Northern Express - January 09, 2023

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Northern Express Weekly • january 09, 2023 • 1 norther nex
express NORTHERN MICHIGAN’S WEEKLY • january 09 - january 15, 2023 • Vol. 33 No. 01 • A comedy fest returns to Traverse City • • Looking for the next Spielberg at Interlochen • • Is the demand for outdoor dining cooling off? •

National Writers Series

January 19 • 7PM (live)


An incredible story, a stunning upset, and newfound role models for young women. With a special appearance by 1998 Olympian Lisa Brown-Miller! Event Sponsor: Common Good Bakery

March 10 • 7PM (live)


The phosphorous paradox for the planet, vital and dangerous it’s “the oil of our time.”

Guest Host: Patrick Shea

Reception Sponsor: Oryana Community Co-op

Event Partner: International Affairs Forum

May 3 • 7PM (live)


Author of the #1 NYT bestselling memoir, The Glass Castle. Her new book follows the journey of a feisty and fearless young woman who refuses to be corralled.

Guest Host: Susan Odgers

Event Underwriter: Anne Montgomery

February 10 • 7PM (live)*


From the celebrated NPR correspondent, an intimate memoir of success, struggle, and life-affirming relationships.

Guest Host: April Baer

Event Sponsor: Debbie Edson

Literary Sponsor: Bay Books

Media Sponsor: Michigan Radio

April 12 • 7PM (live)**


Consider the joy we incite when we care for each other, especially during life’s inevitable hardships.

Guest Host: Ari Mokdad

Event Sponsor: Up North Financial, LLC

Literary Sponsor: Bay Books

Event Partner: Interlochen Center for the Arts

May 12 • 7PM (live)


Readers of all ages will love this middle grade adaptation of Chasten’s refreshingly candid memoir.

Guest Host: Zoe Clark Literary Sponsors: Bay Books Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation Media Sponsor: Michigan Radio

February 23 • 7PM (live)


From New York to New Orleans—a haunting road trip that revisits the Jim Crow world of the original Green Book.

Guest Host: Jerome Vaughn

Event Sponsor: Ronald Chao, DDS

Event Grantor: Community Foundation, DEI Fund

April 15 • 2PM (live)


Battle of the Books is a free, book-based quiz competition for fourth and fifth graders in the Grand Traverse area.

Kids read incredible stories together and then experience heartpounding moments in competition.

Event Partner: Traverse Area District Library

To learn more about Battle of the Books, see all the amazing books kids will be reading, and to see the full list of sponsors please visit

June 13 • 7PM (live)


Based on a true story, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.

Guest Host: Anne-Marie Oomen Event Sponsor: Green Brick Foundation

Events are at the City Opera House with the exception of the **Ross Gay event (at Interlochen’s Corson Auditorium) *Nina Totenberg event is virtual w/option for in-person “Watch Party”

2 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly
For tickets and details go to
year-round book festival

I’m glad that we are making progress protecting our forests around the world, as Neal Stout asserts in his letter (Dec. 26, 2022), although I personally am not sure we can check that box off entirely just yet.

Citizens of Michigan also need to be concerned about another issue: the water quality of our lakes. The pressures of tourism and development are taking their toll. Nutrients from fertilizer and other sources are resulting in the growth of algae and invasive species. A few simple changes in behavior would go a long way toward mitigating the problem.

First, people living on the lakes need to stop fertilizing their lawns (if not eliminate the concept of “lawns” altogether). Septic tanks should be inspected and emptied every three years or so. Local governments need to manage the growth of development in a more responsible way; for instance, by discouraging the building of homes on the hillsides overlooking the lakes.

If these simple changes were made, we in Michigan might start checking “improve water quality” off our list as well.

Northern Express Weekly • january 09, 2023 • 3 Are you 25 years or older? START THE NEW YEAR BY GIVING YOURSELF of a tuition-free* EDUCATION THE GIFT *As an in-district student or at a reduced rate if out of district. Get ahead with
Water Quality Check
CONTENTS feature Funny in February.......................................... 9 Striking Back Against Chronic Pain..................10 Is the Next Spielberg at Interlochen?.... 12 Cold Comfort 14 Snowshoe Mania............................................18 columns & stuff Top Ten..... 4 Guest Opinion.......................................... 7 Weird 8 Dates.. 20 Nitelife....................................... 24 Crossword.................................. 25 Astrology................................... 25 Classifieds 26 Northern Express Weekly is published by Eyes Only Media, LLC. Publisher: Luke Haase PO Box 4020 Traverse City, Michigan 49685 Phone: (231) 947-8787 Fax: 947-2425 email: Editor: Jillian Manning Finance Manager: Libby Shutler Distribution Manager: Roger Racine Sales: Lisa Gillespie, Kaitlyn Nance, Michele Young, Todd Norris, Abby Walton Porter For ad sales in Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Boyne & Charlevoix, call (231) 838-6948 Creative Director: Kyra Poehlman Distribution: Joe Evancho, Sarah Rodery Roger Racine, Gary Twardowski Charlie Brookfield, Randy Sills Listings Editor: Jamie Kauffold Contributors: Joseph Beyer, Ross Boissoneau, Alexandra Dailey, Anna Faller, Stephen Tuttle Copyright 2022, all rights reserved. Distribution: 36,000 copies
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We’ll start by saying you should certainly save your imbibing for your aprèsski experience…and then we’ll tell you we’ve found the perfect opportunity for slopeside drinks at the Highlands at Harbor Springs. The weekend of Jan. 13-15, they’ll be hosting their Highlands on the Rocks event in partnership with High Five Spirits of Petoskey. Once you’ve finished up on the hill, you can check out local distillery, winery, and brewery tastings on the property, plus events for friends and family to enjoy. On Friday, High Five Spirits will offer live music and a tasting event at the Yurt at the end of The Enchanted Trail (which admittedly sounds like a trippy, madeup land, but is really a beautiful 1.5-mile trail decked out in fairy lights). Saturday, more local makers will be onsite for tastings with a curated menu of hors d’oeuvres in the Main Dining Room ($25/person). Get the details—plus lift tickets—by visiting

C.R.A.V.E.’s Italiano

C.R.A.V.E. of Gaylord is best known for its pizza—which arrives fast, hot, and full of fresh and delicious ingredients like fire-braised chicken and sweet pepper drop—but next time you’re there, skip the pie and go for a sandwich. We like the Italiano ($12), which feels like a classic Italian salad in oven-baked wrap form. (Think: salami, banana peppers, black olives, red onion, and more.) Sandwiches come with chips and a pickle, and you can opt for gluten-free bread for an extra $4. For the best deal, stop in for the Express Lunch from 11am-3pm Monday through Friday. Priced at $11.50, the special includes a sandwich of your choice or personal-size, one-topping pizza plus a soup or side salad. (There’s even a lunch card for folks who visit frequently!) Find C.R.A.V.E. at 148 W Main St. in Gaylord. (989) 748-4848,

Award-winning author and scholar R.F. Kuang (The Poppy War trilogy) nails the horrors of imperial power—with a supernatural twist—in her genre-bending newest, Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence. The story begins in Victorian Canton, where Robin Swift is plucked from a cholera outbreak and swept off to London by Professor Lovell, his wealthy and austere new guardian. In exchange for a prestigious English upbringing, Robin commits to language study in order to become a Babbler: a student at Oxford’s highly exclusive Royal Institute of Translation. At first, the school, which is also the hub of England’s magic silverwork, feels like utter paradise. But when Robin becomes entangled with a band of anti-establishment thieves, he is forced to make a choice that could change his life—and the empire’s future—forever. Incisive and delightfully nerdy (be sure to read the footnotes), this 560-page tome of a read is an undertaking, but we couldn’t put it down.

4 • january 09, 2023 •
this week’s
Hey, read It! Babel Highlands on the Rocks 4 If you’re up for questionable
choreography, bad dad jokes, and boy-band hits, head to City Opera House in Traverse City on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 8pm for The Friars Winterpalooza. The Friars are the a cappella subset of the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club, and they’re ready
entertain—no backing band needed.
admission, $20;
18 or younger with college ID, $10; seniors 62+: $15.

Northern Michigan has several events planned around Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 16—see our dates section for more—but one that caught our eye was the Building Bridges with Music annual MLK Remembrance Day program at City Opera House in Traverse City. On the stage for the evening will be soul jazz vocalist Joan Belgrave, R&B singer Mark Scott, spoken word artist Joel Fluent Greene, and The Lisa McCall Dancers. You’ll also get to catch a performance by Traverse City’s own NMC Canticum Novum, the premier vocal ensemble in northern Lower Michigan, under the direction of Jeffrey Cobb. The event starts at 7pm on Jan. 16, and tickets are FREE but do require reservation through the City Opera House. (Note: Seating will be limited due to COVID restrictions and masks are encouraged.) More information about the program can be found at

Feel like you need a vacation after the holidays? Save your spring break dollars, and instead of hopping on a flight, head to the Delamar Traverse City to take advantage of their Snow Days day passes for NoMi locals ($35 for adults; $25 for kids 3-12; free for 2 and under). Passes are available Sundays through Thursdays now until the end of March and offer you access to hotel amenities like the outdoor heated pool, sauna, fitness center, fire pits with s’mores, and complimentary snowshoe rentals. You also get 25 percent off at Artisan restaurant and 20 percent off at Yen Yoga Fitness, both onsite at the Delmar. Level up your staycation and reserve a Cozy Cabana experience, with room for six guests to lounge by the outdoor pool with food and beverage service. (Is anyone else getting total hygge vibes?) For more details, head to snow-days-day-pass.

Welcome to 2023, readers. With the new year, we’re starting to put together our annual list of Fascinating People from across northern Michigan. These 20 people live a not-so-average existence and parlay their passions into something bigger than themselves. We love hearing about folks of all ages who do amazing things in their communities, who have crazy cool life stories, and who are poised to make the future brighter. Last year, we featured two Olympic athletes, an 83-year-old ship captain, a retired Marine Corps Major General, and an eightyear-old mountain bike champ. We also got to tell the stories of multiple teachers, musicians, chefs, and creatives who inspire the people they interact with every day. If you know someone fascinating, send us a quick email at info@northernexpress. com with their name and a few sentences about what makes them special. Then, stay tuned for our Fascinating People issue later this winter to see who made the 2023 list!

The holiday season might be over, but Terrain Restaurant in Bellaire toasts local bounty all year long, and we think the plummy nuance of the Skipping Stones cocktail deserves its own celebration. Named for the local stone fruit it features, the drink begins with Kalkaska’s North River Vodka, which Terrain bartenders infuse with tangy plums from nearby King Orchards (psst—there’s also a seasonal nectarine version!). Fresh lemon juice, warmlyspiced Peychaud’s bitters, house-made fruit syrup, and a splash of Slivovitz—that’s a damson plum-spiked brandy—complete this vibrantly-purple drink, which is served in a coup and garnished with a dehydrated lemon wheel. Pair it with something equally decadent; we love the duck confit and jam or a few scoops of house-made ice cream! Enjoy a Skipping Stones cocktail for $12 at Terrain Restaurant in Bellaire at 213 N. Bridge Street. (231) 350-7301,

Northern Express Weekly • january 09, 2023 • 5
Help Us Find Fascinating People! bottoms up Terrain’s Skipping Stones norther nex NORTHERN express NORTHERN MICHIGAN’S WEEKLY march 07 march 13, 2022 Vol. 32 No. 10 Molly Ames Baker Nancy Bordine Duane Brandt Mickey Cannon Katherine Corden Kyle Evans Carol Greenaway Tawny Hammond Mike King Kaila Kuhn Al Laaksonen Michael Lehnert Paxton Robinson Liz Saile Alex Sanderson Rachel Sytsma-Reed Emily Umbarger Joe Van Alstine Winter Vinecki Mark Wilson 20 FASCINATING PEOPLE Stuff We Love: A Downtown Getaway 6 MLK Remembrance Day


Will 2023 be any different than 2022? It seems unlikely.

