[00:00:03] Good afternoon. Welcome to. Center for Research on Vermont Research. Live Wednesdays. I'm Richard Watts, the director of the center.
[00:00:16] And today we're going to have a really terrific talk.
[00:00:19] A little pause from the Daily News and focus in on Vermont humor. And we're going to talk with Don Humor. We're going to talk with Dan Hooper, who is a cartoonist. Among many other things. And I'll introduce him in a minute. But he's working on a book with Bill Mares titled I Could Hardly Keep from Laughing, which is a history of RMI humor. Bill couldn't be here today because of how we're managing these technology wise, but he is the author of something like 17 books, including, most recently A History of Beekeeping in Vermont and a number of humor books that he did with Frank Brian. Don actually illustrated one of those, I believe. Brianna, bring up the next slide, if you would. One of those books, maybe one of their most popular is called Real Vermonter's Don't Milk Goats.
[00:01:19] So today, we're going to hear from Don Hooper, who has had a distinguished and varied career.
[00:01:26] I first knew Don back when he was a legislator. And he was secretary of state. Many years to us, the environmental advocate working for the N.W. F, then with his wife, I think he's an entrepreneur and they started a company called Vermont Butter and Cheese. And I think it's particularly ironic that Don is gonna be here talking about cartoons when he is a milk farmer.
[00:01:59] And Bill Mair's, as I remember, wrote a book called Real Vermonter's Gulp Milk Goats.
[00:02:06] So welcome, Mr. Hooper, to the Center for Research and Vermont Research Wednesday lives. So nice to see you.
[00:02:13] Hey, Richard. Thanks. Nice, nice intro. In fact, Mares and I met over that first book, Real Vermonters, Goat Milk Goats. I had been in the Peace Corps in Botswana, Africa.
[00:02:26] And when I came back, I got a graduate degree in education. And I really wanted to find a place that had the same sense of community that we had in Botswana. So I migrated to Vermont is lots of other sort of back to the land hippie types did in the early 70s. And of course, because goat was the main meal that we really look forward to. Yet in Botswana, we had one little Cuban goat meat three times a week that we cooked in a huge cauldron at the school where I taught and really became kind of attracted to me. And when I came to the came to Vermont, discovered that people discarded their male goats, their Bucklings. I said, well, why don't I teather one out behind the house on a tire and ever mow the lawn and we'll eat them in the fall.
[00:03:24] And we did that for a couple years. Eight one four. We Brive sliced him in a bathtub on the lawn, hippie style. And anyway, we did that a couple of years, one for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas.
[00:03:38] And then we started to milk goats and we milked by hand until we had about 30, 30 milkers. By then, your hands were pretty damn cold, tired. We got machines and I had a fresh milk business. I sold to the Hanover Co-op and Bread and Circus, which was the predecessor of Whole Foods down in Boston. And then Allanson came along as an intern on the farm and she turned that business from goat meat and milk into a very successful cheese business. And when we sold it to land and sputter a couple of years ago, Alison had one hundred and ten employees, didn't include the number of farmers we picked up from maybe twenty five. And it turned out to be a very if and it remains a very good Vermont business. Like is actually even been expanded and they're paying a little bit more than we were able to.
[00:04:37] And it's it's a great way. So that a lot of Maine. Yeah. Go ahead.
[00:04:45] I was going to say that I grew up in Vermont and I remember that thought. Well, Vermont Vermonters still milk cows kind of hitting a niche. Mm hmm.
[00:04:52] But but as a neighbor of mine, David Major went on to be also very successful.
[00:05:00] Cows and sheep farmer saw all kinds of new agricultural businesses were kind of happening almost around when that book was coming out.
[00:05:07] Indeed. So it gave mayors and I an immediate sort of bond and a rivalry.
[00:05:13] And so while we were in the legislature together in the early 80s or the late 80s, we used to compare notes about who would amount to something and so on. Anyway, it was fun. And after a while he collected a bunch of stories, you know, old Vermont legislative stories, and he put them in a book that's called Out of Order.
[00:05:41] In fact, if you ever get a chance to stay at the Vermont hotel in Burlington, this book you see in every room here you go on the top of your house there. Who's that, Richard?
[00:05:57] Is that Lady Liberty? Not sure. Can't say a series. She's had a role in. She's the goddess of agriculture and she's knocking these ledges off of the off of the golden dome or these other two characters.
