Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

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30 posts categorized "Opinion" Feed

June 30, 2011

First Lady Media Fly-By Leaves VT Press Out in the Cold

Michelleobama Curious what First Lady Michelle Obama is going to tell hundreds of people attending two political fundraisers in Burlington today?

Good luck finding out.

The Vermont press corps found out in the past 48 hours that the fundraisers are off limits to local media — with one exception. Print reporters from the Burlington Free Press will be allowed to cover the two campaign fundraisers. They will file a so-called "pool" report, which means a story that is released by the White House to the rest of us chumps (and the national press corps, too).

In other words, one perspective from the events for all Vermont media and Vermonters to consume. How fair and balanced.

State House reporter Terri Hallenbeck will be covering the Sheraton event while Molly Walsh will cover the ECHO dinner.

No word from the Obama campaign — or Freeps officials — regarding how or why the Gannett-run daily was chosen as the go-to outlet.

What, were they worried about contending with the crush of Vermont's media? All ten of us? Sheesh.

Continue reading "First Lady Media Fly-By Leaves VT Press Out in the Cold" »

June 28, 2011

Women's World Cup is Happening... Without the Vuvuzelas and the Media Hype

Picture 4 Question: How many of you knew that the FIFA Women's World Cup began on Sunday?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say about three of you. And for two of you, it's because you saw the story about the Muslim female soccer players in the Sunday New York Times. If you're not one of those three, you can be excused for not knowing that this event was happening. I didn't know it was going on and I like to think I know a thing or two about women's sports. That said, I'm pretty embarrassed that the World Cup took me totally by surprise.

But why didn't we/I know the tournament — arguably one of the largest in the women's athletic calendar— was happening? During last year's men's World Cup, people were tripping over themselves to watch the games at bars around Burlington and talk about their mutual hatred of the South African vuvuzela. Seemingly everyone had an opinion on Cote d'Ivoirian player Didier Drogba's fearsomeness and Spaniard Carles Puyol's Weird Al-like hair. We collectively crossed our fingers that powerhouse Ghana would become the first African nation to win a World Cup (They didn't. They were routed by Uruguay in the quarterfinals.). And we all grimaced when the slick-rick U.S. team couldn't make it past their bracket. Again.  

Continue reading "Women's World Cup is Happening... Without the Vuvuzelas and the Media Hype" »

April 18, 2011

Gov. Shumdog by the Numbers

Governor.vermont Today, Gov. Shumlin's office released a roundup of all the things our esteemed leader has done since he took office in January. And you thought he was just working on his tan in Dominica for the last three and a half months. Nope! Dude's actually been doing stuff. And not just cutting ribbons, breaking ground, holding giant checks, signing proclamations, shaking hands, crafting, receiving honorary degrees, standing at podiums and fishing — all the things I want my governor to be good at.

According to the list below provided by press secretary Bianca Slota, Shumlin has also been hanging out in Québec, skiing, tweeting, taking photos of himself, checking his Facebook, making YouTube videos, shooting guns and, curiously, filling potholes. (Have our state finances gone so pear-shaped that our own governor is forced to scoop hot asphalt?)

So, don't think he hasn't been doing anything. Because he has. And he can prove it! 

Continue reading "Gov. Shumdog by the Numbers" »

April 05, 2011

Rep. Peter Welch, Maple Crusader

If, like gravel-voiced songtress Bonnie Tyler, you're holding out for a hero, well, wait no more, friends. Our hero has arrived and his name is Maple Man. By day, Maple Man is the mild-mannered, bespectacled and moderately balding United States Representative Peter Welch.

But when trouble calls, and the Vermont maple industry is in danger, Welch heads to the sugar shack, takes a few slugs of Grade B and emerges as Maple Man, hero to man and tree. With his sap-bucket helmet, his maple-bark suit of armor and his cat-o'-nine tails fashioned from some old taps and leftover tubing, Maple Man is able to vanquish any foe. Multinational corporations, government bureaucracies and Republicans are no match for Maple Man.

