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Archive for January, 2016

Waterbury, Vermont to New York City to Paris to Kampala, Uganda. A long, long trip for daughter Hilary on her way to a new aid job with Doctors without Borders. She will be upgrading Aid buildings throughout the country. She’s excited. This is her 3rd tour doing aid work–first in Peru, then Guinea, and now Uganda, her first assignment with the Doctors group. hilary to uganda

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Starlining to a New Future.

January 6 is the Epiphany and my birthday. My daughter Hilary, who was visiting, treated me to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, playing in Stowe.
We settled down in the middle of the theater. Unfortunately, no 3D glasses were given out for this show but never mind. My hand balled around a cluster of popcorn, I waited in the dark and suddenly, the screen lit up, Star Wars popped my eyeballs and I surged into reverse hyperspace and time, to Manhattan in late May, 1977. I was 43.

I had just crossed 86th and 3rd, lingered at the Papaya King for my favorite lunch, —two of their beef hotdogs in hot buns, a piquant yellow mustard along its carcasses and I was sucking it down with a medium sized Papaya Juice. YUM! One of New York’s best lunches.

I then walked a few doors to Lowe’s theatre, bought a ticket to Star Wars which had recently opened, and settled in to a crowded theater. Ahh —the scent of grass! The audience was lighting up creating an inversion. No problem if anyone was un- prepared; there were two young men walking up and down the aisles, whispering “Smoke? Smoke?” This was the City before The Invasion of the Yuppies and Political Correctness. Studio apartments were rarely over $700 and we all knew how to spot bicycle thieves and muggers working the streets.

I bought a ticket, I forget how much, $5.00? and waited in the dark with hundreds of others, until the screen perked up and we were in a new world, millennia’s in the future of good and evil, of saber fights, a prejudiced bar tender (We don’t serve this kind…your droid!”). And stitched throughout were visual and spoken puns straight out of comic books. We made friends with Han Solo, a rebel, a bandit but a man with a heart; Princess Leia, tough, brash and determined; Chewbaca, a Wookie Robin and the wonderful droids and Obi Wan Knobi whose life would end with the sacrifice to Darth Vader. What an evil symbol he is for the dark side of us.

And of course we saw the Empire destroyed with a missile attack by Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader escaping into space and the victory celebration and awards by Princess Leia to Han Solo and gang. How wonderful!

38 years later I am thinking back and now understand how that movie replicated our lives, or did we shape our lives from this movie?
I and my friends,—we were Han Solo. And so what if your buddies did not like to lose at chess and wore a rug? Luke was our naive self, and Obi wan Knobi was our mentor, for we still had respect for our elders—as long as they were hip. And of course, evil was clobbered. And Princess Leia, with her determination and sharp tongue, taught us to admire the new feminism.

That night, in bed, I thought of myself in the 1970’s era and how I never fitted in. We hated Yuppies, the Vietnam war and learned to distrust politicians. We lost so much with the assasinations of President Kennedy and his brother Robert,who would have been our next president. We went on to see wars we should never have considered; the destruction of the middle class with Reagan’s trickle down theory, as the political wealthy took over. We fear our country is copy-catting the growth of National Socialism in Germany during the 1930’s.

Ahh, but then I go back to the movie, to the moment Han Solo pushed his souped up hot rod into hyperspace. WOW! The theatre erupted with gasps, shouts and cheers.

We hope we can again use hyperspace to starline ourselves to a better world.

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Governor Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and National Democratic Chairman.

Governor Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and National Democratic Chairman.

My, thanks for so many birthday wishes—over 90 of them! Here I am 82, born Jan 6, 1934 in Manhattan, 1:45 AM, a capricorn with scorpio rising, moon in Pluto (hey, they now say it isn’t a planet!), three book projects to do, a new website, and still selling A Lifetime of Vermont People and Vermont Farm Women.

So what did I do on my birthday? My daughter Hilary is here, waiting to hear when she leaves for Paris and Uganda as a specialist in soil and water for Doctors Without Borders. So she cleans after her messy father, does homework for her new job, cooks marvelously and looks forward to life in a beautiful small country. So on my birthday we shared breakfast with my brother and sister-in-law, went swimming at a health club, did some exercises, and in the evening watched Star Wars in Stowe (Hans Solo, it can’t be true!) and, back to the present, enjoyed a beer, mussels and a smoked bluefish sandwich in Doc Ponds and then home to a Boston cream pie baked by Hil and a glass (no, two!) of Prosecco, the much less expensive alternative to champagne. Ahh, Christmas. Put on 6 pounds and now have to lose 12 pounds. Boring you, ain’t I?

But then there is former Governor Howard Dean. I interviewed him for my new book, The Vanishing Vermonter, an Endangered Species. He looks great– he’s lost 32 pounds and is trying to keep it off, has silver grey hair and is just as positive as he was when Governor. As chairman of the National Democratic Party he visited all our states and considers Vermont the best because we are the only one that lets every citizen have a say in our government (He also believes Phil Hoff was the most important governor in Vermont’s recent history).Governor Dean believes broadband, good schools, medical coverage for all our citizens (he calls medical insurance as it is now paid by small businesses a killer) and a program to bring more youth into the state, particularly enticing out-of-state graduates from our colleges.

That is his agenda. Mine is closer to my pocketbook. How can we turn Vermont so that the self employed can at least afford a week’s vacation?

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