BY PHILLIPE & JORGE
Hot times in Our Little Towne with the continuing Plunder Dome saga,
which is now drawing national attention of all sorts. This sudden rush of
publicity, which will hit a peak when the Imus In the Morning show airs
live at Buddy's House, the Biltmore, this Friday, May 10, has moved the odds of
Cianci being re-elected while in prison to a healthy 2-1 margin.
The winds are blowing hot, cold and absurd. First, Money magazine cited
La Prov as one of the best places in the country to retire. No mention of
putting one's feet up while wearing cement shoes, as far as P&J could
ascertain. Then former Urinal reporter Dan Barry had this take on Little Rhody
in the New York Times of May 7: "What has emerged in testimony is the
other Providence: a city of 173,000 so greased by the I-know-a-guy style of
politics that it seems to teeter between farce and tragedy." Perhaps the fact
that Barry's story was accompanied by a photo of a laughing Bud-I riding a
bicycle indoors may have tipped the balance towards farce, wouldn't you say?
Then there's the growing sense that everyone appearing as a witness is
admitting to lying at some point, not to mention the defense attorneys who
insist that renting Edward Voccola's warehouse for the Providence schools was a
good deal for the city. Now rumor has it that sketch artist Charlie Hall has
decided to do his renderings only in finger paint, Judge Ernest Torres is soon
to be revealed as actually being a lounge singer from Havana named Carlos
Fuentes, and . . .
Dense on the fence
Phillipe and Jorge were as disappointed as many of those who came to a recent
gubernatorial debate in North Kingstown on the Quonset Point megaport proposal.
The reason, you ask? Merely that Sherbet Whitebread and Jimmy Bennett decided
to skip the event. Their reasoning, incorrect in fact, was that a politician --
state Senator James Sheehan, a port opponent -- was sponsoring it and therefore
the whole thing was somehow tainted. The debate was actually sponsored by the
West Bay League of Women Voters, a notably independent lot devoted to hosting
But this isn't the rub with P&J. What we keep hearing from our two good
buddies is they're waiting to see the results of the $1.5 million environmental
impact study that the Missing Linc's administration is forcing down the
public's throat. If this is indeed Sherbet and Jimmy's position, and not just a
campaign trail finesse move, it shows a disturbing lack of understanding.
The container port is not now nor has it ever been just a NIMBY problem.
Rather, it's one with potentially devastating statewide impacts, both
environmental and economic. And these bigger issues -- transportation,
infrastructure needs, lack of a guaranteed long-range market, better options
for the QP-Davisville site, exposure of the taxpaying public to future
financial liability -- aren't addressed by an EIS.
Sherbet and Jimmy have precious little foresight if they don't understand this
and are waiting for a money-wasting study, which isn't designed to deeply
examine economic concerns and can be easily distorted (as we've seen when
Bigfoot's minions at EDC cook the books), to show them the light. We'd advise
both our buddies that they come off looking rather clueless, rather than
prudent and wise, when they straddle the fence on this one. C'mon, boys, being
fey becomes neither of you.
Your superior correspondents first met Brian Dickinson when he was editorial
page editor of the Providence Journal in the mid-'80s. Among the
right-wing fire-breathers on Fountain Street's fourth floor in those days, like
our cigar-chomping comrade John Hackett, Brian's measured posture and prose,
and wry smiles at the everyday chaos of life in the Biggest Little, always used
to make us feel a bit more secure that some sanity still existed in the Other
Paper's dens of philosophy.
In the end, however, Brian was a role model not just for journalists, but
anyone who aspires to live a life with dignity and as fully and courageously as
possible. When he succumbed to the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, a.k.a
Lou Gehrig's disease), which he had battled for years, this statewide community
lost a true hero.
Some of Brian's compositions -- written through the technically and physically
unimaginable trick of having a computer-equipped TV camera track his eyes as he
focused on individual letters of the alphabet, which grew into words and
sentences -- were a masterpiece of achieving one's desire to be heard. And the
words created through this process were always well worth taking heed of. May
we all sometime exhibit only a small portion of his strength of pride, quality,
character, and human spirit. We hope you're walking on air up there, Brian.
Theatergoers protected from lethal water bottle
Last week, Phillipe & Jorge decided to take in a matinee at the Hoyts
Cinema at the Providence Place Mall. Accompanying us was the mighty Susan, who,
suspecting she might build a powerful thirst watching all the commercials and
coming attractions that now take up almost as much time as the feature
presentation, decided to purchase a bottle of spring water at the news stand in
the middle of the mall food court.