[00:06:14] A little lower hanging out. Right. Maybe Ralph.
[00:06:18] Right. Just guessing.
[00:06:19] Or this guy is Maiers. Other one is Frank. Where I am. Terrific. So anyway.
[00:06:31] So we are gone. Yes. Did you know of all the various ways I've known you? The cartoonist part is something I didn't really know about you. And of course, now I realize you illustrated that book you just showed us. Am I doing this for a long time?
[00:06:48] You know, it was a fun. I I learned almost immediately, legislature, that the people who got up the most frequently to speak were the ones who were least regarded. They weren't listened to. In fact, there was a guy from. And I'm not going to mention his name. He was a very nice guy, but he had to speak on every damn subject. And so when he got up, people just fled the chamber to go out for a cigaret.
[00:07:17] It was crazy. You know, I was there in the early eight. We still had spittoons in the chamber at that time. Right.
[00:07:27] So we we are going to let you have some of these cartoons that you've been working on for this book that you and Bill are going to come out with at some point. Also a little bit about the book, I think.
[00:07:39] But I also want to tell anybody who's listening or watching, please feel free to shoot us at Kofman at any time. Right on that Facebook page there. And after God talks for a little while and he's going to show you some of these fabulous cartoons he's been working on. We will be happy to open this up to anybody with anything on Vermont, humor or whatever.
[00:08:01] Richard, what time is our hard stop?
[00:08:03] Why did the clock as our heart stopped? But I think we'll go, you know, 40 minutes or so.
[00:08:09] OK, good. So the book that Bill had has, you know, writers I, I think have this urge.
[00:08:18] They just have to write. I don't have to cartoon. But what I was going to tell you about about the guy from Rutland. So people would go out and they'd take a cigaret break. And I discovered I had something that I was thinking about, most of these cool issues, interesting issues. And I started to illustrate them. So if we were talking about lobbyist disclosure, I would draw a guy in a trench coat and we would go and I'd have him open his trench coat and it would be lobbyist exposure. And then I'd send it over to Representative Seabird who would share with Representative Christiansen. And I'd watch that. Chuckles Go right around the General Assembly. So it was a device. It was a very practical device to keep me from getting up and having a stupid opinion on every you came down the pike.
[00:09:11] So I thought I'd be able to turn it over to you now to expound a bit on your Takins and shove it.
[00:09:17] So let me let me tell you what Bill had in mind. He said he was recalling this wonderful story of Mark Twain giving a performance in in Brattleboro, Vermont. And the Vermont audience was so deadpan, was so on reactive, that Twain was fearful that he'd bombed, that he'd done terribly. So he changed his costume and he went around to the front. He went out the stage door and around to the front steps. And he greeted a couple people as he as they were coming down the steps.
[00:09:58] And he said, now, hey, what what what was going on in there? And they said, oh, my God. It was like there was Mark Twain. And it was so funny. I could hardly keep from laughing, you know, dead plant a pan that was so 20 new that he hadn't bombed. And that's where the title for this book came from. And Bill thought in a kind of grandiose way that maybe we could cover the cover of Vermont humor history a bit. And so his the titles that we've outlined are born here.
[00:10:38] Came to play. Came to stay.
[00:10:43] Politics. Oh, boy. Six comics in search of a chapter and there are a lot of good comics around Vermont, alternative universes, Vermont versus New Hampshire.
[00:10:56] So if we if I had a a cartoon that exemplified Vermont, it might be a kid wearing the t shirt that says eat more kale. But if we want to really tease New Hampshire a little bit, we might have another kid about the same size and stature with a t shirt that says eat more donuts. And so that's that's the substance of that chapter is kind of rivalry then Proverbs and Swifties. And they would be things things as silly as you don't need a parachute to skydive.
[00:11:37] You only need a parachute to skydive twice. So then the Chapter nine is performance comedy and then a final all the all in free, a kind of free form one.
[00:11:54] The other day, I went to a conference on climate change and this one of the presenters had a fabulous comment that she made about why we should be going to electric vehicles.
[00:12:05] And she said, you know, driving a Tesla is like it is like driving a really big smartphone. So I illustrated that and it was pretty cool. And then and so that would be in that final chapter.
