Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Even Oscar Wilde Found Love in the Gutter!

BENNINGTON -- They walk into the vault and read two words of encouragement and pick up the chalk and chalk their love for each other, in pink in yellow in blue in purple and green, on walls painted into chalkboards. 

Tootie hearts Bootie and Keechie + Peachy. FooFoo and FeeFee Forever.

Love Love Love!

Everybody loves Somebody. Somebody loves Anybody. Anybody loves Everybody.

Every Some and Any love body.

And Julie wears a cape and flies.

I bet somebody loves her, and she doesn't care who knows.

Vignettes from Vermont: ____________

BENNINGTON -- Don't say those words. It offends!

So here's a dog!

Vignettes from Vermont: Fictional Non

BENNINGTON -- Sunday morning in Bennington.

Florence and Machine for the 7th time; God, I want to interview Florence after that ragiest rage in all of rageville. The Pretenders for the 4th time; God, Chrissie was the babest babe in all of babeville. The "Grease" song and dance between Olivia Newton-John and Dog Travolta for the 3rd time; God, Kenickie has a massive chub wherever he is in the Great Beyond. Facebook to YouTube to CBSSports to Twitter to Facebook to YouTube to Yahoo to Google to Florence Welch to Chrissie Hynde to Olivia Newton-Dog to Yahoo to Fantasy Baseball -- freakin' Mike Leake GROW A PAIR! -- to YouTube to SJ to Paris Review on Twitter to Paris Review on Facebook to Paris Review on Instagram to Paris Review on Tumbler -- Paris Review be on everything social, yo -- to Facebook and YouTube and Twitter and Fantasy and Yahoo and Gmail and Yahoo and Fantasy and Twitter and YouTube and Instagram and Chrissie and Florence and SJ and Bangladesh and SJ and Yahoo and Google and Facebook and YouTube and Twitter and Yahoo and Fantasy Baseball and Yahoo and Florence and Florence and YouTube and Facebook and and and and. And! 

Looking at everything. Looking at nothing. Hey good lookin', what'cha got cookin'?

Need coffee.

Oh, lookie: 3 women across the street, tourists, hands over eyes shading eyes from sun, sunshine galore in Bennington, looking at big sticker poster of Victoria's Big Secret in the window, amused by Victoria's Big Secret. "Come in! Come in!" he waves. One of them women sees his waves of Come in! Come in! and waves back and talks her friends into Come in!

They cross the crosswalk and Come in! Well then.

One of them in blue jeans and a light purple sweater. Squint jusssst right and she's Roseanne's older sister, wearing a visor like the Ol' Ballcoach iffin the Ol' Ballcoach had a poodle perm like Roseanne's older sister. One of them in dark jeans and a blue sweater over a white t-shirt. Silver fox. One of them wears a salt and pepper sweater and specs that aren't too far off from those worn by McCain's veep.

And here we go, again.

"Yeah, that was his college thesis in 2004. His friends kept buying them so he turned it into a business. He has recycled 150,000 vinyl records. We also have The Doors and Cream and more Doors. And there are a few more over there."

"How does he get these record labels?"

"I think those are from badly damaged records, so he just takes the labels and makes coasters of them."

"Oh that is so cool!"

"Yeah, people really love these 45 desk clocks."

Minutes pass. And here we go, again.

"There's a cool story about the artist up there" turning down the dial of the volume in the middle of Terrapin Station. "His name is Brian Hewitt and he grew up in North Bennington. He was a newspaper guy for 25 years, an ad director, at the paper here in town" -- pointing out the window toward the local rag -- "and then he went to become a general manager of a bunch of papers in Maine, and then he was the ad director for Down East Magazine in Maine. So he gets burnt out in 2008 or 2009 and" -- <making quote marks> -- 'retires' to the Dominican to drink beer and surf and chase girls. Does that really well for 4 months." She's at the railing, holding the railing, looking down, listening, smiling especially at the chase girls line. "So his dad calls him up one day and says 'Son, can you come home? I need your help.' because he's 90 years old. So Brian unretires and moves in with dad to take care of him. Playing the good son. But he can't find a good job. He can't find any job to match his skill set. So he picks up a paint brush for the first time in his life, 47 years old, and" -- <hands together, holding imaginary fence post, rainbowing outward> -- does all of that since 2010."