We, of course, were aware that the theater has a standing policy of not
allowing moviegoers to carry in bags, packages, or decanters filled with
premixed Pernod and grapefruit, but we didn't realize that this ban extended to
The ticket-taker, however, informed Susan that she couldn't enter with the
bottle. The fragrant lass was a bit perturbed and wondered what the problem
could be with a bottle of water, but the ticket-taker would not relent. This
seemed a bit much, especially considering the way in which a teenage girl with
a backpack, who was behind us in line, was waved right through without even a
Your superior correspondents wonder how much the "security measures" at the
Hoyts Cinema have to do with increasing concession revenue, as opposed to
keeping patrons safe from possible terrorist attacks.
Our own horn
It was with great pleasure that your superior correspondents once again
attended the Rhode Island Press Association's annual awards presentation and
dinner at the Viking Hotel in Newport on Friday, May 3. Not that Phillipe &
Jorge received any awards, mind you. This might have something to do with the
fact that we've never entered anything in the competition. (Perhaps we could
consider it if they added a category for "fumbling in bogs of metaphor," but as
it stands, there doesn't seem to be a section that would support the Cool, Cool
One of the best reasons for attending the dinner is the reminder that the
world of journalism in the Biggest Little is much more than the Other Paper.
Seasoned pros like Jim Baron of The Times of Pawtucket and Jim Gillis of
The Newport Daily News continue to contribute some of the best writing
and reporting in the state. And it's always a treat to see Professor Linda
Levin of the University of Rhode Island, the tart-tongued mother superior of Vo
Dilun journalism. We all owe a great debt to Professor Levin for her tireless
work in prying open public records.
As usual, the Phoenix made out quite nicely. Our rail thin and
mysteriously bearded news editor, Ian Donnis, completed a hat trick of sorts,
winning a first place prize for best business feature, second prize for news
story and third prize for investigative/analytical story or series. The
estimable Steven Stycos grabbed a third place for science/environmental feature
and an honorable mention in the business feature story category. Meanwhile, our
sorely missed former staff writer, the fragrant Kathleen Hughes, scored a first
place for religious feature story. Congratulations to all.
Bob Bell, one of the mainstays of the local music scene and one of its true
gentlemen, the veteran manager of the legendary Roomful of Blues, is departing
the fold. Bob started out with Roomful 22 years ago as publicist, driver, and
sound engineer, and he's hung on to do just about everything with and for the
band, outside of stepping in on trumpet for Bob Enos. There has been no more
pleasant person to work with in Vo Dilun music circles.
A transplant from the British Isles (where he was once, believe it or not, a
shepherd), Bob has over the years become a true dyed-in-the-wool (okay, no more
shepherd references) Vo Dilunduh. We recall with pleasure his heroic attempts
to save a historic tree in downtown Pascoag that has since been chopped down.
Wherever Bob goes and whatever he chooses to do, he'll know that he has friends
and a family right here.
Indie film alert
La Prov is once again seeming like quite the film town, what with Michael
Corrente wandering about town, checking on the dramatic possibilities of his
proposed Bud-I film, the Providence Latino Film Festival a success, and the
way-superior benefit screenings of the sing-a-long Sound of Music on tap
this month at the venerable Columbus Theatre.
With all of this activity, we remind you that there are still renegade film
screenings going on. One in particular that might tickle your fancy is the
showing of D.I.Y. or DIE at White Electric Coffee, that that hipster
emporium on Broadway, on Saturday, May 18 at 8 p.m.
White Electric owner Jed Arkley says D.I.Y. is a documentary by Michael
Dean (who will be in attendance) and features rebel music luminaries like Lydia
Lunch, J Mascis (formerly of Dinosaur Jr.), Ron Asheton (of the Stooges), Mike
Watt, and Dave Brockie (of the way, way out GWAR). This is definitely worth
Kudos & congrats . . .
. . . to our old buddy and local restaurateur John Elkhay, for being one of the
2002 Small Business Winners noted in a special US Small Business Association
insert in the May 6 New York Times.
Elkhay, who owns XO Café and Ten Prime Steak & Sushi, after his
many travels and travails over the years in the gourmet industry in Our Little
Towne, was singled out for his work as a chef and owner, and his message to
others was not real complicated: "The secret is making your customers happy."
La Prov is becoming quite a home to the dining elite, with Elkhay and Al
Forno's George Germon and Johanne Killeen holding the banner high, and Wiley
(Yeah, Dewey's my Dad) Dufresne taking New York City by storm. Enjoy.
Send cloaking devices to help Susan get water into Hoyts and Pulitzer-grade tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Issue Date: May 10 - 16, 2002