Friday, May 10, 2019

Goodbye Vermont

I will never lose my affinity or affection for the Green Mountains. I know of no other natural environment so dynamic, so transitory, so ever-changing and full of rock, wind, water, and soil. I was drawn to Vermont in 1997, upon my high school graduation, and have resided there since. Later this month I am relocating permanently to the high desert of Colorado, at which time I will launch a new blog. This new blog, as well as all other original online resources, both past and future, will be listed at My home is for sale (cash only)-- click here for more information. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed Vermont, and have many memories to cherish-- not the least of which are listed below. This is far from complete, and may be amended as time and recall allows:

-- sunrises across the hills of Randolph Center
-- sunsets along Ridge Rd. in Brookfield
-- the mist in the valley along the South Royalton/Tunbridge line
-- coming into Rutland via Route 4
-- coming into Vermont where 9 becomes 7 in Hoosick Falls
-- late nights in the Haybarn and Music Building at Goddard College
-- evening shifts when I read all the newspapers at the River Bend Farm Market in Townsend
-- early mornings making coffee at Stewart's in Poultney
-- making breakfast at Camp Waubanong, West Brattleboro
-- lazy afternoons beside the West River, Riford Brook, Thayer Brook
-- sledding with my son in Williamstown
-- sledding down a driveway in Williamstown in a 1993 S10 Blazer
-- stargazing during duty nights at Vermont Technical College
-- commuting up and down I89, teaching at VTC's Williston campus while living in Randolph
-- seeing more than half of Vermont's 251 towns from a Ford Mustang
-- driving through the hills of East Montpelier with my dog eating maple creemes
-- spinning records at WFVR-LP, 96.5FM South Royalton
-- coordinating monthly grocery runs to West Lebanon, NH
-- eating leftovers at the front desk of Mountain Green Resort, Killington 
-- watching the sun ascend over the mountains in front of Second Springs, Williamstown
-- the smell of maple in spring
-- the smell of cow manure on the shoes of students in Randolph Center
-- the smell of Nag Champa incense, drifting from summer windows
-- the rainbow above Abruzzi Stables, Bennington, and the company of Jacob Snyder
-- the sunlight through the stained glass windows of Bethany Church, Randolph
-- the soft moss of the fen in Brookfield
-- the view from the stage of the Chandler Music Hall, Randolph
-- the green dot bins at Exile On Main St., Barre
-- the closing of Circuit City, Williston
-- Tropical Storm Irene, Riford Brook Rd., Braintree
-- Earth Day 1999, Green Mountain College
-- eating a "Vermonster" at the old Ben and Jerry's location in Rutland
-- sausage gravy and biscuits at the Birdseye Diner, Castleton
-- eggs and bacon at Tot's, Poultney
-- having Ramunto's garlic knot pizza delivered to Ritz Camera at the Diamond Run Mall, Rutland
-- popcorn at the Bethel Drive In, Randolph
-- the Wayside Restaurant of Barre, the greatest restaurant of all time
-- driving the Bennington Bypass at top speed listening to Phish
-- learning to drive on Route 133 between Middletown Springs and West Rutland
-- driving 100 miles to band practice in St. Johnsbury
-- the mud at Coventry, 2004
-- the Listen Center in White River Junction
-- the pizza shop in Randolph (the good one)
-- Mocha Joe's coffee of Brattleboro, the best coffee in the world
-- the Gifford Hospital Thrift Store, one of the undiscovered gems of Vermont
-- the Tupelo Music Hall (defunct) in White River Junction
-- stacking firewood aside the cabin known as Hopeful in Braintree
-- watching two dogs lead each other around splashing in the creek on a July afternoon
-- shuttling low-residency faculty and students from Burlington to Plainfield in a Dodge minivan
-- Ween at Higher Ground (old location)
-- Richie Havens at Barre Opera House
-- Avett Brothers at Chandler Music Hall
-- swimming at "Flat Rock" in Poultney
-- swimming at the Dorset Quarry
-- watching the snow fall 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Long Road Music (2019)

