1

Boomer Vs. Millennial Tension on the Rise

“It’s never been harder to live than it is now,” she said. “In all the years I’ve been married, it’s never been this hard.” My girlfriend’s mother was exasperated talking about the economy. Though it’s an irrefutably difficult time for Millennials like myself to be hitting the job market, it’s easy for us to forget how hard it is for our parents’ generation as well.

She and her husband grew up on the same street, got married soon after high school and by the time they moved into their house (on that very same street) they were expecting their second child. All before the age of 23. Neither she nor her husband went to college, but they’ve been able to make a decent living for themselves.

By comparison, her daughter is 27 with a liberal arts degree. Though she excelled and is fluent in Spanish, post-college has been a difficult time. We and so many of our friends have had to balance jobs like waitressing or bartending with other daytime work and/or freelance work just to make ends meet. Unemployment might be a problem for everyone, but underemployment is an epidemic for Millennials.

When my girlfriend’s parents and mine were our age, they had jobs, a house, marriage, kids. Today, my girlfriend and I are proud of a manageable rent, moderate salaries and most of all, our two cats.

boomerS

I could have opened on a short story about my own parents, whose financial situation at roughly the same time — the mid ‘80s — was similar, and anecdotally kind of nice. By the time I was 2 years old, they had built a 3,000 square-foot-home themselves at 22 and 23. (Me at 27: I’m pretty much just obsessed with video games and my cats). As a top-selling real estate agent, my father enjoyed a number of years when the market was booming.

But then a financial crisis happened, just as the most educated generation of mankind’s history (us) began to hit the job market. According to a fact sheet put out by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, only 46% of Baby Boomers went to college compared to 63% of Millennials.

Neither of my parents graduated from college. Here I am with two degrees, fewer assets and more debt than they’ve ever had to contend with. So you do the math: Who’s doing better?

We Millennials are the largest generation in the country right now, making up roughly one-third of the nation’s total populus. The oldest among us were only 27 when the recession began in 2007. I had just started college when those older Millennials were already struggling to find work.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, released in late 2014, Millennials currently contend with higher rates of unemployment, less money, and a higher likelihood of living in poverty than our parents did.

Those who do graduate from public universities have had to grapple with an average debt that’s doubled between 1996 and 2006 and continues to rise. Whether or not we graduate, more than 30% of us live at home with at least one parent. A 2014 Wells Fargo Millennial Study found that more than half of the Millennials (56%) say they are living paycheck to paycheck and unable to save for the future.

These broad brush strokes paint a picture that’s rather bleak for us.

We were raised being told that as long as we worked hard and educated ourselves, that a successful future would be secured. Our parents were always focused on job security, whereas we were raised to “follow our dreams!”

Yay.

Meg Orrall, a 26-year-old assurance associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers, said to me, “We have such a difference in perception from older generations; we’re a generation of instant gratification who have to or choose to put off many major life decisions because of our economic situation.” Millennials are coming out of school with thousands of dollars in debt, financially crippled and forced to delay commitments like marriage or children.

Troy Cassidy, a 28-year-old financial center manager with Bank of America, concurred by saying, “The amount of debt that kids are coming out of school with is more than most couples had for a mortgage on their first house.” With that much debt just from an education that doesn’t guarantee a job, how can Millennials afford to take those next steps in life?

For those of you wondering if generalizations like that are purely hypothetical, the National Center for Health Statistics found that US birth rates hit a record low in 2013, down 9% from 2007’s high. The sharp decline came from women under 30. You guessed it: the Millennials.

Comparably speaking, some Boomers admit that times were different for them in the ‘80s, and for the better. Motif’s very own Bruce Allen said, “Boomers had an economic level of comfort that allowed more room for things like altruism. Millennials these days have it a lot tougher.” And consider this: Growing numbers of Baby Boomers are putting off retirement and staying in the workforce due to financial insecurity, which translates to fewer openings for those entering the workforce.

When asked about this topic, Richard W, a 28-year-old teacher from the area, said, “The Baby Boomer generation took advantage of the most economically prosperous time in America, including all the wonderful social programs that went along with them, and, when they were finished using them, promptly burnt them into the ground at the ballot box.” He went on to explain that Boomers worked for years to ensure they retained a number of privileges at the expense of things like the social safety net.

Linda C, a Boomer herself, defended her generation, citing the drastic differences between then and now: “Baby Boomers did things differently when we were young … Younger folks today want everything now. They usually don’t wait until they can afford to do things.”

Given that there’s actually a book called The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown (by Paul Taylor, the Executive Vice President of the Pew Research Institute), it stands to reason that those who look at the big picture are able to see looming tensions between the generations.




Where the College Kids Go?

Every campus develops a unique, symbiotic relationship with its surrounding community (depending on who you’re talking to, some might call it a parasitic one). Some establishments thrive, but only because of the steady business from students. The school year just marks the busy season at the end of a slower summer. So where do the collegiates at each RI university go?

