Jack Dempsey on Michigan Radio

Ink Trails II co-author Jack Dempsey discussed his brainchild, the Ink Trails series, with Michigan Radio. Jack is a good man, good brother, good writer, and good interview. Listen to him...

OK, Hemingway

OK, Hemingway. If that sounds a little reluctant, that’s because it is. When my brother and I set out to write Ink Trails II, the voices of readers were ringing in our ears. Why didn’t you include Hemingway in your book? It’s not complete unless Hemingway’s included. Hemingway had a strong connection to Michigan. Did you forget about Hemingway? No, we didn’t. Forgetting about Hemingway for a Michigander is like forgetting about the Great Lakes. They both loom large. They’re both on the map. We didn’t include Hemingway in Ink Trails because we felt that everything you could say about Hemingway had been said. Just think how many books and articles have been written about the man and his works. It makes no sense even to try to count. Many of these writings about Hemingway have been original, insightful, powerful, poetic, or riveting. Many of them have covered the same ground, like men and women with metal detectors trying to find the last penny. Often they have, and we’ve learned from their labor. The odds on finding another last penny seemed long. But when readers ask for something – and even work up a little clamor for it – authors find it difficult to resist. My brother and I don’t have so large a multitude of fans that we can arrogantly overlook some. Happy that we have readers at all, we listen to them (and if there’s an Ink Trails III, several authors they’ve suggested will be treated). Here’s an excerpt from the chapter of Ink Trails II entitled, Ernest Miller Hemingway: Man and Nature. During Hemingway’s youth, a...

Public Health First

All public policy issues cycle in and out of relevance. They’re important for a while, recede for a while, and return. Unfortunately, that’s true even for something that makes life possible — health. When I entered state government as an environmental policy advisor in 1983, the furor over toxic waste was peaking. Just three years before, the federal government had evacuated the infamous Love Canal residential neighborhood in New York after the discovery of chemical poisons percolating up from a former dump. The recognition of thousands of such sites across the country prompted Congress to pass the so-called Superfund legislation to pay for cleanup. Michigan had its share of sites – well over a thousand old dumps, factory spills, leaking tanks and more. Each of the major sites generated local controversy and some rose to statewide significance. Neighbors of the sites feared for their health, worrying that cancer might claim them. One of the most ominous threats was the groundwater flow of chemicals from a defunct chemical solvent company, a landfill, and other sources moving toward the drinking water wells of Battle Creek. The possibility that contaminants might taint a water supply serving tens of thousands of people and the Kellogg’s Company was petrifying to those of us in state government. It was doubly so because memories were still fresh of a prior chemical contamination crisis. In 1973, the accidental mixing of a fire retardant known as PBB with cattle feed introduced the toxic chemical into Michigan’s food chain. Eventually, virtually every citizen of the state absorbed PBB into his or her body. The resulting controversy attracted national media...

Great Lakes Reads

“The Waters of Michigan” is the Great Lakes State’s member of a new list called Great Lakes Reads. Photographer David Lubbers and I collaborated on the project, but photographs carry a coffee table book, and that’s what this is.  David’s brilliant photos are the heart of this book. Great Lakes Reads is a project of the Great Lakes state Centers for the Book: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, with participation by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization. Books for the “Great Lakes Reads” list were selected by each state, and province, that borders a Great Lake. The chosen works, all by authors either from or residing in each location, highlight the state’s relationship with its lake and the communities surrounding it. Download the free bookmark and poster. Here’s...