Letters to the Editor
December 19, 2007
THE OTHER SIDE OF ‘DOOMESBURY’
I am writing in response to a recent letter to the editor [December 5] by Tara Vaughan-Hughes titled “Doomesbury.” In the letter, Mrs. Vaughan-Hughes blames Middlebury residents for her failed business attempt.
We had around 23 places to eat within one mile of her restaurant. Maybe she thought she would stroll into Middlebury, blow our minds with her “good food” and take us away from the places we’ve eaten for decades. Well, she was a victim of her own arrogance.
We have a surplus of fine cuisine and smart restaurateurs in this town. There are people with roots here, and people deeply involved in the community. As I think [Vaughan-Hughes] has learned, they are capable of holding on to customers. With all due respect, I talked to many people who ate in her restaurant once, so let’s not pretend she didn’t have a chance.
She says the people across the street didn’t know she was there. That can’t be their fault. She says college students didn’t know she was there a whole year into her venture. That is also not their fault. Who does she think is responsible for advertising? Does the city of Vergennes run ads and hang flyers up for her? I didn’t even know about her other restaurant and I’ve eaten in Vergennes, too. Where was it? She says Vergennes has 25 percent the population of Middlebury, and her business there was thriving. Middlebury has 75 percent more restaurants than Vergennes. Vermont is free of “doomed” towns, Mrs. Vaughan-Hughes, but not free of good food to eat.
“Doomesbury” indeed [“Letters,” December 5]! With a nod to Mark Twain, I’m delighted to reassure Seven Days’ readers that reports of Middlebury’s death are greatly exaggerated! Ms. Vaughan-Hughes jeremiad notwithstanding, our community is enjoying a resurgence of initiative unmatched in the past 20 years. Middlebury’s merchants and property owners are investing in their businesses, their buildings and their community. Most important, with exemplary and enlightened guidance and hard work from dedicated community and Middlebury College leaders, a remarkable breadth of initiatives is flourishing: A half-century-delayed mid-town bridge will be built; a now-beautiful and back-from-the-brink Town Hall Theatre will soon open; clean-up of the banks of Otter Creek and its landmark falls is underway; and a sparkling new Marbleworks Residence is firmly established. The list of successes goes on. And, yes, the college is exploring how to help students get into closer social proximity with the town. This demonstrates an unprecedented sensitivity to and understanding of its home community.
Does Middlebury have challenges? You bet, as do so many other beautiful old Vermont towns. We’re coping with 21st-century traffic on a 19th-century road plan. Our local economy needs to reshape itself for a world reshaped by globalization. Demographics are shifting, and agriculture is in transition. Growth involves change, which is sometimes difficult. Welcome to modern life!
In sum, we all know how tempting it is to blame one’s own failures on others. As landlord for Eat Good Food’s Middlebury misadventure, I (unfortunately) had a ringside seat. To be fair, [owner Tara Vaughan-Hughes] had a preconceived notion of what would work. But what works in Joliet doesn’t always work in Chicago; that’s not the town’s fault. Middlebury’s merchants have kept its Main Street vibrant. And the town and community have worked hard with its zoning and town plans to keep the big-box stores limited so that our independent merchants will have every opportunity to thrive.
Hiland is president of the Middlebury Business Association.
After reading your article on Planned Parenthood protesters [“Protestors Worry Planned Parenthood Staff and Patients,” November 21], I felt compelled to write this letter. After all these years, it amazes me that anti-choice protestors are still targeting the clinics.
I have been going to Planned Parenthood for health-care services since I was 18 years old. The providers have been nothing short of completely dedicated to women’s health. The providers help women through valuable education, counseling and preventive health care. The women providers are knowledgeable, friendly and extremely informative on a wide range of health-care issues.