Brown University (PVD)

Plopped ceremoniously onto the east side of Providence in 1762, Brown University is Rhode Island’s own Ivy League. The campus is sidled up alongside Thayer St, and many of its students frequent the bars and restaurants there. Though anywhere is fair game, the craft beer and tastefully grungy atmosphere of the English Cellar Alehouse is supposedly a fan favorite. Viva is the go-to for those looking for pulsing, dance-fueled fun. Rumor also has it that Whiskey Republic is immensely popular — as the students love their “Whisko Wednesdays”! But everyone in the know raves about the Graduate Center Bar (GCB). It’s in the basement of of the Graduate Center complex and has a door that looks like a nuclear fallout shelter. Brown and RISD students get free membership access and can bring outsiders in, but anyone looking for access without a student ID will have to pay for a membership.

Bryant University (Smithfield)

Blackie’s Bull Dog Tavern clearly riffs on Bryant’s bulldog mascot, and serves up comfort food to those hungry pooches, but is also a favored watering hole. Parentes, just outside campus (as in walking distance) is the students’ go-to bar during the week, especially Tuesday and Wednesday, despite also catering to a sampling of local regulars. Added plus: free popcorn for all at night. Last Resort is the go-to Thursday night spot, and Thirsty Beaver is a newer spot that students seem to enjoy. Beyond that, Bryant students will make the trek all the way down to PVD for clubs and/or house parties with the PC kids.

Johnson & Wales University (PVD)

Even JWU’s culinary students in the slightly outlying Harborside campus have an easy time with quick Uber and Lyft rides into the city, but house parties seem like the most popular nightlife option for many students. The Brass Monkey, owned and operated by a pair of recent JWU grads, is just up the street offering nice decor, great food and even better programming.

JWU’s Downcity campus is on the southern tip of downtown (aptly named!), and is a short walk away from gems like The Dean Hotel and its eclectic fares. They have a lot more walkable options, including the absurdly close Ultra the Night Club and The Spot Underground.

Providence College (PVD)

Authorities have been rightfully cracking down on underage drinking at the bars and houses around campus, but PC still is a regionally recognized party school. A number of bars ebb and flow in and out of existence, but Olde’s has long been a go-to dive bar for students. PC has its own bar in the student center, McPhail’s, that offers programming throughout the week and live bands every weekend night. The Abbey is famed for its burgers and wing nights, and is popular among both upperclassmen and professors. Also popular, Ladder 133 swarms with PC students on the weekends. Once upon a time Friars took cabs to Fish Co., and the tradition stands, but now they take Ubers to Whiskey Republic.

Rhode Island College (PVD)

Though a dry campus and largely a commuter school, younger RIC students were once known to frequent Mugshots, especially on Tuesday nights for 50 cent beer. But then, one thing led to another and it was closed down. Tantric Nightclub on the East Side has been a popular Thursday destination, especially for the ladies (18+ for them). RIC’s student body also dabbles in PC’s nightlife as well, oftentimes polishing off the night at Golden Crust pizza.  

Rhode Island School of Design (PVD)

In arguably the best position of all the PVD schools for nightlife, RISD is toward the East Side, but still very close to downtown. Wild Colonial is a popular watering hole, especially due to proximity, with its aged wood and exposed brick decor. Trinity Brewhouse is another go-to, particularly in the basement section. Some say that many RISD students prefer the small, private parties to actually going out, and/or they piggy-back on Brown’s parties and bars.

Roger Williams University (Bristol)

Though a bit distant from Bristol’s downtown, RWU has a number of options a short ride away. Aidan’s Pub is the expansive, inexpensive crowded bar that many of the students wind up at. In near proximity are Bristol Oyster Bar, Bar 31, Judge Roy Bean Saloon and Thames Waterside Bar & Grill.

University of Rhode Island (Kingston)

Ticket Tuesdays and Sunday Fundays at Ocean Mist have always been South County favorites for weekday drinking. Rhody Joe’s is a hot spot in Wakefield Center and great for a sit-down meal that won’t blow your entire booze budget. A college and local favorite, Mews Tavern has 69 beers on tap. Charlie O’s offers good atmosphere and friendly staff and is where most of the kids from the Briggs Farm and Eastward neighborhoods area end up drinking most nights of the week.

Salve Regina (Newport)

There are three main bars that people go to during the school year: One Pelham East on Tuesday, Gas Lamp Grille (affectionately called Trash Lamp) on Thursday and O’Brien’s on Saturday nights. One Pelham East has a 50 cent draft night on Tuesday, so anyone looking to pinch pennies (aka, every college student) heads down there for that deal, especially when DJs and dancing is part of the deal. Gas Lamp has a bar upstairs and a dance floor downstairs with a decent DJ on Thursday nights. O’Brien’s is where most Salve kids go on Saturday nights. It’s pretty much a Newport staple, but tends to get rather crowded. It’s mostly outside, and there’s a DJ in the back. Lots of people just go because they know other Salve kids are gonna be there, too.




Eight Methods for Spicing Up Your Pumpkin Beer

It’s here: The pumpkinpocalypse.

Every year at about this time the Basic in all of us rears its ugly head. Fall inevitably ushers in the advent of sharp flavors and pumpkin spiced this and that. Samuel Adams has traded in their lemon-hinted Summer Ale for the fuller bodied Oktoberfest and a multitude of pumpkin ales and other beers hit the shelves.

