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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

Woman with Doritos. - SEANLOCKEPHOTOGRAPHY | DREAMSTIME.COM
  • Seanlockephotography | Dreamstime.com
  • 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

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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

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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

Kendall Farrell - COURTESY OF KENDALL FARRELL
  • 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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Monday, November 21, 2016

Joke of the Week: The Name Game

Posted By on Mon, Nov 21, 2016 at 9:15 AM

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It's Monday, which means it's time for your weekly dose of locavore levity: the Joke of the Week! This week's joke comes from South Montpelier's Sky Sandoval. Take it away, Sky …

So, my name is Sky. I have two half-sisters, and my half-sisters' names are: Star … and Jennifer.

It’s an interesting choice on my dad’s part naming us Sky, Star and Jennifer. It makes me wonder what he’d be like if he were in charge of other things using that logic. I always like to imagine what it’d be like if he booked a music festival.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Joke of the Week: Sex and Creemees

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 7:55 AM

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Welcome to the debut installment of the Seven Days Joke of the Week! Every Monday, this space will feature a joke submitted by a Vermont comedian. This week's joke comes from New Haven's Katie Gillespie. Take it away, Katie  …

I'm not from Vermont so it took me a long time to learn that a creemee is not a sex act. But I do think that eating one in front of old dudes at the farmers market is the Vermont equivalent of doing porn. And I'm in the industry now.
About that joke
Says Gillespie: "I moved here from Chicago last summer, so I spend a lot of time thinking about the differences between big-city and small-town life!" 

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cards Against Humanity's Amy Schwartz Discusses Life as a 'Design Troublemaker'

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 5:27 PM

"Amy, I'm only stopping this car once: Do you have to go No. 1 or No. 2?" - COURTESY OF AMY SCHWARTZ
  • Courtesy of Amy Schwartz
  • "Amy, I'm only stopping this car once: Do you have to go No. 1 or No. 2?"
Amy Nicole Schwartz sums up her job as "basically dick jokes and boxes." As design director for Cards Against Humanity, the  wildly successful and hilariously inappropriate party game, and its "boring business company" spinoff,  Blackbox, Schwartz  sets the creative vision for her companies' games, projects and subversive PR campaigns.

Believe it or not, there's more to her design responsibilities than laying out black-and-white game cards that read, "Toni Morrison's vagina" and "Watching an orphanage burn" in Helvetica Neue Bold. 

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