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Seven Days
Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice, Seven Days
Independent Vermont alt-weekly covering news, politics, food, arts, music and culture.

Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice, Seven Days
  • Street Artist KASSO Paints Black History at Middlebury College
    With its picturesque steeples and grand "Little Ivy" campus, Middlebury College is not the first place you'd expect a nationally established street artist to call home. In recent months, though, muralist Will "KASSO" Condry has been creating large-scale portraits of African American historical figures and icons there. You just have to know where to look. The story of the New Jersey-born artist's arrival in Vermont is closely entwined with the emergence and evolution of Middlebury College's diversity efforts and its new "intercultural" space, the Anderson Freeman Resource Center. Located in Carr Hall, the AFC officially opened in October 2015, a result of students' efforts to obtain a designated space on campus for students of color and other marginalized identities. One of the students behind that movement was Condry's niece, Sadé Williams, who graduated in 2014. At her invitation, Condry led a social activism workshop on campus in 2012 and live-painted at a Verbal Onslaught spoken-word event. In 2016, he spoke at the college's TEDx speaker series. And in August of this year, Condry cemented his connection to Middlebury College: He married Jennifer Herrera Condry, who is the AFC's associate director. Today, visitors to the center will find information at a front desk, along with glossy buttons. Some feature a quote from African American author and activist bell hooks; others, the words "First Generation," for students who are the first in their families to attend college. On the wall just behind the desk, a floor-to-ceiling mural depicts the center's namesakes, Mary Annette Anderson and Martin Henry Freeman. The former was the first woman of color to graduate from Middlebury; she was valedictorian of the class of 1899. The latter was a Rutland native who graduated from Middlebury in 1849 and went on to become the first African American college president (of Allegheny Institute, later Avery College, in Pittsburgh). Last spring, Condry worked with now-senior studio art major Zarai Zaragoza to design and complete that mural, the first of many in the AFC. During that semester, Condry was the Alexander Twilight artist-in-residence, joining a lineup of past residents that has included activist and author Angela Y. Davis and Pulitzer Prize-winning Dominican American author Junot Díaz. The program is named for Middlebury's — and the country's — first African American college graduate, who also gave his name to a campus building. "When you walk around [campus] and every oil painting…

  • A Year After Al Franken's Visit, Vermont Dems React to His Scandal
    What a difference a year makes. Last November, former "Saturday Night Live" satirist and U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) brought his trademark smirk and fundraising prowess to Vermont to stump for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter. Just days before she lost to Republican Phil Scott, Burlington crowds welcomed Franken with laughs and loud applause. Now he's being pilloried as yet another groper — the latest outing triggered by the New York Times exposé on Miramax cofounder Harvey Weinstein. What do Vermont Dems make of Franken now? Minter, for one, was chastened by the news that he allegedly forced a kiss on a woman and was photographed reaching for her breasts as she slept during a USO tour in 2006. A photo that caught him in the act started circulating last week. "Obviously, this is incredibly disrespectful, unacceptable behavior," Minter told Seven Days Monday. "It's incredibly disappointing." But she qualified her criticism, noting that, "unlike many others," Franken is acknowledging his actions. "He has apologized." Franken said he's sorry for the incident involving California broadcast journalist Leeann Tweeden in 2006. He has not commented publicly on another allegation, that he grabbed a different woman's behind while posing for a photo in 2010. The allegations about various men are troubling, Minter said, but it's encouraging that women are feeling safe coming forward with their experiences. Hopefully, this movement means "that what is considered acceptable behavior is going to change from here going forward," said Minter, now president and CEO of Special Olympics Vermont. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) accompanied Franken on his 2016 rounds in Vermont. Like Minter, Leahy offered a sobering response to the allegations. "I don't condone this action, nor does he," Leahy said, referring to the Tweeden photo allegation. "He's apologized rather profusely, and, in fact, he asked for an Ethics Committee investigation before anybody else did. He's been a very effective senator." Should Franken resign? "Then is Donald Trump going to resign, when he's admitted to doing a lot more? I say that rhetorically," Leahy told Seven Days. "Let's see what the Ethics Committee comes up with."

