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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

I Watched a Vermont-Connected 'Satirical Bernie Sanders Comedy Movie' So You Don't Have To

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2020 at 8:04 PM

George Washington/Kevin Sorbo tells Bernie a thing or two. - COURTESY OF RIGHT AND FUNNY PRODUCTIONS
  • Courtesy of Right and Funny Productions
  • George Washington/Kevin Sorbo tells Bernie a thing or two.
I knew what I was getting into when I watched the new Bernie Sanders "satire" Free Lunch Express. Producer and Mendon resident Bradford Broyles, who contacted me about the film, is the president of Vermont-based Right and Funny Productions. The film's executive producer, Lenore Broughton, is one of Vermont's biggest Republican donors. "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" star Kevin Sorbo, who makes a cameo in the film, has gained quite a bit of notice lately for his right-of-center views.

In a recent Daily Beast interview, which is an excellent read, Marlow Stern quizzes Sorbo about his role in the Bernie film and the film's many inaccuracies when it comes to Sanders' bio, including its depiction of the young Bernie as entering into a blood pact with Josef Stalin.

So, yeah. This film has a point of view. But why should left-wingers and counterculture types have a monopoly on political satire? To explore how comedy looks from the other side, I watched Free Lunch Express and wrote a little real-time viewing diary.

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Monday, November 9, 2020

Questionable Authority: Burlington High School Considers Move to Former Macy's Site

Posted By on Mon, Nov 9, 2020 at 4:53 PM

  • File photo by Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
In early September, the Burlington High School campus was closed indefinitely due to the discovery of high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the air of one building. In response, the Burlington School Board authorized its superintendent last week to begin negotiations for holding classes in the former Macy’s store in downtown Burlington.

Seven Days staffers weighed the pros and cons of the potential move in this latest installment of Questionable Authority.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Burlington Resident's Zoom Meeting Meme Goes Viral

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2020 at 3:32 PM

  • Sarah Woodard
Zoom is taking over our lives. For Americans stuck at home social distancing, the video platform has become ubiquitous as a tool for work, school, after-hours socializing and even health services. This new (virtual) reality means we’re all adjusting to the idea of existing as small, pixelated, likely double-chinned versions of ourselves. Even worse, Zoom coldly reflects that vision back at us, to haunt our every waking, or at least working, moment.

Sarah Woodard, the director of development for Spectrum Youth and Family Services in Burlington, encountered this strange new world when she recently started doing daily Zoom calls for work.

“One of the very first ones I logged into, I hadn’t taken a shower, and I was up in my bedroom hiding from my kids,” she recalled. “As soon as I logged in I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ I was just really distracted by everything.”

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Questionable Authority: Zuckerman to Host Cannabis-Themed 'Coffee With Constituents'

Posted By on Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 8:50 AM

Examples of Julie Duquette's cannabis-inspired artwork - IMAGE COURTESY OF JULIE DUQUETTE
  • Image courtesy of Julie Duquette
  • Examples of Julie Duquette's cannabis-inspired artwork
Vermont's first-ever 4/20 week event in the post-prohibition era is nearly upon us, and it'll be a doozy:

On Friday, April 19, Vermont Lt. Gov. Dave "Enough with the Ponytail References Already!" Zuckerman and pro-weed activist group Heady Vermont will host a morning event titled  "Coffee With Constituents Celebrates Cannabis Art." (Vetoed event names include "Tea With Tokers" and "Bagels 'n' Bong Hits.")

Zuckerman's weekly capitol caffeine klatches offer the lite gov an opportunity to rub elbows with ordinary Vermont citizens, to nod thoughtfully while they grouse about their property tax bills, and to answer questions about everything from health care reform to "Why are there pimientos in this cream cheese?"

The event is slated for Friday, April 19, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Clearly, whoever scheduled this time is unfamiliar with the Standard Stoner Time Conversion Variable (9 a.m. = noon).

