Clean Up Your Backyard

Well kids, a new school year is upon us all and I sure am glad to be back in Burlington, VT, one mighty fine town if I do say so myself. This summer, while living up in the Alaskan interior, I chanced to pick up three hitchhikers one afternoon, all from Missoula, Montana. Having just summited Denali (known politically as Mt. McKinley, named after the former president who never even set foot in Alaska), they were making their way down to Talkeetna, a small climbing village a few hours south, for the annual summer solstice festival. After enthusiastically complying with their request to put on some Grateful Dead, which they were more than anxious to hear after picking up nothing but religious programming on the small radio they carried with them on the mountain, we shot the s**t for a while. When I told them that I went to school in Burlington, they were quite excited with the statement. “I hear that’s a pretty cool town, at least for the East coast,” one replied. “Lots of good music comes out of there, too,” another commented. I agreed with them both and began to elaborate on each of their assertions, shamelessly promoting our home. Upon arrival at the post office in Cantwell, my destination and, conversely, their new thumbing point, I dropped them off and wished them good luck on the remainder of their trip. Yup, it was pretty rad to hear three mountain climbers from the Rocky Mountains compliment the town we live in. After this past weekend, I feel like I may have painted an overly optimistic picture for those guys when pointing out the virtues of this place. Now, I do realize that it was the first weekend back in town for a lot of people (college students, that is), and living out of a trailer in the Alaskan woods for three months has most likely made me quite na??ve as to what typical Friday and Saturday night scenes look like (so really, who am I to comment), but I found myself quite disappointed with the state of this community upon my return. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that I should have to ride over seas of broken glass when long boarding to my friend’s house, nor should I be finding crushed beer cans and empty cigarette boxes in people’s flower beds, unless they’re acting as bird feeders of some kind or are being used to attract bees, while walking up to campus. Very lame. Also, you have every right to go hog wild after a week of classes, but damn, you gotta learn to chill out and realize that nobody wants to hear your inebriated noise pollution at 4:00 in the morning. Am I out of line? Am I some kind of old fart or something? We’re all very lucky to have the opportunity to be living in such a place as Burlington and I believe that we college students are a big part of the reason why this town has the celebrated reputation that it does. Why ruin it? Hell, if you have a beer in hand and the Po pulls up, chuck it on my front lawn at 64 Buell; we don’t have any vegetation, let alone beautiful flowers to crush and I’d be glad to put it in the recycling bin for you. Wow, some deal, huh?! Let’s all do our part in keeping Burlington honest to the stigma it has created for itself for the enjoyment of all.