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May 2012

May 31, 2012

Pierogi Take Church Street

IMAG0409It's the summer of the food cart — in Burlington and beyond. Tomorrow, a well-known team debuts a new mobile eatery just in time for the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival.

Pirogi Union Food Cart is a collaboration between the Skinny Pancake/Chubby Muffin and David Miller of dumpling delivery business Pirogi Union.

The first pierogi will hit the griddle tomorrow at 10 a.m. in a custom-designed cart parked between Sweet Thing and Sox Market. To start, Miller says he'll offer his three classic flavors: potato, cheddar and garlic; farmer's cheese; and the Kapusta blend, a mix of cabbage, onions and sauerkraut from Flack Family Farm.

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CCTA Bus Schedule Data Now Available on Google Maps

Google-bus.pngIt's now a little bit easier to take a trip on the bus.

CCTA bus schedule info is now available on Google Transit. That means when you're looking for directions on Google Maps between places serviced by these bus systems, Google shows you a public transit option alongside the drive, walk and bike options.

Try it out! Enter your current address and where you want to go — Google will tell you where and when to pick up the bus, which route (or routes, in the case of transfers) to take, and what time you're expected to arrive at your location. It's important to note that this isn't realtime tracking data, so Google won't tell you where exactly your bus is along its route or if it will be late. But it does make it much easier to figure out how to take the bus efficiently, especially if you're just a casual bus rider. And it works on smartphone versions of Google Maps, too.

It's not just useful in Burlington, either. Live in, say, Waterbury? Google will give you driving or walking directions to the nearest park-and-ride and tell you when to expect a LINK bus there. And if you're traveling from Burlington to Middlebury, Google's directions transition from the CCTA to Addison County's ACTR buses, which are also on Google Transit. Easy-peasy!

Getting the CCTA on Google has been a long process dating back a few years, according to Ross Nizlek,  IT and scheduling specialist for the CCTA. To integrate with Google Maps, Google needs the schedule data in a very specific format, Nizlek explains. The process includes gathering GPS coordinates for every last stop and updating how the agency stores its route data.

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In Memoriam: Bernard "Bernie" Beaudoin, Burlington Philanthropist, "Unsung Hero"

3a7aac6342Bernard "Bernie" Beaudoin, a man of modest means who donated his own home on North Avenue in 2007 to become the current headquarters of HOPE Works (formerly the Women's Rape Crisis Center), died earlier this month after a brief illness. He was 89.

Beaudoin, a lifelong Burlingtonian and Korean War-era Air Force veteran, was hardly a stereotypical philanthropist. A former barber who ran the Palace Barber Shop on Bank Street in Burlington in the 1960s and ’70s, Beaudoin later dabbled in real estate in Burlington and Winooski but never grew rich from it. In fact, in a 2007 interview, Beaudoin told Seven Days that he couldn't even afford his own health insurance.

Nevertheless, in October 2007 Beaudoin approached what was then the Women's Rape Crisis Center with a virtually unheard-of real estate offer: He agreed to sell the nonprofit group his 3200-square-foot Victorian house (right) at 336 North Avenue for its assessed value rather than its true market value — a $40,000 discount — and further agreed to finance the deal with a zero-interest loan. In effect, the WRCC scored a double win from Beaudoin's generosity because it enabled the group to move into much larger quarters and pay less each month than it was doing previously. As Cathleen Wilson, WRCC's executive director, remarked at the time, "Bernie kind of fell from the heavens for us."

Beaudoin died on May 5 in a VA Hospital, according to an obituary in the Burlington Free Press. But even in death, Beaudoin didn't stop giving. According to Wilson as well as an unnamed family member, Beaudoin agreed to absolve HOPE Works of the remainder of its debt to him upon his death — a sum of about $250,000.

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May 30, 2012

At Reelection Launch, Attorney General Bill Sorrell Dusts Off the Boxing Gloves

Sorrell announceStanding at a podium in the Statehouse's ornate Cedar Creek Room wearing a dark suit and blue tie, Attorney General Bill Sorrell looked ever the stately incumbent Wednesday afternoon. As four dozen smartly dressed attorney types looked on approvingly, the state's top law enforcement officer launched his eighth campaign for reelection.

Only this time, something was different.

"Have you ever had this kind of a kickoff before?" Burlington Free Press reporter Terri Hallenbeck asked Sorrell, her voice trailing off. "Or have we just not come before?"

'We' being members of the media, of course.

"I did have at least one or two others that were sparsely attended by the media," the AG responded with a laugh. "So, welcome to all of you."

Such is the state of affairs for a veritable dinosaur of Vermont's political apparatus, who all of a sudden finds himself with an ambitious young upstart nipping at his heals: Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan, who is challenging Sorrell in a Democratic primary.

If Donovan's strategy is to paint himself as the energetic new kid on the block ready to be "Doing More for Vermont," as his campaign signs read, Sorrell's is evidently to project the image of the sagacious elder statesman, with a firm grasp on the job and the experience to get it done.

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May 29, 2012

Alice Eats: Spanked Puppy Pub

IMG_4157116 Main St., Colchester, 878-6440

If nothing else, I thought it would be funny: brunch at the dive bar. But amid the tanned faces emerging from the door labeled "outback," perhaps after a game of horseshoes, and already-tipsy bodies bent over the bar, the Spanked Puppy Pub surprised me with good-humored service, a creative menu and well-prepared grub.