[00:12:22] And then as a contrast, I, I had an old farmer sitting high on high on the rig. It would be and it was a bit of an old fax machine going down the road trundling. So anyway, that would be that last chapter. Let's go to. Let me just say a couple of other things about Vermont humor.
[00:12:52] Joke books are a lot like cookbooks. That's what Mayer says. There's a million ways to make an apple pie, a chicken dumpling, a baked Alaska.
[00:13:00] And so we borrowed an awful lot from old people like Alan Foley and Coburn and Frank Brian and and so on. And we've mixed them in here with Robert Davis. And he talked about Vermont. Humor is a presentation of two incompatible ideas, a sort of mental shock to the brain, the unexpectedness that he creates, a bounce to the brain that is pleasurable in differing measure. The jokes relied on SABERA, surprise, incongruity and a lightning speed. The climax had to be widdled sharp. If you were on the receiving end, it was the humor of ice picks, not meat cleavers.
[00:13:48] Or in the Mercado line.
[00:13:51] Short, sharp shock, romantic humor began in hardscrabble times as farmers made light of heavy and tedious work work. Farmers refined it through countless hours of plowing rock strewn fields, shaving and sharpening stories to find points. The humor was rarely black but brown or gray. But its real subjects included farm stores, transport animals, domestic relations, parsimony, tools, rocks, life and death.
[00:14:28] There was the quick breaker that broke like a thunderclap or a rifle shot out of deer season. There was the slow breaker, like the delayed Fuze that lulled you into Slok. And then finally dawned on you. The main elements were excellent timing and subject matter. Usually rural, the teller didn't sit around for applause, deadpanned was an art form. And here are three examples of that deadpan. Such a busy body. She would want to teach a dog to scratch. Slows so slow he'd rot in his tracks, so dumb. He still spells Jesus with a small G. There is even gallows humor in Vermont is rehung himself. And what's more, he did it before morning milk.
[00:15:28] Here's Keith Jennison, one that mayors particularly likes. Where did you find the horse? Everyone was looking for asking a boy live boy. I thought if I were a horse where I'd go. And I did. And he had. So you have to contemplate that for a moment to get it, but it's a beauty. I mean, it really is so efficient and gorgeous. Let's go to the first slide.
[00:15:58] Brianna. Good.
[00:16:02] So one of the rites of passage is, of course, there's a there's a sort of two class society in Vermont. You know who that old that aphorism.
[00:16:15] Well, we'll get to that in a second.
[00:16:19] Were you born in Vermont? No, I'm not from Vermont. But I got here quick as I could. Yes. What's the next family that lived in Vermont all your life, Cyrus? Not yet. No. Those are two classics that, you know, kind of exemplify my kids like the metaphore. They say if a cat has kittens in the oven.
[00:16:52] A Vermonter would say, we don't call a muffin's.
[00:16:57] In other words, if a flatlander has a child born in Vermont, they don't necessarily qualify for Vermont or them. There's a there's a sort of a socioeconomic of a whole like kind of I don't know. More than just where you were born, but certainly being born in Vermont is a big deal in terms of credibility with your neighbors. Certainly not so much in Chittenden County. But if you're running for the legislature elsewhere, it's a big factor. People ask. Next slide, Brianna, please. So in the AG chapter, we've got a bunch of. Bunch of sort of fami themes. Here's a typical one. I think it's a four week story maybe. Hey, Mr. Farmer, don't you think it would save time if you just shook the tree and let the pigs eat the apples off the ground? There's quite a long windup to this story, but this is the essence of it. So the farmer, of course, being a Vermonter says, wow.
[00:18:17] Next slide. Perhaps, but really, what's time to a pig?
[00:18:26] So that's, I think, a pretty good example of the deadpans. What we're trying to at least a third of the of the stories in the cartoons in the book try to capture something like that. Let's go to the next one.
[00:18:49] So George Woodard, who is this sort of vaudeville entertainer, is a great guitarist and storyteller songwriter, and he's also a cow dairy farmer in Waterbury Center. And so he he tells a story about.
[00:19:08] A father and his 10 year old daughter doing morning milking in January, it's cold as all get out. And then you ever been in a barn at five or six in the morning? In January, it's dark and the light bulbs aren't. The Vermonters are parsimonious. And you don't need a heck of a lot of light to to get the milk to come out of the teats. So anyway, she's doing the chores and he's doing the milking and she calls out from over the other side where they've got Bessey in an infirmary and a large larger than usual.
