Tragedy in Providence
As the city continues to come to grips with the tragic shooting death of
Providence police officer Cornel Young, Jr., numerous issues rear up and hit us
in the face. It's ineffably sad that a fine and heroic young man should lose
his life in this way. The tributes and honors with which he was laid to rest
are all fully deserved.
What we'll be left with are questions, questions that will likely not be fully
answered. The issue of race, of course, is first and foremost on people's
minds. The city would want you to believe that Sgt. Young's black skin had
nothing to do with his being shot in the adrenaline-fueled confusion of that
night. While it may not have been a direct factor in this instance, the issue
of race touches everything in America and we would be naïve not to
Another lingering question has to do with the firing of guns by young and
relatively unseasoned police officers. This is a matter fraught with emotion --
especially for those of us who have never experienced the danger faced by law
enforcement officers in a situation when guns are drawn. It's completely
understandable that the police hate to be second-guessed about critical
split-second decisions involving the use of lethal force. But the questions
have to asked and the investigation must be done.
Finally, there's the issue of a law which allows those who are deemed
instigators in this kind of case to be charged with murder. We saw this with
the death of Providence police Sgt. Steven Shaw, when an unarmed man, sitting
handcuffed in a cruiser, was charged with murder after his accomplice opened
fire while hiding in a closet. Is this a reasonable law? One would think, when
intent is questionable at best, that there are other harsh penalties which can
be brought against these kinds of suspects without adding on murder.
On one thing we readily agree with Mayor Cianci -- there are just too many
guns out there. The tragic consequences of too many people riding around as if
it's the old West are readily visible.
Taken for granite
Now that it's over, all Phillipe and Jorge can say is thank God for the
tumultuous last few days of the New Hampshire primary. The results were quite a
shock to us, especially after the last poll we saw on Monday, which simply
asked voters, "Who are you going to vote for?" While McCain led the all
candidates with 17 percent and Bill Bradley took 11 percent, the most popular
response was, "Fuck you, get off my porch," which garnered a massive 52
But the drama in the Granite State at least produced a few good laughs, topped
by Gary Bow-wower falling backwards off a stage at an idiotic pancake-flipping
contest. Still, he was barely able to upstage George Dubya. In a moment which
captured the essence of his keen intellect, W told a high school assembly that
"preservation" is the key to success in a long campaign, and he intended to
"preserve" right until the end. No doubt the local English teachers had dusty
Mr. Dictionary down off the shelf in a jiffy to explain the difference between
"preservation" and "perseverance" to their impressionable charges.
Not to be outdone, Steve "Capital Fool" Forbes, whose every public appearance
was quickly phoned into Weekly World News by local residents as an alien
sighting, got caught on camera on election eve, making phone calls to potential
voters, all of whom thought it was a prank call. Finally, there was Bill
Bradley, Princeton grad and former distinguished senator from New Jersey, out
in the boondocks of Raymond, New Hampshire -- a town that makes Egypt, Maine,
look like Paris -- going trailer-to-trailer, seeking votes from people who
couldn't be dreamed up by Stephen King.
P&J's on-the-scene correspondent up north, computer queen Ms. PC, thought
that this might mark a new trend in campaign tactics. "After pandering to the
voters in Raymond, they had Bill Bradley shoveling snow in Manchester," she
reported. "Maybe they can just change the whole primary process to be like
those new reality TV shows -- the last candidate left standing after a series
of humiliating tasks (cleaning the bathrooms in the trailers in Raymond;
scaling the catch after an ice-fishing session in Wolfeboro; hosing down the
parking lot around the Dumpster behind the Bradlees at the Nashua Mall;
cleaning deer blood off the hood of all the pickups parked around the Milford
Oval; wiping the makeup off the towels in Dan Rather's suite at the Sheraton
Wayfarer) -- that would separate the men from the boys."
All in all, a fairly uneventful night. It was wonderful to see Dubya hustle to
concede before 9 p.m., when all the live coverage would kick in, thus avoiding
having to suck it up in front of every national network. Dollar Bill showed
some heart and a pulse, and McCain proved he's going to keep after Dubya until
the bitter end. But if we have to keep watching "Two-by-Four" Gore do his
"shock-the-monkey" celebratory contortions while his Big Chill-obsessed
harridan wife shrieks into microphone, we'll have to get out the razor blades
way before September.
Arthur Coia -- what a tinhorn punk.