Over the past year, Maple Man has been slogging it out in the trenches, working to preserve and enhance Vermont's roughly $38 million maple industry. And he's made fast friends with the nearly 2000 maple producers in the state. Let's recap Maple Man's crusading:


Continue reading "Rep. Peter Welch, Maple Crusader" »

March 22, 2011

Operation Snow Removal: Montréal Edition

Snowremoval On a recent trip to Montréal, I was reminded of some of the many reasons our neighbors to the north are far supérieur to our sorry selves here in Canada Minor. For one, they know their way around a pastry like nobody's biz. I could eat my way through the city's many boulangeries and die happy, not to mention 800 pounds overweight. 

For two, they know how to get rid of snow. And not the way we get rid of snow here — by pushing it into some guy's driveway. They literally pick up the snow using special Québecois snow fairies and take it to some secret lair where little hobbits filter out the dog pee and cigarette butts and brew it into delicious alcoholic beverages.

But really, the Montréal snow-removal machine is a thing of beauty, and something to see if you ever get the chance. The city is world famous for this winter ritual. About five times a year, depending on the snowfall, each of the city's 19 boroughs conduct massive, days-long snow-removal operations involving 2200 vehicles and 3000 city personnel. The snow doesn't just get plowed there — it gets picked up and carted away so that it looks as if it never snows there at all.

To see photos of this spectacle, check out the "Montréal Snow Removal" Flickr results here.

Continue reading "Operation Snow Removal: Montréal Edition" »

March 08, 2011

Jim Douglas on Twitter? Could He Possibly Be This Bland?

Picture 1 At first glance, everything about the Twitter account @JimDouglasVT looks plausible.

The official-looking photo. The Vermont state flag wallpaper. The just-the-facts-ma'am bio ("I just retired after four terms as Governor and am teaching at Middlebury College.") His list of followers (@ShayTotten, @WCAXnewsdesk).

Most convincingly, the tweets are every bit as bland as you'd expect from the recently retired gov. Check out this sampling of recent tweets:

Fmr Gov Jim Douglas
JimDouglasVT Fmr Gov Jim Douglas
Choc chip pancakes and real vt maple syrup? Breakfast for dinner is the best!

Fmr Gov Jim Douglas
JimDouglasVT Fmr Gov Jim Douglas
I can't handle this freezing and thawing every day. Pick a side, Vermont!
Fmr Gov Jim Douglas
JimDouglasVT Fmr Gov Jim Douglas
This office is like a sauna. I bet #MiddleburyCollege could close their deficit by just turning down the heat

And my personal favorite....

Fmr Gov Jim Douglas
JimDouglasVT Fmr Gov Jim Douglas
Finally heard that song #YesWeCan on uTube. . . surprisingly catchy.

Call me gullible, but I was totally ready to believe this was the real Douglas. I just figured that this is what happens when politicians start tweeting for themselves rather than having their relatively more tech-savvy aides do it for them.

Continue reading "Jim Douglas on Twitter? Could He Possibly Be This Bland?" »

February 01, 2011

Why Don't You Chill and Lose 20 Years?

Seven Days music editor, Dan Bolles, has a message for people who chat during live music concerts. And I respectfully quote: "Shut. The. Fuck. Up." 

But no one has ever likely told Bolles to "chill and lose 20 years" at a show — as a fellow audience member suggested I do at Neko Case on Sunday night at Higher Ground.

My mistake was to politely ask a tousled-haired boy and his girlfriend if they would stop talking loudly so the rest of us could hear the music. They were so high, they were "dancing" to Case's haunting songs. It was more like writhing, though, as the two were engaged in a combination of chatting, grinding and sucking face.

