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February 2007

February 28, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 10: Keely and Du


Keely_2_1 Keely and Du is a Pulitzer-nominated play which puts a human face on both sides of the fierce, ongoing pro-choice/pro-life debate.  The play focuses on the unlikely relationship that develops between Keely, a young woman who is seeking to end her pregnancy who is kidnapped by a militant anti-abortion group and Du, her caretaker and captor.

I found out about Keely and Du in a round about way.  I ran into Jessie, the costume designer at Uncommon Grounds and she mentioned the play she was working on.  After a brief internet search, I learned a little more about the plot (can you believe there is no Wikipedia entry?) and was struck by the subject matter.

Keely_3_1I talked to producer, Tracey Girdich and actors, Geri Amori (Du), Bridget Butler (Keely) and Walt Levering (Walter) about their characters and what the play meant to them.  It was their first day in FlynnSpace after many rehearsals in a condo basement.  Luckily, the play takes place in a basement and FlynnSpace is ALSO a basement so the transition went smoothly.

This play deals with controversial topics such as rape and abortion, but it does not take sides.  It shines light into dark, murky places and focuses on the connection between two extraordinary women named Keely and Du.

Keely_4_evaBig thanks to Carrigan for their haunting song, "hear ye...hear ye..."

Keely and Du is directed by Seth Jarvis and produced by Green Candle Theatre Company.  All proceeds benefit the Women's Rape Crisis Center.

Performances are for one week only at FlynnSpace in Burlington from 2/28/07 - 3/4/07. 

Stuck in Vermont 9: Oscars


Oscars_1 David Zacharis held his first Oscar party 9 years ago and he was the sole attendee, no, wait, his cat was there too, as well as a bottle of champagne.  Better still, he wore a suit.  This is the kind of party I like to throw and no, I am not being sarcastic. 

Nine years later David held his hot-n-happening hipster-packed Oscar party at his neighborhood watering hole, The Olde Northender Pub.  The gowns were divine, the suits dapper, the refreshments plentiful and the liquor freely flowing. 

There was not too much going on in the way of Oscar pools and most people hadn't seen many of the nominees but there was still plenty of trash talking and good-spirited booing.  Just another Sunday night in the North End, I wish the Oscars happened every month.

Oscar_3You can read a far better recounting of this evening in Margot Harrison's State of the Arts piece.  Truth be told, she was my Oscar date and yes, we are related.  You can also see David's pictures from the evening here.

The sound is awful in this vlog as about five TVs were blaring at full blast but there is a wee montage to The Smittens song, "Capucine."  Thanks to Mr. Beauvais for letting us shoot in the Olde Northender and to Dwane and Melissa.

Stuck in Vermont 8: Mardi Gras


Mardi_2 When Vermonters get tired of the long, never-ending winter, the annual Mardi Gras parade is a perfect way to shake loose those winter blues.  Colorful floats, crazy costumes, beads whizzing through the air and public alcohol consumption - what could be more fun? 

And even better, the proceeds benefit The Women's Rape Crisis Center so all those beads you buy go to a good cause.

Bob took great footage of the crowd from the vantage point of the Seven Days float and you can see it here!   Look closely and you might even find your own mug!

Mardi_5 I didn't get to ride the Seven Days float this year but had a good time walking/filming the parade with Alan and Bob and then going up high in the cherry picker for a bird's eye view.   The wayward Victor's Secret float nearly capsized us but all was well in the end.

Mardi_1_evaA great time was had by all, thanks Magic Hat for this great annual event!   I can almost feel my fingers again! Editing this montage brought the entire day back to me and it was hard sitting in my seat with the infectious beats of the drums and the screaming crowd. 

Mardi_4_alan I have to hand it to Alan Newman, not many people would have the guts to dress up in a purple feather costume and personally welcome the entire city to the Mardi Gras parade.  It is sort of like a modern-day take on Old Saint Nick but far more wicked and fewer elves.

