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Seven Days Blogs: Freyne Land

Monday, June 02, 2008

Brain Surgery

Hayward_fleurs_2 Lunchtime on Monday, though I rarely eat lunch anymore. Sorry.

But can someone please tell me why, in this high-tech TV Age, I cannot watch U.S. Sen.Ted Kennedy's brain surgery "live" on my television set, or laptop or cell phone [were I to actually own a cell phone]?

C'mon. I was raised on The "Dr. Kildare" Show and "Ben Casey" in the 1960s. Even worked for two years in the surgery ward at the old General Hospital in downtown Minneapolis [1972-74]. I can handle it.

Instead, it's the commercial-hawking endless stream of Barack "town meetings" and Hillary "town meetings" and McCain "town meetings" that fills America's screens.

Pathetic propaganda.

But propaganda is what sells, right?

Everything from gas-guzzler, air-polluting cars to hard-on-enhancing pharmaceuticals.

Propaganda sure worked well for Adolph Hitler in the 1930s. And here at home, as successfully employed by Robert McNamara in the 1960s, worked for LBJ, the Texas Democrat in the Lincoln Bedroom. And, as successfully employed by Karl Rove in this decade, it's worked for "W," the Texas Republican currently leading the United States of America.

Lucky us!

Anybody catch 60 Minutes on CBS last night?

David Martin's story on "The Pentagon's Ray Gun" is certainly worth a visit.

As a wise old man once said: Holy fucking shit!

When will we ever learn?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sirota Visit

Up-and-coming political author David Sirota blew through Burlap this week, kicking off his two-month national book tour. Got surprisingly little attention from the local media.

Sirota_at_borders In fact, the only press to catch his appearance with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders at Borders Bookstore on Church Street the other night were a few 7Days types and a writer from the Washington, D.C. bureau of Le Monde, the big paper in Paris...France [right]. She interviewed him before his appearance upstairs before a standing-room crowd of 50.

David who?

David Sirota,
former press secretary to Congressman Bernie Sanders. David started with Ol' Bernardo back in 1999. Just a youngster in his early twenties. Was with him for a few years.

Now at 32, David's one of the new stars of the rising generation in American politics. His new book, The Uprising,  [catchy title, eh?]  includes a big chapter involving Bernie of Vermont.

Still, no local press covered his visit. No Freeps, no VPR, no WGOP, er, WCAX?

Sirota's Uprising was, however, newsworthy for The Colbert Report on Thursday


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Last Track

Freynes_last_track_2 As you may have noticed, dear reader, the writing stopped in Freyne Land two weeks ago, both here in cyberspace and over there in the print edition of Seven Days in the "Inside Track."

Here's why.

Been covering the Vermont political/news/media scene since autumn 1979. Way back before Bernie Sanders ever won an election and nobody had heard of Howard Dean M.D. other than his patients.

And for most of that time, I simply could not believe they were actually paying me to have so much fun!

But in the last few years, what had been pure pleasure had turned into work - drudgery, in fact.

Not good.

Depression set in. Cancer followed. And, surprise! surprise! - beating the darn cancer did not change things. The depression, which those who've been there know is utter misery, came back. Why?

Because being "successful" at one's job does not mean being "happy" with one's life.

It has not been easy, mes amis, but the lesson learned in the last month has been positively enlightening.

I deserve to be happy - as do you -  and if that means putting the period down, ending the paragraph on the last "Inside Track" then so be it!

Life is short. As my ol' pal Mike always said, "We're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time." And as I've come to realize, one cannot begin that new chapter of life until one closes the page on the current one. It's a big step to take, a risky one, but until one takes it, the misery reigns supreme.

Health-wise, things haven't been this good in Freyne Land in decades. And the writer within - the non-political columnist - has a whole lot of material that's been waiting much too long to get out.

Stay tuned. We continue our good relationship with Seven Days as contributing editor and blogger and who knows what's next?

The simple fact is that life is good...and getting better.

And I haven't been able to say that in years!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

What a drag...

It is...getting o-o-l-l-l-l-d-d.

Things are different today....I hear every mother say....

Remember that one?

House_of_lemay Things were different on Church Street in Burlington this afternoon, too. Not everyday that one can catch the House of LeMay Drag Queens out for a stroll. In this case they were promoting Drag Ball XIII coming up on February 16. More here.

It’s a evening of cabaret at Higher Ground on Main Street to benefit the "People With AIDS Coalition."

The LeMay drag queens were being shot by Tim Kavanagh and his crew from "Late Night Saturday" on WCAX-TV. [No, that's not Marsillyiss Parsons on the right!]