War will continue to rage in Ukraine as Vladimir Putin refuses to abandon his delusions of reestablishing the long-dead Russian Empire. Unfortunately, the fighting in Ukraine is only one of a dozen or so ongoing armed conflicts, and U.S. weaponry is being used by one or both sides in all of them. After tens of thousands of years of what passes for human civilization, many governments still think the best way to solve problems is by killing some perceived enemy, and we’re happy to sell them the weapons that do the killing.

There is no reason to assume natural disasters will abate around the world after an especially troubling 2022. There were destructive floods and wildfires on every continent but Antarctica. Floods, fueled by weather extremes exacerbated by climate

absent any evidence of fraud or other voting irregularities. It’s a strategy unlikely to work given the actual winner in that gubernatorial election, Katie Hobbs, has already been sworn into office.

The recent flooding in California will help to slightly mitigate their ongoing drought, but it might be a Pyrrhic victory. All that water will encourage significant underbrush growth, and if drought conditions return, the state’s fire season will be even more destructive than 2022’s record breaker.

More extreme weather events, including floods, fires, winds, and tornadoes, are inevitable as too many decision-makers ignore the signs of climate change all around us.

Locally, we will continue our Quixotic quest for affordable housing downtown

change, wreaked havoc in 30 countries according to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. In Pakistan alone, flooding covered a third of the country, killing more than 12,000 people and leaving 2.1 million homeless.

Nearly 60,000 wildfires ravaged millions of acres around the world, the second worst year ever but close to 2021’s record-breaking fire destruction. There is no reason to expect 2023 will be any better as extreme weather events continue to increase.

In the United States, no president has solved the legal and illegal immigration problem despite the outrageous claims of one former White House occupant. Torn between needing immigrants, legal and otherwise, to keep some businesses afloat or closing the southern border altogether, the problem is unlikely to get any better. (The claims of an “open border” are an egregious insult to the men and women of the Border Patrol who continue working diligently under difficult conditions.)

Former President Donald Trump will continue to face a myriad of potential legal issues. There are the tax issues in New York, a big problem in Georgia where the former president tried to get their secretary of state to “find” enough votes to give him a victory, not to mention all those purloined documents at Mar-a-Lago. Trump has spent his adult life weaseling out of legal trouble by writing checks to settle claims while insisting he did nothing wrong. We’ll see if that strategy works again, though his troubles in Georgia and with all those documents might not be so easy for prosecutors to overlook.

The election-deniers will still be with us, most notably Arizona’s Kari Lake who continues to demand either a new election or that she simply be declared the winner

by subsidizing every step of the process from land acquisition to final construction. Traverse Citians will get to help pay for people to live in neighborhoods they can’t afford themselves.

Both the tall building and the fish pass issues appear headed for the state supreme court for what should be final decisions. An appellate court ruled the 60-foot limit applies only to the roof deck, and at least one developer has preliminary drawings including structures 10-15 feet above that limit, likely not what the voters had in mind when they rejected buildings taller than 60 feet on three occasions.

The court will decide if the fish pass is actually a park expansion or an experimental research facility occupying parkland that should have gone before voters for approval. We still don’t know which fish will be allowed to pass, and costs continue to rise. If ultimately approved, money could be saved by replacing the proposed concrete amphitheater with native trees and riparian flora.

(Thirteenth Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power, who made the original ruling in both cases, recently retired. Power, a friend of this writer, served on the school board, as a state representative, and for 30 years as a circuit judge. He has been an honest and honorable public servant for more than four decades, and his wit and wisdom will be missed.)

Finally, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has created preliminary plans for dramatically improving the banks of a mile of the lower Boardman-Ottaway River. Though it looks pricey, it would be infinitely superior to what currently exists, and we hope they can get it started in 2023.

6 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly
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Will 2023 be any different than 2022? It seems unlikely.


guest opinion


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last five-plus years, you’re sure to have heard this buzzword floating around within your social circles. But lately when I hear someone mention boundaries, the immortal words of Inigo Montoya come to mind: “You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I’ve been struggling with the idea of boundary-setting. And not just boundarysetting, but also self-care, which arguably go hand-in-hand. More and more often, boundaries and self-care are words that are

about eight months since the last time we talked, but she recognized me. I waved a hesitant hello and we exchanged pleasantries before I made the impulsive decision to ask if I could give her a hug. She nodded yes, and as we embraced I told her I was proud of her and how amazing it was to see her doing so well. She got a little teary and said thank you.

I felt—and still feel—love for her. Among others in the helping profession, that last sentence might raise a few eyebrows. It shouldn’t. The work we helpers do is deeply personal, and it is not only completely normal but admirable to feel love for those we serve.

I understand the push to stop glorifying burning the candle at both ends. Having worked in various helping professions for the last decade, I too have a tendency toward the unsustainable practice of securing others’ oxygen masks before my own.

used to justify prioritizing our own needs not just above but at the expense of others.

I understand the push to stop glorifying burning the candle at both ends. Having worked in various helping professions for the last decade, I too have a tendency toward the unsustainable practice of securing others’ oxygen masks before my own.

But has the pendulum swung too far? What are healthy boundaries, anyway?

Healthy boundaries look different for everyone. In the social work field, good boundary-setting is essential, as it’s not just about preventing burnout but ensuring safety as well. Social workers are taught to be cautious of clients, to not get too close or enable unhealthy dependency. While this is well-intended advice, it also creates a divide between “us” and “them” if interpreted in black and white.

A few months ago, I ran into a former client of mine whom I had heard was doing very well, getting close to reunification with her children. When I worked with her, she had been suffering so badly from addiction that the police called me once asking if I would be able to identify a dead body that they thought might be her. (It wasn’t.)

When I saw her with her kids, it had been

To my fellow helpers: If my invocation of an emotion as powerful as love feels uncomfortable to you, I challenge you to consider why you chose this line of work.

Maybe you’re a therapist, a social worker, a teacher, or a medical professional. Maybe you, like me, have experienced the fear of being labeled “too involved” or as having “poor boundaries” and that’s stopped you from opening your heart completely.

The overuse of boundary-setting has caused us to drift away from the very core of our mission as helpers: to love others! Losing sight of that when many of us are already desperate for connection seems a disservice to ourselves and our community.

So set your boundaries. They are imperative. But set them with intention.

Allow yourself to experience empathy fully, because that’s what drives you. Keep yourself safe, emotionally and physically, but allow yourself to feel, because vulnerability is not a flaw.

It’s a superpower.

Emma Smith is a Leelanau County native who now lives in Traverse City. She works on the development team at Child and Family Services and is also a clinical mental health therapist.

Northern Express Weekly • january 09, 2023 • 7
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Anger Management

Tennessee state Rep. Jeremy Faison, 45, had to be ejected from the stands at a high school basketball game in Johnson City on Jan. 4 after he became angry at a referee and tried to "pants" him -- pull down his trousers. Faison's son was playing on the Lakeway Christian Academy team, NBC News reported. Later, Faison tweeted: "Totally lost my junk and got booted from the gym. ... I hope to be able to find the ref and ask for his forgiveness. I was bad wrong." Our advice to referees everywhere: Always wear a belt.

Government at Work

In the United Kingdom, as of Jan. 29, flouting a new highway code rule will cost you up to 1,000 pounds, the Mirror reported. The rule requires someone inside a car to open the door with the hand farthest from the door, employing a technique known as the Dutch Reach. In other words, if you're driving (on the right side of the car), you would use your left hand to reach around and open the car door. (The technique is borrowed from the Netherlands, thus the name.) Rule 239 reads: "This will make you turn your head to look over your shoulder. You are then more likely to avoid causing injury to cyclists or motorcyclists passing you on the road, or to people on the pavement." If a person in a car injures someone by opening with the wrong hand, a fine will be levied. Cycling UK estimates that more than 500 people are injured every year by car doors.

Wait, What?

Cameron Newsom, 42, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was treated for stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma on her tongue in 2013, the New York Post reported. Removing the tumor meant also removing part of her tongue, which doctors replaced with skin and muscle taken from her thigh. Through all of her experiences in treating the cancer, she said, "The weirdest part ... was when I felt a rough texture on the 'thigh' part of my tongue -- and when I looked in the mirror, it had started growing leg hair!" Newsom had to learn to speak again and still finds eating a challenge, but she's back to being a gymnastics coach, even with her fuzzy tongue.


When Mark, 38, and his wife left for work one morning in January, their back garden in Belfast, Northern Ireland, looked just like it does any other day. But when the wife returned that afternoon, there was a concrete slab painted with a creepy clown face propped against the wall, the Belfast Telegraph reported. "Someone would have had to come through our gate and down the steps to place it there -- and deliberately place it so it was facing the window so we would see it," Mark said. The clown was holding a lighted candle, and on the reverse, a Bible verse was inscribed: "Let your light shine. Matthew 5:16." Mark contacted friends, neighbors and family members to see if it was a prank, or if others had received a clown, but no one had experienced anything similar. He threw the clown away, but remains creeped out: "It's so unsettling."

Thanks for Nothing!

Catherine Graham of Marshfield, Massachusetts, recently cashed in on her 15 minutes of fame on "The Price Is Right" with host Drew Carey. She flew to Los Angeles to visit her daughter and attended a taping of the show, which aired on Feb. 1. As luck would have it, Graham ended up on stage with Carey and played for a great trip -to New Hampshire! When Carey gushed, "New Hampshire is beautiful!" Graham replied, "Drew, I live in Boston! I've been to New Hampshire a million times!" But wait, there's more! In order to collect the prize roundtrip airfare, she'll have to travel to Los Angeles again to fly to Manchester, New Hampshire. "I just wish it was Tahiti ... or Bora Bora. A cruise around the world maybe," Graham told WBZ-TV. But, she said, "It was so fun."


Some romantic relationships are full of drama and strife, so maybe Sandra, 28, of Budapest, Hungary, has come up with a better model. According to Oddity Central, Sandra has fallen for Luffancs, a plastic model of an airplane. After breaking up with her latest human boyfriend in January, Sandra bought Luffancs for $660 and fell madly in love. "I don't know why I love him, I just love him," she said. Sandra works in the aviation industry and is around airplanes every day, but says she will never cheat on Luffancs. In fact, she doesn't know if she'll ever date another human being. "Planes are more reliable as partners," she said.

People With Issues

Prosecutors have accused 20-year-old Mauricio Damian Guerrero of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, of burglary after he traveled to Somersworth, New Hampshire, and hid in the attic of a woman he had met on the website OnlyFans, WKBN-TV reported on March 7. Guerrero allegedly descended from the attic and took videos of the woman while she was sleeping, stole some of her underwear and planned to place a tracking device on her car. Police were called after someone at the home heard a noise; Guerrero was found on the roof of the home. He was released on bail and ordered to wear a tracking device.

It's a Dirty Job ...

