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July 2011

July 25, 2011

"Fill ’er Up," Says Entergy As It Approves VT Yankee Refueling

Vyfuel Entergy's board of directors has essentially made a $50 million* bet that Vermont Yankee will remain open beyond March 2012, voting to refuel the plant in October.

The board made the announcement to Vermont Yankee employees and the media in a brief statement earlier today.

The $35 million $50 million* (see correction below) cost of a refueling covers the cost of replacing 120 fuel assemblies as well as other, scheduled capital upgrades and equipment replacements, said Larry Smith, a VY spokesman.

The October refueling will allow the nuke plant to keep running until at least March 2013. Refuelings occur every 18 months.

VY received a 20-year license extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission earlier this year, but the state of Vermont has refused to grant a certificate of public good to continue operating beyond March 21, 2012.

Continue reading ""Fill ’er Up," Says Entergy As It Approves VT Yankee Refueling" »

July 22, 2011

Parima to Close in September … Sigh.

Well folks, another one bites the dust. And this one stings.

I've just gotten off the phone with Parima talent buyer, Joe Adler, who informed me that the venerable Thai restaurant/increasingly killer music venue will close its doors for good in September. The building was recently sold to another local business, which, for now, will remain anonymous until it has had a chance to inform its employees and make a formal announcement. Adler did note, however, that the plans for the new venture do not include entertainment. What a waste.

Parima 185 Pearl St Burlington
Adler said a blowout farewell party is planned for Saturday, September 17 featuring Jen Hartswick, Nick Cassarino and host of other local favorites. "It will be the craziest party you can imagine," he promised.

I don't know, Joe, I can imagine some pretty crazy parties. Although, I've been to several wild shindigs at Parima in recent months. Over the last year-plus, the juke joint has gone from being a fairly awkward place to see a show to one of the more consistently entertaining venues in town. From initiating the weekly Burgundy Thursday series and the monthly Full Moon Masquerade party to pulling in big ticket acts such as the Barr Brothers and Marco Benevento to lining up great local artists week in and week out, Adler and company have created a welcome addition to our cozy little music scene. Parima's impending closure will mean a big, honkin' void for local music fans this fall.

"It's been a great ride," he said. Indeed, Joe.

Parima will close its doors in September, but there is still a full calendar on tap in the meantime, including two shows this evening: an early gig with Rusty Belle, Flightless Buttress and Tommy Alexander, and then a late night throwdown with Bonjour-Hi!, Lazerdisk Party Sex, Craig Mitchell, DJ A-Dog, Mushpost, Bass Culture and DJ Disco Phantom.

Grazing: Radishes, Fire, Butter and Flowers

Roasted_radishesThe first time I grew radishes, I was flooded with so many that I ran out of ways to prepare them. I sliced and grated, buttered and salted, and ate them whole. Radishes don't lend themselves to culinary flexibility, I thought, but they sure like to grow. 

Not once did I think of bringing them into contact with heat. 

Too bad Coppa wasn't around back then. This enoteca in Boston's South End — with its nose-to-tail, Italian snacks, pizzas and charcuterie — has garnered intense devotion since it opened 18 months ago. I finally visited Coppa two weeks ago, where my friend Dana and I ploughed through a flotilla of small plates, including house-cured anchovies, fresh spaghetti smothered in cream, smoked bacon and sea urchin, and delicate pink slices of duck prosciutto. At one point, Dana actually clapped her hands with glee.

The simple yet innovative approach was best embodied, I thought, in 'Ravanelli Crostini' — a jumble of roasted radishes (and even crispier radish greens) on toast with nasturtium butter melted across the top. The fuschia heads were like umami garden candy, and became etched into my memory.

Since I live three hours from Coppa, I've been carting home bunches of radishes to recreate the dish at home, summer heat be damned. Why? As the months pass, radishes will grow spicier and woody, as Coppa's sous chef J.C. DeBrie can attest. 

