September 26th, 2009

From The Highly Disordered Files Of VDB

by Philip Baruth

The thing about Vermont is that not only is someone always doing something brave and spectacular and intriguing, but five people are always doing something brave and spectacular and intriguing. Which makes it tough to update your readers, without eventually running up a BSI (brave, spectacular, and intriguing) backlog. And Friday seems like the best day to haul all of these events out into the light.

1) The ACLU will be teaming up with Pen New England to bring you “An Evening Without . . . Giving Voice to the Silenced,” to celebrate the First Amendment during Banned Books Week. The idea is to read publicly from banned books, and then have the audience fall silent in order to hear the distant screams in Hell from all the deceased zealots who banned them. Norwich Congregational Church, 9/30, 7 pm.

Now, the ACLU has been a lifelong favorite of VDB’s, never more so than when Poppy Bush accused Michael Dukakis of being a “card-carrying member of the ACLU” and we shouted at the TV: “And proud of it!”

If you feel the same way, and want a little more attention to civil liberties in your life, the current Director Allen Gilbert has begun to pen a highly readable blog, called The Vermont Civil Liberties Journal. Well worth reading, if only to find out how your freedom is vanishing like the glaciers.

2) What happens when you lay off a critical mass of journalists and muck-rakers at the same time and in a small area like Vermont? They band together and launch their own investigative news site, with the drive and the talent and the skills to make it look easy.

Welcome to, and let VDB suggest that you bookmark it. Because it will make news, and you will wind up a regular reader. How do we know? The list of board members (Cheryl Hanna, Con Hogan, Bill Porter, Terry Allen, Josh Larkin, Daphne Larkin and Mel Huff) and the names of the actual journalists thus far (Huff, Wally Roberts and Anne Galloway). A high proportion of old Times/Argus folk in that group. Which is to say heavy hitters, practicing hard journalism. Purely on the web.

Now that’s a business plan.

3) Voices From Chernobyl is coming to northern Vermont, specifically Shelburne Town Hall, October 4th at 4:00 pm. An immensely influential production, hitting Vermont at an inarguably crucial moment, given that both Peter Shumlin and Shap Smith have agreed that Vermont Yankee will be the most pressing issue of the coming legislative session.

We know time is short, and the list of inane things you need to do to pay the rent is long. But all of these productions and people are guaranteed to pay sizeable mental dividends in return for the smallest investment of time. All worthy, all wonderful. Enjoy.