Category Archives: Journalism

April at the Free Press

It’s been a while, but I’m posting some photos from April assignments at the Burlington Free Press. My photo editor decides which of my final shots to put in the paper; here are my favorites from the last few weeks! All are in BW — just makes things easier.

A player on Slovakia’s women’s hockey team lies motionless on the ice after being hit during an April 7 game against Sweden. The two countries played the first game in the week-long International Ice Hockey Federation’s Women’s World Championship, hosted by the Douglas Cairns Recreation Arena and the University of Vermont’s Gutterson ice rink.

Turns out she was okay, and went on to play hard (and get carried off the ice once more) later in the game. Sweden beat Slovakia soundly.

Churchgoers eat homemade cookies and drink coffee following Easter Sunday service at Grace United Methodist Church in Essex.

I know I’m not supposed to accept gifts because of journalistic integrity, but the pastor all but force-fed me one of those cookies. Taste factor, mediocre… festiveness, stellar.

Kelly Coons, director of catering at the Skinny Pancake, makes crepes for participants at the Picnic for the Planet on April 22 afternoon at City Hall Park. Burlington coordinator Donia Prince said 51 countries and all 50 states participated in an attempt to break the world record for the largest picnic.

Hannah Mogeon holds a sign protesting IBM’s outsourcing policies. Hannah attended the demonstration with her father and fellow protester Earl Mogeon on April 24. “I’ve grown up listening to my dad talk about this stuff,” Hannah said. “It’s nice to be informed.”

Line cook Matteo Deshong cooks a pasta special at Prohibition Pig in Waterbury on April 25. Head chef Brian Sheehan said the extensive cocktail list and special smoked barbecued meats have attracted attention.

This place might be my new regular spot — if it wasn’t all the way in Waterbury. Forty-five minutes for a burger, with gas at this price? Mmm… tough choice.

Jon Bouton marks down signs of potential emerald ash borer damage to ash trees in Randolph during a simulation on April 26. The exercise was meant to find the problems with interagency cooperation in the case of an emerald ash borer invasion.

Trouncing around in the woods with a few people looking for laminated emerald ash borer beetles. Another Freep adventure!

Lola Aiken, 99, and Gov. Peter Shumlin celebrate after cutting the ribbon at the official opening ceremony of the George D. Aiken Center at the University of Vermont. Lola was married to Gov. George Aiken from 1967 until his death in 1985. The new building boasts state-of-the-art energy management systems and an “eco machine” to treat waste on-site.

I’m not sure how Gov. Peter Shumlin’s body guard felt about this one. He was anxiously waiting just off camera right.

South Burlington resident Marjorie Wallace paints a hummingbird design on a slab of wood during a Green Mountain Decorative Painters meeting on April 28.

The very nice ladies at the Green Mountain Decorative Painters made a boring assignment into a lovely morning.

And finally, I had to put a few up from the Green Candle Theatre Company’s rehearsal of their show, “The Napoleon 2012.” This was such an awesome shoot. Complete access — around the stage, using my Speedlight, talking to the performers — and not a peep from the wonderful actors and actresses. I unfortunately haven’t seen the show yet, but I’d love to.

(If you’re confused about the plot from the cutlines, just check out the actual show. I wouldn’t do an explanation justice.)

From left, Aaron Masi, Dean Dennis and Alex Dostie prepare to enter the stage during a rehearsal of the Green Candle Theatre Company’s “The Napoleon 2012.” The show features two congruent plots; one is a play about Napoleon Bonaparte, and the other is about the actors’ difficulties producing the play.

Aaron Masi does his makeup during a “behind-the-scenes scene” at a rehearsal for “The Napoleon 2012.”

Aaron Reil rehearses his role as an actor playing multiple characters in the Green Candle Theatre Company’s “The Napoleon 2012.”

Here’s a few extra from some work for the University of Vermont’s Campus Recreation Department:

Spinning class, shot for the University of Vermont Campus Recreation Department.

