Ever since the recent announcement that Channing Gray was being promoted
to primary critic on the BeloJo theater beat, a number of theatergoers in Our
Little Towne have been furiously e-mailing each other with anecdotes pertaining
to Mr. Gray's perfidy. Here are some of the comments we've picked up on: "I saw
Judges 19 at Perishable last night. Channing Gray gave it the most
nasty, snide, and completely clueless review, and it's ABSOLUTELY worth
"Funny you should mention this -- after I left Black Rep last week I thought
of exactly that -- I went back & reread his review & thought, well, it
doesn't absolutely pan it, & he saw it very early on -- but I am still
thinking of writing a letter to say to anyone who's interested, don't be
dissuaded by his review. For whatever reason, it's way, way off the mark. I did
see his astounding Perishable piece, & was amazed that he'd been able to
muster up even more spleen for that than had been evident in his utter slam of
SFGT's [Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre's] The Weir from 2 days earlier --
and then there was the review of Homebody/Kabul [at Trinity Rep], which
he pretty much devoted to taking Tony Kushner down a peg or two -- and this was
all in one week!"
Those hot for Channing's scalp also suggested some strategies to counteract
his dreaded new prominence: "Idea #1) we pool a dollar or so from each Rogue,
write a check along with a letter to the ProJo stating that we, as
concerned RI'ers, would like to help educate a Gray mass in their employ in the
Fine Arts. Even if it's a home study course called "draw Boomer" on the back of
a matchbook. Idea #2) we collectively write an editorial that ultimately makes
him think of resigning his post. Idea #3) we critique his critiquing. Idea #4)
kidnap him, gag + blindfold, box him in a large Captain Crunch one-way box to
Anyone who has been connected with the arts in Vo Dilun could have seen this
coming from a mile away. After Channing was roundly criticized for years in the
classical music community for producing what was perceived as a surfeit of
"negative" reviews, your superior correspondents figured it would only be a
matter of time before his effigy was seen hanging from the corner of Empire and
The sad truth is that the job of a fine arts critic, especially in a medium-
or smaller-sized city, has implications far beyond just evaluating art. The
pool of active theatergoers in Providence is small, and a negative review in
the one daily newspaper that covers the state can have a devastating effect.
Hell, even in New York, some people in the theater community used to claim that
a strong pan from Frank Rich, the former New York Times theater critic,
could close a show.
Of course, this fact is not lost on Channing Gray, nor was it lost on the
recently retired Bill Gale and Jim Seavor. But it must be galling for all of
them to realize. And more so for Channing, who, let's face it, has a quirky
streak. Unfortunately, while big brother Spuddy's (Spalding) quirky streak
makes him a cool downtown icon, Channing's is likely to earn him a barrage of
eggs and tomatoes or "a gag and blindfold and a giant box of Captain Crunch."
A little bird (well, actually, one about the size a very large marsupial) tells
your superior correspondents that the mighty Bud-I has finally taken the advice
of his hair stylist to introduce more gray into his artificial coif. Sightings
of hizzoner around town confirm a certain change in his appearance. The
thinking is that the more distinguished and age-appropriate coloring could only
work in the defendant's favor during his federal court trial.
Congratulations to Joe DeLorenzo, formerly with the secretary of state's office
and still City Council head ramrod in the close-to-bankrupt city of Cranston.
It seems that Joe, in a very short space of time, has elevated himself from
garden-variety backroom Vo Dilun pol to poster boy for Ocean State political
dysfunction. Quite an accomplishment, but it's not as if Joe hadn't been in the
running for such a speedy trip up the ranks for years.
First, he was caught whoring for Harrah's. Then, despite valiant attempts to
pin the blame on Trafficante-era Republican greed, Mayor O'Leary, DeLorenzo,
and a fully Democratic city council will undoubtedly (and rightfully) be held
to task for the southern plummet of Cranston's financial fortunes. Of course,
Joe would tell you he was "just introducin' people," and all he did was "have a
cup a' coffee," with Harwood cronies and power brokers for a major national
gambling outfit. That's true. It's also how it's done in the Biggest Little,
right out of the Mario Puzo playbook.
Naturally, Republicans are greatly enjoying Joltin' Joe's discomfort
(permanently etched on his noggin', thanks to his astonishing "Charlie
Bakst-on-a-bad-hair day" coiffure). While Cranston GOP party chief Randy
Jackvony excoriates DeLorenzo on an almost daily basis, all three announced
Republican contenders for Patrick Kennedy's congressional seat are working hard
to try and extend the insider gambling stench to Patrick, since Harrah's is
hosting a Vegas fundraiser for the congressman.