Everybody has their favorite pumpkin beer (with many of us probably having the same favorite), and while most are content to buy in bulk and savor it all season, it’s so easy to forget the value in using beer as a mixer or at the very least, sprucing things up a bit. Layer some pumpkin beer with other beers or spirits, or anything else you might think of. A pinch of this, a dash of that. As long as you’re within the wide range of fall flavors, it’s hard to mess this one up. 

Here are some ideas you can test out:

The Spicy Pumpkin

  • 1 pumpkin ale
  • sugar & spices for rim

More commonly referred to as … cinnamon-sugar on the rim!

This one probably comes as no surprise. Many restaurants that offer pumpkin beers will garnish it with a cinnamon-sugar rim (or perhaps even a cinnamon and brown sugar rim). It complements the flavors wonderfully, adding a nice touch of sweetness to the fall spices in the brew. It’s easy enough to do; the process is identical to salting the rim for a margarita. Wet the rim of the glass with warm water, apple juice or some meat from an orange (the best option). If you’re feeling REALLY dangerous, track down some pumpkin butter (yum…) to moisten the rim. Heck, vanilla vodka might even be great.

Whatever you choose, pour out your spices in a small plate or bowl and just dab your glass in it, rolling it around to ensure a nice coat.

To really spice things up? Mix up the spice ingredients. You’ll definitely want to use some kind of sugar in there, be it brown or granulated. Cinnamon is the standard go-to, but pumpkin pie spice, which includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice, also suits it quite well. 

Pumpkin Cider

  • 1 part pumpkin beer
  • 1 part cider

Simple and obvious! Mix together some lighter cider with pumpkin beer for a light, fruity and sweet addition to the pumpkin spices. A pear cider will offer a milder flavor as well, letting the pumpkin dominate the flavor profile. Best shared, unless you feel like drinking two net beers all by yourself.

The Vanilla Pumpkin

  • 1 pumpkin beer
  • 1 shot of vanilla vodka

This one’s really self-explanatory: Toss some vanilla vodka in your pumpkin beer. Feel free to combine with the rimmer previously mentioned. Amounts can vary: one shot, two shots, a big ole pour? It’s up to you. Any brand of vodka or pumpkin ale will do! You could feasibly do this carbomb style if you’re feeling wild.

Similar (and much improved) variations substitute whipped cream vodka.

The Pumpkin Captain

  • 1 pumpkin beer
  • 1 shot of spiced rum

It’s no mystery that the dark, mysterious flavors of spiced rums complement a pumpkin beer really well. Much like with the vanilla vodka, the portions are completely up to you. This one is perhaps the best simple cocktail mixer of the bunch.

One of my favorite fall beverages is spiced rum in some cold, non-alcoholic apple cider. Do that with some pumpkin beer, and you’ve basically got that amazing Pumpkin Juice everybody’s always raving about at Hogwarts.

The Creamy Gourd (Bomb!?)

  • 1 pumpkin beer
  • 1 shot of irish cream OR ½ Irish cream, ½ spiced rum

This one’s a bit tricky, because the Irish cream will most likely curdle if mixed too harshly (think Irish Car Bomb curdle). In fact, this one is best consumed almost identically to an Irish Car Bomb, but instead of a shot including Jameson and Bailey’s, you do just irish cream, or maybe maintain the half-and-half with spiced rum.

If you’re going to mix them straight up, you’ll want the Irish cream to be just a light drizzle on top of the pumpkin beer. The smooth, creamy beige will really richen up the flavor for this special treat, but again, curds will curdle your stomach into knots, so proceed at your own risk.

The Headless Horseman

  • 1 part pumpkin beer
  • 1 part full-bodied stout

In this autumnal variation of the infamous Black and Tan, the simple switch is to sub out the Bass Ale for pumpkin beer, but keep the Guinness or other stout on top. Some places, like Providence’s Snookers, have been known to call this the “Headless Horseman” which is odd, considering you wind up getting a lot of head and the pumpkin is on the bottom instead of the top … but anyway.

You can vary the proportions depending on your preference, but you always want to fill 1/2 to 2/3 of the glass with pumpkin ale and then slow drizzle the stout floater so it stays on top and doesn’t mix right away. The professionals will pour it onto a spoon and let it drip down, but it can be done without.

Rest assured: This one tastes AMAZING and stands as perhaps my favorite variation on pumpkin beer. This is also a great one to have when out, because a lot of restaurants this fall with have both Guinness and a pumpkin beer on draft.

The Lambp Shade

  • 1 part pumpkin beer
  • 1 part creamy stout
  • Drizzle of abricotier lambic

One of my favorite drinks in the world is a signature drink at the Duck & Bunny in PVD: The Lava Lambp. They drizzle Guinness over a bed of Magner’s Hard Cider and top it all off with a Framboise Lambic floater. The raspberry of the Framboise trickles through the beverage, slowly dissolving and mixing to give it a look that is distinctly Lava Lamp-like.

For a comparable pumpkin variation, switch in pumpkin ale for the Magner’s and choose a different flavor of Lambic. The apricot perhaps works best, but there are a variety of flavors that you can dabble in when it comes to the rich, syrupy brew.

