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Black Fish in a Red Sea: Somethin’ fishy in these here waters

Poet’s Prologue: I am the Invisible veteran. I recently read an article about the finding of a deep sea fish that was always there but was never seen. before. Think of that a second…something always there…but never seen. Like the GI Bill creating housing patterns that led to modern racial reckoning. Like a placid ocean that hides and buries tons of pressure. Let’s see…what’s under the sea.

I had a pale inlaw who bought a house for $5 thousand dollars. Lived happily ever after. Sold it for $5 million dollars. My dusky father was an outlaw and bought a similar house for $5 thousand. Lived happily ever after. Couldn’t sell it for $5 thousand. In the words of philosopher Marvin Gaye, “what’s goin’ on? Someone tell me what’s goin’ on?” Yep, GI, this a metaphor about Bill and Redlining:

Fish be floatin’, moatin’, downright slow boatin’. A phantom miles under deep.

Dense immense darkness in a pitch black sea.

It is Something grazing swimmingly … in whatever water is.

Gulping … sculpting … bubbles … with an undulating phrenic peep.

Fish ain’t hardly crazy about the pressure way Above. Not that it knows where-ever …if ever …of anything called Above. Nor able to think of nuthin’ really. Not life, not liberty nor love.

Fish just be floatin’. bloatin’ . motor boatin’ and downright showboatin’.
Darting past the deep sea tripod fish. Ugling with the bony-eared assfish.
Evading the larval lionfish.

Holy mackerel, pretty damn Dark creature. An Ultra-Black blink of a fish in
a bottomless Black sea. So invisible light soaks into its very scales. Why is
a creature this creepy anyways, So far under deep.


No clue … this filet … that sentients called scientists have tracked down their prey. Pixels in black n’ white in something called Time Magazine. Yep, Chronically Unaware it is… ‘Cause for Fish there …is …no …Time.

Fish just be floatin, bloatin, motor boatin’ and just plain showboatin’

It is … as it and its kin have always been. Indigo, no where to go. Invisible, Mired in murky mud waters not of their making.


Suddenly, a whoosh of steamy red… vents its unawares and froths him up…up…up… to another level. Where comfortable cold is beveled by jets of searing heat. Whatever heat or red is.

Turbulent Times. Down is now Up. Black is volcanic Red. Denizen density now Light. God what a fright! (whatever god is)

Fish paddles fitfully about until it encounters something mystically enroute.
Brightness ! Stirring feelings on its face and it can suddenly…
See !?! Whatever face and seeing is.

See here now … in the suddenly red lining. Critters are all about. Keep your head on a swivel. ‘Cause Now it stands out. Whatever stands means. Fish is certainly Outed…

Just in time to barely avoid a school of loan sharks that chase it back down to the depths of the sound. Never ever to venture up again.




I’ll Bet You Think This Song Is About You

For once, Carly Simon, we’re right! And it has nothing to do with our vanity! Though we can’t deny we have a healthy dose of it. How much do you know about these songs that are most definitely about RI?

  1. This iconic performer sings she was “Fully Matured by the Time she was Ten” in  My Sweet Rhode Island Red.

ANSWER: Tina Turner

2. In this song written by Paul Williams, a certain amphibean laments leaving Rhode Island.

ANSWER: “Movin’ Right Along” from The Muppet Movie 

3. This Beatles parody band sang about “Shaking Maracas in Rhode Island” in their song Calico Girlfriend Samba

ANSWER: The Monkees

4. The classic “Rhode Island is Famous For You,” popularized by Blossom Dearie, started off as part of what musical?

ANSWER: The musical revue Inside, U.S.A. 

5. This song about the raping and pillaging of the west begins with the lyric:  She came from Providence, One in Rhode Island, Where the old world shadows hang heavy in the air….

ANSWER: “The Last Resort” by The Eagles




Harvest Some Fun

We are counting the days until the Washington County Fair returns to Richmond! We loved the virtual programming last year — we could almost smell the goats — but it just wasn’t the same. This year, we can’t wait for the carnival rides, live bands, games and demonstrations that show agriculture is alive and well in RI. And the food (fair fare?)! Stand back, cause we are gonna let our inner Templeton the rat out this year like we never have before.

For more information or to purchase tickets online, go to washingtoncountyfair-ri.com or follow @thewashingtoncountyfair.




The Cabinet

Salutations, louts and bully-boys! H.L. Popinjay here with another edition of The Cabinet, the column which, much like the chocolate cabinets of my wayward Rhode Island youth, is bound to give you a stomachache.

