A Review 31st Anniversary Retrospective

Posted In:   From Issue 701   By: Robert E Martin

25th March, 2010     0

This issue marks the 31st Anniversary of Review Magazine, which annually has become both a humbling and gratifying experience for me.  Sorting through back archives to come up with a retrospective of the issues and topics occupying center stage in these pages has resulted in an emotional kaleidoscope of memories and surprises.

Hopefully you will find this little trip back into time as engaging as I did while assembling it.


Five Years Ago • Issue #590 • March 31 – April 13, 2005

Politics: Saginaw Moves to Lift the Tax Cap.

City leaders shoot for a May 3rd election to seek up to 14 mills in two separately worded ballots – a ‘double barreled’ surprise, given that the City of Saginaw had close to $76 million more dollars to spend in 2005 than it had in n1979 and 15,709 fewer citizens. Moreover, prior to the election, when this piece appeared, Rehmann Robson – the accounting firm hired to complete the city’s 2004 audit report, had still to complete their report.  The Review also reports how a study by National Taxpayers Union discovered that every American unknowingly pays a whopping $2.642 per year in taxes that are ‘not explicitly clear’ to the person paying them.


Sports: Jason on Jason.

The Review sends local Saginaw sports fan Jason Marcoux to interview Jason Richardson at the Palace of Auburn Hills for a down home profile.

“Just about the time the locker room attendant was ready to kick me out, I heard the familiar voice of J-Rich,” writes Marcoux. “’Hold On,’ he says to the pushy locker room attendant, ‘Let that Saginaw guy in. He wants to ask me some Saginaw questions.’

‘I think Jason found it refreshing that the first two questions I asked had nothing to do with basketball. He also laughed when I asked about his baseball career. ‘Yeah, I was a pretty good baseball player but there wasn’t enough action for me,’ explains J-Rich.

The Arts: An Exclusive Interview with Woody Allen

Review correspondent Cole Smithey nails a rare interview with the ‘Woodman’ on the eve of releasing his film Melinda And Melinda.  A few highlights:

Review: In your new film it seems like the comedy is for the Jews and the drama is for the WASPS.

Allen: ‘That’s very funny. I don’t think of it that way, but I guess people think of comedy through Jews all the time. It’s a misconception based on the fact so many Jewish comedians came out of the Catskills. But if you look at Bob Hope, Buster Keaton or WC Fields, they were not Jewish. I’ve had this conversation with Spike Lee several times. I could never convincingly write about a black family and I doubt if he could write convincingly about a Jewish family, because you lived it every moment and it gets into the nuances.

Review: What’s a friable offense on your set?

Allen: I’m not a skilled director like Mike Nichols or Elia Kazan, who can get a performance out of someone who can’t act. But I can’t do it. So after 3 days of trying to get the person to do the scene with every resource I can think of, I fire them because I don’t know what else to do.”

Review: Do you miss doing standup?

Allen: I miss doing standup but I’m too lazy to do it again. To write and act and be funny doing stand-up for 45 minutes or an hour on stage is a huge amount of work – more work than a movie.


Ten Years Ago • Issue #472 • March 30 – April 12, 2000

Politics: Political Brutality Over Charter Schools

House Democratic leader Michael Hanley writes in these pages: “The most recent example of John Engler’s taste for political brutality is in his battle to eliminate the cap on university sponsored charter schools.

“Unlike traditional public schools, their boards are not elected by the public (or even the parents of their students). Unlike private schools, they are financed by public tax dollars.”

“State universities are limited to 150 charter schools overall. The Governor’s plan would set up an oversight board appointed by him. He also wants to eliminate this cap on university charters. This board has authority to grant an unlimited number of charters. This ‘fox watches chicken coop’ board was unacceptable to all original opponents of charter school expansion, including the Republicans. So the Governor then attempted to strike a deal with Detroit Democrats, faced with the passage of a bill forbidding local communities from requiring their employees to be residents of the community for which they work.”

“Administration officials made it known to Detroit Representatives that if they were to give the charter cap initiative their votes, the Governor could influence the residency debate in their favor. If Detroit Democrats were uncooperative, the Governor could punish them by signing a bill that would cost Detroit millions of dollars. The Detroiters refused to deal and then the Governor signed the bill.”


Fifteen Years Ago • Issue #352 • March 16-30, 1995

Music: The Review gears up for its 9th Music Awards Ceremony with special guests Mainstreet, Rebel Cause, Richard Wagner, TNT Bleus Band, Lack of Afro and Lazybones.