This week, Seven Days staffers offered a sneak peek at what we imagine the event's festivities to be:

1. The 4/19 "Coffee With Constituents" will feature Zuckerman unveiling a cannabis-infused work of art by Milton artist Julie “Fisheye” Duquette. The piece, which Duquette said she created using approximately 300 pot leaves grown and donated by Vermont growers, will hang in the lieutenant governor’s office. What other activities are slated for the morning event?

SALLY POLLAK:  "Weed With Seed." In a throwback to the days when weed came with seeds and 100 percent of kids smoked it, we'll play an old-timey game: Separate the weed from the seed on the inside cover of  "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.''
DAN BOLLES: Wake and Bacon, a breakfast smorgasbord featuring hash browns, smoked bacon, green eggs and ham, and pancakes shaped like pot leaves, smothered in CBD-infused maple syrup.
JORDAN ADAMS: After the ceremonial hanging of Duquette's piece, local artisan Tokes Gently will unveil shadow boxes full of miniature topiaries in the shape of famous Vermonters, created from buds that came from the same plants Duquette used to make her piece. Expect to see tiny green versions of Ethan Allen, Matthew Lyon, Bernie Sanders and Champ, the Lake Champlain sea monster.
KEN PICARD: The Zuckster will break off a chunk of Grand Isle County and vape it in his Pax 2.

2. What special advanced preparations for this event are required by Statehouse staff?
SP: Preparations for the 4/20 event went to pot, and it was weirdly scheduled for 4/19.
DB: They had to learn all of the words to Phish's "Fee" for the ceremonial morning sing-along.
JA: Statehouse staff will spend the morning setting up the post-ceremony sundae bar, replete with 420 different toppings.
KP: Buildings and General Services will erect a temporary security barricade around the 3D art portrait of former governor Peter Shumlin deejaying at a Rutland rave.

3. An anonymous source has confirmed that Zuckerman will also unveil his own homegrown cannabis strain. Possible names include:
SP: Zuck Me Up.
DB: Bernie Lite. Zuckerman's brand inspires many of the same heady ideas as the strain that preceded it, but it's not as harsh as the original.
JA: Zuck in Vermont. (That's a Seven Days joke.)
KP: Raucous Caucus, Biennium Blackout, Joint Session, Sunset Provision.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Questionable Authority: Seven Days Staffers Weigh in on Vermont Youth and e-Cigarettes

Posted By , , and on Tue, Feb 12, 2019 at 10:57 AM

  • Image: Dreamstime
On Tuesday, February 12, middle and high schoolers who are members of Our Voices Xposed (OVX) and Vermont Kids Against Tobacco (VKAT) — Vermont’s youth-led movements to reduce youth smoking and vaping  —  are scheduled to march to the Vermont Statehouse for a rally against the perils of electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco among their peers.

As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday, nearly 5 million American youth used e-cigarettes in 2018. The U.S. Surgeon General  also warned that their use is skyrocketing among minors, with one in five high school students reporting last year that they used e-cigarettes at least once in the last month. Many teens assume that vaping nicotine is a "safe" alternative to other tobacco products, such as its combustible cousin, the analog cigarette (aka, the "cancer stick"), the cigar ("ye olde stogie") and snuff and chewing tobacco ("Mr. Spitty McBrown Teeth.")

This week, Seven Days staffers weighed in on the e-cig craze among Vermont youngsters:

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Questionable Authority: Seven Days Staff Have Thoughts on Church Street Mural

Posted By , , , and on Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 4:51 PM

Detail of "Everyone Loves a Parade!" by Pierre Hardy - FILE: KATIE JICKLING
  • File: Katie Jickling
  • Detail of "Everyone Loves a Parade!" by Pierre Hardy
“Everyone Loves a Parade!” Lately, not so much. When the Church Street Marketplace mural of that title was unveiled in 2012, the work — by Québécois artist Pierre Hardy — was lauded for its inventiveness, meticulous detail and “Where’s Waldo?” aesthetic. As the CSM website exclaims: “Grand Master Samuel de Champlain leads the charge as the scene depicts an evolution in time along Church Street. Notable and everyday Burlingtonians, downtown businesses, and iconic images of the past 400 years are distinguished through overflowing illustrations.”