Fabulous peppy music by Pretty and Nice, "Lazy, Lazy Bumblebee" and "Fortress."  Makes me want to dance!

February 24, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 7: First 50

A_11 Friday night at 64 North St was hopping as artists and art lovers alike crowded into Kasini House for the opening of First 50.

First 50 is a true exercise in democracy as the first 50 artists to have their names drawn by lottery were featured in the show. 

As fast-talking, wunderkind Ric Kasini Kadour explained to me, despite the element of chance, there were many happy symmetries present: a mother and daughter team, a group of paintings by women exploring the female form, a picture of a son taken by a father and a picture of a father taken by a son (the latter is pictured above and is by photographer Matthew Thorsen).

Ric is amazingly articulate and entertaining and he can talk up art like nobody's business.  Editing his interview from 10 minutes down to 2 minutes seemed so wrong.  Ric's resume is impressive and there does not seem to be one bit of the VT art world that he does not have a finger in. 

It makes me so glad to know that Ric and Kasini House are here to bring more attention to Vermont artists, breathe some new life into North St and connect the Burlington arts scene to Montreal's.

A_10I also spoke to three of the artists featured, Yulia Goncharov, Damien Cross, and most likely the youngest person in the show, Evie Salisbury (pictured to the left).   

Evie was not too interested in answering my dull questions but within seconds she had commandeered my camera and was shooting footage for me.  My first intern!?  As an odd aside, I ran into Evie's parents at the Sonic Youth show Sunday.  I love this small town!

If you pay closeA_12 enough attention to the vlog, you may even see the piece of art by S.R.Wild who designed the Stuck in Vermont logo (to the right).   S.R. Wild is featured in the show and, if you were lucky, you got one of his handmade business cards Friday night.

The music is courtesy of the most awesome local band, The Jazz Guys who are hard at work on a new album and will hopefully show up in a very jazzy vlog real soon.  Have you seen their movies?  Very funny and neato special effects!

After the Kasini House opening, we popped in briefly to Studio STK which is just down the street and had fashions by Anthony Russo on display.  Margot and I spent money we do not have on funky, one-of-a-kind silk-screened clothes.  Anthony will be a having a fashion show at STK on March 23rd which I hope to vlog as well.

All in all, a lovely evening was had by all and it was a resounding success for Kasini House and the artists featured!  First 50 will be at Kasini House through March 10th, be sure to check it out!

Stuck in Vermont 6: Blizzard

A_5 Sure, the Valentine's Day Blizzard (is that not the best name ever for a storm?) happened last week, but when you are REALLY Stuck in Vermont, it seems essential to vlog about it!

So here is a slightly overdue vlog detailing the transformation downtown Burlington underwent after the snow bomb exploded: snowdrifts as big as people, mountains of powdery goodness littering Church St, parking meters and cars encased in icy tombs and cryptic geometric shapes carving out pathways. 

There is something so magical about this winter wonderland that has encased the city. It is like nature is taking the reins back and reminding us who is boss. This is humbling and a little bit scary, the good kind of scary.

Most of the snow has been cleared away from Church St now and the postponed Mardi Gras parade went off without a hitch (well, maybe just the one hitch and it involved gyrating, lingerie-clad angels) but the snow still lingers.  Where will it go and when?

This vlog gives a little peak at Church St when it was a magical winter wonderland.  I talked to Chris Flanagan of Arrowhead Construction whose tireless crew had been working non-stop to plow out driveways (they even cleared the Flynn parking lot, thanks guys!).  Chris was good natured despite having only 8 hours of sleep for the three days that the blizzard did its worst damage. 

At the end of the interview, I told him the name of this vlog (unlike most people, he actually knew what a "vlog" is?!) and asked him if we were officially "Stuck in Vermont?"  He smiled and said, "Yeah, absolutely...but this is where we'd rather be stuck so..."

