Phillipe & Jorge’s Cool, Cool World: Bye BRU, Budget and Brown

RIP, BRU

There is sadness at Casa Diablo over the demise of the legendary WBRU. And it is indeed the end of the line for one of Little Rhody’s signature stations, which from the late 1960s through the WBRU11980s was the hippest station in the state, featuring an array of music that was not pre-programmed and featured the best rock ‘n’ roll, blues and jazz one could find. If the know-everything 20-somethings who have sold BRU’s signal think their expanded website is going to have anywhere near the influence or cachet the broadcast version has had through the years, they are sadly mistaken. The happy horseshit that management tried to sell to justify the sale − “We are moving to a 21st century platform with greater potential for creative expression and community service” − is simply nouveau social media psycho-babble.

Even more galling is that they sold BRU off to what is called a contemporary Christian network, about as far from the core ethos as you could find. Phillipe and Jorge don’t even know what “contemporary Christian” means. Is Jesus now depicted wearing skinny jeans and holding a stylized latte from Starbucks?

P&J’s longtime friend Mark Cutler, one of the most creative musicians in The Biggest Little’s long and vibrant musical history, said it best to The Urinal’s Andy Smith and summed up many people’s relationship to the station.

“WBRU is part of our local culture,” Cutler said. “It affects and reflects our community. I think K-LOVE (the new signal owners with Christ as DJ, no doubt) is not part of our culture at all … WBRU is not even geared to my demographic anymore. But it affected what I listened to, and how I perceived the world. My life would not have been the same without it.”

How Not to Make Headlines

As any good politico or PR flack knows, the best time to sneak out bad news is in the middle of summer, when people are either on vacation, braindead at the beach, or knocking back a cold one or 10 at a backyard barbecue.

So it was on August 22, on a page buried inside the pages of The Urinal, we noticed a story by old pal and ace reporter Kathy “Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill” Gregg with the headline, “R.I. budget director questions math in state spending plan.” Hmm, somewhat harmless on the face of it, since most products of the state’s schools still have to whip off their shoes and use their toes to do math once they have exceeded the 10-count their fingers limit them to.

But looking closer, you see the real problem here. A report to Governor Gigi by Jonathan Womer, director of the state’s Office of Management and Budget, an about as politically unbiased and honest agency as you can get on Smith Hill, said that many of the cost-cutting steps in this year’s budget are “nearly impossible or legally permissible for agencies to achieve.” In layman’s terms, this means, “A whole lot of the ways we told you we were going to save money this year are total bullshit.”

This was the budget that got held up by the Macho Man dick-measuring contest between Senate President Rubbers Ruggerio and House Speaker Thick Nick Mattiello over not false claims of reductions, but the cutting back of the car tax. Wow! Bow-wow. And now that totally avoidable delay in passage alone is costing the state $2.5 million in revenues, says Womer. Thanks, boys.

The chickens in this story will come home to roost only when the General Assembly next sits for its 2018 session in January, a long way away from an August exposure. Sure, the Senate may come back for a special session before that, but that involves seeing how badly the state can get scammed by the millionaire owners of the PawSox. Certainly wouldn’t want to waste time looking at a report that the budget we just passed is essentially bogus, would we?

Oh, and not to disturb you any more while you are still relaxing, but many of the misguided cost-cutting projections will hit Vo Dilun’s social services. But hey, how about those Red Sox?

Brown Shakedown

Phillipe and Jorge have rarely seen a shakedown scheme so brazen as the attempt by the Pokanoket Tribe to have Brown University give back about 300+ acres of land they own in Bristol. Never mind that the Pokanoket Tribe is not, as Brown officials put it in a letter in response to the demand, “recognized by the federal government or the state, and more importantly is not recognized by the other federally recognized Wampanoag communities.”

While a number of the Pokanokets occupied the Bristol site recently, and you can be sure that Brown is not going to return the land due to a highly questionable claim, you know the tribe is looking for any financial compromise Brown may offer. Although Brown President Christina Paxson has in the past embarrassingly rolled over like a trained seal for some of the ludicrous demands of the hyper-sensitive coddled types on her campus, there is no way she should do anything but simply say no to this attempt to muscle some money out of the university.

P&J have personally experienced since the early 1970s what Brown has done to respect, maintain and help educate people about what is indeed a famous Native American site, home of King Philip’s Seat, through walking tours and the Haffenreffer Museum that is located on the property and dedicated to celebrating its heritage. So back it off, Pokanoket sagamore (chief) Po Wauipi Neimbaug (if that is indeed your real name, Mr. William Guy) and try selling this cheap trick somewhere else.

Tom Bates
A large number of people in Vo Dilun’s arts community (and many others who work in or were frequent patrons of Providence area restaurants and taverns) were saddened a couple of weeks ago when Tom Bates, the popular and much-loved creative force behind (and proprietor of at one time or another) spots like the original Met, the Hot Club and numerous other night-life staples, passed away at his home.
Tom had experienced some health issues in recent years, but was still socially active right up until his death. There was a celebration of his life at the Hot Club on the Providence waterfront, which is now owned and operated by members of his family. Tom, who was born in 1943, had touched the lives of so many people since he first arrived in Providence in the mid-1960s to attend the Rhode Island School of Design. Phillipe and Jorge will miss their longtime friend and, like so many others, feel gratitude for all Tom did to make Providence a better and more “fun” city.
Houston’s Not the Only Place
For those who want to know what is happening throughout the world, there has been little information in the US-centric national media about the record monsoon that hit parts of Bangladesh, India and Nepal, just prior to Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas, bringing the worst floods seen in that part of the world in many years.
More than 20 million people were affected by this catastrophe and more than 1,000 were killed. Our hearts go out to those suffering from these weather events in both the US and South Asia.

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