Street Talk: Won’t get fooled again

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Philip II of Macedonia, left, and his son, Alexander the Great

Philip II of Macedonia

Recorded July 28, 2019

On this day in 338 BCE, Philip II, of Macedonia, a conqueror you really ought to know, not to be confused with Philip the First, leading the Macedonian army, pounds to flinders, on this day, the combined military forces of Athens and Thebes to secure dominance, hegemony and consolidation of those city-states, which is, of course, what a self-respecting conqueror endeavors to achieve. Hitherto — that is, before the decisive battle of Chaeronia, Macedonia is an ancient kingdom on the outskirts of Archaic and Classical Greece. After, though, Philip’s got the world by the short hairs, and he’s much beloved by decree until after a particularly gruesome sex scandal, Philip assassinated at age of 46, height of his power, it happens, pride goeth, by one of his otherwise loyal bodyguards, Pausanias of Orestis, at instigation of Philip’s son, Alexander — later Alexander the Great — or perhaps Philip’s lovely wife, Olympias. Rumor has it Philip and Pausanias had once been lovers. Another story.

Ian Vair, Granville, New York

Recorded July 27, 2019
From left, Theda Bara, 1917; Claudette Colbert, 1934; Elizabeth Taylor, 1963

Pausanias, of Orestis, not to be confused with Pausanias, the beloved of Attalus, another fella entirely, murders Philip during the wedding of Philip’s nubile daughter Cleopatra, not to be confused with the Egyptian queen — Theda Bara, Fox Film Corp., 1917, Claudette Colbert, Paramount, 1934, Elizabeth Taylor, 20th Century-Fox, 1963 —  who isn’t even born until centuries later, to Alexander of Epirus, not the Great one, that’s her brother. It’s the ancient world. There’s a shortage of names to go around and everybody has to share what few there are.

Kerri Simon, Granville, New York

Recorded July 27, 2019

Funny story: Pausanias flees after shivving the king, almost gets away, too, but running in sandals not particularly recommended. He trips, falls on a vine root and is speared to death by his fellow loyal bodyguards in pursuit, jockeying for court favor. There are conspiracy theories. Horses are found waiting nearby. Guy who throws the actual fatal spear that kills Pausanias, Leonnatus, fellow loyal bodyguard, ends up demoted, suspected of offing Pausanias to prevent being implicated in the king’s murder during the otherwise inevitable torture and interrogation. 

The Letter

Recorded July 28, 2019
Leo Szilard, left, Albert Einstein

August 2, 1939. A letter, drafted by Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard, who in 1933 comes up with the idea for nuclear chain reaction, then in 1934, with Enrico Fermi in Chicago patents the idea of a nuclear reactor. The letter’s signed by his friend, colleague, fellow theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein — Einstein’s more famous, a celebrity, letter delivered to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Letter explains that sufficiently enriched uranium can be used to create weapons that can explode with enormous energy sufficient to kill hundreds of thousands of people with a single shot, a massive air burst to lay waste to any city anywhere in the world, a relatively economical urban renewal program. Letter explains the Nazis, who the following month, September 1, 1939, invade Poland and begin what comes to be known as World War II, might already have begun to develop such a weapon, which would give them an enormous advantage in the mucho mass murder department on a hitherto unimaginable scale. Einstein and Szilard know each other in Berlin in the early 1920s. In 1926, the two invent the Einstein-Szilard refrigerator, with no moving parts, less dangerous, which is an improvement over a similar fridge built in 1922 by a pair of Swedish inventors you’ve never heard of, have you, because Einstein and his former student, Szilard, swan in, take their work, tart it up, run with it. The Einstein-Szilard refrigerator, sometimes called the Einstein refrigerator, he’s more famous, no moving parts, I mean to say, safety first! don’tcha know, is patented in the United States Nov. 11, 1930 (U.S. Patent Number 1,781,541). The Swedes? SOL! Back to the drawing board! Roosevelt reads the letter, he’s impressed! He calls in his aide, General Edwin “Pa” Watson: “Pa!” FDR exclaims, “This requires action!”

Helvi Abatiell, Mendon

Recorded July 27, 2019
Left, 32nd U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. World War II began Sept. 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. France and Great Britain responded by declaring war on Germany.

Cost of the Manhattan Project according to the Brookings Institute:

Expenditures through August 1945:*

*Includes costs from 1940-42 for the National Defense Research Council and the Office of Scientific Research and Development. Excludes $76 million spent by the Army Air Forces on Project SILVERPLATE from September 1943 through September 1945. 

(Project SILVERPLATE covers the modification of 46 B-29 bombers in support of the Manhattan Project, training of the personnel of the 509th composite bombing group, and logistical support provision for units based at Tinian Island, launching point for the attacks on Japan).

