Mind Your Own Business
[Re Feedback: "The Fag Rag," March 12 and "Ad Is Appalling," April 2]: I cannot understand why people like Brian King write to the paper with their shorts all in a knot over what people solicit in the personals. It's like a classified advertisement for an automobile, for Chrissakes; if you aren't interested, don't answer the ad! And all this faux concern for our young people. Come on! I remember being a kid and hearing friends talk about sex, and, believe me, except for a predator using coercion, none of us would have done any of this stuff unless we wanted to.
Then there are the people who are in a snit over the fact that the editors of Seven Days saw fit to publish King's letter. As much as it pains me to see such troubling thoughts in print, I fail to see what we gain by shutting the people who harbor them out of the conversation.
Finally, Docia Proctor's complaint, it seems, concerns an advertisement for American Apparel depicting a young girl in a tank top and shorts eating ice cream. Wow! That's pretty darn "hateful, degrading, humiliating, hurtful and scary!" Let's forbid all young girls from appearing outside of their bedrooms in less than long-sleeve shirts and full-length pants — or better yet, burkas — and God have mercy on their wicked, sinful souls if they eat ice cream in public!
I have a great deal of respect for the cofounders of Seven Days — a couple of women, by the way — for the success they have achieved at bucking the trend in print media and building themselves a very successful publishing empire. My only gripe with their paper is that it's so damned interesting that I can never get it all read before the next one appears on the newsstand.
I would make one suggestion: Publish letters like those penned by King and Proctor where they belong — in the comics.
Back to 1994
The quotes from Senators McAllister and Flory [Fair Game: "Label to Table," April 16] against the GMO labeling bill show exactly why labeling works. The two senators reviewed the material presented to them and were able to forn their own opinions. While I disagree with their votes, the senators had the opportunity to make their decisions based upon readily available information. Once GMO labeling goes into effect, we'll all be able to better identify what we may or may not want to elect to put into our shopping carts.
Fun fact: The first GMO food, a tomato, came out in 1994. Senator Tim Ashe, the youngest state senator, was 18. Regardless of others' opinions of GMOs, I'd like to be able to feed my daughters the way all our senators' parents fed them as children: GMO-free.
No Sympathy for Nelsons
So now we're supposed to see the Nelsons as victims of Big Wind [Last 7: "Blown Away," April 16]? They could have sold out to the Vermont Land Trust four years ago for their asking price of $2,400 per acre for $1,400 per acre land (the going rate hereabouts), with a young farming couple willing to take over the land set aside in perpetuity for agriculture uses. There isn't a person stuck in any Vermont town who wouldn't gladly swap places, wind turbines or no, as we must tolerate muffler-less beaters and chuck-trucks, straight-pipe Harleys (a violation of federal exhaust tampering laws), jake-braking semis, and other assorted road vermin night and day.
And what exactly is it that Vermonters for a Clean Environment's Annette Smith does while our state wallows in crappy rivers, streams and lakes? We didn't hear a peep from her when Secretary Deb Markowitz and pals changed the "allowable" E. coli levels from 77 per 100 milliliters to 235 per for our waterways so more cow schmootz can flow freely, now did we? Just keep sending the checks, they'll keep bitching, and Vermont becomes one giant algae bloom. Good work!
As a regular reader of Seven Days, I've been watching the back and forth in the "Feedback" section regarding your March 12 cover story titled "NECI Confidential: Vermont's Struggling Culinary School Plans Its Next Course." To summarize: David Rapacz wrote a rather scathing letter about NECI on Main [Feedback: "Culinary Critic," March 26], to which Richard Flies, executive vice president of the school, responded two weeks later [Feedback: "In Response to NECI Nastygram," April 16].
In Flies' words, "There are currently many excellent places to eat in the city ... they are all pretty much competitively priced ... Our college-run restaurant tries to buy local products and support local farmers while keeping our prices affordable for people..." As a denizen of Montpelier, I could not agree more with all of that.
Herein lies the problem: NECI on Main fails miserably against all of those criteria, and Rapacz was right. Yes, there are currently many excellent places to eat in the city: Three Penny Taproom, Kismet, Wilaiwan Kitchen, Asiana House — but never Flies' establishment. They are all, also, "competitively priced." The difference is, however, you get consistent quality of food and service.
I guess I can't fault NECI, however, since they try to buy local ingredients. Oh, wait a minute. Yes, I can, because the aforementioned businesses do buy local ingredients. And their employees aren't paying $30,000 a year to work there. They are, in fact, being paid to work there. Go figure.
My favorite part: How Flies began with an indignant tone about how uncalled-for Mr. Rapacz's letter was, then continued on to suggest he was only fit for dining at the McDonald's drive-through.
