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Onion breath

OK, this is not going to be very funny, because it's essentially explaining how humor works, at least in this space.

A number of our dear readers got their knickers in a twist last week when they saw the piece we cited from the Onion Web site regarding "anti-semiotism" at Brown University. Let's just set a few things straight, other than mentioning that some of our best friends are Jewish:

1) Not everything that Phillipe and Jorge print or write is true, shocking as this may be to truth-seekers everywhere.

2) We've been reading and had it book-marked on our Internet for years, so we're well aware it features reports which are less factual than the content of the Weekly World News, and that an editor there would be summarily fired for printing anything vaguely close to a real news story.

3) P&J love, absolutely love, absurd humor, hence our predilection for jokes such as, "This horse walks into a bar, and the bartender says, 'Hey, why the long face?' " Or, "My wife wanted some lingerie and I wanted a space ship, so we bought William Shatner's corset, but we keep it in the garage."

4) We have worked around enough academicians and educators in our lives to know that there is no end to their self-absorbed behavior and pronouncements, especially at universities like P's alma mater on College Hill. Indeed, Brown officials are easy enough to throw into a Butterfly McQueen-esque hissy fit, even when we write something true about them, as we did years ago during renovations to the John Brown House. This resulted in the VP for public relations at Bruno Uno racing downtown to threaten our editors with some unspecified fate, perhaps like having to wear bow ties for a week.

The point of all this is that, yes, we did know the anti-semioticism expose was a fake story, and we were trying to see if we could get someone from Brown to go ballistic while we sniggered behind our tall Pernod and grapefruits. Unfortunately, it wasn't new Brown prez Ruth Simmons pounding on our door, but rather a bunch of readers who -- not realizing that you can't bullshit a bullshitter -- suggested we had been duped. In other words, we were faulted for taking the Onion too literally, when our critics were doing the same to us. Sorry, gang, but we've been around the humor block more than once. Hey, is that a spot on your tie?

Age matters

Speaking of our reader mailbag, a few kind souls commented on our suggestion that the pursuit and eventual proof of the falsification of age of Daniel Almonte, the Little League pitcher on the Rolando Paulino All Stars from the Bronx, was at its core racial profiling.

Despite the fact that Dominican Republic authorities backed up Sports Illustrated's claim that Almonte had shaved two years off his actual age, thus explaining his totally dominating pitching performance, P&J would argue that the malfeasance of his parents and team officials didn't excuse the "presumed guilty" attitude taken by SI and his opponents, especially the two Littler teams that hired a private eye to investigate him. Neither SI nor anyone else looked into the age of the Apopka, Florida, team's star hurler -- or anyone else who didn't speak with a Spanish accent, for that matter -- despite the fact that he threw 10-plus innings of shutout ball and beat the Bronx Baby Bombers in the US title game, after getting tagged for five runs in the first inning against the Bronx in the World Series opener.

Yes, it was sad to see this chicanery take place with Almonte. But if you're going to check one player, you better check them all, or we'll continue to regard this as a quite evident case of singling someone out for their race.

Sold out

While P&J detest the idea of sports franchises selling naming rights of their stadiums to big corporations -- but then again, what isn't for sale these days -- it finally reached the height (or depth) of ludicrousness in the story about branding in the New York Times Magazine of September 2.

The NFL's Denver Broncos have always played at the very nicely and aptly named Mile High Stadium, at least until they took the money and ran, and turned their home field into "Invesco Stadium at Mile High," for a mere $120 million from the Invesco investment firm. They pursued this despite the public displeasure of many of the Broncos fans and Denver Mayor Wellington Webb. But the most preposterous and pretentious comment came from Broncos spokesmodel Jim Saccomano, who lectured the media about what is, and is not, the proper way to refer to the newly whored-out corporate ad gimmick, saying (supposedly with a straight face), that calling it Mile High Stadium now "would be like calling Muhammad Ali Cassius Clay."

Nothing like a football stadium undergoing a religious conversion, is there?

