Editorial: Where High Culture Meets White River Junction

Valley News
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
(Published in print: Wednesday, November 12, 2014)

We wonder what the French culture minister, Fleur Pellerin, would make of White River Junction. Bear with us here. In obvious ways, the Vermont village is the antithesis of Paris, where Pellerin spends most of her time. Still, there are some unlikely commonalities, including the fact that the historic railroad center aspires to become an artistic and cultural center par excellence. Pellerin might want to visit and take a look around. What better place to escape the mob of French intellectuals eager to banish her from the epicenter of haute culture.

To read the entire Valley News editorial, click here.

“A Few Minutes of My Time,” by local author Joni B. Cole mentions Hotel Coolidge

Bad Dog Book CoverJoni B. Cole is a local author and the person who runs The Writer’s Center here in White River Junction. Another Bad-Dog Book is a critically acclaimed collection of Joni’s funny, witty and insightful essays, one of which mentions Hotel Coolidge. She has agreed to let us share that essay, “A Few Minutes of My Time.” Visit her website, jonibcole.com, for more information about her and her books.


A Few Minutes of My Time
by Joni B. Cole
from Another Bad-Dog Book

I am not the self-service type, having spent years perfecting the art of learned helplessness. At the airport, for example, I shun the self check-in option and prefer to wait in line for a human baggage checker, keeping company with all the other technosaurs and curmudgeons muttering things like, “Walter, go see what the hold up is, we’ve only got four hours until our flight.”

Given that I can’t or won’t handle even the most basic technical tasks, the first thing I did when my laptop died was to phone my computer guy.

“It turns on, but nothing shows up on the screen,” I tell him.

“What kind of computer is it?” my computer guy asks.

“A laptop,” I reply impatiently. Even I know that much.

My computer guy is really nice, but sometimes I get the feeling he’s trying to avoid me. After walking me through the steps to determine the brand (something called a “Hewlett-Packard”), he insists I’d be better of calling the company’s technical support center. Then he hangs up.

He has got to be kidding! I’d rather phone my mother-in-law and listen to her retell the story of how she saved $1.25 on a box of fire logs by going to four different malls.

With no alternative, I dial Hewlett-Packard’s 1-800 number. “Due to heavy call volume, all of our lines are busy,” a recording tells me. Now what does that say about the company’s quality control? I fume. My laptop shouldn’t even be on the fritz, given that it’s only three years old, and my mother paid good money to buy it for me.

Finally, someone takes my call. “I apologize for the delay,” says an accented voice. “My name is Prakash. How may I help?”

Oh good lord. I have enough trouble understanding foreigners face to face, let alone across phone lines. I tell him about my blank screen.

Prakash requests that I unplug my computer’s power cord and remove the battery.

“Battery? What battery?” If I had wanted to know about the inner workings of my laptop, I would have looked at the manual. Then I would have killed myself.

Prakash informs me that he will need to run a remote diagnostic test. “This will require a few more minutes of your time,” he apologizes. While he runs the test we wait in silence, until it feels too weird, like two heavy breathers on the same line.

“Where exactly are you located?” I ask, having read that most American computer companies try to save big bucks by basing their call centers overseas.

“India,” he says.

Oh. I can’t help but think of the recent terrorist attacks there. “I’m sorry for your country’s tragedy.” I don’t refer to Mumbai specifically because I’m afraid I’ll mispronounce the word.

“You know of the attacks?” he sounds surprised. “Do you subscribe to the Indian news channels?”

At first I don’t understand his question. Then I catch on. “No, the attacks were all over the American news.” Could people in other countries really think that Americans are that self-absorbed as to ignore world events of this magnitude?

Prakash shares that he is from Mumbai.

“I hope you and your family were safe,” I say. Suddenly, what was just another horrendous headline has a real person attached to it, or at least a real voice at a technical support center.

“We were fortunate,” Prakash responds. Then he tells me that my computer has failed the diagnostic test. It will require a new hard drive.

“How much will that cost me?” I try to keep my irritation in check. What if my city had been attacked by terrorists? I think. What if gunmen had seized the White River train station or the Hotel Coolidge ten minutes from my house? The last thing I would need is some woman from thousands of miles away giving me grief about her laptop.

“I will be happy to find that information for you,” Prakash says. “May I have just a few more minutes of your time?”

It turns out that a replacement hard drive will cost about $300. When I ask Prakash for advice, he suggests I consider purchasing a new computer. Hewlett-Packard is having a sale, so I could get a better laptop with free upgrades at a very good price. “Shall I connect you to our Home Office Store?” he asks.

By now, the last thing I want to do is spend more time on the phone talking about stupid computers. I have things to do. Without a working laptop, I have an excuse to take the afternoon off, watch a movie, or maybe take a long nap. Still, I find myself saying yes. Before Prakash transfers me to a sales agent, I tell him to take care. I want to say more, do something to convince him that I really am sorry for his country’s tragedy, but what?