Continue reading "Grazing: Radishes, Fire, Butter and Flowers" »

July 21, 2011

An Estranged Son of Westboro's Fred Phelps Wants to Help Drive 'The Bus' to Topeka

250sota-JimLantz What do cult filmmaker Kevin Smith and Burlington playwright James Lantz (pictured) have in common? They're both taking on the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., with their latest projects — and drawing support from estranged members of preacher Fred Phelps' family.

Smith screened his movie Red State — which features a fictional antigay preacher extremely similar to Phelps — in Kansas City. Lantz wants to bring his play The Bus — a drama about teens, religion and small-town homophobia — to the "front steps" of the WBC itself.

Smith has fame capital to invest in his mission. Lantz doesn't — he's raising money on Kickstarter. But he does have the public support of Nate Phelps, who's been estranged from his father and the WBC since he left home at age 18.

Continue reading "An Estranged Son of Westboro's Fred Phelps Wants to Help Drive 'The Bus' to Topeka" »

July 20, 2011

New England's Buttoned-Up Answer to Bacchanalian Southern Decadence

Picture 4 By now, you've no doubt heard about the lesbian couple from New York suing a Lyndonville inn for allegedly saying "thanks, but no thanks" to their inquiry about holding their big gay wedding reception there.

According to the ACLU, which has taken up Ming Linsley and Kate Baker's discrimination case, the Wildflower Inn turned the couple away because the innkeepers believe gays will rot in the fifth circle of hell along with Hitler, Pol Pot and the entire cast of TLC's "Toddlers and Tiaras." The innkeepers, Jim and Mary O'Reilly, say they are devout Catholics and won't allow those kinds of gay nuptial shenangigans on their property because it goes against their religion. Unfortunately for them, that's a big no-no, argues the ACLU, who says it's a violation of Vermont's fair housing and public accomodations act. 

Yesterday, the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing sent out a damage control press release reassuring LGBT travelers that despite this nasty little incident, they're still welcome in our humble, little state, feather boas, leather harnesses and all. The press release listed the state's homo bonafides — first state to issue civil unions, first state to pass marriage equality without a court order, first state to sanction naked bear maple syrup wrestling, etc. It went on to say how much the state loves the pink dollars that flow into it from LGBT travelers and how they're increasing their efforts to get even more of the queer community's cash.

One of the ways Vermonters are trying to attract more gay visitors is with a new event to be held this September called Northern Decadence, a "diversity and culinary festival" in Burlington, co-sponsored by the Vermont Gay Tourism Associaton. My jaw bounced off the floor when I saw this. For one, putting the words "diversity" and "Vermont" close together in a sentence is like saying "Jersey Shore" and "classy" in the same breath. And two, if this is supposed to be New England's answer to the famed Southern Decadence, the annual Bacchanalian gay orgy in New Orleans and the evangelicals' official cause of Hurricane Katrina, sign me up. 

Continue reading "New England's Buttoned-Up Answer to Bacchanalian Southern Decadence" »

Taxidermy and Artisan Doughnuts

Redsky

Glover is a town full of contradictions. Downtown Glover has one church, a handful of stores, a few roadside houses, and the familiarities of small-town life in the Northeast Kingdom: geraniums in window boxes, faded American flags, peeling paint, tractor parts and sagging porches.

Just up the road, though, lies the Bread and Puppet theater, the stomping grounds of political performance artists since the '60s. The troupe's giant barn is decorated with puppets, dyed banners and silk-screened posters. Naked babies prance about in the garden, their mother’s flower-print dresses collecting thistles and wind.

Continue reading "Taxidermy and Artisan Doughnuts" »

DUI-Gate: Did the State Fail to Approve the Breath-Testers Before Putting Them Into Use?

