Street Talk: Super Galactic Toy Drop

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Published November 30, 2019

Craig Hahn, Rutland Town

Today is the third annual Galactic Toy Drop, however, this year we turned it into a Super Galactic Toy Drop and Character Extravaganza. What that means is, in years past, our toy drop here with BROC-Community Action was a Star Wars-themed event. This year, Star Wars is here, but superheroes, princesses, an F-35 pilot, Lt. Col. Michael Blair, from the Green Mountain Boys is here; we have Ghostbusters; the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” is here — so this is a Super Galactic Toy Drop and Character Extravaganza. We’ve got every movie fandom, every comic book hero you could think of here today, and we’re collecting toys to help the kids here in Rutland County.

Eliza Bridge, Rutland

I’m Princess Jasmine from the movie “Aladdin.” We’re here to promote the toy donation for kids, the Toys Under the Tree, and everybody can come and they can buy a toy and they can donate it right here.

Shelly Sobel, Rutland

I’m Anna, I’m Elsa’s sister and the new movie came out yesterday, “Frozen II” 

RH: What are you going to do for Thanksgiving?

SS: Just be with my family.

Eliese Bouchard, Rutland

I’m Elsa, I’m Anna’s sister — I’m the queen of the kingdom. I’ve got ice powers. I guess I can just make ice, you know, make things cold, make it winter. It’s kind of a secret. But, also, I’m a senior at Rutland High School.

RH: Are you excited about graduating? Do you have plans for the future?

EB: I’m thinking about going to Seton Hall University to study diplomacy.

Jennifer Davis, Hill, New Hampshire

I’m Jane Foster Thor, and it is based on a figurine that was done. It is all 3-D printed. My husband did the 3-D printing, and I did the sewing of the cape and some of the clothing.

Jeff LeBlanc, Hill, New Hampshire

Yes, this is all 3-D printed. You print small pieces of plastic, and then you epoxy them together and fill the seams with caulking and sand it down, and prime it and paint it — and eventually you end up with this. I’m an engineer. I largely self-taught the pieces that I needed to learn to do, and I did the programming that I needed to do the get the helmet to work correctly. I’m Tony Stark, or Ironman, from the Marvel Avengers movies. This particular suit of armor was from Marvel’s first Avengers movies, so it’s technically the Mark VII armor. That movie came out in 2012, and I’ll be making the other suits of armor as I go along until eventually I have most of them done. 

Dana Alyce-Schwarz, Burlington

Myself and my friend here are part of The Guardian Legion. We’re a group of Vermont cosplayers based out of Burlington, and we simply wanted to have more opportunities to get involved in the greater community. We’ve worked with Make-A-Wish, the Lake Monsters, Shelburne Museum, Children’s Hospital, any group that we can get in touch with and find a good opportunity to help them out at their events or to set up an event. Nobody every says ‘no’ to superheroes, we’re always a good addition. What we’re doing today, we’re helping out with the Rutland toy drive, the Galactic Toy drive. It’s our first time helping out here. We’ve done similar events in the past. We’re happy to help out a local Vermont event, to give back and to support the community.

Mary Jane Watson, Forest Hills, New York

I’m a friend of Peter Parker’s, and in some of the comic runs I do get my own suit and some super powers, so I’m here today as a Spider Person. … There are so many iterations of different Spider characters. There’s Silk, there’s Spider-Gwen, there’s Peter Parker, there’s Miles Morales. The Spider-World is so big, that now we’re just generally called Spider-People.

RH: Tell me about some of your powers? What can you do?

MJW: You know, I can sling a few webs like Spider-Man and all that good stuff.

RH: You can do that slinging part?

MJW: I can do that, but, you know, I’d rather keep my powers a surprise.

Officer Ernest LaGuardia, Rutland City Police Department

Right now we’re here with the Galactic Toy Drop. It’s a wonderful event, it’s for the community where people can drop off different toys or donate anything for families in need for Christmas, for the coming holidays. If you want to drop off toys you can go out front, if you want to drop off a check and make a donation, you can do that as well. It all goes to a good cause.

