Providence's Alternative Source!

Mr. Class Act strikes again

Your superior correspondents spoke briefly this week with Pat Brown, head ramrod of the Silver Top Diner, the venerable Providence institution currently under orders to relocate from its home on Harris Avenue. Plans for luxury housing, as well as the nearby shopping center project in Eagle Square that will result in the razing of some 19th-century mill buildings (a cause célèbre in the arts and historic preservation communities), is the reason for the forced move.

Pat reports that a couple of sites, one in Providence and another in Pawtucket, have been mentioned as possible locations and she told officials in the respective cities that she'd take "whichever one was ready first," since time is of the essence. The potential Providence site is near Dean and West Exchange streets, and the Pawtucket one is on Broadway and Exchange.

Back to the current situation. Pat tells us that immediately after she was given notification of her imminent eviction, bulldozers from Starwood Wasserman LLC, the outfit building the luxury apartments near the site of the Silver Top, appeared in force behind the diner, raring to go. Pat somehow interpreted this as an intimidation tactic, especially when the trucks moved a large pile of earth directly behind the Silver Top, rending it invisible from behind.

Past public utterances from Starwood Wasserman came from vice president David Wasserman. This could be because "Starwood," as Pat helpfully points out, is our old pal, Vinny "The Plug" Mesolella, no stranger to intimidation tactics. It's always comforting to know that some in Our Little Towne will roll over the Silver Tops and Fort Thunders of the world while "visionaries" like Vinny Mesolella continue to flourish.

Big-time BS

Could the Enron scandal possibly be more fun? We haven't seen more superficiality, histrionics, outright gall, and total disregard for the public since Billary was shoving his wife in front of the cameras to lie on his behalf. And with every scenery-chewing passion play that takes place, the GOP and Dubya's administration take another backward step toward the edge of a cliff.

Let's recap just a single week. Dubya, already backpedaling like a boxer in the ring with Marvelous Marvin Hagler, puts on his best grown-up look and announces he's furious that his pal "Kenny Boy" Lay's company screwed the mother of his wife, first lady Laura Stepford, out of $8000 and change. Wow. Bow-wow! Try talking to one of the employees who lost their life savings before you hold your breath and turn blue, Georgie Boy. You sure will be getting a lot of sympathy from those folks.

This was supposed to be Dubya the Dumb's big chance to distance himself from his old campaign boosters, but that dog won't hunt. Not when he was simultaneously being undermined by his veep, "Big Time" Cheney, two assholes in one pair of pants if we ever saw it, who refused to release records about his energy policy meetings with Enron execs, including Kenny Boy, to the General Accounting Office. Needless to say, the resulting policy was a political wet dream for the crooks from Houston. It appears the GAO now will sue Cheney over the meetings, which he has already been caught lying about, and this will keep the Bushies' direct ties to Enron in the public eye for months.

Then we had the little matter of Enron exec Clifford Baxter eating his gun due to the Enron disgrace. Nothing like someone blowing their brains out on moral principle to taint the reputation of all those implicated in the mess. A recent letter to the editor of the Urinal, about the Connecticut man who committed suicide after being arrested at a Johnston porn shop, suggested that the paper essentially abetted "murder" by printing the person's name. One might also say that Kenny Boy and his Enron cohorts, as well as the enablers at Arthur Andersen and in the Bush White House, were complicit in Baxter's death.

Finally, we had Linda "Lady Macbeth" Lay, Kenny Boy's spouse, hauled in front of the Today show spotlights with Lisa Meyers to cut open an onion and weep crocodile tears, claiming that she, her husband, and their family were financially ruined and caught unaware by the business practices of other Enron execs. (This, of course, was why he was selling his stock months before everything came to light, ostensibly to pay back loans.)

The fact that the Lays still live in luxury, as revealed by the home furnishings on display, didn't seem to sink in with Linda Lay and her children. The New York Times, however, hit the nail on the head: "The interview, in the living room of the Lays' Houston home, combined the political boldness of Bill and Hillary Clinton's 1992 interview about his dalliance with Gennifer Flowers and the pathos of talk-show appearances by Tammy Faye Bakker." Right. The Lays shouldn't just be broke. They should be in jail, along with other Enron and Arthur Andersen execs, three-quarters of Congress, and the other politicians who took bribe money masked as campaign contributions from Enwrong.