In Australia, Queensland's Bill Edgar is known to some as the Coffin Confessor. As such, Edgar shows up at funerals and speaks for the deceased, telling off family members, setting friends straight and delivering bad news about beneficiaries, reported on April 14. But Edgar's job doesn't stop there. His services, for which he charges $2,000 to $10,000, have expanded to removing items from the deceased's home that they'd rather the family not see: "Could be sex toys, messages of hate, love, whatever it is they've written down, that they want removed from their web browsers. One gentleman had ... a sex dungeon in one of his bedrooms. And that gentleman was 88 years of age, believe it or not," Edgar said. He even delivers his services in the United States and United Kingdom, and he said Paramount has picked up the story for a movie.

8 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly
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Here are five words you’ve probably never heard before:

“I cannot wait for February.”

But so says comedian Mike Geeter, one of the guiding forces behind the 2023 Traverse City Comedy Fest, which comes to stages in downtown TC Feb. 2-4. Geeter and business partner Ann Duke (also a comic) have been working with city officials to plan a refreshed version of the winter event.

From 2010 to 2015, the Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival brought nationallyknown comedians to the area. The festival was the cousin of the Traverse City Film Festival and also largely directed by Michael Moore. In 2016, the event was canceled for a variety of reasons—inability to book talent, lack of venue space, and concerns about the bottom line—and it never returned, leaving a gaping hole in the midwinter calendar.

“While there’s no shortage of exciting events in downtown Traverse City in the summer, the winter is traditionally a bit slower,” says Jean Derenzy, CEO of the Downtown Development Authority. “We’re always looking to give our downtown businesses a boost, and bringing comedy back to Traverse City in the winter is a great way to support our restaurants and merchants in the off-season while giving local residents a great reason to get out of the house and see some top-notch entertainers from across the country.”

The Roster

Once the wheels started turning, a new version of a comedy festival was born. Geeter and Duke were brought on board for their booking expertise and extensive connections within the state and beyond. Both have also performed at TC venues like Studio Anatomy and the Old Town Playhouse, so they’re familiar with the Up North vibe.

Geeter—who describes his comedic style by saying, “I’m like the group TLC: crazy, sexy, cool…with dad bod”—has been in the business for over 10 years, first in his native Pontiac and now near East Lansing. Duke is newer to the game, dedicating the last four years to stand-up in her corner of southeastern Michigan. When asked about her persona on stage, she replies, “I am that middle-aged woman—slightly irreverent, a little cynical—looking much better than other women her age. You know, your mom’s

sexy best friend.”

Sounds like sex appeal is on the roster, as are another 40-some comics, many from Michigan or with Mitten State ties. According to Geeter, the selection group was “very meticulous about who we brought in. There is an extremely rich and deep well of talent.”

Some of the folks performing have national television experience as comics or as actors. Others are big names in the Midwest comedy scene. Duke adds that the lineup is diverse in every sense of the word: in age, gender, race and ethnicity (Duke says roughly 50 percent of the roster is BIPOC, or Black Indigenous People of Color), and even in content. “We’ve got super squeaky clean comics, and then we’ve got dirty as you can imagine comics,” she says.

As far as headliners go, Duke calls Tom Papa, host of the Sirius XM show Come to Papa, “a hot ticket,” while the hidden gem is ISMO, aka Finnish comedian Ismo Leikola, who has appeared on shows like Last Call with Carson Daly, Conan, and The Late Late Show with James Corden. (No subtitles needed: ISMO has also worked with Merriam-Webster on a digital comedy series roasting the English language.)

Who else is on Duke and Geeter’s can’t-miss list? Brad Wenzel, Mike Stanley, Roni Shanell, Josh Adams, and Adrianne Chalepah are a handful of other names they drop in our conversation. Duke also calls out the Eyes Up Here Show (all women) and the Clean and Dirty Shows that appeal to different comedic tastes.

The Local Touch

Some Traverse Citians are on the roster too, like Good on Paper Improv, Tilt Think Improv, Josh Paul, and Matt Zerilli, to name just a few.

Zerilli is the co-host of the USS Comedy Open Mic, where local comics test their material on Tuesday nights at Union Street Station in downtown TC. He’s been doing stand-up since 2015 after taking classes with the aforementioned Good on Paper and has since toured all over the Midwest. Zerilli classifies his brand of comedy as “absurdist observational,” and tells Northern Express that he’s always been a humor fan, tracking comedic acts in his youth the way other kids tracked baseball player stats.

He says he’s thrilled about the revival of the festival, the national and regional talent headed our way, and the changes that have

been made.

“One of the rubs with the festival previously was that they didn’t involve a lot of the local [comedy] scene,” he explains. “We kind of felt a little left out, I think, in the last iteration of the festival, and Mike and Ann really stepped up and made sure that all the local voices were represented. We get to participate in a lot of the events and host a lot of things, and there’s a local showcase that they are putting on with some of the best in northern Michigan, which we’re really excited to be hosting.” (He’s referring to the Kamikaze Comedy Show on Feb. 2.)

Outside of the local contingent, Zerilli is most looking forward to seeing Maria Bamford, who he says, “in my opinion, is one of the greatest of all time.” But really, it’s the whole atmosphere that appeals.

“It’s kind of like a party for us,” Zerilli says of the festival. “Other comedians get together, and you have a chance to [connect] because comedy can be kind of a solitary thing. … It’s always cool just to get a chance to check in with everybody, hear new material, to see what everybody’s been working on.”

For attendees, Zerilli thinks the experience is just as great. “There’s some of the best comedians you’ve never heard of that you’re going to see at these shows,” he contends. “It really is a magical experience when everybody can get together and kind of forget about the outside world and spend an hour and a half just, you know, laughing at the absurdity of it all. So I really encourage you to take a risk—get the babysitter, come out, and give it a shot.”

The Experience

If your head is spinning as this list of fascinating performers gets longer, never fear—there is plenty of time to catch all of these and more at the five participating venues: City Opera House, TC Comedy Club, Hotel Indigo, Workshop Brewing, and Encore 201. The festival runs three days, with many comics offering multiple performances or appearing in other special events like roasts, comedy battles, and open mic nights.

“We want the crowd to interact with [comics] outside of these venues to get to know them,” Geeter says. “Because a lot of these shows are unique. A lot of these comedians are unique in what they do and where they perform.”

Duke seconds this. “We’re encouraging not just enthusiasts, but we’re encouraging other comics to come up. We’ve got some workshops planned and panel discussions,” she says.

She adds that comedians—much like Zerilli—are already looking forward to getting together with their funny friends, and that she’s anticipating between 1,000-1,500 people coming into town to watch or participate in the event on top of local attendees.

The bottom line? This version of the festival will be “completely different and separate from what it was before—a completely different iteration,” Geeter says.

Learn more and get tickets by heading to

Northern Express Weekly • january 09, 2023 • 9
An all-new comedy festival returns to Traverse City next month Matt Zerilli Ann Duke Mike Geeter


The ache in your lower back that just won’t go away. The unexplained inflammation or skin sensitivity. The chronic illness you’re living with, but only barely.

These are a few of the reasons folks seek out alternative therapies after they’ve left the doctor’s office. Perhaps that looks like massage, acupuncture, or a visit to the chiropractor. Perhaps it looks like reiki or mindfulness practices or infrared sauna.

But how do you know when a therapy is right for you? Or whether you’ll actually get relief? Northern Express talked with local experts in alternative care to learn more about their services, clients, and results.

Following the Path

Wendy Smieska’s path to the alternative care field was an unexpected one. She worked for the prison system as a corrections officer until her husband had a job-related injury that led to months of therapy, including learning to read and write again and dealing with balance issues. For the latter, they would drive to Traverse City several times a week for a therapy called neuromuscular reeducation, which is geared toward restoring normal nerve and muscle function.

It was the therapist treating Smieska’s

“After about a year of her showing me some things to do to help him out at home a little bit, she said, ‘Oh, gosh, you know what, you need to leave your current career—you may have missed your calling,’” Smieska recalls.

For the last 23 years, Smieska has been treating clients with chronic illnesses and injuries in her Cadillac business, Creative Paths to Wellness. She is a licensed massage therapist with further expertise in far infrared sauna, pulsed electromagnetic field treatments, and esoteric healing. She also offers meditation punctuated with the relaxing benefits of sound and vibrational therapy from Himalayan singing bowls.

If some of those terms feel unfamiliar, you’re not alone. Even for Smieska, the technologies and learning opportunities are ever-evolving. “First and foremost, [my work] started out as massage,” she says. “And from there, it didn’t take long to have the thought, ‘Alright, some people are getting better and some people are not. And why is that the case?’ … So then you start looking around a little bit to expand or deepen your knowledge.”

All About Energy

Let’s start with pulsed electromagnetic

in the ’60s when we were sending folks to outer space,” Smieska explains. “If you look at the body as being an electrical being, and we’re functioning in an electrical atmosphere with the earth as our ground, that’s a complete circuit, right? But when we were sending folks to outer space, they were coming back with deteriorated muscle and bone.”

Smieska says PEMF treatments are “a way of exposing you to an alternating AC/ DC current that shakes up the cells in your body, so everything is free moving,” likening the before and after to a puddle at the end of your driveway and a clear running stream.

For the one-hour treatment ($30), clients lie on a massage table on a PEMF mat that is connected via a heart rate monitor to deliver custom electric pulses. Smieska says that unless someone is particularly sensitive to energy, clients don’t feel a thing during the treatment. But the end result offers improvements in muscle tightness or strains, wound healing, and relief from things like headaches, migraines, and TMJ.

“This is a safe thing for [older clients] to do, where I’m not using a lot of pressure to create change in the tissue,” Smieska says. “It’s great for my veterans with post traumatic stress. … There’s music, there’s a

Another treatment in Smieska’s repertoire is far infrared sauna, the hightech cousin of the dry or steam saunas you may have seen or experienced before. The touted benefits are similar—easing muscle pain, increasing blood flow, ridding skin of toxins, and offering relief for colds, asthma, and even nervous system disorders—but the delivery is different.

Rather than turning up the heat or pouring hot water over hot stones, the sauna works by directing infrared light to your body, resulting in more heat penetration but overall cooler temperatures in the sauna itself. Sounds like a natural pairing after a massage, right? (Just be sure to drink plenty of water.).

Last but not least, we move away from tech and into the realm of the ancient and mystical with esoteric healing. (“Esoteric means hidden but meant to be discovered,” Smieska explains.) This is similar to energyhealing practices like reiki, with the goal of adjusting a person’s energy field to a healthier state, though Smieska says the training process is much more rigorous, noting it took her about six years to complete.

Clients sit back and relax while Smieska does her work, all without making physical

10 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly
Pulsed electromagnetic fields, biofield tuning, and other alternative therapies can offer relief and healing

contact. After the treatment is complete, clients are meant to experience mental/ emotional or physical relief. They can also feel more balanced or energized.

One Thing Leads to Another Kelly Dodson of NoMi Integrative Bodywork & Biofield Tuning in Petoskey is also on a quest to uncover some of the mysteries of the human body and mind— specifically how the two interact and affect one another.

Dodson has practiced yoga since her childhood in California and found the link between movement and breathing helped heal and stabilize her from head to toe. She became a yoga teacher and soon dove into meditation for its soothing effects on the nervous system. This mind-body connection has continued to guide her in her work, now as a licensed massage therapist (like Smieska, she also offers PEMF treatments), certified biofield tuning practitioner, and reiki master.

“Our mindset is very important throughout the day to create harmony and balance in our body,” she explains. “So that led me to reiki, which is a Japanese tradition of laying of hands on the body and transmitting universal chi energy from—as I think of it—the universe or from nature.”