Intramural basketball championships, shot for the University of Vermont Campus Recreation Department.

Intramural broom ball championships, shot for the University of Vermont Campus Recreation Department.


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Free Press photos: ONE Fashion Event at Higher Ground

The Boys and Girls Club of Burlington host an annual fashion show at Higher Ground to raise money for the program. This year, six months of planning and more than 130 volunteers made the event possible.

Photos taken for the Burlington Free Press.

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Occupier Josh Pfenning’s suicide leads to movement’s shutdown

Friends of Josh Pfenning mourn in City Hall Park the day after his apparent suicide.

Friends of Josh Pfenning sit in City Hall Park the day after he apparently shot himself in an Occupy Burlington tent.

The Occupy Burlington movement may need to find a new home after a participant died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

On Nov. 10, Josh Pfenning, 35, shot himself in an Occupy Burlington tent in City Hall Park, according to Burlington police.

Pfenning, a veteran, was showing his gun to three people in the tent on Thursday afternoon when the atmosphere shifted, fellow occupier Joel Cione said.

Cione said he was present at the time of the shooting. He said Pfenning started disassembling and assembling his weapon rapidly before putting the gun to his head and pulling the trigger.

Joel Cione, Burlington occupier and friend of Josh Pfenning

Joel Cione stands at the edge of the crime scene where Josh Pfenning apparently shot himself. Cione said he was in the tent when the Occupy Burlington participant and veteran Pfenning put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Tents at the Occupy movement are likely to be removed from City Hall Park on Sunday.

“Josh was our best friend,” Cione said. “I can’t talk about it anymore.”

Cione said he met Pfenning a week prior when Pfenning had approached him needing a place to sleep.

“He needed a tent, so we let him sleep in ours,” he said.

Several dozen people attended a vigil for Pfenning on Friday evening, where he was remembered in the style of the Occupy movement with people speaking randomly, their words repeated by the crowd.

Ellen Brunsgaard, 21, said Pfenning was a friend who was funny, but troubled by his own demons.

She said he struggled with alcohol-related problems, but was very interested in reading and learning new things.

“It was ruled an accident? That can’t be right. He was smarter than that,” Brunsgaard said. “He was so smart; he always had a book with him.”

Following the shooting, police and occupiers clashed over the seizure of the encampment as evidence. However, after the vigil, tensions appeared to be eased.

According to the Burlington Free Press, Police Chief Mike Schirling took the opportunity during the vigil to circulate and introduce himself to the crowd, handing out business cards and expressing his condolences to Pfenning’s friends.

Following the vigil, a few protesters were encouraging a forceful “recapture” of the encampment that police had taped off as a crime scene. After an initial vote, they decided to reconvene at a different location to discuss strategies.

As of Sunday afternoon, the tents in City Hall Park were being deconstructed and the future of the Occupy Burlington movement was uncertain, according to USA Today.

Free Press Photos: week two

Handy’s Lunch expands lunch counter to online social realm

Handy’s Lunch has a strong following, according to Burlington resident and Handy’s frequenter Spencer Taylor. Now, Taylor says the lunch counter conversation has expanded into the social media world.

A year and a half ago, owner Earl Handy opened Twitter, Facebook, Urban Spoon and Yelp accounts, and created a website. He now has over 1,100 followers on Twitter, and has seen his business increase dramatically.

“I told him, ‘You just have to take your lunch counter atmosphere and bring it to online users,'” Taylor said.

These photos were taken on August 26 with three of the more active online supporters of Handy’s, Spencer Taylor, Redmond Deck and Stephen Churchill.

From left, Spencer Taylor, Redmond Deck and Stephen Churchill sit at Handy's Lunch on Maple Street. The trio was identified by owner Earl Handy as major players in his online presence. "He tweets about food and local events," Deck said.

Owner of Handy's Lunch on Maple Street Earl Handy checks his phone while serving customers. "My twitter just blew up!" Handy said. "I think I've tweeted five times in the past 10 minutes."