[00:19:50] Cage, not a cage. One of my thinking of stall and.
[00:19:56] She calls out bad and poor. That Bessie's died.
[00:20:01] What? What should we do? Of course she's thinking, let's bury the cow. But it's winter and so on. And he's thinking the same thing. Best he's been with him for nine lactation. So she's beloved and a very good producer.
[00:20:18] Anyway, he calls back, get the Bassi, drag her out by the mailbox, put a free sign on her.
[00:20:29] That's where my. Next one. Oh, here's my wife's favorite expression. You plant corn, you get corn.
[00:20:44] What do you think that means?
[00:20:47] Apple doesn't fall far from the tree. If you're a good parent, maybe your kids will come out OK? I don't know. Here's one I didn't include called Give Peace a chance. That was a good old peace thing.
[00:21:04] I'm gonna hippie farmer Holden in in an enormous peapod. Here's one.
[00:21:16] I didn't include Burma and I reported from Holland and Hand to consider whether it really is.
[00:21:25] Great Vermont expression hard.
[00:21:28] Talon, not No one. So there's an awful lot of Vermont expression's out there that if you ask a difficult question, you might get an ambiguous answer like that, which really is pretty darn smart.
[00:21:48] So relationships matter in Vermont. Some are complicated. I did this one originally. That's a thank you card to somebody. We had Alison and I had been to their camp over in the Adirondacks. I didn't want to go initially, but it turned out to be a fabulous trip anyway. Next one.
[00:22:19] Family Ties. When we get one chance, make a good first impression.
[00:22:26] I had a sequence I made into a card that has to do with family. When Mom are not happy. What, are you happy? Don't go done out there holding in the garden.
[00:22:41] Let's see what's next. Here's a course we're lucky enough to have five seasons.
[00:22:50] So we got summer in Vermont, a as a tourist attraction. That guy there posing by the hay. The was the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee named Arrest de Bellson, Jack and Bo. I don't know whether he ever sold the cart. Richards. You've got something to say.
[00:23:10] Yeah, I love these, Don. I just love these. I love the way you're you know, they represent Vermont. Reminds me, there was it was a joke about the Texan and the Vermont farmer and.
[00:23:24] And the Texans like boasting about his ranch. And he's like ranches so big, it takes me three days to drive a tractor across.
[00:23:34] The farmers like, yep, I had a tractor like that once.
[00:23:43] You took that. Well, that's a classic.
[00:23:47] Anyway, remind our viewers that feel free. Don's got a few more of these. And then do, you know, chime in in any way you would like questions, comments, discussion, lots.
[00:24:02] And I appreciate the way you're kind of taking walking us through this.
[00:24:06] Here's one that that magazine wrote up. Texan visited Rutland and asked about a large building down. That's our city hall, ain't it?
[00:24:16] Magnificent, said the Vermonter. And the Texan says. In Texas, we have outhouses that big. Why don't doubt that a bit. Let's go on to nature. Abhors a vacuum. Next slide. So we did summer with the hay and now we've got. Nature abhors a vacuum. There's a great Danziger's sequence. Goats. He shows up at Floyd's store in Randolph Center and he says. Do you have tofu?
[00:25:02] The storekeeper says no.
[00:25:04] But we got Dr. Sholes tooth powder to be their next one. Snow snow is a tourist attraction. You betcha. How about the next one?
[00:25:21] And another thing they tried to tell you, the days are getting longer in January. That's a total crock.
[00:25:36] So then eventually we get to mud as a tourist attraction, push you Ove. Buckets hanging on the tree.
[00:25:49] So the main theme of the out of Order book was, hey, let's jump start. Democracy was one of the.
[00:26:03] I don't remember when that book came out. Let's say it was nineteen eighty nine or ninety, but I got intrigued. I worked for the Vermont Natural Resources Council in the in nineteen eighty four, and my boss came back from getting his master's degree at Yale and I didn't think it was fair to fight him for his job. So I decided to run for the legislature. And of course, you have to try to think of clever gimmicks that you think will catch on. And I was gonna be, if I got elected, the first Democrat in Randolph Brookfield in Braintree.
[00:26:39] So it was a bit of a leap. And I had I actually only lived here milking goats for 11 years. I think so. Jumper cables became my theme and I cartoon myself with a jumper, one jumper on this ear and one on my took up at the top. Let's jump start to Boxey.
