Counting (on) Canadians
I live and work on Church Street. I’m up and down the street every day of my life, and I can confidently say that any estimates of the number of Canadians here are vastly underestimated [“Canadian Tourists Are All Over Burlington, but No One Knows What That’s Worth,” August 3]. While writing this note to you I’ve counted 23 French-speaking people within earshot of Starbucks in less than five minutes. Without them, Burlington’s economy would be easily be cut in half.
As one of the 30-plus students who were arrested in the spring of 2009 protesting the budget cuts, I was glad to see Shay Totten’s critical reporting on Fogel’s severance package and the excesses of UVM’s administration over the years [Fair Game, “The Presidential Parachute,” August 3]. Regarding the board of trustees’ authorship and passage of this package, I found the most disappointing vote in the bunch came from Representative Kesha Ram.
Ms. Ram — my fellow UVM alum, Tower Society member, and former student activist — began her political life running for student government president as a leader who questioned Fogel’s resistance to economic justice at UVM. She appealed to UVM students again, running for state representative. I had hoped that by now her political advancement would embolden her to stand behind her social justice convictions.
How in the world can I stand behind Ms. Ram when she voted for a package that will weigh heavy on the backs of the very students that are responsible for her political rise since the beginning? The current and poignant lesson of this deficit madness in Washington, D.C., is the importance of leaders who have the courage to break rank. I judge Kesha candidly now because I know one day she could be just such a leader.
I love Jernigan Pontiac’s “Hackie” column, and I can empathize with some of his experiences since I drove a cab in a working-class town just outside Detroit back in 1974. I remember one regular fare that had to stop at a bar on the way to work each morning for his “breakfast” Bloody Mary.
But, come on: “This is an intense, physically demanding job...” [Hackie: “Irasburg and Appleton,” July 27]. It might be demanding and, in some places, dangerous. And working the weekend bar-closing shift doesn’t leave much time for shut-eye. But many wage slaves working factory shifts or construction or farm labor wear out their bodies a whole lot more than someone sitting on his duff in the driver’s seat all day.
I appreciate the trials and travails of hacking, but as a workin’ man I’ll shed no tears for Jernigan’s sore butt.
Compare and Contrast
Robert Cioffi, chair of the UVM Board of Trustees, argues that outgoing UVM President Dan Fogel needs the extra time off and the extra compensation they’ve given him because he’s contributed so much to UVM [Fair Game: “Fogel’s Not-So-Fond Farewell,” July 20]. I would have liked the UVM trustees to have met one of my colleagues, Steve, who passed away in summer, 2008, just after he had graded final papers for students in a summer session first-year composition class.
Steve taught at UVM for nine years. When he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and underwent two rounds of debilitating chemotherapy, he could have used — he desperately needed — time off and some compassion from the university he’d served would have been both welcomed and deserved.
But in two rounds of negotiations with “part-time” faculty, Fogel’s administration declined to recognize that faculty teaching six, eight and more courses a year are not, in fact, part-time and should receive UVM health care benefits. Steve needed not only to pay $356 a month for his insurance, but $8200 for each chemotherapy infusion. He continued teaching at UVM; he also began teaching additional courses at other area colleges. He was teaching to save his life.
I attended the funeral lunch and met his parents. They were so proud that he had been a lecturer at UVM. And I am so ashamed at what this university did to him.
So, Mr. Cioffi, meet Steve. And try meeting more UVM faculty, service workers and staff. It might deepen your acquaintance with people who make remarkable contributions to this university without car, housing and “wellness” allowances. It might also broaden your idea of compassion and how broadly it should be shared.
Welch is an English professor at UVM.
Story Got My Goat
I was extremely disappointed to read [“The Big Cheese,” July 6] written by Corin Hirsch. The piece attributes a statement about me that is completely inaccurate. I never made money by shipping milk to Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery. In fact, I supplied Corin a profit-and-loss statement to verify my contention that shipping milk to VBCC was not viable or feasible. For Corin to misrepresent the facts that I supplied her helps VBCC further exploit goat farmers.
The contention that VBCC pays prices consistently at or above the national average is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is, VBCC pays below the cost of production and has been keenly aware of the situation for 25 years. VBCC continues to blame farmers for high costs and no profits. Farmers’ costs are fixed: grain, electricity, insurance, trucking, equipment repairs, cleaning products. It’s beyond reprehensible to discuss with farmers cost-cutting measures when the folks at VBCC travel to Europe and around the U.S. frequently and drive expensive foreign cars.
When VBCC pays approximately $4 per gallon for milk and sells its cheese for $32 a pound, clearly there’s room for shared sacrifice. The market doesn’t need to bear more in order for VBCC to pay farmers a price well above cost of production.