From left, Spencer Taylor, Redmond Deck and Stephen Churchill display various social media accounts held by Handy's Lunch on Maple Street. Owner Earl Handy says social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and Urban Spoon have helped his business expand into an online version of the lunch counter.

 Zebra mussels are here to stay, swimmers beware

The unassuming pest blends into rocks, but most swimmers in Lake Champlain know to stay away from them.

Zebra mussels are known across the country as an invasive species that attaches itself to docks, boats and other structures in the water, often causing damage. However, damage can also be seen on the hands and feet of swimmers at beaches around Lake Champlain.

“They’re everywhere!” Charlotte resident and swimmer Brooks Jordan said. However, that wouldn’t stop him from swimming, he said. “I found some on this rock!”

According to the Burlington Free Press, the mussels arrived at Lake Champlain in 1993, and at this point will stay indefinitely.

“The populations have plateaued, and hopefully we won’t see them increasing any more than they have in the Lake,” Eric Howe told Molly Walsh of the Burlington Free Press. Howe is a technical coordinator at the Lake Champlain Basin Program in Grand Isle. “But they are here, and that’s the way it’s going to be, I’m afraid.”

Ezra Mount-Finette, 17, displays a zebra mussel at a beach near Charlotte. Mount-Finette, an attendant at the beach, says a box of bandages near his station comes in handy when swimmers come to him with cuts from the invasive species.

Brooks Jordan, 16, holds a zebra mussel-infested rock at a beach near Charlotte. The invasive species is known to swimmers for the sharp corners and edges that slice open feet and hands.

Brooks Jordan, 16, dives off the dock at a beach near Charlotte. Vermont beaches are accustomed to zebra mussels, an invasive species that is characterized by sharp edges and corners that can cut swimmers feet and hands. Jordan and his friends say they're not too worried about a few little cuts, but beach attendant Ezra Mount-Finette says many swimmers aren't expecting the injuries.

Free Press Photos: Champlain Valley Fair

My second round of freelance work for the Burlington Free Press was a doozy. I racked up 90 miles on my car going to and from different assignments; my camera broke the 10,000 shutter actuations mark (for the fourth time); and I got to go to the Champlain Valley Fair under the guise of “photographer.” Here’s what I got from the Champlain Valley Fair. More to come in the next few days.

Jose Claudio works for Commeford and Son's, Inc. leading riders on camels at the Champlain Valley Fair. The fair will be closed on Sunday because of possible severe weather.

A donkey at the Champlain Valley Fair slips through a fence to sneak some food from a dispenser.

A small goat makes an escape attempt at the Champlain Valley Fair.

Oliver, 3, spends a quarter on food to give to a goat at the Champlain Valley Fair.

Gabriel Brown, 2, and his mother Jessica ride the carousel at the Champlain Valley Fair.

Anthony Cicolello works for North East Novelty. He says business has been good at the Champlain Valley Fair on opening day.

Jim and Tyler Gabare go for a ride at the Champlain Valley Fair.

William Nykiel, 9, crosses his fingers for luck at a game stand at the Champlain Valley Fair. "I'm going to win something for my sister," William said.

Steve Mills prepares to mount his unicycle at the Champlain Valley Fair. Mills is a founder of the Dazzling Mills Family, which has been performing in different forms since 1978, according to the group's website.

Free Press photos: week one

Photos from a new freelancer: week one.

Assignment one: High school sports practices at Essex and Colchester High Schools. Photos ran on August 23, 2011 in the Burlington Free Press.

Michael Yandow, a junior at Essex High School, chases after the ball during the junior varsity/varsity soccer practice on August 22, 2011. According to the coaches, there were more than 70 students who signed up for soccer from Essex High School.

Varsity coach of boys soccer at Essex High School Scott Mosher tells the players how important it is to practice hard. "To the guys who are returning, you know what it's like to play in the metro. It's going to be a blood bath," Mosher told the teams. "We're not waiting for anything."