Caught their act because I went downtown this afternoon for the 3:40 showing of Woody Allen’s new flick - Cassandra’s Dream - at the Roxy. Did not check any reviews. Hey, just had a Woody-Allen feeling. One of the leading moviemakers of my youth!

Cassandrasdreamposter_large Had I checked a film review, I might have caught wind Cassandra’s Dream was not particularly Woody-Allenesque.

Sure. Very well shot. Excellent score, but...depressing. The women actors are babes, but their characters are not developed beyond the shallowest of veneers.

The male leads...pathetic losers and brothers, a chronic gambler and a hustling, skirt-chasing swindler, and, in this case, first time murderers in “Merry” Modern England do not arouse much in the way of empathy on the part of the viewer.

Hey, money does make the world go ‘round, right?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Charlie & Shummy

Charlie_wvmt Got wind the other day - from a Montpeculiar business lobbyist, as a matter of fact - that 620 WVMT-AM morning radio jock Charlie Papillo, of "Charlie & Ernie" fame, was whining on the radio airwaves about the fact I'd snapped his picture at the Great Harvest Bread Store on Pine Street, but never published it in this blog.

Poor baby!

Charlie, so sorry. The opportunity simply hasn't presented itself. Haven't been tuning in.

But with the Vermont Legislature back in session and you having guests like Senate President pro tem Peter Shumlin, I tuned in this morning.

So here's the shot of your handsome self at long last!

Mr. Papillo leans to the political right. And he challenged Shummy about his support for Rep. Mike Fisher's bill declaring that President George "WMD" Bush's authority to federalize the Vermont National Guard for Iraq duty has terminated.

"The Governor’s already come out and said that any bill that would suggest that, he would veto it in a minute. You’re going to continue on that fight?" asked Charlie.

Shumlin: I have really strong feelings about the war in Iraq. I also think it’s a great example of why Americans are turned off by politics-as-usual. All these folks running around saying we’ve got to get out of Iraq, we’ve got to end this war. Nothing happens.

Sen And the fact is the Vermont Guard has made the most extraordinary sacrifice for their country and they are fighting hard in Iraq and I think Adjutant General Dubie has done an extraordinary job. I am proud of the families and the Vermont Guard.

However, the resolution that was passed by Congress six years ago, in my judgment, has expired. It was based upon three tenets:

1. That the government of Iraq was a threat to the United States. Well guess what? Saddam Hussein is not longer a threat to the United States.

2. We had to get those weapons of mass destruction. Well, haven’t found them yet [because they do not exist].

3. That it was punishment, in effect, for their complicity in 9-11, which we know also didn’t happen.

So either Congress needs to authorize a new resolution saying we’re gonna mediate a civil war in Iraq, or we should bring our Vermont Guard members home.

Good point, eh?

P.S. Good bread, too.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

This & That

Bridget_burns A treat to see the smiling face of Bridget Burns yesterday on the Church Street Marketplace in Big, Bad Burlap.

Usually the only place we catch Bridget is behind the front desk at a certain successful local Vermont weekly where she's the office manager. But Seven Days has a week off!

In her free time, Bridget's been busy in the fight against the truly anti-American Bush-Cheney Iraq War. She's a reminder to this gracefully-aging Vietnam War protester that the "younger generation" of today is not silent.  If anything, they're ignored by the "mainstream media."

Vtw_07 Take a look at how 18 different panelists on Vermont Pubic Television's "Vermont This Week"  rated the year's "top" stories as compared to 39 "viewers."

To the press, the action by almost 40 Vermont towns to back resolutions calling for the impeachment of the current president of the United States was no big deal. Here we are, once again, leading the nation at the grassroots level and the story just barely squeaked onto the press' list in 10th position.

To the VTW viewers, however, it came in 4th.


Compare for yourself:

As selected by "Vermont This Week" panel members (18 votes)

1.    Vermont Yankee cooling tower collapse causes alarm         
2.    Federal Court upholds Vermont’s emissions law            
3.    Climate change dominates much of legislative session            
4.    Democrats fail to override Governor’s vetoes          
5.    Leahy assumes leading role in battle with White House    
6.    Catamount Health begins                      
7.    PSB OK’s industrial wind project for Sheffield            
8.    Verizon seeks to sell landlines to FairPoint               
9.    Valentine’s Day blizzard sees up to 30” fall          
10.  Communities back impeachment resolution               

As selected by "Vermont This Week" viewers (39 votes)

1.    Democrats fail to override Governor's vetoes            
2.    Leahy assumes leading role in battle with White House
3.    Vermont Yankee cooling tower collapse causes alarm
4.    Communities back impeachment resolution   
5.    Rep. Welch targeted by anti-war activists
6.    Federal court upholds Vermont's emissions law
7.    School spending caps increases
8.    Climate change dominates much of legislative session
9.    Valentine's Day blizzard sees up to 30" fall      
10.  Catamount Health begins

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New kids in town...

