Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

NOTE: Blurt has been retired and is no longer updated regularly. For new content, follow these links:

OFF MESSAGE: Vermont News and Politics
BITE CLUB: Food and Drink Blog

« November 2011 | Main | January 2012 »

December 2011

December 09, 2011

VIDEO: Arrest of Six Lowell Mountain Protesters and Barton Chronicle Publisher

The Arrests from Hunter on Vimeo.

Vermonters for a Clean Environment released new video last night of the Dec. 5 arrest of six protesters, as well as journalist Chris Braithwaite of the Barton Chronicle, who was covering the recent standoff on Lowell Mountain. The video shows the orderly and nonviolent arrest of six activists (including the videographer) who stood in the middle of the Lowell Mountain clearcut wearing shirts that read, "Ridges aren't renewable" and "Once it's destroyed, it can't be put back." As construction vehicles roll by, an Orleans County Sheriff's deputy, backed up by a Vermont State Police trooper, explains to the activists how they'll be detained and transported off the mountain.

Unfortunately, the activist's video camera couldn't capture the audio of Braithwaite's confrontation with Orleans County deputy Phil Brooks. But the 67-year-old founder, co-owner and publisher of the Chronicle spoke to Seven Days shortly after his release on Monday to explain what transpired.

"I did what I've always done up there, which is cover any protests and gone wherever the protesters go," Braithwaite says. "So, in this case, they were in the middle of the crane path, and so was I." 

Continue reading "VIDEO: Arrest of Six Lowell Mountain Protesters and Barton Chronicle Publisher" »

Have You Seen This Guitar?

Johua Hardy's TelecasterThanksgiving weekend saw a rash of burglaries in Burlington's Old North End. Among the victims was Ben Hardy, a Seven Days freelance music critic, who returned from a ten-day vacation last week to find his house had been broken into and burglarized.

The thieves got away with a veritable studio's worth of musical items, including five guitars, two amps, a sound system and a turntable, as well as some clothing. But they also made off with something invaluable and irreplaceable: A Fender Telecaster signed by the members of Pearl Jam, given to Hardy's late older brother, Joshua, when he was a teenager.

In 1991, when he was 16, Joshua Hardy was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The following year, he was granted a wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation to meet his favorite Seattle grunge bands. The MAWF flew the entire family from Durham, NH to Seattle. On the rooftop of Sup Pop Records' downtown Emerald City offices, the Hardys hung out with, well, a who's who of great grunge bands, including 7 Year Bitch, Love Battery, TAD, the Fastbacks, Monkey Wrench, Truly, the Young Fresh Fellows, Gas Huffer, Kill Sybil, Steel Wool and some dudes called Soundgarden. Later, the Posies took Josh record shopping. The following day, he chilled out with Nirvana. (He also spent time with Bill Gates. How grunge is that?)

Make a wishBut unquestionably, the highlight of the trip was receiving the signed Tele from Pearl Jam. Joshua Hardy died a few months later.

Following his death, Josh's parents hung onto the guitar. Last spring, they entrusted it to his younger brother so it could be played every day, which Ben says is exactly what Josh would have wanted.

"Now that guitar is gone," says Ben. "It's worth more to me and my family than anything else in the world."

Last week, Burlington police arrested a suspect in the Thanksgiving week burglary spree, David Verge, 32. Verge is accused of burglarizing as many as nine homes during that time. But he's not a suspect in Hardy's case, according to BPD detective James Trieb, the investigating officer in the Verge case.

Trieb notes that an uptick in burglaries around the holidays is typical, but that the Thanksgiving spree is still unusual. "There were many, many more burglaries in Burlington that week," he says.

Anyone with info regarding Hardy's guitar is encouraged to contact the BPD (658-2704) or to email this writer at [email protected]

WCAX also ran a story about Hardy last night.

Movies You Missed 17: Portlandia

PortlandiaThis week in movies (or TV) you missed: Finally, someone made a sketch comedy show about all the different subcultures in Burlington. OK, not really. But close enough.

What You Missed

Until now, I was under the mistaken impression that "Portlandia" was a web series. It actually airs on IFC in 20-minute blocks, but a lot of the sketches have found their way to YouTube.