Reiki is what then brought her to biofield tuning, another energy-healing modality that involves the use of tuning forks to pick up on energy and shift it. Dodson says the forks help practitioners hear and feel energy through vibrations, which is different from the more subtle attunement of reiki.

“We are electric beings,” Dodson says.

“[Biofield tuning] taps back into the nervous system and how our nervous system is constantly sending electric impulses throughout the body—like our heart beating—that creates an electromagnetic field around the body. That’s what energy workers call an aura, so it’s kind of a more scientific approach to energy work.”

The treatment uses a 174-hertz tuning fork to pick up subtle variations in energy. As Dodson explains it, she works within a six-foot radius of a client, combing through their electromagnetic field while listening for different pitches. When she finds a disturbance, she feeds sound into the area until the turning fork returns to its true tone. The practice involves tuning those areas and dragging energy back into the central energy channel of the body: the spine.

Dodson adds that the vibrations of the forks can also be used on sore and strained muscles, getting into the muscle at the cellular level to shake up the tissue and make space in the fascia around it. When a massage follows, her clients report pain greatly diminishing or even disappearing for good. She jokes that the tuning fork has become her “magic wand.”

“You get off the table feeling like you have more energy than ever before, and you just feel lighter,” Dodson says. “You react to life more in a balanced state. It just balances the nervous system really nicely.”

On the Brain

Another of Dodson’s specialties is helping clients build mind-body awareness and mindfulness techniques. This could come in the simple form of breathing exercises or

a more complex route of reworking neural pathways when it comes to thinking about and experiencing pain.

We all know that stress and fatigue can cause problems of their own. (Think of a stomach ache when you’re nervous or a headache when you’ve been dealing with three toddlers running around screaming all day long.) So sometimes, Dodson believes, the pain can be all in our minds.

“First, I would tell [clients] that their pain is real, but it’s not necessarily coming from a physical issue. It could be the way they’re speaking to themselves, their relationships in life, their stressors, their beliefs about their pain, and their fear that’s causing the pain,” she says.

She describes a process called somatic tracking, which requires you to become very aware and intentional about understanding your pain. What does it feel like? What are some of the specific sensations? How does it look? Does it move or buzz or burn? Dodson says clients have to approach this not from a place of fear but of curiosity and creativity, which helps build a new neural pathway.

“The more specific you get, your body starts seeing it as not a threat anymore,” Dodson says. “You can’t really be creative and be in fear, right? Mostly, you’re relaxed when you’re in that creative part of your brain. So it turns on that part of your brain and it connects your brain with a new neural pathway to that area. Then the pain usually diminishes or completely goes away in that somatic tracking experience.”

Right for You

So, which of those services could help

you? Smieska says to pick up the phone and find out.

“It’s never a bad thing to call and just say, ‘Can I pick your brain? Can I get some insight from you? This is what I’ve got going on—do you think it’s something that you can help me with? How do I know when I should see you or if I should see somebody else?’”

She adds that although some folks come in with preconceived notions about alternative therapies, asking questions and doing some research can help you feel more comfortable. She reminds us that today’s practitioners are “really, really, really well trained,” with extensive licensing and postgraduate study going toward these fields.

Dodson echoes the need for personal research, noting that Michiganders haven’t been exposed to as much information on alternative therapies. “In California, it’s just common to talk about energy and vibrations,” she says with a laugh. “So that’s been kind of a cool learning journey for me to become more of a teacher.”

And at the end of the day, Smieska says you are the only person who can take charge of your well-being. “The whole idea is to not get people dependent on you in order to feel better, but to get them to own their own stuff and work their own program that they’re best suited for.”

“We are our best healers,” Dodson agrees. “Our bodies have an innate ability to heal.”

Visit and, the latter of which has a Resources for Healing tab with book, podcast, and video recommendations to help you learn more about these treatments.

Northern Express Weekly • january 09, 2023 • 11
Smieska uses Himalayan singing bowls to deliver sound and vibrational therapy while clients relax or meditate. The tuning forks used by Kelly Dodson for biofield tuning. An infrared sauna looks quite different from the steamy saunas many of us are used to.

Is the Next Spielberg at Interlochen?

Film students to showcase their efforts at Filmmakers Premiere later this month

The upcoming Filmmakers’ Premiere at Interlochen Center for the Arts will feature a number of original films, from shorts to documentaries to animation—and, as they say, plenty of popcorn.

Michael Mittelstaedt, director of film and new media at Interlochen, says the showcase will include completed films and material in an unfinished form, as the students are at different stages of their experience. “It’s an opportunity for students to show the work they’ve made: trailers, shorts, rough cuts, etc. It’s a chance to have a live audience reaction,” he says.

Among the film students there are junior Lindsey Levine and senior Grace O’Connor. “I got into filmmaking in middle school,” says Levine, who was attending school in the metro Detroit area before a teacher introduced her to Interlochen. She enrolled as a freshman and was almost immediately met by the pandemic, which scuttled most plans for collaboration and actual filmmaking. “It was theory-based rather than production,” she says of the first year of her experience.

On the flip side, O’Connor hails from Traverse City, and she says if not for COVID lockdowns, she wouldn’t be studying film or even attending Interlochen. She used the enforced downtime to tap back into her creative side, including filmmaking. “I got back into my hobbies. If the pandemic hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here.”

Both Levine and O’Connor say the diversity of roles within filmmaking makes the field of study appealing. “The best thing is the versatility. You experience cinematography, writing, directing, and working with actors with experience,” says Levine.

“What I like most has changed,” admits O’Connor, citing writing, then shooting, and now learning more about working in television.

Telling a Story

The film program is wide-reaching, appealing to students like Levine and O’Connor who want to explore the many roles—screenwriting, directing, producing, and more—of the industry.

Mittelstaedt has been helming the program since its inception in 2005. He came

to Interlochen from Chicago, where he’d been working as a producer and director. “The resources were here. We just had to figure it out,” he says.

He says the first and most important objective is telling a story. “We’re all struggling with trying to tell a story well: A character wants something. Do they get it? Does the audience feel good, bad, or is it complicated?

“What they gain here is the idea—what does it mean to tell a story?” he continues. And those stories can be anything, or about anything, big or small. “Small stories are important. They’re just as important as those with a huge budget.”

Of course, a film is more than just a story. It’s camera angles, it’s lighting, it’s a musical score. It’s the characters who bring the story to life and those who direct them. The fact that Interlochen is home to numerous other fields of artistic study makes collaboration easy, as there are actors, composers, musicians, and writers readily available. “It’s a campus of creative work,” Mittelstaedt says. “There’s lots of collaboration.”

That includes not only the students

involved in other artistic disciplines, but the film students themselves, who help their classmates in a variety of roles, like cinematography, sound, and boom operation.

“It’s a community effort. They learn how to lead, how to ask, how to serve,” Mittelstaedt says.

One thing that has changed dramatically over the years Mittelstaedt has been teaching has been the advances in technology. “That was a hurdle for me as a kid. You needed giant pieces of machinery.”

Now the question of what kind of camera to use is easy to answer. “What’s the best camera? The one in your pocket. We’ve become more oriented to thinking of having a camera in your hand,” says Mittelstaedt. “It’s second nature.”

Mittelstaedt says a majority of the students who have gone through the program go on to film school. (See the sidebar for some folks who continued beyond that!) Others work in virtual reality, theme parks and design, or other related fields. “I teach [students] with the respect of someone we’d like to collaborate with in the future,” he says.

12 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly
film students at an outdoor production shoot.

Getting Animated

One new aspect of the Filmmakers Premiere this year is the inclusion of the animation program students. That’s because the animation program itself is brand new— instructor Briana Yarhouse is in her first year leading the program.

She came to the discipline as a self-taught animator—“I made flip books as a child, she says”—before earning a BA in illustration. She then worked for children’s clothing company HH Cutler in Grand Rapids before turning to freelance work. Yarhouse also taught at Grand Valley State University and


Interlochen students Grace O'Connor and Owain Collins working on a film project. Among the alumni of the film program are several who have gone on to careers in film or related industries.
courses in animation history, then learn the fundamentals. “They build stepping stones, just like a musician,” Yarhouse says.
at 7:30pm at DeRoy
Center for Film Studies on the campus of Interlochen Center for the Arts. There is no charge.
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Present-day Interlochen students Grace O'Connor, Lindsey Levine, and Miles Neidorfler may one day be among the school's notable film alumni.


Is winter outdoor dining here to stay, or are we all headed back inside?

Outdoor dining—snow, rain, or shine—went through the roof during the first year or two of the pandemic. But now, with most eateries going about business as usual, patrons seem to be fair-weather fans of al fresco dining. So what’s the plan for all those yurts, igloos, and covered tables that served as our dining rooms when we couldn’t be warm and cozy inside?

Northern Express checked in with three local leaders in outdoor dining—Hop Lot Brewing Co. and Beer Garden, Iron Fish Distillery, and Little Traverse Inn—to talk seasonal service trends and get the scoop on what’s in store for the colder months.

Hop Lot Brewing Co. and Beer Garden

As the OG hot spot for winter igloos, it’s safe to say Suttons Bay’s Hop Lot knows a thing or two about outdoor seating. Opened in 2015, the brewery grew its now-iconic igloo “village” from four original units, which co-owner Steve Lutke first installed as a quick solution for extra space. “We [purposely] built this place to be small so that people can enjoy the outside,” he explains, “but no one’s going to sit exposed, even by a fireplace, when it’s freezing.”

Those four little igloos quickly gained momentum with the beer-drinking public. “They were unique at the time, and people wanted to sit and enjoy them,” Lutke says. “So, we just kept building [more].” Fast forward to COVID’s arrival, and the brewery was hedging against the loss of its indoor service altogether; in fact, Lutke notes that the state was even offering grants for outside alternatives. Suffice to say, the igloos just fit. “[They] have become an attraction themselves,” he says, “and [we want] to hold on to that.”

Since then, Hop Lot’s tacked on six more huts, for a total of 18 inflatable units. Each igloo accommodates up to eight guests and comprises a standard furniture set. This year, the brewery upgraded its outdoor heaters from portable units to industrial four-seater furnaces,

which warm each space to upwards of 60 degrees, even in sub-zero conditions.

Those interested in the igloo experience can book a spot up to two weeks prior, and though reservations aren’t required, Lutke strongly encourages them, especially for weekends and holidays.

Other winter additions at Hop Lot include four upgraded fire-pits—all of which are timber-framed and flank the taproom at the front—as well as a more efficient (not to mention aesthetic) igloo arrangement. “They’re more clustered in the sense that it forms a little igloo village. It’s much better from a service perspective,” says Lutke.

As for the upcoming winter, the taproom has no plans to reduce their outdoor service. In fact, Lutke remains optimistic for a season that paces with previous years, though he admits business trends have been hard to predict.

“We’re back at it full swing, [and implementing] the things we’ve learned,” he says. “We have so much to offer, and we’re just going to be ourselves.”

Find Hop Lot Brewing Co. and Beer Garden at 658 S. W. Bay Shore Dr., Suttons Bay. (231) 8664445,

14 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly

Iron Fish Distillery

Expansion was imminent at Iron Fish Distillery long before the pandemic hit. “In the age of Iron Fish right now, we’re [experiencing] exponential growth,” says Director of Retail Operations Dominique Gentle. “Setting up additional space is something we would have had to do anyway.”

The tasting room, predictably, serves as the distillery’s central hub, where guests can mingle as they please or linger over an egg-white cocktail. Its limited capacity, though, especially when reduced by half, required staff to get creative in order to continue service.

