“Tuesday Takes Me There” reminds America everything will be OK

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-2-24-39-pm

The cover of “Tuesday Takes Me There: The Healing Journey of a Veteran and his Service Dog”

Courtesy of Luis Carlos Montalvan

Reading “Tuesday Takes Me There: The Healing Journey of a Veteran and his Service Dog” is like having a book holding onto the reader’s hand through an exciting, caring and meaningful adventure.

“Tuesday Takes Me There” (with Bret Witter, photography by Dan Dion, Post Hill Press) is the story of a service dog named Tuesday, guiding his best friend, former Army Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván, on a cross-country trip to an important destination. The book starts with Luis and Tuesday staying with Luis’ friend Mike and ends with, well, spoiling the ending would not be nice.

Capt. Montalván also wrote the New York Times bestseller, “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and

the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him.” Before separating from the military, Capt. Montalván illustriously served two tours of duty in Iraq and returned home with physical wounds and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Because of his injuries, Capt. Montalván underwent an above-the-knee leg amputation earlier this year.

“Tuesday Takes Me There” is published at a particularly poignant time in our nation’s history. Political and social dysfunction seem to permeate every aspect of society. Republicans cannot agree about much with Democrats and they cannot seem to agree with other Republicans about much, either.

And let’s not forget the time Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, scared the heck out of a little girl in Texas.

Sofia, 8, was watching the news with her grandmother one day while her mother, Melissa Chance

was at work. Sofia, who is Muslim, heard Donald Trump’s plan to bar Muslims from entering the country and to deport illegal aliens. According to her mother’s Facebook post, Sofia “began collecting all her favorite things in a bag in case the Army came to remove us from our home.”

Motivated by Sofia’s concern, Kerri Peek, an Army veteran living in Colorado, messaged Melissa. Peek asked Melissa to show Sofia a picture of Kerri in her army uniform, and to “tell her I am a Mama too and as a soldier I will protect her from the bad guys.” Many other military veterans also stepped up, offering their protection to Sofia.

With the malfunction and negativity overtaking America and stories like Sofia’s, this writer asked Capt. Montalván why he and Tuesday keep moving forward, keep advocating and writing, especially after Capt. Montalván’s amputation.

Capt. Montalván’s answer perfectly encapsulates the spirit of national healing for which he has long fought, “[O]ur mission of advocacy continues as we believe in the importance of discussing subjects like war and peace, trauma and healing as well as the profound connection we share with our beloved furry spirits. Continual betterment of ourselves, individually and collectively, is an essential truth.”

Continual betterment is one underlying theme of “Tuesday Takes Me There.” Capt. Montalván, shepherded by Tuesday, takes the reader on a wonderful journey, seeing some of America’s greatest sites and using various modes of transportation to do so.

Like any trip, Luis and Tuesday face challenges along the way, but at journey’s end, the reader is left with the comfortable feeling of knowing everything is right with the world. And with the challenges facing America right now, knowing that everything will be okay at the end of the journey is what the Sofias of America need to know.

“Tuesday Takes Me There” is available at all major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble,

Amazon.com and Books-A-Million.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-59-06-amTimothy Mucciante

Detroit Nonpartisan Examiner

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-9-44-01-pm

Flint, Michigan CNN debate protest locks in Media

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-12-36-47-pm

Flint water protesters

Timothy Mucciante

A protest briefly closed the CNN media center at the CNN Flint Democratic Debate Sunday evening before the Flint, Michigan CNN Democratic Debate. Accredited press inside the media center were prohibited from leaving the building, for fears that the protesters would storm the open doors. The protesters chanted “No Justice, No Peace,” and many protesters had poster pictures of Michigan governor Rick Snyder with devil horns.

Immediate police presence, along the highly visible jail transport van from the county sheriff’s office, helped control the protesters. The protesters disbursed shortly after they started and the media were free to enter and leave the building housing the media center.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-59-06-amTimothy Mucciante

Politics Examiner

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-9-44-01-pm

Michigan competitive marching bands and politics out of tune

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-12-17-29-pm

The Plymouth-Canton Marching Band takes first place at 2014 MCBA State Finals

Timothy Mucciante

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O’Neill once opined, “All politics is local.” Tip was referring to getting votes, but the same can be said of how politics affects competitive marching bands, at least in Michigan.