The Great Pumpkin

  • Pumpkin beer
  • Rye whiskey
  • Apple brandy
  • Maple syrup
  • Garnish with nutmeg

I’ve seen variations of this one that include a whole egg that really enriches the overall boldness of this complicated cocktail. If you’re of the faint of stomach, feel free to skip that step, or even substitute it for a touch of cream or milk (or pumpkin egg nog!).




10 Things Every Rhode Islander Must Do

Every county, state, and region of the country has its own unique quirks, phrases, vocabulary and recipes, but few offer up as insulated a culture as Rhode Island. If there’s anything Rhode Islanders love, it’s being Rhode Islanders. Studies show that 98% of people born in Rhode Island never leave! (Just kidding, that’s not true.) We decided to take a look at some of the things that people from around here love. No self-respecting Rhode Islander would ever be caught not knowing about these things:

1. Good Eats — We sure do love our local (and localized!) food. All you can eat family-style chicken is a Northern RI staple, and you’d be hard-pressed to find it south of Providence or anywhere else in the known universe. Cheeseless bakery-made pizza strips have a similar story, but are a bit more widespread throughout the state.

In the realm of sweets, fried dough or “doughboys” originated in Canada and migrated to RI with the French Canadians of Woonsocket and North Smithfield. Now? You can find them at just about every festival ever in the history of the state. Johnnycakes, the elegant lovechild of cornbread and pancakes, have a history as nebulous as they are delicious.

What would we be without our seafood? Because we’re so Rhode Island, the red and white forms of clam chowder weren’t enough, so we made our own variant with clear broth. We also have our own calamari (the official app of the state!) served with pepperoncini and marinara. Quahogs are also so Rhode Island that the town in “Family Guy” is named after them, but they are most famously used in a stuffie. And how can we forget the only seafood less healthy and more delicious than fish & chips? Clam cakes!

2. Hot Weiners — Though technically also a food-related experience, there is something that sets apart the late-night buzzed consumption of hot weiners. A lot of people tout NY System as their haven for “gaggahs,” but I prefer Woonsocket’s New York Lunch.

No matter where you prefer to get yours, it has to be the special: a few wieners with a small order of french fries and a coffee milk. The buns come pre-greased and with a touch of arm sweat and the dogs are evenly cooked on those greasy roller contraptions. Top them with minced onions, meat sauce and a few touches of celery salt. I frequently get yelled at for adding mustard and ketchup to mine, but how can you not?

3. Drink, and be Merry — Coffee milk runs in our blood, and a Coffee Awful Awful from Newport Creamery is only for the thick-blooded individuals who want to be overwhelmed by creamy deliciousness. A true Rhode Islander loves Awful Awfuls, even if they don’t always get the coffee-flavored one, but even more importantly, a true Rhode Islander has their favorite place to get coffee milk. They’ve also made their own using Autocrat’s Coffee Syrup numerous times.

And no summer in Rhode Island is complete without slurping down a genuine frozen Del’s Lemonade, the chunky slurpy styled treat with real bits of lemon.

4. 4th of July in Bristol — For most of the country, attempting New Year’s Eve in New York City is something of a rite of passage. The hype, the energy, the congestion and inability to move (especially if you opt for Times Square) is a perfect parallel to the intensity that is 4th of July in Bristol.

Bristol is home to the oldest 4th of July celebration in the country. Rev. Henry Wight conducted the first “Patriotic Exercises” in 1785. That’s not a typo. It was 230 years ago. Wight was a veteran from the Revolutionary War (which explains his enthusiasm). These days, Patriotic Exercises includes nightly concerts in the park for weeks leading up to the day itself, a massive parade that draws up to 200,000 people annually.

5. White Horse Tavern — If you can believe it, there’s something older than Bristol’s 4th of July Celebration! White Horse Tavern in Newport has been around since 1673, before America was even really a thing. Forget RI, this is one of the oldest watering holes on the entire continent. They say it was a “regular haunt for Colonists, British soldiers, Hessian mercenaries, pirates, sailors, founding fathers and all manner of early American folk.”

These days, the Tavern offers great upscale dining that’s accentuated by the quaint history of the place. Located right in the middle of downtown Newport, how can you beat it?

6. Cliff Walk — Buzzfeed published an article last year listing “truly charming places to see before you die.” The list included places like a village on a Grecian isle, a colorful town in Northeastern France, and Newport!

Downtown Newport has a renowned nightlife, dining (including the White Horse Tavern) and shopping, but arguably the best part of Newport is the 11 mansions lining much of its coast. The Cliff Walk is hands-down the best way to experience the wonderful 18th century architecture of the mansions while also trailing along the coastline. This is 4.5 miles that every Rhode Islander must trek at least once.

7. “Sail away on the Block Island Ferry!” — If a Rhode Islander hasn’t made it to Block Island before, then they at the very least can sing the “Sail Away on the Block Island Ferry!” song by heart. 