Consequently, Iron Fish brings the warmth of their indoor bar outside by means of a giant party tent and adjoining patio. This community space is new to this year and replaces a handful of private tents (10-12, Gentle estimates), as social distance requirements wane. “[We wanted] to have a space where everyone can be together, if they want to,” she explains.

Iron Fish repurposed the tent from its summer special events equipment and winterized it with a heater alongside picnic table seating. It’s a rustic, outdoorsy vibe, Gentle says, that’s cozy even in inclement weather. As an added bonus, the tent has also provided enough space to reintroduce live music, a mainstay of the distillery.

Additional outdoor dining options include four personal dining tents (known as Base Camp Iron Fish), which can accommodate two to eight guests and require booking in advance, as well as open-air fire pit seating and an enclosed porch for private parties.

Gentle, however, emphasizes that much of the stillhouse’s outdoor seating arose from necessity rather than client demand. She explains, “We were one of the only places in the area that could have people dine [during the pandemic].”

Nonetheless, it took only about a year for the bar to receive more inside service requests. In response to that growing trend, Iron Fish has big plans to expand its tasting room in the coming year, which will include removing a wall and creating new space for some distilling equipment.

There’s also a speakeasy-style space in the works for curated events like cocktail classes and whiskey tasting. “We’re just trying to teach people about spirits and what we do,” says Gentle, “and we’re lucky to finally have the space for it.”

Iron Fish Distillery is located at 14234 Dzuibanek Rd., Thompsonville. (231) 378-3474,


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its own set of working lights. than ice shanties?”

five daily seatings—allowed Little Traverse Inn to stay open when other spots were closing their doors. Once restrictions were lifted, though, the Inn, which hangs its hat on creating a “community living room” ambiance, felt a palpable shift as diners headed back inside. between 30 and 40 percent during the 2021 season. village requires a staff member for each shanty—has led the business to opt out of reopening them for another winter. “I polled my staff,” he says, “and the conversation really boiled down to [whether] there was as much value in it.”

contributed to the decision. He says, “It just wasn’t in the cards.” community events like the Inn’s annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party and a highlyanticipated Cornhole League. “We couldn’t do [those things] in years gone by, so it really is an opportunity to get back on an even keel,” says Laesk. few purchasing inquiries.

Visit Little Traverse Inn at 149 E Harbor Hwy., Maple City. (231) 228-2560,

Northern Express Weekly • january 09, 2023 • 15
Little Traverse Inn Traverse Inn’s answer to pandemic-fueled operation restrictions. Innkeeper and owner Graeme Laesk, however, wasn’t keen on igloos or tents. “There’s really no privacy [to a structure like that], and you couldn’t insulate them,” he explains. serve as the eatery’s outdoor dining room throughout the last two winter seasons. (including some by Laesk’s wife), and could accommodate up to six diners. More importantly, the huts’ from-scratch construction let Laesk and his team insulate them, as well as outfit each one with power and

Iron Fish Distillery

Expansion was imminent at Iron Fish Distillery long before the pandemic hit. “In the age of Iron Fish right now, we’re [experiencing] exponential growth,” says Director of Retail Operations Dominique Gentle. “Setting up additional space is something we would have had to do anyway.”

The tasting room, predictably, serves as the distillery’s central hub, where guests can mingle as they please or linger over an egg-white cocktail. Its limited capacity, though, especially when reduced by half, required staff to get creative in order to continue service.

Consequently, Iron Fish brings the warmth of their indoor bar outside by means of a giant party tent and adjoining patio. This community space is new to this year and replaces a handful of private tents (10-12, Gentle estimates), as social distance requirements wane. “[We wanted] to have a space where everyone can be together, if they want to,” she explains.

Iron Fish repurposed the tent from its summer special events equipment and winterized it with a heater alongside picnic table seating. It’s a rustic, outdoorsy vibe, Gentle says, that’s cozy even in inclement weather. As an added bonus, the tent has also provided enough space to reintroduce live music, a mainstay of the distillery.

Additional outdoor dining options include four personal dining tents (known as Base Camp Iron Fish), which can accommodate two to eight guests and require booking in advance, as well as open-air fire pit seating and an enclosed porch for private parties.

Gentle, however, emphasizes that much of the stillhouse’s outdoor seating arose from necessity rather than client demand. She explains, “We were one of the only places in the area that could have people dine [during the pandemic].”

Nonetheless, it took only about a year for the bar to receive more inside service requests. In response to that growing trend, Iron Fish has big plans to expand its tasting room in the coming year, which will include removing a wall and creating new space for some distilling equipment.

There’s also a speakeasy-style space in the works for curated events like cocktail classes and whiskey tasting. “We’re just trying to teach people about spirits and what we do,” says Gentle, “and we’re lucky to finally have the space for it.”

Iron Fish Distillery is located at 14234 Dzuibanek Rd., Thompsonville. (231) 378-3474,

Little Traverse Inn

Like so many other members of the area’s hospitality industry, outdoor dining was Little Traverse Inn’s answer to pandemic-fueled operation restrictions. Innkeeper and owner Graeme Laesk, however, wasn’t keen on igloos or tents. “There’s really no privacy [to a structure like that], and you couldn’t insulate them,” he explains.

Instead, he, along with a few friends and neighbors, opted to build five tiny houses to serve as the eatery’s outdoor dining room throughout the last two winter seasons.

Each space had its own Michigan theme, complete with antiques and local artwork (including some by Laesk’s wife), and could accommodate up to six diners. More importantly, the huts’ from-scratch construction let Laesk and his team insulate them, as well as outfit each one with power and its own set of working lights.

“I referred to them as our ice shanty village,” he says, “because, what’s more Michigan than ice shanties?”

Throughout the pandemic’s peak, the shanties’ extra capacity—each of which saw about five daily seatings—allowed Little Traverse Inn to stay open when other spots were closing their doors. Once restrictions were lifted, though, the Inn, which hangs its hat on creating a “community living room” ambiance, felt a palpable shift as diners headed back inside.

In fact, Laesk estimates that shanty use, though still a novelty at the time, dropped between 30 and 40 percent during the 2021 season.

The decrease, combined with staffing shortages—Laesk points out that running the village requires a staff member for each shanty—has led the business to opt out of reopening them for another winter. “I polled my staff,” he says, “and the conversation really boiled down to [whether] there was as much value in it.”

Other factors, like hazardous winter weather and county licensing requirements also contributed to the decision. He says, “It just wasn’t in the cards.”

Instead, the restaurant plans to reinvest in its indoor capabilities, headlined by several community events like the Inn’s annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party and a highlyanticipated Cornhole League. “We couldn’t do [those things] in years gone by, so it really is an opportunity to get back on an even keel,” says Laesk.

As for the shanties themselves, Laesk informs Northern Express that he’s already had a few purchasing inquiries.

Visit Little Traverse Inn at 149 E Harbor Hwy., Maple City. (231) 228-2560,

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This is one hot winter sport

A renewed interest in one of the oldest forms of bipedal transportation—at least for the winter months—has bloomed in the last decade, blending ancient cultures with technological advances that have made the sport more accessible and enjoyable.

Combine a fascination with nature, a need to disconnect from the buzz of daily life, and little required equipment, and you’ve got three reasons people are chomping at the bit to give snowshoeing a try.

Nick Wierzba of Grand Traverse Bike Tours weighs in on the recent snowshoe mania: “Snowshoeing has become extremely popular because it is a super fun way to experience the beautiful snow-covered picturesque landscape of our area,” Wierzba says. “Nothing beats snowshoeing in fresh snow—it’s like walking on clouds, and all the snow on the trees gives you the feeling of walking through a snow globe.”

Sounds pretty magical, right? Even though they don’t have “snowshoe” in their name, Grand Traverse Bike Tours is certainly in the right place for some winter exploration. Their Vine to Wine Snowshoe Tours take participants on a private trail to three stops—Suttons Bay Ciders, Ciccone Vineyards, and BigLittle Wines—on Leelanau Peninsula, with a catered lunch from MI Market included. If you’ve been to any of the above, you know those are some hard to beat views, especially when you get a mix of blue sky, white snow, and verdant evergreens.

18 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly
Grand Traverse Bike Tours leads Vine to Wine Snowshoe Tours between three nearby wineries—a perfect activity for groups of locals or area visitors. Photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Bike Tours.

But it’s not just the majestic scenery that is getting people out on the trails— snowshoeing is also an affordable activity for individuals and groups, with prices well below the cost of a lift ticket at most nearby ski hills.

“Snowshoeing is an inexpensive way for anyone to get outside as there are no passes, tickets, or even maintenance required for a full season of use,” says Joe Robb of Brick Wheels in Traverse City, which rents snowshoes for kids and adults at daily ($15-$20) or weekly ($75-$100) rates. “Accessibility for snowshoeing is the highest out of all winter sports, and inventory levels are high enough to meet demand without forcing customers to search for the product they want,” Robb adds.

Last but not least: Snowshoeing can be a legitimate workout, and your Fitbit will love the steps and the cardio. If a run or a hike isn’t in the cards, snowshoeing is a solid alternative.

“Snowshoeing is a great form of exercise,” shares Merrith Baughman, director of interpretation and visitor services at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL). “Because of innovative equipment like

lightweight snowshoes and easy-to-use poles, snowshoeing has become a popular option for safe outdoor activities and winter exercise.”

Who’s on the Trails

So, we know why people are flocking to the trails, but who’s actually taking advantage of this sport?

“We see a lot of tourists,” says Wierzba. “The snow, so many options for trails, and beautiful winter landscapes make it worth the trip to come up north to snowshoe. But we see quite a few locals too.”

Robb also sees plenty of tourist rentals—he notes Brick Wheels rents to groups as diverse as bachelorette parties, groups of college students, and families enjoying the holidays.

“Students from U of M were up here renting skis and snowshoes several times last winter,” says Robb. “And thanks to our stock of kids’ snowshoes, many families find this is an easy way to get everyone outside without having to purchase extra gear. Snowshoeing is also a great option for couples because of the low price, ease of use, and trails between the wineries.”

He adds that “some locals rent [snowshoes] before buying” and that Brick Wheels will apply one day’s worth of rental charges toward their purchase as a discount.

Tourist or local aside, the northern Michigan trails see snowshoers of all stripes.

“We see all age groups and demographics out by Sleeping Bear Dunes,” says Baughman. “Families, newbies—everyone participates in snowshoeing.”

SBDNL offers guided snowshoe hikes for all ages, as well as snowshoe programs for school-age kids during January and February. The park provides snowshoes and helps the kids explore the sport from a cultural and winter experience perspective.

“We see over 2,000 kids each winter,” shares Baughman. “We provide them with snowshoes and take them out on the trails to try something new and spot wildlife, which can be much easier to do during winter.”

Where to Go

Ready to hit the snow? (If it's around, of course.) Wierzba recommends Whaleback Natural Area, part of the Leelanau Conservancy, and the Black Star Farms snowshoe trails. As for the latter, “They have

four loops through their vineyards, around their orchards, and through the woods. This is the perfect spot to bring friends. [Black Star Farms] also has their Vines to Wines event every Saturday throughout the winter, so you can stop into the tasting room after a hike and taste their amazing wines,” he says.

Robb suggests VASA and Hickory Meadows for snowshoeing locales. “Hickory Meadows is in town, free, and extremely accessible. VASA is a free resource with plenty of beautiful trails running through state forest land off Bunker Hill Road with trails for most skill levels.”