Donalee Kirk, Rutland

This toy drive is an amazing event that is a great opportunity for BROC-Community Action to gather toys for the children within Rutland County. All the toys that are collected here today will be distributed right through our offices at 45 Union St. to the local community children. And all cash that’s donated will be used to gather additional toys for the gaps in donations that arrive here … for the teenagers and the really young children so we can make sure that everybody has a great Christmas.

RH: Thank you, Donalee, and a merry Christmas to you, and I hope your Thanksgiving is bright, too.

DK: Thank you so much! And merry Christmas to you also.

Jennifer Davis as Jane Foster Thor

Interviews, camera and production by RH Alcott

Sam ‘Jojo’ Ashford

Video: Visit

Published November 22, 2019

Sam Ashford, of Brooklyn, New York, 77ART October artist-in-residence, addresses the problem of fashion on the brink of the apocalypse. “I’m a hand-me-down expert,” Ashford says. “I get all my stuff for free. That’s better for the environment, maybe, environmental fashion, recycling, re-using.” Ashford’s view is that fashion itself is especially ruthless on the environment. “All the dyes, all the production of the fabrics — it’s very bad for the world.” In the video, Ashford touches on the problem of desire. He quotes 19th-century German intellectual Friedrich Nietzsche: “In the end, there is only the desirer and no desired.” Do our appetites and our access to resources put ultimate satisfaction beyond our reach? You be the judge.

Interview, camera and production by RH Alcott

Blaykyi Kenyah

See video at

Published November 15, 2019
October 23, 2019

Blaykyi Kenyah is a visual artist from Accra, Ghana, where he lived until moving to the United States to earn a bachelor of arts degree in politics from Princeton University. His latest project, Secret Places, was a culmination of a photographic investigation of urbanity in one of Ghana’s small towns through temporal and geographic suspension and obscurity. Kenyah says, “When I decided to be an artist, I think, one big difference between me and lots of artists is, there are lots of artists who have a natural talent that they … get complimented on and it slowly grows and then they realize maybe they can make something of it, and so they do. I was not planning on being an artist until maybe two or three years ago, and when I came to it, I had never handled a brush, a paint brush. The only reason I can do this is because 1960s and 1970s conceptual artists who decided for us … that you don’t need skill to be an artist. You need good ideas, and the skill will come, the skill can be learned.”

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Interview, camera and production by RH Alcott

Adriana Gallo

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Published November 09, 2019

In her video, Adriana Gallo says: “I’m more trained as a painter but have found that my painterly approach wound up being less descriptive and more sculptural, or materially oriented, like frosting on a cake … painting a wall felt truer than depicting something within a window. … I think about an art practice as that — it’s practice, or, in terms of a craft, you’re developing a lifelong skill-set, and there’s no end point, so there’s no reason to stall, necessarily. It feels satisfying to me to work with … material and physical objects. So if I can set up parameters for myself and rules, then there’s sort of an easy entry point. It doesn’t feel like the product itself is what matters. It’s really the experience of generating this thing that you don’t necessarily even have to show to anybody else.” Gallo, of Milan, Italy; Boston; and Providence, Rhode Island, now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Interview, camera and production by RH Alcott

Street Talk: Fall Art in the Park

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Published in the Rutland Herald / Times Argus October 19, 2019

Carrie Pill, Rutland

Carrie Pill, October 13, 2019

RH: Carrie! You know, with all the trouble in the world today, how do you find your personal happiness?

CP: Painting. 

RH: Painting! That’s what you’re doing right now! You must be on top of the world —

CP: It helps. It’s very therapeutic. I also really enjoy sharing art with others, hosting paint and sip classes at home in my studio and — yeah, art is good for the world. We need more art, so I’m all about sharing that with others.

RH: Carrie, what’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

CP: Breakfast cereal! I hadn’t had it for years, and I recently bought a box of Golden Grahams. They taste like Graham crackers in a cereal. It’s amazing.

Ruth Sangree, Ashford, Connecticut

Ruth Sangree

I’ve been coming up here for what seems like a dozen years now, twice a year, August and October. I just love coming up here to be in Vermont for the long weekend. I teach fourth grade also. And what’s nice about teaching fourth grade is, you feel like you have an impact on the children. You’re trying to teach them things that will help them be better people in the world.

RH: Ruth, what kind of cereal do you like for breakfast?