[00:27:03] Next slide.
[00:27:06] So and this was genuinely a self-portrait. Occasionally, my friends flatter me, they say I'm really open minded. So that was my sort of calling card. I was going to run as somebody who listened very well.
[00:27:22] What's the next one? Regrettably, that may be all too true. Next.
[00:27:33] Oh, the Lugnut. So. Well, the Lugnut reckons he'll not abide the perfect becoming the enemy of the good. We've had I've had many different captions for him first. The original one was Webb. A lugnut couldn't wait to tell Vilma he'd actually seen Elvis. But I think the point of that cartoon was. That you run into all types and they're really earnest, decent people who come from wherever they come from. And in fact, after I drew him the first time, I decided make a Christmas card of him. And I had Santa coming to his workshop, to his garage. And the sleigh was up on the on the pedestal there.
[00:28:28] And while Bill looked at the Santa and he said, you you want to win this?
[00:28:39] Oh, I did one of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of. The Northeast kingdom. So with the political section, it's tricky because, Richard, you know this better than anyone to do. Your listeners know that you ran Howard Dean's campaign in 1992.
[00:28:58] Are they aware that. Richard.
[00:29:07] Well, Don, as you remember, in 1990, I actually ran a card guys campaign who did not win, and that was my. Fifth straight losing campaign.
[00:29:29] Ouch. Woo!
[00:29:31] All four great people who did not win in 90 went on to a very successful career without me. He is now our congressman from Vermont.
[00:29:45] And you will recall this, you replaced Lola as his campaign manager in 92, Howard hired me to run his campaign for governor, which was kind of like the first one I've been involved when they actually won.
[00:30:05] And so I felt like it was time to get off again. And Carousel is exciting.
[00:30:11] That was kind of cool, because when Richard Stelling came back after Madeleine Kunin had been governor for three terms, he was only in office eight months and then he died of a heart attack by the pool.
[00:30:25] And Howard Dean, the lieutenant governor, took over. And so he had a year and four year and a half almost to show that he could govern. And so you ran his first reelection campaign. And do you remember what the slogan was?
[00:30:42] How can you forget?
[00:30:44] Can you forget what it was like, a sign of how the kind of position he was in? Because Vermont does have a tradition of allowing people to get a few terms in office. So.
[00:30:58] Remember the slogan, yes, we just like Howard Dean. It wasn't that. It was in a we we passed in Vermont politicians. I'm not a great caricaturist, but I can do it. Trump, for example, is really easy. And I've done such a surfeit of those. And I was pumping them out at one a week about a year ago until a friend of mine on the street said, you know, Trump is not funny.
[00:31:30] And I stopped doing them recently. I did have quite a big one where I have him firing slouchy and for all the reasons, because she makes him install a sink at his podium and he makes him keep his six feet and he makes him wear duct tape mask over his mouth. This is Trump. We call it the the Lobito or bloviate or blab of. But anyway, we've had George Aiken and then Howard Dean was quite clear, very nearly became president. And now Bernie Sanders. It's quite an illustrious group of people, not to mention, you know, Chester Arthur and Calvin Coolidge. So I did Leahy driving the snakes out of Iowa, out of Northeast Kingdom. Now, you've got to hear some of the people you run into. Is you campaigning Trump rally your brownshirt in a Betsy Ross. I don't know whether that's politically correct or not. I don't I don't think so. It's too Hitler esque.
[00:32:39] But certainly there are a lot of different constituencies out there. I did one Wolfgang Meter. He's a Vermont folklorist and collects proverbs and stuff. And one of his proverbs is an empty wagon rumbles loud. Well, of course, I decided to put hapless looking Trump on the back of that wagon.
[00:33:11] So next organizer to get all your ducks in a row.
[00:33:17] Well, if you're going to run for the legislature or any office in Vermont, you really do have to you have to be the you have to or you you've got to be working on all this all from the same place. Right. Thank you. Notes Howard Dean used to talk famously about. There really are two elections. There's the money election and then there's the votes election. And if you can win the second one, generally speaking, unless you're unless you're a Hollywood celebrity or Donald Trump, you can't win the second one votes election without them winning the money election.
[00:33:59] So next one. Next slide. These.
