Blurt | Solid State | Omnivore | Mistress Maeve | Freyne Land

Seven Days Blogs: Freyne Land

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Couple things....

Yes, it’s a scary world.

And I’m not just talking about war, fire, hurricane, drought and the melting of the Arctic ice cap.

I’m talking about the Boston Red Sox sitting one game away from winning the World Series. Ah, modern pro baseball! Millionaires on steroids!

Grandps In the old days, they just used to drink alcoholic beverages.

Born and raised a Yankee fan was I. Dad may have been the Kilkenny farm boy who joined the IRA in 1920, but mom was raised in the Bronx, daughter of the Galway girl who survived the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and the butcher from Tipperary who keeled over from a heart attack when she was still a kid.

Agnes Cummings grew up on Clinton Place, a dear and devoted Yankee fan and close friend of Yankee relief pitcher "Fireman" Johnny Murphy’s sister. That meant tickets to the games and socializing with the Yankee players. We’re talking mid-to-late 1930s and early 1940s.


Ah, sure they're all gone now, and you and I will join them one day, but the here and now is all we've got.

Happy to say I looked like I needed a haircut the other day. It’s growing back. Couple tests on Hospital Hill this week, but the chemo treatments look like they did the trick.

Haircut And also happy to say that Jessica Sidway introduced herself the other day down at Speeder & Earl’s and suggested she’d be the perfect one to do it.

The full treatment including a shampooing. Haven’t had one of these in.....ages?

Gentlemen’s Top Option. Down on the Burlington Waterfront. Upscale price-wise, but worth it.

Life’s short, eh?

And Jessica was great company.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Summer at last!

Fart_toys Definitely summer. The smallest largest city of any state in the Union is echoing with the lilt of French - spoken by visitors from north of the border [amazing how "American" they look, eh?]. And they have new tricks!

Caught these boys from Montreal with their hand-held, battery-operated  "fart" toys. The devices emit four or five different farting noises that, I confess, sounded amazingly real. They said they brought the devices with them from up north. Their parents thought it was all a hoot.

Lt. Emmett Helrich of Les Gendarmes de Burlington did, too, as he pretended to arrest them.  Or was it solicit a bribe? That's cold cash in his hand, isn't it?

Anyone know if the fart toys are some kind of new French-Canadian cultural thing?

And while the tourists are flocking to Burlap, Burlingtonians are hitting the road and the sky for their own vacation destinations.

Mary_sullivan_2 Bumped into former Democratic State Rep. Mary Sullivan at Fresh Market on Pine Street yesterday just after 11 am.  Mary's communications director at Burlington Electric. Still very active in Democrat Party circles. Picking up some grub for lunch, was she?

Would you believe she was taking it with as a supplement for the airline food she was about to enjoy?

Mary was heading for the airport to catch a flight to Philly where she'd then catch a flight to Dublin, Ireland, along with husband Don Meals and daughter Kaela. They're renting a car for two weeks and doing a lap of the Emerald Isle!

She's been before, but first time for them.

Plenty of political "news" ahead this Wednesday, too.

Top Democrat legislators - Shummy & Speaker Gaye - are scheduled to announce formation of a "sexy" new study commission this morning in Burlington AND Gov. Scissorhands has a 1 pm Fifth Floor presser on his schedule.

See you later, alligators.

Monday, July 23, 2007

When Irish Eyes...

Padraig_harrington Belfast’s David Trimble visits Vermont for the first time this weekend for talks with Sen. Patrick Leahy and other senatorial types, and Dublin's Padraig Harrington [left] wins the hallowed Open Championship on the Scottish links at Carnoustie - even after a choke-ridden "twice-in-the-water" double-bogey on the 18th hole?

Interesting times.

All Spain's Sergio Garcia with his new belly putter had to do was par the 18th to win his first major. Just par it, as he had in the three previous rounds.

But his eight-footer lipped out.

Such is life, eh? Maybe there is a God?

Harrington’s home course is the Royal Dublin. It’s located on the “Bull Wall,” a sandbar in Dublin Bay. Yes, I’ve been there. More than a few times in the early chapters of my life.

Yours truly got an early taste of it early because cousins Oliver and Cyril Freaney, All-Ireland Gaelic footballers in the mid-1950s, were members. I caddied for Ollie starting at seven (pulling the hand cart), and played it as a teenager.