$23 billion in 21st-century dollars

The nuclear age began Aug. 6, 1945, when the United States deployed the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, Aug. 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb was detonated over Nagasaki. The Japanese unconditionally surrendered Aug. 15, 1945.

The atomic bombs dropped over Japan on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945, immediately, completely devastate their targets. During the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings kill between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occur on the first day.

World War II, between Sept. 1, 1939, and August 15, 1945: An estimated total of 70-85 million souls swept away, about 3% of the 1940 world population (then an estimated 2.3 billion.

Bill Dudley, Shrewsbury

Recorded July 27, 2019

Clark Kent’s secret life

Childhood motivation for a career in journalism, No. 1: Clark Kent, Kansas farm boy, deeply conflicted because of lifelong suspicion he’s not like other kids. And he’s not. He’s not even human, although his feelings are deeply humanitarian, although not political, he tends to support liberal causes. He’s not a socialist by any means, although he’ll save anyone in trouble. He believes in the equality of all human beings, even though none of them have either his super powers nor his compassion. His ability to lift automobiles with one arm, to jump over tall city buildings “in a single bound,” to see through walls, sets him up for a life in law enforcement. He chooses newspaper reporting because of his nagging obsession to get to the bottom of things, f’rinstance, why is he “different,” what’s wrong with people in general, why are they always hocking you to be good and follow rules, sit down, don’t fidget, eat your spinach, don’t interrupt so much, wait your turn, when in reality they’re, as a species, unbelievably weak to temptation, and will screw the bejeezus out you without even blinking, for your money, for your stuff, for a date with your girlfriend, your wife. An early hometown girlfriend, classmate throughout Smalltown public schools, Lana Lang, also suspects he’s different. Young Kent is not her first boyfriend, if you know what I mean, and when they dance, his arms, chest and back are more muscular than the other boys, and he’s always rock hard. Also, the leaping. Nobody can jump that high, over buildings and so forth. No matter how obviously she flirts with him, he just doesn’t seem to get the message. He’s not gay, although he likes hanging out with the other guys. He likes girls, he’s aggressive enough on the ballfield, it’s just that he’s so doggone ambivalent with these senoritas who are drawn so darn cute, can’t seem to make up his mind, and unlike the other boys she goes out with, he never tries to fool around. He’s just such an annoying straight arrow as a teenager, he frustrates the hell out of her, which just makes her pursue him all the more. Maybe that’s his game after all. Maybe he’s just shy. Or maybe he’s an alien from another planet who somehow ended up in Kansas with powers and abilities “far beyond those of mortal men.”

Inspector William ‘Bill’ Henderson and Daily Planet Editor-in-Chief Perry White

Later in life, his friends are older men, like cigar-chomping short-tempered boss editor Perry White or the perspicacious chief police inspector Bill Henderson. They always seem to be meeting up at one or the other’s apartment for a nice bowl of corn flakes. 

“Every time she falls off a skyscraper and Superman has to catch her and fly her to safety, she senses that something different, develops a thing for him and keeps Kent on the back burner even though the two guys have a startling similarity, looks- and scent-wise.”

Action Comics, but no action for Clark Kent.

Elle Ryan, Pittsford

Recorded July 27, 2019

For this performance only, the part of Elle Ryan is portrayed by Miss Myrna Loy.

As an adult newspaper reporter, he’s friends with another reporter, Lois Lane, who sees him as weak because he never makes passes at her and she doesn’t have time for that kind of nonsense. And he’s always hanging out with the annoying staff photographer, Jimmy Olsen. Everybody on the paper knows Kent and Olsen are pals. Lois Lane keeps getting herself into jams with criminals and weird creatures, like the time she got trapped in that warehouse with a thawed-out dinosaur. Every time she falls off a skyscraper and Superman has to catch her and fly her to safety, she senses that something different, develops a thing for him and keeps Kent on the back burner even though the two guys have a startling similarity, looks- and scent-wise.

Whenever there’s a breaking story, Kent rushes out of his office and into the storage closet, where he strips down into his red-and-blue skivvies and jumps out the window to get the scoop. It isn’t fair, it isn’t ethical, Kent becomes star reporter quickly. Nobody’s ever seen Kent and Superman in the same place together. So newspaper work seems like a great job, although we never really see Kent or Lane or even that punk ginger kid Olsen sweating over a typewriter to meet a deadline.

Superman: Bad Judgment?

Recorded July 31, 2019

Narration and production by RH Alcott

Kaci Lincoln

July 17, 2019

Kaci Lincoln, of Rutland, Vt., tells the story in their own words for Talking Pictures.

