Twist and Shout

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: The Incredible Bulk (or how WCAX Channel 3 in Burlington interviewed Fiddlehead's manager for a news story)

Bonnie Doone Glass from Forest, Ontario, Canada
at Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery

BENNINGTON -- "I can't imagine a world without me in it. I am the axis on which this planet spins. The sun, the moon and the stars. The molten lava that erupts from every volcano on the face of the Earth. The greatest thing since someone sliced bread for the first time. 

"I am," he'll summarize, "the king of kings."

Ego is not the problem.

Looking at a photograph that someone took of him is ...


... and the self-loathing begins: "What the FUCK is that goddamn blob of humanity!" 

The wild red hair? That's for a cancer wig. 

But the other mountainous glob of shit? That's not AGD. He used to be in such great shape, and short of that pretty good shape, and well short of that a husky dude. Which is why he was self-loathing. "What the fuck happened?"

Let's take a little journey back at AGD through the years (click to embiggen) ...

AGD (center) at Camp Kamaroff in the '70s

The awkward Anthony Michael Hall look in the mid-80s
(with Bobo at the indoor skydiving spot in Sin City)

Hoops star (second row next to guy with the mic)
at first newspaper gig in Long Beach in '90;
such great Friday mornings at the Y
and Mayfair Park in Lakewood.

Halloween Contest '96 in Bennington;
Bennington hooker and donut-loving cop
AGD and Barbara won 1st place (and $200);

Photographer in Jamaica in '98;
going for the Nick Hexum look

Roswell, My Roswell circa 2002. In great shape
for Hike It and Spike It with fellow RDR mates
(l-r) Tophat, Toby and Adam

In New England, again, Connecticut Valley Spectator
circa 2004, starting to gain weight

Trenton, My Trenton circa 2008
took off 30-40 pounds maybe 50

Trenton, My Trenton circa 2011
named Acting Editor, gaining weight
quit the gym 6 months earlier and
started eating like complete shit

Trenton, My Trenton circa 2012
approaching 300 pounds;
ain't gettin' any smaller, bubba

Bennington, May 13, 2013: 41 years old, 320 pounds!

Even during his worst struggle with weight he never looked like a sloth of sloths.

Eric Wood of Bennington snapped that photo of AGD snapping a photo of WCAX news reporter Ali Freeman -- a little meta moment yesterday -- inside the Graffiti Vault at Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery. Embarrassing. AGD always carried his weight well, and sometimes he looked great, like 3 years ago when he pared down to 235. Healthy and happy. 

What happened to that guy? 

Time, gravity, diet, exercise. The continuance of one and inevitability of the next. Willful disdain of one and the complete lack of the last, most important of all. That's how it works. You drag, sag, lag then look like 10 pounds of shit in a 2-pound bag. It's really not even that that bothers me, AGD thought. It's how I look in that goddamn photograph.


The always affable FedEx guy walked into Fiddlehead yesterday morning lugging a box that arrived here from Forest, Ontario, Canada.

Twenty-three pieces of glass art were in the box. Beautiful glass made by Canadian sisters Tammy Fleet-Schmid and Sandy Fleet in studios not too far away from Buffalo. As AGD unpacked the platters and plates and bowls and coaster sets -- decorated with whimsical and colourful fish and golf scenes and city houses -- he began to sing "O' Canada" and why not?

The gallery was empty, we're in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs and AGD grew up the biggest Kings honk in L.A. and listened to who knows how many renditions of "O Canada" -- and so the new glass from Ontario took him back to Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer and Mark Hardy and Gary Galley and Mario Lessard and Bernie Nichols and Luc Robitaille and Kelly Hrudy and all of those playoff games against the Oilers and Flames and Oilers and Oilers and Jets and Flames and Canucks and Oilers and Canucks and Oilers -- "Miracle on Manchester!" -- and Maple Leafs (poor Doug Gilmour) and Canadiens (fucking Habs stole the Cup in '93) so on and so on and so on, eh?

Any Kings fan who doesn't know O Canada by heart really isn't a Kings fan.