When I hang up the phone a few minutes later, I am owner of a brand new HP Pavilion dv5z Entertainment Notebook with a Windows 32-bit Vista© Home Premium operating system, 3GB DDR2 System Memory, and Wireless-G Card. I have no idea what any of this means. I also can’t really afford a new computer, and suspect that my regular computer guy could have fixed my old laptop for considerably less. Still, I feel better having spent the $649 plus tax, a small price to pay to offset my feelings of learned helplessness.

(Reproduced with permission from the author.)

News Story: Making White River Junction Into a Major Arts Community

Hotel Coolidge Innkeeper David Briggs is part of this Valley News story about the ongoing revitalization of White River Junction, the place we’re proud to call home.

By Rob Wolfe
Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, November 3, 2014

White River Junction — If the Upper Valley were New York City, then White River Junction would be Greenwich Village.

That’s Hanover developer Bill Bittinger’s take on the historic rail town, which has become — like the famous New York neighborhood — a local hub for the arts.

“This little village is so central to the experience of living in the Upper Valley,” said Bittinger, who spoke Sunday night at the Briggs Opera House with fellow developers Matt Bucy and Eric Bunge.

Near the end of the talk, David Briggs stood up to say that the Briggs Opera House, having worked for the past six months on its plans for after Northern Stage’s departure, would soon engage the public on the matter.

In an interview afterward, Briggs said that the owners were considering using the space for any sector — cultural, commercial or residential — but that he knew that residents would likely expect a replacement in line with its current use.

To read the complete Valley News story, click here.

WRJ VA Medical Center: Homeless Standdown, Food Drive, Volunteer Project, Oct. 21

WRJ VA Medical CenterFrom the White River Junction VA Medical Center website:

Oct. 21, 2014
On the Grounds of the White River Junction VA Medical Center
163 Veterans Drive
White River Junction, VT 05009

White River Junction VA Medical Center, along with the Vet’s Center, Friends of Veterans, and Red River Computer Company is excited to be hosting a number of events on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Vermont Homeless Veterans Stand-Down, 9am-3pm, “A day of recognition, fellowship and support of our Homeless Veterans”; Homeless Summit, 10am-1pm; Food Drive to support deserving Veterans.

More details here.

Gory Daze Parade and RecyclaBall, White River Junction, Nov. 1, 5pm

1658663_10154956986580131_3489395800707997369_oFrom the event Facebook page:

Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014

All over downtown White River Junction!

Bring your friends, your kids, your friendly pets and your grand-parents!

4-8 p.m. Pre-parade madness at the Main Street Museum. Live music by Tucks Rock Dojo, Monster Petting Zoo of Ria Blaas a la Center for Cartoon Studies! And, of course “Doughnuts on Striiiings”!

6-8 p.m. Pariah Beat and more on the riverbank!

8 p.m. Parade departs from the back side of the Main Street Museum with butterflies, drumming, hand-powered floats, and sensations, parading through the streets, the Famous Fire Organ, the Buzzards Brass Band, trick or treating at local businesses and supporters, and more! (Revolution will be tossing Lindt truffles! The Filling Station will host their annual Halloween Party that night!)

9 p.m.-12 a.m. Where the Gory Daze Parade ends, The RecylcaBall Dance Party begins with potholder-hot DJs at The Freight House at 188 South Main Street. They will move bodies (it’s in the contract).

Parade is FREE!
Q Ball: $10 adults, $5 for 18 & under.
All ages are welcome. ID required for the bar.

For more info please email us info@mainstreetmuseum.org
Contact the Main Street Museum 802.356.2776 or Revolution at 802.295.6487

“One year, someone reported a riot – and we’re very proud of that!”

Fun video from the 2008 event from Seven Days.

Zollikofer Gallery Presents: “Old Friends, New Work” with Deborah Frankel Reese & Judith Pettingell

“Old Friends, New Work”

Since 1998, the Hotel Coolidge lobby has also been the home of the August L. Zollikofer Gallery, showcasing local artists. The Zollikofer Gallery is currently exhibiting “Old Friends, New Work,” more than two dozen selected paintings from life-long friends Deborah Frankel Reese and Judith Pettingell. Their work will be available to view at anytime in our lobby September 26th through November 19th. There is also an artists’ reception that will be taking place on Friday, Oct. 3 from 5-7 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to attend and meet the artists at the reception!

Linked artist statements: Judith Pettingell, Deborah Frankel Reese.

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Gallery 3

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Gallery 4
Gallery 6

Zollikofer Gallery Presents: “Old Friends, New Work” with Deborah Frankel Reese & Judith Pettingell, Reception Fri. Oct. 3, 5-7 pm

Zollikofer Gallery

Gallery 3Gallery 4Since 1998, the Hotel Coolidge lobby has also been the home of the August L. Zollikofer Gallery, showcasing local artists. The Zollikofer Gallery is currently exhibiting “Old Friends, New Work,” more than two dozen selected paintings from life-long friends Deborah Frankel Reese and Judith Pettingell. An artists’ reception will take place on Friday, Oct. 3 from 5-7 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend and meet the artists!

Gallery 1