The original home of the blog known as 802 Online

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Live From the Monkey House

I'm blogging from the Monkey House, Winooski's only free wi-fi hotspot. A dozen people here on a Wednesday night. The street sweeper just meandered by. Four fighter jets just made their prime time pass. Some kind of Prince/hip hop hybrid on the stereo. A German shepard lounges near the bar, its ears perked straight up on its head.

Four pool players play a tag-team round of 8 ball--two women, two men, they look like college kids. The guy with the baseball cap very seriously chalks his cue before he executes an utterly unskilled shot. A girl wearing corderoy hip huggers, a black short sleeve shirt that bares her midriff, and a flowerly neck scarf shoots and misses. This game might never end.

One of the guys has on a black shirt that says, [adult swim]. I've seen this before. I ask him what it means. "Do you ever watch the Cartoon network at night," he asks. "Adult swim" is what they call the cartoons for adults. His roommate worked for the Cartoon Network last summer and got him the shirt. "It's pretty cool," he says, "you should check it out."

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

boogie boarding at the beach!

boogie boarding at the beach!
Originally uploaded by cresmer.
Cousin Ryan snapped this great photo during our family vacation at Garden City Beach this July.

Friday, September 10, 2004

If you haven't seen it already...

Go to Daily Kos. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should.

And while I'm wearing my Connector hat, I'll also recommend the website for Dykes To Watch Out For. It's a comic strip, created by my friend, mentor, and boss, Alison Bechdel. Reading it will make you smarter.

Blogroll coming soon!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Lost in the Blogosphere, Scene @ the Fair

I've spent the past few days scheming, researching an ambitious project I've been cultivating for months. Or perhaps I'm merely indulging my obsession with the blogosphere. Hard to tell. More on that later.

This week in Seven Days... I penned four performing arts spotlights for our Fall PA preview. And had this to say about the Champlain Valley Fair:

Scene @ Champlain Valley
Champlain Expo, Essex, Wednesday, September 1st, 5 p.m.

Agriculture has become less and less a part of our lives, but Vermonters still love a county fair. Each year, the Champlain Valley Expo throbs with crowds craving fatty foods, freak shows, and shiny new farm machinery. It’s a spectacle guaranteed to both quicken the pulse and turn the stomach.

The young are quickly overwhelmed. Barely inside the gates, a small boy stood transfixed by the first booth he saw, which sold plastic trumpets. His mother spoke to him slowly, outlining his options: “If you would rather have a trumpet than go on any rides...” she said, trailing off ominously. He froze, unable to decide.

Adults wandered wide-eyed through the expo warehouse, where businesses and organizations hawked their wares. A sixty-ish couple reclined on a motorized adjustible bed, as a salesman explained its features.

At the Amazing Grace Mission table, two women tried to sell salvation. They handed out religious tracts, including one that warned, in cartoonish script, “sinners will burn in hell forever.” I took a few, then turned to leave. One of the women tried to reel me in. “I just have one question,” she said. “Are you 50, 75, or 100 percent sure that you’ll go to heaven when you die?”

Nearby outside, a vendor sold white t-shirts that read, “Bump ‘n grind Redneck style—nothin’ wrong with a little chew while you screw.” Inside his tent hung shirts bearing a red-eyed cartoon Grinch, sucking smoke from a bong. “I would smoke weed in a boat, with a goat, in my socks in a box, in a car at a bar...” read the caption. Where are the missionaries when you need one?

Over at the midway, Tom Krug of Essex tumbled out of one of the Zipper’s metal cages, designed to keep riders from falling out when they’re flipped upside down. Krug’s 14-year-old daughter hopped out, grinning, ready to ride again. Her father was less enthused. “I didn’t like it,” he groaned. “I really didn’t like it. That was way too much spinning around.”

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Frog Lady

Thank you, loyal readers, for your patience while I learn how to use my new blog tools. I promise to post more frequently as soon as I figure out what I'm doing. This from Section B of this week's Seven Days, not available on-line:

Scene @ Taping of The Frog Lady Show
Channel 15 Studio, Burlington, Thursday, August 26, 10 a.m.

When the Channel 15 production director opened the studio at ten a.m., she said to Lainey Rappaport, “Hi, you must be the Frog Lady.”

It wasn’t just a lucky guess—after all, the 48-year-old former teacher was dressed entirely in frog-themed clothing. There were frogs on her dress, on her rings, on her necklace, on the long keychain around her neck, on her earrings. A ceramic frog on a pin below her right shoulder waved a little American flag.

Rappaport traces her love for her web-footed friends to a childhood appearance on the television show Captain Kangaroo—Mr. Green Jeans had frogs that day. She’s been ribbeted ever since. She adopted her amphibious sobriquet nine years ago, when she started making library displays and entertaining/educating groups of kids.

A former 1st grade teacher, she now totes her tadpoles to birthday parties and libraries around the state. She hasn’t made much money at it yet, and is hoping the public access show will win her a few frog fans. It airs twice each Saturday for a month, at 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. This, the third episode, attracted 14 kids, ages 8 months to 13 years, and some parents. It was supposed to revolve around Rappaport’s leopard frog, but he “didn’t make it.” At least, that’s what she told the kids. She told me he died. “I got bad crickets from the store,” she confided.

Instead, two albinos and one African dwarf squirmed in their plastic tank for the hour-long show. Rappaport read aloud from three books, introduced Olga Gomez, who demonstrated how to make clay frogs, and passed out frog candy and hand puppets. The kids yawned while Rappaport read, but perked up for the candy and toys.

Not everyone in the audience was interested for the same reasons. Alejandro Velez, there to accompany his clay-frog-making wife, is studying at NECI. “I love to cook frog legs,” he quipped.

Me and the chief

In an op-ed column called "Off the Bench" in last Sunday's New York Times, Dahlia Lithwick reminds readers that unlike presidential candidates, who shamelessly bare their hearts to us, Supreme Court justices remain aloof. "The Supreme Court is by far the most mysterious branch of government," writes Lithwick, "its members glimpsed only rarely, like Bigfoot, crashing through the forest at twilight. The court is the one branch that operates in near secrecy--no cameras, no tape records, no explanations, no press conferences, rare interviews, no review by other branches."

These nine adjudicators, appointed for life, have the final say on some of the most divisive issues we face. They decide the legality of the president's actions. They rule on the constitutionality of our laws. If the election of 2004 is as close as the election of 2000, they may decide the outcome. But what do we really know about them? Can you even name all nine of them? I just tried, and only got eight before I gave up and Googled them. Dahlia Lithwick calls the Supremes "the nine most powerful, secretive public officials in this land."

It's worth noting, then, that Chief Justice William Rehnquist answers the phone at his Greensboro, Vermont farmhouse, the number for which is listed in the local phone book. I called him last week to talk to him about the anti-Semitic clause in his Greensboro real estate deed. He answered my questions politely, if somewhat evasively. The brief interview is part of a story in this week's Seven Days .

His deed did, in fact, contain a clause barring the sale of the property to anyone of the "Hebrew race." You can find it for yourself on page 728 of Book P in the Greensboro town vault. He has since attempted to expunge this language from his deed.

I feel very lucky to have been able to speak with Rehnquist. Brief though our conversations have been, they've given me a renewed appreciation for Vermont. This state operates on a human scale, so much so that it has the power to humanize even our most untouchable public officials. It saddens me, though, to think that the next generation of justices, whatever their political philosophies, will likely be even less accessible.

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