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September 2008

September 29, 2008

Voting in Vermont

I like to consider myself to be relatively politically informed. Heck, I even vote! After reading Max’s post I was struck that I had no idea who was running in the primary for Burlington’s Chittenden 3-3 district, the area encompassing much of Champlain College’s campus. Dormitories like Summit, Main St. Suites, 396 Main and North House are swallowed into the 3-1 district, along with UVM, portions of the Hill section and the Old North End. Actually, I wasn’t sure how I could vote if I wasn’t a legal resident of the state or had a Vermont driver’s license.

So, listen up Champlain students. You can vote! And it’s pretty easy, even if you are a flatlander.

Luckily there is no waiting period for establishing residency in Vermont. According to Vermont State law,  “Residency is defined by where the person is domiciled, as evidenced by an intent to maintain a principle dwelling place in the town indefinitely and to return there if temporarily absent, coupled with an act or acts consistent with that intent.”

Voter registration forms can be found at City Hall on Church St. in Burlington.

Continue reading "Voting in Vermont" »

September 28, 2008

Update: Kesha Doesn't Care About Lawn Signs

Kesha_headshot On Saturday I got the chance to sit down with Democrat Kesha Ram at her apartment in Burlington. Kesha is running to represent Chittenden 3-4 (the Hill, Old North End, and University District) down in Montpelier come November. We met so that she could challenge the idea being asserted by some people (ahem) that her small market-share of supportive lawn signs indicates that the race is not boding well for her.

Needless to say, she doesn't buy it.

In fact, Kesha tells me that she believes the race is going well. She is confident that her challenge to the Progressive ticket of Chris Pearson and David Zuckerman will break this district's two-cycle tenure holding the "lowest turnout" title.

The smell of change is in the air this autumn, and Kesha wants to ride the tide. While she wouldn't come out and explicitly say that David Zuckerman, who came into office "all those years ago" as a fresh-faced UVM graduate, is not too old and out-of touch with the young and growing student population, she does drop some serious hints: ""Twelve years. That's a long time, and there's turnover for a reason."

I ask her if she thinks lawn signs are the best real-time polls available. "No," she says. "I don't even have a sign on my lawn." She doesn't. Her warm, clean, and surprisingly new (for Burlington) apartment, with its signless front lawn, sits directly between the end of the UVM Central Campus and the beginning of the off-campus housing sprawl — perhaps a metaphor for the two communities she's trying to bridge if she wants to win this election.

Continue reading "Update: Kesha Doesn't Care About Lawn Signs" »

September 27, 2008

If a Good Show Happens in a Half-Empty Club, Does it Make a Sound?

Sonyaslip Did anyone else catch Sonya Kitchell and The Slip at Higher Ground on Wednesday night? Actually, you don't need to answer that. Because there was nobody there. That, and I can't hear you through the Internet.

Brad Barr, best known as the singer/guitarist of The Slip (not to mention his other bands — Surprise Me Mr. Davis, Super Little, probably others no one knows about), played a solo opening set. He mixed acoustic, instrumental pieces from his newly-released album The Fall Apartment with solo renditions of vocal tunes from his other projects. He also displayed an incredible skill, using an electric guitar, an array of effects, and a loop pedal to craft some really beautiful sonic textures. Unfortunately, only about 20 people were there for Brad's set, at least for the start. I truly believe that The Slip are the most underrated, overlooked band of our time, and it appears that injustice persists even when Brad's by himself. It's a real shame, because he's written some amazingly beautiful songs.

Speaking of The Slip, the entire trio appeared on stage a short time later to play as Sonya Kitchell's backing band.  By that time the crowd had swelled to about 75. In truth, my interest was piqued because of The Slip's involvement, and it was a little weird to see them as sidemen rather than the main attraction — though it was a lovely treat to hear them play "The Soft Machine" from their 2006 album Eisenhower, with Sonya on lead vocals. But I've also spent quite a bit of time these last few weeks with Sonya's new album, This Storm, and it's grown on me a lot. Her voice reminds me a lot of Grace Potter's, but her music has more of a jazzy strain to it, more like Joni Mitchell's jazz period. For this reason, The Slip's instrumental skill was a perfect match.