Back in “The Troubles” of 1920-21, the Bull Wall was a place dear ol’ dad and others in Michael Collins’ Dublin Brigade took informants and the like for their “last ride.” I heard it as a boy from Daddy's lips, the victims were always allowed to say the Act of Contrition before taking a round in the back of their head.

Back to Carnoustie. Watching Sergio lose the Open, throw away victory, or have god almighty yank it from his grasp, was tragic. Painful to watch, as the tears in Padraig's eyes attested.

I guess that’s why “golf” is just a four-letter word, eh?

Like "life."

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Life's Little Surprises

The email came late Thursday from U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy's Washington office. For the 70th consecutive year, representatives of the British Parliament and the U.S. Congress were about to have their face-to-face series of summer meetings. [I confess, I was not aware of them.]

This year, they were being held on this side of the Atlantic, starting with a Friday lunch at the Leahy ECHO Center on the Burlington Waterfront and continuing over the weekend in Stowe.

If he'd agree to it, would Columnist Freyne be interested in a little one-on-one interview with David Trimble?

Pinch me. Is this a dream?

Trimbleleahyhague The leader of the Ulster Unionist Party in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland who I watched "religiously" on the TV news during the 1990s?

The Protestant who shared the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with Catholic John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party?

Yes, indeed.

That's Trimble on the left, during the little stand-up presser he, St. Patrick, Conservative William Hague MP, and Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi [who I cropped out for space], participated in after lunch on the Burlington Waterfront outside of ECHO.

And after the presser, Trimble was kind enough to peel off with yours truly for a private, up-close-and-personal, one-on-one along the lakefront.

Peter_freyne_ira As some of you know, the Peter Freyne I'm named after, Uncle Peter, was 18 and a member of the Irish Republican Army's Dublin Brigade in April 1921 when he got his head blown off during an IRA attack on the H.Q. of the Black & Tans on Dublin's North Wall.

Frank Freyne, the older brother who led that raid, was captured six weeks later in May as he was departing the Dublin Customs House, a huge structure he and more than 100 of his IRA colleagues had just successfully torched.

A little over six months later, the December truce between the IRA and Winston Churchill established the Irish Free State. That peace treaty saved Dear Old Dad from the execution he was awaiting in an unheated cell in Kilmainham Gaol [now a major tourist attraction]. You might say, it was also a factor in my being here today to write this.

I'll have much more of the David Trimble/Freyne Land interview in next Wednesday's "Inside Track" in Seven Days. He was quite open and insightful on a number of issues. A very special experience for this journalist. But here's a little taste:

FREYNE: Do you think of yourself as Irish?

TRIMBLE: Not in the political sense. You then have to say, ‘What do you mean by that word?’

In terms of my political national identity, I’m British. The British concept is capable of embracing all the people within the British Isles. That’s where it comes from.

Unfortunately, we have some people in the British Isles who've been determined to say they’re different and separate and don’t want to be the same as everybody else. They now form a separate state called the ‘Irish Republic.’  And if that’s what they want to do, fine. That’s okay. I think they’ve made a mistake, but there we are.

Yes, indeed.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Happy Friday the 13th!

Letour Watching Le Tour de France this morning.

Feeling French.

Way back in the Freyne Family genes, pre-Irish, pre-Norman, there was a French connection.

Speaking of the Freyne Family, got a voice mail yesterday from a a lovely lady in Plymouth, Massachusetts who said she knew my dad. She had recently completed an Irish Studies course through University of Galway that included the book My Kilkenny IRA Days by James Comerford.

Would you believe, she informed me, Papa Freyne took the cover photo?

The man I knew as a dad, a Peat-Marwick CPA [and Irish Sweepstakes agent in his 50s and 60s], was also a camera bug. Getting that Leica at Shannon Airport in 1960 made a difference in his final chapter.

About a decade ago before Seven Days was online, back when the Michael Collins movie came out, I wrote up the story of my father's Dublin Brigade IRA days in 1920-21. A story I grew up with. Days that included the death of his little brother, the uncle I never met, Peter Freyne. Peter was killed in action by the Black & Tans in Dublin in April 1921. Born on a Kilkenny farm in 1901, dear old dad died in New York in 1974.