Made me glad to know that the vlog title (courtesy of Cathy's sharp brain) was finally making good!  Most excellent cheerful and tropical music provided by Bobby G (Bob Bushnell) and the above picture courtesy of Lani Stack.

February 22, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 5: Sonic Youth

What on earth were Sonic Youth doing in Vermont you may ask?  Beats me but I think it has something to do with Higher Ground being AWESOME!  Oh yeah!

At long last, below is the Sonic Youth vlog detailing the post-show activities Sunday night at Higher Ground. This show kicked some major VT ass.   What could be more inspiring than seeing/hearing artists still rocking the crap out of life decades into their career?  Hells yeah.

And what other band asks the audience for book recommendations mid-show?  A rock band that reads?  They are one of a kind, yes siree.

Thanks Sonic Youth.  You made it okay to:
Ask scary hipsters questions on camera.

Thanks to Sonic Youth for coming to VT, to Higher Ground for bringing them here, to JDK for making their super cool, thought-inspiring posters and to all the psyched SY fans who talked to me after the show (many of whom were Canadian...hmmm).

This marks the first episode of Stuck in Vermont that "officially" falls under the grand auspices of Seven Days - the hottest paper in town if you ask me.  It is a partnership I am super excited about and there is no where else STVT would rather live! So be on the look out for many more Stuck in Vermont vlogs about local artists, events and shows!

That is the thing about VT, even when you are buried under a mountain of snow, it isn't so bad because there is so much to do while you are stuck, waiting for the snow to melt...

And on a legal note, a huge thanks to Sonic Youth for letting me use their killer song "Incinerate" off their hellah hot new album Rather Ripped and also to Geffen Records, Universal Music Enterprises and Silva Artist Management for filling out all the very complicated paperwork and giving me a much needed lesson in music copyright laws.

And to the Jennifers at UMe and SAM for making all this happen - and in record time!! You are both getting VT care packages in the mail - in fact, they went out today - maple syrup and VT swag galore. Oh yes, beware the VT boxes wrapped in plastic (the guy at the post office got a little over excited about the prospect of the syrup leaking!) and headed out to sunny old LA!

PS Kim Gordon is my Superhero.  Can I grow up to be her?  Now?

February 14, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 4: VDay


It was the day before Valentine's Day and I was lurking on upper Church St freezing my hands into popsicles and trying to get people to talk to me about what VDay means to them. With dropping temperatures and an approaching storm, rushing people were not that excited to gab on a street corner in front of my camera.  Still, a few kind souls obliged and here is the result with a very pretty song by The Smittens to boot.

Happy Valentine's Day from all of us who are Stuck in Vermont
(as of tomorrow, that may be literally true)!  xxoxo

February 12, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 3: Johnson


Last Saturday, Meghan and I took a lovely drive to my hometown of Johnson, Vermont to attend the 5th Annual Johnson Winter Carnival

We were hoping to see some Snow Volleyball but alas, the event was cancelled. Luckily, there were all sorts of other fun things to do such as ice skating, cake walking, snow sculpture gazing, bake sale buying and clog watching.   

Best of all, we got to see the RimRock Cloggers performing with Clean Fill on the Johnson Elementary School gymnasium stage.  It was a mix of seasoned performers such as Amanda Preston, Kayla MacDonald, Shoshie and Aliza Silverstein and some younger students having a good time and learning from the masters.

The fiddle plucking was infectious and it was hard to stand still with all that upbeat clogging going on.  Neglecting my cameraman duties, I felt the overwhelming urge to tap my feet or clap along. 

I spoke to the girls after the show and Shoshie said that they wanted to give the feeling of hanging out on a friend's back porch and relaxing with casual clogging, fiddle playing and family members.  That is a back porch I would like to spend some time on.

Even more fun, I ran into an old friend of mine from Johnson Elementary School, Amy Gilbert.  She didn't recognize me at first and claimed my skin was a lot darker (did living in California make me Latin?).  Of course, the first question out of Amy's mouth after she recognized me was, "Do you have kids?"  I looked at my video camera and said, "Sort of."

