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Letters to the Editor 

Published July 29, 2009 at 9:22 a.m.


I found it sad that — according to the Seven Daysies categories, at least — theater is not an art form. This omission is particularly puzzling given that at least two Vermont theaters — and I am proud to be affiliated with both — have been rated among the best not only in Vermont but in the entire nation.

Jeffrey E. Salzberg


Salzberg works as a freelance lighting designer for Montpelier’s Lost Nation Theater and St. Michael’s Playhouse.

(Editor’s note: Indeed. Sadder still is the explanation for this omission: That when we did include “Best Theater Company” in the early years of the Daysies, not very many readers could name one. But perhaps we’ll reprise it next year and see what happens.)


I was sad to see the News Quirk titled “Strange Bedfellow” in the July 15 issue of Seven Days. It recounted a simple and boring rendition of a domestic dispute. It would have not even have been interesting or newsworthy except that the dispute was between two males, one a “cross dresser.” I found it homophobic and heterosexist. Not what I expect from the paper that is tolerant and forward thinking. You can do better.

Lauren Tronsgard-Scott


(Editor’s Note: “News Quirks” is nationally syndicated. Its content is not original to Seven Days.)


Thank you for putting the new restaurant at The Lincoln Inn on my radar [“Taste Test: The Belted Cow,” June 30]. [Suzanne Podhaizer’s] review depicts a great addition to our local food scene, and I look forward to making my way to Essex Junction for a meal soon. I want to comment, however, on the reviewer’s closing suggestion that the small menu detracts from the restaurant’s appeal. Throughout the article, the reviewer seems impressed by the chef’s commitment to local and seasonal ingredients (there’s mention of fresh peas, ramps and strawberries along with Boyden Farms and Pete’s Greens), which only makes the concluding sentiment all the more misguided. If we, as patrons, want our restaurants to source more ingredients from close to home, then we must stop demanding expansive menu offerings.

I understand that we want a certain amount of choice and dazzle when we go out to eat (especially when we’re paying top dollar), but shouldn’t we also learn to trust chefs to create menus that make the most of what is available? If we truly hope to rebuild a food system based on regional food sources, then we must stop expecting the “soup-to-nuts” type of menus that our existing food system has taught us to appreciate. I, for one, applaud a restaurant that opens with a small menu — especially if that menu includes items as seasonal as rhubarb and pea shoots. It tells me that the kitchen cares enough to only offer as much as they can thoughtfully procure and prepare.

Molly Stevens


Stevens is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and teacher.


I see that Jack McMullen is back [“Arch Conservative John McClaughry Opts for Succession, Not Secession,” July 15]. Here’s a man who moved to Vermont because he didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell getting anywhere while he was still living in Massachusetts … Vermont would be better served if all these people went home to try to change where they came from rather than ruining our state with their phony “conservatism,” which is only a thinly veiled form of greed.

Christopher Hill



I’d like to thank Seven Days for its media sponsorship of the recent Burlington International Waterfront Festival and take a minute to comment on Shay Totten’s criticism [“Fair Game,” July 8] of the Burlington Free Press for running my series of first-person previews and behind-the-scenes glimpses into the festival’s cultural components.

Shay’s comments invite a wider discussion that could include the state of arts writing, the function of community newspapers, and the role of artists and producers in public discourse. I’d be happy to participate in that discussion. In the meantime, I’d like to make a couple of points.

Totten compares me to a car salesman hawking my jalopies courtesy of the Free Press. Here, I take issue. Burlington’s Champlain 400 festival functioned in the public interest as a nonprofit cultural event. It’s not comparable to a commercial auto dealership organized to make profits for its owners. Unless the car dealer wanted to explore a matter in the public interest — say, the local impact of industry declines or a fresh vision on the future of Vermont transportation. I, for one, would be interested in reading that.

Totten is right — I was happy to write articles for the Free Press as one of the many ways I sought to help people navigate the festival’s complex mix of history, music, theater, dance, film, food and lake events. Having spent a year raising sponsorships, shaping festival content, and commissioning original dance, theater and radio performances, I was concerned that some local media seemed to ignore the festival’s cultural dimension and focus instead on money issues and big-name concert stars.

I wasn’t surprised to see this money focus, given America’s long acceptance of desperately low public funding for the arts — at per capita levels of only 1 or 2 percent of what’s provided in France, Germany, Canada, Australia and other modern nations. Still, I wanted to get past the money and raise a flag for the festival’s core cultural content — most of it free or inexpensive to attend. I did this so that people would not squander the generous program opportunities provided by local business sponsors, the City of Burlington, and the governments of Vermont, Québec, France and the United States (thanks to Senator Leahy).