But sensibilities have evolved since those Norman Rockwell-ish days of 2012. Today, many see the mural’s rendering of 400 years of Vermont history as a toxic whitewash. City councilors and Mayor Miro Weinberger have called for the creation of a task force to consider ways of replacing the mural with one that’s more inclusive and representative of the Queen City’s racial and ethnic makeup.

And, perhaps, one that looks less like a placemat in a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Indeed, absent from recent rancorous mural discussions has been any assessment of the work’s artistic merits. For that, we called upon Seven Days’ arts and culture staff to weigh in.

Beyond its blinding whiteness, the “Everyone Loves a Parade!” mural is objectionable because:

KEN PICARD: Canadian muralist Pierre Hardy culturally appropriated bricks and mortar as his artistic medium, which were actually invented by the ancient Egyptians in 2500 B.C. How about using some native stone, people?!

SADIE WILLIAMS: It is a poor imitation of trompe l’oeil. Please Google trompe l’oeil and look at the myriad examples of incredible works in chalk by street artists. You’ll reconsider ever using that term to describe that monstrosity of squashed perspective.

RACHEL JONES: Isn’t blinding whiteness in form and content plenty?

DAN BOLLES: Everyone does not, in fact, love a parade.

JORDAN ADAMS: It works on a false assumption. At best, people tolerate parades.

What features, if any, from the existing mural would you save and incorporate into the new one?

KP: I’d keep the images of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, but maybe not eating vanilla ice cream.

SW: I would save the paint scraped from the walls and grind it into a fine dust to be kept in a jar at the foot of the new mural. Visitors could take a handful and scatter it in the wind and pray for the death of the patriarchy. Also, there would be face masks because you really shouldn’t inhale that stuff.

RJ: Maybe Lois Bodoky, the (now deceased) Hot Dog Lady. Does anybody know what she thought of the mural?

DB: All of the weirdly non-Vermont stuff. Like ’70s Elvis in front of Ben & Jerry’s, for example. However, for the sake of historical accuracy, he should really be touched up as Fat Elvis.

JA: I would save the wall itself — lest Banana Republic’s apparel be exposed to the elements.

The current mural commemorates the sesquicentennial of Samuel de Champlain’s 1609 “discovery” of Lake Champlain. What should the new mural commemorate?

KP: The fur-bearing trout of Lake Memphremagog, Vermont’s earliest documented case of “fake news.”

SW: The death of the word “discovery” as a term to describe Europeans putting flags on stuff that indigenous folks already knew about. Most people are on board with that.

RJ: A renewed commitment to not Disney-fying Church Street and, you know, history.

DB: Did you know that there are two stories of Ethan Allen’s death in 1789? The first is that he had a stroke. But the other is that he — wait for it — fell out of a sleigh, drunk. Obviously, historical accuracy is not paramount when it comes to the mural, so, whether or not it’s true, we should probably commemorate the founder of Vermont dying in the most Vermont way possible.

JA: The day Trump got impeached. It obviously hasn’t happened yet, but it might have by the time we sort out this whole mural thing.

How should the next artist(s) be chosen?

KP: A round-robin pentathlon involving arm wrestling, dramatic haiku readings, competitive stir-frying, speed-cartooning and beer pong.

SW: By a group of preschool kids from Burlington’s various neighborhoods. They’ll have to look at it longer than we will.

RJ: Very carefully.

DB: I suggest we start by scouting talent at Paint & Sip nights throughout greater Burlington.

JA: A hot air balloon race around the world!

The current mural was funded by donations from prominent Vermonters and local businesses. How should the new mural be paid for?

KP: With a 1 percent sales tax on every loaf of white bread.

SW: Honestly, the same way. But maybe they could just pick a really great local artist, and not treat the mural like an advertisement. Vermont has a law against billboards.

RJ: That’s a really good question.

DB: Someone got paid for that thing?

JA: Um … by the previous artist?