RS: I like my own homemade granola. You know, there’s obviously an oats base. I put a ton of nuts in, all different types of nuts — dried cranberries, any kind of berry I have that’s dried. I put in honey and other things

 Lynn D. Pratt, Pawlet

Lynn D. Pratt

Painting is my happy place. I love just sitting down and really getting into the details. I paint super-photorealistic, so I really just like sitting and painting, and I can kind of black everything else out going on around me. My all-time favorite breakfast cereal? Candy corn.

RH: Candy corn? Isn’t that a candy? That’s not a cereal!

LP: Doughnuts. Definitely doughnuts.

RH: That’s not a cereal either! Like Corn Flakes, Rice Crispies, like that.

LP: Cinnamon Toast Crunch!

RH: Oh, yeah? What do you like about that? Is it the crunch? Or is it the cinnamon toast?

LP: Both. It’s like candy!

KJ Rhodes, Brandon

KJ Rhodes, October 13, 2019

I’m happy everyday if I can put my feet on the floor and breathe air, and be vertical — life’s a good day. 

RH: What else makes you happy? You like TV? You like movies? You like music?

KJ: Dogs, and animals. … They have all kinds of antics. They’re good company, and they like to go for walks, and they like to be outdoors.

RH: What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

KJ: Grape-Nuts.

RH: I love those! If you can’t find Grape-Nuts, you get those knock-off Nutty Nuggets, the generics.

KJ: We used to call them the ghetto cereal.

RH: The cheap Grape-Nuts. Barley and salt. 

Thom Cassotta, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Two art shows and smoke a little bit of pot. 

RH: Halloween coming, just a couple of weeks now. What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

TC: I don’t do candy at all, so I have to say apples. 

RH: When you were a kid, you must have liked candy then.

TC: Well, I guess chocolate. Chocolate bars, stuff like that.

Kelly Gearwar

Kelly Gearwar, Killington

I get myself out in nature. It’s what makes me happy, going for a walk, even around the lake, into the woods, just down a simple trail, listening to the quiet — that’s what makes me happy. … I can pretty much go right out my back door. … We get a lot of people from New York City who come up to Vermont specifically for that.

RH: Your favorite breakfast cereal?

KG: I don’t eat cereal any more, but when I was a kid it was Cocoa Pebbles.

RH: Is that like a Flintstones-related product? 

KG: Yeah, exactly. 

RH: Pebbles and Bam Bam?

KG: Yeah!

RH: Got it. Thanks very much, Kelly, thanks for talking with Street Talk!

KG: You’re welcome! No problem. Thank you.

Interview, camera and production by RH Alcott

Street Talk: Rubber meets road

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Published in the Rutland Herald / Times Argus November 2, 2019

Tom Donahue, Rutland

Tom Donahue, October 26, 2019

We’ve got Wheels for Warmth. This is our fourth annual (in Rutland). It’s been happening for 15 years in Vermont, started by the governor, actually, Phil Scott, way before he was governor. He owned a construction company, and then he became state senator, and then lieutenant governor and he still did this down here. Then once he became governor he kind of handed it off, so this Wheels for Warmth exists as it’s own organization. It benefits BROC-Community Action, and it benefits specifically our crisis fuel fund, which will keep Vermonters, specifically Rutland County families, warm this winter. Our trained staff will deal with people over the next few months to help distribute this money. We actually work through local fuel dealers, so the money actually goes to the local fuel dealers. The dealers bring their fuel directly to the home for the family that’s in need. Last year, of course, the winter never stopped — not as much snow as we might have liked — but there was a lot of cold that went on into April. We exhausted all of our funds last year. This event raised $20, 500. This is a generous community. We care about our neighbors, and they were kind enough again to donate hundreds of tires again this year.

The Batman, Gotham City

The Batman, October 26, 2019

I’ll tell ya, I’ve been looking for tires for the Batmobile as well as the Batcycle. We’ve had a great day here looking for tires at Casella’s Construction. My Gosh, this is better that Gotham City ever thought of being.

