Responding to such impassioned criticism

Responding to the impassioned fallout from my suggestion that “enraptured” wasn’t le mot juste to describe the response to David Sedaris’ recent appearance in Alpena, first, kudos to Anne Gentry for having such rabid supporters, ready to leap to her defense.

More to the point, before I moved to Ossineke, I’d lived in California, Chicago, Brussels and New York City. But I’ve never lived in a place so defensive, so hostile to different opinions, rejecting “big city ideas” (“big city” being any town with more than 50,000 residents, including the City That Shall Not Be Named on the west side).

One of Ms. Gentry’s supporters complains that I’ve never written a letter that “acknowledges, praises, or thanks anyone for their commitment to making Alpena a better place,” that all I do is engage in “petty criticism.” There are enough other people in the area just itching to praise anything Alpena-related. And calling criticism “petty” is knee-jerk.

Cecelia Brady famously says, in the first chapter of The Last Tycoon, “We don’t go for strangers in Hollywood.” The same is true here. Thinking of moving back to Alpena? Our arms are open to you. Tell us how much your time away made you appreciate Northeast Michigan. Thinking of staying? Pull up a chair and watch things get incrementally better over the years.

Planning to relocate to Alpena from Chicago or New York or Los Angeles? Don’t expect to come here with your exposure to the arts and successful retail and different viewpoints and so forth and tell us circumstances locally aren’t ideal.

In this context, the sign near the marina, reading: “Alpena: a warm and friendly port,” seems incomplete. More accurately, it should read “Alpena, a warm and friendly port provided you don’t have any contrary opinions.”




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