Sure, our entertaining, motherly server admitted that the sausage patties we ordered were "whatever the supplier brought us," but this was an Experience with a capital 'E.' Sort of a redneck theme restaurant if you will, but with better food.

IMG_4155The cuisine may have exceeded the bounds of its theme, but prices did not. Eggs Benedict with tangy Hollandaise sauce, ideally soft-centered poached eggs and, get this, pepper-crusted filet mignon, rang up at $10.95.

There was plenty of beef, meltingly tender and enrobed in an alluring jacket of spice. A dining companion compared the dish to the quality of the creative specials at Sneakers Bistro in Winooski, with a notably lower price point.

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May 25, 2012

Grazing: Lobster Roll Epiphany

Lobster_roll_2The awning of the Route 7 Liquor & Deli in Shelburne advertises, in red block letters, "PIZZA * SUBS* PASTA." It does not read, however, "LOBSTER ROLLS." Should it?

This was the question before me after my food-writing colleague, Alice Levitt, mentioned that this unassuming roadside stop has a lobster roll that some people swear by. I decided to check it out.

I've rarely met a shellfish I didn't like; however, lobster falls to the bottom of my list. Every Christmas, I watch my entire family fall silent as they crack open and devour bright-red, sloppy lobster tails served over plates of pasta, one of the seven fish courses we eat every year. Ambivalent about lobster, I usually stick to smelts and shrimp.

However, the idea of a transcendent lobster roll in landlocked Vermont? I could be down with that. And so in I wandered, studiously ignoring shelves of wine to locate a back counter that resembles a cross between a deli and a greasy spoon — despite the nearby case of fresh fish and the whoosh of water through the lobster tanks. I tried not to look over, lest I locked beady little eyes with a crustacean as I placed my order.

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Will Montpelier's Savoy Theater Close?

Terrence-youk-1Is Montpelier's Savoy Theater "Too Culturally 'Big' to Fail"?

That's the headline on a special insert that Terrence Youk (pictured right), who has owned the Savoy since late 2009, is sending to his membership list today along with the usual newsletter and appeal.

Youk continues:

Since printing the membership appeal included in this envelope, our financial position has eroded to the point where we may need to close the theater starting June 15th. This is due to very poor revenues in April and May, drastically reduced membership levels, and increasing costs (film distributors now get about 50% of our ticket sales). The shortfall is about $12,000. If we close, we will remain closed until we raise enough funds to allow the Savoy to continue, either as a theater or some other form.

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Movies You Missed 40: The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer

Infernal-comedyThis week in movies you missed: John Malkovich plays a psycho (again!) in this filmed theater production from Vienna.

What You Missed

Jack Unterweger was a dashing Austrian who committed murder, went to prison for life, started writing books, became a celebrated public intellectual, was released from prison, and promptly started killing again. In 1994, facing prosecution for the murders of several prostitutes, he hanged himself in his prison cell.

Malkovich plays Unterweger in this recording of a 2009 Vienna performance of the title play, written and directed by Michael Sturminger. The surreal conceit is that Unterweger, after his death, penned his memoirs and is now publicizing them from beyond the grave.

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May 24, 2012

Bob Kiss: I'm Running for State Senate as an Independent

Bob KissFormer Burlington mayor Bob Kiss confirmed today what he's hinted about for months: He's running for state Senate this November. The former Progressive told Seven Days he'll run as an independent for one of Chittenden County's six Senate seats.

Kiss, who served in the Vermont House from 2001-2006, said he won't shy away from his controversial record as mayor in the campaign.

In fact, the former mayor said he'll welcome the chance to talk about his six years in office and answer critics of his handling of Burlington Telecom. The municipal telecom provider violated its state license agreement by borrowing $17 million in taxpayer funds without repaying it.

"Maybe more than I've had an opportunity in the past, I'll be happy to talk about issues in Burlington as much as I can," Kiss said in a phone interview Thursday. 

Over the next two weeks, Kiss plans to collect the 100 signatures he needs to get on the ballot and begin building a campaign team. The candidate filing deadline is June 15.

No candidate has won election to the Vermont Senate in recent memory without a D or R next to his or her name. Two senators now serve in the body as fusion candidates: Tim Ashe and Anthony Pollina were endorsed by both Democrats and Progressives. But Kiss is undeterred by that historical hurdle.

"Being an independent voice in the Senate makes a lot of sense — it makes the most sense," Kiss said. "Voters in Chittenden County tend to vote for the person not just the politics. For a lot of reasons that puts me in a good position."

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Meet the New Seven Days Marathon Relay Team — and Prepare to Lose!

Ken PicardRemember last year's Seven Days Vermont City Marathon relay team?


Maybe that's because while you were pathetically limping up Battery Street at mile 15, we were already finished — kicking back in the Waterfront Park beer tent. Maybe this post-race photo of Seven Days staff writer Ken Picard from last year will jog your memory.

The 2012 Seven Days squad is even more elite than last year's super-elite team of runners — and prepared to kick your relay team's behind at this Sunday's Key Bank Vermont City Marathon and Relay. On the roster, we've got a childhood ballet dancer, a hungry jogger, a multi-tasking mom of two, a beer-swilling alternate and a former JV soccer halfback.

We actually weren't going to run the Vermont City Marathon this year. But after we were recruited to join the U.S. Olympic Team in London this summer, we figured it would be a good warm up.

Now, let's meet the Seven Days runners.

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