I thoroughly enjoyed reading the well-researched and honest article about the late Vermont musician Gordon Stone ["Legacy Edition," August 5]. I met Gordon many years ago when he performed as a member of Pine Island. He was a very nice guy and an incredible musician.
Gordon's struggle with alcoholism certainly makes him no less a hero to many. It sounds like he had some extended lengths of sobriety, which show he worked hard to make himself a better person.
I've been lucky in my life as it relates to challenges with alcohol. My 37 years of continuous sobriety are a miracle, but they came with a lot of help from others.
Gordon certainly fought demons in his life but still provided many of us with incredible music. We are better for having crossed paths with a true musical genius. RIP, Gordon.
Thanks to Seven Days and Paula Routly for the fine article on Dr. Mark Levine ["Vermont's Dr. Fauci," July 29]. Dr. Levine is one of Vermont's finest, and Paula's rendering of his excellence reminded me, once again, of why I moved to Vermont.
Following Gov. Phil Scott's news conferences during this pandemic, Dr. Levine's accessibility at the podium and his patient and professional responses informed without frightening or polemicizing in any way. He was a pleasure to listen to, along with being the very best representative for helping the public to understand what we are facing.
With clarity and context, and her own personal experiences as an extra bonus of reassurance that she is in touch with her source, Paula in her article tells us how lucky we are to have this man as our representative and caregiver.
Thanks for a great newspaper.
With interest I read the article "Change of Art," [July 29], in which the future of the mural wall space on Church Street is being debated, as well as the ownership and control of public art.
Artist Gina Carrera envisions an inclusive future replacement mural, and I think she needs to look no further than her remarks on her own experience when she told how, while painting the rain forest scene in 1992, "Little kids would pull on my shirt and ask if they could hold the paintbrush."
It sounds like Carrera has the fortitude, creativity and experience to collaborate and manage a group mural with children from Burlington. Rather than continue on a wasteful course of legal wrangling and politicized content, let the children of Burlington share in the creation of a mural that unites us all and will surely bring smiles to those who view it. This time, too, pay Carrera for her time and work.
[Re Feedback: "Seven Days Suspends Online Comments Until Further Notice," April 8]: I just want to say I think it's highly irresponsible and dangerous not to allow public comments on your site. It is vital that locals be able to share their insights and experiences with one another, even if that can open the door to controversy. There are millions of moderators on Facebook and Reddit that do so for free, voluntarily. Surely that sort of grassroots effort can be tapped in order to reopen public comments? This should absolutely be fixed! It's so frustrating to me that this is prohibited. It is such a vital part of readership and understanding the issues reported about.
At the very least, perhaps run a public poll with transparent results to ask how readers feel about this.
[Re Feedback: "Seven Days Suspends Online Comments Until Further Notice," April 8]: I imagine that this was not an easy decision as journalists. But, as a reader, I will tell you it's long overdue. The comments tend to be from a small subculture around a given area of interest. They typically start out thoughtfully enough but then quickly devolve into acrid, vitriolic and fact-free rants. Not too long ago, comments were generally from well-meaning people to support, question or retort a topic. Now it's just the same small band of uninformed lunatic fringe conspiracy theorists with no command of the facts who lack any semblance of decency. And as we enter into what will no doubt be a heated election year, it will only get worse.
Homeless Are Good Neighbors
[Re Off Message: "Burlington Wants to House Homeless in Shipping Containers on Sears Lane," July 15]: I'm a Lakeside resident and became aware of the political forum being held at Lakeside Park on July 15 after receiving a flyer on my door three days prior. The vague "law and order" wording and impromptu nature of the meeting described in the flyer raised a number of alarms, which led a group of concerned community members to investigate. We began by visiting our neighbors on Sears Lane the next day to find out if they knew they were the target of the meeting. The residents — who were uniformly warm and welcoming — informed us that there had been no outreach. We later learned that no outreach was planned, either.
Despite the anonymous speculations and vile comments made by people eager to publicly disparage their neighbors while at the same time unwilling to subject their vitriol to the same public scrutiny, I have never heard or seen anything that would cause concern. Neither had any neighbor I spoke to.
While those in power conducted a meeting with extreme consequences for houseless members of our community with as little notice and transparency as possible, the People's Kitchen and supporters showed up in numbers that vastly outnumbered those inclined to make anonymous and cowardly remarks. At least 50 members of our community were fed that day, amid an outpouring of support for our neighbors on Sears Lane, spurred by the callous indifference shown by elected officials and so-called advocates affiliated with the political meeting. We wish that story had been included.
I can't believe you dropped the comic "Mr. Brunelle Explains It All" [Feedback: "'Toon Deaf," July 22]. It was always thoughtful and timely. And yet you kept "Dark Deep Fears" and "Futon Life"? Your priorities are simply unbelievable! Please bring it back and get rid of some of the clunkers that have so little to say at this important time in history. 'Toon deaf, indeed!