Eric Schubert, Springfield

Eric Schubert, October 26, 2019

My role here is, I’m responsible for technology for Casella Construction to make what seems to be a trade-based industry a lot more powerful than it looks on the surface. Wheels for Warmth has been going on for a long time. We’re a huge, huge participant in this project. It does wonderful things for people, great deals for people who need tires on the cheap. Right now, everything here is half price, so you can come in and get a set of 17-inch tires and pay 50 bucks! 

Vt. Sen. Brian Collamore, Rutland Town

Vt. Sen. Brian Collamore, Rutland Town

I’m part of the legislative delegation that is hosting the event again. Wheels for Warmth has been going on for 15 years up in Middlesex. So the idea is — and this was all occasioned by at the time Senator Phil Scott came up with the idea of getting used tires, selling them for great prices so people have a chance who can’t afford to buy new tires to at least get a serviceable tire and take all the money from that and give it to BROC for their heat assistance program. That’s what it’s all about. … the whole Casella team is the main part of this, but also Omya sponsors it and the entire Rutland delegation regardless of party comes up and cooks. We all have a good time, and it’s all for a good cause.

Melissa McCutcheon, Rutland

Melissa McCutcheon, October 26, 2019

I am volunteering here today. I work at Vermont State Employees Credit Union, and we are volunteering for a good cause. The cause is Wheels for Warmth, to provide heating fuel for elderly and people who are in need over the winter

RH: Have you bought tires here?

MM: I have in the past — not this year, but I have — 17-inchers for my Nissan Pathfinder. I love it!

Naomi Chamberlain, Castleton

Naomi Chamberlain, October 2, 2019

My husband Kevin works for Casella Construction, so we’re here volunteering our time for our community and helping people find tires for the winter. 

RH: So they get you to haul these tires around?

NC (with fetching giggle): Yes!

RH: You pretty good at that?

NC: I am!

RH: Have you or your husband ever bought tires here before?

NC: I haven’t, but I have family members who have.

RH: So if I wanted a set of tires, ballpark, how much is that going to set me back?

NC: Anywhere from $25 to $100, depending on the size.

RH: Cheap! Come on down!

Vt. Sen. Cheryl Hooker, Rutland

Cheryl Hooker, October 26, 2019

RH: Tell me something, how are your hot dogs, Cheryl?

CH: Oh, the hot dogs are great! So are the cheeseburgers and the hamburgers, all donated by Omya for this incredible event. So what a great day it’s been here at Wheels for Warmth, the 15th annual, and we’re so lucky to have this, thanks to Gov. Scott who started it 15 years ago and the Casella company, which has been such an integral part of it. This whole event has kind of ripple effects. Not only does it help people who want to (A) who want to get rid of tires, (B) who want to buy tires for an affordable rate, (C) who benefit from the fuel assistance that this money is raised for. So it’s an amazing event.

RH: People need the hots! When it gets cold!

CH: Absolutely!

Visit to see this week’s Street Talk video.

Interviews, camera and production by RH Alcott

Street Talk: A graveyard smash

Published in the Rutland Herald / Times Argus October 26, 2019

See video at

Bernie Miles, Mendon

RH: Bernie, tell me about Halloween — where’s it come from, why do we celebrate it?

BERNIE MILES: In general, it’s All Hallow’s Eve, it started off as kind of a religious holiday from my understanding. But that said, for my part, I’m a big comic book guy, so I really get into the Rutland comic book origins with Halloween. It’s nice that Rutland’s city parade was featured in a lot of comic books in the ’60s and ’70s, and still is today, so I get a big kick out of that. I still dress up with my kids. I’m dressing up as the Riddler from the Batman series this year. My little girl’s being Harley Quinn, so it’ll be fun. And I completely support changing Halloween to the last Saturday of October instead of being Oct. 31st.

Edna Donohue, West Rutland

EDNA DONOHUE: I think the Catholic religion might have started it with All Hallow’s or whatever. It was started out as a religious holiday, I think, and it evolved into what it is today. 

RH: So where did all that candy come from?

ED: I don’t know!

RH: You know, I think the dentists might have started that tradition of giving out candy to the kids, you know, to drum up business.

ED: Maybe. You never know.

RH: When you were a girl, when you were younger, did you dress up and go out trick or treating?

ED: Oh, yes, that was the thing. And then as a teenager we went out mostly tricking. 

