Regarding the recent article "Warning Shots" [November 2], I offer my own warning against the creepy, politically correct tone throughout, as if we are somehow at fault or have failed these people who threaten our lives. Where is the idea, at least referenced in passing, that as our guests these people are expected to respect their hosts with decent behavior, understood worldwide across all cultures as appropriate when offered the succor, the honor, of shelter? Why the refrain that somehow we have failed "our youths," etc.? Hey, we have not failed our youths; these punks are not our youths. They are youths from another culture whom we have invited to enjoy respite and opportunity in ours.
Look to Hartford, Conn., and other New England locales south of here to see our fate if we fail to uphold the values we may have taken for granted too long here in Vermont, now threatened not only by flying bullets but by the stinky PC perspectives suggested in this article. I encourage discussion on this and other pressing matters that is based on common sense, not the pervasive political correctness that seems to have spread as quickly as COVID-19.
As Good as New
I read with delight Sally Pollak's [True 802: "Free Fits"] in the October 26 issue of Seven Days. Stu Sporko's thrift shop, Battery Street Jeans, is spot-on for a number of very important reasons.
1) Helping the community find affordable, often free clothing.
2) Helping people send items to orphanages and other needy persons worldwide.
3) Saving our planet by keeping items from the landfills.
I work at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop on Weaver Street in Winooski. It is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We have very low prices and free bins of clothing available.
Thanks for a great reminder to shop thrift.
I am in full agreement with Andrea Todd that this process has not been inclusive ["Old North End Sculpture Plan Causes a Stir," November 4, online]. I was recently informed that the city would hold a public meeting devoted to this topic in early December, which is a positive step forward. A project this monumental — 20 feet tall and 20 feet across — certainly deserves a full process of neighborhood involvement, particularly when it is funded by the Office of Racial Equity, Inclusion & Belonging.
We should not be resigned to the idea that the sculpture is going to be in Dewey Park, given that it's one of the smallest parks in the city. Rather, we should consider multiple possible locations within the neighborhood. The final result and day of unveiling should be something to be celebrated, not something that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of residents.
BEVs v. PHEVs
It is good news for present and future electric vehicle owners that Tesla is seeking permission for a sales and repair facility in South Burlington ["Tesla Plans to Open Its First Vermont Dealership in South Burlington," October 24, online].
Unfortunately, your article contains misleading statistics. You reported that "once dominant" Tesla has slipped to second place in electric vehicle sales in Vermont, behind Toyota. This is a false comparison. Tesla manufactures fully battery-powered electric vehicles, while Toyota's first battery electric vehicle is just becoming available in the U.S. after a troubled international rollout.
Oddly, plug-in hybrids, widely sold by Toyota and other manufacturers, are counted as electric vehicles by state and federal governments, even though they burn gasoline, slowing progress toward carbon-reduction goals. Policy makers and reporters need to separate BEVs from PHEVs in their statistics to avoid giving a false sense of progress toward a carbon-neutral transportation system. The opening of the Tesla facility in South Burlington will enable more Vermonters to enjoy the many benefits of true electric vehicles!
[Re "Knocking on Heaven's Door," October 26]: May a former Vermonter and Seven Days contributor add an account of a near-death experience?
It happened in the mid-'90s on a January afternoon of single-digit temperatures and knifelike winds. I was skating on Lake Champlain off Perkins Pier. Feeling feisty, I glided out to the breakwater and, feistier still, skated around its edge and onto the broad lake.
Then the ice gave way. I plunged into the water up to my shoulders. Panicked, I struggled to lift myself out, but for what must have been several seconds I could not pull up to safety.
During that time, panic gave way to resignation. "Oh, so this is how it ends," I recall muttering more in wonderment than in terror.
I finally did manage to crawl onto the ice and skated numbly to the Community Boathouse, where a worker wrapped my frozen body in blankets.
Afterward, I recalled the oh-so-apt closing lines of Emily Dickinson's poem "After great pain a formal feeling comes":
This is the Hour of Lead —
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow —
First — Chill — then Stupor — then the letting go —
Kevin J. Kelley
Atlantic Beach, N.Y.
Death Story You Missed
[Re Death Issue, October 26]: Act 169, enacted in June 2022 and going into effect January 2023, allows natural, organic reduction of human remains, aka "human composting," an alternative to embalming and cremation. Vermont is one of five states that have passed legislation allowing this alternative.
So exciting to see death highlighted [Death Issue, October 26]! However, I was surprised by a few missed opportunities.
The article ["New Undertakings"] discussed the changing preferences of citizens and a movement away from the conventional funeral model, but I only caught a sentence that alluded to the advent of more environmentally friendly options. Green cemeteries, or places where you can be buried simply and in natural materials that biodegrade, are actually gaining popularity. Taking it a step further, conservation burial grounds, like Spirit Sanctuary in Essex, N.Y., are green cemeteries where all proceeds go toward conservation of the wildlife corridor where the cemetery is located. Most people may not know that cremation and conventional burials take a heavy toll on the environment. Green burial is a simple, affordable option for letting your body give back.
Same with composting. It's exceptional that Vermont is one of the only states that has succeeded in legalizing human composting! I would have loved to read a story about that! The long road for human composting to become legalized in Vermont and other states, the benefits, the people who are making this option possible — all would be so interesting and beneficial to know.