Her eyes light up. "Wow! That is amAzing! I love the whole ..." -- <struggles to find the right word while rainbowing her hands outward>

"Yeah, the fish-eye effect is pretty sweet. That one, behind you in the window, doesn't it remind you of a house that belongs in a Tim Burton movie?"

"Yeahhh, I was thinking that, too."

"That one and the 2 in the easels make up the 'Park-McCullough House' series. Ever hear of the Park-McCullough House? (she nods no) It's a Vermont and national landmark in North Bennington. One hundred and fifty years old. They have a playhouse inside and massive gardens and that Tim Burton-looking house behind you is the Carriage Barn. The number one thing on my bucket list here is to sell that series. I hope that when I'm 47 I can find some great new artistic calling."

She nods and turns and looks at more of Brian's paintings and prints.

And here we go, again.

"Yeah, it was a bank from 1929 to 1997. Here's a picture of what downtown looked like in the '50s and '60s with the traffic cop and all these cool old cars. So yeah, in 1997 they wanted to turn it into one of those drive-thru banks like everyone was doing then. But as you can see" -- <pointing to the walls along North Street and Main Street> -- we're a corner building plus it's a marble building. No way they could've done that. So they walked away from this great piece of architecture and opened some smaller office down the street with a drive-thru ATM. So the building stayed closed for 3 years. My best friend and his wife-to-be wanted to open a gallery, and the town was desperate to get anyone in here after 3 years to get taxes again. My friend knows how to play the game and buys it for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. <6 eyeballs bulge> And then -- <pointing upward> -- they turn the upstairs, which had been bank offices, into a beautiful 4-bedroom apartment. They get married and have 3 daughters, and all of them live up there. <6 eyeballs full of amazement> Top to bottom it's the best building in Bennington."

"One hundred and fifty thousand?"

"Yep, sale of the century."

"That is amazing. Those lights -- <pointing to the central chandelier> -- are so beautiful."

"Yeah, original chandeliers and marble counters and marble floor and marble stoop. And all 3 vaults are in perfect working order. That's -- <pointing to the opera-looking box above the entrance> -- where the guard used to stand in the '30s and '40s. And see this gold-capped thing -- <leaning over the counter and pointing down> -- at the bottom of the wall? They're at each station along the wall. Well, if you tried to rob the bank in the old days, they'd push a button and teargas shot into your face before you even knew what was what -- <6 eyeballs bulging like OMG!> so yeah, you don't mess with Vermonters."

I knew where this was headed and within a minute the 3 women headed for the door.

"Thanks for the stories. You have a beautiful gallery."

<So I've heard, again. And again. And again>

No sale.

Sunday morning in Bennington.

Facebook. Twitter. SJ. Gmail. Florence. Florence. Florence.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Here Comes the Rabbi

BENNINGTON -- Bennington's new rabbi Jarah Greenfield was installed Saturday.

Temple Beth El website

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Sal, Val, Katie & Kay ... UFO's, Horses & 'Roos, Too

Cindy Kent horse mug at Fiddlehead HERE

BENNINGTON -- Poor horse mug. The devotchkas said they'd come back for you, but didn't, and that's why you're still here in the art gallery. Guess they didn't want you. Nobody wants you. Nobody ever wants you. Nobody loves you. Nobody loves you enough to drink from you. The devotchkas said they'd come back for you, but didn't. Poor horse mug.

They're the ones, Katie of Bennington and Val of Santiago, the devotchkas who chalked it up in the Graffiti Vault at Fiddlehead at Four Corners, all rambunctious and wild-like, full of vigor, thrusting like ponies on open terrain. They put the horse mug on the counter in front of Art Gallery Dude and said they'd come back for it later in the day.

Much happened between then and when they were supposed to come back but never did.

Into the gallery walked Sal and Kay from Commack, Long Island, New York.