“I’ve had multiple jobs deny me access to a good employment because I choose to have jewelry, earrings as in plugs, nose piercing, tattoos not on my face but behind my ear. I’ve had them say I had to cover up, which would result in me being very uncomfortable. It’s problematic because it takes away from people being themselves, and it takes away from the individuality of the person. I think that if jobs were accepting for those who were as they are, I feel like their business would be successful either way. (Neither) my piercing nor my tattoo has an impact on the quality of work that I can give out. I work the same way. I work happy, with a smile on my face when I can be myself. … I’ve actually had a couple of jobs tell me I had to go get my (piercing, tattoo) removed in order for me to get employment. And, I’m sorry, but I won’t work for a fast food restaurant that’s going to tell me to remove a tattoo that I love and that brings a lot of meaning. … My tattoo, which is a bunch of (musical) notes — they resemble my love for music and my passion (for) who I want to be, which is a music therapist, a line of career that I’m going for, and I hope that when I’m my own boss, I won’t have to ever have to deal with it again.

“When I got my nose piercing, it was a big thing for me. When I did it, it was kind of like me breaking out of my shell. There were a lot of parts of me that I was hiding. When I got these tattoos, got this piercing and started doing the things I wanted to do, I lived in a life where I couldn’t be an individual. I actually had to be cookie cutter, I had to be just like everybody else because that’s how I was raised, and when I was finally out on my own … I was finally able to be who I wanted to be, and it took me a while to bring up the courage to do these things, but once I did, it was one of the best choices that I’ve ever had in my entire life, and I will never change it for the world. No one could ever pay me enough money to take out my piercing.”

Camera and production by RH Alcott in Rutland, Vt.

Street Talk: Crazy ’bout an automobile

See the Street Talk video at

July 13-14, 2019

Bill Brower, Clarendon

It’s a 1954 Chevy panel truck. I’ve owned it approximately 10 years — did all the work myself. We travel with it, go everywhere with it, wouldn’t hesitate to get in it today, head west with it. 

RH: What’d you do to it to make it what it is today?

BB: All the drive chains have been changed, the engine’s been updated, transmission, rear end, all the suspension. It’s got power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, all new interior. It’s basically a new vehicle in an old shell. 

Gino Piscopo, Rutland

It’s a 1962 Austin Healey. It’s been modified with a 327 Chevrolet Corvette engine in it — it was done in 1964. It’s a two-owner car. I’ve had 32 Healeys, and this is the nicest-driving Healey I’ve ever owned. 

RH: You’ve had 32. Is this the last one?

GP: I’d never say that. There’ll be a No. 33 and a No. 34, I’m sure. 

RH: What do you like about this car?

GP: It’s dependable. It’s the only Healey I’ve ever owned my wife says I can take on a 100-mile drive and not work on it for six days after I bring it home to get it going again. It’s just an honest, fun-driving car.

Marty Lemmo, South Glens Falls, N.Y.

I’ve had it about 3 years. I’ve always loved the (Corvette) body style, and it’s just fun. It’s a driver, a nice driver. 

RH: What’d you do to it?

ML: I bought it just the way you see it. 

RH: You didn’t do nothing to it?

ML: OK, I had the clock repaired. And I had the radio — for what it cost to get the radio repaired, I had it replaced with original style that is now modern. It’ll play AM-FM stereo, and I plug my iPod in it so I can listen to what I want. 

RH: What do you like about this car the best?

ML: Just the way it looks. It’s fun. I mean, obviously it’s a fair-weather car. What I like about it is, 95% of the ’61s have a white cove. Everyone can recognize these cars — red body with a white cove, and it was a $16 option in 1961, and apparently the guy didn’t want to go for everything.

RH: A cheapskate.

ML: Ah, what can I tell you? In today’s dollars it’s about $110 option. Personally, I like it without the white. I like it with the solid color. 

Kevin Durkee, Fair Haven

RH: So it seems like you’re a car fan. What is it about you and cars? 

KD: Oh, my goodness, they’re pretty. I love the rumble when they start ’em up. It’s just fun, it’s good clean fun. They’re works of art. They’re just beautiful. 

RH: What was your first car?

KD: A Volkswagen. A 1955 Volkswagen Beetle. 

RH: How long did you have that?

KD: Well, I had it a year or so, but it would only go 50 miles an hour, so I sold it, and it was absolutely perfect. 

RH: What’s the best car you had?

KD: It was a Plymouth Barracuda 273 with a four-speed. That was a nice car. But I’ve had a lot of Volkswagens. I’ve got a Mustang now. I really like that, it’s a 2018. That’s a lot of fun. 

RH: It’s almost brand-new. What do you like about that one?

KD: It’s a convertible — what’s not to like? 

RH: Just tell me it goes pretty quick.