This collection of instrumental music represents many disparate sessions. All tracks are original compositions, and were composed, performed, and produced by Christopher Smith, with additional electric bass by Randy Welch. This work is dedicated to Jacob Snyder, whose musicianship, friendship, and humor has and will forever be an inspiration to me. 
I have a continued interest in the use of electronic musical instruments, to create soundscapes and compositions built of non-representational sounds. I am especially interested in the use of early 1980s MIDI equipment, by which one may trigger multiple drum machines. How can clashes of tone and rhythm create a music that represents our social discourse? While this work began as purely electronic, it came to include acoustic guitar, drum kit, and many conga and cajon tracks-- a mix of divergent voices, at times working and sounding together. This project is the result of a specific creative process, one of careful, solitary overdubs. In relocating from New England, I anticipate utilizing different creative processes in the future. A short history of this work: 
Fall 2011-Spring 2012: sessions in a backyard shed in central Vermont. These involved a Yamaha RM1x drum machine and PSR keyboard, as well as other MIDI-driven tones.
Spring 2017: sessions in an apartment on Commercial St. in Trinidad, Colorado, using a Casio keyboard and Akai drum machine. 
Fall 2017-Spring 2018: sessions and overdub sessions at Riford Brook in Braintree, Vermont. Some piano, organ, and synthesizer tracks were recorded during this time. Fall '11 session work was discovered, and merged into this project. 
Spring 2019: extensive sessions at Animas St. in Trinidad, Colorado. Drum kit, hand drums, Hammond organ (M103 and T300), electric and keyboard bass, as well as bass work by Randy Welch. Mastered digitally.  

Friday, February 1, 2019

Press Release: Fox-West Theater of Trinidad, CO to Acquire Pipe Organ from Private Donor


The City of Trinidad, Colorado and Urban Neighborhoods, Inc. are proud to announce the donation of a pipe organ to the Fox-West Theater of Trinidad. Steve Porter, formerly of Birmingham, Alabama, purchased the Porter House Organ in 2012 and installed it in his home in Birmingham. Mr. Porter relocated to Trinidad in March 2018, and has since been seeking a home for this instrument. This donation is supported by the City of Trinidad and Urban Neighborhoods, Inc., and is made possible in part through the Corazon de Trinidad Creative District.

The Porter House Organ consists of two wind boxes and nearly 800 pipes, the largest being 16’ long. The organ was originally custom built by the Cortese Organ Company of Orlando, Florida in 1974. The organ has thirteen ranks, or different voices, that may be played alone or in combination. The console has two manuals (or keyboards) and pedals. The console has 31 stops plus a star cymbal and tremolo. There are 26 programmable pistons, including 8 general pistons, with 6 for each manual. The organ is roughly the same size as the one at Paroisse Sant-Eustache in Paris, France.

With support from the City of Trinidad and Corazon de Trinidad Creative District, the organ will be uninstalled and shipped from Alabama in late February. The instrument will be stored at the Fox-West until renovations are complete and the organ may be properly installed. 

In this picture, one can see the lattice covering the area behind the upper boxes in the main auditorium. These small rooms are designated chambers for organ pipes. In the chamber to stage left, a Wurlitzer pipe organ sat from 1925 until the 1940s. Installation of the Porter House Organ at the Fox-West will encompass both chambers, on the left and right side of the stage. The Porter House Organ console will have the ability to be located throughout the auditorium. For more information, please contact Urban Neighborhoods, Inc. project manager Christopher Smith at


Saturday, January 26, 2019

On the Closing of Green Mountain College

Originally posted on the Facebook group Rogue Alumni of GMC. For more information about the college's closure, visit To view the January 26, 2019 meeting with Green Mountain College President Bob Allen, click here

I’m writing to share my thoughts on the closing of our alma mater (’01) after today’s [1/26/19] meeting with Bob Allen. I stayed in Vermont after graduation, and have been working at Vermont Tech since 2004. Through Mitch LesCarbeau, I often heard about the college’s financial mismanagement; that despite offering an important curriculum, the Board of Trustees and administration made choices that kept the college from staying viable.  