Colchester High School field hockey drills on August 22, 2011. Players braved stormy weather during their two and a half-hour practice.

Eva Dovic, a sophomore on Colchester High School's field hockey team, drills with junior varsity and varsity players on August 22, 2011.

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Salzburg’s finest in pints and palaces

Salzburg has an identity crisis.

But if there was an endearing quality about a place that didn’t know who it was, this city has it. Modern concrete is mixed with the oldest stones on the continent; young and elderly residents meander the oldest alleys in Europe together; the alps are dwarfed by the 1000-year-old Hohensalzburg Castle. All of these dichotomies allow ones imagination to twist while still enjoying a modern urban culture.

As aforementioned, castles and fortresses are everywhere. Hohensalzburg Castle’s dominance over the city is daunting, and if you’re a citizen of Salzburg, it’s free to visit (roughly four Euro if you’re a visitor). The sheer mass of this place and its deliberate placement overlooking the river and downtown make it the nose on Salzburg’s vast face. There are terraces to view the city and surrounding peaks, and each room of the castle is now dedicated to various museum themes. Military history is a big theme inside.

View from Hosensalzburg Castle

From the lookout at Hosensalzburg Castle in Salzburg, Austria.

As made famous by the film The Sound of Music, Hellbrunn Palace sits relatively close to the city center. From Salzburg Süd, a simple 45-minute walk down one of Europe’s oldest alleys will bring you to its front gates. You have to walk down a long driveway, passing stables-turned-garages and ornate iron gates before you arrive at the main attractions. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what to expect — the vast garden and various pool fountains lie next to the bright yellow house, and the caretakers have kept the iconic gazebo from the movie in great condition.

Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg

Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg was made famous by the film "The Sound of Music."

Finally, the gardens at Mirabel Castle on a Sunday afternoon are stunning in simplicity. Immediately downtown, less than a 15-minute walk from the Hauptbahnhof train and bus station, when one enters the gardens all other elements of the confident, modern surroundings are forgotten. The gardens are lined by statues of gods and goddesses, and on a day focused on family and relaxation (nothing is open on Sundays in Salzburg), they are filled with children and old couples alike.

The gates of Mirabel Castle's gardens

Two TV celebrities walk through the gates of Mirabel Castle in downtown Salzburg.

For its nightlife, Salzburg emphasizes its own calm demeanor.

O’Malley’s and Shamrock Irish Pubs consistently house university students and locals for a night of Austrian beer drinking, though on Saturday nights, it’s difficult to find a place to stand without spilling your drink or burning your neighbor with a cigarette. On certain evenings, Shamrock has live cover bands playing American and European rock hits, though their ‘V’s often sound like ‘W’s — the accent makes bad songs humorous.

The Augustiner, as it’s referred to by local college students, is one of Europe’s oldest breweries. Many students claim it was started and still exists on beer brewed by monks. It’s a simple formula for good fun; choose a half-liter or liter glass, walk to the keg, pay, fill and drink. The atmosphere is reminiscent of a castle’s beer hall, with long, heavy wooden tables and benches. They, however, close at 11 p.m., so get there early.

A local bar near the Internationale Kolleg dorms in Salzburg Süd is also an interesting composition among European-style bars. The chic urban artwork in Heinz Music Bar and Cafe clash contrastingly against the older clientele, but its proximity to the university and special 1,90 euro-per-beer for students make it popular with the younger crowd, too. They are open quite late, and is a great place to have conversation and finish a night.

Personal note:

My friend Jack hosted me in his dorm, and I realized that much of the people in Salzburg are as kind as midwesterners. I don’t speak a lick of German, so I needed help with directions constantly; I had no discomfort asking a stranger at the bus stop or train station.

Jack Minich

Jack Minich, a junior at UVM studying in Austria and Salzburg aficionado extraordinaire.

