[Sidebar] March 1 - 8, 2001
[Philippe & Jorge's Cool, Cool World]

Hello, sailor

A mighty Phillipe and Jorge round of applause for the Providence Newspaper Guild's annual ProJo Follies at the Venus de Milo on February 23. Easily one of the better shows we have seen in years, as was the performance by mystery guest Patrick Kennedy. It's amazing to see the amount of latent talent in Guild members, who can always take this show on the road should the Belo folks ever padlock the doors on Fountain Street.

Speaking of carpetbagging, bottom line-fixated Texas cow pies, the Guild got its requisite shots in at the drugstore cowboy Belo Boys during union leader Bob Jagolinzer's annual greeting. He delicately perched on a water glass tray to see over the podium, in stark contrast to the fire and brimstone he was firing at the Urinal's out-of-state ownership. Citing the union-busting typical of the corporate Southern mentality, Jagolinzer made a promise that we hope is kept -- that the Other Paper will remain here long after its Texas owners have been made to get out of Dodge, hopefully by the National Labor Relations Board, which has scheduled an April hearing on allegations of unfair practices by Belo.

Deb Brayton, seamstress, charming community advocate, and now, legislative affairs adviser to Senator Lincoln Chafee, then picked up the well-deserved and prestigious John Kifney Award for her work with Amos House, among other good deeds (we hope your horses are still coming in at that big Saratoga racetrack in the sky, Kif). Then, the party was turned over to that lean, mean, writing machine, emcee Scottso MacKay, a charter guest list member at Casa Diablo. Scottso, who does perhaps the best Vo Dilun accent of any Vermonter (he had a head start with the trademark "V" pronunciation), did an exemplary job all night, keeping the skits moving at a pace that helped keep people focused on the stage, rather than the bar.

Perhaps the performance highlight of the evening was a tweak of the Bud-I in a takeoff on the old Tokens song, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," featuring the refrain, "In the Biltmore, the mighty Biltmore, Cianci sleeps tonight." This was done in a falsetto that would make Frankie Valli weep by Bill Oziemblewski, with his backup singers ringing in on the "oh-weem-oh-way" with "the Plunder Dome, the Plunder Dome . . ." (If you don't know this song, in which case you are under 20 or have no life, it's impossible to do this justice.)

The capper was, as always, the mystery guest, in this case Boy Patrick, who had endured a roasting all night by the cast. Looking all of 12 years old in a white sailor-boy outfit, with a babe on each arm, Little Rhody's most notorious nautical expert and frequent flyer showed a sense of humor that few knew existed (with a little help from Charlie Hall, we are led to believe). Easily the high points were when Patrick referred to his highly publicized romance with Channel 7 newscaster Caterina Bandini by saying, "Everyone accuses me of kissing the media's ass, so I thought at least I'd kiss a good-looking one." And he even managed to retain his trademark partisanship with a self-deprecating line about how, when people in the Biggest Little refer to the young son of a senator who's never had a job, faced a cocaine problem in his youth, and isn't very bright -- now that Linc Chafee is in the Senate -- there's a 50-50 chance they aren't talking about him.

Ba-boom! Nice job all around, kids.

Funeral Pires

Not that we expect Representative Tony Pires, chairman of the House Finance Committee, to listen to anyone but Pucky Harwood . . . but P&J would like to remind him, as he makes overtures about wanting to run for governor -- despite a statewide name recognition factor lower than that of a Channel 6 news anchor -- there is no way, Jose (that's the Portuguese pronunciation, please). Pires has been a very reliable finance committee chairman, despite his listening closely to the heinous Harwood, the latter being a fact that his opponents will be sure to play up if he runs for higher office. Perhaps Tony should also be informed that not just the residents of Pawtucket vote for governor.

On another front, the lovely Myrth "Peppermint Patty" York insists to P&J that she may indeed be in the hunt, and that we shouldn't say anything to the contrary. Actually, we said she shouldn't run, because as long as the core Democratic leadership and the general electorate maintain their gynophobia about seeing a woman as number one at the State House, our friend will only have to endure another disappointment. (An aside to Myrth, Tony, AG Sherbet Whitebread, Lieutenant Governor Charlie Fogarty, and Dorian Weygand -- all potential Democratic candidates for governor: if the race is indeed on, P&J expect the cash-filled envelopes to appear in the usual place. Twenties preferred.)