Other than Al Gore growing a beard, there has been nothing sillier in recent days than the New York Times' front-page story of September 2 about profanity on television. The premise is that cable stations have much more leeway in using everyday vulgarities and risqué comments than the networks, due to their adherence to a system of network censors, who determine just who the fuck can say whatever the hell they want on the air, goddamit. (Pardon the obviously excessive and almost Tourette's Syndrome-inspired gratuitous use of obscenity, but we just couldn't help ourselves. Bite me.)

Reporter Jim Rutenberg, while seeming to point out the fallacy of such tight restrictions, and noting that CBS allowed the use of the word "shit" during the airing of the movie On Golden Pond, still can't seem to get his own prudish editors to use that same word, and instead he sounds like a schoolmarm, describing the utterance of "the commonly used word for dung," and dancing around any use of "bad" words throughout the article. C'mon, boys and girls at the gray lady, let's loosen up a bit.

Box seats and boneheads

Because your superior correspondents like nothing better than a really juvenile pissing contest between people on the taxpayers' payroll, Phillipe & Jorge's interest was piqued by a standoff last week between Woonsocket Mayor Susan Menard and that city's chapter of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 404.

After an incident involving a couple of off-duty police officers who were allegedly involved in a barroom brawl at Box Seats Restaurant on River Street, the mayor declared Box Seats off-limits to the city's entire police force after 9 p.m. About 24 members of the union, feeling that this was completely unfair ("They're treating us like children," complained Patrolman Mathew Ryan, president of Local 404.) entered Box Seats at around 12:30 a.m. last Friday, August 31. P&J haven't witnessed such drama since the gripping eighth grade showdown between Mike Lewis and Dave Bardsley in the back of the A&P parking lot, across from Goff Junior High.

But regardless of the eighth grade "nyah-nyah" behavior going on here, the actual incident in which the two Woonsocket officers were accused (which has tended to be overshadowed by all the grandstanding from Menard and the union), is deeply troubling. Here's a brief synopsis from the Call of August 29:

[Patrolmen Paul A.] Rondeau and [David M.] Paradis were both charged with assaulting Mario L. Curet, a 25-year-old African-American man, who was dancing with his girlfriend when he accidentally bumped into a third officer who was not identified.

"He wasn't there to pick a fight," Detective Lt. Luke Gallant, the lead investigator, said of Curet.

Curet was calmly talking to the officer he bumped, said Gallant, when Rondeau interrupted and began arguing with him. Curet tried to avoid a confrontation and turned away, resuming dancing with his girlfriend when Rondeau allegedly punched him in the back of the head.

As Curet turned to face Rondeau, the officer allegedly struck him with a blow that glanced off Curet's head and struck another patron, Melissa Rei, [not Curet's girlfriend but a bystander] squarely in the forehead [leaving her] with a gash several inches long that doctors at Landmark Medical Center closed with surgical sutures.

. . . Curet alleges that he was on the sidewalk, handcuffed, when he was assaulted again, this time by Paradis. Police wouldn't explain the nature of the alleged assault, but said several other bystanders corroborated this story."

If this report, garnered from police sources and observers at the scene, turns out to be true, then Rondeau and Paradis are just a couple of punk bullies who should be bitch-slapped halfway down Providence Street and then have there asses immediately fired from the force after trial. This is just the sort of asshole behavior that gives a bad name to all the really quality police officers out there.

More police reports

There's a reason that they call that amazing nightclub and meat market on Warwick Avenue near Post Road, "Barry's, Barry's, Barry's" and not "Einstein's, Einstein's, Einstein's." This from the Warwick Beacon:

Officer Humberto Montalban was approached by a bouncer at Barry's nightclub . . . who asked him to check out an ID presented at the door by a patron. Montalban said it was obvious that the picture on the ID was not of the man presenting it. He said he told the man he was seizing the ID to send to the Registry pending their disposition and enforcement.

Montalban said that the patron then said, "I want my (expletive) ID back," and that he told the man he had two choices: that the ID would be seized and sent back and he could walk away, or he could choose to be arrested. Montalban said that the man then told him, "Then (expletive) arrest me."

Montalban said the man was arrested after a brief struggle and taken to headquarters, where he was charged with misrepresentation and resisting arrest."

And, it is true, the closer you get to West Warwick, the more you encounter stories of this sort.

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Issue Date: September 7 - 13, 2001

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