The anti-choice protesters who show up at the clinics most likely don’t have any idea of the valuable services Planned Parenthood provides the community. The protesters seem to be mostly focused on abortions and don’t think about the health-care services, education about disease prevention and family planning that the clinics provide. Instead of spending their time and energy protesting the clinics, perhaps they should learn about these valuable services and become involved activists in education about disease prevention, sexuality and responsible decision-making. By simply standing in front of clinics, they are only making it harder for women to access the services they need.
SUE THIS POEM
At the statehouse orgy
you can watch depravity
celebrating its power.
You need a strong stomach.
You want to call the cops.
Can’t something be done
to stop these perverts
from molesting democracy
and raping our children?
What kind of drugs are they on?
In the conference rooms
and hallways, serial killers
lobby to put pornography
on the electronic ballot.
Lawyers openly in-breed.
The governor exposes himself.
Behind closed doors they’re
even doing it with farm animals.
And the smells,
you wonder if you’ve walked into
the worst cathouse in Arkansas.
This is diseased, X-rated stuff.
There should be a warning posted
about health risks,
about the killer virus you can catch
just from a handshake.
Editor’s Note: This poem is in response to the lawsuit explained in a recent article on the website iBrattleboro.com [“Bloggers Bash ‘Old Media’, Take on Libel Suit,” December 12].
What an inspiring article [“Teen ‘Badass’ Leads Recruiter Protest,” December 5]. Intelligent and thoughtful teens piercing the dark clouds of political hype, getting together to organize, and actually willing to put up instead of shutting up. I commend you all for your actions and willingness to voice your opinions, which contradict the accepted status quo.
I just wish that the teenagers in my low-income/low-educational/no-job-opportunities county on the other side of the country were half as motivated as these young citizens are. You have shown yourselves to be true citizens of the Constitution (that goddamn piece of paper).
SVENGALI MY ASS!
Dude! Enough with the calling my husband weird already [“Soundbites,” December 5]! Actually, I take that back. I prefer weird over Svengali! My husband, the evil, manipulative magician who hypnotizes people into listening to Lullatone and James Tenney? Don’t let the thesaurus get away from you, Dan!
As anyone who knows my husband will tell you, Greg is the opposite of a Svengali. He’s a gentle, open-eared man who is interested in exploring and sharing sound with others. He is joyously dedicated to organizing shows and bringing different music to town. He doesn’t deserve to be at best ridiculed and at worst character-assassinated in the local paper because of his eclectic interests and friends.
Dan, please come meet my husband. In fact, come over for dinner. Then you can write anything you want.
Does anyone else but me find the recent American Apparel ad on the back page of Section B of Seven Days in very poor taste [November 28]? Check it out. I think it borders on child porn. It depicts a pre-teen with a “hoodie.” The picture, admittedly poor in quality, suggests that the young girl has nothing on under the “hoodie,” either top or bottom. Not to mention the fact that she looks like she is about to take it off. Is this what we want our young teens thinking is “cool?” No wonder it was just announced nationally that the teen pregnancy rate is rising again. I’m no prude, but enough already. Do these people, do you people, realize the power you have, the power of suggestion on what young teens think is cool? Do you know the power you have to influence what they think is healthy and good for them? Do you even care? Do you have a young teen? Do you want her or him to think this is cool? I’ve already written to American Apparel to express my concern.
Mark Awodey’s recent review of Fran Bull’s show at Castleton College [“Coming Together,” November 14] offered an appealing portrait of an artist who is gutsy, hard-hitting and elegant all at once. Awodey astutely observed that Bull is both figurative and abstract. In reaction to the style of both critic and artist, I was moved to write a short poem I would love to share with your readers.
(For Fran Bull)
We are of the time that scatters
We obscure the obvious
and delete the absences
lurking in masks behind
the wrecks of visibility where
our vehicles sped out of control
and there it is we lived!
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
• In a “Taste Test” that ran last week, Seven Days indicated The Skinny Pancake does not offer crêpe batter suitable for vegans. The restaurant offers a vegan batter made with chickpea flour and olive oil in place of animal products.