Greetings from Plattsburgh
The city of Plattsburgh is still bitch-slapping Seven Days music editor Dan Bolles for his tongue-in-cheek diary-esque story about that city’s nightlife in our July 27 Adirondack Issue. Titled “Things to Do in Plattsburgh When You’re Drunk,” the story generated a boatload of feedback — launched mostly from the other side of the lake. Even the news folks at WPTZ Channel 5 put Bolles on the hot seat during his weekly appearance. Bolles did a great — and very funny — job explaining himself in “Plattsburgh Follies,” the headline of his “Soundbites” column last week. But the letters keep on coming…
Your Adirondack Issue has always been one of my favorites — until now. Why did you have to reinforce all the old stereotypes? Getting drunk isn’t entertainment. Not everyone does it. In fact, heavy drinking is a health issue that can land people in the emergency room. Second, Plattsburgh is a very livable city with a lot of interesting people. I wonder if you would ridicule a Vermont community that has undergone the economic challenges that Plattsburgh has. Please do better next year.
One of my McGill professors provided a crucial bit of wisdom to first-year students. “Every writer of nonfiction has an axe to grind. Read the first and last paragraphs of any text before all else. In most cases, the opinionated hypothesis is exposed.” Dan Bolles provided a prime example with his article on Plattsburgh nightlife. He appears to have set out to prove a premise: that Plattsburgh and its nightlife are inferior to that of his hometown. Of course, to say that himself would make him sound like a pompous ass, so he attributes this idea to our locals, stretching Plattsburgh’s admiration of Burlington’s beautiful Church Street shopping district into a sentiment of inferiority. The remainder of the article is strewn with the fabrications of a douche bag trying far too hard to seem more important than he is. Some important points to cover:
• Plattsburgh nightlife is dead on Saturdays in the summer. People here camp, go to the beach, hike, kayak on weekends. In the summer, weekday nights are packed.
• No one in Plattsburgh will spot and identify anyone as a Vermonter. Champlain Valley folks all look far too much alike for that to occur.
• Rumors is far from being that well known; rarely does anyone mention it at all. The story did stir a lot of talk over here, and I am quite certain if your oversized head can fit back on the ferry for a return visit, Plattsburgh folks will be glad to buy you a double shot and then, using a vulgarity you felt worthy of print, tell you to go fuck yourself.
Although we don’t promote being “drunk” in Plattsburgh, I believe you guys really missed out by not stopping here at therapysportslounge.com. There’s no place like this in Burlington! Greg Larson
Larson is general manager of Therapy Nightclub and Sports Lounge in Plattsburgh.
What a laugh! When I moved here from South Central Pennsylvania — in January — the real estate guy did suggest the Naked Turtle. So did the cabbie I used earlier in the year. We have been there many times for good mixed tropical drinks. Food’s OK, but don’t be in any hurry. Olive Ridley’s has nice “healthy” drinks and good food; never saw anyone play there. The Green Room looks scary from the outside. The other bars I can take or leave. Burlington, on the other hand, is soooo cool, from the ferry ride to the great downtown vibe. The last two trips to Vermont were fantastic! The Vermont Brewers Festival was sold out, but we still got tickets for me and my two friends up from Pennsylvania. What a blast. Beats any bar, hands down! Then, just this week, Zappa Plays Zappa at Higher Ground. Tailgated in the parking lot before the show, nice small venue, cool staff. Watched the whole show from the front row. I’ll be back! It’s like Montréal, but you don’t need a passport.
Lame and pretentious!
I lived in Plattsburgh for eight or so years, and while I didn’t always enjoy my time there, you could always find someone who cared about what they were doing: sweaty basement shows with bands touring from all over the country; galleries hosting art shows and open mics; the myriad events happening above the co-op — benefit dinners, poetry; and, for a time, even some excellent punk-rock shows. I don’t live in Plattsburgh anymore, but when I did, my friends and I were integral parts of the DIY punk scene. We scoured locations to host shows — houses, coffee shops like the Koffee Kat and the late Coffee Camp and the aforementioned North Country Food Co-op. And now, they even have a secure, safe place for all-ages shows in the ROTA Gallery, which also hosts art shows, video-game tournaments and anything else the community may be interested in. There is heart in Plattsburgh. There is soul in Plattsburgh. And it’s the same place you’ll find in a human being — below the surface, once you’ve done some digging. It’s just a shame that you’ve got your head so far up your ass that you can’t find the heart of a city.
West Chester, Penn.
What was the point of this article? You not only made yourself look like an immature writer with a poor sense of humor, but potentially may have hurt business at some of these restaurants/bars. Perhaps you should update yourself with some recent news reports: “Despite these troubled economic times, Plattsburgh, N.Y., continues to maintain positive economic development momentum and has received national recognition as a successful community. Site Selection magazine has released the 2010 Governor’s Cup Award for the Top 100 Micropolitans, cities of 10,000 to 50,000 people which cover at least one county, and Plattsburgh, N.Y., ranks 25th in the nation based on significant 2010 investments in new industrial facilities. From a geographic perspective, Plattsburgh is clearly a community of choice in the Northeast. The vast majority of the micropolitans to rank in the top 25 are clustered in more southern regions of the U.S.” If you want to have some “fun” poking at small towns, stay on your own side of the lake. You’ve got plenty of material in Vermont!
Two-thirds of the way through [“Things to Do in Plattsburgh When You’re Drunk,” July 31], I was in stitches — excellent writing. Then, at the end, I realized the trio did not actually go to Rumors. What a disgrace. Your editor should have canceled your return ferry ticket and booked another night at La Quinta after he or she finished screaming at you on the phone. Ridiculous. Go to Rumors and finish the story!