Coia, the Barrington resident and former president of the Laborers'
International Union of North America, joined the likes of locally famed two-bit
hustlers Ed DiPrete, Tom Fay and Matty Smith when he got caught bilking
Barrington and the state out of more than $100,000 in taxes for his prized
Ferraris. This jumped-up shakedown artist copped Tuesday to a felony fraud
count. But he also finagled enough money from his previous post -- including a
lifetime annual salary of $250,000 -- to live in uninterrupted luxury. Still,
he couldn't avoid his own version of Dumpster-diving in his backyard.
Coia had already brought disgrace to his union, which federal prosecutors
claimed had ties to organized crime. Whew, there's a shocker. And reportedly it
was his Ferrari scam with Viking Motors in Middletown (which, not for nuthin',
got axed from dealing with the Laborers in 1996 because of their own
association with Soprano-land), a deal that allowed him to register the
Ferraris in Middletown, thus avoiding Barrington's higher tax rates. The whole
thing led him Coia to sneak out of his Washington office and resign the
Laborers' presidency before he was officially indicted in the Ocean State.
Of course, Coia is the guy who was buddy-buddy with President Billary while in
his D.C. position, and was known for giving the First Philanderer expensive
golf clubs as gifts. He also strong-armed Hillary into giving a speech to a
Laborers' annual convention, despite warnings from the feds that the union
reeked of corruption. Then again, who has rounder heels than the Clintons when
someone had money in hand? They've pulled some financial stunts that would have
made John Gotti turn green with envy.
You can take the boy out of Vo Dilun, but you can't take Vo Dilun out of the
boy, and the heavily cologned, ostentatiously-appointed Coia ended up going in
the tank for what to him was chump change, a la the Gerber Baby and his $10,000
Walt's Roast Beef special, Tommy's tuxedos, and Milkshake Matty's car repairs.
In the bigger scheme of thins, all these were chickenfeed stunts from a former
governor, Supreme Court chief justice and speaker of the House. Thanks, Art,
for making us look like a land of penny-ante crooks once again. We've come a
long way, baby.
A nice little windfall
Now about that new city ordinance, passed by the Providence City Council, which
instructs all taverns, clubs and bars that employee bouncers, doorkeepers or
crowd control personnel to register with the police? All folks acting in such a
capacity must show at police headquarters and have an ID picture taken. They
are to wear said identification cards while working and (get this) there's a
$25 fee for each person registered.
Your superior correspondents have seen the perfunctory form that the bouncers
are required to fill out (name, address, Social Security number, date if birth,
phone number and employer). No training or rules of conduct involved, just an issuance of a photo ID and payment of $25
per-person. Seems like a nice little shakedown, at the expense of city club
owners, to add thousands of dollars to the city coffers. Beautiful.
Art for commerce's sake
Here's an e-mail we received at Casa D last week:
A few weeks ago I received a packet sent out by the Rhode Island Tourism
Commission, with a cover letter from RISCA (Rhode Island State Council for the
Arts) calling for artist's proposals for a joint venture with Hasbro. It seems
that some time this year, Hasbro will have joined forces with both institutions
to sponsor an installation of Giant Mr Potato Heads throughout the city, in the
vein of the cow installations in Europe that brought in happy flocks of
camera-toting tourists. Each artist's (???) sketched proposal will be reviewed
by Hasbro, which will retain the right to choose or refuse a design.
Each acceptable project team will have a fiberglass potato-head body supplied
to them, with Hasbro possibly paying for additional costs of paint, etc. It is
stated explicitly that the designs must contain NO political or sexual
references (since when was art supposed to mean anything?), and my favorite
stipulation is, "no logos of any sort."
Is it me, or is the art community being asked to prostitute itself and become
billboards of crass commercialism in the guise of a cultural attraction? Most
companies would kill to be able to have their products visibly placed in public
spots, with tour buses slogging the masses from icon to icon. I`d also be very
curious as to who is funding this project. Surely not a taxpayer such as
myself? Have you come across this mailing? I'd be curious to know your
reaction. Unfortunately I threw it away in disgust, and I cannot provide you
with more details. It's just been bothering me ever since . . . something seems
not quite right. Thanks for listening.
P.S. This makes me want to start working on a whole series of fiberglass
crinkle cuts complete with blood and intestine attached to strew far and
-- Beth Whitney
We don't have anything to add. Seems like you've said it all, Beth.
Kudos and congrats
. . . to recently resigned state Representative Michael Farrell of Central
Falls, for his pledge to go door-to-door in his old district to explain "his
side of the story" about his most recent arrest for domestic abuse. Too bad
Casa Diablo isn't in his district. We'd love to hear his lame-ass excuse. This
just goes to show once again that denial is not merely a river in Egypt.