[00:34:09] The parties are so divided right now, it's really a shame. I have a son in the legislature now, he's 26 and so he sort of a key member of the Youth Caucus. His name is Jay Hooper. Philip J.
[00:34:23] Hooper named after Phil off the Democratic Steering Committee. And the Republicans have the same. They, of course, want to have a hand in what your program looks like, and they don't want you to be too, too independent minded that thinks.
[00:34:41] And there is something to be said for sticking together. OK. Let's go to elected. So let's imagine that you get all your ducks in a row and you win the money and so on. You get. I'll tell you, there's nothing that beats that feeling of, oh, my God, I finally I did this.
[00:34:58] It's it's it's elating.
[00:35:06] Next one. There's Bill mayors in the General Assembly for the first cartoon and the first caption I used for this. This picture was I used to be indecisive. Now, I'm not so sure.
[00:35:27] So legislators have earned themselves a bad name for being too prone to checking the wind. I think Bill was not one of those, actually. He didn't have to put his finger in the air to determine which way the wind was blowing before he determined how he felt about an issue. He was one of those good guys that came from a base of principle. And I think maybe that's why he didn't stay more than, I think three terms anymore.
[00:35:57] And that is a little bit much anyway. What's the next one?
[00:36:05] What would be the title of this one, do you think? This is what goes on in the statehouse? Smoke and mirrors.
[00:36:19] So then I got a few more. I put them in a chapter called Wildlife because I worked for the National Wildlife Federation. When I went and got interviewed after I was secretary of state by the National Wildlife Federation down in Washington, this big bear of a guy interviewed, I came away from it a little bit intimidated, but that was my briefcase right there on the floor.
[00:36:43] And he says, actually, Mr. Hofer, we think you'll fit right in. My name is Hooper, but he said Hoefer so worked out. And I worked there for almost 20 years as an advocate. Loved it. Conference call of the Wild that a third regularly in our offices in Montpelier.
[00:37:03] We had a nice little 10 person office and we worked on issues like climate change, clean water, anti tar sands and so on. And we have affiliates in all the other states in the country and our affiliate in Vermont is the Vermont Natural Resources Council. In Maine, it's a Natural Resources Council of Maine, New Hampshire, its New Hampshire Audubon.
[00:37:30] And so those are wolves, obviously. Next.
[00:37:38] I went to a conference on mercury poisoning in what? Why we needed to get lead out of our lakes and ponds. And I drew them and we carpooled down and I drew it in the car.
[00:37:53] Coming back from the conference after lead sinkers were banned, loons took up smoking. Last week, I saw a couple of bluebirds out on our fence. And so next slide. So I went down the basement and I made myself a Bluebird box and I couldn't resist. I had only a piece of white roofing to put it. I couldn't resist putting a slogan on it. So I said, here, kitty, kitty, kitty. And the blue bird that comes to rest says, just so you know, cats, cats can't read my bird watching Pelz don't think too much of this, but I put it up and it's right outside the the kitchen now. And it has two bluebirds living in it. And it does say here, kitty, kitty, kitty on the roof. And that was such a success. I got the tenants so quickly within a day that I built another one the next day. And I have two tenants that I can see right out my office window.
[00:39:07] So life is good and I put a little gallows. Hey, Mr. Smarty Pants, why is it. Why is a.. Jokester. Your twisted attempt at gallows humor is gonna earn you a nasty class action lawsuit for entrapment. This is a blueberry writing.
[00:39:29] The legal eagles at the Audubon Society are sharpening their talons and just chomping to prey on your frivolous, mindless meanness.
[00:39:39] Disrespectful yours, Bernard B. Bluebird's. Chet's job was to bring the state seal to opening day of the legislatures. So this is my wildlife chapter. Next one where a cluster flies, for Pete's sake. We cluster, we huddle, we hug. No, we're not going to do the mask and six foot thing.
[00:40:10] There's a really pathetic piece of doggerel that goes with that.
[00:40:14] You know, Buster, when cluster flies mester sluggish spring can't be far away. They hug as they shrug off Winter's bluster, basking your way, a sun raid, a pool day.
[00:40:31] Hunting in Vermont, Norbert was dismayed when he realized that never once, never once had he had a dog that would hunt. And then we get to my favorite Vermont poet. David Ludwig could. So he writes a poem called Bugs in a Bowl.
