The Bridge, November 6, 2014

Free, independent and local newspaper covering central Vermont.
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  PLAINFIELD—Ben Koenig’s Country Bookshop in the heart of Plainfield Village is celebrating a 40th anniversary this year. But you’d never know it. Ben who has just hit 72 himself seems not overly impressed by anniversaries, be it his own birthday or the 40th year of the bookshop. A few days ago when I visited the Country Bookshop, Ben said the official date of the 40th anniversary was probably sometime this past spring. So—we’ve missed it. No matter. Ben keeps chugging along, absorbed  with his own personal enthusiasms, with no apparent plans for special anniversary sales or a wing-ding party or anything else.Perhaps the Country Bookshop is what it is. Perhaps it doesn’t need to be gussied up and promoted. What it is is this: A cultural anchor point in this part of Vermont that with its books and all that these books convey is a welcome permanence in a world of shifting loyalties, fads, styles—a sprawling country house in the middle of a small Vermont village, a little in need of paint, a little scruffy on the edges where the lawn meets the porch, but open all-year round, seven days a week and as gloriously casual as Plainfield Village itself is gloriously casual.he sign on the outside of Country Books partly describes what’s inside: “Old Books, Used Books, Post Cards,” and with a little nod to the present fevered moment of dig-ital-this-and-that at the bottom of the sign are these words to tell us of two additional services offered: “Copier and Fax.”here’s something pleasingly retro and democratic about the Country Bookshop. If there was a written invitation on the door of the shop it might read as follows: “Come in-side. But there are free books on the porch. ake a look around. If you see anything that interests you—a book, a print, an old magazine, a book of maps, a postcard, any-thing—pull it off the shelf, open it up, feel the pages between your thumb and fingers, turn the pages, and when you’re finished looking, go on to another book, or another roomful of books. And if you find some-thing you absolutely like so much that you  want to own it, bring it into the front room  where the cash register is and buy it and go away with it.” When Ben and I met at the bookshop a few days ago, the welter of books was so great —books on shelves to be sure, but books on chairs, on tables, towers of books rising from the floor—now 50,000 books in all—that welter was so great that Ben and I had trouble clearing enough open space to ac-commodate two small folding metal chairs.I was the guy asking questions. Ben, very properly dressed, quite modest and soft-spoken, I thought even perhaps a little shy, looked at me through a pair of professorial glasses, and answered the questions.I wanted to know about Ben’s passion for books. hat had to be the lead question.“So, first of all,” he said, “I have a genetic defect. I like to collect things. I have drums. I buy hand-carved masks. I have a collector’s genetic make-up. I collect books on bells. here are probably 10 of us in the world  who collect books on bells.”Soon enough, I was pressing Ben to get back to the source—the beginning of things. Could he remember where and when his passion for book collecting began?“For me,” he said, “I think it’s possible I could have gone in another direction. I grew up in New York City. On Fourth Avenue (in Manhattan), there were 20 or more used bookshops. In high school if I needed a certain book, I could walk into one of those shops and find it. here were books every- where. Lofts full of books.” As Ben was taking in this scene, a store clerk  would appear and Ben would tell the clerk about the book he was looking for. And the clerk would say, “We have that book. And he would climb a ladder and bring that book over to me. It was magic.”Of course, these days, Ben has that same kind of instant recall about the 50,000 or so books at the Country Bookshop. Someone comes into the shop. hey ask for a book. Ben knows where it is and brings the book over to them. “People still find it amazing that I can find these books.”But that’s easily explained. Said Ben, “I buy every single book. I price every single book. I have a memory of whether these books are in my shop.” What amazes Ben’s customers is not amaz-ing to Ben at all. Yet their amazement doesn't stop. “Every week,” said Ben, “people come into the shop and say, 'this is the greatest shop I’ve ever seen. So much stuff. So many different categories. Old photos, postcards, brochures from some world’s fair that hap-pened from the 1890s'.” And they've heard of that fair and they’re interested in it.    