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Friday, September 29, 2006

The only lesbian at the airport

I'm leaving this afternoon for North Carolina, to go to my Southern Baptist cousin's wedding. We're pretty close — she spent a couple summers up here in Vermont recently, teaching riflery at Brown Ledge girls camp in Colchester.

I'm flying out of BTV and into Greensboro, with a stop at some larger, hub airport. Can't remember exactly which. So this short video from Vermont cartoonist Alison Bechdel caught my eye.

I, too, often feel like the only lesbian at the airport. Except when I'm in Burlington.

Incidentally, I'm really enjoying Alison's blog, and not just because I used to be her assistant and started her original blog two years ago. She's really funny when she goes on tour. This post about her stop in Miami is a good one. She blogs about her lunch with the cartoon editor for the New Yorker.

September 29, 2006 at 01:11 PM in VT Blogs | Permalink | Comments (3)

New 7D blog

Maeve_2 Alert readers will have noticed that we added another blog to our line-up this week. The anonymous Mistress Maeve has joined our blog team. She's taking over for Lola the Love Counselor, whose column used to appear in the personals section.  So long, Lola!

The Mistress bills herself as "your gracious guide to love and lust." Welcome, MM.

September 29, 2006 at 08:46 AM in VT Blogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Posting Truth to Power

BenenWell I finally got around to profiling Steve Benen, of The Carpetbagger Report (and The Daou Report, and Midterm Madness). 

Steve is a nationally recognized blogger who writes from Essex Junction. I got a chance to talk with him two weeks ago, just a couple days after he met with President Clinton. The Clintonformer prez hosted a bunch of liberal bloggers in his Harlem office. Here's the group picture, from John at Americablog. Steve is the guy standing next to Bubba, on the left.

In person, Steve comes across as smart, frighteningly articulate and exceedingly modest. I think he was a little surprised that I wanted to interview him. But why wouldn't I? His insane work habits alone make him worth writing about.

In researching my story, I managed to get a couple quotes about Steve that I wanted to pass along. One of them made it into the story, one didn't, but both, I think, are worth sharing.

Says Kevin Drum:

I've been a big admirer of Steve's for a long time.  It's not that there's one subject he covers especially well, it's that he covers practically the entire political scene and always seems able to get straight to the heart of what's going on — and he does it calmly and surgically.  His breadth of knowledge is really remarkable.

Says Joan McCarter, mcjoan of Daily Kos:

What impresses me most about Steve's work is the breadth of what he covers, and the acuity with which he does it. Whether it's the war in Iraq, goings-on on Capitol Hill, or popular culture, his stuff is great — solidly researched and always with an interesting angle. He also finds underreported and under-blogged (is that a word?) stories — there are always nuggets at his place that no one else has picked up.

Not surprising, really. The guy is relentless.

Oh, and another thing that I didn't have room to mention — Steve broke the Tinky Winky story! Remember the media uproar in 1999, when Jerry Falwell claimed that Tinky Winky the teletubby was gay? Steve was working at Americans United for Separation of Church and State at the time, and he wrote the press release that alerted the media to an article about Tinky Winky in Falwell's National Liberty Journal.

Not that he would have told me about it. Thank his wife Eve for nudging him to divulge that one.

UPDATE 9/29: And thank Matthew Thorsen for taking that excellent photo! Sorry, forgot to credit him.

September 27, 2006 at 10:42 AM in VT Blogs | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tuesday Deadline Linkdump: the Outside of Chittenden County edition

Today's links:

Lyndon selectman Robert Elmes pleads innocent to pot growing charges, despite this damning evidence:

Sgt. May said about 43 stems/branches, which included leaves and marijuana buds, had been found in a black trash bag in the trunk of Elmes' vehicle, the affidavit states. Amadon observed the marijuana was fresh and green.

An empty marijuana seed packet labeled "Nirvana" with an address of Amsterdam, Netherlands, was found in Elmes' desk drawer during the execution of the search warrant, Amadon's affidavit states. Inside the packet were two small ziplock bags, one with a marijuana leaf on it and the other with "Freebie, Spice of Life, Blockhead, QTY 5" written on it. Also in the packet, according to the affidavit, was two pieces of paper. One appeared to be a map of the marijuana plot.

Via the Caledonian Record.

Jehovah's Witnesses in Franklin County, via Dohiyi Mir. This one is actually my post o' the week.

Random act of kindness in Montpelier. Via Norsehorse.

Stupid Single Guy Food Questions from Fairlee, via Alphecca.

Norwich U. kids with guns? I'm not exactly sure what this post is about, but it can't be good. Via NU Daily.

September 26, 2006 at 12:20 PM in VT Blogs | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Not just for gun nuts

Alchibah_800Gay gun nut Jeff from Alphecca emailed me a few weeks ago asking me to help him recruit writers for his group blog science-fiction novel, Colony Alchibah. I haven't had a chance to read much of it, but I'm finally passing along his request.

From the site's FAQ:

In the middle of the 21st century, a ship of dissidents seeking freedom from the oppressive world government of Earth land on a planet circling the star Alchibah.  There, these colonists begin a new life, a new world, a place where the limited government is subordinate to the citizens.  First they had to create that government and the documents that would constrain it.  Actually, first they had to escape Earth!  As in any sci-fi story, there are plenty of other problems as well...

"Here's the thing, writes Jeff in his email, "I have only one "liberal" (in quotes) participant. The other 11 are libertarian or conservative and I'd really like more divirsity, especially for arguments over a "constitution" and bill of rights for the new colony.  Plus, I think readers would like it if not everyone just agreed over everything."