Finally, advanced directives and living wills! Most people do not know they have the option to give detailed instructions for how they would like their end of life to look — and that, even if you are young, it's important to give clear instructions to loved ones as to your preferences. It really doesn't take that long to get your wishes down on paper, and if we all did, I think a lot of suffering could be avoided.
Thank you for discussing death!
You Forgot Randolin Music
[Re "Ben & Bucky's Guitar Boutique Opens in South Burlington," October 28, online]: Small musical instrument shops have historically been the norm in our area for some time, and Ben MacIntyre's assertion that "this kind of shop hasn't existed in Burlington — or Vermont, really — in years" is simply not true.
Nowa Crosby, a master luthier trained in Valencia, Spain, has been building and restoring musical instruments for over 40 years, the past 26 downtown and since 2011 as Randolin Music. Ironically, he was the house luthier for Calliope, Vermont Folk, and Burlington Guitar & Amp, places where Adam Buchwald fondly remembers hanging out as a University of Vermont student. Nowa has recently moved and expanded his showroom to Shelburne, integrating it with his home-based shop to counter the high rents downtown that small businesses of all stripes are currently facing.
And, much like Buchwald, Nowa has been incorporating native woods into his custom-built instruments for years. In fact, he is currently finishing up a custom build for me, using aged black walnut and spruce stock. He has also used native locust, apple and lavender in other builds, both for their strength and aesthetic appeal. He specializes in custom inlay carvings.
So, good news, instrument lovers nostalgic for the luthier-owned and -operated shop experience! Randolin Music is alive and well, specializing in repairs, restorations and certified warranty work for Martin, Taylor, Eastman and Fender and, of course, building that one-of-a-kind personal instrument customized to your specifications.
26 Years a Luthier
I would like to voice my disappointment in ["Ben & Bucky's Guitar Boutique Opens in South Burlington," October 28, online]. I applaud and welcome more local and cultural businesses. But they are not the lone surviving locally owned music store. Randolin Music, which recently moved from downtown Burlington to Shelburne, has been and continues to serve Burlington, northern Vermont and upstate New York, as we have for the past 11 and a half years. I have been a luthier in downtown Burlington for the past 26-plus years.
In your article, Adam Buchwald refers to Calliope and Vermont Folk music store, for which I was the house luthier for eight and 13 years, respectively, as well as Burlington Guitar & Amp. After the closing of Burlington Guitar & Amp, I opened Randolin Music and offered in one store what had previously been offered in two: new, vintage and used instruments, as well as my own and other makers' custom instruments. The selection of instruments includes guitars new and used, banjos, mandolins, violins, ukuleles, and other hand percussion instruments and accessories.
The allotted space here does not allow me to tell you more. It's odd that you would ignore and dismiss a person and business that has been and continues to be an integral part of the Vermont music scene.
In the Voting Booth
Here in Cornwall, my small town
in Vermont, a precinct of deer
and leaves, I like to think
Of my neighbors who are likely
to volunteer for anything.
Coming to our town hall
to set up enough easily
taken down booths.
I like to think of them
as little puppet theaters,
cabanas for changing
our government every
two and four years.
Our own version of voting
if you lived here and stood
in the booth next me. Trying
to decide who would make a good
watcher of fence posts, counter
of coal, even a next best president,
it wouldn't surprise you to hear one of us
asking, from booth to booth,
Charlie, who are you voting for?
How's your good wife?
Did you get your deer?
Questions, I like to think
whoever it is next to you answers.
Privacy, a luxury, native and flat-
lander alike, we give up, for the beauty
of stepping outside in the coming
snow. Leaving tracks with our boots
and poles, the skis on our snow machines.
The privilege of feeling the plow
in the middle of the night shaking
the house. Like votes from the heavy
branches. Falling. Making a country again.
'Remarkable' Role Model
Congresswoman-elect Becca Balint was a remarkable candidate [Last 7: "Ms. Balint Goes to Washington," November 9]. Her inspired, inclusive ads reflect her many and varied choices made, challenges met, and life experiences. Becca's style of quiet intensity, critical thinking and inner confidence will enable her to bring a refreshing Vermont perspective to Washington, D.C. Comfortable among all, Becca is an articulate role model who will show up and serve all Vermonters.
Where Was Antonucci?
[Re "Entrepreneur's Envoy," October 19]: "John Antonucci connects startups and small businesses with funding — and the right people"! John, where were you when I started my business in 1986?
When I looked for financing for my store, there were no/none/zilch sources of funding for the new Healthy Living Market, except my own savings, a loan from my family and a U.S. Small Business Administration loan guarantee for a basic commercial bank loan (for which I pledged everything I owned, including my home).
There were no angel investors, no equity investors, no venture capitalists and no help from the State of Vermont unless the business was manufacturing, farming or tech. Period. Over and out! The concept of equity investing barely existed. So, it was 13 years before I could quit my second job and support my family from Healthy Living alone. Clearly, the business has succeeded and now employs hundreds of people, but a few more sources of capital in the early days sure would have been helpful!
Kudos to Antonucci, the Dudley Fund, and other forward-thinking investors and funds that now help new businesses, not just in tech, in our little state become successful with a little less financial angst. I am so glad that new businesses in Vermont have these amazing sources to help them get started! Everyone will benefit.