They smelled 10 or 12 soap rocks from Fiddlehead's antique hexagon, and bought one. Then they chalked it up in the Graffiti Vault. Kay, with a chunky green piece of chalk, embedded the sentiment Sal & Kay in a heart with an arrow running through it. Sal and Kay Giammusso, with Long Island accents thick as butta. Back at the counter moments later, Sal, a retired engineer and H&R Block tax specialist, spoke about UFOs and the monthly MUFON meetings he runs at the Commack Library. AGD told Sal about a crazy-sane newspaper reporter he worked with a few years ago down in Trenton, Rick Murray, whose pursuit of UFOs was serious like the plague (here and here and here). Rick died of a heart attack one afternoon in '08 while riding the train in South Jersey. He was crazy in the best way.

Kay, who looks like she was a hot little number back in the day, began talking about a Jamaican stranger by the name of Michael who had been visiting their home a few years ago and, just before he left, told her the story about the time when he was 8 years old, in bed between his sleeping parents, and saw a UFO hovering above their roofless abode. The UFO, Michael told Kay, tried to lure him but he rejected the invitation.

"I asked Michael, 'Why are you telling me this story when he just met us?' " Kay said excitedly and seemingly out of breath, "And he said 'I don't know, but I am.' "

Then Kay said that Sal's brother is into psychic intuitions and shit like that, and Sal pulled out his brother's business card.

"Cool," AGD said. "Next time I'm down there I'll go check it out. Weird psychic shit happens here all the time -- yesterday there was a bunch of things involving Manchester. People from different Manchesters were in here, then someone bought earrings from Manchester, Michigan, and Manchester United won the championship of England. And that kind of weird stuff always happens here."

Sal looked confused, as if someone had just asked him to divide 9,238 by 278.

And that's right about the time Sal shook AGD's hand, and AGD shook Kay's hand, and they all exchanged pleasantries before the UFO-loving Long Islanders left the gallery.

The horse mug remained on the counter.

"They're not coming back for you," AGD thought.

Hours pass. Quiet in the gallery. Always quiet on Wednesday except for when hot Chilean devotchkas and UFO-loving Long Islanders provide promises and entertainment.

Grateful Dead 9/16/90 Madison Square Garden played in the gallery.

"It was Bobby's band the whole time," AGD thought during Hell in a Bucket.

Hours pass.

Australians walk into the gallery, tired and thirsty after bombing up from Gettysburg. 

Yo, Sal! Gettysburg! On Tuesday someone from Columbia, Pennsylvania, read a particular blog entry here; it's always someone from Pee-ay who reads that entry. AGD was curious to see where Columbia, Pennsylvania, sits on the map of life ...

Ahh, all the way down there.

What perked AGD's attention more is Gettysburg's location on the map -- just north of the Maryland border. Well then. Always thought our deadliest battlefield was somewhere near Williamsport in the northern stretches of Pee-ay. Well then. Learn something new every day.

And now you understand why Brian and Sue Grindlay of Brisbane, Australia ...

... were parched and thirsty after driving 400 miles from Gettysburg to Bennington, pitstop between the Shelburne Museum and then Quebec ...

"Can you tell us where we can get a beer?"

"Right across the street at Madison's. They brew their own beer. Good burgers, too."

"Thanks, mate."

One thing leads to another ... and the Grindlays tell AGD about their trip to Gettysburg, and Arlington National Cemetery the day before. They inquire about house prices in Bennington and are shocked to hear how low they can be compared with tiny plots of land in Brisbane and other Aussie cities. They explain about how most Australians live along the coast and that hardly anyone lives in the forest comprising the vast middle of the country. AGD said he was a sportswriter ages ago and covered Australian and New Zealand athletes as well as a studly tennis player from Vanuatu.

AGD asked the Grindlays to leave their mark in the Graffiti Vault and they drew Skippy the 'roo and told a story about the day a 'roo hopped onto one of their cars and caused heavy damage.

"It must be like hitting a deer," AGD said.

Brian Grindlay agreed: "Yes, you're right -- it would be like hitting a deer."

Back at the counter, the Grindlays talked about ANZAC Day -- which is today.

Brian Grindlay said it's the most solemn day of the year in Australia and New Zealand because it pays tribute to the military losses the young nations accrued during their combined splash into war -- joining the Allies against the Ottoman Empire in 1915 -- and losses in wars and conflicts since then.

It's like Memorial Day in America.

The Grindlays were thirstier, more parched.

Brian said "Whenever you're in Australia give us a shout, mate!"

They walked back into Bennington.