    The original print version of this article was headlined "Frankly Speaking"



  • Reidun Nuquist Navigates a Century of Long Trail Guides
    In November 1944, an American soldier fighting in Europe wrote this in a letter home: I keep a worn out 1935 edition of the Guide Book in my foot locker to always remind me of what I'm fighting for. That "Guide Book" just happened to be the Long Trail Guide, and the GI's words hint at how important these little tomes have been over the years, in so many ways to so many people. The plural "tomes" is appropriate here; while most people think of the guide as a book, there have been, in fact, 28 versions, all published by the Green Mountain Club, beginning with the first in 1917 and culminating in this year's Centennial Edition. As that homesick soldier's note suggested, over the decades these volumes have achieved significance far beyond that of mere guidebooks, for two good reasons. One is that, as the number of weekenders who become (or aspire to become) end-to-enders signifies, the Long Trail is not just a trail. Hiking it is a coming-of-age accomplishment, a badge of honor, a bucket-list item, a family bonder and more. The other reason is that the inspiration, dedication and perspiration of the guides' editors and contributors have resulted in the kind of quality that labors of love generally produce. Such longevity and excellence, the current GMC leadership realized, shouldn't go unchronicled. "With the 100th anniversary edition, it became clear that the history of the guide had not been told and that this was the perfect opportunity to do so," GMC executive director Mike DeBonis said in a telephone interview. That decision might have been simple, but finding an author was another story. Any candidate would have to be an expert and diligent researcher. "This would not be an easy book to research or to write," DeBonis explained. "Because not all the backstory is written down in one place, it would require reading all the old guides, as well as finding and digging through archives and interviewing past editors and contributors." Another consideration: One little book about a lot of other little books could have significant yawner potential. The author of this little book would have to be creative. As it turned out, though, the perfect candidate was near at hand: Reidun Nuquist, a Norwegian-turned-Vermonter, devoted outdoorswoman and longtime GMC devotee. And she had long been a contributor to the Long Trail guides. Now 77, Nuquist immigrated…

  • Movie Review: 'Justice League' Assembles a Crack Team But Loses the Stakes
    In the past month, I’ve seen reams of online breast-beating about the titanic struggle between Marvel and DC Comics to control the world of superhero blockbusters. To many comics fans, and to people in the industry, it matters who “wins.” So I want to make something clear: As a comics illiterate, I’m not invested in which superpeople from which universe get the most screen time or whether their depiction is “canon.” I go in hoping to enjoy each movie on its own terms. That’s it. Last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a terrible movie if you care about things like narrative logic or non-ridiculous titles. As a pure, loopy expression of director Zack Snyder’s grimdark, agonistic vision for these characters, however, it had its fun side. Now comes Justice League, also directed by Snyder with reshoots by Joss Whedon, who shares a writing credit. This is the DC universe’s version of The Avengers: the movie in which Batman (Ben Affleck) comes down from the high of pounding on Superman (Henry Cavill) and realizes that, since the Man of Steel is no longer protecting humanity (for now, anyway), it’s time to form a super-team. Of course, it wouldn’t be a super-team without Gal Gadot’s spirited Wonder Woman, who gets a meaty role to satisfy the legions of fans she gained last summer. Then there’s the small matter of recruiting three more heroes: the Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), whose powers and backstories must be painstakingly explained to comics illiterates like me. Once the film has completed all this setup, it’s time to save the world from a dreary CG alien with mommy issues (voice of Ciarán Hinds) and his army of steampunk variants on flying monkeys. The green-screened backgrounds don’t give us much of a sense of global stakes, so, in a laughable effort to create them, the filmmakers cut periodically to a single impoverished Russian family cringing from the advancing evil. We seem to have dropped in on a Béla Tarr film. Though that would be scarier. More relatable than its predecessor but no more spell-binding, Justice League races through its paces and ends: four hours of exposition and posturing stuffed in a two-hour package. For every solid quip in the script, there’s a hoary mouthful. (“Such harmony out of such horror,” a character declaims. “It was truly the age of heroes.”)…

  • Crossword (11/22/17)
    Answers …

  • Movie Review: 'Wonder' Promotes Kindness With Schmaltz
    I’m writing this on Saturday, November 18, Owen Wilson’s 49th birthday. Last night was the opening of the touslehaired actor’s latest film — an adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s 2012 best seller — but I doubt he celebrated the occasion. I know I didn’t. Watching Wonder, I felt as though someone had set off a sap bomb. Directed and cowritten by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), it’s the sort of sentimental button pusher in which every development is apparent from miles away. Since my seat was several feet from the screen, I’d intuited its 113 minutes before the first Goobers hit my stomach. One hesitates to detail the film’s failures, as it’s based on a beloved novel about the need for kindness. I’m not anti-kindness. I’m anti-schmaltz. The novel is one thing; this is something else. The kindest thing I can say is that it makes a great case for bypassing the multiplex and beelining it to a bookstore. Jacob Tremblay stars as Auggie Pullman, a plucky 10-year-old who’s undergone 27 surgeries to address craniofacial deformities resulting from a rare genetic mutation. His doting parents are played by Wilson and Julia Roberts. We learn early on that they’ve decided the time has come to transition from home study to school. Auggie has always worn a space helmet in public. His father coaxes him into removing it before meeting classmates for the first time, and the revelation is shocking: He looks ... um, pretty normal. Compared with real-life kids suffering from the condition — typically born without eye sockets, cheekbones or ears — Chbosky’s Auggie is borderline physically typical. OK, his beak’s a tad funky, but not a lot more than Wilson’s (savvy casting!). That’s the first sign that the edges of Palacio’s text have been smoothed to go down easy. The next is Mandy Patinkin as Mr. Tushman, the world’s nicest middle school principal. He’s so invested in his new student’s success that he assembles a pint-size posse to show Auggie the ropes. Like all the film’s characters, they’re one-dimensional — nice kid Jack (Noah Jupe), wacky girl Charlotte (Elle McKinnon) and total trust-fund tool Julian (Bryce Gheisar). If you’ve ever watched a movie about a kid trying to fit in at a school, camp or dystopian survival training course, it won’t surprise you that Auggie initially gets the cold shoulder from some peers. What will surprise you…