Competitive marching band is a thing. No, two bands do not face each other in battle like in “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies.” Think traditional marching band meets Broadway show, complete with costumes and choreography, throw in competition, then try to look away.

Last year, the Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) held the 2014 state finals to judge which participating Michigan high school had the best marching band. The 180 member Plymouth- Canton Marching Band, led by Dave Armbruster and Jon Thomann, took the top honor with a show called “Don’t Bother, They’re Here.”

About five years ago Armbruster suffered a heart attack. Last year he told this writer, “My health became an issue in 2010 just because the show was so elaborate. It took a toll on my health.

Unfortunately, two years later it took a toll on my marriage.” Mr. Armbruster is now divorced, but says he has a great relationship with his ex-wife, whom he called “wonderful.”

Mr. Armbruster says his health is better now and handles the stress by not sweating the small stuff. But funding the marching arts is expensive. Each student’s family is asked to contribute financially to fund the band’s activities, including going to the 2016 Rose Bowl. Mr. Armbruster emphasized no student is excluded for lack of financial resources.

Michigan schools do not consider marching band a “sport” and do not get the same relative funding as some high school sports. High school sports’ budgets make up “approximately 1 to 3 percent of the district’s education budget,” according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

According to Paul Lichau, Michigan State Band and Orchestra Association executive director, 71 percent of the member schools reported receiving less than $5,000 from their school districts. Marching bands struggle to cover the financial shortfall with the help of parent booster groups and outside donations.

Bucking the trend is Grand Blanc Community Schools, which recently gave $50,000 toward the purchase of new marching band uniforms. Underscoring the district’s commitment to the arts, Clarence Garner, Deputy Superintendent, said, “We believe that the arts, in this case marching band, affords our students the opportunity to actualize their own unique genius in a manner that is outside of the traditional academic program, but just as important.”

Last summer, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools also stepped up gave its high school band program $125,000 for “some much needed replacement of band equipment,” according to Mr. Armbruster. He also said the school district currently provides ongoing financial support for “supplies, repairs and transportation.”

Now, back to Michigan’s local politics. Why would Michigan’s Lansing politicians allow an activity that takes skill, stamina, intelligence, talent, teamwork and dedication to be underfunded? Only one obvious answer, many of Michigan’s elected representatives have never seen a marching band show.

Imagine this – a distant drum cadence. Steady, it surprisingly has many of the spectators’ feet tapping in time. Next, 120 high school students enter to that cadence, taking the field during the halftime show, yes taking. The marching band’s collective attitude is “football team, take a break, we got this.”

A show follows in which the students’ hearts race 125 beats per second for about ten minutes. While playing their instruments, the students march, jazz walk, run and walk backwards. Drumline and percussion pit share in the intensity. All of this activity frenzies its way into a final chord bringing the crowd to their feet.

No student was thinking about finances or budgets at last year’s MCBA state finals. Bands who did not even know each other offered “have a good show” or “good luck” to passing marching bands on the way to the field, although they were at a competitive event. That does not happen at football games. Or in politics either.

The next MCBA state championship is Nov. 7 at Detroit’s Ford Field. Note to Michigan politicians – the competition is after Election Day, so attend an amazing show that may convince the legislature to set minimum funding goals for the arts, including the marching arts.

In this era of political, social and cultural animosity and antagonism, maybe marching band nerds have the right attitude about life and competition. Certainly every time these marching artists take the field, they are champions.

To donate to any of the groups referenced in this article, please click on the following links: The Michigan Competing Band Association

Plymouth-Canton  Educational Park

Grand Blanc High School Instrumental Music Department

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-59-06-am

Timothy Mucciante

Detroit Nonpartisan Examiner

 

 

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-9-44-01-pm

Did Fox News’ Sean Hannity endorse puppy mills?

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-12-07-22-pm

Image from the controversial GoDaddy “Journey Home” Super Bowl commercial

www.wisn.com

When is a puppy mill not a puppy mill, but a legitimate breeder? Ask Fox NewsSean Hannity. He called that distinction into question when he was discussing the web hosting service GoDaddy “Journey Home” ad that was recently pulled.

The commercial originally scheduled to air during Sunday’s Super Bowl, showed a Golden Retriever puppy named Buddy being thrown from the bed of a pick-up truck as it drives along a bumpy country road. Buddy is then shown running a long way home, through rain, over railroad tracks and crossing a busy highway. When Buddy gets home his owner picks him up and says, “I’m so glad you made it home, because I just sold you with this website I built with GoDaddy.”