Brunelle Is a Keeper
I was just reading in this week's Seven Days the many comments expressing dismay and sadness that you have chosen to drop "Mr. Brunelle Explains It All" [Feedback: "'Toon Deaf," July 22]. I echo their comments!
There are several other cartoons that I personally would much rather see disappear.
K to Stay
Thank you for bringing back "The K Chronicles" [From the Publisher: "'Tooning In," July 8]! After Seven Days discontinued Keef Knight's comics a while back, I ordered several of his books to support him in his trade.
They affirmed for me that Keef is one very funny man. At the same time, he shares a refreshing — and necessary, for us white folks — perspective of living without the privilege that "passing for white" bestows.
May I also say that I very much appreciate Robert Brunelle's sense of humor and wish you didn't have to sacrifice a local cartoonist in order to publish one of color?
"Red Meat," on the other hand, never resonated with me. Good riddance!
Mayor Miro Weinberger's veto of the referendum on ranked-choice voting is deeply disappointing [Off Message: "Weinberger Issues His First-Ever Veto to Block Ranked-Choice Voting," August 6]. In justifying his decision, the mayor rehashed many tired and easily rebutted arguments against holding a referendum on RCV, but let's be clear: This isn't really about the practicality of holding a referendum. Rather, it is a cowardly and undemocratic attempt by an establishment politician to maintain his grip on power.
This is the second time this year that Democrats in Burlington's city government have leveraged their power to block election reform. Enough is enough. The blatant partisanship displayed by Weinberger and his friends on the city council has shown the people of Burlington how desperately their city needs RCV. The status quo of plurality voting entrenches partisan gridlock and encourages mudslinging to the benefit of the political establishment and the detriment of everyone else. RCV shifts power from the dominant political parties back to the voters. If that scares some partisans, maybe that's OK.
Check Into a 'Restored Motel'
Jeff Nick's solution for the Midtown Motel — to tear it down and build a parking lot — is a boring and uncreative proposal that would add nothing to the city ["No Vacancy," August 5]. Furthermore, if the Midtown is in fact historic, tearing it down would rob Burlington of some of its character. Thankfully, there is another way.
As reported by websites, magazines and newspapers like the Guardian, Uproxx, Dwell and USA Today, restored motels are a bigger and bigger draw for travelers. A Google search for "restored motel" brings back millions of results, including the Vagabond Motel (Miami, Fla.), the Dive Motel (Nashville, Tenn.), the Austin Motel (Texas), the Brentwood Hotel (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) and more. These have been updated with 21st-century amenities and comforts, while maintaining their kitschy mid-20th-century look.
Restoring the Midtown could not only preserve a piece of Burlington history, it could create jobs and contribute to the city's revenue stream.
Any schnook can tear something down, and the last thing a city like Burlington should be promoting is more cars. The Midtown may have some life in it yet, and converting it into a boutique hotel could be a better solution than just another parking lot.
'Forgotten' Grocery Workers
[Re Off Message: "Workers Who Responded to COVID-19 Crisis Qualify for Grants of Up to $2,000," August 3]: As an essential worker in a grocery store, I find the reduction of the essential worker hazard pay program to leave out so many who came to work throughout this crisis absolutely disgusting. Along with dozens of coworkers, I showed up through the fear, anxiety and uncertainty of the early days of this pandemic. I don't think a single one of us took so much as one day off for almost two months.
While Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe saying we are not forgotten is a pleasant sentiment, we have been forgotten. The amount of stress we all faced while dealing with a huge spike in demand in the buying panic, as well as the exposure we risked, often for minimum wage, is being completely ignored here. We have been screamed at about masks, been threatened and faced the fear of bringing this disease home to loved ones. The House of Representatives, which decided workers such as me shouldn't get the aid, should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.
[Re "Near and Beer," June 24]: As much as I appreciated seeing your story about three new breweries opening during the pandemic, I was disappointed by the inclusion of Soulmate, which is not a brewery and has no brewing equipment, no beer recipes and no brewer. Its inclusion delegitimizes the insane amount of time, money and effort that goes into starting a brewery at any time, let alone during a global pandemic.
I do not expect Seven Days to know of every new brewery opening in the state. However, I do question the editorial approach of offering free publicity to a business with a GoFundMe/Kickstarter approach to opening a brewery that is offering only T-shirts and promises in the same breath as Black Flannel and Weird Window — real, active breweries that are contributing to Vermont's brewing industry.
On that point, there is a third, live, local brewery that has started up during the pandemic that is arguably ahead of both Black Flannel and Weird Window. Lucy & Howe Brewing Company came online last month and has been producing and selling beer from a pico-brewery in Jericho since May.
These brewers are hustling and taking huge risks to earn a buck in these extremely trying times. These are the businesses we need to spotlight.
Erin M. Ennis