  • Repair Cafés Aim to Save Broken Items, Enhance Community
    On a recent Saturday, small groups of people huddled inside the Charlotte Town Hall to collectively troubleshoot their neighbors' problems. But, unlike the questions that typically arise in this building about zoning, property taxes and building permits, these residents were tackling more mundane issues. Among them: Why doesn't this lamp switch work? Can this old sewing machine be fixed? How do you replace the zipper on a winter coat? The November 11 gathering was Vermont's first-ever Repair Café, a free service that taps the collective talent and labor pool of individuals in a community. The goal is to help neighbors save old items — clothes, electronics, bicycles, furniture, small appliances — that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Call it an antidote to the engineered obsolescence of consumer goods. The daylong event was cosponsored by the Charlotte Grange, the Charlotte Congregational Church and Transition Town Charlotte. The latter is a local chapter of the international Transition Movement, which, as event co-organizer Ruah Swennerfelt explained, is dedicated to helping communities move away from fossil-fuel-based economies and consumption-based models of growth. Ultimately, the movement's mission is to help communities become more resilient in the face of natural and human-caused disasters. Events such as Repair Cafés not only help people save money and reduce the local waste stream, Swennerfelt explained, but also help resurrect the lost art of fixing stuff. In the process, they bring together people from different political and socioeconomic backgrounds to work and socialize in a nonpartisan environment. As she put it, "It tries to get people out of their own homes and into each other's lives." Repair Café is the brainchild of Martine Postma, a Dutch former journalist who held the first such event in the foyer of an Amsterdam theater on October 18, 2009. The fix-it function was so successful that Postma launched a nonprofit organization five months later called the Repair Café Foundation, which now helps communities around the world organize their own events. To date, more than 1,400 Repair Cafés are operating in 33 countries, including 47 in the United States. For a voluntary, onetime fee of 49 euro, or about $58, the Repair Café Foundation provides a digital starter kit that includes liability waivers, online sign-up sheets, promotional materials, and advice to help organizers find local repair experts and suitable café locations. According to Swennerfelt, the Charlotte event enlisted the help of nine…

  • Album Review: Bardela, 'Sky'
    (Self-released, digital download) In her bio, Bardela rhythm guitarist and vocalist Cooie DeFrancesco describes music as a "lifelong companion and source of comfort." Alongside her list of influences, which range from Jimi Hendrix to Procol Harum to Rosetta Tharpe, she also nods to the disenfranchised musicians of color who lived on the outside of the mainstream music industry — a refreshing acknowledgment. Bardela's lead guitarist and songwriter, Arty LaVigne, and bassist Jeff Barrows also share a lifelong practice and appreciation of music from the '60s. The Vermont band is a musical throwback to the cultural revolution of the 1960s and '70s. Their debut EP, Sky, is a curated celebration of classic tone. "Here in LA" kicks things off with a sunshiny, languid rhythm that suffuses Beach Boys tone with Jonathan Richman whimsy. The track is smoothly balanced, and the instrumentation is awash in lush reverb. The trio grooves together comfortably, as old friends should. Their music holds laid-back maturity: Bardela aren't trying to impress or redefine anything, but simply reminisce over an old collective dream. Sky shifts into an eerie, bluesy Americana sound on "The Crow." The song has a dimly lit roadhouse swing. LaVigne's lead guitar is uncontrived and genuine — unlike some contemporary blues guitar riffs that sound more like a Gibson guitar demo video on YouTube. Layers of elegiac vocal harmonies intensify a sense of traveling a lonely desert highway tuned to AM radio. "In the Country" is the EP's creative standout. A wide, ambient lead-guitar melody stretches out across a subdued rhythm section colored by a '90s Neil Young-style bass line. The instrumentation here almost reaches the War on Drugs' current interpretation of down-tempo Americana. If Bardela chooses to follow the sound of this track, rather than skip around from genre to genre, they could cultivate a style that appeals to the contemporary market's taste in rock nostalgia. However, an appealing aspect of Sky is the seeming lack of ambition toward mainstream success. Bardela play just for the joy of it. The EP ends on "Country Comes to Town," another roadhouse-worthy tune that anyone craving a good old-fashioned feeling would enjoy drinking a pint to. More upbeat than the preceding songs, here Bardela demonstrate their function as a dance band and close on an energetic high note. Stream Sky by Bardela at bardela.com. The band plays on Saturday, November 25, at Smitty's Pub in Burlington.…

