Letters to the Editor | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published August 31, 2011 at 4:14 a.m.

’Doo It Right

I’ve been a didgeridoo teacher, performer and instrument builder for the last 25 years, so your [Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: “What’s up with the mask-wearing Church Street didgeridoo player?” August 17] caught my eye. One of my life missions is to promote this wind instrument, and I was glad to see it get attention in Seven Days

I do need to inform you that your statement about the didge being 1500 years old is way off the mark. In fact, the didgeridoo, or yidaki, as it is properly called in native Australia, is the oldest musical instrument on the planet, dating back a minimum of 40,000 years. Some experts say it could be as old as 100,000 years, based on scientific dating processes done on native artwork found in Australian caves.

The article also mentioned the yidaki “can produce only so many different sounds.” This is equally misleading. The only limit the instrument has is the experience and ability of the person who is attempting to play it. Not sure if that quote was from writer Lauren Ober or the person she interviewed?

Pitz Quattrone


Ober’s response: To clarify, the earliest records of Aboriginal people playing the didgeridoo date back 1500 to 2000 years; I found varying accounts. It is likely that the instrument is much older than that, but because Aboriginal people, whose history goes back 40,000 years, didn’t keep a written record, it’s hard to tell the instrument’s exact age. The comment about the instrument’s range came from Michael Sampson, the Church Street didgeridoo player. He said, “The didgeridoo has a limited harmonic scale. You can’t do that much with it melodically.” As with all instruments, there is a limit to what the didgeridoo can do.

Respect Cops

In regards to the “Police Problem” rant by Baruch Zeichner [Feedback, August 17], I can’t figure out which is more disturbing, Mr. Zeichner’s rant or the fact that Seven Days published it — no offense, Seven Days, and all due respect to Mr. Zeichner.

Police are human, but we hold them to a higher standard, as they should be. But to say that a “political climate of an increasing ‘police state’ grants a kind of permission to police to behave as thugs” is ludicrous.

You are essentially saying that all police in Vermont have a “thug” mentality. In reality there have always been issues of one sort or another — granted, of late many have reached the public’s eye.

We should remember that there are many wonderful officers doing a great job who are not part of this generalization that you have made. Each profession is plagued with problems: Take the Catholic Church, for example! As we know, not every priest is a pedophile, and not every officer is a thug.

Barbara Fortier

South Burlington

Glass Class

Several points of clarification are in order regarding the glassblowing course you wrote about in your August 24 issue [“Bern Gallery Offers VSAC-Funded Classes on Glass Pipe Making”].

Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) offers three types of student grants: for full-time undergraduates, part-time undergraduates and students enrolled in nondegree courses of study. Students awarded grants need to meet a number of criteria, including Vermont residency and financial need.

VSAC does not “accredit” nondegree courses offered by groups such as the glassblowing school. We do accept grant applications from nondegree students for whom a course will improve employability or college readiness. Many students, particularly adult learners, use nondegree courses to gain skills that will help them get a job or as a pathway to higher education.

As for loans, students enrolled in the glassblowing program are not eligible for this type of assistance from VSAC.

More information about VSAC’s financial aid programs is available at vsac.org.

Irene Racz


Racz is director of public affairs at the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation.

Oh, Canada

Re [“Canadian Tourists Are All Over Burlington, But No One Knows What It’s Worth,” August 3]: For me, the best parts of the influx of Québécois visitors are cultural. Many bring an edgy, urbane style, which offsets Vermont’s understated, casual look. Their French conversations are as close as I’ll ever get to being in a French movie. And it’s great to carry forward Burlington’s traditional northward ties, this time with dignity and equality rather than prejudice.

Elz Curtiss


UVM Should be Embarrassed

As the proud parent of two UVM graduates and a real fan of the university, I am frankly appalled at the largesse doled out to Dan Fogel and Michael Schultz by the board of trustees [Fair Game, August 3 and 10]. All of those involved should be embarrassed and ashamed — though shame is obviously in short supply in this charade.

For Dan Fogel to demand more compensation in a month — for doing nothing! — than thousands of hardworking Vermonters make in a year is obscene. I can only imagine what he and his colleagues will have to chat about around the English department watercooler when, and if, he returns to UVM — probably not his overcompensation package.

So, I’m canceling my quarterly — albeit small — contribution to UVM until the trustees demonstrate some gumption and responsibility.

Burlington Telecom, airport parking garage, UVM. Is it something in the water up there?

Curt Albee

South Strafford

What Church Street Needs...