Nice to hear from Ms. Buckley that history lives on!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

O'Reilly Does Vermont!

Lippertfoxoreilly Not a pretty sight.

That's why I never watch Bill O'Reilly's "O'Reilly Factor"  on Fox "News."

I'm embarrassed, frankly.  Like O'Reilly, I'm a grown-up Irish-Catholic kid from the New York of the 1950s-60s.

But you've got to catch the ambush he aired last night of Vermont House Judiciary Chairman Bill Lippert [in shirt & tie] in the Statehouse cafeteria by a Fox crew the other day.

Look for "Talking Points: The Truth About Vermont." 

Outstanding "team defense" by the members of the Vermont House and Senate who were in the Statehouse cafeteria at the time.

Said O'Reilly to the nation:

Remember, in Vermont, Sen. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. U.S. Sen. Pat Leahy is very liberal and Gov. Jim Douglas, although a Republican, is a very weak leader.”

I'm sure Gov. Douglas and the entire Vermont Republican establishment appreciates your compliment.

Hey, Billy Boy, our Lite-Gov's a Republican, too, and he flies jets. Maybe you could mention him next time?  "Limp-wristed?"

And what about our only congressman?

Peter Welch is likely offended by your gross omission.

Do come back soon!

Makes us all even prouder we live here!

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Real Deal Was She!

Jim_liz_2 Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy
On The Passing Of Liz Daley Jeffords
April 13, 2007

“Marcelle and I join all Vermonters in offering our condolences to Jim and the Jeffords and Daley families on this sad occasion.  Liz Daley Jeffords was a dear friend to both of us.  She was an energy-giver who exemplified New England stamina and Green Mountain gumption.  She worked courageously to help other Vermonters struggling against cancer.  Working side by side with Jim, she has helped make Vermont a better place.

“We have known Jim and Liz for most of our lives -- Marcelle and Liz have known each other since high school in Burlington -- and we will always admire the love and support they have given each other.  They complemented each other, they counseled each other, and they deeply cared for each other.  We know how much they looked forward after Jim’s retirement to spending more time together at their Shrewsbury home, and we wish that time had been much, much longer.

“Marcelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Jim, to Leonard and Laura, and to Liz’s entire family.”

# # # # #

Senator Bernie Sanders issued the following statement regarding Liz  Jeffords:

BURLINGTON, Vt., April 13 - Senator Bernie Sanders mourned the passing today of Elizabeth "Liz" Daley Jeffords, the wife of Vermont's former independent senator.

"Liz Jeffords was a remarkable woman who served our state with great distinction for many, many years. She had an incredible amount of energy, a great sense of humor and a very strong sense of independence. She was able to light up a room when she entered it," Sanders said.

"Liz not only worked with Senator Jeffords on issues of importance to Vermont and America, but she was a leader in her own right," Sanders added. "Her courage and determination in struggling with cancer over the years has served as an inspiration to many Vermonters. Jane and I send our condolences to Senator Jeffords and their entire family."

# # #

On the passing of a dear friend

Washington, D.C. - Rep. Peter Welch conveyed the following thoughts from the Middle East on the passing of his friend Liz Jeffords:

"Liz Jeffords was a dear friend of mine and I am deeply saddened by her passing.  She was so full of life and it was a true joy to be in her presence.  Her devotion to Jim and their family was unwavering.  She was a tireless advocate for her community, her state and the many passions she pursued in her rich, full life. And the dignity with which she faced life's many challenges was remarkable.  I was blessed to have known Liz Jeffords and will miss her."

# # # #

Official Statement of the Governor Jim Douglas
on the Death of Liz Jeffords

Dorothy and I count Jim and Liz Jeffords among our most dear friends and we are deeply saddened to learn this morning of Liz’s passing.   I spoke with Jim this morning to offer our condolences and assure him that he, his family and former staff are all in our thoughts and prayers.

Liz was a tremendous source of inspiration for Jim and helped to shape the work that together they pursued.  She was always a strong, courageous voice for commonsense and independence in the Vermont tradition.

Liz also worked diligently to draw attention to issues important to her including conservation, historic preservation and cancer research and treatment.

I will always remember Liz for her passion, courage and intense love of Vermont and all that our state represents.