Sonya sang every note perfectly, and displayed some fine guitar chops as well. Though, if there's one complaint I would make about Sonya's music, it's that she sometimes falls into a somewhat cliched neo-soul/blues sound, not unlike Cat Power's recent work. Not that it's bad — it's just that sound has been done many times over. Then again, if I had a voice like hers, I might want to show it off, too.

The quartet closed the show with a blistering R&B take on Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited," with Sonya singing like Dusty Springfield and Brad Barr contributing some immense guitar work. It was a great night with a show of some fantastic talent. It's really too bad that hardly anyone was there to witness it.

September 25, 2008

Few Signs for Kesha

Downsized_0925081403 If lawn signs are an indication of anything, the race for representing Chittenden 3-4 in Montpelier is not boding well for my friend Kesha Ram.

It was April of this when I first found out that then-Student Government Association President Ram was going to run for the statehouse in the fall. "Interesting," I thought, "that would shake things up." After all, Kesha, the highly effective first African-American woman to head the SGA prez, is no stranger to shaking things up.

But then I thought, "Is the Burlington public really going to put their faith in someone who has spent an entire six months out of college come November?"

Well, it looks like off-campus front-lawns have the answer to that question. I took a walk today. From my house on Hyde Street, down North Willard, up Henry, to North Prospect and then to class on Main — only one lonely lime-green Kesha sign in a sea of red Chris Pearson and David Zuckerman signs. 

It doesn't help that incumbents Pearson and Zuckerman have the backing of VT pol heavyweights like Senator Bernie Sanders...

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Random BTW: For the politically inclined who just can't get enough Sarah Palin humor...

Ed. Note: Max mistakenly referred to Kesha as African-American. But if he had read the bio on her fancy campaign website, he would have seen that she has a father who came here from India and a Jewish mother. D'oh! Max and What's Good apologize for this boneheaded error. -- Cathy Resmer, Online Editor

September 24, 2008

Lock, Stock and Three Smoking Government Bailouts

With the bailout of Wall Street for a cool $700 billion, people all over the nation are growing even more concerned with not only the state of the economy, but also government’s role in business. The monumental collapse of the Macs — Freddie, Fannie and Bernie — promotes even more bad feeling. The CEOs and top executives, despite being responsible for bad lending habits, questionable business practices, potential fraud, and atrocious television shows, are collecting incredible sums of money for the daft decisions that adversely affect scores of people worldwide. The lesson seems to be: If you screw up, it needs to be on a historic, monumental scale.

The average Joe isn't rewarded nearly as handsomely for their mishaps and brain blunders. I screw up on an oriental chicken salad, I receive a crappy tip. They collapse the American financial system and receive a yacht! Maybe government will reduce the hypocrisy and swallow all underperforming businesses. Who knows, maybe Uncle Billy Tom’s Fine Dining and Live Bait Shop will see a revival from government intervention and I will finally become a proud shareholder! I can only dream!

The Chain Gang

I work at a chain restaurant. Every now and then I’ll see someone pick up a job application and watch as they puzzlingly read the “Are you looking for a place to belong?” catch phrase. Do they belong?

College students and college graduates with degrees in art history, psychology or English:

Have you wasted potentially four years of money and time on a field you are passionate about? Are you really broke? Are you looking for an unskilled job where you can make up to $30 an hour waiting on hordes of elderly, the great unwashed and French Canadians? Are you capable of participating in Machiavellian politics and initiating senseless drama rivaling that of high school? Do you feel a strange need to form entangling alliances and recreate World War 1 politics while carrying hot food? A local chain-restaurant is looking for you!

Outcasts and poor communicators:

Are you combative and lack the social skills needed to communicate with co-workers to ensure that tensions always run red hot? Can you put food in a microwave; turn a steak with tongs or a drop a basket into hot oil? Are you capable of putting dishes through a machine and then stacking them on a shelf? Is the hostility of a prison something you’d like to recreate at a job once you begin parole?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, apply today!