Politicking is a nasty business these days, as evidenced by the recent public spat between The Mayor and The Governor over the teachers’ contract. Whatever one may make of the motivations behind that juicy piece of political theater, we can all agree that Councilman Narducci’s statement, in which he claimed that “raised voices and aggressive behavior will never result in productive change,” was cretinously muttonheaded. Raised voices and aggressive behavior are the only things that ever result in anything at all, particularly in the gormless muck of politicking. Well, that and bribery.

Speaking of bribery, this columnist hopes that the $100 vaccine payments manage to boost our state’s plateauing vaccination rates. Ah, to live in a country that will bribe you to take life-saving medicine! While, of course, continuing to deny access to so much other life-saving medicine. Truly a land of contrasts.
Until next time, I remain hacking Canadian smoke,
Your Humble Columnist,
H.L. Popinjay




On the Cover

Do you recognize that hand on our cover? No? Let’s play a little game. Gen Xers over here, Zoomers over there. Now, Xers — picture that hand chopping wildly at the air, dressed in an oversized suit, the epitome of cool. Zoomers — picture that hand on TikTok, chopping wildly at the air, the epitome of terrible dad dance moves. Any guesses?

This photo is a crop of RISD alum David Byrne of The Talking Heads as he performed at San Francisco’s The Boarding House in 1977. The photo was taken by storied RI photographer Richard McCaffrey, who has photographed the biggest musicians in the world for the biggest publications in the world. He recently compiled some of his photography into an alphabet book called Richard’s Rock & Roll Alphabet.

For more info on Richard’s latest book and work, go to richardmccaffrey.net.




Don’t Hold Your Breath

Imagine 

Finding yourself 

Being pulled underwater. 

The current taking you out

Into the deep.

You

Try your best

To paddle your feet to the surface.

Gasping

Gagging

Eyes bulging for oxygen. 

And the weight of your ankles

Never have the strength 

To shake off the anchors 

Holding you down.

The chain of subjection.

The more you struggle

The more

The rust of the iron 

Cuts into the calves.

Blood introduces the oppression 

Of other predators.

Racism 

Discrimination 

Police Brutality 

Profiling 

Redlining 

Gentrification 

Privatized Prisons.

Lungs filled with ocean. 

Blacked out.

Being pulled Into the outer darkness.

It’s a wonder why 

We are stereotyped on swimming.

Afraid to test the water.

Never taken lessons. 

Always second guessing 

How cold it is

How deep it can get.

How long can you hold your breath?

Until

Emmitt Till is found 

In Tallahatchie River?

Until 

They’re ready to give penicillin 

To Macon County sharecroppers?

Until Eric Garner 

And George Floyd 

Get their second wind?

We put our hands up

To be rescued.

Waving a white flag in hopes

Of a fitted life jacket.

Instead

Body bagged

Toe tagged

Target practice for the next

Victim.

It’s not that we just can’t breathe

But we’ve been out of breath

Since slave catchers and dog bites.

We’ve been 

Back of the Bus tired.

We’ve been

Klan rally gag ordered. 

We’ve been

Vietnam Frontlined.

We’ve been

Flint water poisened.

Hell

Being short of breath

And

Asthmatic 

Tends to be life’s custom.

To be an American 

Is one thing.

To be an African American 

Well…

Let’s just see how long

You can hold your breath.




Shake Your Groove Thing

Roller disco is coming to Providence! Thursday and Friday nights, the rink at the Bank Newport City Center will be transformed into a massive outdoor Roller Disco. PVDLive is curating Thursday nights and Conscious Club curates the DJs and live performers Friday night, while the mood is set by a spinning disco ball. The Trinity Beer Garden will be serving up beverages and snacks.

After a long pandemic year, strap on your wheels and proclaim to the night, in the immortal words of Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive!”




The Rhode Island Home Food Manufacture Act Needs Your Support

I’m Brian Leosz, the owner of Butterbang, a one-man croissant bakery in Providence. As a small food business owner, I understand the risk of taking a food concept from the home kitchen to a commercial kitchen. 

I wish it were a less risky endeavor in our state. However, food businesses of all sizes in Rhode Island are required to invest large sums of money in outfitting a commercial kitchen before they have a single customer. Forty-eight states have cottage food laws on the books or have not prohibited non-hazardous food production in homes. Alongside New Jersey, Rhode Island still outright forbids home food production for commercial sale.

Kara Donovan, owner of A Spoonful of Sugar bakery, was ordered by the Department of Health to cease operations from her home kitchen earlier this year. Until that point, she had been supplementing her household income with a word-of-mouth sugar cookie and cake business. 

That’s when Donovan sought to establish a new law to allow the operation of home-based food businesses in Rhode Island. Since then, she has been working with Senator Alana DiMario to bring a bill before the House and Senate to establish the Home Food Manufacture Act as law.

