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

Published November 16, 2011 at 5:36 a.m.

Uppity Instrumentalist

I’m getting pretty sick of hearing that Tiny Tim ruined the ukulele [“Uke Power,” November 2]. You can’t ruin the reputation of an instrument; it’s a freakin’ instrument. It’s meant to be versatile; it doesn’t have a reputation. That’s like getting angry because some punks play guitar badly in their garage band. Man, these people are getting uppity about an instrument, ridiculous. Ukulele purists? Pathetic.

Lauren Huffsmith

Port Huron, Mich.

Tiny Tim’s Time?

How unfortunate that your article on ukuleles took the usual low road of a dig against Tiny Tim [“Uke Power,” November 2]. Here’s the real story. Tiny had more knowledge of the Tin Pan Alley and music-hall songbook in the tip of his pinky finger than your average hipster charging his fancy new koa soprano on his mom’s credit card could ever absorb. He played the uke when it wasn’t fashionable, not when it was. He kept alive many of the songs that the people now giggling at him are just “discovering.” He was surely a character, and to the media a caricature, but if you’d take a little time to listen to the strange little man, maybe you’d learn something.

Raph Worrick


Powell Trip

The attention Mary Powell deserves is a trip to the woodshed courtesy of her ratepayers [“Green Mountain Powell,” October 12]. Most do not realize she has effectively scammed them in the name of “renewable energy.” If the Lowell project gets built, it will cost GMP and Vermont Electric Coop ratepayers tens of millions more than other options for equivalent energy and CO2 reduction that are and will be available during the project’s 20-year lifespan.

Even worse than needlessly overcharging ratepayers, though, is Powell’s appetite to destroy Vermont’s environmental ethic. Fury is the only appropriate response to the environmental catastrophe that is industrial wind on ridgelines in Vermont.

The destruction in Lowell is child’s play, though, when compared to Powell’s support for the GMP/CVPS merger. This restructuring could pave the way for a massive transmission corridor the length of the state — one of the options on the drawing board to move Canadian-produced power south to urban areas.

Now is the time for Vermonters to wake up to this reordering of their energy supply and make their voices heard. The best thing GMP ratepayers can do for themselves and Vermont’s energy future is to demand Mary Powell’s resignation. We will continue to get a lousy deal for our pocketbook and our environment so long as Mary and her ilk are running a “renewable energy” game sanctioned by an impotent Department of Public Service and power-hungry governor under the guise of climate-change action.

Ira Powsner


Beer and Art Mix

A large, imperial-pint-size thank you is in order for the efforts performed by the Seven Days crew, photographer Matthew Thorsen, Big Heavy World’s Jim Lockridge and all at Magic Hat Brewery. The recent “Sound Proof” exhibit and celebration was a wonderful experience and re-exposed many important Vermont musical and artistic achievements that had temporarily drifted away from memory [“Scene and Heard,” October 12]. Between Eva Sollberger’s fine documentation of the local event [“Stuck in Vermont,” October 19] and the ongoing, traveling exhibit of Matthew’s photographs, Vermonters statewide can now revel in the sound and vision of 1990s Burlington and beyond. Next stop? How about a local compilation of Burlington’s music scene, late 1970s to mid-1980s?

Michael Bassett


Radiating Technology

Schools are being encouraged to make use of new technologies, such as iPads, laptops and Wi-Fi, in hopes of better engaging their students and for improving the overall learning environment.

Unfortunately most of their administrators are unaware that these devices emit radio-frequency radiation of almost the exact frequency as cellphones. Actually, Wi-Fi is the exact same frequency as a microwave oven, and the power is well above the threshold of adverse effects.

In fact, in May 2011, the World Health Organization classified RF radiation from all sources, including cellphones and Wi-Fi, as a class 2B carcinogen, along with exhaust fumes, lead paint and DDT.

I would ask that these school officials put the brake on this adoption of new and untested technologies before they’ve invested too much of the public’s resources into something that the body of scientific evidence shows is especially harmful to children.