It’s been said that college is more about the overall experience of going out, meeting people, and gaining maturity and job skills than it is about attending classes and writing papers. If this is the case, I highly recommend looking for a job at a local chain restaurant. The combination of ineptitude, cyclical feuding and the camaraderie of serving patrons who make your life a living hell, is something to be cherished over these formative collegiate years.

September 22, 2008

"How to approach and meet a girl in your class"...oh my.

A few weeks back in Seven Days, Mistress Maeve dispensed some advice to a college guy on how to meet girls in school. I am no relationship sage, but I think her tips are better than, erm, the "follow a girl and set up a pseudo-coincidental meeting" method that this chap advocates:

Hey, whatever works for you, man. Whatever works.

(Side note: I had an Anthropology test at 8:30 a.m. the morning after last week's Bands of Burlington showcase, which ran well into the wee hours. Pleased to report that, despite my lack of sleep, ringing ears, and complete dismissal of studying in favor of the show, I got an A on the test. Proof that rock'n'roll is good for you.)

September 21, 2008

More like "Broken-Foot-alicious"

The Middlebury College community was rocked on Wednesday afternoon, after a Facebook message informed students that Gift of Gab of Blackalicious sustained an injury in France. The rap duo was scheduled to perform on campus this evening, and with tickets already sold, the Concert Committee was hard pressed to find a replacement…fast! Well, only 24 hours later, the substitute artist was announced: Talib Kweli.

While I am not complaining, I still have no idea how they were able to find such a stellar act so quickly, or, embarrassingly enough, how to pronounce his name…I can empathize, though; I mean Whelan-Wuest, thanks mom and dad. Anyways, doors open at 8pm, show at 9pm TONIGHT at the Kenyon Athletic complex, and, as far as I know, tickets are still available.

September 19, 2008

Totally Exhausted

Thanks, everybody, for coming to the Bands of Burlington show last night. It's been a while since I was out that late on a school night. I didn't leave until 1 a.m. And I'm dragging this morning.

But I told two people who won Sugarbush season passes last night that they could pick them up today — between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. And since I had the passes, I had to be here at 9 in case they showed up.

No sign of them yet. Good thing I got my double mocha on my way into work.

September 18, 2008

Bands of Burlington — Tonight!

N33146949866_6800 Come to Nectar's tonight for an 18+ explosion of local music mayhem!

Nine bands will play on two floors to benefit The Radiator. Sugarbush will be giving away T-shirts and season passes. You could also win a complete 2009 Burton Snowboard package or an "All You Need is Love" spa retreat from Cynthea's Spa.

All the gooey details are here. See you tonight!

September 16, 2008

Sodex-Poo

Last month, Seven Days published an article lauding the "green" credentials of UVM-contracted campus food mega-corp Sodexo.

Lots of things come to the minds of us UVM students when we think about Sodexo. Sometimes "green" pops into my head. For example, green is the color my face turns after eating a greasy Sodexho burger sandwiched in a stale bun. Green is the envy I felt towards off-campus students when I lived on-campus and was forced to eat garbage three times a day. Green is what the lettuce in my off-campus fridge looks like, as opposed to to the brown lettuce that sits out all day at the Sodexo salad bar in on-campus dining halls.

The author of the article, Kevin Kelley, did hit all the points of Sodex-dissent among college students.  Yes, Sodexo employees don't get paid livable wages. Yes, Sodexo is a far cry from "local," operating in countries from North America to Europe. True, Sodexo used to sell its services to prisons. But the article did miss one thing: The food sucks. 

Of course, food quality is somewhat subjective, so I won't get into the dull and repetitive menu options,  the low-quality meats, the undercooked pasta, or the fly-filled dining halls. If you want to hear about that, go to Simpson Dining Hall on Redstone campus and ask anyone what he or she has had for dinner for the past two weeks. Or check out what Urban Dictionary — the raw and explicit pulse of American youth — has to say about Sodexo. It's good for a laugh. 

