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Banging It Out

Pop quiz. Name the “auxiliary” percussion instrument: A) mbira; B) tabla drum; C) shaker egg; D) steel drum. If you guessed “shaker egg,” you are correct. If you guessed “steel drum,” then your name just might be Dan Bolles [Review This: Camomilla, Anomali, December 1]. Referring to the steel drum as an auxiliary percussion instrument is straight-up wack. It’s closer to a piano — another instrument that is erroneously classified as percussion. Would you call a piano auxiliary percussion? In dialoguing with my Trinidadian friends in Brooklyn about this issue, I actually discovered that Trinidadians object to the term “steel drum” completely. Although the instrument is formed from an oil drum, its role is melodic; therefore they call it a “steelpan” in order to signify that this instrument is hardly a drum at all.

Emily Lanxner, aka Camomilla

Hardwick


Club Fed, Anyone?

Shay Totten confirmed what I suspected about the cost of Burlington Telecom to city taxpayers when he wrote that Burlington city officials have already looked into the bond for nothing with Moody’s [“Fair Game,” December 15]. If residents must pay off the $17 million debt over 20 years, I think it is only fair that the mayor and the CAO serve 20 years at “Club Fed” for their withholding of documents, misinforming the city councilors and residents.

Russell Moore

Burlington


Sweet Betrayal

[Re: “Will a Newly Hatched Federal Food Bill Make Eating Safer? Some Farmers Aren’t So Sure,” December 1]: The bill currently exempts small-scale farmers who sell less than $500,000 and sell within 275 miles. How will this affect the maple syrup producers in this state who ship worldwide? If they are indeed going to be caught up in this, then the state of Vermont will be very compromised regarding our maple syrup sales.

AnnaMarie Lubow

Derby Line


Union Label

It is difficult for me to see a “rift” when 97 percent of union members reject a contract that did not reflect their concerns and priorities [“Teamster Spirit? Contract Negotiations Reveal Union Rift at CCTA,” December 8]. Rather, the “tentative agreement” in question was negotiated not by the local CCTA workers themselves, but by a Teamsters agent paid to represent the union members interests. It seems obvious that the members, whose dues compensate that agent, do not feel their interests were being adequately represented.

It is unfortunate that so many Americans do not see the difference between union members and union employees. Unions were formed because workers knew that they could only really depend on other workers. Worker-led unions achieved the eight-hour day, livable wages, insurance benefits and weekends for all Americans. But as unions and responsibilities grew, workers depended less on themselves and more on paid employees. This reliance on union bureaucrats coincides with the decline of organized labor in the U.S. and the current standard-of-living decline for most Americans.

The fact that Teamsters for a Democratic Union exists shows that widespread dissatisfaction with the national union exists. The CCTA drivers and mechanics bravely struggling for safer, respectful and fair conditions are fighting for all of us.

Brian J. Walsh

Jericho


Whiskey When?

It’s great to read that WhistlePig Whiskey will not only be distilling in Vermont, but also organically growing their rye on their own farm, too [“Whistling Whiskey,” December 8]. The reporting in “Whistling Whiskey” left me with two big questions, though.

First, how is a company founded in 2006 already selling a 10-year-old whiskey? The article revealed that WhistlePig is currently produced in Canada, but if it’s really 10 years old, it must have also been distilled and put in barrels years before owner Mr. Bhakta or master distiller Dave Pickerell were even involved. For Mr. Bhakta to be taking credit for accolades showered on a whiskey he had nothing to do with producing seems a tad off. We won’t be tasting true Vermont WhistlePig whiskey until 2021.

Second, Mr. Bhakta may have been up front with the reporter about the current Canadian origins of his whiskey, but the label and website are heavy with the “Vermont” brand and say nothing of Canada. Does pouring Canadian whiskey into bottles here in Vermont make it a Vermont product? How is this different from the “Bove’s of Vermont” mislabeling case you reported on in 2008?

It sounds like Mr. Bhakta has very good intentions to eventually produce a high-quality, locally produced whiskey, and I wish him nothing but success in his venture, but I think this article let him off too easy on the origins and labeling of the WhistlePig whiskey currently being sold.

Jase Roberts

Bolton

Lauren Ober responds: WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey struck an agreement with a Canadian distiller to buy whiskey for the next 10 years to be a halo for the brand. This is because the Shoreham farm’s own rye won’t be ready for another 10 years, and the start-up overhead was too great to sit on product without a return. In other words, they need to make some money and create some hype while they wait. Once their first rye crop, which will be harvested this summer, has fermented and aged, then they will have their own Vermont-made whiskey sometime around 2021.


Stuck on Sollberger

Eva Sollberger did an excellent job on [“Stuck in Vermont: Woodstock’s Winter Wassail Weekend,” December 15]. She was so professional and did a very entertaining clip! Thank you, Seven Days.

Dorothea Mongulla

Woodstock


Movie Recommendation

Thanks for your terrific movie reviews. It’s the second page I turn to each week — after the Straight Dope, of course. Rick Kisonak and Margot Harrison bring a lot of knowledge to their informed and personal reviews.

I’d like to echo Ms. Harrison’s recommendation of In Bruges at the end of [Movie Review: The Tourist, December 15]. I knew nothing about the movie when my brother bought it — he’s a Colin Farrell fan. So I was surprised and amazed at the depth of this work of art. In the midst of nearly nonstop profanity, intermittent violence, and random depravity is an astounding story of love, beauty and honor. Like the imagery in a Hieronymus Bosch painting, the use of the bizarre illuminates the divine. There is chemistry between Farrell and the terrific Brendan Gleeson, and the late appearance of the positively scary Ralph Fiennes heightens the tension. If you can take it, see it!

Harry Goldhagen

East Fairfield

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