KD: Well, we don’t want to be talking about that on film here.

Tom Truex, Wallingford

My wife and I were out for a ride, and we came across this at a service station over in Cornish, New Hampshire. Actually, it was right around Plainfield, New Hampshire, I should say. And we saw it outside, and it was in pretty rough shape. Hood was all caved in, and it was rusty. So we figured this would be a good retirement project if we could get it cheap, and we did. So over the course of the next five years, with a lot of help, we took it all apart, everything off it. We fixed the things that needed to be fixed mechanically, and the rest was cosmetic. Right now, it’s running good and I hope it stays that way. 

RH: What is it exactly?

TT: It’s a 1935 — it’s a GMC chassis and the fabrication was done in South Portland, Maine. There was a guy that used to work for the McCann firetruck manufacturers in Portland and he went out on his own. His name was Charles Rutledge. He manufactured — not a whole lot — there’s not many in existence, but there’s, I’m guessing, maybe a dozen Rutledges that he made. It was a very well-made truck, but it was more geared toward the small town. It wasn’t a custom truck like you might see, that the cities might have. It was a small, rural firetruck. 

David Cavacas, Rutland

RH: Tell me about your Pacer.

DC: I wanted to build something that nobody else had, and I think I succeeded in doing that. My parents and grandparents had ’em when I was a kid. Friend of mine came up with the idea of putting a big block in one, so I just took it a little further. I put a big block Chrysler motor into it and all the full-sized running gear. Wanted to go drag racing — we’ve done a little bit of that with it. It’s a pretty fast little car actually. Other than that, I restored the whole thing myself, built the thing from the ground up, painted it.

RH: What do you call that color?

DC: It’s Synergy Green. It’s actually off a 2010 Camaro. I saw one driving down the road one day while I was building this, and I said that’s the color the car’s going to be, and I’m glad I did. Everybody was skeptical about green at first, but when I painted it, it fits the car. Other than that, we take it out to car shows whenever we can.

RH: So it’s not exactly your daily driver.

DC: Oh, no, no. Gas mileage is not real good. It’ll be lucky if I get five miles to the gallon. It has two big carburetors up in the front. 

RH: It’s got a beautiful rumble. I could hear you coming from a long ways off.

DC: Thank you!

Glenn McPeters, Essex Junction

RH: Tell me about your Chevelle.

GMcP: I’m the second owner. Came out of backwoods Virginia. I’ve had it about 10-11 years. Full-frame off restoration, with sort of like a Day Two attitude, you know, just parts you could buy in 1969. It’s 396 in the garage, it’s got a 454 in it now, 562 horsepower, just over 6 seconds, eighth-mile, 97 miles an hour. It’s just bad ass.

Camera and production by RH Alcott

Victoria Covarrubias

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July 12, 2019

Victoria Covarrubias, of West Rutland, moved from Oxnard, California, to Rutland, Vermont, bringing the recipes for authentic Mexican food learned from her grandmother. Now she runs her own catering business, has a popular booth at the Rutland Farmers Market on Saturdays and Wednesdays, and sits on the board of directors of the Vermont Farmers Food Center.

Above left, Victoria Covarrubias works the Wednesday Farmers Market. At right, her husband, Gus Covarrubias, works alongside his wife at the Saturday market.

Victoria Covarrubias: “We made a big dinner for my neighbors one day, and the one thing they said was ‘You know that there’s no Mexican food here in Rutland.’ And we didn’t believe it, so we looked it up, and only a few places came out. So that’s how it started, it was just, you know, an authentic plate here and there, and I said I’ll have to get licensed and be official. And that’s how it started, little by little. The farmers’ market was my first big step into the catering.”

“At the farmers’ market we sell taquitos, flautas, tamales — which go really fast — we started making four dozens and by 12 o’clock they’re done. I have people who come buy 8, some people buy a dozen. People buy one, then they come back and buy more. We make burritos, quesadillas and tacos, all made to order … no tomatoes and no lettuce. If I have the cheese and you want cheese on your stuff, I’ll put the cheese on there, but that’s not how the original plate is. I have no problem adding it if we have it.”

Column published July 19, 2019, in the Rutland Daily Herald

Camera and production by RH Alcott in Rutland, Vermont

Chris Mendoza: Exactitude

Click here to see video.

July 07, 2019

Nicaraguan-born Brooklyn, N.Y., artist Chris Mendoza takes Talking Pictures on a tour of his Rutland exhibition, “Exactitude,” a 20-year retrospective of his painting, drawing, ink and collage work at the Alley Gallery in Center Street Alley. The show runs through August 10.

Column published July 12, 2019, in the Rutland Daily Herald.

Camera and production by RH Alcott in Rutland, Vermont