RH: What was your best costume?

ED: One year, when I was probably about 12, I went out as Josephine the Plumber, from those TV ads. She just always wore overhauls and she had an engineer’s cap, and she always had a pipe wrench, so I drug around a pipe wrench that was bigger than me almost.

Danielle Beebe, Whitehall, N.Y., & Debbie Randall, Dresden, N.Y.

October 18, 2019

DANIELLE BEEBE: For the kids! It’s all about the kids. The last couple of years we’ve been going as a family. This year we’re dressing up as Jessy from ”Toy Story 4”  and my husband’s going to be Buzz Lightyear. And last year we took our daughter out, and we all dressed up as S’Mores. It’s fun, and it’s nice to be a kid again and enjoy it while they’re still young.

RH: Who has more fun, the kids or the adults?

DB, DR (in unison) The adults! Oh, most definitely, absolutely!

DB: My husband, he’s just a big goofball, and just enjoying our daughter and everything about it.

DEBBIE RANDALL: I love to decorate. I’m very decorative. I do my house and my outdoors. I live up in the woods so I don’t have too many trick or treaters. I’m the biggest trick or treater. 

Gus Bloch, Rutland

GUS BLOCH: We do it for the candy. That’s the only reason I ever did it when I was a kid. We used to go out trick or treating — all around the neighborhood. But nowadays, folks come in their cars. They let their kids out in the neighborhood they think are the best ones, but back then we had to take what we got. You know, you had to be careful which house you went to, and sometimes the ladies scared the daylights out of you — they’d come dressed as a witch or something, oh man. But I loved those days. Now we come to the parade and that’s about it. 

RH: What was you best costume?

GB: Maybe it was when my mom dressed me up as a pumpkin. But I never made it as a pumpkin queen.

Donah Smith, Rutland

DONAH SMITH: I am not sure of its origin, but I do know that Rutland has a great parade of the 26th, so everyone should come out and enjoy that.

RH: When you were young, as a kid, how did you celebrate Halloween?

DS: In the traditional ’60s way with one of those plastic costumes and plastic masks, trick or treating with your friends. 

Nick Pryslak, Rutland

NICK PRYSLAK: The best I got, you know, I thought I got a quarter from this woman, and I got home, and I found out it was a nickel, and I was really disappointed. 

RH: I can imagine. You should’ve gone back.

NP: I should’ve. Four more times.

RH: You should’ve said, “What’s this all about? You stiffed me!”

NP: We always had a good time, dressing up, going around to all the houses.

RH: Best costume?

NP: I made it myself — took these big shopping bags, and I put them on me, and I labeled it “The Old Bag.”

Tamara Musto, East Wallingford

Tamara Musto, October 26, 2019

TAMARA MUSTO: It’s new for us because we started celebrated Halloween not too long ago. We do bring the kids to do trick or treating now there, too, and they enjoy dressing … however they like. Yeah, they do house to house and they do also have big parties in, like, plazas — that’s how you say it? — where people will bring candies and share it.

Interviews, camera and production by RH Alcott

Lauren Peterson

November 11, 2019

Visit to watch this week’s Talking Pictures video.

Talking Pictures visits with Lauren Peterson, of Snowmass, Colorado, an October 2019 artist-in-residence at 77ART in Rutland, Vermont. She says, “I kind of subscribe to the idea that art should be a way of looking at the world around you and providing a new context for everyday objects. So I use found objects and … non-art objects to make painterly sculptures and installations. I’m still talking about the history of art in a way, but also showing you a lamp or a carpet, or whatever the object might be, in a new way.”

Interview, camera and production by RH Alcott

Rachel Spitzer-Firliet

October 21, 2019

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Rachel Spitzer-Firliet, of Proctor, is an artist-in-residence this month at 77ART in Rutland. When Talking Pictures asked her what deciding factor in her life prompted her to become an artist, Spitzer-Firliet said, “I don’t ever recall not wanting to be one, to be honest with you.” Now, as an adult, she says the work is almost obsessive. She said, “I can’t not do it. It’s just an internal drive. It’s calming. It’s meditative. Some people have exercise and other things they can do that shut their brain off. Art is like that for me.”

Interview, camera, production by RH Alcott