When Borders vacates the building on the corner of Cherry and Church streets, big shoes are going to have to fill that spot [“Borders Patrol,” August 17]. While many of the suggestions in that article are doable, many are not feasible to the Church Street Marketplace. As a 16-year-old girl, I personally think that we have enough restaurants on Church Street that satisfy; so, with that said, it’s time to up our fashion in Vermont. Our malls do not offer enough variety, and we can’t rely on long-distance traveling or shopping online forever. That is why H&M or Forever 21 would be a nice addition to the marketplace. Better yet, both. They BOTH would fill the empty space nicely and get plenty of business. Also, H&M and Forever 21 are very affordable stores. I am very interested in what will fill that spot when Borders officially leaves.

Michele Trombley


Google This

Re [“Is Google in Vermont to Do Good or Buy Political Influence?” August 10]: Something’s happened in the last few weeks that your readers should be aware of: Microsoft-funded FairSearch.org has dramatically stepped up its anti-Google campaign in our state. Why? Google and Microsoft (creators of the rival Bing search engine) are duking it out to control the evolving search market, and Vermont is an important battlefield, partially because our congressional delegation has real sway over these matters. So FairSearch.org’s campaign is now painting Google as Goliath, and anyone else in the search business as David. But let’s not forget: Microsoft spent the ’90s harshly suppressing competitors by actually denying them space on millions of desktops.

Google today, on the other hand, can always lose its business with the click of a mouse — it’s had to innovate to please a very fickle online consumer. Is Google big? Of course, but that doesn’t make them guilty of anticompetitive practices. Bing, on the other hand, was caught back in February simply lifting Google’s search results and presenting them as unique. All a way of saying that labeling yourself David doesn’t necessarily make you the underdog, and adding “Fair” to your name doesn’t always make it so.

Philip Baruth


Baruth represents Chittenden County in the Vermont Senate.

Road Rage

There must be a perverse satisfaction in getting paid to advocate on behalf of a road that was a bad idea when it was first proposed decades ago; was a bad idea when it was initiated; was a bad idea over all the intervening years; and is still, more than ever, a very bad idea [“Burlington’s Ill-Fated Champlain Parkway: Are We Finally There Yet?” August 17].

Carol Weston is quoted as saying that “the project’s overall goal” is “to improve everyone’s driving experience by moving traffic more efficiently”; most other “developed” countries are working determinedly to make the driving experience harder, not easier — worse, not better — to the benefit of the environment, of residential neighborhoods, of community health and of a general sense that human values trump “efficiency.”

Why is it so hard for bureaucrats to simply admit their mistakes and move on?

The detail that stands out most vividly for me in Andy Bromage’s reporting is the intention of replacing four-way stop signs at Maple and Pine with a traffic signal. Let’s overlook the energy efficiency of replacing a zero-energy solution with an electronic one that involves poles, overhead cables, electronic controls, lamps, lenses and housings. Now CEDO wants to obliterate that venerable and quintessentially Vermont “driving experience,” an experience that blends skill, daring, patience, craftiness and a high sense of social responsibility into a graceful, efficient and unmediated social ballet: the four-way stop.

Better to wait at a red light with no cars coming from either right or left? More efficient? Poets understand these things; bureaucrats don’t seem to. I hope that, once again, as they have in the past, voices of reason and imagination will prevail and these old, obsolete ideas will finally be put to rest.

Louis Mannie Lionni


Keep Cars Moving

I guess I am confused by the stance of Vermonters these days [“Burlington’s Ill-Fated Champlain Parkway: Are We Finally There Yet?” August 17]. Do you want to curb pollution or keep your neighborhood exactly the same as it is? Not only is the traffic situation a menace for those within the vehicles at this and all the heavily traveled Chittenden County roadways, but if we can’t keep vehicles moving, then we cause more pollution than we curb with high-efficiency vehicles.

I am a firm believer in keeping Vermont, Vermont, but at what cost? Do we close down roads and keep plastering stop signs like every member of society is speeding and going to race through the streets? Or do we think of highly efficient and environmentally friendly ways to keep cars away from the greater population and neighborhoods, and help lessen the burden on our city streets?

I am well versed in environmental acts, statutes and legal limitations. With that in mind, I have also come to agree with most that Vermonters are becoming too dependent on the EPA and environmental agencies to curb all roadway projects.

We NEED to keep cars moving. That is a fact of Environmental Protection 101. Every time a car stops and idles for just one minute, it produces as much pollution as a vehicle traveling at 30 mph for over one mile. Get the facts and realize that the people in these neighborhoods might just be acting selfishly. This is a worthy sacrifice for everyone’s benefit.

Keep Vermont’s air clean, grass green and cars moving.

Sam Smith



Due to a wrong insertion during the editing process, last week’s Fair Game characterized Ken Squier of WDEV-FM as a “registered Republican.” Unlike in some states, you can’t register for political party status in Vermont.