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January 2011

January 25, 2011

Video: A Porchetta Is Born

The trickle was slow, but it had an impact. I received a call, then an email, then advice from coworkers. They all had the same message: Try Costello's Market.

Last week, Bite Club TV videographer Elizabeth Rossano and I finally drove to Middlebury to taste the market's famous porchetta sandwich. Watch as chef and co-owner John Hamilton prepares the traditional Italian pork roast from scratch and serves it on homemade bread.

Just be warned: You will get hungry.

Then, tomorrow, grab the paper and read my full story about this hidden gem of a deli.

Lockheed Martin Pays $2 Million Settlement for Defrauding U.S. Government

6a00d83451b91969e20147e1f5803a970b-250wi Becoming bedfellows with any defense contractor is a dangerous game, but in light of yesterday's news out of the justice department, Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss may now wish he'd courted a more attractive partner.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had reached a $2 million settlement with Lockheed Martin, Inc. to resolve a June 2009 whistleblower lawsuit. The suit, filed in the southern district of Mississippi, alleged that the world's largest defense contractor knowingly violated the U.S. False Claims Act by conspiring to submit false claims under a contract with the General Services Administration for work on the Naval Oceanographic Major Shared Resource Center.


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Alice Eats: Waf's West Side Deli

165 East Allen Street, Winooski 655-0290

Baby, it's cold outside, and sometimes the best antidote is getting takeout and eating it on the couch while watching "Bridalplasty." At least that's what I did last night. By all appearances I was being slothful, but, really, I was doing some culinary exploration.

IMG_1936 You see, after living in Winooski for four years, I had still never tried Waf's West Side Deli. It wasn't for lack of trying. Waf's and I were like that friend you can never get on the phone because your schedules simply don't match up. I do much of my dining out on weekends or in the later evening. Waf's is closed Saturday and Sunday and locks up for the night at 8 p.m.

Last night, the quirky little deli and I finally converged. At 7:30 p.m., the place was packed with locals who were watching the TV news and discussing, as a group, everything from Jack Lalanne's physique to the necessity of public executions. They drank beer from the tap, Switchback and Budweiser alike.


Continue reading "Alice Eats: Waf's West Side Deli" »

January 24, 2011

James Kochalka First State Cartoonist Laureate

53 ***UPDATE! JANUARY 25***

THIS JUST IN: The Center for Cartoon Studies just sent out a corrected press release saying Vermont is not the first state to have a cartoonist laureate, and therefore James Kochalka is not the first of same. He is still, however, the first cartoonist laureate of Vermont.

CCS included apologies to Alaska, the actual first state to name a cartoonist laureate, and to Chad Carpenter, so named at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer in 2008.  Carpenter is the creator of the aptly named Tundra Comics. Oops.


Chalk up another "first" for Vermont. The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction announced today that Burlington cartoonist James Kochalka (whose "American Elf" appears in Seven Days) will be appointed the first-ever state cartoonist laureate.

Newly elected Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin stands firmly behind it. "Cartooning promotes literacy and literature," he says for the press release — "two things we can't have enough of."

And what are the qualifications for being Vermont's cartoonist laureate? First, living in Vermont, duh. And he or she must be someone whose work "manifests a high degree of excellence, who has produces a critically acclaimed body of work, and who has a long association with Vermont."

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WTF Update: Gubernatorial Spouses Don't Want Gov's Mansion

Mississippi-governors-mansion-jackson-ms003 Last week, I wrote a piece for our WTF column about why Vermont doesn't have a governor's mansion. If you read the story, you'll know that we're one of only five states in the nation that does not house our supreme leaders in laps of luxury. Instead, we ask them to rent rickety tenement squats in Barre. Kidding. 

The main reason for the lack of a gov manse, according to state curator David Schutz, is the fact that, as a state, we're cheap as hell (I'm paraphrasing). Or rather, we don't need fancy things. We're happy with a tumbledown barn, one flannel shirt and a half a pair of socks. A governor's mansion might seem ostentatious. And no Vermont gov wants to give off that vibe.