Ray Pealer


Not Quite “Zack”

I read the article about “Zack” written by Alice Levitt [“Purple Reign,” October 12]. Please note a few corrections: Zack wore caftans (an article of clothing of Persian origin), not muumuus (an article of clothing of Hawaiian origin). The robes may have had ermine collars but were certainly not lined with the Mustela erminea. His restaurant opened in 1962 and was, therefore, open for 40 years, not 30. There is no literary requirement to put the word “companion” in quotes in the article — Lucille was, in fact, Zack’s longtime friend and companion. Lastly, I’m sorry you were provided with such a terrible picture of Zack. There are so many wonderful photos that show the wonderful, impish smile and twinkle in his eyes for which he was so well known by family, friends and guests. Otherwise, thank you for recognizing and honoring Zack’s life. There will never be another like him on this planet.

Tom Grabiek

Rumney, N.H.

Genre-Bending Band

I was initially happy to see the appreciation for these talented musicians in [Album Review, Flabberghaster, Live Like Lightning, October 5]. As a writer, though, I was surprised to see the review taking so much time to contrast the difference between binding genres and reinstating them. Flabberghaster are clearly a band that are hard to pinpoint by genre, and this is something they take great pride in. Saying that because these young musicians haven’t completely created a genre of their own is naïve. I believe if a band can take its first record, include multiple genres, and make every track differ from the previous, that band is creating its own thing. The whole album is a smooth mix of rock, funk, reggae and, most importantly, soul. I would have liked to see a review articulate on more specifics than choice of vocabulary.

Emily Marie Hurley


Like Leunig’s

In response to the letter from Hope Johnson entitled “Irony on the Menu?” [Feedback, October 19], criticizing Leunig’s and Betsy Conlon for promoting fundraising for FAHC’s Breast Care Center through the restaurant’s wine sales, I would like to say that I have been an insulin-dependent diabetic for 28 years and have some understanding of incurable, chronic, life-threatening disease. If Leunig’s donated a dime to the American Diabetes Association for every crème brulée or banana cream pie sold, I am quite sure I would simply say thank you.

Samantha Sellers


Media Protest

Seven Days received many letters about last week’s story entitled “Burlington’s Occupiers Have Company — and They’re Really Homeless,” mostly from protesters who felt it was a negative portrayal of their Occupy Wall Street movement. A day later, a 35-year-old itinerant man committed suicide in the park. Police have since reinstated the city’s no-camping policy, and all occupiers have left the park.


I appreciate a report on the homeless in City Hall Park, as they are usually invisible to the community. In the article, however, occupiers are described as educated and articulate, implying that the homeless are not. A little deeper digging and you would find many homeless are extremely well educated. Many have advanced degrees. And they are also articulate if engaged in a respectful manner. Time to check those assumptions and not stereotype the disenfranchised.

Donna Iverson


I wasn’t present during Kevin J. Kelley’s recent trip to City Hall Park, but he interviewed me for an October blog post on my first trip to Zuccotti Park. While annoyed at what I felt were mischaracterizations of our conversation, I let it slide. However, the recent article, and resulting criticisms I heard from individuals who spoke with Kevin on Friday, indicate a repeating pattern that I will address.

Kelley characterizes the occupations as either akin to a Phish concert or awash with dispossessed individuals blamed for their own behavior. Rather than treat their very presence as politics, he defers spokespersonship to already-existing leaders within social and political institutions. This logic de-legitimizes the real people with real stakes in this movement for a society without hierarchy and, hence, inequality. Clearly he fails to understand our rejection of the very legitimacy of hierarchical leadership.

Leadership, as invoked by Kelley, implies hierarchy within a bureaucratic society ruled by “experts.” The tacit assumption is that individuals need to follow orders and directions from above. This all too easily slides into a justification of the status quo — that divisions of wealth, power and privilege are basic social facts, rather than effects of the conditions in which they exist. By refusing to kowtow to false leaders, the Occupy movement is forcing the conversation on social inequality to move toward addressing its root causes. Seven Days should stand by this, rather than hide behind tired conventions of a failed social order.