[00:40:56] Hon Shaan that great and crazy, wonderful Chinese wonderful old Chinese poet. Of a thousand years ago said we're just like bugs in a bowl all day going around leaving their bowl, I say. That's right. Every day, climbing up the steep sides, sliding back over and over again. Round and round. Up and back down. Sit in the bottom of the bowl, head in your hands. Cry, moan.
[00:41:29] Feel sorry for yourself or look around. See, your fellow bugs walk around, say, hey, how are you doing?
[00:41:42] Say nice ball.
[00:41:45] David, but Bill was the people's poet of Vermont. He died a year ago. Sadly, he really is a. If you're not familiar with his work, please take a look. OK, next slide. So this is my guy saying, hey, how are you doing?
[00:42:07] And then because we're getting close to time.
[00:42:12] This is a hard core and a wonderful Vermont poet.
[00:42:18] As a favorite, Ian McEwan saying your stash of days at a certain point in your life begins to look finite. It leads to a renewed effort to make the most of it. So there's Hooper got his foot jammed in the hourglass trying to keep.
[00:42:40] You know, I was thinking of one the other day when McBeath makes that speech tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time. I'm thinking, holy smokes, after sixty five days, kind of canter by and then after 70, they start to gallop. And then after seventy five, they go lickety split. And then by 80, I betcha they're going to just be smoking by fast. So this so creeps in this petty pace from day to day. I don't believe it at all.
[00:43:17] And then finally one of my favorites. What's the name.
[00:43:25] Can you come to a fork in the road, you really ought to take it. And I did something stupid with this. I made a card out of it with a Robert Frost poem was an excuse to expose people to the road not taken to road. Roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry that I could not travel both and be one traveler long. I stood and looked down one as far as I could to see where it bent in the undergrowth. And then he continues and says, and that made all the difference. And he took the one less traveled. Thank you.
[00:44:06] Good afternoon.
[00:44:08] I really, really love us.
[00:44:11] Oh, good. I'm so glad. Well, I've got a good good zillion more. I was surprised how hard it was to figure out which ones to put in. Finally, Expedients just took over and said, well, the thing is, tomorrow I wanted to just slap them together and and the leftovers will do for the next time, you know?
[00:44:32] Well, it's clearly you yourself, you know, find me funny. And I think that's part of what makes them funny.
[00:44:38] Right? That's true.
[00:44:42] Maybe. I don't know. I don't know whether they need interpretation.
[00:44:48] So some of the issues I I realized really late that I was doing hardly any people of color because I had the notion that Vermont is a white state. And it's really not. And so I've become better at that. And.
[00:45:10] Women were hard for me initially, and now I've got a few techniques that I'm getting better at.
[00:45:18] Did you always draw down? Was this something you've done all your life and.
[00:45:23] No, in fact, it's sort of self-taught and I'm a little bit nervous about learning how to draw too precisely. But when I hired teachers for the community college in Vermont, when I for seven years, when I came in the early 80s, when we were milking goats in the early 70s.
[00:45:42] I mean, one of the teachers at that time, we didn't pay our teachers anything. They taught as a community service and the students went to school for free. And I had a wonderful teacher named Billy Brower who taught life drawing.
[00:45:56] And finally, after I'd hired him five times, hired to be a volunteer to teach 15 weeks, fifteen classes it or every Wednesday night. Anyway, he said, Hooper, I'm not teaching for you again until you take my seven heads high or drawing class. And I did.
[00:46:17] And it actually did something really remarkable for me. He said, turn your pencil on its side. Don't use the point. You will get volume if you use the side of the pencil.
[00:46:28] And I didn't ever knew that. No, that.
[00:46:35] So I I kind of bumbled along and then I have a very good cartoonist friend out in Washington State and he calls my.
[00:46:43] He calls my style, my genre goofy. And it didn't I kind of like that. I don't consider it an insult.
[00:46:53] Do you think of Danziger's all at all as somebody that you're like your art, your art, your cartoons or have been to like, oh, my God.