Anybody want to belong to a virtual space colony with 11 conservatives and libertarians, most of whom are probably heavily armed?

September 25, 2006 at 01:50 PM in VT Blogs | Permalink | Comments (11)

Friday, September 22, 2006

The ultimate in internet fame

DarthThe Stoneking/Simmon wedding got Boing Boinged yesterday thanks to this fun photo, by NTodd.

Also featured on the second most popular blog yesterday: Bible for mobile phonesBeheaded dolls from history and my personal fave, Author replicates novel in Second Life for book launch.

Emily and Bill, you're in good company.

September 22, 2006 at 01:27 PM in VT Blogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Peace Day in war time

Hey, today is the U.N.-declared International Day of Peace. I first heard about it a few months ago, when I wrote this story about a book drive organized by students at Vergennes High School. They were inspired by Peace Day to spend their school year collecting books that they donated to various libraries in Vermont and abroad.

I was reminded of it again by a very persistent guy from Call of the Trees in Bristol. They're launching this campaign based on a book by Dorothy Maclean, who wants people to plant 10 billion trees by 2016.

No, none of this will stop the violence in the Middle East, or the genocide in Darfur. But it's something positive, anyway.

September 21, 2006 at 11:06 AM in House Rules | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Last Friday night, I hung out with a couple of UVM students at the corner of Main  and South Prospect Streets, to report this story on UVM's Have a Heart campaign to reduce late-night "walk-by noise." Here's how it works — student volunteers stand on street corners and intercept their fellow students walking toward house parties or bars downtown. The Have a Heart ambassadors hand out chocolate hearts and ask the other kids to "have a heart" and keep it down, out of respect for the families who live nearby.

Dscf6775I really enjoyed talking with Erin Renz and Scott McCarty, pictured here approaching a group of late-night revelers. They were so dedicated and articulate and sincere. Way more so than I was when I was in college (for the record, 10 years ago, I would have been on the receiving end of this campaign).

I wanted to kudo Scott and Erin here because I think they and the other Have a Heart volunteers deserve a lot of credit, and I didn't get to say that in my story. I did, however, get to write about my encounters with some of the kids they were trying to shush.

There was one girl in particular who was wasted and totally clueless. She even interrupted Scott while he was talking with her to shout across the street to one of her friends. Later, after Scott and Eriin had called it a night, I saw the same girl on South Willard Street. I had gone down there to see if I could find some more Have a Heart people, but spotted this girl just as she ducked behind some trees to pee.

For years now, I've been hearing stories from Hill Section residents about how the college kids pee on their lawns. I've always been skeptical. I mean, who pees on somebody's lawn? So I couldn't believe it when I overheard this girl say she was going to go to the bathroom behind three trees five feet from the sidewalk. It was only a little after 11!

I told her it was illegal to pee there, and advised her to go find someplace else to go — I know, I know, I'm such a big buzzkill, but I couldn't help it. Maybe it was because I was sober, or because I'm a crusty old prude, whatever. It just bugged me. After she realized I was serious, she stumbled back to the sidewalk and walked off with her male companion, probably to find a less conspicuous hedgerow.

So I wanted to emphasize here that, although I concluded my story in the paper with this amusing little anecdote, I do recognize that not all UVM students (or college students, for that matter), are drunken loudmouths. Scott and Erin, thanks for spending your Friday night asking students to pipe down. I think people really do appreciate your efforts.

September 20, 2006 at 02:46 PM in House Rules | Permalink | Comments (8)

Weekly Post

This week it's a September 11 post from freelance writer Caleb Daniloff's excellent, pithy blog, what i saw today:

a post-industrial message    


Down by the waterfront, across from the dog park, an old Dumpster sets against a stone wall. The wall is speckled with graffiti like “Matt reads playgirl. what a fagit.” Other sentences snake along the stones with their bloated letters and lack of surprise. Walking the path today, I saw a man lean his bike against the Dumpster. He pulled back one section of lid and peered into the small dark cavern. He pulled back the other section and seemed to recoil. He jumped on his bike, empty-handed. When I approached the steel green container, I saw what had spooked him. Spray-painted on the underside of one of the steel flaps: “Jesus wasted his time on us.” Revealed like a fortune cookie.

You can also read it on the Letters page of this week's Seven Days.

September 20, 2006 at 01:25 PM in The Weekly Post | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reuters taking citizen journalism seriously

Reuters is giving NewAssignment.Net a $100,000 grant to hire an editor. NewAssignment.Net is the brainchild of NYU journalism prof Jay Rosen, who wants to experiment with making news through a pro-am collaborative process (it'll involve regular folks and professionals).

Says Rosen:

The idea is to draw “smart crowds”—groups of people configured to share intelligence—into collaboration at NewAssignment.Net and get stories done that way that aren’t getting done now. By pooling their intelligence and dividing up the work, a network of volunteer users can find things out that the larger public needs to know. I think that’s most likely to happen in collaboration with editors and reporters who are paid to meet deadines, and to set a consistent standard. Which is the “pro-am” part.

NewAssignment.Net is a not a plan for a company; in fact, it’s closer to a charity, an editorial engine anchored in civil society itself, rather than the media industry or journalism profession. As today’s announcement shows, New Assignment can be on friendly terms with Big Media, which it is is not trying to destroy or supplant.

Wish I had something clever to say about this, but all I can come up with is, "interesting."

September 20, 2006 at 11:27 AM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink | Comments (1)