P&J started this year's celebrations with a casual stroll through the
French Quarter in New Orleans. We were seeking such estimable religious
institutions as Dr. Zombie's House of Voodoo and the Old Absinthe House, which,
by the time we were done, had been renamed the Old Pernod House. (They simply
couldn't fit "Pernod AND Grapefruit" on the remodeled signboard.)
Your superior correspondents are now armed with voodoo good luck amulets and
packets designed to improve our already awesome sexual abilities (although why
Dr. Zombie would have little red bags of traditional voodoo items that read
"Pfizer" on the side, we don't know). Not to mention enough hex dolls to should
provide some uncomfortable moments for Governor Bigfoot if he keeps pursuing a
container port at Quonset Point, as well as for Speaker Pucky Harwood if
maintains his nepotistic and conflicted conduct.
The only down side about New Orleans is the fact that every person strolling
Bourbon Street is obligated to be drinking either beer or a $15 mint julep from
a cup large enough to hold an amount equal to the reserves of Lake
Pontchartrain. But hey, if you've seen one sidewalk with upchuck on it, you've
seen them all.
Naturally, our delicate palates required a visit to Galatoire's, one of the
Crescent City's finest restaurants, where we indulged heartily of Oysters
Rockefeller and other seafood delights. We also happened across Lindy Boggs,
widow of the renowned Louisiana senator, who was seated nearby with Dubya
Bush's chief of White House protocol. (His name escapes us, but we managed kick
him hard in the shin as we walked to the men's room.) But perhaps we should be
a bit more sympathetic, because we can imagine what a chore it must be to teach
social niceties to Dubya the Dumb. Not to mention avoiding having him set next
to a head of state who expects someone to use utensils when they eat. Or to
supply the vomit bags whenever the little dope ventures any further than the
On that note, P&J enjoyed a trip across the deep South, cutting through
Mississippi and Alabama to the Florida panhandle, counting the teeth of
residents as we traveled. There, we enjoyed the Gulf of Mexico, where sting
rays cruised the shore, not a pleasant proposition, since P had once again shot
his mouth off during holiday celebrations at Casa Diablo and promised to do the
traditional "Penguin Plunge," unaware that the worst cold front since the ice
age had invaded the Gulf of Mexico. As we write this, the faithful Jorge is
still trying to retrieve two delicate parts of Phillipe's anatomy from the
spots in his cheeks where they ascended during the watery fiasco.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln . . .
Looking back on the past year, there is at least one bright spot that came
through -- the profoundly positive effect that 9-11 conjured out of Americans
in the wake of this enormous tragedy. Phillipe and Jorge seem to constantly
meet people who took this reality slap in the face to both heart and mind,
actually shifting their priorities and behaviors in its aftermath, invariably
in a way that was only for the future good of themselves and others.
And in a figurative salute to a literal action, a tip of the cap to our
favorite sports moment of the year -- and certainly on the most touching we can
remember -- which was when the New York Mets came out on the field to play
their first home game after September 11, wearing New York police, fire, and
rescue logo caps in lieu of their usual hats. It was a powerful visual
statement that we won't soon forget.
Highly selective thoughts on 2001
The shadow of September 11 will, of course, always dominate the thoughts of
everyone when we look back on the year 2001. The immense horror of that date
overshadows everything, as the repercussions and implications continue to
evolve. Back home in the Biggest Little, other events of note will continue to
rattle around in the back of the head.
Of course, the Plunder Dome saga continues, with the endgame slated to begin
in April. Whither goest the Bud-I? Darned if we know. All the pundits tell us
it's 50-50 as to whether or not Our Little Towne's longest serving mayor goes
down in flames, or once again, rises like (dare we say?) a phoenix and
continues to rule Renaissance City with an iron rug. It's all a matter of
whether or not the prosecutors in the US Attorney's office can connect the
dots, and no one knows what evidence exists.
All your superior correspondents can tell you is the persistent rumor that the
infamous Corrente/Freitas envelope pass video, which appeared on Channel 10 (ad
nauseam), isn't the most damnable of the tapes in the prosecution's possession.
Suffice to say, regardless of what happens, P&J have no doubt that our
capital city will continue to survive and thrive.
As for Governor Bigfoot, we've certainly been pretty harsh on him this year.
But let us not count the ways. Instead we're greatly gladdened by the fact that
he's emerged victorious after a bout with prostate cancer. Not just that, but
our governor did it with great dignity and an eye toward educating others. For
this, we salute him for his courage and class.
Another pat on the back to the Richard Sullivan, the new Providence police
chief. Although the department is still riddled with problems, there are far
fewer now than when he took over. And his pro-active approach and attitude
toward community outreach give us hope that, indeed, the department is in good
hands for the time being. While the other applicants have yet to be identified,
we think Sullivan ought to receive serious consideration when the time comes to
select a permanent chief.
The downsizing and redistricting of the state legislature is far from a dead
story or dead issue. Expect this to dominate news for a long time this coming
year. Meanwhile, no matter how it all plays out, there is no doubt at Casa
Diablo that Pucky Harwood continues to be the real power in the state, the
master of patronage and behind-the-scenes power plays.
Good luck to the new major league Vo Dilun players -- Frank Williams at the
supreme court, Big Bill Irons in the state senate, and Steven Pare at the state
police. And a tip of the sombrero to those in the arts community -- a real
economic engine that deserves greater stoking in 2002. Thanks, Oskar Eustis,
for sticking around; Bert Crenca for keeping it real; and Herb Weiss in
Pawtucket, a guy and a city that, against all odds, are truly showing the way
to make this the State of the Arts.
Your superior correspondents are deeply saddened to report the passing a week
ago today of a longtime friend, Robert F. Dalton, a great teacher, delightful
person, and true man of letters. Bob, who along with his wonderful wife, Betsy,
was a college mate of Jorge's, was an assistant professor of English at CCRI
and, for a number of years, director of the school's writing center. He also
taught at PC and RISD.
We will remember him for his verbal acuity and precision, his keen sense of
humor, his love and knowledge of music, and most of all, for his joy of life.
Have no doubt that he passed on these qualities to his many students over the
years. He was what we used to call, "one very cool guy."
Bob was greatly loved by all those who were fortunate enough to know him. Our
thoughts and prayers are with Betsy and their sons, John and Martin, and Bob's
sister, Martina. He will be terribly missed.
We received this anonymous (natch!) e-mail this week and thought it was just
the sort of thing with which to ring out the old and ring in the new:
You two guys (?) are an absolute disgrace and embarrassment to your
employer, to all other newspapers or other media, and to this state. Do
everybody (including yourselves) a favor and just go away. Anywhere! Losers!
Losers! Losers! That is the most accurate way to describe you. Just about
anyone who has ever done visionary things and has ever shown leadership within
our state in the past 15 to 20 years, making the tough decisions you are very
obviously incapable of even understanding has been ridiculed "ad nausea"
in your Central Land Fill column, sometimes referred to as the P&J crap.
You guys have an ego problem, not journalistic ability. Please take it
somewhere else. Perhaps Afghanistan, as a starter. Happy New Year!
P.S. Please give a copy of this occasional reader's findings to your
publisher. Thank you.
Visionaries trashed in this column over the years (Ed "The Gerber Babe"
DiPrete; "Milkshake Matty" Smith; Joe "Prince of Darkness" DeAngelis; Tom Fay;
"George of the Jungle" Caroulo; "Pucky" Harwood, et al), thank you very much
for your support.
Send leftover Champagne and Pulitzer-grade tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Issue Date: January 4 - 10, 2002