[00:47:02] I go back to dance. As I said, I hired all these teachers for community college. Danziger happened to work upstairs in you 32 high school as an English teacher, and he was a wonderful one. And I hired him term in interm out to teach the literature of war. And at that time, he had this hobby and he'd go down to the Times Argus on Saturday and they would pay him five dollars. An illustration to illustrate The Sun, Rutland Herald Times surrogates. And he knew about a dozen cartoons. He is prolific and fabulous. He, in my estimation, is the best cartoonist in this country right now. And he's a good buddy of Mariss. He's a wonderful person. At one point when I was secretary of state, I did a pamphlet about how to revitalize democracy, the jumper cable guy and, you know, move town meeting to a Saturday or Monday night and all the different tricks that we were going to try. Now, absentee ballots without a note from your mother, same day, voter registration, all that stuff. And I it was really a pretty good document. It was forty four pages. And I called Danziger down New York and I said, Jeff, you've got some magnificent old Vermont characters you'd like. I could borrow those to illustrate. He said, take whatever you want. You don't even have to credit me. But they were so his in his.
[00:48:31] His style is so identifiable and it ain't I don't know how many I use, maybe a dozen or fifteen wonderful cartoons just gave.
[00:48:43] And you of course have another quite famous fact. Who is living in Brookfield, is that right?
[00:48:47] Yes. I mentioned Mr. Currin. Yeah. One of the biggest one of the most flattering things he did. Well, actually, Miles and Darrell are. Twenty eight year old son and his partner got married in our living room just after Christmas this year. And Ed's wife, Curtis, was the justice of the peace and had him.
[00:49:10] And as a gift to them, he drew a picture of Darryl and Miles in a canoe that head out into life's roud shoals, rapids, whatever. And he wanted me back. And when I was a rep in the legislature and the caption, it was actually in The New Yorker. It's calmed down.
[00:49:34] Sprague, my buddy, introducing me to Allen Wheatley, who was in its pickup truck. And Sprague is sort of running interference for me. And he says and Don, it's not only an intellectual, which I wasn't. And Dan's not only an intellectual but a but a good guy to exude on.
[00:49:55] And my briefcase, these group Farm Guts. So I was highly flattered by that.
[00:50:03] That's great. It really is great to have you talking about it and showing some of his work. And just give us when's the book coming out in? What's the thinking?
[00:50:13] Oh, yeah. Billy wrote me this morning and he said, I think we've got enough to really tee this thing up by September, so that feels good. It's a good motivator. We've got way more material than we. So now we really need to refine it.
[00:50:34] And some of these sketches are pretty crude, as you can see, the ones that have wrinkles in them.
[00:50:39] That means that I sent them to Bill in an envelope. I still find the original.
[00:50:48] Well, I think we're going to wrap up now. We. I'm gonna promote next week.
[00:50:55] But, Don, anything else you want to say? Thank you so much for talking about this and showing. Some of your work?
[00:51:03] Well, it was it was fun. I must say, I'm trying to think of something really uplifting, erudite. Oh, I know. I have a wonderful now.
[00:51:17] It's too on a Robert Frost poem. If you ever come across a book called Vermont Afternoons, it's conversations between Robert Frost and Breast Worton, and he's got a one and a half pager. That's a conversation about a guy about a farm auction. And and breast is kind of teasing him saying you're not going back into farming, are you, Robert Gates? And now I'm too smart for that.
[00:51:49] And but the place, the old barn, the old farm that I bought here comes with a story and the story is really worth looking at.
[00:51:59] So I've already come a big round.
[00:52:05] Thank you to our esteemed guest who never book to come with Bill and read it, Richard.
[00:52:14] Thank thank you for inviting us here.
[00:52:16] We'll say goodbye now. And then I will introduce our next week's topic, which is going to be somebody talking about what's happening with Vermont's budget totally switching years.
[00:52:31] It was really nice to have.
[00:52:33] Oh, just a pause for a minute and get out of the news cycle that we're all in and, you know, reflect a minute on Vermont and Vermont humor in what makes some of the characteristics of romantic or show showcased in the humor that Don was showing us. But next week, we're going to talk with Paul Seelow, who was also a legislator at one time, but he is the second director of Public Assets, which is the state's leading think tank. And they spent a lot of time diving into issues related to social justice and budgets and education and health care.
[00:53:16] And we'll talk with Paul about some of their latest research. So that would be a week from today at noon.
[00:53:23] And then a special shout out to Brianna. Who's behind the scenes making all this happen? And thank you all to talk to you again. Please be in touch with the center. We can help you in any way with your research or getting the stories of your research out there.
[00:53:41] Tell them I'm Richard Watts. Goodbye for now.