But one thing that is totally objective, totally undeniable, totally known to anyone who lives on campus, and totally gross, is Sodex-Poo.

When you eat Sodexo food, you will take a trip to the bathroom within thirty minutes. Guaranteed. Some think they put laxatives in the food. Others say that our bodies are so disgusted by what's inside it, it pushes it out super-quick. Regardless, Sodex-food becomes Sodex-poo in a matter of minutes. Without fail.

Honestly, some overpaid government bureaucrat should do a study on how much toilet water is used by Sodexo campuses vs. non-Sodexo campuses. I bet all the UVM Sodex-poo flushes alone are grounds for disqualification from the "green" label.

Now that I live off-campus, my bowels are finally back in order. True, I no longer have the privilege of being served prison-quality food by a greenwashed corporate giant, but that's the price I have to pay to go to the bathroom on a regular schedule. And at least I can take solace in knowing that I am helping the environment by not eating on-campus. Now that's truly green.

September 15, 2008

An Open Letter to VitaminWater

Vitamin_water Dear VitaminWater:

On behalf of the St. Michael's College community, thanks for sending some of your college reps by our campus one afternoon last week in a big fancy VitaminWater van to hand out free samples of your product. I still prefer good old fashioned normal water, and in fact I'll probably never spend any money on VitaminWater, but thanks for thinking of me and my dollar, at least.

And while I'm a little leery of letting commercial enterprises set up shop on campus to prey on our young, impressionable, loan-funded minds, I have a larger issue to pick with you. You see, that VitaminWater van has a hell of a potent soundsystem. And on this day, your college reps chose to use that sound system to blast the music of Eddie Money into the eardrums of all and sundry within a half-mile radius. Yes, Eddie Fucking Money.

This seemed like a questionable choice, from a marketing perspective. While you'd be correct in guessing that the majority of St. Mike's students listen to terrible music, their collective taste skews more towards O.A.R. and Dave Matthews Band than towards Top 40 stars of the late 70's and early 80's. Besides, when I'm leaving the academic quad on a weekday afternoon after a boring class that took much too long, I neither expect nor want to be berated by booming music...especially when that music is Eddie Money. Our relatively quiet campus green is something to be cherished, you know? And those poor kids in Joyce Hall — your speakers were pointed right at them. Not even first-years deserve such a fate.

So, while songs like "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Take Me Home Tonight" are undoubtedly the cherished classics of SOMEONE's youth...they don't apply to us, much. The next time you roll onto our campus to hawk your enigmatically-named, radioactively-colored drinks, please keep the volume down. Or at the very least, pick better music. I hear Rick Astley goes over real well with the college kids.

September 13, 2008

Public Radio...what! what!

Carl Kasell. Garrison Keilor. Eye on the Sky. Sound familiar? If yes, then congratulations, you are a nerd. A VPR nerd, that is. zing. No, but seriously, it’s cool, there are a lot of us, whether we admit it or not.  I mean, come on, there’s nothing like waking up to the beautiful voice of Renée Montagne in the morning, or doing homework to VPR Classical or Jazz with George Thomas…not that I would know or anything.

If you understand/are getting seriously turned on by my name-dropping, have I got a something for you! Saturday, September 20, VPR is throwing a listener picnic at the adorable UVM Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge. With a special appearance by Tom Ashbrook, host of On Point, music by Banjo Dan and the Mid-Nite Plowboys and Mike Martin and Trio Gusto, AND a giant mug give-away, it is guaranteed to be a great time. Plus, admission is free…perfect for the college student budget!

September 11, 2008

Bad Cats, Bad!

Some email scorn from the UVM administration:

This weekend has been called by some Burlington residents "the worst ever" in terms of noise, public drunkenness, etc. An e-mail to me highlighted that the behavior this past weekend "disturbed families with young children; working people; and elderly folks. And, in some cases has caused issues for off-campus students who have had groups of people they do not know and have not invited to their homes trying to enter or hanging out outside drawing the attention of neighbors and police."