"O Canada, our home and native land. True patriot love, in all thy son's command. With glowing hearts, we see thee rise, the True North strong and free, from far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. God keep our land, glorious and free, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O CANADA, WE STAND ON GUARRRRD FORRRR THEEEEEEEE!"

It's a beautiful anthem. AGD sang it over and over as he unpacked the glass from Forest, Ontario, Canada, and took photos. The first one is his favorite ...

4x12 platter

6x12 cheese tray w/knife

6" snowflake plate (2)

7.5 x 15 golf platter

7.5 x 15 city houses platter

6" snowflake plate (2)

12x12 birch tree square platter

9" sushi plate

7.25 square bowl

12x12 square bowl

6" golf plate

6" golf plate

6" golf plate

6" golf plate

coaster set (4)

coaster set (4)

coaster set (4)

coaster set (4)

coaster set (4)

coaster set (4)


AGD was in the middle of photographing the beautiful Bonnie Doone glass from Forest, Ontario, Canada, and singing O Canada 27 times, when Fiddlehead's phone rang. Eric Wood was calling to ask a favor.

Eric is a professional photographer from Hoosick Falls, New York, and the IT guy for the Bennington Chamber of Commerce. A few months ago he offered Fiddlehead a deal it couldn't refuse: He said he would take 180 photos of the gallery, inside and out, then stitch them into a Google Business virtual tour.

Fiddlehead, he said, would be the demo tour for other Bennington business owners. 

The virtual tour was beautifully executed and paid dividends within 2 hours. AGD wrote a few stories about the process (here and here).

On the morning of February 28, Wood held a meeting for Bennington business owners ...

Eric Wood talks Google Business virtual tour (AGD photo)

... to sell them on Google Business Tours. Eric asked AGD to attend that meeting. Toward the end he stood up to tell the crowd how Fiddlehead's virtual tour paid dividends in 2 hours. This is business helping business. A week later Eric said that every one of the owners (23) in attendance had signed up thanks to the Better Bennington Corporation's offer to defray half the cost. Since then Wood has tried to sell other Vermont business owners. 

He's heading to Brattleboro next.


Vermont newspapers have written stories about Eric Wood's pursuit and now WCAX Channel 3 in Burlington sent reporter Ali Freeman 50 miles down the road from the Rutland kiosk to interview the go-getter for a spot on the news yesterday.

" ... God, keep our land, glorious and free, O Canada, we stand on guard for ... "

<phone rings>

It's Eric Wood telling AGD that WCAX is doing a story on his Google virtual tours, and he wants to know if he can send Ali Freeman the reporter to the gallery to get a few quotes about Fiddlehead's Google tour. Just a few questions, easy-peasy, whattaya say, ol' pal?

Here's the thing: AGD was a newspaper sports reporter and news editor for 23 years and loved to interview people, and even though he's a pretty outgoing and spontaneous fella he'd rather be behind the camera, not in front. But if push comes to shove he will. What makes the decision difficult is the whole appearance thing.

Do I really have to do this? Seriously? Seventy-five pounds lighter and it's no problem. On the flip side, being on Vermont's biggest TV station -- on the news! -- is publicity you can't pass up no matter how insecure one feels about one's appearance.

Long story short, AGD silently hemmed and hawed then agreed to the interview.

Short story shorter: Ali Freeman, whom AGD photographed when she was a championship ice hockey goalie at U-32 High about 7 years ago, is a reporter's reporter with great chops and strong instincts. She knows how to put her subjects at ease during a "conversation".

She did an A-plus job stitching words and visuals into a quality news feech:

WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-


"God," AGD thought while watching it, "I look like Shit."


Yes, Cambodia. What, you think Cambodians don't have computers? That was a quality line -- and the lede to the story. AGD knows what he's doing.


So then, AGD agreed to the interview so long as it took place in Fiddlehead's Graffiti Vault. It also gave him a chance to get Ali Freeman to "Chalk It Up!" for volume 3, which drops in a few weeks. Who knows, maybe Ali will be the cover photo.

Ali Freeman: a reporter's reporter



Kings are going to hoist the Cup again. Take it from the king of kings.