I was pleased with Dan Bolles' sensitive portrayal of my work in ["A Human Touch," May 31] but don't understand why he wrote that I no longer photograph! I am certainly still documenting musicians — and will continue doing so as long as my fingers and eyes still work! My skill has been honed for 53 years, and interest generated by the highest levels of "validation" in the art photography world and from music studies programs keeps me both motivated and busy.
My most recent work was not in jazz; locally, it was the Vermont Philharmonic, at rehearsal and in concert. My sensibility was unaltered: The music flows through me intuitively, with my camera as my instrument; I must anticipate the music and its practitioners and be highly sensitive both to the musicians and to any audience.
Fair Game Not Fair
[Re Fair Game: "Rookie Mistakes," May 17]: It is an essential element of democracy to scrutinize the actions of politicians, and I applaud Seven Days for its efforts to keep the public informed about legislation in Montpelier. Reporting the news is not an easy task, and keeping us, the public, interested is even harder.
But I expect that Seven Days reporters will be fair when reporting on a politician's personal attributes in researching a story. I have worked with Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) for years, and I know that he likes to work things through before he speaks publicly.
Maybe it's fair to say that he is unwilling to share information out of context or with details that can be misconstrued. Complicated issues require a thoughtful approach. But regardless of how stressful the situation, I have never seen him impetuous or short-tempered, as reported by Terri Hallenbeck. In fact, he is one of the most even-tempered people I have ever met — truly a no-drama guy who believes politics is about issues and not personality. So get it right, Fair Game, and don't make things up in looking for a story.
What About Me?
[Re Off Message: "Ali Dieng Earns Dem Nomination for Burlington City Council Seat," May 4; "Race On: A New American Aims to Diversify the Burlington City Council," May 24]: It amazes me that you have published several articles on the candidates running in the Ward 7 position for city councilor but have not even mentioned my name once. I have been in the race since the beginning, as you would have known if you had taken the time to check with the Burlington City Clerk's Office. Apparently, you do not do a whole lot of investigation on the subjects that you write about.
Editor's note: Katie Jickling's most recent print story about the Ward 7 race not only mentioned Blais but quoted her.
Good Read, Bad Review
[Re "A Village Occupation," May 24]: Having recently read local author Stephen P. Kiernan's latest novel, The Baker's Secret, we take issue with Amy Lilly's Seven Days review. Chockablock with spoilers and condescending in tone, it effectively demeans the broad market readership that will thoroughly enjoy this read, as we did. Kiernan is a heck of a storyteller, and his novel flows with style and panache. Kiernan, the reading public, Seven Days and our community would all have been better served by a more thoughtful, balanced review.
Charlie and Mima Tipper
In reference to Amy Lilly's book review of The Baker's Secret, by Stephen P. Kiernan ["A Village Occupation," May 24], I would like to offer a different view.
This was a great read for me; I was drawn in, it gave me new perspective, and I didn't want to put it down. Just this week, the Providence Journal listed it first for "R.I. Summer Reading: Great Stories to Take to the Beach."
We often read about war from a purely historic angle. I appreciated Kiernan's up-close tale of how one girl created a domino effect that brought a village together. With her efforts, she clearly saved them from starvation during the occupation. Kiernan's heroine gave the villagers hope in the worst of times, and I found that inspiring.
More Scrutiny of VPR
Thanks to John Walters for his "Media Notes" piece concerning Vermont Public Radio [Fair Game, May 31]. While VPR has become an undeniable state treasure, it should not be above scrutiny. In fact, its increasing importance demands more public attention and more transparency. VPR is no longer the scrappy little overachiever it once was; it is now the big fish in Vermont media.
As the station has grown more prosperous, it is in danger of becoming overwhelmingly dependent on wealthy donors and corporations. Apparently only 20 to 25 percent of revenue is now derived from pledge drives (read: small donors). Its culture has grown to more closely reflect the corporate modeling of its major funders. Pledge drives, for example, have gone from funky, time-consuming community affairs to highly polished, professional operations. Community involvement has been sidelined in the name of efficiency.
The new multimillion-dollar state-of-the-art facility is another case in point. It is an impressive accomplishment, one developed and funded mostly in the dark. As reported by VPR, the network raised $8 million from "generous donors" before "going public" for an additional $1 million (to be matched by a foundation). This means that only 10 percent is coming from ordinary listeners. Who are these "generous donors"? We don't know. I do know that counting less and less on the multitude of little donors is not healthy in the long run. No matter how well intentioned an organization, success can breed a certain self-importance and smugness if not checked.
Mr. Walters' wake-up call is a good beginning. Let's read more.
Please don't let Fair Game columnist John Walters get away! His coverage of Montpelier is absolutely first-rate. Please give him some more inches.