I know many want to see GMC stay open, and I understand that—we shared something awesome there that may never be repeated and can hardly be described. However, I cannot support fundraising campaigns towards its remaining open as-is: the decision-makers that got our institution into this mess cannot be trusted.

Green Mountain College is not literally, but financially, dead. The burden of the USDA-and-other-lender loan ($21.5million) has to go away somehow, and I’m guessing through the bankruptcy of the institution (I’m not an accountant or lawyer). The college property is for sale on the international market, according to Bob Allen.

I see it as far more feasible to track down the “international broker” with which Green Mountain College is listed, and purchase it outright, as part of the liquidation of our sadly-mismanaged college, than to take responsibility for the bad decisions of the Board of Trustees and administration.

What to do with the campus is a whole different question. The accreditation will go away with the bankruptcy—but so will all governance. Whoever buys it will have their butt kissed by the same Governor that offered no help to Bob Allen, in hopes that the new buyer will have a need for new employees.

One can operate a college without accreditation (Trump University). One can operate a think tank, go full-on Silicon Valley and have employees live on-site. If I had the chance to approach VT Gov Phil Scott, I would have asked for special dispensation to allow the campus to become opened as New England’s first institution dedicated to cannabis cultivation and production, and offer non-accredited degrees to an on-campus population. An idea that wild could ‘save’ the college.

My larger point is: while I understand where hearts are at towards raising funds to keep GMC open, I cannot support the continued administration.   

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year's Eve Psuedomemes 2019

If ever there was a year for auld acquaintances—the personal and professional— to suddenly be relegated to their place in the past, it was 2018. I left the comforts of the home I made over a dozen years of living in central Vermont, and headed west, with a Subaru full of instruments, clothes, and frontier spirit. I asked for and was granted an unpaid year of leave from my institution, Vermont Technical College, and my position in the English, Humanities, and Social Sciences department. In my role as project manager for Urban Neighborhoods, Inc., I have taken on a number of tasks towards historic preservation and research related to buildings in Trinidad, Colorado, including the Fox (West) Theater on Main St. The change of scenery has been startling, but welcome.

Above and around us circles uncertainty—economic, social, political. The heroics of the past cannot dismiss the inarticulate and sloppy sins of the present. The future is ours with which to make something new, to refresh the best institutions in our society and to question every convention. In the spirit of a better future—one in which humankind treats each other with more fairness than ever before—the images below are presented. 

These are psuedomemes—memes built of advertisements printed long ago. I believe the meme continues to be a vehicle for important social, political, and economic statements of belief; regardless of the corporate channels through which they may be transmitted, (the best) memes are often homespun, grassroots, uncited, simple. These images are taken from Exhibitor magazines, circa 1967-68. Each—taken metaphorically—may be a New Year’s greeting to you, and may hold some prophecy for the next 12 months: what might be stopped forever? What big thrills will go over big, and what will actually play well in your house? What ballyhoo, and what classifications may come? What love in the afternoon? What profits, what promotions, and what new and high times?  

As for auld acquaintances-- let it be said-- these shall ne'er be forgot, but held dear, if only as memory. All the best in the 2019-- 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

On the 80th Anniversary of Fake News

As heard on November 5th, 2018 on The Audacity of Trivia, a weekly podcast featuring Chris Smith and Jon Ross. For more, visit

Eighty years ago last week Americans tuned in their radios to the Mercury Theatre on the Air and heard what we may call today fake news: bulletins about an alien invasion interrupt musical interludes, unknown objects crash through New Jersey farmstead rooftops, and a panic ensues, climaxing in a cloud of poisonous gas encircling NYC. The War Of the Worlds was foundational fictional fearmongering, a narrative inspired by the media and those who use it, to illicit response from an audience. 

