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Small Plates, Big Bill

Lately I’ve noticed that the restaurant reviews have been a bit more critical, while still striving to be supportive of the local food scene. This is good; keep it up! Your review of Via Loma paralleled my experience [“Small Plates,” December 15]: warm place that I want to like, but exceedingly noisy to the point of discomfort. The food was decent, nothing special, but had potential. I was thinking of going back until my $52 bill came, and I was still quite hungry.

This is not just Via Loma: Church & Main, The Green Room, Bluebird et al. are focusing more on small plates. The reality is that the effort, labor, overhead and cost it takes to create a small plate is, except for actual ingredients, about the same as a large plate. Therefore, the cost is too high and the perceived value too low.

My friends and I have been regularly tantalized by the possibility of enjoying a smorgasbord of small tastes and then shocked at the cost.

Michael Wisniewski

Hinesburg

Si, Via Loma

In response to the hypercritical review of Via Loma [“Small Plates,” December 15], I would comment that my experiences there have been excellent, including good service and excellent food. Also, I have hearing impairment but find the acoustics at Via Loma quite good. I would not hesitate to return.

Michael Wool

Charlotte

Air Apparent

As a volunteer programmer at low-power 170-watt WMRW 95.1 FM in Warren and also at 1000-watt WGDR 91.1 FM out of Goddard College in Plainfield, I enjoyed reading about Harry and Jack’s radio show at WOMM [“Kids FM,” December 8]. The novelty of independent, community-based, free-form radio is taking off around Vermont and elsewhere, much to the satisfaction of the 35-year-old Goddard station stalwarts.

A couple of things caught my attention. First: Did you get “obstreperousness” off of a Graduate Record Exam review course? Two conventional dictionaries did not contain it. I finally located this vaguely familiar term (because I took the GREs) on an online site. It means “noisily and stubbornly defiant” or “aggressively boisterous,” which Harry (who can’t possibly have encountered this term yet) clearly isn’t, in your portrayal of him. Perhaps that’s a “Seven Days-ism” for trying to appear hip and erudite? I’m 38, and the main reasons I’m on the air for no pay are because radio programmed entirely by deejays is good and a lot of fun.

Second: No special license is required for a low-power station to play top-40 artists. We do it all the time in Warren and Plainfield, the latter of which requires a broadcaster’s license of all programmers.

Otherwise, from all of us who do volunteer community radio, thanks for drawing attention to the remarkable things happening on the air in Vermont: Kudos to the Harry and Jack Show! To air is to be human!!

Brian “DJ WoodWarbler” Aust

Waitsfield

Better Bernie Treatment

In the cartoon of December 15, one of Tim Newcomb’s characters refers to Bernie Sanders “ranting.” Bernie’s speech was a well-thought-out statement of truth against the very things that are destroying our country. It was not a rant. I have voted for Bernie at every opportunity since his first election as mayor of Burlington. Although he has not always lived up to my most fervent hopes, his consistency and basic stance is an example of what we need more of. To characterize his actions last week as a “rant” is arrogant and myopic. Climb off your self-erected pedestal, Mr. Newcomb. If you have anything to add to the political discussion, run for office yourself.

Christopher Hill

Burlington

Misleading Headline

Kevin J. Kelley’s article on the CCTA contract negotiations would have us focus on a “union rift” [“Teamster Spirit? Contract Negotiations Reveal Union Rift at CCTA,” December 8]. Yet he also mentions in passing a 36-1 union vote rejecting the latest contract. Since when is near unanimity a rift? What’s significant here is not a dispute between union rank-and-filers and those who would represent them. The real story is the dispute between workers and management: the problems the drivers are taking issue with in the CCTA’s contract.

Right now drivers are working long split shifts — typically for two to three hours starting as early as 5 a.m., then another five to six hours in the late afternoon and evening. From talking with the drivers, I know that sleep is hard to come by in the interim, so they drive tired. Compounding the danger is a “time-management” strategy that has CCTA bus drivers being tracked by GPS, onboard surveillance cameras and even by CCTA cars to monitor driver promptness between stops. Management has a definition of promptness hardly in accord with reality. Traffic, weather, disabled riders that may require time to enter the bus — these aren’t taken into account, pressuring already tired drivers to conform to a tight schedule, rather than to their own judgment as to what constitutes an appropriate speed.

I’d like to see Seven Days publish articles about the issues concerning bus drivers and riders. And I’d like to see the CCTA offer its workers a contract that treats them with respect and dignity.

Kevin Ruffe

Burlington

Barbie’s Bud

[Re: “Poli Psy: Bad Girl Barbie,” December 8]: I recall that, back in the ’70s, Barbie had a friend called Growing Up Skipper. A twist of her arm made breasts suddenly shoot out like magic. Ms. magazine did a scathing article and wondered if there would be a Growing Up Buster and what might arise at the twist of an arm. I can only guess...

Paul Falcone

Montpelier

Defending Humperdinck

There I was, lining the litter box with last week’s Seven Days, when the name Engelbert Humperdinck caught my eye in the music section … I read the photo caption: “If you don’t know who Wu-Tang Clan are ... cue up an old Engelbert Humperdinck record and wallow in your consummate lameness.”

