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November 2011

November 22, 2011

A Vermonter and His Didgeridoo Are Invited to Senegal

DSC_7054 fbUkeleles may be all the rage, but don't tell that to Pitz Quattrone. The East Montpelier resident, who's been performing since his teen years and playing and teaching the didgeridoo since 1993, is on a mission to spread the, um, drone.

Recently, Quattrone was invited to participate in the Senegal-America Project of the nonprofit Arts Are Essential, Inc. The Massachusetts-based organization, which represents artist-educators throughout the Northeast, offers enrichment trips to the West African nation for cultural and educational exchanges.

Quattrone says he'll be able to teach Senegalese kids how to play the didgeridoo — an ancient Aboriginal wind instrument — and to build their own out of indigenous woods. In addition, Quattrone will get to hang in a local recording studio with percussionist Tony Vacca of World Rhythms, and members of renowned Senegalese musician Baaba Maal's band.

All this fun doesn't come cheap, though; Quattrone is hoping friends, fans and, hey, kind strangers will chip in to help him defray the $3900 travel expenses. And, he points out, donations are tax-deductible. (See the Arts Are Essential website for details.) The trip is scheduled for December and January.

Meanwhile, Quattrone is "in the middle of" recording an album as part of 3 Trees, which also features oud, ney, mouthharp, percussion and chant. The trio's sound has been described as "Middle East meets Native Australia." The new release is due in early 2012.

Want to learn the didge yourself? Start practicing your circular breathing. Quattrone now offers lessons over Skype.



Alice Eats: Norma's Restaurant at Topnotch Resort

IMG_32264000 Mountain Rd., Stowe, 253-6445

My favorite Alice Eats meals involve sharing great deals. Usually, they're meals for two for less than $35. Norma's Restaurant at Topnotch Resort might not exactly fall into that bargain-basement category, but last night I had a feast worthy of Thanksgiving, for which I am suitably grateful.

Now through December 18, Sunday through Thursday nights, Norma's is offering a deal called "Supper Club," in which diners can partake of any appetizer, entrée and dessert or cheese plate for $30. This is borderline ridiculous at a restaurant where the steak rings up at $32. I had to see if they were cutting corners.

IMG_3227As usual, the meal started with "Stowe spring water" -- tap water to you and me. Servers were careful to note that the crusty sourdough was "Harvest Market" bread (above right). It came with a pretty pallet of soft butter, rich olive oil and tangy, herbaceous hummus. I very nearly asked for more bread to finish the last, but decided to save room for three courses.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Norma's Restaurant at Topnotch Resort" »

Welch Signs Letter Asking Obama to End Controversial Immigration Enforcement Program

F-welch1Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) has added his voice to the chorus calling on President Obama to end the controversial immigration-enforcement initiative known as Secure Communities.

Last Thursday, Welch signed a letter penned by U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) calling on the president to "immediately stop" the enforcement program, which compares fingerprints of people arrested by local police to a federal immigration database to look for deportable aliens.

"Secure Communities sows mistrust of the police and other uniformed personnel, thereby making our communities less safe," reads the letter. "The broad scope of the program means that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are afraid to cooperate with police officers, because doing so may lead to deportation of themselves or their families."

Welch could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but spokesman Scott Coriell tells Seven Days that the congressman "continues to be frustrated that Congress has not enacted comprehensive immigration reform that creates a fair path to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented immigrants, including a guest-worker program that establishes clear guidelines for farmers and their employees"

Continue reading "Welch Signs Letter Asking Obama to End Controversial Immigration Enforcement Program" »

November 21, 2011

Chick fil-A Files to Block 'Eat More Kale' From Becoming Federal Trademark

EmkbigEleven years ago, a farmer friend asked Montpelier folk artist Bo Muller-Moore to make a T-shirt for him that read "Eat More Kale." So, Muller-Moore went home, traced his fingers to make cutouts of the letters and printed the T-shirt, which he sold for $10. The logo took off, and a business was born.