The island offers 17 miles of wonderful beaches (all free), a large number of hiking trails and stunning cliffs. But the town itself offers great culinary options along with various shops. You can rent just about any vehicle, from a bicycle to a moped or even a handy little go-cart of sorts, to tour the island.

8. WaterFire — The only thing about Rhode Island that incites more confusion than the concept of “coffee milk” is WaterFire, an oxymoronic name in its own right. The event itself is pretty hard to describe: Three rivers converge in downtown Providence at Waterplace Park. Scattered on the water in the area are 100 braziers that are lit whenever a WaterFire event happens. Each scheduled “lighting” takes on an urban festival atmosphere, with all sorts of vendors participating in this free public art experience. Some call it a spiritual communal ceremony of sorts.

With civic duty in mind, some lightings promote various causes, and just about every individual lighting is sponsored by one or more local businesses.

9. Catch a movie at the Rustic Drive-In — Drive-in movie theaters aren’t a thing of the past. The Rustic Drive-In on 146 in North Smithfield is going strong after almost 55 years in the business. The drive-in was a thriving species when the Rustic was built in 1951. Today, this poor species has had its population reduced by 90%. There might be four in Massachusetts, but the Rustic is the last remaining one in RI.

Lots of the locals in North Smithfield like to giggle about how the sign looks like a weirdly bubbling phallus, and it’s true that they showed exclusively X-rated adult films for a stretch in the ‘60s and ‘70s. But today, a family of four can pay by the car to see two movies back to back for less than half the cost at a regular movie theater. Even more impressive, the Rustic always runs the new releases!

10. Make the pilgrimage to H. P. Lovecraft’s grave — Whether you’re a fan of horror or not, H. P. Lovecraft is the most influential thing to come out of Rhode Island since Narragansett Beer, which would explain their enthusiasm for making Lovecraft-infused brews. Lovecraft’s lasting impression upon the horror and science fiction genres permeate almost everything you play, watch and read even today. He’s buried at Swan Point Cemetery, in the northeastern corner of Providence right alongside the Seekonk River.

Look for Lot 5, Group 281, but first and foremost, look for Motif’s second August 2015 issue all about Lovecraft and the conference that’s developed around him: NecronomiCon.




West Broadway Neighborhood Association

When I enter the West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA), practically situated right on Westminster St in a former gas station, the first thing to greet me isn’t a human, but a massive dog. He’s some sort of mastiff mutt, a gentle giant whose overly large body holds up an impossibly larger head that nearly reaches my sternum. I laugh as he nudges my hand upward, and his owner comes around the corner into the sliver of an office space that is the first room of the WBNA.

Kari Lang has been with the WBNA for 20 years. When she tries to remember how long it’s been, she stares off into space for a few moments, counting the memories and tallying the moments. Almost shocked at the span of two decades, she smiles brightly. She professes love for the neighborhood and the work she does.

The WBNA has been around since 1983, but in 1997 it moved into its current space, which again, is a relic of an old gas station, still sporting a vintage gas pump as a colorful lawn ornament. The board consists of 19 members and the location itself has two permanent staffers, Lang and Rod Mortier.

Fertile Underground Grocery, the cooperatively owned local grocery store located across the street from the WBNA, was part of another WBNA initiative just three years ago. It’s only one example of the WBNA’s efforts to work with local businesses to improve the overall community.

Local residents can attempt to get a plot at one of two community gardens on Parade St. and Bridgham St., where restaurant-bar North has two small plots. There’s also a compost program run out of the Almy St. School, where a local urban farmer will take anyone’s compostable materials.

“The area wasn’t always known as family-friendly,” Lang said. “But it’s definitely become that over time.”

Throughout July, the WBNA offered free concerts in conjunction with a farmer’s market on Thursdays, complete with beer gardens for adults and different weekly activities for youngsters. And in the autumn, look out for a potential Narragansett Beer Neighbor Days Annual Block Party that occasionally happens in Luongo Sq, right in front of The Avery.

Arguably one of their “greenest” initiatives the WBNA offers is a program through local vendor Sol Power to get solar panels installed on homes and businesses in the area. Recently, even Mayor Jorge Elorza received a quote for $12,000 system that could stand to pay for itself in energy savings over the course of seven years, especially when you factor in the accompanying tax credit. Currently, over 33 locations are signed up with 16 of those already fully operational with panels leased to own after the next 10 years.

The WBNA is up to much good, and plans to be for many years to come.

For a complete look at Motif’s neighborhood profile of the West End, click here.




Broadway Brunch

In the warmer months, you’d be hard-pressed to drive down Broadway on a weekend around midday without spotting pockets of pedestrians running amok. Clusters of hungry brunchers of all ages congregate because, per capita, the West Side is quite possibly the best destination in all of Providence when it comes to brunch options. There isn’t all that much in the way of al fresco — unlike the Italian neighbors to the north at DePasquale Square on Federal Hill — but there is a heck of a lot in terms of quality. And if there’s a wait, why not put in a reservation and hike up the street to Seven Stars, where you can snag what I’d call the best latte in the city?