Fox_44 Did you catch 'em on the box last night at 10 O'Clock?

First impressions?

Vermont's brand new TV news operation, finally kicked off on Fox 44 [that's Ch. 9 on Comcast] with a half-hour nightly news - seven nights a week.

Hey, the snowstorm made it easy on Opening Day, eh?

It's been a little over four years since ABC22 pulled the plug on their local news operation. It's been just WCAX vs. WPTZ since. Seems the whole Vermont news biz has been shrinking.

I sat down the other day with the folks behind getting our new TV news operation up and running. The folks behind the camera.

I'm saving that for tomorrow's "Inside Track."

Very interesting.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Good timing!

Was sitting on a window stool at Capitol Grounds on State Street in Montpeculiar yesterday while the House Democrat Caucus took its lunch break.  Commiserated with Steve from Chelsea. Old dudes lamenting the absence of a voice of any kind emanating from the youth of today.

And sharing a smile over how sweet it was to pick up the Gannett-chain daily paper - Le Freeps de Burlington - and read the story about the high school kids protesting the Iraq War at the National Guard recruiting office in Williston Friday afternoon - 13 arrests for trespassing. The Freeps even has some excellent video of it all on its web site.

It was a Sixties flashback for the two old guys sitting in the window sipping coffee and swapping stories about the Vietnam War protests of our younger days.


Garrett Then comes more good news this morning from Montpeculiar!  Montpelier High School has not only been picked 5th best in the friggin' country by US News, but grad Garrett Graff's first book has hit the street!

Yes, that Garrett Graff. The high-school "kid" who set up Gov. Howard Dean's first website 10 years ago in 1997 when all this internet stuff seemed so new,

Garrett's book is titled The First Campaign.

Subtitled: Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House

As his book website notes, Graff:

"comes from a long line of journalists: His grandfather, Bert McCord, was the drama critic for the New York Herald Tribune; his father, Christopher Graff, was the long-time bureau chief of the Associated Press in Vermont, and his mother, Nancy Price Graff, is a historian, children's book author, and former magazine editor."


The Montpelier kid also has an interesting article in today's Washington Post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Deja-vu all over again...

Wednesday morning on your Champlain Valley FM radio dial: Louie Manno & Jim Condon, the star radio duo who took the town by storm in 1986 on Q-99 will be together again - though only for a day.

Manno's recently slid in behind the mike at 102.3 FM "Best Country" WLFE as the replacement for the late, great G.G. Griggs, killed in an untimely single-vehicle accident in Swanton a couple weeks ago. His pickup slammed into a tree. No seat belt, said the police.

Mannocondon_johnson Manno & Condon hit The People's Republic of Burlington during Bernie Sanders' third term as mayor in 1986. The boys were the hot morning duo on Burlington's radio dial well into the 1990s. They finished up on the AM dial at1390 WKDR with former Burlington Free Press city hall scribe and talk-show man Mark Johnson in 2001.

Jim and Louie next started up and operated the Radio Deli on Pearl Street in Burlington for a few years. They sold the deli.  Condon [whose almost 20-year-old intro still prefaces Mark's morning talker on WDEV, 550 AM and 96.1 FM] has found a second life in politics - he's a successful Democratic state representative from Colchester!

Wednesday morning it'll be Louie & Jim - together again on WLFE/St. Albans, Vermont...

Use it, or lose it...

Funny how this works.

Scary, actually.

Do you think if The New York Times and the Washington Post and CBS and CNN and the rest of the nation's corporate-owned-and-operated news crowd had actually done their journalism jobs right, we'd be in such a mess?

A senseless military bloodbath in Iraq. Environmental crises locally and globally. A crumbling dollar. And the crooks and liars still in command.

First Amendment?

Use it or lose it, eh?

Sen_sanders Vermont's one-of-a-kind Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders was recently the keynote speaker in Atlanta, Georgia at the annual convention of The Democratic Socialists of America annual convention.

Did the American corporate media notice?

Are you serious?

The only press coverage we could find was on the website of the Atlanta Progressive News:

"We’re not radical. You know who’s radical? George W. Bush," Sanders said in his remarks. "Bush says we can’t afford money for food stamps... but we can afford $10 billion a month in Iraq, we can afford to repeal the estate tax. If anybody tells you we can’t afford health care for all or getting all children out of poverty... you look them in the eye and say Bernie Sanders is on the Budget Committee and it just ain’t so."

More here.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
— The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Ever wonder why they made it the very "First," eh?

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