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Back Talk 

Published June 11, 1997 at 4:00 a.m. | Updated November 7, 2017 at 12:39 p.m.

BORDERS PATROL: It looks like bookstores might out number coffeeshops on Church Street. Borders Bookstore —  the next-biggest national book retailer after Barnes & Noble — is setting up shop on the top block. “We have a deal,” says broker Jeff Nick, acknowledging a signed letter of intent with the literary superstore Borders, which also carries a wide selection of music. It will take over the first and second floors of the Miller’s Landmark building, displacing J. Lemay, Scribbles and Samsara Café. “I think everybody looks at it as a positive, even the existing tenants,” Nick says. Hard to imagine Randy Chudnow at Chassman & Bern Booksellers jumping for joy. Not to mention independents like Crow, Everyday, North Country and Pyramid. “They looked seriously at Taft Corners,” Nick says of Borders, “but decided this was the better location.” Let’s hope it stays that way.

DOUBLE CROSSING: Fact and fiction happily coexist in the works of Middlebury writer Jay Parini — historical novels based on real literary figures like Leo Tolstoy, and in his latest, literary critic Walter Benjamin. But “error” was the operative word in the Washington Post assessment of the book, in which critic Jeffrey Mehlman alleged Benjamin's Crossing was full of mistakes. Turns out the Benjamin scholar was reading the wrong version. The “error” was his. He read the book in galley form — the page proofs made available to reviewers — not the final copy. “I cut out sentences, rearranged things, the whole last paragraph is gone — I used the galleys as a rough draft,” Parini says. In his review, Mehlman quotes from two sentences that are not in the final book. “He never bothered to check,” says Parini, who is still smarting from the major metropolitan mix-up. The Post was “chagrined,” according to Parini, but did not run a retraction. The editor did invite Parini to write a letter, which has yet to appear. Rest assured they are checking this one carefully — with the legal department.

BURRELL IN BRONZE: Only one thing gets people more riled up than public schools. Public art. Take the much-maligned leap-frog sculpture on Church Street, for example. “You get people who love it, and talk about how wonderfully interactive it is,’’observes Doreen Kraft of Burlington City Arts, “and you get other people who gag.” So how would a life-size sculpture of Big Joe Burrell go over? Sculptor Sarah Crocker is hot to cast his likeness in bronze and has offered to find the money to finance it. Technically, the Committee on Art in Public Spaces would make the call. But there is no real precedent, and the group is working on streamlining the process through smaller public art review panels. In the meantime, Rachel Comey — who curates the Exquisite Corpse gallery at Jager DiPaola Kemp Design — got the go-ahead to spruce up a graffiti-prone wall across from Burlington City Hall. “She had thought through all the issues — adherence, maintenance, the distance from which people would be viewing it,” Kraft says of the brick pick.

IN BRIEF: Coming down Main Street, people are going to be like, ‘Whoa, what’s on that building?”’ says Melinda Moulton of Main Street Landing Company. By the time this lands in your hands, Union Station will have made the simian switch, and installed two winged monkeys on its majestic roof. “We hope it will lend some mystique and magic to the building,” says Moulton. “At night they will be lit. It is going to be awesome.” And you can forget about getting those monkeys to fly fly fly ... to your place. With or without wizardry, they’ll be attached to the roof . . . Who needs David Letterman when you have Quality Value Convenience? Vermont filmmaker John O’Brien is expecting to move 2,600 units in eight minutes this Christmas on the Q.V.C. Network. His movie, Man With a Plan, was chosen from dozen of local entries for the annual home shopping spree televised from Vermont. “We just have to make sure Fred’s ears aren’t plugged up for this one” says O’Brien, who is already at work on his next film. The working title is Nosey Parker — an antiquated word for “busybody” . . . Cannabis in a can? While other brewers flavor with apricot, raspberry and licorice, Golden Dome Brewing Company has come out with a new beer made with, well, hemp. “It has a crunchy, nutty flavor,” says Thom Milke of Hummingbird Graphics, and “a really smooth texture.” Despite the single buzz, the stuff is selling “faster than we can make it,” Milke says. Should go over well at the legislature. If anyone deserves a long, cold one, those hemp seeds do.

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Paula Routly

Paula Routly

Paula Routly came to Vermont to attend Middlebury College. After graduation, she stayed and worked as a dance critic, arts writer, news reporter and editor before she started Seven Days newspaper with Pamela Polston in 1995. Routly covered arts news, then food, and, starting in 2008, focused her editorial energies on building the news side of the operation, for which she is a regular weekly editor. She conceptualized and managed the “Give and Take” special report on Vermont’s nonprofit sector, the “Our Towns” special issue and the yearlong “Hooked” series exploring Vermont’s opioid crisis. When she’s not editing stories, Routly runs the business side of Seven Days — overseeing finances, management and product development. She spearheaded the creation of the newspaper’s numerous ancillary publications and events such as Restaurant Week and the Vermont Tech Jam. In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.


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