In no particular order, here are five of your best brunch options:

Julians – 318 Broadway – juliansprovidence.com

Mon – Fri, 9am – 4:30pm

Sat & Sun, 8am – 2pm

Located in the very heart of Broadway, Julians is a New American restaurant and bar that many recognize as the forerunner of the West Side’s restaurant boom in recent years. Chef Mike McHugh runs a tight and delicious ship that has been sailing strong since 1994. Brunch diners flock to Julians in droves, and with good reason: a scrambled egg pizza with in-house made ketchup is my favorite, but my sigOth is partial to one of the six (seven if you count the vegetarian option) different kinds of eggs benedict. The ever-changing menu is also nearly certain to contain something you’ve never tried before – perhaps never even heard of before!

Some gem quotes from Julians diners: Anna Fox said, “On the West Side, I like Julian’s for brunch or dinner because their menu always changes and all the guys have great facial hair if you’re into that kind of thing.” And when asked, Nicole Cote replied, “If you get brunch anywhere other than Julians, you are a fool.”

Loie Fuller’s – 1455 Westminster St – loiefullers.com

Sunday 10am – 2pm

One of the outliers in the Broadway brunch scene, Fuller’s is technically on Westminster. The restaurant itself has the vibe that harks to a classic French brasserie, but with a new, modern twist. Named after a pioneer of American dance, their nouveau sense of style infuses both the elaborate decor and delicious grub. Their brunch menu has changing offerings that will satiate any palate, with both savory and sweet options, including a breakfast burger — need I say more? Add a Bloody Mary and you have yourself a proper boozy brunch.

Kitchen – 94 Carpenter St

Wed – Fri, 7:30am – 1pm

Sat & Sun, 7:30am – 4pm

Imagine a tiny hole in the wall that can barely squeeze a dozen patrons inside. There’s a small kitchen space in the back with one chef and usually at most two waitresses. Now imagine you’ve scored a table (one of only five) and the bacon is so thick and juicy and somehow still crispy that it melts in your mouth. This cozy little place, owned and operated by Howard Croft, offers up bulldozer-sized quality in its breakfast menu. Huevos rancheros and a housemade grilled muffin are great places to start, but if you walk away without having the bacon, you’re a damned fool.

The Grange – 166 Broadway – providencegrange.com

Sat & Sun 9am – 3pm

This newer kid on the block is the sister eatery to the vegetarian haven, Garden Grille, on the East Side. Their intent is to provide veggie-based meals that are better for you than your farmyard friends. If you’re craving brunch that won’t weigh down your stomach, this restaurant is PVD’s eco-friendly go-to, complete with re-purposed furniture, decor and hand-me-down mugs. The Grange serves up anything from the traditional eggs-toast-homefries breakfast to a Kim Chi Burrito, with the most popular item being their Eggs Benedict. While you’re here, you can rest assured that everything — down to the soap in the bathroom — is home-grown, so you’ll have no problem feeling like you’re having brunch on your very own grange.

Nick’s on Broadway – 500 Broadway – nicksonbroadway.com

Wed – Sun, 8am – 3pm

Ever the high-end supporter of local growers and producers, Nick’s on Broadway is no doubt one of the priciest dinner options on or around the Broadway strip, but their brunch is both practically priced and wonderful for your taste buds. Those with a sweet tooth will want to opt for the warm lemon-honey-ginger bread pudding with same-flavored ice cream. You’d also be hard-boiled-pressed to find better Eggs Benedict, which include variations and even specials which might include locally sourced onions and mushrooms. Baked polenta of local corn and Vermont cheddar is also totally worth your time.

For a complete look at Motif’s neighborhood profile of the West End, click here.




A West Side Story

Long ignored by many in favor of the italophile strip just north, the West Side of Providence is considered by many to be the city’s up-and-coming place to live, eat and drink. We’re talking about the stretch of land south of Federal Hill, but everything on and north of Westminster. To the west, it’s carved out by Rt-6, and it’s a very short trip downtown to the east (less than a mile, in fact). Rent is cheap, as in a three-bedroom with four people for $850 a month cheap. That is, assuming you’re cool bunking up with your hubby.

Historically, Broadway was the home of the many wealthy mill owners in the state. Hence all the pretty historical houses, many of which are occupied by private businesses now. Local historian and documentary filmmaker Jon Raben explained to me that after Italian immigrants claimed the Atwells strip, the Irish who migrated to the area around the 1920s were forced south, founding St. Mary’s Church.

The contemporary landscape wasn’t much until Julians arrived smack dab in the geographical center of the area, serving as the cornerstone for a vibrant community that was way hip far before the advent of the hipster. Now? It boasts about a dozen of the best bars and restaurants in the city and countless boutiques, specialized shops and a burgeoning music scene to boot.

Here are just a few of the highlights that make a visit, or even more permanent roots, worth your while.

Read more of our coverage on the West End:

Shopping on Broadway

Urban Agriculture

West Broadway Neighborhood Association

Seven Stars

Ogie’s Trailer Park

Brunch on Broadway

Music on Broadway

The Women of the West

Pub Amble I

Pub Amble II

And check out these videos:

Broadway Profile

John Hope Settlement House

Ring of Peace




Misquamicut Beach: Fun for the Whole Family

In late October 2012, I was doing communications and volunteer management for Serve Rhode Island (SRI). Much of the work involved providing nonprofits with resources to help recruit volunteers, particularly through weekly articles I wrote for The Providence Journal. But in times of crisis, SRI meets the community’s needs.