Six years later, the legal department of Atlanta-based fast food giant Chick fil-A sent Muller-Moore a cease-and-desist order requesting "that I shut down my website and send them my inventory," says Muller-Moore. "They said I was confusing their customers and affecting their profits." Specifically, Chick fil-A was concerned with how conflicted with their marketing slogan and website,

Through a lawyer, Muller-Moore informed the company that he intended to continue, and took their ensuing silence to mean they were backing down. He kept making T-shirts and bumper stickers, his website stayed up, and business grew. This August, he decided to seek a federal trademark for "Eat More Kale." And in September, he experienced some déjà vu: Chick fil-A sent Muller-Moore another cease and desist letter, and also demanded that he withdraw his application for a federal trademark.

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November 18, 2011

The Alchemist Pub and Brewery Will Not Reopen

Foodnews-alchemistFollowing months of mounting challenges, Jen and John Kimmich have decided not to reopen The Alchemist Pub and Brewery.

The 10-year Waterbury landmark was devastated this summer by Tropical Storm Irene, which flooded the basement and filled the dining room with waist-high water. According to an email from Jen Kimmich, "Our basement was the lifeblood of our business — our brewery, our beer, all of our food and our offices were in the basement. Moving forward, we have come to the realization that rebuilding our basement brewery is not a viable option."

Despite months of work with the brewery's insurance company, the couple recently learned that none of the contents of the basement were covered.

Instead, the Kimmiches are focused on rebuilding the 23 Main Street pub, without the brewery. "John and I are determined to rebuild as fast as possible to contribute to the vitality of downtown Waterbury. We are in talks with a few different restaurateurs to take over the space," says Jen Kimmich. "We will find the best fit for Waterbury, someone who can continue to run the pub in a warm, friendly and accessible manner, and provide employment opportunities to our staff."

The seven-barrel brewery that formerly filled the basement downtown will be moved to the recently opened Alchemist Cannery and Tasting Room at 35 Crossroad, also in Waterbury. "Once we have installed the brewery, John will be hard at work to supply the community with his creative and tasty small production beers," says Kimmich. Hopefully, she says, those brews will be served on tap at the pub that takes over for the Alchemist. Look for more information in next Wednesday's Seven Days.

Eva Sollberger visited the former pub four days after Irene and captured footage of volunteers ripping out the bar.

Grazing: Local Wines (and Ciders) For Thanksgiving

With so many flavors jangling together on Rosethe Thanksgiving table, choosing a wine to match them all can be a puzzle. While pinot noir is the oft-praised queen of Turkey Day, there isn't much local pinot to choose from. Fortunately, our frigid climate yields some excellent medium- to high-acid wines that play well with food. If, like me, you get a thrill drinking something local on Thanksgiving, choices abound.

First, though, ask yourself some questions. Will the meal be dominated by sweet dishes, or more savory fare? Will the gravy be light or dark? Do your guests typically drink wine at all? The answers can help you whittle down your choices — from an off-dry wine for sweeter fare and wine newbies, for instance, to a hard cider for more adventurous foodies. 

Rosé. A people-pleaser, rosé's candy-like color and aroma can comfort elderly aunts who usually only drink white zinfandel. But its fruitiness also appeals to novice wine drinkers, and even the wine-pairing geek can appreciate the tart edge a dry rosé provides against the fattiest meal of the year. Boyden Valley's Rosé la Ju Ju — made from Cayuga and Frontenac grapes — is full-bodied, a tad sweet and plays well with marshmallowed yams. 

Continue reading "Grazing: Local Wines (and Ciders) For Thanksgiving" »

Movies You Missed 13: Bellflower

BellflowerThis week in movies you missed: Slackers meets The Road Warrior with a detour through Crazytown.

Before we begin, a note of advice: Women, if you meet a cute guy with emo hair in a bar and ask him what he does and he says, "I'm building a flame thrower," you may want to rethink pursuing the relationship.