DataMaster DMT Here's the latest on the saga of Vermont's malfunctioning DUI breath-testers:

After months of saying next to nothing about the embarrassing episode, state prosecutors have finally filed their official response to claims that the breath-testing instruments Vermont uses to convict drunk drivers cannot be relied upon.

The response comes in a court filing in a Washington County drunk driving case. The case exposed flaws in state health lab's handling of the instruments and led to dozens of DUI cases getting dismissed or bargained down to lesser charges.

In a 15-page motion, state prosecutors argue that the DataMaster DMT (pictured), the infrared breath-tester used in Vermont since 2008, is dependable technology that has been approved for evidentiary use by everyone who has scrutinized it — the courts, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, even the state chemists whose complaints about the instruments exposed the problems in the first place. While acknowledging recent missteps, the state argues that the machines themselves are dependable and received all necessary approvals from state officials before being put into use.

But the lawyer challenging the state's handling of the breath-testers says that's not true — and that the failure to get sign-offs throws DUI convictions into question.

Continue reading "DUI-Gate: Did the State Fail to Approve the Breath-Testers Before Putting Them Into Use?" »

UVM President Dan Fogel Resigns

Pres * Updated below with action from the UVM Board of Trustees meeting *

University of Vermont President Dan Fogel made his abrupt resignation official this morning in a campus-wide email that said the decision came after "much soul-searching."

"I am doing so for the good of this wonderful university and for deeply personal reasons," wrote Fogel, who will step down on July 31, a year ahead of schedule. "Suffice it to say that I care greatly about my wife and our marriage, and it has become increasingly clear to me that, in the face of difficult challenges, I cannot serve the university to the best of my ability while obeying the imperative need I feel today to devote significant time and my very best energies to taking care of her and myself and, collaterally, to preparing to resume my work as a teacher and scholar, right here at UVM, in what my father always told me never to forget is the University’s highest rank, the rank of professor. That for me will be a great joy, which I consecrate to his memory."

Read the full emailed letter here.

As noted in this week's "Fair Game," Fogel's decision to step down comes less than two weeks before the scheduled release of an internal investigation related to his wife Rachel-Kahn Fogel, which is expected to be critical of both Fogel and UVM.

Continue reading "UVM President Dan Fogel Resigns" »

July 19, 2011

UVM President Dan Fogel to Resign July 31

DFogel University of Vermont President Dan Fogel is leaving UVM at month’s end — a full year before his planned departure — seemingly prompted by the scheduled release of an internal investigation into the relationship between his wife, Rachel Kahn-Fogel, and another university official.

Fogel will make the announcement official in a campus-wide email tomorrow morning. Shortly afterward, the UVM Board of Trustees will hold an emergency meeting. The agenda for the meeting largely consists of an executive session to deal with "contracts," which likely means the terms of Fogel's separation agreement.

On Tuesday, Fogel and UVM broke the news to various Vermont politicos, UVM trustees, UVM boosters and other supporters.

After the noontime board meeting, UVM Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Cioffi will take questions about Fogel’s departure and about who will be appointed to lead UVM in the coming months. UVM launched an official search for a new president, but will name an interim president in the coming week.

Continue reading "UVM President Dan Fogel to Resign July 31" »

Alice Eats: Soup N Greens

325 N. Main St., Barre, 479-9862IMG_2554

I've always been curious about certain out-of-town restaurants that I still haven't patronized. Until last week, Soup N Greens was one of those restaurants.

I felt like I was penetrating a secret society as I finally made my way inside the old-school Barre favorite. And, expecting little more than a lunch counter, I was immediately surprised by the size of the place: Tables spilled back the length of three rooms.

I sat at a booth near the front window right around 8 p.m. on Friday. In another misconception, I thought the family restaurant would be slowing down by then, but the joint was still jumping.

Making a choice was difficult. I asked our waitress what on the menu was homemade or a specialty. "Like, everything," she said, sounding annoyed. She recommended the chicken Cordon Bleu and I took her advice.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Soup N Greens" »

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