Special kudos to challenger Mike Battles's campaign chair, Mike Trainor, for
his "Patrick is undergoing rehab," bon mot. The funny part about conservative
Republicans is that they learned how to be bullies from assholes like Rush
Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich and still believe that this works.
And while we rarely carry water for Republicans, here's another little angle
on demonizing DeLorenzo that the GOP may have forgotten. Wasn't it Joe who led
the charge in putting the kibosh on the proposed Krispy Kreme donut franchise
in Cranston? Vo Dilun donut aficionados (an they are legion) might just want to
know more about this story. And since Republicans assume that slovenly
donut-eating types are overwhelmingly Democrats, there's a lot of potential for
On March 21, the New York Times simply couldn't help itself in
reporting, on its front page, on the break-up of the Larsen ice shelf in
Antarctica. In a featured set of four above-the-fold pictures showing the area
in question, the Gray Lady reported:
"Satellite images over more than a month show the disintegration of an ice
shelf about the size of Rhode Island . . ."
And the lead to the story inside started off: "A Rhode Island- sized piece of
the floating ice fringe . . ."
This had P&J in the usual snit we develop when something is compared to
the Biggest Little. That was until we saw the Urinal pick up the Washington
Post story about the ice shelf, and the geniuses there, of course, also
trotted out the same tattered cliché.
What we really need is for some of the best brains at Brown (the university,
not United Parcel Service) to come up with a list of things that have a similar
size relation to Little Rhody. As far as we can tell, the most commonly
mentioned equivalents are Delaware, Luxembourg (cited on public radio stations
WRNI/WBUR in describing the same story), and Gary Ley's ego.
Build it and they will come
P&J applauded Brown University in this space a few weeks back for its
decision to adopt a need-blind admissions policy. We also noted that the
increased cost associated with the decision would mean a heavier fundraising
burden for Brown prez Ruth Simmons, but we believed her quite up to the
Well, say no more. In an obvious recognition of the merit of the policy
championed by Simmons, the New York City-based Starr Foundation has awarded
Brown a grant of $15 million, representing a full financial ride for 30 to 40
students. It also represents is a high-priced tip of the hat to the university
for its enlightened approach to admissions, putting the lie to the old chestnut
that no good deed goes unpunished. Nice job, Ruth. Take five and smoke 'em if
ya got 'em.
When it comes to Internet domain names and copyright issues, Phillipe &
Jorge have to admit we're among those who think that if someone has a strong
claim to a certain name (a recent example would be Madonna, who recently had to
rent the madonna.com name from a fan) they should have the inside position on
retaining that name for a Web site.
That said, much as we truly enjoy the idea of the buddycianci.com Web page
being a scathing critique of the mayor, we think he's absolutely right in
trying to wrest it back for his own personal use. Unfortunately, things don't
always work out that way (just ask Wes Brewton of Wes's Ribs when the last time
was that he had control of his own name).
In an unrelated case, we understand that the Urinal and Belo folks may soon be
moving to shut down the www.providencejournal.com site (which has nothing to
do with the newspaper) created by George Latimer. If so, we hear that George
will be forced to start using his other registered domain name,
providencejournalsucks.com. We're sure that this will satisfy the ramrods at
the Other Paper.
Profit uber alles
Elsewhere on Fountain Street, Mark T. Ryan, gonzo general manager and a
close numero dos to publisher Howie Sutton, is reputed to have pulled
down a banner emphasizing the importance of customer service in the BeloJo's
advertising department. The offending message? Something along the lines of,
"When our advertisers succeed, the Journal succeeds." The bold sweeping
gesture was accompanied by Marky Mark's elimination of the discount rate once
enjoyed by a local advertising outfit. Not to mention his exhortation --
implicit, if not explicit -- that the sale staff is there not to work for their
customers, but for the Urinal.
Ryan might as well have broadcast his singular intention to squeeze every dime
imaginable from the franchise. This is perfectly consistent, of course, with
his rise and the way things have been unfolding at the Other Paper. Eliminating
the discount and directly billing individual clients might run up some
additional dough for the Urinal in the short term. If the paper's not careful,
though, it could ultimately lead to less business from advertisers who don't
welcome the prospect of being gouged.
Send Percocets, tequila, and Pulitzer-grade tips to email@example.com.
Issue Date: March 29 - April 4, 2002