The horse mug never left.

Poor horse mug.

At least I'm enjoying the ride!
At least I'm enjoying the ride!
At least I'm enjoying the ride!

Mugs at Fiddlehead HERE

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Manchester United. Manchester City Divided.

"Earlier this season, Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini
said his failure to buy Van Persie was the difference
between the two teams in title race."

BENNINGTON -- Didn't really think twice about it when the ginger-topped grandma said she, hubby and Gabriel had been in Manchester earlier in the day. Manchester, Vermont. Right now, grandma and Gabriel were in the Graffiti Vault celebrating his 49th birthday. Gabriel is a poodle. He became the first pooch to Chalk It Up in the vault.

It was one of the few moments of note on an otherwise sunny early spring Monday at Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery in downtown Bennington. Traffic was decent but the business day by and large would be one of those that slip through the crack of memories.

The first 8 hours, anyway.

Art Gallery Dude spent many of the first 8 hours surfing the Web. More than a few times Beady Eye's posted this update or that photo ...

Liam Gallagher at Heaton Park 2012 (BE Facebook)

You can't look at one Gallagher brother without thinking about the other Gallagher brother without thinking about their band without thinking about all of the rock 'n' roll Oasis made without thinking about where the band is from, Manchester, without thinking about which soccer club the Gallagher brothers love, Manchester City.

Well, that's how one brain works, anyway.

By the late afternoon yesterday, the Facebook updates and Twitter tweets began to stream in: Manchester United had become champions of England for the 20th time.

Poor Gallagher brothers.

* * *

ABOUT 5:30 IS WHEN the besties walked into the gallery.

They looked tired, exhausted, slunky and sticky. You would be tired, exhausted, slunky and sticky, too, after driving 3,000 miles from San Francisco, as Nicole and Stephanie had just done, with only two more hours remaining on the road home to Raymond, New Hampshire.

* * *


Earlier yesterday, a woman and her brother walked into Fiddlehead and gadabouted the gallery before stumbling upon AGD at the counter. One thing leads to another and ...

"Let me get this straight: You're from San Francisco but have a house in Arlington and you're an artist with the last name of Rockwell."

Anna Noelle Rockewell smiled. I think she was pleased someone made the connection.

Anyway, yeah, she is a Bennington College grad -- like the owners of Fiddlehead -- and she's an artist living in San Francisco with a home in Arlington and Anna's last name is Rockwell.

Lo and behold, Anna Noelle Rockwell had a few cards showcasing her work, indeed indeed, and here's one of them ...

Anna's work HERE

"I'll show the owners and let's see what happens," AGD said.

And then the latest Arlington Rockwell artist walked out of Fiddlehead.

* * *

STEPHANIE JUST FINISHED her military career, and Nicole went to San Francisco so that the besties could drive back home to New Hampshire together. After 3,000 miles they were tired, exhausted, slunky and sticky. Probably stinky, too. You would be, too.

Bennington would be their last pitstop. They stretched their legs in Fiddlehead.

Nicole loved the stemless wineglasses but the Steve Williams mugs spoke louder so she bought a pair, one for Mother's Day, the other for dad. Stephanie loved the Eric and Trudi Cooper dichroic glass earrings from Manchester, Michigan. They're for mom on Mother's Day.

"Are you guys hungry? Looking for any suggestions?"

"No," Stephanie said. "We're tired. We have 2 more hours to go."

"Cool. Enjoy the ride over the mountain. And thanks for serving."

* * *

TWENTY MINUTES PASSED. Lovers walked into the gallery.

While Colleen Steinbeiser was chalking it up in the Graffiti Vault, her boyfriend Brian chatted up Art Gallery Dude. Or maybe it was the other way around.

"Where are you coming from?"

"Manchester, New Hampshire," Brian said.

"That's kind of funny because 20 minutes ago a girl was in here and bought earrings from Manchester, Michigan."

Not sure he appreciated that bit of whimsy. Such is life. But he did appreciate the conversation a little more after AGD talked about having to drive to Manchester all those times -- listening to nothing but Oasis -- because he was the sports editor of a weekly rag in Lebanon and had to cover playoff games galore in Manchester.

"I went to Lebanon High School," he said. "I graduated in 1979."