The next artwork to decorate the Church Street alleyway need not be a mural. What other art installations can you envision for that space?

KP: A scratch-and-sniff tour through Vermont’s dairy country would be an olfactory sensation!

SW: I’d really like a public ball pit.

RJ: A miniature version of the moving walkway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport would be pretty cool.

DB: Any work whose artistic importance merits placement in an alley leading to a parking garage that usually smells like urine and cigarettes.

JA: Motion-sensitive holographic raccoons and squirrels that break into song and dance when someone walks through the alley. We should get Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the music!

Complete this sentence: “Thirty years from now, that Church Street alleyway will be…”

KP: Reeking of urine and weed.

SW: Underwater.

RJ: A noodle shop for blade runners. (Edward James Olmos is already there.)

DB: An alleyway off Sinex Boulevard, as Church Street will be renamed in 2020 by proclamation of Mayor Miro Weinberger.

JA: Irrelevant, because we’ll all be living inside computers.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Chip Appeal: UVM Students Mock 'Doritos for Her'

Posted By on Sat, Feb 10, 2018 at 11:21 AM

  • Seanlockephotography |
  • Woman with Doritos.
Remember when Kendall Jenner brought the revolution with a can of Pepsi? In an era when big brands seem especially desperate to prove they're woke, PepsiCo has again ignited ridicule, this time for CEO Indra Nooyi's comments in a January 31 interview with Freakonomics.  Speaking with interviewer Stephen J. Dubner, Nooyi described how  PepsiCo has been working to develop female-friendlier versions of their snack-food. Among the considerations, she said, were that women "don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth."

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Alison Bechdel Is One of Three Female Cartoonists Spoofed in "The Simpsons"

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 12:11 PM

You know you've made it in the world of entertainment when you get drawn with yellow skin and four fingers. (Unless you're Jesus or God. Then you get five.)

Chalk up yet another comic coup for longtime Bolton resident Alison Bechdel. The 57-year-old Vermont Cartoonist Laureate and veteran Seven Days  contributor  is perhaps best known for her syndicated  comic strip, "Dykes to Watch Out For" and for her graphic novel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. The latter was later adapted into a 2015 Tony Award-winning musical. (Find a review of the current Vermont Stage production in this week's issue of Seven Days.)

On Sunday night, Bechdel played herself as one of three female cartoonists — along with Roz Chast and Marjane Satrapi — spoofed in classic "Simpsons" style. The episode's title, "Springfield Splendor," is a riff on the late comic Harvey Pekar's "American Splendor."

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Vermont Gets ClickHoled: No Indie Films Here, Please

Posted By on Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 1:17 PM

Vermont will be taking no part in mumblecore™ — at least not according to ClickHole. Yesterday, the Onion's delightfully irreverent content platform posted the piece, "Supporting the Arts: Vermont Is Offering a Tax Credit to Incentivize Indie Filmmakers to Stay the Fuck Out of Its State With That Bootleg Duplass-Brothers-Rip-Off Bullshit."

The title pretty much lays it all out, but it's a great full read anyway, especially if you get thrills every time you see the word "Vermont" in a major outlet, real or otherwise.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Political Comedy Series United We Standup Debuts Tonight

Posted By on Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 11:46 AM

  • Courtesy of Kendall Farrell
  • Kendall Farrell
With the formal swearing at, er, in of President-elect Donald J. Trump a mere two weeks away, millions across the country and globe are nervously wondering, What the eff do we do now? Also, Do I know any single Canadian citizens?

The uneasiness surrounding the impending inauguration crosses demographic boundaries. No one, even those who voted for him, can say with certainty what will happen next or how it will affect them. (Though the prevailing sentiment seems to be this: Fuuuuck.) That uncertainty is doubly potent for those whose job it is to observe and comment on the current political landscape. No, not journalists or pundits. We mean people with a far more important role: comedians.

Comedy has long been a source of light in the darkness. But is anything really funny about such an unfunny time? Find out tonight, Wednesday, January 4, when a new political comedy series called United We Stand Up debuts at the Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington.

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