# # # #

Official Statement of Lt. Governor Brian Dubie
on the Death of Liz Jeffords

Today, we mourn the passing of Liz Jeffords, a woman whose quiet hand helped to weave the fabric of our state and our nation in both the 20th and 21st centuries.

Liz Jeffords will be remembered for her spirit, her warmth, her wit and her common sense. She was a true Vermonter.

We extend our most heartfelt sympathy to Senator Jim Jeffords and his family, who can take comfort in knowing that Liz will always be remembered with affection and admiration by the people of her state.

# # #

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Morn' Gets Personal

A little suprise this Easter morning when I woke before sunrise with Easter thoughts, not of bunnies or chocolate or resurrection, but of "revolution."

Must be the Freyne genes, eh?

Thank you, Uncle Peter. I won't forget you. Even though I never met you, you've always been there when I needed the courage to do what had to be done. Know what I mean?

And thank you, William Butler Yeats, for the following:

Oconnel_st_4 Easter 1916

I HAVE met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.

I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,


And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:

All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?

Peter_freyne_i That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.

What is it but nightfall?

No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?

For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.

We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;

And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?

I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:

A terrible beauty is born.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patrick's Day: Burlington to Dublin!

Leahy_sirport *With some amazing Donald Trump stuff added Saturday night!

I know a certain U.S. senator from Vermont who has a little extra spring in his step on St. Patrick's Day and it ain't Bernie Sanders!

Not sure what Sen. Patrick Leahy's doing for St. Patrick's Day. Haven't seen a public schedule for Vermont's senior senator, but ABC News is promoting the fact he'll be one of their headliners Sunday morning for "This Week with George Whatshisname":

"As pressure mounts for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign over his handling of the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., squares off with Republican committee member, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tx., one of the President's strongest allies in the Senate. Will Gonzales' acknowledgment that "mistakes were made" be enough to save his job?"

Folks, the Bush Empire is crumbling. The power of the subpoena. God bless America!

*You've got to listen to what Donald Trump told CNN's Wolf Blitzer about the War in Iraq, who's responsible and what has to be done - sooner, rather than later. A straight-talking billionaire capitalist. So refreshing. Takes six minutes. Here's a taste:

TRUMP: [The War in Iraq] is one of the great catastrophes of all time and perhaps even worse, the rest of the world hates us. You go throughout Europe, I travel, I do deals all over the world. The Europeans hate us. You go to Germany. You go to England, you go to places that, you know, we didn't have problems with. They all hate the Americans because of what's happened.

"We had a chance after September 11th to be the most -- for the first time ever, to be the most popular nation on earth. And we blew it. Everybody, for the first time people felt sympathy. I'm not saying it's a great thing to have sympathy in terms of yourself, but for the first time they felt a sympathy and love for this country because of what happened. And we blew it...

"This war is a horrible thing. Now, President Bush says he's religious. And yet 400,000 people, the way I count it, have died, and probably millions have been badly maimed and injured. What's going on?  What's going on?"

March_17 In Burlington, Vermont, St. Patrick's Day 2007 is starting quietly. Very quietly. This was the scene out front of the hacienda about 8 o'clock. I'd guess we got 10 inches overnight in the big city. Merry Christmas to you, too! This global-warming stuff is wild isn't it?

And yes, the cancer dude did the shoveling. Felt good. Sure, my eye catches the stories about the 50-year-olds who experience fatal heart attacks while shoveling snow.

When it's your time, it's your time, says the fatalist voice within.

Irish_jaunting_2 Meanwhile, in honor of the day, get yourself really into the spirit of things Irish by watching Irish television live online. RTE which stands for Radio Telefis Eireann has been the best media/news site I've known on the Internet since signing on, what, 10 years ago?

They're broadcasting the Dublin parade live online! Full of high-school marching bands from the United States.

Do yourself a favor and check 'em out.

All their newscasts are online.

See the Ireland that American tourists miss: crooked, easily bribed politicians, major drug busts from heroin to hash, robberies, rapes and murders, and illegal immigration into Ireland. All the side-effects of economic prosperity, eh?

Definitely not  the Emerald Isle, Land of Saints and Scholars that the Lakes of Killarney "jaunting car" set wants to hear about.

