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Craven: Summer Tour

So far this summer, I’ve sampled tiny donuts in Waitsfield, a tasty maple milk shake at Basin Harbor, and bar-b-q chicken pizza in Plainfield. I’m taking my bike to some of the dates to keep things in balance.

Our 100 Town Tour will screen Northern Borders at a fire station in Roxbury and an old mill in North Bennington that remains home to five chickens. We’ll take a side trip to the historic Cape Cinema on Cape Cod with its 300 individual armchairs of black lacquer and tangerine suede - and its 6400 square foot color ceiling mural by transcendentalist painter Rockwell Kent. Movie-goers there can sit back and gaze into an enchanting world of comets and constellations alongside pairs of embracing lovers and free-flying individuals floating through an imaginative firmament. Who needs a movie show when you’ve got this?

My favorite town to get lost in remains Calais. During my last foray home after a show in Maple Corner, I plowed into a torrential summer storm of pelting rain and fierce lightning and I got completely flummoxed. A summer intern was following me in her blue ‘82 Buick. She eventually made it home, but the car met its watery end in a deep culvert far from the dirt road that would have led us to East Calais.

This summer, I was sure I had it right. But a single wrong turn shot me into South Woodbury where I spied a middle-aged couple seated in a white Pontiac outside their home. Normally, I’d step from my car and seek advice. But two cranky bulldogs charged at my car, and the couple inside the Pontiac glared suspiciously, so I stayed in my car and rolled down my window to wave, but I was too far away and moving at an awkward angle. After a pause, the couple slowly rolled in my direction. I rolled backward a bit, to create space. Then they shifted into reverse. I advanced. Our awkward dance of motor vehicles, mediated by the agitated bulldogs, made me think of a Jacques Tati film. But we finally converged and the couple set me straight.

I have Jake and Dillon with me this summer, two Marlboro College students who can transform any village space into a first-class Northern Borders screening venue. I remarked to them how the Maple Corner Community Center never looked better, with its comfortable new chairs and even an elevator.

“Oh,” said Jake, “they fixed it up with money they raised when local guys took off their clothes and posed nude for a town calendar.” Seeing their interest in history, I stopped at a notable house on the way home. It was on a steep hill in Peacham, so I pulled my emergency brake tight, to avoid rolling back into them. But as I stepped from my car into the glare of their headlights, Jake’s disembodied voice signaled what I probably should have anticipated.

“That’s the home of Thaddeus Stevens,” he said.

John Dewey would be proud.


Jay Craven is a filmmaker who teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and directs Kingdom County Productions
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