Ian G. Williams


I think this article missed the point of a very key aspect of our movement. It speaks about the situation between homeless and activists down in City Hall Park as “them” and “us,” “activists” and “homeless,” when in reality you cannot make these distinctions. We are one community down in the park, and the houseless community is just as much a part of the movement as any activist down there. I cannot tell you how grateful everyone down at the park is that Burlington’s movement is unique in its inclusiveness. The other night, Joel, who you speak about in the article, had a long conversation with me to help me calm an overly rowdy, inebriated man and get him out of the park. Joel told me how much he appreciated that we were there, and that he wanted to help out whenever he was needed.

I just want you to realize that when you speak about the movement in ways such as this article, you only discredit all the good that happens down in that park every day and every night. This is what “occupy” is all about. If we are all looking toward Wall Street, corporations and the government, we also need to be able to look in the other direction, toward the portion of the 99 percent who struggle the most and need their voices to be heard more than anyone.

Jamie Jackson


Kevin Kelley’s article seems to take deliberate pains to avoid balance and context. Gov. Madeleine Kunin, city councilors, mayoral candidates, Melinda Moulton, Ben & Jerry’s board of directors, the Salvation Army, Stone Soup and many more are among the broad-based community of support that Kelley omits. Employees of the Committee on Temporary Shelter and the HowardCenter — facing $45 million in budget cuts, short staffing and being over capacity — have started sending clients to the occupation.

Additionally, it’s interesting that Kelley never once mentions the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, causes for Vermonters to experience homelessness or Vermont’s soaring economic inequality. Perhaps 81 percent of Vermonters not being able to afford the median-price Vermont home merits at least as much discussion as slandering our most vulnerable neighbors’ behavioral choices. With little empathy, Kelley paints in broad-brush generalizations: “belligerent drunks and mentally ill homeless.”

A recent analysis by USA Today of the U.S. Census Bureaus American Community Survey shows Burlington’s middle class is shrinking faster than nearly anywhere else in the country. The University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute reported in 2007 that Vermont ranked second among all the states in fastest growth in income inequality.

Kelley gathered interviews relating the information above. Unfortunately, through his omissions, lack of context and balance, Kelley instead utilizes Seven Days’ pages to disparage Vermonters coming together to turn these trends around.

Jonathan Leavitt


Leavitt is a frequent spokesman for Occupy Burlington.

Editor’s note: On Wednesday, November 9, COTS issued a press release vehemently denying Leavitt’s claim that the homeless shelter was sending clients to City Hall Park for food and shelter. “We are baffled that Occupy Burlington has made this false accusation,” it read.

This article quotes David Russell saying, “I haven’t met anybody who’s ended up homeless for economic reasons only. Somebody who wants to get off the streets can definitely do that in Burlington.” This statement is patently absurd and basically states that all homeless people are either addicted to drugs or are crazy.

Currently, only about half of the unemployed in the United States are even receiving benefits, and this does not include those who graduated college recently and can’t find a job at all. There are currently way more job applicants than jobs available. So simple logic reveals that many people can become broke, and thus homeless, even if they have no mental illnesses or drug addictions. To claim otherwise is to ignore the gross injustices of our economic system. It is quite a shame that in our system, those with mental health issues are so often forced to the streets to starve, as opposed to being treated in humane public facilities.

I am a big fan of Seven Days and continue to read it weekly, even though I have not lived in Vermont for two years. But I do wish this particular quote was contested, since it is so clearly illogical and needlessly paints the homeless in a negative light.

Michael Corcoran



Last week’s article about Burlington’s Democratic mayoral caucus [“In the Running”] mistakenly stated that all four candidates have Ivy League credentials. Rep. Jason Lorber does not; Stanford, his alma mater, is not an Ivy League school.

In last week’s article “Go, Phish,” we wrote about an assemblage made and framed by Creative Habitat that includes photographs from the September Phish concert benefit. We failed to give proper credit to Vermont photographer Brian Jenkins.