Reality - what a concept?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Eve of St. Patrick's Day in Green Mountains

Judy_collins Got our 'tis the eve of St. Paddy's Day reminder this morning at the Williston Rest Area coffee stop. The hard-working woman pictured at left pulled in just after me with an interesting commodity in the back of her pickup truck - newspapers. And they were newspapers we'd never seen before.

The "Vermont Shopper." Comes out of Barre twice-a-month. Front page story on drunk driving, Struck up a little chit-chat.  She was going to drop off a bundle at the rest stop. Also is a sales rep for the Shopper. Hey, competition for Seven Days...and The Burlington Free Press, eh?

Introduced ourselves. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Judy Collins of Montpelier (not the singer).

"That's not an Irish name?" we asked jokingly.

Oh, yes it is. And she told us she did see "Michael Collins" the movie with Liam Neeson in the lead role.

Told Judy about how dear old dad and Uncle Peter had worked for Mick Collins back in 1920-21. The original Irish Republican Army - Second Battalion Dublin Brigade.  The "Collins" name has always grabbed our attention - more than just a summertime cocktail aka "Tom Collins" in the Freyne home on Maple Street in the 1950s and 1960s.

Speaking of St. Patrick's Day, we have it from a reliable source that Finnegan's Pub on College Street in Beautiful downtown Burlap will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. The doorman's not due until 10. Best wishes.

Even when I was drinking, I made a point of taking St. Patrick's Day off. Green beer?


Then there's the predicted St. Patrick's Day Snowstorm that the press and city officials are going ga-ga over. Burlington's Commander Tow-and-Ticket (or is is Ticket-and-Tow?)  has already sent out his email declaring street-parking bans on both Friday AND Saturday nights in Vermont's largest city:

"There is a Winter Parking Ban in effect for all of Burlington from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.  Please do not park in Municipal Parking Lots over night during the parking bans.
Parking is available in the Market Place Parking Garage and the Macy's Parking Garage on the lower decks only.  Vehicles must be removed by 8:00 a.m. or they will be charged the full days rate.
Any vehicle remaining on the street during the parking ban will be issued a $75.00 parking ticket and will be towed to another location.
Please call 658-SNOW (7669) after 3:00 p.m. for updated information."
Thank you, King John, er, John King.


And, yes, we did make it to the Statehouse for Speaker Gaye Symington's "Brown Bag Lunch" at noon with the press - you know, the gathering in the Speaker's Office at which coffee cups, but no brown bags, are seen.

Today Speaker Gaye the Democrat (shown above) blabbed on and on for almost an hour with seven Statehouse reporter types: two from the Freeps, two from the Vermont Press Bureau, one from VPR, one from the Associated Press, and me. No Ch. 3 and no Ch.5.

Her political adviser, Bill Lofy, and executive assistant, Alexandra MacLean, also sat in.

Don't know what the rest of the gang will glean from the "Crossover Day" Symington Hour, but yours truly left the room once occupied by Walt Freed (R), Mike Obuchowski (D), and the legendary Ralph Wright (D) with the inescapable question spelled out in neon lights inside the Freyne Brain:

"Why did this nice, caring, good-hearted person strive for and win a quarterback position in a contact sport she refuses to play - a game called politics?"

P.S. Speaking of the Freyne Brain, Dr. Paul Penar the neurosurgeon called this morning to let us know that, after consultation with other docs, there was agreement that there was no evidence of a tumor inside the Freyne Brain.  The shiny area on the brain scan could be something that's been cooking in  the old columnist's language center for many years. Just to be sure, however, the Doc  wanted us to take one more high-tech test - a magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy. This afternoon, his assistant called to see if we could do one on Sunday.

Short notice.

Only have one brain - no problemo.

What is MR spectroscopy?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field instead of X-rays to provide pictures of the brain. MR spectroscopy uses graphs to study abnormalities of the brain.
How does the exam work?

MRI is a unique exam. Unlike standard X-rays, radioisotope studies, and even CT scanning, it does not rely on radiation. Instead, MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create sharp pictures – even different types of tissue within the same organ can be seen. An MRI exam most often consists of two to six sets of pictures, each lasting 2 to 15 minutes.

Look, a number of folks have been telling me my brain is "abnormal " since childhood.

Runs in the family.

All Rights Reserved © SEVEN DAYS 1995-2008 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802.864.5684