While Baughman favors Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Heritage Trail, and Platte Plains, she also recommends calling the park ahead of time to make a reservation for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s snowshoe hikes—they tend to fill up quickly!

With increased popularity and overall interest, snowshoeing is a hot winter endeavor for all ages and skill levels, so it’s time to get walking. As Wierzba says: “Go for it! [Snowshoeing] has a very small learning curve. Within a few steps, you are comfortable with the equipment and out having fun.”


When it comes to enjoying your snowshoe experience—whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned snowshoer—winter preparedness is key.

“Dress in layers, stay hydrated, and let someone know where you’re going, or talk to the rangers at the visitor’s center before heading out,” advises Baughman. Exercising in cold weather can cause overheating and an increased heart rate if you’re not acclimated to the activity. Wearing layers that can be vented or removed is a good rule of thumb, and cotton socks should be avoided because they hold moisture and stop insulating once saturated. Instead, opt for wool whenever possible.

“Start small,” says Robb. “Go for a couple-mile hike in clear weather and continually judge clothing layer performance in different conditions. Also, use trekking poles and bring a backpack filled with warmers, water, and extra layers.”

Northern Express Weekly • january 09, 2023 • 19
Using trekking poles or ski poles is highly recommended while snowshoeing, whether you’re new to the sport or a veteran of the trails. Photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Bike Tours. Warm up at the three wineries on the Vine to Wine Snowshoe Tour and sample some of the region’s fantastic wines. Photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Bike Tours. Ranger-led snowshoe hikes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will take place on Saturdays beginning January 7. Photo courtesy of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Facebook.


RUN: 10am-2pm, Arcadia Bluffs, Arcadia. The Kid’s Fun Run begins at 10am, with the 3 mile SnowK to follow, at about 10:30am. Race entry includes a gift, SnowK participation prize, & barbecue lunch. Race is not timed. $35 (free entry for Kid’s Fun Run). snowk

WINTER TRAILS DAY: 1pm, Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville. This event offers children & adults new to snow sports the chance to try cross country skiing for FREE, & to discover the great fitness & social benefits with this easy-to-learn winter sport. This free 1-hour clinic includes a lesson & rental equipment.

COMEDY W/ HEATHER JAY: 7:30-9pm, Traverse City Comedy Club, TC. With a versatile style, Heather Jay can appeal to men & women from all walks of life. Part intellect, part mom & a little residual party girl, her topics range from the socially conscious to the ridiculous. Tickets, $25-$30. mynorthtickets. com/events/comedy-wheather-jay-1-7-2023



SKI TOUR: 12:30-4:30pm, Shady Lane Cellars, Suttons Bay. Ski the Leelanau Trail from Shady Lane Cellars to Farm Club.

Enjoy tastes of Shady Lane Cellars wines before heading out on the trail. Then ski 3.9 miles to Farm Club, where you will warm up with their Bon Fuego, a slow fire roasted stew. Enjoy one of Farm Club’s hand crafted beers, ciders, or wines. Included in the tour is transportation back to Shady Lane Cellars. Ambitious skiers are welcome to make the return trip back on the trail. $69/person.

JAZZ (LATE) BRUNCH W/ JEFF HAAS TRIO & LAURIE SEARS: 3pm, GT Circuit, TC. Chateau Chantal wine & food from Edson Farms. $20 donation.

LADIES NIGHT IN ELK RAPIDS: 5pm, Downtown Elk Rapids. Shop local businesses in Downtown Elk Rapids & Ames Street. There will be food, drink & fun. Free.


KID’S CRAFT LAB: KEEP WARM HATS: 1pm & 3:30pm, Great Lakes Children’s Museum, TC. Design & decorate your own warm winter hat. Sign up when you reserve your attendance at the Museum.

EATING HEALTHY ON A BUDGET: 3:305pm, Interlochen Public Library. Enjoy this Health & Wellness: Be Healthy, Be Active Community Cooking Workshop with Chef Susanne. You will be shown a few techniques, & then you can cook the whole recipe from start to finish. Limited to 10 people. Registration required: 231-276-6767. Jan 10

Jan. 13 or 14 at 6pm. Tickets, $70. index.php?sections=events


PRESCHOOL STORYTIME: 10:30am, Suttons Bay Bingham District Library, lower level Community Meeting Room. Preschoolers of all ages are

invited to join for stories & active fun. Free.

STORYTIME ADVENTURES: 10:30am, 1pm & 3:30pm, Great Lakes Children’s Museum, TC. Featuring “The Hat” by Jan Brett. Sign up when you reserve your attendance at the Museum.


20 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly Enjoy winter riding with these great deals 231-947-4274 - Located on the TART Trail at 736 E. 8th St., Traverse City
10% OFF Fat Bike Boots, Pogies and Studs 20% OFF Rocky Mountain Blizzard Fat Bikes Onsite bird expert on use of bird houses, feeders & seed Nature products, gifts & books Guided bird walks 2072 J. Maddy Parkway, Interlochen 231-276-3145 Open 7 days saturday
send your dates to: january 07-15 jan 09 jan 07 jan 08 jan 10
Help support Cadillac Footliters’ Fund for a Permanent Home by attending “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding!” Presented by Cadillac Footliters, this dinner theatre event will be catered by Blue Heron’s Julie and Brian Williams. Watch the nuptials, toast the newlyweds, and enjoy dinner and dancing. Take part in this Italian-American-Jersey wedding at Fox Hill Event Center, Cadillac on Sat. or Sun.,


WINTER 2023: 3:30-6:30pm, Crooked Tree Arts Center, Petoskey. Receive feedback on your creative work in this free one-on-one session. Register.

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER: 7pm, Glen Lake Library, Program Room, Empire. An informative session with local health & wellness guru Amy White, who will discuss Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a common yet relatively newly classified mood disorder that affects millions of people every year. Amy will look at its relationship to sunlight, Vitamin D, & other factors, & outline strategies for combating the “Winter Blues.” Limited to 15 people. Register: 231.326.5361. Free.


GAYLORD BUSINESS AFTER HOURS: 5pm, Gaylord Bowling Center. Build relationships, make connections, & get business exposure. Register. $5 members; $10 non-members. business-after-hours


KID’S CRAFT LAB: KEEP WARM HATS: (See Mon., Jan. 9, except today’s times are 10:30am, 1pm & 3:30pm.)

LIBRARY BOOK GROUP INFORMATIONAL MEETING: Share your thoughts about a library book group at the Suttons Bay Bingham District Library at 6pm.



TONY ‘N TINA’S WEDDING: 6pm, Fox Hill Event Center, Cadillac. Presented by Cadillac Footliters. This dinner theatre event will be catered by Blue Heron’s Julie & Brian Williams. This is a fictitious joining of two larger-than-life Italian-American families. Watch the nuptials, toast the newlyweds, enjoy cocktails & dinner, & dance. This is a fundraiser for Footliters’ Fund for a Permanent Home. $70. cadillacfootliters.



FAT & FLURRIOUS FAT TIRE BIKE RACE: 10am, North Country Cycle Sport, Boyne City. Not for beginners; features a challenging & difficult course. $60-$65.

FREE DROP-IN FAMILY ART: 10am-noon, Crooked Tree Arts Center, Cornwell Gallery, TC. Fun art activity inspired by exhibit in the gallery. Open to all ages.


OPEN STUDIO: 10am-1pm, Crooked Tree Arts Center, Visual Arts Room, Petoskey. Drop-in free arts & crafts for the whole family. ----------------------

PAPER CRAFTING: 10am-noon, Interlochen Public Library. For tweens, teens & adults. Use paper & craft supplies to create a smash book, no-sew journal, collage, paper beads, greeting cards & more. 231-2766767. Free.


LITTLE WAVES: 10:30am, Petoskey District Library & 1pm, Charlevoix Public Library. “Musical Adventures”: Aimed at children 4-10 years of age & their families, this program features a multimedia storybook time with Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra (GLCO) percussionist & program director Tim Mocny, an opportunity to hear one or more GLCO musicians demonstrate & explain how their instruments work, & fun music-related activities for kids. Free.

SLEDDING & S’MORES: 5-8pm, Kiwanis Park, Harbor Springs.

TONY ‘N TINA’S WEDDING: (See Fri., Jan. 13)


BLISSFEST PRESENTS: ERIN ZINDLE & THE RAGBIRDS: 7:30-9:30pm, Crooked Tree Arts Center, Theater, Petoskey. Enjoy this high-energy show with indie-pop melodies, global-infused beats, rock guitar riffs, & hints of folk. $25 Blissfest members; $30 GA.


CORDS FROM SUN STUDIOS PERFORMED BY HOT CLUB OF COWTOWN & TYLER HILTON: 8pm, Great Lakes Center for the Arts, Bay Harbor. Known for its legendary catalogue, including the early albums of Elvis Presley, Sun Studios has left its mark on the history of rock music. In 2005, Palm Desert native Tyler Hilton was cast to play the legendary rock star in the blockbuster biopic Walk the Line (starring Jaoquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash). Now Tyler has teamed up with Hot Club of Cowtown, bringing Elvis hits from the Sun Studios years to life on the stage. $50, $45, $40, $35, $25.

THE FRIARS WINTERPALOOZA: 8pm, City Opera House, TC. The Friars, the a cappella subset of the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club, bring their questionable choreography, bad dad jokes, & boy-band hits. GA: $20; Students 18 or younger or with college ID: $10; Seniors 62+: $15. cityoperahouse. org/node/462


WORLD SNOW DAY: Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville is offering a variety of activities geared to introduce “first timers” to the world of snow. 10am-1pm: Chill Out for Winter Safety. Stop by the main floor of the Crystal Center between 10am-1pm to learn about proper helmet safety & preventing winter injuries. There will be a giveaway of up to 100 free helmets. 1pm: Cross Country Presentation. Meet at the Cross Country Learning Center. 2pm: Snowshoeing Presentation. Meet

Northern Express Weekly • january 09, 2023 • 21
jan 11 jan 12 jan 13 jan 14 jan 15 CINDY ANDERSON (231) 218-5324 CANDERSON@LAKEHOMES.COM SUE FINLEY (231) 218-5324 SFINLEY@LAKEHOMES. WE DO ONE THING & WE DO IT REALLY WELL WE SELL LAKE HOMES LET 30 YEARS KNOWLEDGE & EXPERIENCE GO TO WORK FOR YOU “Cindy is genuine and she has a customer centric focus to help meet the customers needs! She is always trying to WIN for the customer and does it in her own sweet personality! The smile is contagious and Lake Homes needs more agents like Cindy! She is a gem and you don’t find them like her anymore.” - Dan Ostrander “Susan was a delight to work with. After finding the home we always wanted, she worked diligently to make sure the path to closing was no stress on our part. She was understanding when we had questions concerning closing on time and provided the help and comfort a home buyer would expect. Thank you Susan for making Northern Michigan our home.” - Mary Bresser

at Park at Water’s Edge. 3pm: Ski & Snowboard Presentation. Meet at the Learning Area outside the Mountain Adventure Zone. 12-4pm: Scavenger Hunt. Pick up clues at Park at Water’s Edge. Free. ----------------------

GREAT LAKES CHAMBER ORCHESTRA SUNDAY SERIES: 4pm, First Presbyterian Church of Boyne City. Featuring The Drumheads, a percussion ensemble playing a variety of instruments including snare drums, marimba, cymbals, glockenspiel, “found” instruments & more. Free.

