Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

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111 posts categorized "Weird Stuff" Feed

October 06, 2011

Inmate Sues Prison Officials Over Erection That Lasted Five Days

Jimmy_Stewart From the files at federal court in Burlington comes this story of hard time.

A Vermont prison inmate is suing corrections officials after an adverse reaction to a  prescription medication caused an erection that lasted for five days and left him with permanent erectile dysfunction.

James Stewart, age 34 (not pictured at right), alleges that prison health officials at Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport are responsible for irreparable harm by delaying medical treatment —  a "deliberate indifference" that, he says, violated his Eighth Amendment rights.

According to Stewart's lawsuit, the erection was a side effect to taking Trazodone, an antidepressant sometimes used to treat schizophrenia, which he was prescribed by prison officials. After "four to five hours" with no relief, he complained about it on October 5, 2010, to a correctional officer who in turn summoned a prison nurse. The nurse called a doctor, the lawsuit states, and after speaking with him advised Stewart that he should "lay down and relax and the ... doctor said it will subside once plaintiff just relax [sic]."

But relaxing didn't do the trick. By the next morning, Stewart was in serious pain and having problems urinating.

Continue reading "Inmate Sues Prison Officials Over Erection That Lasted Five Days" »

September 15, 2011

Tales From a Reluctant Phishhead

20110914203639 You know what, dudes? It's pretty wild that my 914th Phish show just happened to fall on September 14. Crazy, right? And practically in in my back yard, no less!

OK, I'm lying. The band's flood-relief benefit extravaganza at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex last night was, in fact, my first time. I know, I know. Having grown up in Vermont during the supposed peak of the band's powers, it's kind of amazing that I never chanced in to a show at some point along the way. What can I say? I've never been much of a fan. And as an aside, most other VT stereotypes have never really fit me, either. I don't ski or snowboard, I don't smoke weed, I've never owned a Subaru and I prefer Gifford's to Ben & Jerry's. But I digress.

As the music editor for Seven Days, I've gone on record on numerous occasions as someone who doesn't care for the the band's music. I've taken generally good humored shots at them in my column. I once begged them to turn the entire city of Burlington into a gigantic festival because we needed the cash influx. In fact, declaring my distaste for seaphood was the first line ("I don't like Phish") of one of my first 7D CD reviews, Page McConnell's 2007 self-titled solo album. And that was before I was even a full-time staffer here at Vermont's Independent Voice. So, yes, Phish and I have a bit of a checkered past. And so it was with some trepidation that I went to last night's festivities.

Well, guess what? It was a lot of fun.

Continue reading "Tales From a Reluctant Phishhead" »

August 03, 2011

WTF Was With All That (802) Crap On Facebook?

One of Stephen King's greatest skills as a horror writer is how he uses the misinformation spun in small town rumor mills as a character itself to expose the vulnerability of his subjects' fragile collective subconscious. Then he turns that vulnerability against them, and against us as readers. The scariest things in his books aren't vampires, plagues, ax-wielding writers or killer clowns. The scariest things are regular people and their capacity for evil when presented with mistruths. (OK, Pennywise from "It" was flippin' terrifying. But I digress.)  

Tuesday, Burlingtonites experienced a similar phenomenon, albeit far less sinister, with the first (we think) Fake Burlington Rumor Day on Facebook. Local Facebook users were prompted to update their FB statuses with fake local rumors and tag them with 802 in parentheses. (VT's area code, obviously, but also the day's date, August 2.)

Status updates ranged from inside jokes between friends to "secondhand" info about local businesses closing (or burning down, or being busted for dealing meth) to pregnancies to … well, you name it. On Tuesday, Facebook in the Queen City was turned upside down and inside out. It was as though some great hand reached down and lifted the veneer from the real, and ever-active Burlington rumor mill, exposing its twisted inner workings for all to see. It was a fascinating social experiment. It was frightening theater. For many, especially BTV expats, it was just really confusing. And more often than not, it was downright hilarious.

Continue reading "WTF Was With All That (802) Crap On Facebook?" »

July 14, 2011

Burlington Named One of the "Worst-Dressed Cities in America"

Gq-fashion Burlington is many things, but an international center of high fashion it isn't. Sure, there's Karl Lagerfeld's island vacation home, and our state inspired a New York Fashion Week line earlier this year. But that's about it. But just because we're not uber-fashionable, that doesn't mean we actually dress badly, does it?

Let's ask GQ Magazine. According to GQ, Burlington is the 28th-worst dressed city in America. That makes our fair city more poorly dressed than other urban-hippie enclaves such as Boulder, Colorado and Portland, Oregon. But we're better off than San Francisco, Austin and Las Vegas.

The ranking itself isn't exactly inaccurate, as sightings of fashion disasters are near daily occurrences in the Queen City. Hippie ponchos are in, for example, year round. Half of the college population can't be bothered with more than sweatpants and cheap rubber flip-flops when leaving the house. I'm pretty sure baby birds live in some of the beards I see everyday. Even Burlington's hipsters always seem to be two years late to the party.

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July 05, 2011

Poem Mysteriously Disappears, Then Reappears, at Waitsfield War Memorial

War Poem Here's a weird little tale for Independence Day week, courtesy of a Seven Days reader, about a poem left at an Afghanistan war memorial in Waitsfield that went missing numerous times only to reappear days or weeks later.

Martin McGowan says he wrote a poem and left it by the memorial in September 2010, near the sign that lists the number of American military killed in Afghanistan (1544 as of yesterday). Behind that sign, along Route 100, is a field full of little white flags — one for each military member killed in combat. There's an identical memorial to the Iraq war adjacent to it.

