In talking about our wonderful General Assembly and the political
climate in the Biggest Little, let it be known that we've always been great
defenders of open and fair elections. This should be an obvious thing for any
American, especially with our history of suspect voting, which hit its low
point in Florida's presidential election boondoggle and the racism-driven
prevention of tallies delivered by Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris, and Friends.
So our natural instinct was to think it unduly harsh and perhaps illegal when
the Providence Board of Canvassers tossed state Representative Aisha
Abdullah-Odiase and General Assembly candidate Daniel Grzych from this year's
ballot for having fraudulent signatures on their nomination papers. We changed
our minds, though, when we saw more of the evidence.
This was not because the candidates were caught red-handed with affidavits
testifying that the signatures were real and signed in their presence, although
the grand jury may take a different view.
Our lack of sympathy is because we can't imagine that anyone as stupid as
these powerbroker wannabees should even have the chance to gain or return to a
seat at the State House, thanks to the members of Moron Majority. People
shouldn't even be trusted with a spatula at Mickey D's when they start copying
names from the entrance of apartment buildings and happen to sign a page full
of purportedly registered voters' signatures in exactly the same handwriting as
was reported by WJAR-TV.
Our peace of mind was enhanced when Abdullah-Odiase and Grzych took the Fifth
Amendment as the Board of Canvassers questioned them about their actions.
There's a confidence-booster. Just another Benny Woods Production,
political-style, in Our Little Towne.
While we're mentioning shaky politics, hats off to the Washington
Post for its diligence in pursuing President George W. "Corporate
Responsibility" Bush and "Big Time" Cheney's blatant conflicts, insider
trading, and outright lying about their financially rewarding and respective
tenures at Harken Energy and Halliburton. Dubya is backpedaling faster than a
cornerback defending against Jerry Rice, and stonewalling with a zeal of which
Tricky Dick Nixon would be proud, but he still has time to stick his foot in
During a joint news conference with the president of Poland ("Isn't that where
they invented those Po'boy sandwiches, Condi?"), Boy George was asked, the
Post reported, if he's "confident" that the Securities and Exchange
Commission's investigation into Big Time's Halliburton wheeling and dealing
will find Cheney innocent. Rather than saying it's an independent investigation
with which he's not completely familiar (kind of like claiming we need more
good science to determine whether global warming is real), he replied, "Yes, I
This a blatant way of putting presidential pressure on Harvey Pitt, an already
bought-and-paid-for SEC chief, the former securities lawyer to the financial
stars. It also indicates that Dubya has examined the facts and made his own
judgment about Cheney (surprise). So, who even needs an investigation, right?
You read me, Harvey?
A tip of the beret and sombrero to Ed "New Boy" Achorn, the Urinal's
deputy editorial page deputy editor, for continuing to hammer away at House
Speaker Pucky Harwood's arrogant fight to avoid movement toward any balancing
of the powers of state government. In deriding Pucky's self-serving control of
his hind-leggers, the Urinal listed the legislators who've had the guts to
support our buddy Representative Nicky Gorham's failed discharge petition,
which would have opened up House debate on separation of powers. Pucky would
welcome this about as much as a sucking chest wound.
As Achorn points out, this will be a handy list to consult for the November
election. If your local incumbent isn't on it, you may want to avoid voting for
him or her. P&J suggest easing hurt feelings by purchasing them a drink to
help expel the taste of a certain part of the speaker's anatomy.
New Boy notes the courage it takes to defy Harwood's vengeful political wrath.
This seems demonstrated by a notation at the bottom of the list of local
heroes, which reads, "One other Democrat signed the petition, but asked Rep.
Nicholas Gorham not to release his or her name to the public unless enough
names were gathered to force action." Nuff sed.
Male bag: in the Northern Penal Colony
Your superior correspondents last week received, via e-mail, this tale
of woe from the land of the reindeer sandwich (the great guitarist/bassist,
Thom Enright, speaks lovingly of this treat, which he regularly consumed while
touring the area 20 years ago with Duke Robillard; For some unknown reason, the
Duke is a demi-god in Scandinavia).
Dear Phillipe and Jorge,
Over here in northern Norway, I've been grimly following the waves of
revelations of sexual abuse perpetrated by some members of the American
Catholic clergy, abetted by their superiors. If anyone back in my hometown is
wondering whether this sort of thing goes on over here, I can tell you about a
news story released just yesterday: A 49-year-old Muslim Imam in Oslo has been
charged with sexual assault of two boys, one of whom is his own son. So, yes,
it does happen over here.