There is a long history in American newspapers of offering first-person arts perspectives. Even a quick survey of the New York Times shows Woody Allen using his humorous behind-the-scenes diary to focus attention on his release of Vicky Christina Barcelona, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet making the case for the Broadway revival of his play Speed the Plow.

“The aim of drama is to put tushies in the seats,” Mamet wrote, “and the best way to do that is to write a ripping yarn, with a bunch of sex, some nifty plot twists and a lot of snappy dialogue. If you are looking for such, I suggest Speed the Plow.

As an independent Vermont filmmaker, I routinely write first-person, behind-the-scenes pieces on various aspects of each of my pictures. And, yes, part of my reason for doing this is to facilitate the uphill battle of grassroots production and distribution — to provide specific context for people overwhelmed by coast-to-coast commercials and the free glossy magazine and talk-show coverage that Hollywood films enjoy.

The Free Press is not the only publication to have carried my first-person articles. Every Vermont daily newspaper and most of the weeklies have run them, too — including the Vermont Guardian (“On the Road With Disappearances,” July 2006), that Shay Totten edited and published before coming to write for Seven Days.

Jay Craven


Craven produced the Burlington International Waterfront Festival.


With all the print about the demise of the Chew Chew Festival [“Side Dishes: R.I.P. Chew Chew,” June 30], I’m surprised not to have seen a mention or two about the featured guests at the first one. In 1984, I attended the first festival, in City Hall Park, and the headliners were the three stars from the “Newhart” TV show and big hit of the day: William Sanderson, John Volstad and Tony Papenfuss. They played Larry, his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl. Louie Manno acted as DJ. They must have needed some names to get the public to show up for the first time, and it was quite well attended, as I recall.

The event worth turning out for at that premiere was a much-publicized lard fight between the brothers plus any audience participants who cared to get involved. They dragged in a 55-gallon drum marked Lard — donated by the McKenzie company — and greasy fun was had by all.

After the Big Fight, the stars signed autographs as a huge receiving line formed along the stage. I waited in vain for another appearance by the Hollywood trio, but some things, I guess, just cannot be replicated.

Mitch Kramer



On Saturday, July18, at the Radio Bean in Burlington, an extraordinary concert took place. The young emerging artists of the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival presented three string quartets — Charles Ives, Samuel Barber and Philip Glass — free of charge! These young string players, hardly out of their teens, gave inspiring performances for a mostly accidental audience who wandered in and out of this popular coffeehouse on North Winooski Avenue. I could hardly believe my ears as the first strains of the Glass string quartet filled the small space. The musicianship was full blown and resonant with a sophistication beyond the young years of the players. The Green Mountain Chamber organization deserves a standing ovation for instituting these outreach concerts…

Al Salzman



I read your issue on green building with interest [Seven Days, June 24] and, after looking at the schematic of the owner/builder’s green home, shared the same concerns that Jonathan Miller raised in his letter [“‘Green’ Gripes,” July 8]. Namely, there was no mention of the need for ventilation.

However, Mr. Miller seems to consider it a challenge to provide adequate ventilation to tightly built homes. I can assure you that this problem was figured out over 30 years ago in North America, and longer ago in Europe, where energy costs have historically been higher.

Heat recovery ventilation allows construction of tightly built, well-insulated homes without sacrificing indoor air quality. With this system, stale air is exhausted from moisture-producing rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms and directed through a heat-recovery core, while the same volume of fresh air is brought into the house. This air is filtered and warmed by the exhausting stale air. The two airstreams pass each other without mixing and the fresh air is directed to the living spaces of the home.

I have been designing and installing heat-recovery ventilation systems throughout Vermont for over 25 years, allowing hundreds of families to enjoy the benefits of fresh air inside their tightly built homes. All these years I have advocated, “Build it tight, ventilate right,” as have so many others in the building science community.

David Hansen


David Hansen is one of the founders of Memphremagog Heat Exchangers, Inc., of Newport.


Last week’s story, “Sleeping at the Movies,” contained some factual errors about the former owners of the Fairlee Motel and Drive-in Theater. Elaine and Raymond Herb were not in their eighties when they sold the drive-in; they are still in their seventies. Furthermore, the couple never lived in Florida, as stated in the article.

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