Somewhere along the way I came to live and breathe the understanding that our humanity is best felt and shared through art, and that ‘art’ was a koan and ineffable token for all the beauty and compassion we could know or reveal.

My professional life has been dedicated to creating opportunities for young adults to experience the discovery of their selves by pursuing their creative passions and absorbing those of the friends and artists around them. I sound a gun for the process of daring to follow their glimmering threads of curiosity; of learning to accept and value diversity in the world around them and decide confidently about personal tastes and values; and to also decide, ultimately that their voice has a resonance and purpose that no one else could have shown them. The oxygen feeding this reaction has been art, and more specifically, music.

Our modern life is complex and raw. My politics buckle socialism to libertarianism and I champion progress toward intelligent, compassionate, cooperative civilization-building. “Down with the nanny-state, up with humanity meeting its potential as a species.” I realize nothing is simple and opinions vary.

With all that as a background, in the course of being optimistic and making a best effort at efficacy, I’ve learned that through inattention, lack of oversight, willful self-preservation, greed, and lack of ethical housekeeping, some dangerously sharp corners of Vermont arts policy are poking through the fabric of complacency. When it comes to the arts, our integrity has faded in the sun, and the readily fulfilling life I hope for, for all Vermonters, is further from their reach than it needs to be.

This blog, cheeky as its name might be, is personal and a happy place. Consider it to be the beat-down gray basket on my front porch where things — all kinds of things — are left for or left off by neighbors; the neighbor being you. Welcome to an exploration of what’s right and what might be wrong with arts in Vermont, and have a stroll with me in the direction of the (often difficult) conversations that are the threats and milestones on the adventure in the wilderness of our state’s relation to the arts.

The Name

A friend of mine said the phrase ‘ass pheasant’ out loud about twenty years ago, held his wrists to his mouth and, wiggling all his fingers, exploded them outward while making a pheasant-y “whoop! whoop! whoop!” noise. He couldn’t explain what ‘ass pheasant’ meant, but he could show me. That’s where the name comes from.

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