  • A Cambridge Artist Paints Portraits to Benefit Local Charities
    In an era defined by screen time, for-profit art making and seemingly unending world turmoil, painter Karen Winslow decided she "just needed to do something good." This fall, the 67-year-old Cambridge, Vt., painter is creating 100 portraits of Vermonters to raise money for Lamoille County charities. For her project, which she calls "Face to Face, Community to Community," the artist is inviting her neighbors to volunteer as models at the Winslow Art Studio, a cozy, one-room wooden structure located on the property where she and husband, Jack — also an artist — live and work. The couple moved to Cambridge in 1979 from New York City, where they had studied at the Art Students League with renowned painter Frank Mason. They exhibit their work at the Bryan Memorial and Visions of Vermont galleries in nearby Jeffersonville, as well as at the Stowe Craft Design Center. In just two hours, Winslow — a plein air painter accustomed to swiftly capturing rapidly changing landscape scenes — paints an eight-by-eight-inch square portrait of each subject from life. Her models so far include a librarian, a schoolteacher and a gallery owner; they range in age from infancy to 90. When she has finished 100 portraits, Winslow will hold an opening at her studio, selling each piece for $200. Half of the profits will be donated to a local charity or individual in need. Why 100 portraits, instead of 10 or 20 or even 50? "I'm a very fast painter," Winslow explained with a smile. "One hundred portraits is a huge commitment, but, when you reach 67, you realize you may not be Rembrandt, but you can do something good with your art." The more portraits Winslow produces, of course, the more funds she has the potential to raise: If all are sold, she will have $10,000 to donate. The artist announced "Face to Face" on September 30, during the first annual Cambridge Art Trail, an open-studio event sponsored by the Cambridge Arts Council. A few days later, she posted a short project description to the local Front Porch Forum. Since then, Winslow's calendar has been packed: In late October and early November, she painted nearly 20 people. Portrait painting is a welcome change for the artist. Owing to market demand, Winslow has primarily focused on still life and landscape paintings since moving to Vermont. In her twenties, though, she studied figure painting and drawing…

  • Album Review: Japhy Ryder, 'You're Alright'
    (Self-released, digital download) After a five-year hiatus, Burlington's groove-meisters Japhy Ryder return with their fifth studio album, You're Alright. If you're familiar with their extensive back catalog, the new effort might sound a little different — not because they've reinvented their musical ethos, but because they've retooled their approach to making a record. Past efforts were mostly recorded live. But on this outing, JR's trumpeter and newly appointed sonic mastermind Will Andrews (aka Willverine) serves as sole writer and producer. He penned all of the instrumentals, which were then recorded as demos, shared with the group's various instrumentalists and tracked individually. Crystallized with Andrews' unquenchable synth-lust, the album is clean and glossy. It's more in line with current indie-electro aesthetics than vintage porno soundtracks, as this publication so oft stated in the past. Don't get me wrong — JR's take on instrumental, funked-up hip-hop fusion is still way sexy. But it's sleeker, wilier and more modern than ever. After a chilly conversation between piano and vibraphone, a wobbling bass line ushers in an overdriven, militaristic snare drumbeat on the opening cut, "You're Alright." As the synth sounds pile on, twin trumpet tones wrap around one another, eventually exploding into a sassy fanfare as a vigorously picked guitar lurks below. "Dumptruck" is a perpetual-motion machine of nasty, slithering hip-hop. Andrews' trumpet is at its jazziest as wet handclaps punctuate Pat Ormiston's back-bending bass line. After moving quickly through a subdued bridge, the trumpet blasts land squarely on the beat before switching to stuttering triplets. The song bumps and grinds its way into the Champagne room, where it gets stuck in a sensual loop. The band plays with reggaeton and Afro-pop themes on "Hold Up." A roiling djembe drum rivals the rock kit as Zack DuPont's guitar flirts with a surf riff. Machine-gun snares irreversibly intensify the groove as a shimmering gong unleashes a warbling, reversed melodic sample. Dub vibes dominate "Brother Silas," a down-tempo cruise through fuzzy synths, metallic jingles and melancholy brass. The beats are stripped away in a dejected breakdown but return to full-force hypnotic bliss as a heaving synth bass dominates the flow. "Goldrush" is a smack upside the head. Its confrontational wall of organ and synth momentarily dissipates with a rattlesnake vibra-slap. As the bass resettles the foundation under techy gurgles, a grungy guitar reintroduces the song's widespread motif. You're Alright is truly Andrews' baby. And,…

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