Bernie's Big Mistake
I think Bernie has a lot of nerve considering a run for the presidency no matter what banner he runs under ["Bernie's Big Dilemma: A Dem or an Indie Run?" April 16]. He castigated Ralph Nader for having the temerity to run instead of backing the man and joining him as a possible running mate. Now we're supposed to applaud his useless gesture. He won't do anything as an independent and he damned sure won't win the Democratic nomination. Lots of sound and fury signifying nothing. Thanks for nothing, Bernie.
Here's to "Gene-sewer" and "Nagasaki"
Thank you, Dan Bolles. You nailed it exactly ["Craft Versus Crap Beers," April 23]! While I generally and wholeheartedly support and drink (and now home brew) so-called "craft" beer, I do slip to the dark side of the corporate evil product, Miller Lite. I can't help myself; I was raised on the stuff. Well, not exactly "raised" — more like pickled in its formaldehyde smoothness. And not just on Miller. While at college in New York in the early '80s, I was introduced to Genesee — or "Gene-sewer," as we called it — and the formerly putrid versions of Pabst and Narragansett — or "Nagasaki," if you prefer the not-so-PC name we called it. Fortunately for those last two beers, craft brewing has benefited them by actually allowing them to return to their origins recipe-wise — and not paying the loyalty penalty that the corporate big three imagine might happen to them if they actually returned to brewing a product that doesn't smell like skunk piss in temperatures over 37 degrees.
Kisonak Called It
I am writing to thank Rick Kisonak for his review of The Guard a few years ago [Movie Review, August 31, 2011]. It came and went from the theaters in a flash, and I've only seen it listed once on cable. But his glowing review of Brendan Gleeson's superb acting prompted me to buy the disk, and I finally got to watch it last night. All I can say is, wow! Rick was exactly right; this is Mr. Gleeson's finest role. I'm so glad I got to see it.
Back to the Drawing Board
The Development Review Board is to be applauded for its decision to withhold approval of the proposed building on St. Paul Street to house Champlain College students ["Building Momentum," April 16]. The King Street neighborhood is a classic socio-economic American melting pot. Residents representing a wide diversity of age, income and ethnicity live side by side in an atmosphere of civic health and harmony.
The introduction of a massive building designated to accommodate over 400 students with its narrow demographic and transient population would overwhelm and destabilize the area. If student housing is built in this location, the scale and design should blend in with the surrounding neighborhood and not dominate it.
[Re "Why a State Obsessed with 'Local' Doesn't Eat Vermont Fish" April 23]: Eat More Lamprey.
Rachael Serena Young
Grateful to Guernsey
[Re "Bethel Historical Society Publishes a Book on Important, but Nearly Forgotten, Vermont Architect," April 16]: When we purchased our home on Guernsey Avenue in Montpelier 20-plus years ago, we were told that the street was not named after a cow, but a local architect. We were also told of one of his creations around the corner at Hubbard and Barre streets, which at the time was a senior residence and is now a medical office/apartment building. Amy Lilly's piece on George H. Guernsey certainly opened my eyes to his prolific creativity throughout the state, including the aforementioned building with its evidently typical round tower. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that he was self-taught — experiential learning at its best.
Kenneth A. Saxe
It is understandable that the House Education Committee would find the current school governance system unwieldy ["Lawmakers Consider Historic Overhaul of Vermont's Education System," April 2]. However, there may be ways — other than the elimination of local school boards — that could achieve the advantages of centralization.
For example, one of the most time-consuming tasks for school boards — and teachers — is negotiating contracts. It would be worth considering changing to negotiating a statewide teachers contract as is now done for state employees. It could have provisions for regions of the state that have differing economic circumstances, such as Chittenden County compared to the Northeast Kingdom.
Many other regulations could be adopted on a statewide level, lessening the time boards and superintendents spend on what is often a repetitive process.
At the same time, it would be worth considering giving more instead of less authority to local school boards and principals. One of the biggest changes I have noticed while working the last 31 years as facilities manager of the Newton Elementary School is the improved quality of administrative staff. Vermont schools by and large have well-paid, highly qualified principals and strong administrative staffs. Superintendents should not have to go to all school board meetings, and by decentralizing some control and responsibility we could manage with far fewer superintendents than we now have in the state.
Finally, keeping local school boards is vitally important to having a community invested in its schools. School board members not only get an important learning experience themselves in how to meet the challenges of providing education for our children, but can also explain issues and listen to their neighbors. Local school boards have been an effective way of providing educational opportunities for Vermont children, and major changes in local governance need to be thoughtfully considered. We should be careful that in the interest of possible efficiency we do not lose an important part of what makes Vermont and education in Vermont special.