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The Monologist Prepares

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THE MONOLOGIST PREPARES: You don’t say “break a leg” to Spalding Gray these days. The 60-year-old monologist was shaky on stage last Saturday as a result of a recent automobile accident in Ireland that damaged his hip. He can still climb up on a massage table, though, for his ritual pre-performance rub down. Former Burlingtonian Alison Granucci came up from New York to meet his kneads. The diminutive dancer first worked on Gray five years ago, when he was in Vermont performing “It’s a Slippery Slope.” She’s been his main masseuse ever since — and celebrity photographer Annie Leibowitz and writer Susan Sontag hire her now, too. When it comes to rehabilitation, Gray is definitely in good hands. A decade ago, Granucci was shot in the head — at point-blank range — by a drifter who wandered into her Burlington studio. She made a complete recovery, moved to Rhinebeck and works full-time as a program planner at the Omega Institute. Gray’s gig “was a good excuse to visit Vermont” she says, noting the actor is “still definitely healing” from his accident. Gray was among friends, on the way back from his 60th birthday party, when he was hurt, according to Granucci. She says he was sitting in the backseat, sans seatbelt, next to the widow of Timothy Leary. Hmmm…

PRINTS CHARMING: The first Phish fan showed up at one o’clock — a full four hours before the official opening of the annual “Print Project” fundraiser for Burlington City Arts. Anything for first right of refusal on eight prints made by guitarist Trey Anastasio, one of the creators featured in the arts event that calls itself the “hottest sale of the winter.” Artists Barbara Zucker, Sumru Tekin, Gail Salzman, Beth Pearson and Stephen Huneck took turns on the city-owned press and donated the resulting prints to the cause. So did political activist Robin Lloyd, who came up with a series of studies on burka-clad women that turned out to be the most topical works in the show. City Arts “members” got early access to the art, priced at $100 per print. By 5:30, when the doors opened to the public, it was almost all sold — except for the pieces designated for silent auction. Weekend bids for the remaining “Anastasio” drove the price up to $825. “One guy was bidding for another guy over a cell phone,” says Firehouse curator Pascal Spengemann, noting the show raised just under $10,000 for Burlington City Arts . . . Last month, Waterbury photographer Peter Miller single-handedly scared up $11,700 by auctioning off 16 of his large-format World Trade Tower photos to benefit the families of restaurant workers who perished there. “We were not sure what to expect,” says host Steve Schimoler of the Mist Grill, “but after the first photo went for four times the minimum bid, I knew we had a crowd that was going to make the night a big success.” The average price per photo was just over $700.

EATING IT UP: You’ve got to trust the butter judgment of Thomas Keller, one of the most discriminating chefs in America. The culinary force behind The French Laundry in Napa Valley is sold on the spread from Animal Farm in Orwell — a two-cow operation run by Vermont farmer Diane St. Clair. “He thinks it’s the greatest thing with sliced bread,” says St. Clair, who hand-kneads her Jersey-generated product. Demand quickly outpaced supply when the better butter was written up last year in Gourmet magazine. But St. Clair sent a sample to Keller anyway. He called back immediately and became her biggest customer, ordering up “whatever I can send him,” she says. With overnight shipping, that works out to be about 16 pounds a week at $14 a pound. The rest is divvied up among an Italian restaurant on Nantucket, Middlebury College, the Middlebury Co-op and Healthy Living in South Burlington . . . Could it have been a potato leak that tipped off The New York Times to a new cookbook by Williston author Molly Stevens? One Potato Two Potato kicked off a holiday round-up last Sunday in the Book Review — the writer’s reference to “primeval comfort” suggests that may be what readers and eaters are craving this year. Food writer Corby Kummer goes on to suggest the book delivers “everything you could want from a potato, really, with a startling lack of contrivance… Just terrific recipes and tips.” Like lots of butter and salt.

ROOMS WITH A VIEW: Mark Gauthier has bowed out of his booking duties at Red Square — further evidence of his waning commitment to the popular Church Street bar. He’s been focused more on Club Metronome since he and his partner, Jack O’Brien, bought the nightclub above Nectar’s. James Harvey and Brett Hughes have taken over the job of making the music happen at the Square . . . The FlynnSpace program has taken one giant leap since it opened last September. “So many different groups are using it,” says Flynn Artistic Director Arnie Malina, listing off renters that range from solo vocalists to sweet 16 parties and a recent blowout called Planet Dyke. It’s getting increasingly difficult to find dates available — next fall is filling up fast, according to Malina. If demand for intimate venues keeps up at this rate in Burlington, you can bet the FlynnSpace won’t be the final frontier.

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