Stewart Francke releases Where the River Meets The Bay on Schoolkids’ Records. His song Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is picked up by FOX for airing on a future episode of Melrose Place. In an interview with The Review, Stewart notes: “I think the only way I can really fail is to stop feeling, or fail to stop seeing, because I’ll always be able to fuse a 3-chord song with something if I stay really alive. If I shut down emotionally, I don’t know. But then your whole life shuts down.”

Politics: Trading Freedom for Security – Is it Worth the Cost?

The new Clinton Crime Bill seeks to ban many so-called ‘assault weapons’, leading The Review to question why legislators are getting so touch on crime but proving to be ‘soft’ in terms of reducing the crime the legislation targets.

Are semi-automatic rifles the ‘weapon of choice’ of many criminals? Statistics kept by the Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms say no. Between 1990 and 1992 of the 45,000 violent crimes committed in New Jersey, only 94 involved assault weapons. In California, they were used in only five of 217 random selected homicides. Meanwhile, the Dept. of Justice notes how less than 1 percent of the violent inmates in the U.S. used a military-type weapon in the commission of their crimes.

Mandatory sentencing is the catch phrase of the time, as ‘Three Strikes and Your Out’ is the slogan of tough-on-crime legislators, including Bill Clinton. But the new sentencing rules hit a peak of absurdity when a Torrence, California man is sentenced to 25 years to life for stealing a piece of pizza. At $25,000 per year it comes to a total of $625,000 to house this perpetrator in the state pen.

Before the legislation was passed, more than 90 percent of felony cases were plea-bargained in California. Now only 14% of second felonies and 6% of third felonies are plea-bargained, resulting in the reality that Los Angeles expects a 144 percent jump in jury trials in 1995.


20 Years Ago •  Issue #234 • March 26 – April 9, 1990

Music: Celestial Messengers – An Interview with Laurie Anderson

 Performance artist Laurie Anderson speaks to The Review about her new one-woman show Empty Places and her new Warner Brothers release Strange Angels. When asked about her use of a mélange of media – pictures, film, sounds and cryptic splashes of Americana, all unfolding in a non-didactic and objective manner, always allowing the audience to judge the content for themselves, she notes, “I love the way those things collide. People are capable of experiencing several things at once; I think we’re quite good at that. Not that I want to overload peoples’ imaginations, but I do love the sensation of a few things at once. Most important, art has to start as a sensual experience, to feel like you can almost touch it.”


Community: Cleaning out the Chemicals – The Growing Availability of Organic Produce

The Review reports how three area markets start to carry a variety of fruits and vegetables that have been grown organically, without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Gary’s Produce Market and the two Meijer supermarkets start to make the move, even though they cost 30 to 50 percent more.


Editorial: Earth Day 1990 – Individual Action Will Make the Difference

On the 20th anniversary of Earth Day, Review editor & publisher Robert Martin notes how airborne sulfates are implicated in at least 50,000 premature deaths each year – as many lives as are lost in auto accidents.

“Officials should be urged to support clean air legislation that will permanently cut annual emission of sulfur dioxide by 12 million tons and nitrogen oxides by 4 million tons by the year 2000.”

20 years later, we are still waiting for implementation.



25 Years Ago • Issue #116 • March 18 – April 1, 1985

Dining:  The Review runs a readers’ poll to determine the Top 10 Restaurants in the Tri-Cities. The results come down as follow: 1) Justine in Midland; 2) O Sole Mio in Bay City; 3) Casa Del Ray in Saginaw; 4) Forbidden City in Saginaw; 5) Bamboo Garden in Midland; 6) Treasure Island in Saginaw; 7) Zorba’s in Saginaw; 8) Hunan in Saginaw; 9) Bintz Apple Mountain Steak House.  10) The Linden Hof in Bay City.

Congratulations to the few on this list still going strong!


Politics: The Michigan Senate takes up Senate Joint Resolution A to convene a proposed constitutional convention for the purpose of adopting a balanced budget amendment. Writes Robert E. Martin: “IF SJR A passes both houses this year, Michigan will become the 33rd state to petition Congress to convene a constitutional convention. 34 states are necessary to force Congress to the call. Because there are no rules governing a convention, it could weaken the Bill of Rights and perhaps even drastically change the U.S. Constitution itself, which is the fundamental document of our nation.”


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