Forward with Follies

Phillipe & Jorge believe this is the first year in which the Providence Newspaper Guild has circulated a press release announcing the union's upcoming Follies. At least it's the first time that one was delivered to Casa Diablo. We're not sure if this means that the tickets are moving slower than usual or that the Guild is attempting to attract a more diverse crowd.

Actually, it's hard to believe that the Follies won't be the usual sell-out. As reported each winter in Cool, Cool World (your unauthorized, yet definitive, Follies chronicler), the annual event attracts, as the press release states, Vo Dilun's "business, political, labor, education, artistic and social elite" to the Venus de Milo in Swansea, Massachusetts (the event is statutorily prevented from taking place within Rhode Island) for the skewering of people and events in the Biggest Little. Guild members and their friends perform songs and skits based on the year in news. It's sort of like Charlie Hall's Follies, but the barbs at these Follies tend to draw real blood.

If you're at all interested in the culture of Vo Dilun, this is a can't-miss event. It's happening on Friday, February 22. Get there early, around 6:30 or 7, well before the famous Venus cholesterol bomb buffet is served, to hobnob with the local glitterati. Stir in what we know about that the current state of affairs at the Other Paper (regularly reported on in the Phoenix) and you can expect a memorable and intense show, if not screams of pain, outrage, or fisticuffs. Tickets are still available and can be obtained, along with further info, by calling the Guild office at (401) 421-9466.

Rhody greenery

While the future of our old gray mayor, Mr. Excitement, Mr. Please, Please (don't hurt me) hisself, the mighty Bud-I, continues to be a source of wild speculation, another candidate has tossed his topper into the ring. Greg Gerritt, a longtime community activist who's prominently involved in environmental and economic justice issues (he's one of the folks behind the annual day-after-Thanksgiving coat exchange on the State House lawn), announced his Green Party candidacy during a January 28 news conference at the Westin Hotel.

Gerritt positions himself as "grassroots progressive populist" candidate. Whether he'll soon be wearing a coonskin cap has not been established. But considering the presence of an arguably better-known (albeit officially unannounced) candidate with progressive/populist appeal -- state Representative David Cicilline (D-Providence) -- the question is, will these two guys pull votes from the same constituencies? And, if so, would this allow someone like city council president John "Double O No Vision" Lombardi an opportunity to win in the event of a crowded field? We like you, John, but not as mayor.

Of course, it all depends on how the Plunder Dome trial (aka "Buddygate: the Next Generation") unfolds come April. If the mayor, as he has consistently predicted, is vindicated (or found "not guilty by reason of genius," which we suspect would be the Bud-I's preferred verdict), expect all opponents to be quickly eaten up by the awesome Cianci machine.

While we admire Gerritt, Cicilline has serious credentials as a progressive, a stronger base, well-known skills (he is as verbally agile as they come, a brilliant debater and speaker), and a good grasp of how to deal with other governmental bodies through his experience in the legislature. In comparison, Greg's campaign seems quixotic.

That said, we'd like to see a stronger Green Party in the Biggest Little and we suspect that the best strategy would be to build a grassroots base with candidates for city and town councils, school committees, General Assembly, etc. Running candidates for major offices is also important, but when there's already a bona fide progressive committed to the mayor's race, why run for that office?

What did Della wear?

Phillipe and Jorge hear a wonderful story about a friend and well-known scientist who was formerly at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography.

National Geographic's last issue had a feature on the Antarctic, including a huge iceberg that had actually blocked a shipping route at the South Pole. The author of the story was in the Antarctic giving a presentation and described the berg as being, in the typical cliched analogy, "as big as Rhode Island." Our friend, who was visiting the pole at the time, went ballistic, telling the reporter to never use that expression again or she'd kick him or something.

At another presentation a few days later, also attended by P&J's friend, the Geographic writer began describing the iceberg again, and when he got to the line "as big as . . . ," he pointedly turned toward her and uttered, "as Delaware," saying it with a smile.

The article on Antarctica and the iceberg eventually saw print, and sure enough, included the phrase "as big as Delaware." Our friend, as Groucho would say, was defending our honor, which is more than we ever do.

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Issue Date: February 1 - 7, 2002

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