Live Culture | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Friday, April 20, 2018

Seven Questions for Vermont SABR Chair Clayton Trutor

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 1:38 PM

Clayton Trutor - COURTESY OF CLAYTON TRUTOR
  • Courtesy of Clayton Trutor
  • Clayton Trutor
Vermont baseball nerds, rejoice! This weekend, the Vermont chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) takes the field after a long rain delay, metaphorically speaking. The Gardner-Waterman (Vermont) SABR chapter holds its spring meeting at the Robert Miller Community and Recreation Center in Burlington this Sunday, April 22.

The local SABR chapter was founded in the 1990s by noted local baseball historian Tom Simon and others. But according to current chair Clayton Trutor, the collective of baseball researchers, historians and statisticians had fallen dormant in recent years. Trutor is attempting to jumpstart the chapter and hopes to hold meetings at least twice per year.

"It's an opportunity for members to present their research on the history of baseball and the statistics of the game," Trutor tells Seven Days. He adds: "There will also be a trivia contest."

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Gilbert Gottfried on Working (Really) Blue, Roasting Trump and Friendly Nazis

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 5:37 PM

Gilbert Gottfried - COURTESY OF GILBERT GOTTFRIED
  • Courtesy of Gilbert Gottfried
  • Gilbert Gottfried
Gilbert Gottfried is disgusting — and proudly so. In reviews of the 2005 documentary film The Aristocrats, which chronicles the supposed dirtiest joke in the world, the squinty-eyed comic with the famously grating voice is often cited as stealing the film with his rendition of the obscenely taboo joke during a Friars Club roast of Hugh Hefner in New York City shortly after 9/11.

"One of the reviews said, 'Of the hundred or so comedians in the film, no one is more disgusting than Gilbert Gottfried,'" the comic recalls. "And I thought, You know, that's really an honor."

But as another, more recent, documentary reveals, Gottfried — who performs at Burlington's Vermont Comedy Club this Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21 — is something else, too. He's thoughtful, sweet, devoted to his family and more than a little cheap, especially when it comes to hoarding hotel freebies.

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Mommy Issues: Complications Company Seeks Submissions for 'Other Mothers'

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 10:13 AM

Actor Cael Barkman last year in Complications Company's production of Making Babies. - COMPLICATIONS COMPANY
  • Complications Company
  • Actor Cael Barkman last year in Complications Company's production of Making Babies.
Have you ever wanted to tell a story about your mom, without ensuring she'll write you out of her will? Or simply share a warm moment about her, without having to expose yourself? Well, a Burlington theater company has just the thing.

Laura Roald and Mary Beth McNulty of Complications Company are seeking submissions from playwrights for "Other Mothers," a production cum competition that prompts scribes to quickly draft dramas about each other's mothers. Participants will have 24 hours to create a short show, after being assigned a mom at a launch event at Butch & Babes on Friday, May 4. The lot will be staged on Sunday, May 6, at Off Center for the Dramatic Arts in Burlington's Old North End.

So far, Roald says, the company has received four submissions through its website. She hopes to end up with 10 in total. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, May 2.

The questions on the submission form are a mix of multiple choice and essay that allow for tender, or not so tender, reflections on one's mother. For example, "If your mom were an animal, she would be a …" Or, "Advice from your mother you never followed." McNulty notes that they're not looking for solely sugar sweet reflections, citing the complexities of motherhood and parenting.

While Roald can't confirm which actors will be reading the finished scripts for the Sunday show, she says they're all relatively well known, locally. She and McNulty will serve as directors.

Roald and McNulty will meet with the actors on Sunday morning to run the scripts, and the plays will be staged that afternoon at 4 p.m. Complications Company is partnering with BurlingtonVT Moms Blog for the event. Judges from that latter organization will crown one of the subjects "Mother of the Year" at the end of the show. May the best mom win!

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Sudanese Community Rallies to Send Kids to Camp Rock Point

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 10:51 AM

From left: Deacon Stan Baker, Rev. Sherry Osborn, Bishop Thomas Ely, Chol Dhoor - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • From left: Deacon Stan Baker, Rev. Sherry Osborn, Bishop Thomas Ely, Chol Dhoor
This summer might bring a new experience for fourth graders Nyankoor Anyang and Rosa Kuku. Along with their teammates from Chittenden County's Nile Bright Stars Academy soccer team, the students hope to spend a week at Rock Point Camp in Burlington. The entire local Sudanese community is rallying behind them.

