WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
In last week's issue, Seven Days music man Dan Bolles announces the holiday-themed concert of Burlington punk band The Wards, and rings in the holiday season with quite a controversial statement ["Season's Beatings"]. Now, a little controversy is good for the mind and soul once in a while. I mean, the television show "Family Guy" wouldn't be as funny as it is without controversy. This time around, though, I fear controversy has been taken to the extreme.
Bolles unapologetically exclaims: "Thanksgiving has come and gone, and four weeks of awkward company parties, dysfunctional family gatherings and unbridled consumerism are upon us. Jesus must be pissed. You would be, too, if a fictional fat man in a red suit had corrupted your birthday. To make amends, we'd like to invite The King of Kings to The Wards X-Mas Party."
First of all, is Bolles not aware that the guy we know as "Santa Claus" was originally a saint - Saint Nicholas - who preached and cared for the poor in Turkey during the Middle Ages? The tradition of Santa as a gift giver isn't contradictory to the birth of the Christ child; Saint Nicholas was Christian, for heaven's sake!
About Bolles' "Jesus must be pissed" comment: From what I learned from the New Testament, and through my faith, Jesus was never the type of person to show his anger. Only once did he throw the moneychangers out of the temple in Jerusalem for turning his father's house into what he dubbed "a den of thieves."
How can Bolles take a figure like the Baby Jesus, a figure who is seen as a symbol of peace and justice throughout the world, and give him a raging, punk-rocker-type attitude? Jesus was not like that. The "pissed" comment simply contradicts Jesus' loving nature portrayed in the New Testament.
Dan, your writings are very entertaining. And it is clear to me that you love music, as I do. But I love my faith much more than I love my music, and I can't help but think other Seven Days readers might share my sentiments. I say keep up the good work. But in the future, please try to be mindful and respectful of other people's religious beliefs.
As a side note: If Jesus were alive today, I have a feeling he'd be more into folk, reggae or bluegrass than he would be into punk rock. Christian rock? Forget it!
Regarding the recent article on Planned Parenthood ["Protestors Worry Planned Parenthood Staff and Patients," November 21]: I was disappointed to see that the essential fact of PPNNE's business - that 97 percent of their business is pregnancy prevention - was mentioned as an aside. Meanwhile, Mary Beerworth is quoted directly with the flagrantly misleading assertion that PPNNE is "in the business of abortions."
Do the math. Approximately 15 patients per week get abortions at the clinic. Meanwhile, roughly 180 (my calculation) come in for all the other sexual health services PPNNE offers. Abortions thus account for about 8 percent of the total patients - hardly what I would call predominant.
The name of this institution is Planned Parenthood. Not aborted parenthood, not anti-life clinic, not planned profit. I know certain staff of PPNNE personally, and not a single one of them takes abortions lightly or callously. These are incredibly weighty, difficult decisions that the patients are making - often due to unbelievably complex personal situations. The PPNNE staff counsel patients, offer them other options, and make sure that the decision is necessary, unforced and deeply considered.
Let's not excoriate those who are simply helping to alleviate a fundamental human problem, one that no religious belief or government legislation is going to eliminate. The issue of unwanted pregnancies is far more complex than most people acknowledge. Conversation, analysis and action aimed at the real social issues that create it are a far more productive means of addressing the issue than duct tape and empty baby carriages on a street corner.
As the owner of the former Eat Good Food in Middlebury, I was extremely frustrated by the contents of Kevin Kelley's recent article about Middlebury College exerting a presence on downtown Middlebury ["Townies and Gownies Square Off Over Bar Proposal," November 7].
In February 2006, when I opened the restaurant, I had every expectation that we would do well and that we could become a forceful presence in downtown Middlebury. Eat Good Food in Vergennes had been thriving almost since day one. And with Middlebury's larger population (four times the size of Vergennes'), not to mention the college, it seemed like a sure thing. It wasn't. We were forced to shut our doors in April.
I still had hopes for the place, and for what I had been trying to create, so I approached Ron Liebowitz, president of Middlebury College, about taking over the space. He was very positive about the idea, but he also expressed concern that downtown merchants might feel that the college would take all their business. In a meeting with Mr. Liebowitz and Tim Spears, we discussed ways that the downtown merchants - including restaurant owners - could benefit from the college running a vibrant, multi-use space in their midst. Apparently these ideas have been brought forth. Unfortunately, the Middlebury merchants once again don't get it.
Middlebury used to be a vibrant, thriving college town. Out-of-towners used to visit because of that. Now, the people who work and live there barely use the town. Case in point: Eat Good Food Grill Bar & Deli had been open for four months and the tellers at the bank across the street did not even know we were there. During our last week of business, 14 months after we had been open, college students who came in to eat said, "This place is great! How long have you been open?" Over a year!
At the town planning meeting when I applied for permission to open the restaurant, I was opposed by two local business owners. "You won't get the college kids down there [to the restaurant]," one said. I replied that I was sure I would, as they already drove to Eat Good Food in Vergennes. Her response? "No they don't." At the time I thought she was ridiculous, but now I see her point. For a college town, there is very little evidence of college life on the street. Another case in point: The town's only used CD and bookstore closed. In a college town!
The merchants are definitely part of the problem. When my manager at Eat Good Food approached a prominent business owner about ways to spur some commerce during the slow winter months, she replied, "Just wait until summer." We couldn't afford to wait, and many business owners in Middlebury can't, either, although they won't admit it. One business is graciously allowed by its landlord to forego rent during the slow winter months. Other business owners are lucky in that they own the buildings their businesses are in, so they don't have to pay rents that are disproportionately high . . . Others are propped up by a corporate parent. And the rest are just getting by.
Would a college-run restaurant downtown present competition to existing restaurants? Sure. Is that scary for them? Of course it is; as a former restaurant owner, I'll be the first to admit it. But I also know that competition forces businesses to be better. That is better for the consumer and ultimately better for business. Middlebury needs the critical mass that a lot of really good downtown businesses would provide. Somebody's got to start the ball rolling. I tried with Eat Good Food, but despite exhausting all my personal assets and then some, I quickly ran out of capital, and, finally, enthusiasm. Middlebury College, however, has the energy, the resources, and - let's face it - the money to create and sustain an exciting presence on Main Street.
My advice to the town of Middlebury? Wake up! Middlebury is a failing town. And if you don't let the college save you, you're doomed.
Thank you so much for your fun article about Zumba ["Zumba Mama," November 21], the inter-national dance aerobics craze started by Beto Perez, a Colombian man, that has been in Vermont for a little over a year now. I would like to mention that there are other instructors in Vermont teaching Zumba, and several are teaching here in the Burlington area. Every instructor brings their special strengths to their teaching. If you love dance and international music, trying one or more of these instructors is a great idea. You will learn different techniques, styling and health and safety tips. For more information on Zumba, and where you can find an instructor anywhere in the world, go to www.zumba.com.
Dincecco is a member of Zumba Instructors of Vermont.
JOB WELL DONE
I just wanted to say that the article on Chaplain Purinton ["Mission Ready," November 21] was excellent. Thank you.
Rev. Marty Fors
Fors is a retired chaplain from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.
In an art spotlight that appeared in last week's issue ["Eat, Drink and Buy Merry"] there were three errors. The art work, "Rifugio (ii)," was created by artist Cristina Pellechio. She placed first in the 2006 South End Art Hop.