BELLAIRE WINTER FARMERS MARKET: Fridays, 9am-noon. Held at 3 locations: Bee Well Mead & Cider, Short’s Brewing Co., & Terrain, Bellaire.

BOYNE CITY MARKET AT THE PAVILION: Saturdays, 9am-12:30pm, Veterans Park Pavilion, Boyne City. Shop local produce, baked goods, artisan foods & crafts.

THE VILLAGE INDOOR FARMERS MARKET: Saturdays, 10am-2pm, The Village at GT Commons, Mercato, TC. Fresh produce, eggs, pastries, honey, jams & more.


SNOWSHOES, VINES & WINES: 12-4pm, Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay. On Saturdays through the winter, explore easy to moderate trails & then warm up on the heated Terrace Patio & Hearth & Vine Café with wine & snacks. Onsite snowshoe rentals are available from noon - 4pm. Additional dates include: Jan. 15, 2023 & Feb. 19, 2023.

VINE TO WINE SNOWSHOE TOUR: Saturdays, noon-4pm. Enjoy a snowshoe adventure through the vineyards & orchards to three wineries. The private vineyard trail connects Suttons Bay Ciders, Ciccone Vineyards, & Big Little Wines. This guided tour starts at Big Little Wines, Suttons Bay. The tour includes your snowshoe & pole rental, a catered warm lunch of chili & soups overlooking the bay, & a wine purchase pick up service.

artJUST GREAT ART!: City Opera House, TC. Runs from 10am-5pm during the week & evening events, through Jan. The group of 12 artists paint using oil, watercolor, pastel or acrylic to create their pieces. They love to depict their northwest Michigan area while painting outside, through the warm months.

WINTER MEMBER EXHIBITION: Oliver Art Center, Frankfort. Runs through Jan. 13. Works of all kinds by local & regional artists will be on display in the galleries. This exhibition is sponsored by the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation. Closed on Sundays.

CROOKED TREE ARTS CENTER, TC: - “ENTANGLED: PAPER SCULPTURES FROM ETCHING PRINTS BY DOROTHY ANDERSON GROW”: Held in the Carnegie Galleries. Dorothy Anderson Grow’s multilayer etching prints are on display in this

solo exhibition that runs through Feb. 18. entangled-paper-sculptures-etching-printsdorothy-anderson-grow-opens

- OCCUPIED SPACES: WORK BY JUSTIN SHULL: Held in Cornwell Gallery. In his solo exhibition “Occupied Spaces,” Michigan artist Justin Shull presents a series of personal meditations on the environments that we shape & inhabit, & he invites us to consider how these environments shape us in return. occupied-spaces-work-justin-shull-opensjanuary-6

- TRAVERSE AREA CAMERA CLUB: 2022 AWARD WINNERS: Jan. 13 - Feb. 18 in the Carnegie Galleries. Exhibition featuring stand-out work by the Traverse Area Camera Club.


- A FERAL HOUSEWIFE: Held in the Lobby Gallery. An exhibition of collages by Leelanau County artist Mary Beth Acosta. Runs through April 21. Acosta uses simple, familiar tools & a range of recycled, vintage papers to create collages about mid-century housewives, big-finned cars, & labor-saving appliances that were promoted as drudgery-busting machines that would revolutionize the modern home. A video interview with Acosta about her materials & methods can be seen as part of the online version of this exhibition:

- TELLING STORIES EXHIBIT: Held in the Main Gallery. This juried exhibition about the power of visual storytelling runs Jan. 13March 23. The GAAC’s exhibitors tell their own stories in the media of photography, fi-

ber, clay, paint, wood, collage & more. The themes behind the Telling Stories exhibit are explored in two video interviews with three Northern Michigan residents. Winter hours are Mon. through Fri., 9am-3pm, & Sat., 124pm.

Deadline for Dates information is Tuesday for the following week.

22 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly
SUBSCRIBE TODAY! OUR BEST RATE POSTAGESTDPRSRT PAID CITY,TRAVERSE PERMIT $3 JUNE2021 VOLUME26 • NUMBER GREENLIGHT FORSUMMER Localbusinessesprepareforwhatmightbethebesttourismseasonever. Member TCBNFrontCoverBanner Isyourbank Isonyourside? yourbank onyourside? orizontalones... PRSRT PAID CITY,TRAVERSE $3 MAY 2021 VOLUME 26 NUMBER RAKING IT IN Toprealtorsshineinourannualrankingof northernMichigan’ Fedupwithyourbank? TCBNFrontCoverBanner DECEMBER 2020 VOLUME 26 NUMBER TRAVERSE $3 FUSTINIS.COM foodbegins vinegar. 3 STEPS TO SHOP & SAVE ON CORPORATE AND LARGE GROUP GIFTS 1 create 2 includegreeting 3 Area nonprofit leaders reflect on an unprecedented giving season - page 20 Predicting a whole new tax year ahead - page 36 Even with offices closed,employees volunteering - page 8  New One-Year Subscription (12 issues) JUST $35  Renew my subscription for one year (12 issues) - $35  Payment Enclosed  Bill Me  Charge My Credit Card Visa  MasterCard  C.C No. Exp. Date Sec. Code Name Business Name Address City/State/Zip Email MAIL TO: TC Business News P.O. Box 1810 Traverse City, MI 49685-9965 theTCBN

Opening on over 12,000 screens in today’s full cinematic array of DCP, IMAX, and IMAX 3D choices and flavors, James Cameron’s sequel Avatar: The Way of Water arrived in December after a 13-year wait. This critic fell for the visual hype and took 3D, which created the closest thing to a legally psychedelic experience you can currently have in Michigan.

Most anticipated was how the film would stand on its own, since only Rip Van Winkle might still be on the edge of his seat from the original’s haunting ending in 2009, involving multiple hanging plotlines and leaving the spiritual endings of the lead characters in balance. (Most notably actor Sam Worthington as Jake Sully and Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine, who both return in the allegorical sci-fi follow up to reprise their roles. Sort of).

When you re-enter the world of Pandora and the N’avi peoples again, things pick up where they left off, but you won’t need that context to understand the film’s central emerging dynamic: a power struggle between Indigenous societies living in The Great Balance and the resource-grabbing automatrons of The Sky People, who look a lot like the industrial colonists of our past in one of the film’s scariest sequences as they set Pandora on raging Agent Orange fire in their terrifying descent from above.

From that point, it’s a quest for survival centered by the main characters of the Jake Sully family, forced now to “fight

back until the fighting stops.” Jake is haunted by the vendettas of the past and torn between his role as protector and understanding the dangers he’s putting his family into. The Sully family unit is made up of those not born to each other but who still call themselves family—with all the same history, fears, and dysfunctions. As Jake says, “Sullys stay together, always. It was our greatest strength, and our curse.” It’s director Cameron’s great talent to say more with less, and the fluid dynamics between all the familial actors are intense and familiar to any species.

While grounded in a kind of cosmic humanity, Avatar will no doubt be remembered best for the stunning action sequences that push the very limits of stimulation, flowing quickly between worlds of air, water, land, and inner spirituality. Thrilling, logical, and amazing, each one builds on the other until a finale with the most haunting whale hunt since Moby Dick.

Among other notable things is how effortlessly the epic 3 hour and 12 minute running time goes by. If the future of theatrical movies is, as it seems, on the ropes, then perhaps Cameron’s “go big or go home” attitude is a fitting and perfect swan song for a format that, in his hands along with other notable others, still shows it can contain real audience power.

That is, if the big screens are still around for Avatar 3 (2024), Avatar 4 (2026), and Avatar 5 (2028) to see how it all ends.

Northern Express Weekly • january 09, 2023 • 23
Avatar: The Way of Water by Joseph Beyer


1/8 -- Jazz (Late) Brunch w/ The Jeff Haas Trio & Laurie Sears, 3


1/6-7 -- Bad Jam

1/13-14 -- Risque



1/9 -- Barrels & Beats w/ Rob Coonrod, 6-9

TASTING ROOM: 1/7 -- Chris Smith, 5-7


Tues. – Trivia, 8-10 Weds. – Aldrich, 9 Sun. – Karaoke, 8


1/7 -- Chris Smith, 8-11


1/13 -- Jesse Jefferson, 6-9


1/7 – Jimmy Olsen, 8

1/8 – Chris Smith, 5-8

1/11 – Jesse Jefferson, 8-11

1/12 – Drew Hale, 8-11

1/13 – Jake Breithaupt, 8-11

1/14 – Levi Britton, 8-11

1/15 – Chris Smith, 5-8


1/10 – Charles and Reid, 5-9

1/11 – Endless Summer w/ DJ Dusty Staircase, 3-10


1/7 -- Jazz Cabbage, 7

1/9 -- Big Fun Jam Band, 6

1/10 -- Open Mic & Musical Talent Showcase, 7 1/11 -- Jazz Show & Jam, 6

1/13 -- Rhett & John, 7

1/14 -- Ted Alan & The Underprivileged, 7



1/6 – Comedy w/ Heather Jay, 7:45-9:30

1/7 -- Comedy w/ Heather Jay, 7:30-9


1/7 -- The Time Bombs, 10 1/10 -- Open Mic Comedy, 8-9:30; then Karaoke

1/11 -- DJ PRIM, 10

1/12 -- Marsupial Cream Pie, 10 1/13 -- Happy Hour w/ Marsupial Cream Pie; then DJ Parker Marshall

1/14 -- DJ Parker Marshall, 10

3-5: 1/7 -- Brady Corcoran

1/14 -- Blair Miller 1/15 -- Levi Britton

VISTA LOUNGE: 1/7 -- Christopher Winkelmann, 2-5; Barefoot, 8-11

1/13 -- TC Knuckleheads, 8-11

1/14 -- Levi Britton, 2-5; TC Knuckleheads, 8-11 1/15 -- Luke Woltanski, 2-5

Leelanau & Benzie


FIVE SHORES BREWING, BEULAH Fri -- Open Mic Night Hosted by Andy Littlefield, 6

FRENCH VALLEY VINEYARD, CEDAR 1/12 -- Luke Woltanski, 3-5:30

IRON FISH DISTILLERY, THOMPSONVILLE 5-7: 1/7 – Luke Woltanski 1/13 – Barefoot 1/14 – Blake Elliott


1/7 -- Niemisto & Skellenger 1/13 -- Drew Hale


1/13 -- Friday Night Live w/Brett Mitchell, 5:30-8:30

ST. AMBROSE CELLARS, BEULAH 1/7 -- Jesse Jefferson, 5-8 1/12 -- Open Mic Night w/ Jeff Louwsma, 5:30-8:30 1/13 -- The Wink, 5-8 1/14 -- Bill Frary, 5-8