But, says Arthur Kunin, ex-husband of former governor Madeleine Kunin, there's one other important reason why we don't have gube digs. Mr. Kunin called to say that when he was the state's first First Man (not First Dude, FYI Todd Palin), he had a conversation with Barbara Snelling, wife of former governor Richard Snelling, about why there was no official residence. 

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Penny Cluse — The Movie

A Day at Penny Cluse Cafe from Bus Huxley on Vimeo.

Venerable Burlington breakfast spot Penny Cluse is one of those places that seems to breed creativity, or at least attract creative people. The staff seems to be comprised of painters, poets and musicians, the co-owner Holly Cluse curates the ever-rotating art on the walls and more than a few people have been inspired to shoot movies at the convivial cafe. So it makes sense that one of its own turned his camera lens on the restaurant itself.

Longtime employee Gardner Waldeier set up his camera to capture a "timelapse/stopmotion visual summary" of Penny Cluse. He turned the footage into a 12-minute opus of chopping, frying, flipping and butchering. If you've ever been curious about what happens in a kitchen (or how much damn food we eat), this is worth checking out. It's also a sweet tribute to the people Waldeier has worked with (he recently left the restaurant and made the video as his going-away gift to the Penny Cluse family) and a nifty interpretation of how one of the city's most bustling restaurants gets it all done. 

January 21, 2011

We the Corporations?

Constitution Vermont could become the first-in-the-nation legislative body to urge Congress to amend the constitution and ban the court-created notion of "corporate personhood."

On the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that many believe granted corporations increased constitutional protections to free speech similar to those of individuals, a Vermont Senate is introducing a resolution to recommend Congress amend the Constitution and make it clear that corporations are not, in fact, people, under federal law.

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January 20, 2011

Nude Brazilians at the Flynn!

Bale_Folklorico1 I'm a ticket holder for the Balé Folclorico da Bahia show this Friday at the Flynn MainStage. So I was one of the people who received an email notice this afternoon, as follows:

'We have just been informed by the company that two pieces in the program will contain male and female nudity as dancers portray certain gods. We wanted to let you know in case it affects your decision to attend. We will honor refund requests due to this development.'

Does anyone else besides me find this hilarious? I'll tell you how I'm 'affected': I'm making a note to self to bring along my opera glasses!

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Two Native American Tribes Move Closer to Recognition

Photo Two Vermont Native American tribes have moved one step closer to receiving state recognition — an effort that has been decades in the making.

The Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs officially presented the legislature with two recognition petitions they had approved — one from the Nulhegan tribe in the Northeast Kingdom and one from the Elnu tribe in southern Vermont.

The tribes applied last fall, months after the VCNAA was formed and new rules established by the legislature last year were put in place. The rules set up a process by which Native American tribes, or bands, can apply to the commission for recognition. Their application is vetted by the commission and outside, independent scholars.

Tribes must meet eight separate criteria laid out in the law, ranging from genealogical and historical evidence that documents their existence through customs, traditions, familial ties and tribal organization, among other things.

Of the three that applied, the Elnu and Nulhegan have been approved by the VCNAA. A third remains under review and a fourth is applying this week.

Members of the two tribes, along with the VCNAA and lawmakers who helped craft last year's law, held a Statehouse press conference to announced the petition requests.

"After many years in the making, I believe this is the apex. I think 2011 is going to be the year," said Luke Willard, chairman of the VCNAA and a former chief of the Nulhegan tribe.

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After $1.5 Million and Years of Citizen Advocacy, Edmunds Middle School Unveils New Elevator

It took years of citizen advocacy and about $1.5 million, but Edmunds Middle School is now accessible to people with mobility issues. 

Or at least mostly accessible. While a newly installed lift will make it possible for students in wheelchairs to attend the school, there's still work to be done, noted Burlington School District Superintendent Jeanne Collins in remarks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. The event was attended by dozens of Burlington parents, students, disability advocates, politicians and school administrators. 

"All I ask is we don't stop here," she said. "We have a whole campus — let's keep going."

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