Citations and tickets for public urination, noise ordinance violation, minors in possession, furnishing for minors, disorderly conduct etc. are no joke at all and besides draining your pockets will remain on your permanent record. I know several people who have experienced this and it's sad to think of something like that defining your time at UVM.

A new semester at the Universitas Viridis Montis wouldn't be complete without an email relaying B-Town's horror at the spectacle of prides of thirsty Catamounts descending from the top of the hill. The same "we had no idea this was coming and now we're totally shocked" attitude from University and City officials is a staple of these electronic scoldings.

But the big Burlington and UVM boss dogs aren't the only ones who experience annual amnesia in this regard. Over the summer, party-hungry Cats consistently forget what to do when a burgeoning Burlington bash gets busted by the bad boys in blue.

Some tips (2012, listen up):

1 - Do. Not. Freak. Out. There's a reason this is at the top of the list. All too often, an early-semester off-campus rager actually gets exacerbated when the po-9 arrive. Amidst the incomprehensible roar of voices comes "Cops!" The birdcall spreads like wildfire: "Cops! Cops!" Before you know it, a stampede ensues. People are running to the back doors, jumping fences, bolting to the basement, trampling over passed-out girls, hiding under tables, breaking shit... Not necessary. If you don't live at the house and you're not completely shit-wasted, just wait patiently. In a few minutes, the po po will ask you to leave, go home, and be quiet. No names, no numbers, no nuffin.

2 - Don't say "Shhh!" I hope this dumb phenomenon is not unique to UVM. When the police arrive, it's because the party is too loud. Cops may not be the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they're not going to be fooled if a 10-alarm rager suddenly goes silent. And besides, when everyone starts yelling "shh," the house doesn't get quiet...it just sounds like there's a serious gas leak coming from everywhere at once. And that sucks. Same goes for turning off all the lights. Just keep your voice down and be patient (see tip 1).

3 - Drop your damn drink.  There's always someone at a busted off-campus party who can't bear to part  with his or her drink and absolutely must smuggle it out of the house, past the watchful eyes of the 5-0. Don't do it. Not only will you look like a total tool, but you'll probably get caught and get slapped with an open container violation ($50) or an underage possession violation ($200-$300). BPD like to shine flashlights on the exit parade, so anything you're concealing will be quite illuminated. Besides, how badly do you need that half-finished Natty Ice?

Being at a busted party is annoying, but it's not the end of the world. Although the semesterly "you guys are so bad when you go off-campus" email is unavoidable, getting stuck at a busted party is not. Underclassmen: don't travel in groups over ten (five is really best), don't go into a party that's already overflowing onto the street, and avoid ragers on main roads (South Union, Pearl, College, etc). And be nice to our townie neighbors...

September 10, 2008

Are you chicken?

Burlington has quite the spread of late-night delivery options that extends way past Domino's pizza. ThisFoodwingsidebar week's Seven Days has the most extensive review of local chicken wings delivery ever compiled. Winging It takes the study of the hot wing to a brand new level of criticism, looking very closely at four local establishments in very specific areas of importance ( such as Dressing Quality, Finger Burns and Heat Range). Use it wisely — I'm sure you'll need it this weekend.

Personally, I'm all about Wings Over Burlington's Jet Fuel boneless wings. They'll bring some tears to your eyes.

September 09, 2008

What A Weekend

So, I had quite an eventful weekend, if I may say so.

Friday evening was, of course, the South End Art Hop, which proved once again to be one of the most awesome things about Burlington. I got to see lots of cool art, mingle with cool people, and hear cool music — although I missed The Cush's set at the JDK design studio because I totally lost track of where I was and ended up at the wrong end of Maple St. But best of all, I got a nifty new Seven Days t-shirt, screenprinted right before my eyes. Awesome.