T   h  e   B  r   i   d  g  e    P .   O .   B  o  x   1   1   4   3   M  o  n  t  p  e   l   i  e  r ,   V   T   0   5   6   0   1    P   R   S   R   T   S   T   D   C   A   R -   R   T   S   O   R   T   U .   S .   P  o  s  t  a  g  e   P   A   I   D   M  o  n  t  p  e   l   i  e  r ,   V   T   P  e  r  m   i  t   N   O .   1   2   3 The Country Bookshop Celebrates 40 Years by Nat Frothingham Local TEENS TALK TECH—pp. 14–15 N OVEMBER   6 – N OVEMBER   19, 2014 IN THIS ISSUE: 6: TIME TO UPGRADE YOUR WEBSITE 11: MAGIC IN MONTPELIER 12: REVIEW OF ORVILLE'S REVENGE: THE ANATOMY OF A SUICIDE 17: BARRE BEAT   Ben Koenig, owner of the Country Bookshop in Plainfield. Photo by Michael Jermyn. Continued on page 5. Communications, Books and Technology  PAGE 2 ã NOVEMBER 6 - NOVEMBER 19, 2014 THE BRIDGE  THE BRIDGE NOVEMBER 6 - NOVEMBER 19, 2014 ã PAGE 3 Subscribe to The Bridge  today for only $40. (That's $10 off the regular subscription rate!) For a one-year subscription, send this form and a check to The Bridge , P.O. Box 1143, Montpelier, VT 05601.Name______________________________________________________ Address_____________________________________________________ City____________________________________ State_____ Zip____________ I have enclosed a check, payable to The Bridge, for: ❑  $40 for a one-year subscription ❑  An extra $____ to support The Bridge. (Contributions are not tax-deductible.) I returned this week to find tamaracks in full brassy yellow, and the following report, from Barb Baird, in my inbox. She lives next to the huge ginkgo tree on Barre Street and sends out the  word when the old tree begins its dramatic two-hour shed of leaves: Weird year for the tree —the leaves have been coming down here and there instead of the annual shed. Maybe because it is so late? Climate change? When I look out I see a few fall here and there. he yellow carpet it is making is quite beautiful. So, another departure from the norm and more questions unanswered. But she is right. he huge golden carpet under the tree is a sight now, all other leaves long since dried and raked up. hanks to Barb Baird for permission to print her wonderful observation. Nature Watch by Nona Estrin   Barre Street Paving on the Fast Track  Tired of those potholes and cracks on Barre Street in Montpelier? Well after Friday, you should have smooth sailing. A paving project started on Tuesday, Nov. 4 is scheduled to be finished by Nov. 7, according to Acting Director of Public Works Tom McArdle on Nov. 4 in a phone conversation to The Bridge. “We’re trying to beat the weather,” McAr-dle said. “We should be substantially done by Friday (Nov. 7).” Barre Author to Read from Her First Nonfiction Book, Stories of My Life,  in Montpelier Katherine Paterson will read from Stories of My Life   at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. Paterson has been publishing children’s literature since 1973. Her more than 25 previous books include Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved,  and The Great Gilly Hopkins. Now, she has published her first work of nonfiction about her own life: Stories of My Life.  Scholastic quotes Paterson as saying: “You don't have to fight dragons to  write books. You just have to live deeply the life you've been given.” This reading is part of the regular authors series and is free and open to the public. For more information visit or call the store at 229-0774. East Montpelier Author to Read from His Latest Book Ice Ship Charles W. Johnson, former Vermont State Naturalist, veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard  will be holding a reading of his book Ice Ship: The Epic Voyages of the Polar Adventurer Fram  at the Kellogg Hubbard Library. Ice Ship presents well-researched material “about Norway’s great triumvirate of explorers—Nansen, Sverdrup, and Amunden—and the ship to which they owe their success and even survival,” according to Jerry Kobalenko, author of The Horizontal Everest: Extreme Journies on Ellesmere Island. Bear Pond Books will also have new copies for sale.The event will be Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 7:00 p.m. during the subscription campaign drive. Normally, $50.  