted restaurateur Jim Milliman. In 2003, Milliman decided to sell Hattie’s and Hybels, who had worked at the eatery, saw an opportunity. He bought Hattie’s, changed the menu and reintroduced the restaurant as Samuel’s.
About 18 months ago he transformed Samuel’s into Gusto!
“It’s been a good direction for us to go,” says Hybels, who comes from a family of self-proclaimed foodies and has been a chef for 20 years. “I really modeled Gusto! after a couple of Italian restaurants in Kalamazoo where we went when I was growing up.”
Hybels devotion to authentic Italian cuisine goes back many years and was sparked when he spent two weeks visiting Sicily. “I had been a corporate chef for 10 years and was burned out,” he recalls. “The Italian people are food people. They emphasize freshness and quality. That’s the way I do it.”
 
Monday, December 6, 2010

Union Cantina

Dining Al Parker Union Cantina offers South of the Border style
By Al Parker
You might say restaurant entrepreneur Matt Davies has come full circle.
“I started early on (in the restaurant business) at Taco Ed’s in
Findley, Ohio,” says Davies, an Ohio native whose family summered in
Northern Michigan when he was a boy. “I was just a kid.”
 
Monday, November 29, 2010

Cogs Creek Collective

Art Al Parker Cog’s Creek Collective : Offers New Art Gallery & Café
By Al Parker
Kim Bazemore smiles widely, wipes her hands on a rag and talks about her latest project of turning a neglected building into a home for creative art and artists. “It’s been a lot of work over a long time, but it’s coming together,” she says, her voice rising with excitement.
“It” is the Cog’s Creek Collective, a 6,000-square-foot building in Traverse City’s “Little Bohemia” neighborhood, tucked behind the popular Lil Bo Pub & Grille on North Maple Street.
The former home of Coddington Cleaners, the building now houses an art gallery for Bazemore’s gold and silver jewelry creations, an eatery, a clothing designer, a knife sharpening workshop and room for more artisans.
A grand opening celebration is set for Friday, Dec. 3 at the century-old building that took about a year to renovate. About 10 artists are expected to display their creations – paintings, photography, furniture, modern art quilts, ornaments and more. It’ll be catered by their neighbor, Lil Bo Pub & Grille.
 
Monday, November 8, 2010

Alden Bar

Dining Al Parker In Alden: a facelift revitalizes the ‘AB’
By Al Parker
In many communities, the largest employer is a factory, hospital or
maybe a school.
That’s not the case in Alden, according to Walt Owens, who owns and
operates the newly-remodeled Alden Bar & Grille in the friendly little
village that hugs the east shore of Torch Lake.
 
Monday, October 18, 2010

Tuscan Bistro

Dining Al Parker Bistro Offers a Taste of Tuscany
By Al Parker
Some chefs spend years in culinary schools learning their craft and
honing their skills before launching into a career in the kitchen.
But that isn’t Mickey Cannon’s style.
 
Monday, October 11, 2010

Enjoy a Fall Picnic with Rolling Farms

Features Al Parker With cooler days elbowing aside the warmth of Indian Summer, another
spectacular Northern Michigan autumn is here.
But there’s still time to enjoy one of the area’s most beloved outdoor
traditions, the picnic. There’s something memory-making about enjoying
a simple outdoor meal with a special companion on a comfy slice of
your favorite terrain.
 
Monday, October 4, 2010

Willie‘s Rear

Dining Al Parker The View from Willie’s Rear
By Al Parker
Jim Rowland was a just a kid in junior high school down in Clawson
when he began dreaming about owning his own restaurant.
And in 1989, the first time he strolled into the unassuming little
diner on South Airport Road between Barlow and Garfield Roads, he had
a vision. “It was just how I imagined it,” says the outgoing Rowland.
“It was my dream restaurant.”
 
Monday, August 30, 2010

Willow Mercantile

Dining Al Parker Willow Mercantile brings farm-fresh foods to Cadillac
By Al Parker
A pair of energetic entrepreneurs have taken a shabby location on Cadillac’s South Mitchell Street and turned it into a bustling produce and specialty market that lures shoppers from across the region with its fresh produce, extensive roster of Michigan products and on-site greenhouse.
 
Monday, August 23, 2010

Da Dawg House

Dining Al Parker Da Dawg House offers Dining in a Dog Dish
By Al Parker
It’s a mid-summer, mid-morning in Cadillac, a time when a lot of
breakfast joints are starting to slow down a bit after the breakfast
rush.
 
Monday, August 9, 2010

Chez Peres

Dining Al Parker Chez Peres offers French comfort food
By Al Parker
French cuisine often conjures up images of white linen tables, a pretentious maitre d and entrees smothered in thick, creamy, calorie-laden sauces.
Kick those concepts to the Lake Avenue curb when you visit Traverse City’s newest French bistro, Chez Peres.
“Our food is elegant, but very much down to Earth,” says chef Keil Moshier.
 
Monday, July 26, 2010

Soul Hole

Dining Al Parker Soul Hole Serves Up Southern Comfort
By Al Parker
If you leave Traverse City’s Old Town tourists strolling along Union
Street and step into The Soul Hole, it’s easy to imagine that you’re
actually sliding into a cozy eatery in Baton Rouge, Mobile or Biloxi.
The warm paprika-colored ambience, cool jazz/blues sounds and
down-home Southern soul food make the place a welcome change from
national chain food choices.
 
Monday, July 12, 2010

Park Place Cafe

Dining Al Parker Cadillac’s Park Place Café offers star power on a shoestring
By Al Parker
So you’re getting ready to launch a new eatery and there are certain
essentials you need to open the doors, right?
Gotta’ have a stove or large tabletop grill, of course. Maybe a deep
fryer and spacious oven too.
 
Monday, June 14, 2010

The Dockside delivers

Dining Al Parker The Dockside Delivers: Torch Lake destination offers dining and good times
By Al Parker
It’s 10 a.m. on a sunny May morning, the kind they call “a Dockside day” at the popular restaurant that has been a fixture on Torch Lake’s eastern shore for more than a century.
The crystalline waters of the lake are amazingly calm, the air cool and fresh with the promise of a gorgeous spring day.
Owner Gordy Schafer greets three new employees with a question. “What’s the first thing we asked you when you applied here?” he asks.
“What’s your GPA,” the three young women answer in unison.
 
Monday, February 22, 2010

Your tummy is sure to growl at The Bear‘s Den

Dining Al Parker Your tummy is sure to growl at the Bear’s Den
By Al Parker
Stroll into the Bear’s Den Pizzeria and you’re immediately surrounded by the aura of the legendary hunter and businessman to whom the restaurant pays homage.
Images of that craggy, wide smile, basset hound eyes and rakishly tilted battered Borsolino hat mean that the spirit of Fred Bear is alive and well in downtown Grayling.
“I hunted with a Fred Bear bow at 13, “recalls Bill Gannon, owner of the restaurant. “My Dad started me out on that and I’ve been a hunter ever since.”
Gannon’s father was a conservation officer and a friend of Bear’s. “Every story you hear about Fred Bear is about how he was a very kind person,” says Gannon. “He was just a real down-to-earth, nice guy. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a negative thing about him.”
That respect for Bear led Gannon to open the pizzeria a few years ago and display his huge collection of Bear memorabilia that he had collected over the decades. Several large framed Bear Archery advertisements line the walls and some 40 Bear bows and dozens of arrows are on display.
 
 
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