But speaking of those JDK folks...the launch party they put on in celebration of their book of Higher Ground posters, "1 of 1500," was fantastic. There's something about the concert poster as art that I really dig. The minimalist shapes, the line drawings, and the limited color pallette all really appeal to my artistic sensibilities. Thus, getting to browse JDK's poster-lined hallways was a treat, especially when I'd happen upon a poster or a photograph and realize, "Hey, I was at that show. Awesome." Nice work, JDK peeps.

Saturday was a whole different beast. I drove down to Boston for the day with two of my friends, where we first visited the field trip bastion of my childhood, the New England Aquarium. It's still just as amazing as it was as an elementary schooler. Myrtle the turtle is still swimming circles around that big center tank, and penguin poop is still hilarious. I hope that after I die, I get reincarnated as a leafy sea dragon.

That night we headed over to the Bank of America Pavilion, a soulless, corporate amphitheaters with shitty sound and worse sightlines, to see the greatest live band of our time, My Morning Jacket. I'm pleased to say they didn't disappoint. While the venue didn't hold a candle to the tiny rock club in Montreal I saw MMJ at earlier this year, the band played for about two-and-a-half hours, and rocked solidly for all of them. (Well, not so much when they played "Thank You Too," but I digress.) The highlight for me was their performance of the rarity "Cobra." If you haven't heard that song...find it. Trust me.

Last thing now. You may have heard about Tropical Storm Hanna battering Boston with monsoon-worthy rains on Saturday. Indeed, we were caught in the middle of that. Made the mile-long walk back to the car pretty miserable — my windbreaker stayed waterproof for all of about three minutes, and my shoes didn't dry out until Monday.  The first two hours of the drive back to Vermont were even worse. In fact, it was probably pretty unsafe to travel in that kind of weather. But that was just the capper to the most hectic, eventful weekend I've had in a while...and I didn't even spend it getting drunk.

September 08, 2008

Hang out with Seven Days!

So, this Wednesday, some choice Seven Days staffers will be chillin' out at UVM's Fall Activities Fair out in front of the Davis Center from 10 am - 3 pm.

Stop by and pick up a copy of What's Good and the latest Seven Days and let us know what you think. We're pretty cool — I think you'll agree.

September 05, 2008

Last Pursuit Gallery Opening TONIGHT!

Sotapursuit_2 Sad news regarding the local art scene — Pursuit Gallery is shutting down.

It especially bummed me out because I wrote a little spotlight about them for the What's Good Gallery Guide. Here's the write-up, which appeared on pg. 82:

Looking for skater and graffiti art? Find it at Pursuit. This wedge-shaped gallery on the Burlington Bike Path is home to Driven Studios, a multimedia design agency that specializes in youth culture. Designer Seth Neary and photographer Skye Chalmers have worked with Burton Snowboards, Gravis, Red Bull and Analog. They showcase work by urban artists you wouldn’t expect to see in the Green Mountain State. And their art openings are just an excuse to host a party.

Their last opening is tonight — 5-10 p.m. in the Wing Building on the Burlington Bike Path (Art Hop site 41). Just go. The exhibit's up until September 25. Photo by Jordan Silverman.

Back to School Stories

Ftaipei1 From this week's Seven Days:

Sarah Palin, Star Sports Anchor

Two nights ago, Gov. Sarah Palin gave an historic speech in front of the Republican National Convention.

20 years ago, Sarah Heath (as she was then known) was a weekend sports anchor on a low-budget Alaska television station.

Video has surfaced of Palin's stint on KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Alaska, and it's embedded below. Watch it now, before Karl Rove and the Republican politicking machine get it taken down.

I'm not sure what dates this clip more: Palin's hilariously 80's hair, or how many of those NHL teams no longer exist. Also, notice how the lead story is on the Iditarod. Only in Alaska, I suppose. The aspiring VP is a pretty awkward sports anchor, as it turns out, but at least she's better than this guy.

This got me thinking, though: how long before we see the legendary Tom Messner running for public office? And isn't "Marselis for President" a brilliant slogan to campaign by?

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