Watercolor by Nona Estrin P.O. Box 1143, Montpelier, VT 05601Phone: 802-223-5112 | Fax: 802-223-7852 Published twice a month Editor & Publisher: Nat Frothingham Managing Editor: Carla OccasoCalendar Editor, Graphic Design and Layout: Marichel VaughtProofreader: David W. SmithSales Representatives: Michael Jermyn, Rick McMahanDistribution: Kevin Fair, Diana Koliander-Hart, Daniel Renfro, Anna Sarquiz, Tim JohnsonEditorial: 223-5112, ext. 14, or The Bridge   office is located at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, on the lower level of Schulmaier Hall.Subscriptions: You can receive The Bridge   by mail for $40 a year during our campaign period. Make out your check to The Bridge , and mail to The Bridge , PO Box 1143, Montpelier VT 05601. Copyright 2014 by The Bridge Cover Contest for The Bridge  What’s Your Passion? Deadline November 14  The Bridge  is looking for creative members of the community to submit cover art for the December 4 issue. The piece should revolve around evoking enthusiasm for something you are passionate about whether it be poetry, cars or volunteering at a soup kitchen. The sky’s the limit!Medium can be anything and the image of the artwork must be submitted no later than Friday, November 14. Images must be 600 dpi or higher. PDF, JPG, TIF accepted.Email submissions to 802-223-5112 ext. 12 with questions.  A photograph from the pages of Charles W. Johnson’s Ice Ship: The Epic Voyages of the Polar Adventurer FRAM. HEARD ON THE STREET  PAGE 4 ã NOVEMBER 6 - NOVEMBER 19, 2014 THE BRIDGE  Vermont College of Fine Arts Sign Provokes Comment  by Carla Occaso “Y  uk!” wrote Kimberly Cheney, chairman of the Montpelier planning commission in a one-word email response attached to a digital communication string concern-ing the new sign at the Vermont College of Fine Arts on College Street dated October 21. he opinion was addressed to Mike Miller, director of planning and community development, and city staffers Dina Bookmyer-Baker, assistant zoning administrator, and  Jessie C. Baker, assistant city manager. Cheney’s communique comes at the end of a series of emails initiated by Jay White, a member of the Montpelier Design Review Board Com-mittee, to explain why the sign was not required to undergo design review according to state statute itle 24, Chapter 117, section 4413. his statute limits municipalities from review-ing design elements on projects that must undergo review “to location, size, height, build-ing bulk, yards, courts, setbacks, density of buildings, off-street parking, loading facilities, traffic, noise, lighting, landscaping, and screening requirements, and only to the extent that regulations do not have the effect of interfering with the intended functional use…” Exempt from scrutiny over aesthetic relevance are churches, educational institutions, hospitals, etc.  White expressed concern about the sign for its color and size.Does Cheney’s opinion bother the school? Not according to Vermont College of Fine Art Vice President Bill Kaplan Nov. 4. “Art elicits reaction,” he said. “It is a public conversation. It is fine.” Kaplan said, adding that the sign as it is now is not yet complete. he granite backdrop is going to be carved in a more traditional style by Joe Pelkey, an “amazing” Barre granite artist according to Kaplan. Also, the part of the sign that is a sculptural logo for the college spelling out VCFA will be painted a different shade of green. “It is our logo,” Kaplan said. When asked his personal opinion of the sign, Kaplan replied, “hat’s irrelevant. My opinion of it is that it is a sculptural representation of us as an arts college.” he sign is 10-feet-tall by 10-feet-wide and will only be lit by natural light, according to the permit. Photo by Carla Occaso Got a news tip?  We want to know! Send it to us at: Recycle This Paper!
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