'Seven Days' Arts and Culture Writers’ Warm Wishes and Wild Predictions for 2023 | Humor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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'Seven Days' Arts and Culture Writers’ Warm Wishes and Wild Predictions for 2023


Published December 28, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

  • Sean Metcalf

Many Seven Days staffers are fans of the NPR show "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" What better way to review the week's national news than by answering panel questions, completing silly limericks and bluffing the listener? The show's final segment is always panelists' predictions for the week ahead, but, honestly, they're often a bit cryptic.

So we thought we'd try our hand at prognostication — for the whole year to come.

We perused our 2022 stories for clues, consulted oracles, gazed into crystal balls, threw decks of cards in the air, asked our pets, and landed on the following very unscientific and marginally helpful predictions for 2023.

What will be carved into Mount Mansfield? How will TikTok save local theater? Which AI rapper will become a household name? What's Harry Bliss going to do next? Here's what we hope will happen, what we think may really happen and a few outrageous outliers.

Baseball or Bust

I fervently hope that Major League Baseball took note of Seven Days' exclusive interview with Champ, the famed Lake Monsters mascot, and is inspired to restore a minor league franchise to Burlington in 2023. It will undoubtedly be an AA farm team from expansion team the Vancouver Vikings. Its mascot: Rally Ragnar, a nod to Ragnar Lodbrok, the ninth-century Viking king and warrior.

But I fear that something far less sportsmanlike is more likely to happen. After establishing the first Vermont Tesla dealership, in South Burlington, non-reclusive billionaire Elon Musk will buy the state for cash, stock options and promises to be broken later. Critical Twitter Theory will become a mandatory part of secondary school curricula, Musk will bring in Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu to solve the housing shortage with a plan for so-called "settlements," and a replica of Mount Rushmore will be carved into Mount Mansfield featuring the likenesses of inventor Nikola Tesla, entrepreneur Peter Thiel and Musk.

In well-founded disgust, Ben & Jerry's will launch a new flavor: EggoManioc.

Steve Goldstein

Vermont Goes Cheap

  • Sean Metcalf

A red school bus painted with the phrase "Cheap Art" is a fixture at Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover. Housing a gallery and store, the bus is an expression of theater founder and artist Peter Schumann, who believes art should be accessible and available to everyone in its making and viewing.

In 2023, inspired by Schumann's egalitarian approach, Vermonters in a range of industries will adopt his cheap art ethos: Churn it out and sell it cheap — or give it away. Shaun Hill of nearby Hill Farmstead Brewery will shift from selling bottles and cans of the world's best beer to unloading kegs — two for the price of one. Weed stores will ditch their sales pitches: "This strain is sweet for lying around listening to the Allman Brothers Band" or "Have a hit of this before a round of disc golf." Instead, they'll sell bricks of pot at discount prices. And landlords will reduce rents to the rates of early 1960s Lower East Side Manhattan, where Bread and Puppet got its start.

In a nod to Schumann, who hands out free bread at his Glover shows, every enterprise that goes cheap will give away coarse, wood-fired bread.

Sally Pollak

Enjoy the Show

Theater in Vermont is too stubborn to fail the way it's supposed to. Our theaters — pro, semipro and stone-cold amateur — ignore the fact that Disney+ has 46.4 million U.S. subscribers while our playhouses have only 50 to 300 seats. What kind of business model puts actors and audience members in the same space together and makes actors perform plays all over again from scratch, night after night? That just seems downright wasteful. And when is AI going to take over to slash those pesky creative costs?

My theater dream is that ticket prices drop to match those of movies and that young people start infiltrating the audience. They discover that live performance makes the viewer feel part of the event, and people start posting themselves on TikTok dancing outside theaters, saying "I saw it in person for real!" to signify that something was amazing.

But what I'm sure will really happen is that our theater companies will make do with dwindling audiences and sprinkle on enough magical fundraising dust so the shows go on.

Alex Brown

Art Can Be Fun!

It's been a downer-ish year or six, and we all need occasional relief from the many catastrophes facing the state, nation and world, including racism, domestic terrorism, mass shootings, white supremacists, toxic masculinity (see a theme here?), addiction, homelessness and the housing crisis, wars, climate Armageddon, and still-with-us COVID-19. Oh, and a certain past president/wannabe dictator.

So I predict that, in 2023, Vermont galleries will come to the rescue with exhibitions whose sole mission is to provide comfort and joy. Adorable animal videos on a loop, say, or immersive experiences involving Play-Doh. Pettable paintings made of sheep fluff. Sensory environments that smell like chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. Sculptures that invite viewers to crawl inside and take a nice nap. Just cheer us the hell up, OK?

Probs none of this will actually happen, but an art critic can dream.

Pamela Polston

Budding Intentions

  • Sean Metcalf

Cannabis prohibition was finally laid to rest in 2022 with the opening of Vermont's regulated, adult-use market on October 1. Though the state's methodical licensing process delayed planting for some growers, by year's end more than 30 dispensaries were up and rolling, and anyone 21 or older who wanted to buy legal, taxable weed could do so.

