Two unique and completely free events are happening this week, brought to you by some of the talented and creative people who call Rutland home.
A few months ago Nick Grandchamp and Ben Bushman built a time machine on West Street.
Walking into the once-vacant building on the corner of West and Evelyn is like stepping into 1984. A row of standing arcade cabinets like Pac Man, Donkey Kong, and Mario Brothers are lined against a brick wall. Nearby ,a cluster of games are huddled together in the center of the room. And on top of each is a smattering of throwback memorabilia guaranteed to make you smile — a Trapper Keeper, a bright blue Smurf lunchbox, Garbage Pail Kids. It’s an ‘80s nostalgia dream come true.
Thanks to the initiative and resourcefulness of Grandchamp and Bushman, and the generosity of landlord Mark Foley, they are happy to bring you “Dream Machine” at 150 West St.
“All these machines are original cabinets with CRT monitors, literally what you would have seen if you went to an arcade in the ‘80s,” Grandchamp said.
“It’s always busy in here,” Bushman says. “People love it, it’s healing.”
Grandchamp, 32 and Bushman, 34 grew up together in the area.
“Ben and I started this as a passion project and it just grew,” Grandchamp said on a recent Saturday evening. “We both grew up poor kids and we just sent emails and talked to the right people. You can be punk rock kids that grew up with nothing and do something fun, you just have to be creative.
“We strive to make sure people of all ages feel safe, that there’s not any lurkers around,” he added. “I thought youth would definitely love this place, but I’m surprised how much they’ve come. We have regulars every single night we’re open.”
“People are coming from out of town, driving an hour and a half,” Bushman added.
“Dream Machine” was initially set to run for just a few months ,but recently it was extended to continue through October because of its popularity, with new games coming in regularly, and opportunities for private parties.
“Kids are sometimes introverts but like being around people,” Grandchamp said. “We had a group of autistic kids come, we had a birthday party. It’s for all ages. We have old guys that come every Wednesday night and play Asteroids, businessmen that come after work. We constantly get people saying I wish this was open every night, letters from kids saying how special this place is, and countless emails.”
When asked about the possibility of it becoming permanent, he said, “It could. It takes the community.”
In between full-time jobs and busy lives, Grandchamp and Bushman are running the arcade out of their own pockets, including renting U-Hauls to transport machines, and providing all the maintenance and parts.
“A lot of these machines are from collectors who let us use them because they’re trying to support this,” Bushman said. “People think we’re on the Internet paying $2,000,” he added and laughed. “We’re in Good Will. We find these in basements and barns.”
“These are for fun,” Grandchamp said. “They’re meant to be in an environment like this.”
“We’re working-class fun-makers,” Bushman said.
The rotation of games changes every month or so, and summer hours run 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
On Saturday, July 20, Michael Kingsbury and Bianca Zanella will be hosting an inaugural literary event, “Infinite Lit: A Night of Spoken Word Poetry” 7 to 9 p.m. at the B&G Gallery, 73 Merchants Row in Rutland.
“It’s about the performance piece of poetry,” Zanella said.
With a range of featured performers from mid-20s to 70s, a mini-open mic will start the show, which participants can sign up for in advance or at the show, followed by an intermission and the featured poets, which include Zanella and Kingsbury.
“I started doing poetry this year,” Kingsbury said. “I always (thought) that I hate poetry but really I wasn’t sure how to do it.
“There are certain elements like character, plot twist, and resolve in a story,” he added, “but if you don’t have those things you’ve got a situation, and that could make a poem. Some of the things I’ve been writing about are a situation or a moment I can’t forget.”
“Poetry can be speaking about an emotion, a healing, a perspective, focused on imagery. Almost like they’re sharing art linguistically,” Zanella said. “It’s an experience of connecting.”
Refreshments will be available and ink drawings and paintings by Leonard Ragouzeos will be on exhibit.
This event is free and open to the public. If you would like to perform, or want assistance preparing to perform, email email@example.com.