For many Rhode Islanders, Hurricane Sandy was, at most, an exciting inconvenience when it struck on October 22. Power outages for days. Spoiled food. Candles and flashlights galore. Other areas of New England were hit much harder, with Westerly’s Misquamicut Beach being one of them.

Full structures were swept away with the tide. The entire beach was pushed inland. Sand and saltwater damage wrecked businesses and homes. It took months and years to rebuild. Maria’s Seaside Cafe, which was destroyed by the storm, remains under construction and the Town Beach Pavilion is in the final stages of its relocation, resuming full operations in a few short weeks.

Many who hear the term “Misquamicut Beach” think of what’s formally dubbed as “Misquamicut State Beach” — the half-mile length of beach established as a park (ironically after a 1954 hurricane devastated the community) smack dab in the middle of something greater. “Misquamicut Beach” is the informal name given to an area technically part of Westerly, but in many ways its own distinct community.

“There’s a lot of choices at Misquamicut in addition to the state beach,” explained Caswell Cooke, Executive Director of the Misquamicut Business Association (MBA). “Over those three miles of sand, there are at least 10 beaches and more than 50 businesses.”

Cooke helped found the MBA almost 15 years ago when it was just a coalition of local businesses. Now, it’s a driving force in the community and was chiefly responsible for breathing life back into Misquamicut after Sandy. These days, a golf cart can be regularly seen driving around, sweeping the sidewalk and picking up litter, keeping everything in tip-top shape.

The MBA works in conjunction with the Westerly Chamber of Commerce on some of the events throughout the season, with each organization managing their own programming. It’s all in the spirit of preserving and enhancing Misquamicut Beach. Cooke referred to it as a village, with its own “insulated, open-hearted culture.”

That culture, to put it dramatically, has risen like a phoenix from the ashes in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The Misquamicut Beach Facebook page boasts 38,955 “Likes”, which is about 15,000 more than Newport and more than three times that of Rhode Island. Though many of the license plates you see visiting read Mass or Conn, there’s been a recent push to bring in more from RI.

Misquamicut’s community was once renowned for its nightlife and revelry in the ‘70s and ‘80s. According to Cooke, Misquamicut Beach has rebranded itself and is now a family-friendly beach getaway with great restaurants to boot. Classic restaurant/bars like Paddy’s, Sandy’s Lighthouse, Windjammer Surf Bar and Andrea all host open deck parties on the weekends for adults, but there so much more for families besides some beach time.

Whether it’s a day trip or a longer stay in one of the over 400 hotel rooms and 400 rental cottages, Misquamicut is a great summertime getaway for the whole family, with something to do just about every day of the week.

Here are a few of the signature events going on:

Drive-in Movie Nights

Entering its fifth season, Drive-ins at Wuskenau Town Beach use a giant projector screen to show classic beachy films from now through October. Over the 26-week run, you can drive up and catch Dirty Dancing, E.T. or even the pre-Fourth of July tradition of Jaws, (which just so happens to be celebrating its 40th anniversary). Screenings are on Fri in the off-season and Thurs in July and Aug, starting at 9pm.

Classic Car Cruise Nights

On Thurs thru Sept, from 5:30pm til dusk, all specialty cars are welcome for a public car show with 102.3 FM The Wolf. Cars gather in the Windjammer East lot at 321 Atlantic Ave.

Tunes on the Dunes

Monday Night Jams brings out the rock ‘n’ roll with John Ford Coley, known for his collaboration with England Dan active in the 1970s. Among his top 10 hits were “Nights Are Forever Without You” and “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.” 6pm, Westerly Town Beach, 337 Atlantic Ave.

Wednesday Night Blues on the Beach features just that: Roomful of Blues, a Westerly originated band that’s found national success. Local guitarist Duke Robillard and pianist Al Copley bring the rhythm, and so does Commander Cotey on a weekly basis. 6pm, Westerly Town Beach, 337 Atlantic Ave.

Movies on the Beach

Located at Windjammer Beach Resort at 321 Atlantic Ave, near the rides and other amusements, Movies on the Beach shows kids movies in July and Aug, put on by the Westerly Chamber of Commerce. Call or visit their website for more specifics: westerlychamber.org.

Hermit Crab Races

Yup. It’s just like it says. The Purple Ape hosts “hermit crab races” on Wed in July and Aug. Hundreds turn out for the 7pm race time, after registering their crabs or maybe even bringing their own.

Magic by the Sea with Larry and David

No, not Larry David. On Thurs in July and Aug, this two-man magical act presents flourishing prestiges that will astound families. 7pm, Windjammer, 321 Atlantic Ave.

Tom McCoy Family Fun Run Series

Rounding the corner every Wed at 6pm in July and Aug, this fun run for families starts at Pleasant View, 65 Atlantic Ave. Various course lengths go throughout Misquamicut, ranging from one-third mile all the way up to a 5K.

