Return to the Road: Keeping Vermont Weird

Yesterday’s post detailed my thirst-quenching visit to the Burlington, Vermont headquarters of Citizen Cider. That was just one element of a whirlwind weekend in and around Vermont’s most populous city,  a weekend which also included a Vermont Lake Monsters game.

I spent said weekend with my cousin, Ali, and her family, who live in nearby Hinesburg. I arrived on the evening of Friday, July 10, after a downright idyllic ride on Amtrak’s “Vermonter” line. The next morning I participated in my first-ever 5K race, and it was a 5K with a distinctly Vermont flair: The Brain Freezer.

brainfreezer

At the halfway point of the Brain Freezer, participants had to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. (Hence, the “Run, Pint, Run” tagline.) Really, though, my primary concern was with “run” part of the equation. In my youth I was a real skinny and naturally in-shape; my 30s, on the other hand, had (until recently) been characterized by a slow descent into a sloth-like state.

The race — proceeds of which benefited the People Helping People Global micro-lending organization — began in Burlington’s Battery Park. The “competitive” runners were lined up in the front. I, meanwhile, was a “Fun Runner” (an oxymoron, if I’ve ever heard one).

freezer1

I ran the race with Ali and her son, Jason. Always prepared, she had obtained green “Keep Vermont Weird” shirts for all three of us as well as armbands which could hold our ice cream spoons.

I’m in the right hand portion of the below photo, huffing and puffing between Ali and Jason and already desirous of a nap.

freezer2

My apologies for the brain freeze, but I don’t have any photos of the actual ice cream-eating portion of the race. The pints were handed out on a downtown city street, and I opted for a Cherry Garcia as it was the only gluten-free option. It was pretty much on the honor system, as regards eating the whole thing before continuing. I didn’t, and am sorry for sullying the sanctity of the Brain Freeze’s core premise.

Maybe I should have an asterisk after my name (denoting pint consumption failure), but I did finish the race. Jason overtook me at the end; finishing 221st out of 297. I then came in 222nd with a less-than-inspiring time of 42:45.

freezer3The following day, Vermont got even weirder. Weird Al Yankovic, one of my all-time personal heroes, played a show at the Flynn Theater in downtown Burlington.

IMG_1604

Before the show I enjoyed a “Wit’s Up” Citizen Cider.

IMG_1602Ali and I also had time to poke around the excellent Burlington Records. There were a lot of off-the-beaten path weirdo vibe records in the used bin, and I know I bought a few but can’t remember what. Next season, I’m gonna keep a record store log.

IMG_1603And then — Weird Al!

11698768_10207553734507235_7695033495968297565_oThis marked the sixth time I’ve seen Weird Al, and never in the same place twice (Red Bank, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Glenside, Pennsylvania; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Oakland, California; Burlington, Vermont). The one constant is that he puts on an awesome show, full of costume changes and multi-media elements and a start-to-finish commitment to each and every song and routine.

The Flynn is an intimate and classy venue, and Ali had scored us some great seats.

IMG_1605One of the most unique elements of Al’s “Mandatory Fun” tour is that, at each stop, he opens the show with a rendition of “Tacky that starts with him outside the venue and ends on the stage. Footage from the Burlington show is at the 1:15 mark in the below video, but the whole thing is very much worth watching. It’s one of many examples of Al’s total commitment to each and every detail of the performance.

Anyhow, another massive leg of the “Mandatory Fun” tour begins in June and ends in September. He’s making stops at many Minor League markets, but I’ll be at the tour-concluding show at Radio City Music Hall on September 24. Sorry to come off like such a fanboy here, but I’ve been a Weird Al fan for a very long time.

alDare To Be Stupid.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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3 Comments

Hi, I’m the owner of the polka dot house, helping to keep VT weird.😉 I wanted to let you know that there are more record shops in Burlington: http://www.recordstoreday.com/Venues?state=VT. Also, are you sure you embedded the Weird Al vid you meant to? There’s a scene change during 1:13, but I don’t think that is in Burlington.

It’s an honor to hear from you. Thank you for having your cutting priorities straight. I’d love to visit more record stores the next time I’m in town — thanks for the link! And I think that is Burlington in 1:13, though I may be mistaken. He definitely included the cheerleaders in the Burlington show video.

BTW, I don’t think that’s what I meant by “cut consumption”!😉 And it’s no wonder you like the slogan, since you’re a fan a Weird Al

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