The stark difference between the old and new was insanely evident everywhere I went, and made me realize how little culture much of the U.S. has in history. Just walking down a popular bike path toward Hellbrunn Castle, Jack noted that this happened to be the oldest ally in Europe. He said that less than an hour away were celtic ruins thousands of years old. Much of these instances were completely untouched by tourism, and felt natural and normal.

One of Europe's oldest allies

On the way to Hellbrunn, it would be easy to miss the fact that this road is one of Europe's oldest alleyways.

Thanks for the hospitality to Jack and all of his friends, and to the city of Salzburg. Hopefully I’ll come back to explore some of your more hidden secrets.

Back-post: 25 below zero doesn’t stop U.S. Pond Hockey Championship in Mpls.

“I’m from California and even I know this is crazy” — Jason “High Hopes” Withee at the sixth annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships

When Jason Withee flew to Minneapolis from Redondo Beach, California, he was expecting Minnesota’s cold winter air. However, when the forecast predicted that temperatures could reach as low as 35 below zero without the wind chill, logic took over.

“I’m from California and even I know this is crazy,” Withee joked.

The U.S. Pond Hockey Championship was started in 2006 with 120 teams, and this year attracted thousands of people from around the country. Visitors and participants flocked from Scandinavia, California, New York and Canada to Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis for the tournament, which took place January 21 to 23.

Pond hockey is very different from NHL or regulation hockey. There are four skaters on the ice at a time, and the rink is significantly smaller than full-sized ice. Goalies are not required, as the puck must enter a goal made of two-by-fours and plywood that sits on the ice. Two puck-sized holes allow the puck to enter the goal on either side, but the player must either get very close or be a sharp shooter to score.

Team Cali-Sota (cleverly named for their multi-state membership) was easily having the most fun of any team on the ice. With jersey names like “Buy High Sell Low,” “Coach Eh,” “Low Expectations,” and “The Darkness” the Cali-Sotans used their humor to their advantage, even if it didn’t help their game.

“They’re faster than me, and stronger than me,” Nate “Low Expectations” Jenkins said off the rink with a grin. “And better than me.”

Team Cali-Sota lost to the Northstars 23-9. “That wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be!” Nate “Low Expecations” Jenkins said surprised after hearing the score. “I guess it’s something to learn from,” Withee said.

Ultimately, pond hockey embodies what Minnesota pride entails. When someone in California says, “It sure has been cold lately,” and midwesterners scoff at their warm-blooded complaints, it’s not rude — it’s just Minnesota nature.

All one must do to understand Minnesotan’s pride is go to the U.S. Pond Hockey Championship, where beer, hot chocolate and hockey mixed for yet another year of traditional Minnesotan entertainment.

(Photos shot for Minnesota Public Radio on January 21, 2011.)

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Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s MLK Day speech in Minneapolis: Individuals must ‘stand up’ for justice

Newark Mayor Cory Booker at the Minneapolis Convention Center

Newark Mayor Cory Booker was the keynote speaker for the 21st annual MLK Day Breakfast at the Minneapolis Convention Center on January 17, 2011. (MPR Photo/Gina Reis)

Today, an estimated 2,500 people gathered at the Minneapolis Convention Center to celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The 21st annual MLK Day Breakfast featured a career fair and speakers, including keynote speaker Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

In a powerful and high-octave speech, Booker discussed his childhood, start as a politician and attempts to revamp the projects in Newark. He also talked about faith as crucial in his motivation to pursue politics.

“I’m one of those strange people, I love faith, and you come into the mayor’s office and you see the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tanakh Torah, the Christian Bible, and reporters joke, ‘I see if there’s the end of days, son, you’ve got a lot of books there to see which one really works,'” he said.

Minnesota Public Radio has extensive coverage on events around the state, written by news intern Anissa Stocks.

Although I was in the MPR newsroom all morning and wasn’t able to see Booker’s speech (MPR’s newsroom isn’t a bad place to be in the morning, though), I heard it on the radio and felt obligated to share it. If you have 30 minutes, check out Booker’s encouraging energy and support of ‘standing up’ at a crucial time in U.S. history.

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