Another couple moved directly in front of me and my boyfriend to get away from the action. I figured: I can either let this rude, fucked-up behavior distract me for the duration of the concert — or say something. Now that I'm 50, it was an easy choice. The older I get, the more I'm willing to say what no one else will. 

My first request fell on deaf ears. So I asked again, suggesting the two of them might prefer to get acquainted over by the bar. That's when he hit me with the rude, ageist "remark" that left me stewing for the rest of the set.

My boyfriend wasn't sure if he should be embarrassed for me or by me, or punch the guy. Although he claims he didn't hear exactly what the fellow said to me, he now refers to the night's events as "the altercation." 

It takes effort — and money — to go out and hear live music on a cold winter school night. I didn't pay 25 bucks to end up in a bar fight. Or to be disrespected by some jackass who mistook a Neko Case concert for a high-school prom.

Am I old and cranky? I am now.

Evil ... or Mentally Ill?

We received an essay from Burlington playwright James Lantz that we didn't have room for in the paper. But I thought the subject matter deserved publication, so decided to share it on Blurt.

Jim writes in response to the shootings in Tucson and Virginia Tech — and way too many other places — from a very personal perspective, and suggests that our typical assessment of these gunmen is short-sighted. But here, I'll let him tell it.  —Pamela Polston

After the tragedy in Tucson a few weeks ago, it was inevitable that we would hear the word “evil.” Sarah Palin called the accused gunman “an evil man.” Former teachers referred to his “evil stare.” The New York Post said he looked “every bit the face of evil.” Even President Obama used the word in his moving memorial speech: “Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world…”

Jared Loughner may be a lot of things, but he's not evil. To call him that is to grossly mistake him for something that's biblical in scope when the reality is far less profound: Jared Loughner is mentally ill.


Continue reading "Evil ... or Mentally Ill?" »

January 31, 2011

LGBTQ Publication Out in the Mountains Relaunches Online

Site logo After closing down more than four years ago, the GLBT-themed Out in the Mountains newspaper is relaunching as a website, including news articles, columns, reviews and its popular statewide calendar and resource directory.

Out in the Mountains, the only newspaper devoted to covering Vermont's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, was shuttered in November 2006 after 21 years on the newsstands. The free paper was published monthly and distributed statewide. It included columns, comics, local and national news as well as a statewide calendar and a resource directory.

When Mountain Pride Media decided to shut down the paper in 2006, its editors noted that mainstream media outlets were covering many LGBTQ issues — stories they wouldn't likely have written when OITM founded in 1985.

Mountain Pride Media President Brian Cote told Seven Days in 2006 that many readers, especially younger ones, were turning to the Internet for news and not a monthly newspaper. At the time, OITM's website had an online archive, but it was slow to adopt new interactive features.

By contrast, the new website offers links to follow the publication on Twitter and Facebook, and it's asking readers to post news and information in hopes of creating an intentional online information community.

Continue reading "LGBTQ Publication Out in the Mountains Relaunches Online" »

January 10, 2011

Grinding the Night Away

432471433EKZEdf_fs-1 By now, no doubt, you've heard about the grinding flap at South Burlington High School, first reported by the Burlington Free Press last Thursday. In anticipation of that chaperoning nightmare known as the Winter Ball, school officials banned grinding. As a result of the ban, the students revolted, refused to buy tickets to the dance and thus succeeded in getting it cancelled.

In a nutshell, those dirty teens in SoBu want to be able to rub their bits against one another to the autotuned strains of Taio Cruz. They don't want to give three feet for Jesus. No, they want to get straight up Biblical with each other. With their clothes on. And if they can't do it, then the school dance can suck it.

And who can blame them? Well, more specifically, who can blame the guys? All they have to do is stand there and sway while some girl crams her ass in his crotch. Instant fun! Now, some school administration populated by old, sexless people is going to tell them they can't get their nut off this way? Awww, hell no! Don't those old school people know that's just how we dance, the student body president said. 

Continue reading "Grinding the Night Away" »

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