Don't go there

Last week's New York Times Magazine featured a brief article by Adam Goodheart on the new "Holy Land Experience" theme park in Orlando, Florida. For what appears to be a fuzzy feel-good exercise in cheesy verisimilitude, the Holy Land Experience has ruffled a lot of feathers. Some Christian leaders criticize the park for trivializing religion, and some Jews are upset because they believe that the park's founder, Baptist minister Marvin Rosenthal, intends to use it to convert Jews to Christianity. Needless to say, this is Rosenthal's story.

Of course, it's easy for the devout and heathen alike to laugh off the claims to religious or historical accuracy of a place like the Holy Land Experience. Two thousand years ago, actual inhabitants of Jerusalem weren't using indoor plumbing, sucking down Goliath burgers, feta-terranean salad or thirsty camel coolers (a few of the items available at the park's Oasis Palms Café). The Holy Land Experience also does a brisk business in park T-shirts. Your superior correspondents figure that it's only a matter of time before the park starts putting on its own Passion Play, with the actor playing Jesus sporting an "I died for your sins and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" number.

But, there's another chunk of virtual reality emanating from Florida that is far more insidious.

It appears that the mainstream media is doing its part to reassure everyone that, despite all the squabbles and the long count, Florida's election results were okay after all. The result of a so-called review of the election, sponsored by the Miami Herald and its parent company, Knight Ridder, was prominently posted on the BeloJo's front page on February 26. They deduced, from a review of Miami-Dade County's "undervote" ballots, that Dubya would have won the election even if all those votes were counted.

Unfortunately, this great piece of detective work by the Herald and Knight Ridder doesn't mean shit, because it narrowed the focus so severely. The real story, which no one in the mainstream American press has even touched, has been told by the British newspaper the Guardian and the BBC's Newsnight. It involves a private data services company, Database Technologies (DBT), that was hired by the State of Florida to purge tens of thousands of Floridian voters from the electoral roll because of purported felony records. The company was hired to comb through computerized records around the country to identify former felons registered to vote in Florida.

The British investigative reporters found that DBT's lists were riddled with errors. The errors were mainly due to DBT's criteria -- primarily comparing its list of felons with the Florida voting rolls by looking for a rough match between the names and dates of birth. Thus Joseph Blow could have been disqualified if there was a Josephine Blow of the same age with a felony record somewhere in the US. According to the Guardian, "DBT also used race as a matching criterion, skewing the impact of the errors even more against black voters." As a result, thousands of black voters, who had participated in previous elections for years, suddenly found themselves barred from voting in 2000 (like a man in Hillsborough County, cited in the Guardian, who lost his vote due to a 1959 arrest for "sleeping on the beach").

While P&J certainly understand the way jealousy and turf play into whether a news story gets picked up, we can't fathom how this particular episode -- reported by reputable sources like the Guardian and the BBC -- hasn't found its way to this side of the pond.

Worth your while

Your superior correspondents are not given to blowing the old corporate horn, but we do think that you should know about a fab new show on the radio. It's Southern New England Product, on Sunday evenings, from 9:30 to 11, on 103.7 FM (aka FNX). Having heard a lot of shows dedicated to locally produced music, we think this one is the crème de la crème. This is due largely to Ed Garcia and Pete Bayard, who host, select the music, and occasionally sweep the studio when the whole thing is over. If you're involved in the local music scene at all, this is the show to check out, and if you're not involved, but would like to know more about music in our region, this goes double. Ed and Pete play a broader variety of genres, evince a stronger knowledge of what's happenin', and have sharper ears than the rest of the competition. Definitely check this out.

No defense

Let's see, first one of our mighty Navy submarines sinks a Japanese trawler because the guy on the periscope was trying to peep into the women's shower at a nearby barracks, while the Opossum Pass, South Carolina, church group was holding its annual pot luck social and quilting bee in the control room. Then, Dubya the Dumb takes a Viagra and decides to bomb his Daddy's old pal, Saddam Hussein, and our state-of-the-art bombs manage to miss their target in 17 out of 25 attempts. Pretty good sharpshooting there, eh, folks? We guess our bombs are about as "smart" as Dubya.

We hope people remember how competent our military is when the Star Wars proposal -- a high-tech figment of Ronny Rayguns that is loathed by our European allies, and considered a sure-fire (unlike our military's aim) incitement to the use of nuclear weapons -- next comes up for discussion in Washington. If we really want to see what happens when a bunch of Mr. Men with testosterone overloads get jacked up on drugs and are handed weapons, we can simply turn on the WWF.

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