Bayview Fun Park

Located at 330 Atlantic Ave, this multifaceted and aquatic-focused family entertainment center  features an award winning 18-hole mini-golf course, Slick Track Go-Karts, Splashing Bumper Boats, two batting cages and four-place Bungy Jump. They also offer daily beach parking with access to their own Bayside Beach, which includes kayak and stand up board rentals and local fishing charters.

Misquamicut Beach Salt Pond Challenge

Date TBD, this 1-mile swim of Winnapaug Pond sometime in Aug benefits other family events at the beach.

For a full list of events online, visit misquamicut.org or the Misquamicut Beach Facebook page.




Gallery Night: A Field Trip to PVD’s Art Scene

It’s hard to imagine how or why a near three-hour tour of galleries around Providence would wind up being absolutely free, but you won’t hear me complaining. It’s a trendy monthly adventure open to everyone with an interest in art or at the very least, a nice night out on the town.

Providence’s Gallery Night is an open event with options. One Regency Plaza serves as the centralized hub of activity and information every third Thursday of the month, starting around 5pm.

There are 26 participating locations around the city, ranging from the small and chic Cate Charles Gallery on North Main St to the Chazan Gallery at Wheeler, which showcases students’ work. Many locations exclusively showcase local art, yet others cater toward vintage and/or craft goods. And some — like Studio Hop on Hope St — offer a smattering of all three.

How does Gallery Night work? You walk into One Regency Plaza and there’s a frenzy of activity. A small table is set up with promotional materials from the various galleries and destinations, attended by pleasant and helpful volunteers. A large board is set up to one side, showing the departure times for tours (they leave approximately every half-hour, with each tour hitting different stops with different guides).

School buses roll up promptly at the back entrance to Regency Plaza and every seat is packed. People giggle about riding in a school bus for what feels very much like a field trip.

April 16 marked one of the first of many Gallery Night Providence tours featuring a celebrity guest guide: Kimberly Sherman-Leon. She was one of our tag-team sherpas, along with Gallery Night regular John Housley, with Sherman-Leon taking point. She’s made it a lifelong goal to “promote and educate on the design industry.” To that end, she founded Rhode Island Creative Magazine, an online-focused publication that highlights creative talent in RI, both professional and artistic.

As our bus pulled away, Sherman-Leon explained the format for the evening: The bus takes everyone on a loop through the city, hitting five different locations for approximately 20 minutes each. Specific galleries are different with each tour, and roughly each month every gallery changes shows. Couple that with a rotation of guides, both “celebrity” and otherwise, and you will never ever experience the same Gallery Night twice.

Our first stop was at the Dryden Gallery, located inside Providence Picture Frame, an expansive warehouse-sized location tucked away behind the Benny’s off the northern section of North Main St. Sherman-Leon gave us an insider tip: Make a beeline for the third floor and see the gallery there first, and then make your way down.

The Dryden Gallery featured work by David Witbeck. Titled “Beyond the Sea,” Witbeck’s work paid particular attention to the female form along with other work that paid great reverence to seafaring creatures and the ocean itself.

An assortment of paintings and photo prints adorned the second floor, and the first floor had its own smaller selection, but was for the most part dedicated to framing.

Studio Hop on Hope St was next, a colorful hodge-podge of artistic items with a small gallery in back. The store featured artisan and handcrafted jewelry along with vintage furniture, but the decor itself is a work of art.

Artist Michael Owen had some of his work on display and was there to speak to the crowd. A locally educated contemporary artist, his current display heavily features more traditional seascapes of boats on the water (Owen even crafts his own boats!). When asked about the prominence of boats and the ocean in art, he said, “When you’re out on the water you’re at the intersection of the water and the wind, and there’s just something so primal and wonderful about that feeling. A lot of artists try to capture that.”

The Krause Gallery, located inside Moses Brown, featured two artists: Ruth Terrill and Sammy Chong. Terrill’s work seems vaguely inspired by Dali, but done in the style of magazine cut-outs, blending scenes of space with statues and colorful patterns. Chong’s work, vastly different, explored depth by using the effect of layered plexiglass to blend integrated sections of a scene together.

The Chazan Gallery, located at the Wheeler School, shows off photographic displays from students in spectacular fashion. All the work on display is done by seniors studying studio art. Rather than a blunt display of their best work, each student opted for an artistic interpretation for their individual exhibitions. Jackie Bowshell, for instance, opted for a color-coordinated display for her photographs that transitioned across a rainbow spectrum. A mustard container, school bus, bundle of bananas and bag of Lay’s Potato Chips were all clustered together.

Our final stop was at Lore – A Collection inside the Arcade Providence. They featured a collection of art and design objects in a small shop on the outside of the Arcade’s strip. Lore features a wide assortment of handcrafted art pieces and goods from artisan textiles to knitwear design.

By the very end, we had clocked in roughly three hours of sightseeing and art contemplation, and night had completely fallen.

Hint for beginners: Don’t embark on this artistic adventure on an empty stomach. Though some galleries do offer wonderful light refreshments (I’m nodding to your delicious spread, Krause Gallery), not all do. With a close to three-hour running time, you’re bound to get hungry.




Documentary Short: Life of Substance