Last Saturday, the Sudanese Foundation of Vermont and the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Burlington  organized a fundraiser dinner so that kids from the Sudanese community can attend Rock Point Camp, which is run by the Episcopal Diocese.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Cultural Mosaic: Megha Nath Adhikari Finds Harmony on the Harmonium

Posted By on Fri, Apr 13, 2018 at 12:32 PM

Megha Nath Adhikari - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Megha Nath Adhikari
Megha Nath Adhikari admits that his fingers aren't quite as deft on the duki tabala, a pair of hand drums, these days because he has dedicated himself to the harmonium, a portable pump organ.

"When we came [to Vermont], there was no one to play this one," says the Essex Junction resident, gesturing to the harmonium. "So, my focus goes to the harmonium."

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Christal Brown Named Director of Visual & Performing Arts at Clemmons Family Farm

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 7:00 AM

Christal Brown - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Christal Brown
Fueled by a $350,000 creative placemaking grant received last December, Charlotte's Clemmons Family Farm continues toward its goal of becoming a major African American and African diasporic cultural center in Vermont. In one of several grant-funded positions now officialized, Middlebury dancer and choreographer Christal Brown has been appointed as director of visual and performing arts at the farm.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Style Points: In With the Old at Billie Jean Vintage

Posted By on Sun, Apr 1, 2018 at 12:32 PM

Meghan Jean Mello and Diane Jean - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • Meghan Jean Mello and Diane Jean
The amount of quality vintage clothing in Burlington just went up a notch — or a storefront. Billie Jean Vintage, a boutique and Etsy store run by cousins Diane Jean and Meghan Jean Mello, recently moved from Stowe to Battery Street in Burlington.

Mello grew up in Charlotte. Jean is a Jersey girl. But for the past three years, they've been hawking new and vintage reproduction goods for their discerning customers. Jean also plays in the band Clever Girls.

In Burlington, BJV joins other vintage newbies, such as the Vault Collective on Cherry Street, and staples of the scene such as Old Gold on Main Street. It seems that the Queen City has an appetite for retro, recycled habiliments.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

After Months of Searching, Islamic Society of Vermont Hires New Imam

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 at 1:29 PM

From left to right: Taysir Al-Khatib, Abd’Llah Al-Ansari, Yusuf Ali - SAMANTHA LORD-KONARE
  • Samantha Lord-Konare
  • From left to right: Taysir Al-Khatib, Abd’Llah Al-Ansari, Yusuf Ali
The Islamic Society of Vermont has hired Abd'Llah Al-Ansari, a U.S. army veteran, prison chaplain and scholar of Arabic and Islamic studies, to be its new imam. Al-Ansari's first day as ISVT imam is April 1.

Islam Hassan, the ISVT's former imam, relocated to Ohio last summer.

Detroit-born Al-Ansari was one of three shortlisted candidates, said Yusuf Ali, head of the imam-hiring committee. The 10-member group includes ISVT president Taysir Al-Khatib, two women and two University of Vermont students.

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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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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Norwich University Staffer Jonathan Trutor to Appear on 'Jeopardy!'

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2018 at 7:00 AM

Jonathan Trutor, right, with Alex Trebek - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Jonathan Trutor, right, with Alex Trebek
When a "Jeopardy!" staffer phoned Jonathan Trutor in early December to inform him that he'd been selected to be on the television game show, the Norwich University instructional technologist put the caller on hold.  “I felt kind of bad about it, but I had a meeting,” explained Trutor. “I wasn’t trying to be jokey.”

The Colchester resident’s journey to be on the game show took just a few weeks. Soon after taking an online "Jeopardy!" quiz, Trutor received an invitation to an audition in Boston the weekend before Thanksgiving. By mid-January, he was on his way to Los Angeles for a taping before a live audience.

The show will be broadcast next Monday, March 26, 7 p.m. on local NBC affiliate WPTZ-TV.

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