I’ll skip the tempting lecture about EH’s preeminent talent and mastery of musical diversity; your writer is himself too lame to recognize the scope of EH’s genres. Instead, I’ll shoot straight at the narrow, bland uniformity imposed on music today by the suits that have fooled people such as your writer. Fooled them into believing that aggressive posturing is a real evo/revolutionary step up from celebrating beauty, taste and love. Wake up! The strutting, swaggering, posing and gesturing are a mask for more than the absence of talent. They mask the corporate message: Dumb down, lower your expectations to a finite lowest common denominator. Walmart doesn’t want us to grasp the vision of our monumental, limitless potentials for creativity. That would be real revolution and make us dangerous opponents and lousy consumers.

Bill Oetjen

Burlington

Stop the F-35s

[Re: “Vermont’s Stop the F-35 Coalition Recruits a Veteran Spokesman,” October 13]: The Joint Strike Fighters, or F-35s, are weapons systems built for aggressive maneuvers, not defense. Some readers have recently invoked the specter of 9/11, claiming the JSFs will keep us secure from “terrorists.” I see at least two problems there: We are the ones stealth bombing, maiming and killing civilians; and U.S. defensive airpower did not prevent 9/11, but was oddly impotent on that terrible day.

The carbon footprint of war must also be addressed in order for us to turn the corner on planetary preservation and survival. The energy resources wasted to manufacture the JSF and the constant burning of fuel are just two contributors. I would have to walk or bike to work for the rest of my life to save the amount of fuel that a JSF uses in an hour; we don’t have that kind of time.

The JSF is a boondoggle, and obsolete before manufacture. NAVAIR officials projected life-cycle maintenance costs of the JSF fleet at over $1 trillion. That doesn’t include the billions in overruns that have already occurred during development and testing.

Thousands of Vermonters find war morally reprehensible, and I believe we should be able to opt out of having our tax money squandered on professional, government-sanctioned murder. Our congressional delegation should introduce a bill to ensure this right. I would like to see my taxes spent on small-scale solar energy, housing, education and health care instead. This would provide true security for my family, neighborhood, Vermont community and planet.

Laurie Larson

Burlington

Mil Gracias

Vermont Institute on the Caribbean and Septeto Tipico Tivoli from Santiago de Cuba would like to extend a sincere thank-you to the almost 200 community members who attended our fundraising Cuban Dance Party! [“Magnificent 7,” December 8]. You were a great crowd, welcoming our Cuban friends with Vermont warmth, hospitality and impressive dancing! Your support helps VIC continue our commitment to developing collaborative partnerships and exchange between Vermont and the people of Cuba — con amistad, solidaridad y mucho amor. Mil gracias!

Marisha Kazeniac

Burlington

Kazeniac is executive director of the Vermont Institute on the Caribbean.

Bad Energy

It is too bad that cartoonist Andy Singer [“No Exit,” December 1] does not have the imagination to think up enough amusing ideas. Making fun of chakra balancing, just for a few laughs, is just not very intelligent. It also downgrades the hard work and care practitioners in Vermont are giving to clients in this area. I have been a practitioner of chakra balancing (which is a part of the greater umbrella of “energy healing”) since 1992. The practice is not new; it dates back to BC in the Middle East. I have given classes on how the treatment can assist with a host of ailments — from depression to leukemia to ADD/ADHD — and I have treated toddlers to seniors, here and in Europe. All of this without pharmaceutical drugs and their prevalent side effects. It helps bring the body, the mind, and the spirit together.

Modern life can leave many people feeling fragmented. The beauty of it is that as well as assisting people to cope with symptoms, [chakra balancing] removes blockages in the energy field before they have a chance to become physical symptoms.

Kate Lanxner

South Burlington

Charge More for All Food

America’s obesity problem is not soda pop [“Blurt,” November 19]. The problem goes back to 1906, when Fritz Haber brought together two new technologies, electricity and petroleum, to make ammonium nitrate. The process made WWII possible. When the war was over, the surplus was sold to farmers, making obsolete the costly process of crop rotation and nitrogen fixing. By now, yields have increased so much that some large portion of the harvest is diverted away from human “food” to animal feed and other uses, like plastic and high-fructose corn syrup. Prior to WWII the American worker spent 35 percent of his or her paycheck for food. Today that expenditure is 8 percent. We have all thought this was a wonderful thing, except farmers have achieved “efficiencies” by externalizing the costs of soil fertility and the disposal of manure into the environment: Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain are all polluted by farm wastes.

If America wants to lose weight, the government must encourage the production of healthy food, it must pay farmers directly what it costs to raise food, plus a profit, so they will not use synthetic fertilizers to make surpluses that pollute the environment. Lowering agriculture’s use of petroleum also slows resource depletion and global warming. To achieve all this at one fell swoop, the tax Mr. Sorrell proposes to be levied against soda pop should instead be levied against synthetic fertilizers. This would cause yields to drop and the price of food to rise, and that is the point of this letter: If food were more expensive, we would eat less of it and lose weight.

James Maroney

Leicester

CORRECTION

The December 1 CD review of Anomali by Camomilla contained a factual error. The review stated that Bennett Shapiro provided vocals for the song “Spanish Ska Dub.” The vocalist was in fact Lloyd Knibb of the Skatalites. Shapiro served as “Dub Master.”

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