The poem, "george's little solar army," is a riff on the Vietnam-era protest song "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. It was inspired, McGowan says, by an ongoing local dust-up over the solar trackers installed at American Flatbread in Waitsfield by owner George Schenk. But like all good protest/beatnik/stick-it-to-the-man poetry, that's just a launching off point. McGowan's poem covers a lot of ground — Lehman Brothers, Enron, Kissinger, the Gulf of Tonkin incident. (Full poem text below).

Shortly after he left it there, McGowan, 50, says the poem disappeared. Then just as mysteriously, the poem reappeared by the sign post. In fact, that disappearing/reappearing routine has repeated itself four or five times in the year since McGowan left the poem there, he says. This spring it went missing for a week before someone placed it back under a rock at the sign post.

"It's got this secret life of its own," McGowan says of the poem.

Continue reading "Poem Mysteriously Disappears, Then Reappears, at Waitsfield War Memorial" »

June 09, 2011

Dear Guerilla Gardener Seed Packet Person: A Little Help, Please

IMG_5915 The other morning, I was walking my dog when I spotted a weathered poster hanging on a telephone pole. This in itself is unremarkable — I live on the edge of the college ghetto and all of the telephone poles are littered with sun-bleached ads for this jam band or that lost cat. But this poster was different. Attached to the bottom of the paper, which bore only the words "Bee Creative," was a plastic baggie filled with small white envelopes.

I would have taken a picture of the sign/baggie combo, but as this was morning and I was walking my dog, I was in my pajamas, which do not have pockets for things like cameras. Yes, I left the house in my pajamas. But it's ok to do that now, thanks to the pajamafication of America. So stop judging. I was also smoking menthol cigarettes and eating a flaming Whopper with cheese. What of it?

Anyway, I paused at the sign and peered in the bag while my dog rolled in squirrel pee or bird poop or whatever dogs find so appealing in grass that they must coat themselves in it. I pulled out one of the little packets, though, having no pocket in which to put the small sachet, I held it in my hand for the duration of the walk, wondering about the mysteries held inside.

Continue reading "Dear Guerilla Gardener Seed Packet Person: A Little Help, Please" »

May 27, 2011

Hanging Out With the Fort Ethan Allen Laundry Line

IMG_3042 This garganutuan clothesline hung across Fort Ethan Allen Park, which appeared earlier this week, is actually a work of art, courtesy of Essex Junction artist Ann Laberge. She describes her guerilla art as "a gift." But the 74-year-old man walking the path beneath it Thursday morning sure didn't see it that way. 

"Do you know anything about this nonsense?" he spat in my direction. I was stepping over clumps of freshly mown grass, trying to photograph the faraway t-shirts and socks. I explained to him that it was the work of a local artist who wanted to promote the use of clotheslines and, you know, just to generally surprise and delight people. 

Photo(3)I was one of the surprised and delighted. When I first saw a huge navy blue sheet flapping in the wind from Route 15, I thought someone's laundry had flown up into the trees, or that a circus with colorful tent flags had come to town. But as I got closer, I could see the clothesline stretched out across the width of the park, attached on either side to the tippy-tops of the pine trees.

Laberge didn't want to talk about her Fort Ethan Allen piece — she prefers an element of mystery surrounding her public art — but on her website, she describes another clothesline project. "I love the look of laundry hanging on the clothesline, the fragrance, the knowledge of others living close by going about their daily lives." 

Continue reading "Hanging Out With the Fort Ethan Allen Laundry Line" »

May 26, 2011

Need Help? Ask Some Drag Queens

Appiniphone4 As further proof that everyone and their mother is hopping on the digital caboose, our good friends over at the Hot Damn Trailer Park in Beaver Pond now have their own app.

Vermont's favorite drag queens, the Sisters Lemay, recently released "Ask Some Drag Queens," a mobile app for iProducts and Droids made by the dubiously named KrappApp. According to the app, which we purchased for a whopping $1.49, the program was created by a "young adult cancer survivor," and 10 percent of the profits will go to the I'm Too Young for This! Cancer Foundation. The app can be purchased from iTunes or the Android Market. 

The app works a little bit like a magic 8-ball. Only instead of shaking the device and getting some crap answer to your most burning life questions (You: "Will I get laid off?" Magic 8-ball: "Outlook good."), you need only touch one of the ladies' photos to hear one of 100 snappy replies to your queries. 

The app doesn't do much beyond provide the user with various kitschy Lemayisms. But it could be entertaining at a wine cooler party. Below are some examples of the app in action.

Ask Some Drag Queens intro

Boyfriend question for Amber

Career question for Margaurite

Fashion question for Margaurite

Makeup question for Lucy Belle


If you still can't figure out how the app works, consult this handy video below.

May 12, 2011

WTF UPDATE: Finally! How Burlington's Iranistan Road Got Its Name...I think?

IMG_2836For readers who are bothering to keep score, this is the third and (hopefully) last time I'm writing about the persistent mystery behind the name of a street in Burlington's Hill Section called Iranistan Road.

Back in the December 22, 2010 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot column, I offered up a handful of variously plausible theories that might explain the pseudo-exotic-sounding street moniker. Now I might finally have the answer.

Continue reading "WTF UPDATE: Finally! How Burlington's Iranistan Road Got Its Name...I think?" »

April 14, 2011

Turn Your Old Seven Days Into an Eco-Friendly Planting Pot

Cover_041311 The great thing about a newspaper is that you can reuse it for all kinds of things after you read it, like liner for your cat's litter box, or kindling for the fireplace. (Some may argue that those are better uses of Seven Days even before you read it, but I digress.)

In keeping with our green theme for this week's issue, here's a project that's both eco-friendly and literally green — as in, it'll add some green life to your yard, desk or table. Our crack team of designers made those cool Seven Days papers-turned-planting pots on the cover.

Click here to learn how to turn your old copy of Seven Days into a pot.

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