Orson Welles probably knew what many modern critics like to point out today about War of the Worlds: that people believed what their radio told them, and the realism of the narrative was supported best by the lack of commercial interruptions, as if the situation had become dire enough that CBS was willing to forgo ad revenue. Secondarily, it was the minor details that convinced radio listeners aliens had indeed landed on our shores and were beginning an attack on our civilization.
People trusted the box that told them things in their home. People still trust the boxes that tell them things. 

Over this past week, as if in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’ groundbreaking broadcast, President Trump has made loose and allegedly false accusations about those traveling in a caravan through Mexico, seeking to reach and cross the US border. The intention of purporting this narrative can’t be far from what Welles had in mind: to see to what extent the American people may not only assimilate and live out a belief, but to do so with a voice that assumes and garners respect from its audience, simply by its pretending to be alive. The card of no-commercial-interruptions, as if a situation of national panic were taking place, has long been played by some major media networks, and will surely be played tonight during the President’s rally in Florida.

But the locus of control is changing, Rosebud. I can as easily launch a fake alien invasion from my desktop as Welles could from behind a microphone in 1938. The War of the Worlds President Trump waged last week was a shameless attempt at rallying what is left of the Republican base prior to the midterm elections. Unlike Orson Welles, who used fake aliens, Trump used real people with real problems. Today, in this midterm election which has become no less than a war of worlds, human dignity appears to be the loser.  

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Dankest We've Seen, in Terms of Memes

Over the weekend I received an email with the subject line: "Do you know who owns this image?" The inquiry came from a different corner of Colorado; the person found the meme below on my blog, and was asking if I knew its origin, as they said they were interested in putting the image on a billboard. 

I had no information to share: memes are generally uncited and shared freely, and this one-- like the hundreds of others I have posted to this blog-- came without attribution. Whether this image, or any meme I've copied and provided, has or will appear on a billboard I cannot determine. I do know that the meme remains an important component of the United States' rhetorical conversations, despite being ignored by mainstream media. Memes are not usually born of corporations, but rather represent the crude image-editing endeavors of real people (or foreign governments' propaganda machines), for casual consumption and sharing via social media. 

I began collecting memes prior to the Presidential election of 2016, and wondered then what the future of the meme would be. Interestingly, the form has not fallen into disuse, but rather continues to serve as a viable and immediate means of response to political, social, racial, and economic issues. Nike's advertising campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick inspired hundreds of iterations; Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court and accusations of his sexual assault in college similarly inspired a wave of memes. 

What is a meme? My definition includes not only clever Photoshop distortions and infographics, but political cartoons, tweets and responses, and screenshots: images commonly distributed within the same channels as memes. One form of meme that has become interestingly popular involves the captioning of individuals, to represent a rhetorical situation (one that is repeated in this collection involves a man looks adoringly at another woman while his female partner looks at him with scorn). Other memes continue to draw from popular culture: one interesting meme in this collection includes Will Ferrell and the Photoshopped head of Donald Trump, in a scene from a Saturday Night Live sketch. As Hurricane Florence approached the east coast earlier this month, one Facebook group devoted to memes challenged its participants to a contest involving the image of Trump tossing paper towels in Puerto Rico. Efforts such as these reinforce the importance of the form, and make certain its the continued evolution. The email inquiry I received raises questions about the timeliness of memes-- and their potential to serve rhetorical purpose more than once.  

As with other posts that collect memes, I provide this disclaimer: these images are provided here without attribution (except where images include a stamp alleging citation), and my reposting does not indicate my support of any given political stance or position. These memes were collected from various Facebook groups, including "Bernie Sanders' Dank Meme Stash." I do not agree with all the memes presented here; rather, they are provided for historical value and posterity.