As you may have deduced, the setting is Portland, Ore. Most of the parts in these loosely connected sketches are played by Fred Armisen of "Saturday Night Live" and Carrie Brownstein, late of Sleater-Kinney. In the first sketch of the first episode, Armisen plays an Angeleno who returns from a trip to Portland to tell his friend about the magical place he's discovered — a city where political earnestness, slacking and "the dream of the '90s" never died.

I didn't have to watch much of the ensuing musical number to realize that Burlington and Portland are spiritual twins. Lines like "It's where young people go to retire!" sounded like outtakes from my inner monologue. Even Portland's fictional mayor (played by Kyle MacLachlan) kind of has a Bob Kiss vibe to him.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed 17: Portlandia" »

December 08, 2011

Sanders Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Overturn "Citizens United" Ruling


Updated Below with Comment from U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted campaign spending by corporations and labor unions.

The amendment — dubbed the "Saving American Democracy Amendment" — would reverse the narrow 5-to-4 ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission. In that controversial January 21, 2010 decision, justices gave corporations and unions the same First Amendment free-speech rights as people when it comes to campaign finance spending.

It's the first time Sanders has proposed a constitutional amendment in his two decades in Congress.

“There comes a time when an issue is so important that the only way to address it is by a constitutional amendment,” said Sanders in a statement. He called the court's ruling "a complete undermining of democracy.”

Continue reading "Sanders Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Overturn "Citizens United" Ruling" »

December 07, 2011

Sen. Randy Brock Announces GOP Bid for Governor (VIDEO)

-1State Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) announced today he plans to run for governor next fall against first-term Democrat Peter Shumlin.

In his announcement, Brock sharply criticized the Shumlin administration — specifically on education funding and health care reform, as well as on its approach to energy policy.

"I believe that Peter Shumlin is a good man, but I believe he is blindly steering Vermont’s ship of state toward the shoals," said Brock. "Peter Shumlin’s policies — especially in the areas of health care and energy — are built on rosy assumptions and wishful thinking constructed over a foundation of quicksand. If my travels around this state have taught me anything, it is this: Vermonters don’t want to live in a laboratory for change. They don’t want to be the guinea pigs or lab rats in a grand social experiment. Vermonters simply want to have a fair shake, an honest shot at the opportunities that lie before them, and the ability to lead their lives the way they want to lead them."

Welcome to the 2012 gubernatorial race.

Continue reading "Sen. Randy Brock Announces GOP Bid for Governor (VIDEO)" »

Whooping Cough Cases Continue to Climb Statewide

469px-PertussisA follow-up on this post from last month about Vermont's rising incidence of pertussis — the Vermont Department of Health reported Wednesday afternoon that 26 new cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, have been confirmed in Vermont in the last six weeks alone, including 11 in schools throughout Chittenden County. These latest figures bring the statewide total for the year to 47, a number significantly higher than in recent years; Vermont averaged just 14 cases annually from 2008 to 2010.

However, this year's total is still lower than the annual total reported throughout during the decade between 1997 and 2007, when the average number of cases in the state each year was 164. The winter of 1996-97 was among the worst in recent memory, with 280 cases reported in 1996 and 283 in 1997. State health officials attribute the marked decline of pertussis since then to the approval of an adolescent/adult pertussis booster vaccine (Tdap), which became available in 2005.

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease of the lungs that's caused by a bacterial infection. Anyone who has symptoms of pertussis should be evaluated by a health care provider. People with suspected or confirmed cases of pertussis should be kept out of school, work, and group activities until five days of antibiotic therapy have been completed. Household members and other close contacts of someone who has pertussis should receive antibiotics to prevent illness. 

School and child care entry laws in Vermont require multiple doses of a pertussis-containing vaccine, depending upon on the age of the child. When pertussis is identified in a school, officials usually send letters to other parents to inform them of the illness, describe symptoms of whooping cough, and encourage them to have children with symptoms seen by a doctor.