I also got to see the amazing Molly Hatfield, my bestest friend from Hyde Park's Lamoille Union High School - but only for a brief moment.  I missed the chance to see her 10 year old daughter Olive who I last saw at the wee age of 2 years old.  Molly and her family are blue-blooded Vermonters who built their own house, kill their own meat and live off the land.  You'll be seeing them in a Stuck in Vermont vlog real soon. 

February 11, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 2: Hackie


Finally, another installment of my new vlog, Stuck in Vermont.  Two weekends ago I spent a morning chatting with local author, cab driver, comedian and philosopher Jernigan Pontiac. In addition to being highly entertained by his droll humor and getting a great tour of the area from a cab's-eye-view, I had an excellent time talking to Jernigan about life, art and people. 

It is not often that you find such a genuine, interesting, thoughtful soul and even rarer still when you get to have an on-camera chat with them. It killed me to whittle my hour of footage down to 4 minutes (literally, it killed me, I am still in mourning) but at long last, here is the final bite-sized product, Stuck in Vermont, Episode 2, The Hackie

I may have to follow this vlog up with Jernigan's tour of the area not to mention more Jernigan gems about writing and life and massive amounts of silliness.  Seriously, this guy needs his own TV show.  So beware another Hackie Episode 2.1 or some such thing. The most awesome music is by C-Funk also known as Adam Cooper Wood and Chris Cheney

Remember to read the bi-weekly Hackie column in Seven Days and to buy the Hackie books here!  Spread the word folks, a little dose of Hackie each day keeps the winter doldrums at bay!

February 01, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 1: Comics

Last Friday night, the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe was bustling with activity as many fashionable folk in black streamed into its doors for a much anticipated gallery opening.  Fine Toon: The Art of VT Cartoonists is an excellent exhibit with pieces by 13 artists with VT ties.

The show’s central connection, of course, is Vermont: The featured artists live here either full- or part-time, or they were born here and moved elsewhere. Most of them are in the first camp — a remarkable fact, given the state’s diminutive size. Then again, the number of artists in Vermont may soon surpass that of cows, if it hasn’t already. Seven Days, Pamela Polston

I like those odds.  Although artists provide a very different sort of milk, no less nourishing as Friday night proved. There were gigantic strawberries dipped in warm chocolate, assorted gourmet cheese platters and a hip art crowd buzzing around the artwork like honey bees. 

The gallery has a lot to celebrate with a new Executive Director, Nathan Suter, and a new Exhibitions Director, Idoline Duke.  Without a doubt, the Helen Day was the happening place to be Friday night!

I shot my very first Stuck in Vermont vlog at this fine event and was lucky enough to talk to James Kochalka - Vermont-based, internationally famous cartoonist/rock superstar! I was nervous but he was very nice and is not really an elf after all - unless his ears are retractable!?

James told us about a brain parasite in humans which is contracted from cats and makes us neurotic.   But don't bother throwing out your cat, once you got the parasite, it is there for life.  I have yet to research this news but that does explain a lot.

Plus, it turns out that the famous Spandy, who is featured in many of Kochalka's cartoons, is really not all that special after all - perhaps that is what makes her so special?!  I am a card-carrying member of the Spandy Fan Club.

The Stuck in Vermont vlog will focus on local artists, musicians and outsiders (all of whom are stuck here for one reason or another) and bring more attention to all the hip-n-hot VT art happenings and goings on 'round town. It'll be 100% VT-based 'cause there is plenty in this little state to keep me busy vlogging about.

I plan to make 'em short and sweet but it remains to be seen if I will be able to keep them under 3 minutes.  This one clocks in at 3:30.  There might be some longer vids with extra footage for those interested since there is lots of good material (imho). Without futher ado, here is the first installment of, Stuck in Vermont whose wonderful theme song is courtesy of local indie darlings, The SmittensAin't it nice to be stuck in Vermont?:

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