The GoDaddy ad received quick condemnation from animal protection groups like SPCA and social media outrage, according to NPR. As a result GoDaddy pulled “Journey Home” from the Sunday Super Bowl ad lineup.

Last night Mr. Hannity was discussing the outrage over the GoDaddy commercial, which he personally thought was funny. When his guest, Dagen McDowell (who rescues dogs) said the commercial encouraged the use of puppy mills,” Sean Hannity responded, “So what?”

In case Mr. Hannity, who owns a Bernese named Gracie, is unaware, puppy mills, especially online ones, are the bane of legitimate breeders throughout the country.

Hannity’s comments only added to current social media ire over the spot, but this is not the first time the Fox host has been on the wrong side of an issue.

Last April, Hannity threw his support behind Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who claimed he was being unfairly treated by the federal government because he had not paid his grazing fees.

Sean Hannity had to do a quick about face, according to the Washington Post, when Mr. Bundy was caught by a New York Times reporter pontificating about African-Americans, “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?”

Then just recently Sean Hannity continuously referred to the so-called “no-go zones” in Paris. After the Jan. 7 Charlie Hebdo attack, Sean Hannity and Fox News repeatedly stoked the idea that the Muslim community in Paris had taken over parts of the city, having their own courts and law enforcement. There was no objective evidence this was true, and Fox News had to do an all-day mea culpa (albeit on a Saturday, when viewership was lower) apologizing for the misreporting.

Hannity’s ratings have been declining in recent years, and his show was moved from the coveted 9 p.m. prime time spot to the less visible 10 p.m. slot, between The Kelly File and the second daily broadcast of The O’Reilly Factor.

An email sent to a Fox News media representative requesting comment was not answered. And although GoDaddy decided to not run the “Journey Home” ad, Fox News is still showing the ad on their website.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-59-06-am

Timothy Mucciante

Detroit Pets Examiner

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-9-45-55-pm

Obama tells Michigan Democrats, ‘When we vote, we win’

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-55-46-am

Timothy Mucciante

President Barack Obama was in Detroit last night with one message, “When we vote, we win.”

Speaking to 6,010 supporters on the campus of Wayne State University, the crowd roared when Obama said, “It’s good to be back in Michigan.”

The event was a campaign rally for Michigan Democratic candidates on Tuesday’s ballot. Democrat Mark Schauer is challenging current Republican governor Rick Snyder, and Democratic Congressman Gary Peters is running to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Senator Carl Levin.

If President Obama’s goal was to fire up Michigan Democrats, he was very successful. Twice someone in the crowd yelled “I love you.” The second time, Mr. Obama responded, “I love you too.”

Mr. Obama gave several examples of the Democratic incumbents and candidates’ commitment to Michigan’s families, the poor, the importance of education and the decision to rescue Michigan’s auto industry.

President Obama talked about Michigan’s Republican candidates now asking for votes when they refused to support the auto bailout. “They got a lot of nerve…. If they’re not there for you when you need them, I think you should vote for Mark and Gary instead.

Ultimately Mr. Obama’s remarks focused in on the importance of voting. He followed the same theme established by speakers earlier in the evening, like current U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, who said, “Voting is the great equalizer.”

President Obama underscored that casting a vote chooses a vision for Michigan, saying “…not voting means you are giving away your power. Your precious right to determine the course of the nation.”

With a nod to the other side, President Obama told the crowd, “I want to be clear, Republicans are good people. They are patriots, they love their country.” The crowd started booing at this point. Mr. Obama responded, “Don’t boo, vote!” Everyone cheered.

When the room settled, President Obama continued, “They love this country, but they’ve got bad ideas. I’ve got members of my family who I love that have bad ideas. I still love them, I just won’t put them in charge…You can have them over for Thanksgiving, but you don’t want to put them in charge.”

Mr. Obama gave an example. “One Republican is running for national office, he said, and I’m quoting here…‘You could argue that money is more important to men.’ That’s a quote. Now I don’t know what woman he talked to…I know he didn’t talk to Michelle.”

Well, maybe that’s one Republican who won’t be invited to the White House for Thanksgiving.

To find out where to vote, go to League of Woman Voters of Michigan.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-59-06-am

Timothy Mucciante 

Detroit Nonpartisan Examiner

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-9-44-01-pm