What You Missed

In this low-budget indie film from writer-director-star Evan Glodell, two lifelong best friends, Aiden (Tyler Dawson) and Woodrow (Glodell), immerse themselves in an unusual project. They're creating a flame-throwing muscle car so they can rule the postapocalyptic wastelands like their childhood hero, Lord Humungus of The Road Warrior. 

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November 16, 2011

Flynn Center Artistic Director Arnie Malina to Retire

Arnie MalinaIt's big news when the artistic visionary of the state's largest performing arts center decides to call it a career. According to a press release issued by the Flynn today, Arnie Malina will retire at the end of January 2012.

"He's been there 15 years, 50 percent of the time the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts has existed," said executive director John Killacky by phone shortly after the announcement. "He's planning  next season, and we've written our grants, so a lot is already in play for next year," he added.

Malina spent many years running the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts in Helena, Mont., before arriving at the Flynn in 1997. During his tenure — and that of prior ED Andrea Rogers — a successful capital campaign transformed the Flynn from a "theater" to a "center," renovated and restored the art-deco facility, added the smaller FlynnSpace, and generally raised the profile of the organization.

Malina's passion for popular, experimental and international arts translated to a huge variety of shows coming to Burlington, putting the relatively small city on a much broader cultural map.

Vermonters have benefited, too, from a number of residencies at the Flynn, enabling locals to interact with, study, listen to and watch artists in the act of creation. This kind of connection apparently gives Malina a particular thrill.

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A Big Bookstore for Burlington ... in the Works

Sota-booksWhen Borders announced the closing of its Burlington store, everyone wondered how long the city could remain without a downtown bookseller. Well, not that long. First, Church Street’s Crow Bookshop — known for used books — started selling more new titles. Now comes promising news from Renée Reiner and Michael DeSanto, who own Phoenix Books in the Essex Shoppes and Cinemas. (They're shown here in 2007, about to open that store.)

In Phoenix’s holiday catalog, to be published next week as an advertising insert in the Burlington Free Press, the couple announce that they “are engaged in an effort to open a bookstore in downtown Burlington. We plan to keep the Essex store open and establish a nearly 6000-square-foot store on or near Church Street within five months,” their statement continues.

Because they’re still negotiating a lease, Reiner and DeSanto can’t specify the store’s likely location. But DeSanto does say, by phone, that they are “looking for the community to be really involved in this bookstore.”

Continue reading "A Big Bookstore for Burlington ... in the Works" »

November 15, 2011

Brattleboro's Prison Legal News Featured on NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!"

-Peter-and-brian-in-jailLocal listeners of National Public Radio's Saturday-morning news and humor show, "Wait,Wait...Don't Tell Me!" may not have picked up on last Saturday's Vermont connection. Each week, host Peter Sagal invites a celebrity guest to play a game called "Not My Job," in which the celebrity is asked three questions about a topic that, presumably, he or she knows absolutely nothing about.

Last weekend's program featured Seth MacFarlane, creator of such adult cartoon hits as "Family Guy," "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show." MacFarlane played a game NPR's Carl Kassel dubbed, "Five hours in the slammer will change a man," in which MacFarlane was asked three questions about how the wealthy are treated differently in prison than the average shmo. As Sagal noted, those questions were based on an article published in Brattleboro's Prison Legal News, called "Prison Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," by Matt Clarke.

PLN, the nation's largest and longest-running prison publication, was founded in May 1990 by journalist and prison activist Paul Wright. Wright, himself a convicted murder who has since paid his debt to society, moved to Vermont after his release in 2003. He still muckrakes about the abysmal conditions in U.S. prisons, including the pervasiveness of abuse, medical neglect, prisoner-on-prisoner violence, guard brutality and retaliation. Wright was featured in a March 7, 2007, cover story in Seven Days, called "Doing Wright." 

Continue reading "Brattleboro's Prison Legal News Featured on NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!"" »

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