Really now. Lebanon High was the bread and butter of my coverage.

"So you know all the famous names then. Lang Metcalf ...

The late great Lang Metcalf (Joey Kulkin photograph)

" ... and Richie Parker. Some people say Richie is the best athlete ever to come out of Lebanon."

"Yeah, Lang Metcalf was the basketball coach who won all those games," Brian said. "And I remember Richie was really into golf. He was good at basketball but golf was his big thing."

Colleen Steinbeiser emerged from the Graffiti Vault right about then.

Colleen Steinbeiser is a happy woman, not just because she chalked "Love This Place!!" -- using a heart to symbolize love -- with a peace sign below the message, but because you can feel the love in her spirit and joie de vivre in her smile. She tells a great story.

She was a "campus brat" at the University of Arizona, where her parents met. They moved to her mom's hometown of Chatham, New Jersey, then moved to her dad's hometown of Chicago when he was transferred there. She graduated from Illinois State -- "Go, Redbirds," AGD said and Colleen said "That's right!" She wanted to move back to Jersey to be near grandma but took an internship in dining hall services at Syracuse University. "Then I gave myself a promotion at took at job at UConn." 

Then she got married and moved to Webster, Massachusetts, before her husband's job moved to Concord, New Hampshire -- so they moved there. Then they divorced. 

Now she's dating Brian. 

"We wanted to get out of Manchester for a few days."

The first 3 letters in Colleen's email address are hjf, which stand for "happy, joyous, free." She is love. And she was excited at the prospect of being in "Chalk It Up 3!" and said she'd buy the book.

Moments later the lovers left Fiddlehead.

AGD followed them to the door because it was closing time. He didn't have his phone, though, and that sucks because he watched Brian and Colleen cross Main Street like a couple straight out of the '70s Romance Playbook: in the middle of the road she slipped her right arm around his waist, he cradled his left arm over her shoulders and in stride they squeezed into each other like lovers who are deeply in love.

Fuck me. I will never ever again be at the front door without my camera, he muttered.

And Manchester City will never be champions of England as long as Robin van Persie keeps scoring hat tricks at Old Trafford with goals that bend the laws of physics ...

Robin van Persie (photo from

And the music of Manchester City brothers divided will never be heard when you take your car and drive real far, past Raymond, and into the heart of New Hampshire.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Lillian's Cookie Part 3

Trenton, My Trenton (Joey Kulkin photo)

BENNINGTON -- Trenton. Brattleboro. Iowa City. Roswell. Pottstown. Rio Blanco. Brooklyn. Denver. Doesn't matter where you are or what time it is, "the moment" presents itself and one of life's great pleasures is being there to capture it.

In the old days, before the year 2000, capturing a moment usually meant using a camera with film. You know, film, which you bought in rolls and shoved into the back of your camera and listened for the eeerrrrreeerrrr and click noises to signify ready set go!

You know, film, which was long enough to snap 12 or 24 or 36 shots per roll, which you then had to bring to the store to have processed, by film processors, who developed your rolls of film and then in an hour, or days later, gave you a glue-flapped envelope with another envelope inside with photographic prints -- and the negatives -- from your rolls of film.

Negatives? Film? What?

Kids today don't understand the travails we photogs endured to snap a picture then.

Now, save the purists, we take digital photos on all kinds of funky tech toys then share 'em with the world in 1.4 seconds.

Click. Upload. Like. Share. RT and +1 ...

... everyone has street cred like Gary Winogrand or Robert Capa or Helen Levitt or Elliott Erwitt or Alfred Eisenstaedt or Lee Friedlander or Bruce Gildon or Joey Kulkin.

And so, this is clarion call number two for amateur photographers who want to win $100 and have their photographs featured in an exhibit at Fiddlehead at Four Corners, the old marble bank turned art gallery in downtown Bennington.

"Downtown Bennington" is the theme. The few rules are at the bottom.

To get there follow Kulkin's journey through Trenton and Roswell and Brattleboro and Bennington and Rio Blanco and many points betwixt (click to embiggen) ...



South Trenton

West Trenton






Jay Street, Brooklyn





South Trenton











Rio Blanco

UFO Festival, Roswell


Location, Secret



New York City


South Trenton

South Trenton