[Stuck in Vermont: "Jamie's List," September 23] was beautifully done. Video journalist Eva Sollberger did a great job articulating the spirit of adventure and energy in Jamie Perron's life. She and her amazing parents are truly very special.
Gutwin owns the Rehab Gym.
This is a fantastic story ["Inside Story," September 23], and Jeremy Lee MacKenzie is exactly right when he says that his story can, and should, serve to challenge both society's perceptions of those who have served time in prison, and prisoners' perceptions of those on the outside. People make mistakes, especially at the age of 17. This does not mean that those same people cannot grow, mature and learn to make better life choices.
I applaud MacKenzie's courage and his determination to move beyond his past. Everyone is entitled to a second chance, and sometimes a third or fourth. His story may provide hope for others in a similar situation, may inspire someone out there to shake off the stigma associated with incarceration and strive to reach their full potential. Not to mention that his artistic abilities are absolutely mind-blowing. Kudos to you, Mr. MacKenzie; I hope to get the opportunity to meet you in person one of these days.
[Re Off Message: "Confederate Flag Riles Some City of Burlington Employees," September 23]: The Confederate flag was not about racism — it was a battle flag for the war, for freedom, honor. And no, I am not from the South. I'm a true six-generation Vermonter. But I use my head and know my history.
What gives Tim Ahonen, a department code enforcement officer, the right to tell the employee to take down the flag? But what do you expect from Burlington, which is full of socialist democrats, 90 percent of whom moved to Vermont from out of state to take over. You degrade the south for the Confederate flag but cheer the Muslim in the White House who loves terrorists and releases them. God help us when we have fools like this around.
[Re Off Message: "Confederate Flag Riles Some City of Burlington Employees," September 23]: It never ceases to amaze me the lengths to which some people will go to control what other people legally do or say. We played "Yankees and Rebels" as a child in Tennessee just as other kids played cowboys and Indians. Get over it! This is one American who could start spouting off about what offends me, but I excuse things because I believe in our freedoms!
[Re Soundbites: "Close Up the Honky Tonk?" September 23]: My first few months in Burlington were miserable. I was a freshman at the University of Vermont, and college life was not as groovy and adventurous as I had dreamt it would be back in my sterile, suburban Massachusetts hometown. So when my one new friend dragged me down the hill to go to something called "Honky Tonk Tuesday," and we walked into Radio Bean, I was instantly smitten. Hanging out among the twinkly lights and funky fixtures and funkier people became a weekly ritual, and I soon started to sense that my cute college town had a radical underbelly. Honky Tonk Tuesday was my entry point into what I've called "real Burlington." It's where I first met people who cared about their community and spent their days working to make it better through their art, activism and day jobs. The people I met and observed from afar at HTT eventually became my friends and neighbors, and they inspired me to get involved around town. I'm sad to think of HTT ending and other bored college kids missing out on a wormhole into one of Burlington's most vibrant and creative communities. HTT is part of the reason I'm still here eight years later, and not planning to leave anytime soon.
[Re "Giving a Fig," September 23]: I have two hardy Chicago fig trees that are producing fairly well. Last winter under mulch, a heavy white insulation blanket and burlap, they barely got through the cold winter. Now they will stay potted and short in the heated greenhouse.
[Re 20/20 Hindsight: "Paper Trails," September 9]: For a few days a week, I get to be in this Seven Days community when I deliver the paper — and various other publications — in northern Vermont. It would take pages to list all the kindnesses and generosity my dogs and I have received. It goes well beyond banter over the racks. Getting to know these folks over the years in weekly installments — their families, their milestones, their lives — has been a privilege. Sometimes, in the light and warmth of a store with the weather getting worse by the hour, it's two of us wishing each other safe journeys back home and the offer of "a hot coffee before you go?" In summer, they thrust chilled bottled water at me with a simple "here, here." It's smiles and jokes and caring. Treats and slices and cookies, and even Band-Aids when blade and hurried fingers slip. And a mountain of dog biscuits — first for Callie and now for Wren, both of whom came from the North Country Animal League. Over time, the people along my route have become friends.
Michael has been a driver for Seven Days since 1995.
[Re "South End Artists Hope to Stall the Champlain Parkway," September 23]: I think the Barge Canal as a wilderness within city limits is a valuable natural resource the way it is. I'm from New York City, where Robert Moses proved long ago that big highways don't solve traffic problems. (Have you ever driven into Manhattan?) Let's see a show of hands: Who wants the Champlain Parkway as described at this point?
Charles J. Messing