Of course, Norwegian society is collectively shocked and outraged. If
convicted, the perp will get a handful of years in prison and then be on his
way. Sadder perhaps, maybe wiser, and with a very high probability that he'll
commit crimes again. It's common knowledge that the rate of repeat among child
molesters is high, in the range of 60 to 80 percent. This is why folks get
upset when they find out that their quiet neighbor has done time for child
So-called "chemical castration," an apparently successful option in
several US states, isn't on the menu over here. My weak alternative proposal:
before release, those convicted of sexual crimes against children should be
tattooed, in big blue-black letters on the foreheads, with a warning along
these lines: "I have been convicted of raping a child X times. There is a seven
in 10 chance that I will do it again within the next 24 months, although I may
not get caught." This would at least give a heads-up to parents and children
old enough to read. I'll let you know how this flies.
- Helle, your correspondent in Arctic Norway
Ask us anything!
Once again it's time for our beloved readers to "Ask Us Anything," the
feature where you get to, um, er, ask us anything.
Dear P & J,
Why has the US Government not realized that the
criminalization-enforcement-incarceration model of marijuana policy is not
working? It seems the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, and many other European
countries have begun to see the light of common sense and are starting to
reform their marijuana laws. But Asa Hutchinson, head of the DEA,
continues to say that we need to fight the war on drugs by arresting
non-violent drug offenders and even medical marijuana patients. What's the
- Tom in Warwick
Beats our meat, Tom, but isn't it interesting that Mr. Hutchinson's first name
is a palindrome, like "Lon Nol" of Cambodia. That's another place with a lot of
drugs and truly harsh anti-drug policies. Gets you thinking, huh?
Larry Estepa is probably the best-dressed TV reporter in our market.
Where does he buy his great ties?
- Jim S. in Misquamicut
Most local television news departments have consultants. If you're worried
about the impact of consultants on integrity or credibility, have no fear. They
don't give a shit about the content or quality of the news. If Audrey Laganas
was to mistakenly report that the late Dan Blocker is making a public
appearance at a local Job Lot, they could care less. However, if Kelly McGee
has had a string of bad hair days, that would be serious. The consultants are
primarily concerned with the coiffures of the anchors, the clothing worn by
anchors and reporters, and whether they need brighter teeth or other
adjustments ("Doug, you're more of an `autumn,' and we think this blue blazer
is perfect with that snowy helmet.").
About 10 years ago, P&J contributed a regular commentary to Channel 10's
11 p.m. newscast. We once noticed that the couch in the reporters' dressing
room was filled with neckties. We asked Jim Taricani, who was leading a tour
group through the room to look at Frank Sommerville's fishing tacklebox-sized
makeup kit, what was with the ties. He told us the consultant had brought them
down for the choice of Frank "Carpy" Carpano. Apparently, the consultants not
only suggested what the on-air people wear, but also sold the stuff to them.
We know we haven't answered your question very well, Jim, but we may have
amused you and slandered about half of the JARheads. Not bad for a day's
What's the history of the phrase, "Pull my finger"? I happen to think
these are the three funniest words in the English language. Indeed, I'd suggest
you start a petition campaign to change Little Rhody's nickname to the Pull My
Damned if we know, Jim. But if you genuinely believe that those are "the three
funniest words in the English language," we'd like to introduce you to two
words that you might find helpful - Seek help.
Rest in Peace . . .
. . . Lom Gasbarro, a true gentleman and one of the great figures of one
of Our Little Towne's finest neighborhoods, Federal Hill. Lom knew food, he
knew wine, and he knew the history and culture of the Hill. There was no one
more generous with his time for the city and the community that he loved.
. . . Musicologist Alan Lomax, who, back in the 1930s, lugged a giant tape
recorder around rural and distant parts of the country, capturing the likes of
Huddie Ledbetter, Woody Guthrie, Muddy Waters, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and a
host of others. By championing the real stuff, the roots stuff, he changed
popular music, and, indeed, American culture forever. By the mid-'50s, the more
formal and previously ascendant concert hall music gave way to something
different, something based on the raw country, gospel, blues, and folk music
that Lomax captured in all its intensity and power. It's called rock `n' roll.
Send Marlin Fitzwater's poison paycheck and Pulitzer-grade tips to email@example.com.
Issue Date: July 5 - 11, 2002