1/11 -- Andy McQuillen, 6-8

24 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly 221 E State St. - downtown TC Sun-Tues: noon-9pm (closed Wed) Thurs: 4-9pm Fri-Sat: noon-10pm Kitchen open until 8:30 Sun-Thurs and 9pm on Fri & Sat DRINK SPECIALS (3-6 Monday-Friday): $2 well drinks, $2 domestic drafts, $2.50 domestic bottles, $5 Hornitos margarita SUNDAY - $6 Ketel One Bloody Mary & $4 Mimosas DAILY FOOD SPECIALS (3-6pm): Mon- $1 chips and salsa Tues- $1 enchiladas Thurs - $5 fried veggies Fri - $5 hot pretzels w/ beer cheese TO-GOAVAILABLEORDERS 231-252-4157 TUES TRIVIA 7-9PM THURSDAY Trivia nite • 7-9pm FRIDAY FISH FRY All you can eat perch FOOD & DRINK SPECIALS FOR ALL Sporting Events! 231-941-2276 121 S. Union St. • TC. 231-922-7742 121 S. Union St. • TC. HAPPY HOUR: Daily 4-7 Friday 4-9 Sunday All Day 231.946.1232 • Est. 1950 *Subject to approval. Terms/conditions apply. Apply for a TCFCU VISA Enjoy an APR as low as 0% for six billing cycles, 5,000 bonus points and double points on purchases*! nitelife jan 07-jan 15 edited by jamie kauffold Send Nitelife to: Grand Traverse & Kalkaska BEARDS BREWERY, PETOSKEY ROOT CELLAR: 1/7 -- Two Track Mind, 5 1/8 -- Owen James, 4 1/14 -- Owen James Trio, 5 1/15 -- Charlie Millard, 4 CITY PARK GRILL, PETOSKEY 1/13 -- Annex Karaoke, 9:30 ODAWA CASINO RESORT, PETOSKEY VICTORIES, 9: 1/7 & 1/14 -- Live DJ 1/13 -- Yankee Station Band THE BEAU, CHEBOYGAN 1/7 -- Cellar Door, Lara Fullford, Billy P, Brandon Long, Lori Cleland, Jake Johnston, Happy Little Accidents, Lonely Pines, Dale Rieger, & Billy Jewell, 5 1/14 -- Lee Fayssoux, 8 THE NOGGIN ROOM PUB, PETOSKEY 7-10: 1/7 -- Mike Struwin 1/13 -- Mike Ridley 1/14 -- Holly Keller Antrim & Charlevoix ETHANOLOGY, ELK RAPIDS 7-10: 1/7 -- Kyle Brown (Bigfoot Buffalo) 1/14 -- Charlie Millard HELLO VINO, BELLAIRE 6:30-9:30: 1/7 -- Nick Vasquez 1/13 -- David Lawston 1/14 -- Rick Woods PROVISIONS WINE LOUNGE, BOYNE CITY 1/11 -- Nelson Olstrom, 6 Emmet &
Otsego, Crawford & Central BIG BUCK BREWERY, GAYLORD
1/7 – Mike Ridley, 6-9
CICCONE VINEYARD & WINERY, SUTTONS BAY 1/14 -- Rhett & John, 2:30-4:30
Head Enjoy live acoustic tunes with Jesse Jefferson at St. Ambrose Cellars in Beulah on Sat., Jan. 7 from 5-8pm; North Bar TC on Weds., Jan. 11 from 8-11pm; and Middlecoast Brewing Co., TC on Fri., Jan. 13 from 6-9pm.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): When he was 74 years old, Capricorn author Norman Maclean published his first novel, *A River Runs Through It*. It became a best-seller. Capricorn film director Takeshi Kitano directed his first film at age 42. Now 75, he has since won many awards for his work in his native Japan. Capricorn activist Melchora Aquino, who was a leader in the Philippines' fight for independence from Spain, launched her career as a revolutionary when she was in her eighties. She's known as the "Mother of the Revolution." I hope these heroes inspire you, dear Capricorn. I believe that 2023 is the year you will get an upgrade in any area of your life where you have seemed to be a late bloomer.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): "Every animal knows far more than you do," declares a proverb of the Nimíipuu people, also known as the Nez Perce. Author Russell Banks provides further testimony to convince us we should be humble about our powers of awareness. "There is a wonderful intelligence to the unconscious," he says. "It’s always smarter than we are." These are good pointers for you to heed in the coming weeks, Libra. You will have a special power to enhance your understanding of the world by calling on the savvy of animals and your unconscious mind. They will be especially rich sources of wisdom. Seek out their educational input!

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Psychologist

Carl Jung said that the whole point of Jesus Christ's story was not that we should become exactly like him. Rather, we should aspire to be our best and highest selves in the same way that he fulfilled his unique mission. So Jesus was not the great exception, but rather the great example. I bring these meditations to your attention, Scorpio, because I believe life in 2023 will conspire to make you, more than ever before, the hero of your own destiny. You will be inspired to honor only your own standards of success and reject all others'. You will clearly see that you are progressing at your own natural and righteous pace, which is why it makes no sense to compare your evolution to anyone else's.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): A reader named Mary Roseberry describes her experience of being a Sagittarius: "I hate to be bored. I hate imperfections. hate to wait. hate sadness. I hate conflict. I hate to be wrong. I hate tension." Wow! I admire Mary's succinct understanding of who she doesn’t want to be and what she doesn't like to do. I invite you to compose a similar testimony. You would benefit from getting clear about the experiences you intend to avoid in 2023. Once you have done that, write a list of the interesting feelings and situations you will seek out with intense devotion during the coming months.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you will soon be called upon to summon grace under pressure; to express magnanimity while being challenged; to prove that your devotion to your high standards is more important than the transitory agendas of your ego. The good news is that you are primed and ready to succeed at these exact assignments. have confidence in your power to activate the necessary courage and integrity with maximum poise and composure.

PISCES (Feb 19-March 20): "By dying daily, I have come to be," wrote poet Theodore Roethke. He didn't mean he suffered literal deaths. He was referring to the discipline of letting go of the past; shedding worn-out habits; leaving behind theories and attitudes that once served him well but no longer did; killing off parts of himself that were interfering with the arrival of the fresh future. I recommend his strategy to you, Pisces. To the degree that you agree to die daily, you will earn the right to be reborn big-time in a few weeks.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Nigerian author Wole Soyinka reworked the ancient Greek play, *The Bacchae*. In one passage, the god Dionysus criticizes King Pentheus, who is supposedly allpowerful. "You are a man of chains," Dionysus tells him. "You love chains. You breathe chains, talk chains, eat chains, dream chains, think chains. Your world is bound in manacles." The bad news, Aries, is that many of us have some resemblances to Pentheus. The good news is that the coming months will be

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The coming weeks will be a great time to fill your journal with more intense ruminations than you have for many moons. If you don't have a journal, think about starting one. Reveal yourself to yourself, Taurus! Make conscious that which has been vague, unnamed, or hiding. Here are assignments to help launch your flood of intimate self-talk. 1. Write passionately about an experience you've always wanted to try but have never done.

2. Conduct imaginary interviews with people who rouse strong feelings in you. 3. Describe what deity, superhero, or animal you are and how your special intelligence works. 4. Visualize a dream in which you appear as a bolder, more confident version of yourself. 5. Talk about a time you felt rousingly alive and how you plan to feel that way again.

a favorable time to shed at least some of your chains. Have fun liberating yourself! Try to help a few others wriggle free from their chains, too. Doing so will aid your own emancipation. ACROSS

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): A stranger approached me at Wild Birds Unlimited, a store that sells bird food and accessories. "You write the horoscopes, right?" she asked. "I'm a Gemini, and want to thank you for helping me tone down my relentless fidgeting. You made me realize have been secretly proud of tapping my fingers on the table while talking with people, and constantly darting my eyes around the room to check out the ever-changing views. I'd unconsciously believed that stuff was a sign of my incredible vitality. But you've been a steadying influence. You've shown me ways to settle down and focus my energy better. can see how restlessness sometimes saps my energy." I told the woman, "You're welcome!" and let her know that 2023 will be a favorable time to do much more of this good work. Homework: Meditate on channeling your incredible vitality into being grounded and centered.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): According to Cancerian author Ronald Sukenick, the writer’s work is "to destroy restrictive viewpoints, notice the unnoticed, speak the unspeakable, shake stale habits, ward off evil, give vent to sorrow, pulverize doctrine, attack and uphold tradition as needed, and make life worth living." I believe 2023 will be an excellent time for you to carry out those actions, even if you're not a writer. You will have abundant power to bless and heal through creative rebellion and disruption. You will thrive as you seek out interesting novelty.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Here’s testimony from musician Pharrell Williams: "If someone asks me what inspires me, I always say, 'That which is missing.'" Yes! This is an apt message for you, Virgo. The best way for you to generate motivation and excitement in the coming weeks will be to explore what is lacking, what is invisible, what’s lost or incomplete. Check in with your deep intuition right now. Do you feel a stirring in your gut? It may tell you where to find important and intriguing things that are missing.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Psychotherapist Ryan Howes has wisdom you'll benefit from heeding in the coming weeks. "We need to accept our age," he writes. "We need to accept illnesses and addictions. We need to accept the past. We need to accept others as they are." He goes on to say that this doesn't mean we must like all these situations. And we can certainly try to make the best of them. But when we don’t struggle in vain to change what’s beyond our control to change, we have more energy for things that we can actually affect.

Course average

"Riptide" singer ___ Joy

Approximately, in dates

Argentina's daily sports newspaper

Colgate competitor

Central Florida city

Guillermo Del Toro remake of 2022 that got a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes

Ancient Mesopotamian civilization

"CSI" sample

Reading material, for short

"The Serpent and the Rope" novelist Raja

Revelation from seven-year-old Tariq in a memeworthy 2022 interview (and earworm song)

Jodie Foster title role

"Go Green!" newsletter org.

Bob Marley album with "Three Little Birds"

Game that uses chalk

Sugar amt.

Jeremy Allen White show that's very

Northern Express Weekly • january 09, 2023 • 25 lOGY
JAN 09 - JAN 15
Chicagocentric (and topped
2022 Best of TV lists) 39. Rink fakeout 42. Contemptuous, in a way 47. "The
of Seville" barber 49. Prickly plant part that sticks to clothing 50. Pasta that looks like rice 51. Jennette
54. Play scenery 55. Golfer's support 56. Charged particle 57. Breed popularized
59. Game of the Year
2022 65. 1836 Texas battle site 66. Armless
e.g. 67. Keg opening 68. Macbeth's invitation to Macduff 69. Use some language 70. "That's right" DOWN 1. Work on some bubble wrap? 2. "Always Be My Maybe" actress Wong 3. Mystery novelist Ruth 4. Outspoken 5. Story path 6. "Don't believe so" 7. 151 in Rome 8. "Christ Stopped at ___" (Carlo Levi book) 9. Add to the price, like additional features 10. "ER" venue 11. Musketeers' accessories 12. Become less cloudy 13. Spelling and Sorkin 18. Crawling ___ fours 22. Barinholtz involved in the upcoming series "History of the World, Part II" 24. Bach's "Mass ___ 53-Down" 25. Big name in outdoor equipment 26. "People
27. Belgian battle site of WWI 28. Social media personality
29. Item seen in the 24-Across video 34. Repeated step 35. Vaccine fluid 38. Prefix meaning "height" 39. Jazz guitarist Al with the 1991 album "Kiss
40. Refrigerator feature with rounded,
holders 41. Actor Penn of
43. "Thomas
island 44. Ireland's most prestigious university 45. Suffix for Vulcan or Mesmer 46. Chip shop fish 47. Kind of year or policy 48. Lionizing poem 52. Bumps into 53. Bach's "Mass 24-Down ___" 58. Food-labeling concern 60. Box fan setting 61. Dr. with several Grammys 62. Conductor ___-Pekka Salonen 63. Edinburgh denial 64. Navigational tool, for short "The Best of 2022" another year, another look back. by Matt Jones
McCurdy memoir that was a 2022 #1
York Times Bestseller
by Queen Elizabeth II
winner at The
Puzzler" host Remini
whose recent charity
broke the Beatles' record for most consecutive U.K.
My Axe"
"American Horror Story: NYC"
the Tank Engine"


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26 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly
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28 • january 09, 2023 • Northern Express Weekly
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