Archive for February, 2009

All the President's Men

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Two centennial and three days ago, a baby boy was born in a small log cabin in Kentucky. Five score later, he would become our sixteenth president and would make all men free and equal in America. Since then, there have been 28 stellar and not so stellar presidents in office. But what determines a good president? What makes people say, “I long for the days when (insert presidents name here) was in office.”

I find it hard to judge whether a president is good or not, merely because, I’m assuming (like most Americans) I am not an expert on our government. I know my fair share about policy and governmental procedures and foreign affairs, but not enough to weigh-in on Obama’s latest decision intelligently. It’s kind of like watching “Deal or No Deal.” Viewers scream at the television no deal! But that’s because we’re not up there risking it all. The threat of losing $500,000 for the chance of $1,000,000 is not on our shoulders. Likewise, it’s easy to criticize a president’s decision because, frankly, the world is not on our shoulders.

But beyond good or bad presidents, these are people who give-up their privacy to serve their country and put themselves in the public eye for the mere salary of $400,000 (not including the expense accounts, free housing and other privileges of living in the whitest house in America.) And we should celebrate them for their dedication. So for one day, we take a break from our work to remember their service.

So take this day to relax. Sleep in. Go downtown to Church Street and check out some of the great deals offered by The Body Shop, Ri Ra or Second Time Around this holiday. But remember the point of this day. Dead or alive, good or bad, these were men who offered their time to fight and protect the freedoms and rights that we have today.

Take it to Heart

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Love is in the air! It’s that time of year again when guys scramble for gifts that try to signify just how much they love their significant other and girls go shopping for the perfect red dress for dinner at Leunig’s Bistro. Luckily, this year, the day falls on a Saturday, allowing ample prep time and plenty of relaxation post the romantic dinner. And some girls without a special someone opt to spend their evening with two faithful men – Ben and Jerry.

But where did Valentine’s Day come from? Is it really just a holiday invented by the retail industry during a typically slow part of the season, or is there a reason for all the love and mushy poetry? V-Day traces back to St. Valentine who, when he was in jail in 269 (or 270) A.D., became enamored with a young lady who visited him in prison until his death. He wrote her love letters and signed them “From your Valentine.” The result? A sympathetic, heroic, and specifically romantic, martyr emerged and Hallmark had a new holiday to market.

So we celebrate that forbidden love by celebrating our love. And for those who can’t write elegant poetry or beautiful love notes, stores up and down Church Street will help you express the verbosity you do not possess. Lake Champlain Chocolates has a special line of indulgences this year, Ecco has adorned its window with red and pink attire and Maplehurst Flowers is stocking up on red roses. Sweetwaters and Halvorson’s (Who are celebrating their 30th anniversary this spring) are taking reservations for this weekend and the amount of pink and red stationary flying off the shelves of Scribbles is uncountable.

So whether you’re attached or single, madly-in love or a budding romance, take this one day out of the year to turn to you boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, and say thank-you (whether it’s with a self-written poem, expensive diamond, reading from Shakespeare or just a flower you picked) for everything they have done for you and can continue to do for you and how lucky you are to be in love with your best friend.

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Ghosts of Church Street Past

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Looking for Urban Outfitters? Check the top block. It’s right next to Whim, a clothing store with unique pieces, similar to Urban, but minus the kitschy books and pop culture parody items. But that’s not the only change on Church Street in just the past few months. M-A-C Cosmetics has given the street a face lift, attracting purchasers of high-end make-up and girls who just want to see how they look if they wear an edgy eye shadow and Asiana Noodle House has come to serve us delicious – you guessed it – Asian fare.

Remember Paradise Burrito? That little burrito shop below the street where the burritos were the size of small children, filled with your choice of meat and beans, nestled in a plastic basket with your choice of 20 different salsas? I can remember spending one of my first weekends in college at Paradise Burrito as it fulfilled all the necessary requirements to cure a hangover before we ventured down to the waterfront.

I’ve been here for four years, and I by no means consider Burlington to be “my town” simply because off of Pearl and Main, I am completely lost. But I do feel a special connection to stores and restaurants that have played a role in my college experience. From the rollout cushion from Urban my best friend purchased freshman year which I spent the majority of nights sleeping on, to the hours spent in Homeport picking out curtains for our new house four years later, for me college has been living in Burlington, even if Burlington to me consists of only four streets.

So when I see stores move or vacant storefronts pop up (which is inevitable in our current economy) I do feel a sense of loss. At first, I figured it was just my overwhelming sense of nostalgia, but when a member of our Facebook page commented on the changes on Church Street, I realized how connected people become to stores and restaurants.

One of the beauties of Church Street is how no two visits are the same. Different people, different street performers, different events; they all make for a unique experience unlike any before. So as Church Street inevitably grows with the Burlington community and merchants are trying to stay afloat in the current economy, inexorably, the stores and restaurants will also change. And all we can do is cherish the moments of Church Street Past and embrace the memories of Church Street Future.

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