This piece of legislation would alter an existing law that allows farms to produce and sell non-hazardous foods to the public. If successful, citizens across the state would be able to produce and sell non-hazardous foods from their home kitchens. 

5 Reasons to Support the Home Food Manufacture Act

1. Leasing a commercial kitchen is a risky commitment
Many first-time foodpreneurs take on significant risk by signing a year-long or multi-year lease. But what if the business can’t make enough money in the first few months to pay the outstanding lease? That’s a dangerous place to be in.  If people could start a business at home, they could work out the kinks and establish a customer base with very low risk. They can then graduate to a commercial space when it makes financial sense. But some food businesses want to operate indefinitely on a small scale from the home, and this law makes that possible.

2. Hourly kitchens are expensive
Shared kitchens are another option, often costing between $25-$35 an hour. There are usually many hidden fees above and beyond this base rate. Many renters end up shuttering when costs cut too deeply into profits to make for a sustainable business model. I hear this time and again from food incubator and shared kitchen occupants. They could bake the same batch of 100 cupcakes or several dozen loaves of bread at home at a substantial cost savings.

3. It can greatly increase profitability
Working where you live provides tremendous cost savings for the solo food entrepreneur. Not having to pay a commercial lease on top of your home mortgage or rent may be the difference between success and bankruptcy if you want to remain a micro-business.

4. It will increase self-employment
Stay at home parents, caregivers, and those wishing to produce where they live can work around their own schedules and constraints while meaningfully supplementing their household income. 

5. Home food businesses will enrich neighborhoods
Imagine a baker in your neighborhood selling goods from their kitchen window. These businesses can enrich the community at a time when unity is a lacking notion. Neighbors waiting in line get to know each other and build connections through these hubs of information.

How You Can Support the Bill

The Rhode Island Home Food Manufacture Act (House Bill 5758/Senate Bill 552) is still waiting on a floor vote in the Senate. In effort to get this bill on the docket for a vote before the 2021 session closes in June, our Senators and House Representatives need to feel a groundswell of support from Rhode Islanders. To learn more about this bill and voice your support:

  • Visit butterbang.com/home-food-act
  • Click “Send Email” on the page to send a preformatted letter of support for the bill to all House Representatives and Senators. 

I’m confident establishing this law would provide gainful self-employment to thousands of Rhode Islanders and kickstart many exciting food ventures in the future. But this bill needs your help to cross the finish line!




Expungement Explained

John Karwashan, Esq.

Criminal records for marijuana-related offenses have excluded individuals — disproportionately members of Black, brown and low-income communities — from engaging in meaningful opportunities in our state for far too long. Over the past 50 years, the failed War on Drugs has ruined lives in Rhode Island, and it is time for the state to fix it.

Automatic expungement is a critically important component that elected officials must include in any marijuana legalization bill. It calls for all marijuana-related offenses to be removed from criminal records, without requiring every individual with marijuana-related offenses on their criminal record to file the necessary paperwork in court — a process that can be confusing and difficult. Automatic expungement streamlines the process by putting the responsibility on those agencies that are primarily responsible for the creation of these criminal records. 

Another option being discussed among social equity advocates involves urging Governor McKee to use his constitutionally granted pardon power to issue a pardon proclamation for every individual with a marijuana-related offense on their record. These pardons, combined with sealing public records, could provide similar results to automatic expungement if done properly.

In states that have already legalized marijuana with some form of social equity component, we have seen the impact of these policies first hand. Tens of thousands have cleared their names, while citizens in other legal states struggle with a restricted expungement process. Several states have used the governor’s pardon power with success, including Illinois, where Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently announced the pardon of nearly 500,000 low-level marijuana convictions.

The benefits of automatic expungement or the governor using his pardon power are plenty. Automatically expunging marijuana-related offenses from criminal records will undoubtedly create more opportunity in our Black, brown, and low-income communities because marijuana-related offenses will no longer be used as barriers to employment, housing and student loans, among other things. Automatic expungement also would be a signal from our elected officials that they recognize the harm the failed war on marijuana has created and are ready to right those wrongs. 




Beauty

I am a woman, I am a queen

Beautiful mind, beautiful soul

Sexy from my eyes to the bottoms of my feet

Every bit of me, the pride runs so deep

Walk tall for all to see and witness

The arrival of a Queen

Don’t fret I’m just being me

Seeing you creep and take a peek

Loving and admiring all that you see

Letting my insecurities get the best of me for a moment I get weak

Then I think, oh no girl they like what they see, it’s you they seek

A rockstar when you move the crowd 

A lioness they hear the roar

A warrior fight till they fall

A queen as they stand and bow

A woman I shout out loud

I am Beauty.