For more details on pertussis, visit the Health Department website at

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

December 06, 2011

Alice Eats: Redstone Unlimited Dining

IMG_3305438 South Prospect Street, Burlington, 656-4664

This week, my feature in Seven Days focuses on Vermont Kosher, the new kitchen that provides food for observant Jewish students around the University of Vermont. Sunday through Thursday, students and community members alike can grab a Middle Eastern-style kosher meal at Redstone Unlimited Dining. I was so impressed with chef Rachel Jacob's food, I wanted to see what else was available at the newly renovated cafeteria, formerly Simpson Dining Hall.

For an old fart like me, the LEED-certified space seemed impressively techie at first. Nonstudent diners enter and pay $10.35 at the door. From there, they head to the FÖD (Food on Demand) ordering system, a line of touch-screen computers at which diners choose what they'd like to eat. They can then elect to be sent a text message when the food is ready, or just keep tabs of their order number on one of the dining hall's TV screens.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Redstone Unlimited Dining" »

Vermont is the Healthiest State in the Nation... Again

Health-rankingsThe United Health Foundation has just released the 2011 edition of America's Health Rankings, and once again, Vermont comes out on top as the healthiest state in the country.

If you feel like you've heard this before, it might be because Vermont has claimed a sort of health-ranking dominance in the past few years. Our state has come out on top in four out of the past five years, and hasn't finished lower than fourth since 2002. Vermont hasn't always been on top of the heap, languishing between positions 10 and 20 in the 1990s before shooting up to the top in the aughts.

Why is Vermont so healthy? The United Health Foundation credits Vermont's high rates of both early prenatal care and graduation from high school, coupled with few infectious diseases and violent crimes. Vermont's love of local, healthy food helps (#1 in the Diet, Fruit & Vegetables ranking), as do the seemingly bottomless opportunities for active outdoor recreation (#2 in the Physical Activity ranking). Oh, and there are no Chick-fil-A restaurants in Vermont. Just sayin'.

Continue reading "Vermont is the Healthiest State in the Nation... Again" »

December 05, 2011

Gov. Shumlin Kicks Off "Team Kale" to Support Local "Eat More Kale" Artist

Team_kaleInside a cozy Montpelier stationer this morning, Gov. Peter Shumlin kicked off the newly minted Team Kale, a campaign to help local artist Bo Muller-Moore fight fast-food behemoth Chick-fil-A's surreal efforts to curtail his "Eat More Kale" T-shirt business.

Wielding sound bytes to rival Chick-fil-A's "Eat Mor Chikin" slogan, Shumlin said, "Don't mess with Vermont. Don't mess with kale. Chick-fil-A, get out of the way, because we're going to win this one."

Muller-Moore, who began making Eat More Kale T-shirts and stickers 11 years ago, recently received a letter from Chick-fil-A demanding that he withdraw his application for a federal trademark and turn over his website. It was the second time in six years that the company has tried to shut down his company, claiming it interferes with their "Eat More Chikin" ad campaign and confuses consumers.

Continue reading "Gov. Shumlin Kicks Off "Team Kale" to Support Local "Eat More Kale" Artist" »

Brianna Maitland Missing-Persons Case Airs Tonight on Investigation Discovery Show

Image002Sometimes, television can help shake loose pieces of a puzzle that have remained hidden from investigators for years. At least, that's the hope this week of Vermont police, as well as family and friends of Brianna Maitland, the Montgomery girl who went missing at 17 on March 19, 2004 and hasn't been seen or heard from since.

On Monday night, the cable channel Investigation Discovery airs a new episode of its hit show "Disappeared," which recounts Maitland's mysterious vanishing more than seven years ago. As the promotional material describes it:

"Seventeen-year-old Brianna Maitland found life on her parents’ remote farm boring, so in the fall of 2004, she transferred high schools to be with her friends. But after a short while, Maitland dropped out and couch-surfed with help from friends and boyfriends. With no consistent place [to] sleep each night, it took four days for her family to realize she had gone missing. After numerous searches and an extensive investigation, the Maitlands are left to wonder what really happened to their daughter. Police think it all points to foul play, while others speculate that the teen was taken. But by whom?" 

Continue reading "Brianna Maitland Missing-Persons Case Airs Tonight on Investigation Discovery Show" »

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684