In 2023, I hope Congress finally hashes out federal banking laws and tax codes to allow cannabis businesses to accept credit card purchases and write off operating expenses like any other legitimate business. I also want the Vermont legislature to fully embrace cannabis as a value-added agricultural product and allow its sale at farmers markets and farmstands.

But given the divided Congress and President Joe Biden's aversion to weed, federal action on cannabis will likely continue at a glacial pace in the New Year. And growing competition in the cannabis market, including from neighboring states, is more likely to put some Vermont licensees out of business long before the legislature embraces value-added weed products. Let's hope we can nip those losses in the bud.

Ken Picard

A Bruce-Size Bite

The key to the suspense in Steven Spielberg's 1975 film Jaws is that we rarely see the shark. The gnawing dread we feel arises from the mere suggestion of imminent doom and John Williams' iconic score — dah-dun, dah-dun. But that wasn't by design.

Originally, the shark was supposed to get a lot more screen time. But the animatronic great white — whose name, which you should file away for pub trivia night, was Bruce — constantly broke down during filming. It was probably the best thing that could have happened to the movie.

Some years ago, New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss and his childhood friend John Butler wrote a screenplay about how Bruce came to be so derelict. Bruce is a buddy comedy/road-trip story that imagines the madcap misadventures of two bumbling delivery drivers transporting the shark from a Hollywood studio lot to Martha's Vineyard, where Jaws was filmed.

Though there's been some interest, studios have only ever nibbled at producing the screenplay. But given Bliss' rising national profile and Tinseltown connections, thanks to his recent collaborations with Steve Martin, I predict Hollywood takes a Bruce-size bite and the movie is finally green-lit in 2023 — despite Bliss' desire to slow his career.

Retirement can wait, Harry.

Dan Bolles

Game On

  • Sean Metcalf

Predicting what will happen in the music business has always been something of a crapshoot, and post-pandemic it's even harder. But that never stops me. I've rolled the bones and read the cards.

I predict that in 2023, Ticketmaster will continue ripping off everyone in sight, including attempting to charge $689 for your nephew's middle school graduation ceremony. Rookie Sen. Taylor Swift, elected on a tidal wave of Swifties and their unstoppable rage, will halt the insanity and introduce legislation to break up the Ticketmaster monopoly.

Burlington's hip-hop scene will be thrown into chaos by an AI rapper named Big Digi YOLO, whose debut album, Putting Vermont Hip-Hop on the Map, angers actual, living performers. Hip-hop artists will band together to make a protest album, but it'll be moot after the discovery that Big Digi YOLO retweeted antisemitic sneaker ads.

After watching the '83 classic film Eddie and the Cruisers, Burlington musician Matt Hagen will fake his own death. He will reemerge five months later as Hatt Magen, playing exclusively synth-rock versions of Eagles songs.

The City of Burlington will finally reopen Memorial Auditorium as a bike lane and hot yoga studio. But Big Heavy World will turn the bike lane into a straight-edge, all-ages venue, yoga instructors will riot, and chaos will ensue.

If any of these predictions comes true, everybody better become a Seven Days Super Reader.

Chris Farnsworth

Perfect Pitch

Every year, students vie to enter the country's conservatories and college music programs. Where do they all come from? Many get their start right here in Vermont, and my prediction is that their numbers will grow in 2023.

The Vermont Youth Orchestra Association in Colchester will attract even more instrument-playing kids who discover the joy of mastering complex musical works with their friends. Sarah Cullins, founder and executive director of Burlington's Youth Opera Company of Vermont, will introduce more youngsters to the broad and exciting world of opera. And Duxbury's Music-COMP will attract fledgling composers who thrive under the mentorship of professionals and revel in hearing Vermont Symphony Orchestra musicians perform their pieces.

Of course, for this prediction to come true, a wish must be granted: These organizations and others that engage kids in classical music have to be flooded with funds. Audience members and donors have the power to grant that wish. Just sayin'. These kids are the future of the art form.

Amy Lilly

Big Picture

My 2023 wish is that readers stop asking us whether the Netflix series "Wednesday" was filmed in Vermont. Here are the facts, folks. The Addams family-themed show from Tim Burton is set in Jericho, Vt.; Luis Guzmán, who plays Gomez, has a home in Vermont; and the show was shot in Romania. The series is like most of those Hallmark movies about idyllic Vermont towns: They're actually shot in places such as New York, Ontario or British Columbia.

Why? Because modern Hollywood productions are highly budget-conscious, and the State of Vermont doesn't provide film production tax incentives that can compete with those offered elsewhere. No big-budget films have been shot in the Green Mountain State since What Lies Beneath and Me, Myself & Irene in 1999. Hell, Vermont hasn't even had a film commission since 2011.

While it would be cool to meet celebrities chilling between shoots at the Jericho Café & Tavern, let's not forget that Vermont has a homegrown film industry. We're watching a new organization called the Vermont Production Collective that aims to foster grassroots connections among film professionals who actually live here.

Margot Harrison

The original print version of this article was headlined "Forward Thinking | Seven Days arts and culture writers' warm wishes and wild predictions for 2023"