Poor Paul screens in RI: State stands in for rest of world
Years in the making, this madcap indie comedy, directed by Sean Michael Beyer, was shot in RI during the pandemic. They chose RI because of the diverse locations close to each other, and the state ended up standing in for nations around the world, including Italy (Venice, of course), Germany, France, England and Frankenstein’s castle.
Catch the red carpet premiere on Sun, Mar 5, 4pm at the Lincoln Cinemas (which used to be CinemaWorld), in the Lincoln Mall, 622 George Washington Hwy, Lincoln, RI.
We talked with cast and crew while they were shooting – read about it here soon!
2023 RI Music Awards
It’s time to again celebrate local with one of Motif’s favorite annual gatherings: The RI Music Awards. Save the date for 6:30pm on March 20 at FMH, with food from Refuel Catering.
Although we’re the smallest state, RI has a never-ending supply of fantastic music spanning all genres. We seem to be post-COVID, at least as far as live music coming back is concerned, and we can’t wait to celebrate spring and reemergence with our diverse music community.
Along with the awards ceremony, which will be hosted at the legendary venue Fête Music Hall, there will be food, drinks and live music, so please save. Performances by School of Rock, Appala’s Eclipse, Vudu Sister, FINE. and more, along with photos, interviews, wacky hijinks and more will create a memorable evening. The event is sponsored by FMH and R1 Indoor Karting.
No matter whom you select in each category, we feel it’s important to recognize and appreciate just how much creativity, vitality and talent is represented in our area. Many of these acts have promising futures ahead, and it is always a joy to see how music from this state evolves and captivates ears and hearts, locally and sometimes worldwide.
To all the musicians, venues, labels and audiophiles in RI, we salute you, and we hope you can join us for the celebration!
Motif’s RI Tattoo Awards are coming back on April 18! Join us in celebrating the local tattoo artists around Rhode Island. The event will take place once again at Narragansett Brewery in PVD. See a video of last year’s shenanigans at motifri.com/motif-2022-tattoo-awards-winners. The night will include “Ink Master” season two winner Steven Tefft, an awards ceremony, live judging of human canvases, raffles, local artwork, live music and FREE “Hi Neighbor” tattoos! Sponsored by R1 Indoor Karting and Narragansett Brewery.
Come on out and celebrate with us on April 18! Event is 6pm-10pm!
No matter whom you select in each category, we feel it’s important to recognize and appreciate just how much creativity, vitality and talent is represented in our area.
Overall: Color Overall: Black and Grey Line Work American Traditional Calligraphy / Typography Geometric Character Blackwork Animal Anime Cover Up (please provide before and after) Other (open to suggestions)
LUKE TAYLOR ANGEL CAMACHO TINA LUGO INDIA VAUGHN SCOTT JOEY MOREIRA JEN BEIROLA BERT RUSSO GREG ARPIN ROB YOUNG SALVADOR GARCIA TARA D’AGOSTINO COREY CREAMER GABRIEL DE JESUS JOHN WALGE ALYSSA CAVALLO RODNEY ST. ONGE ALY CAT SUNSHINE JAY BLACKBURN SEAN REYNOLDS CARL ABELSON REACHEL WS TONY ASIAN AMIE CONNORS KAT JONES
David Cicilline resigns from Congress: Effective Jun 1, will head RI Foundation
After 12 years representing RI’s first district in the US House of Representatives, David Cicilline will step down effective Jun 1, 2023, according to a statement released by his office late this morning. He will become president and CEO of the RI Foundation, a major philanthropic organization, replacing Neil Steinberg who announced his retirement several months ago.
Cicilline has held the seat since Jan 2011, most recently re-elected in Nov 2022 to a term ending in Jan 2025, defeating Republican challenger Allen Waters, 63.8% – 36.2%. The district is considered a safely Democratic seat, and the margin of victory is comparable to that estimated in the subsequently redrawn district for the most recent presidential election in 2020. As a result, a Democratic primary to fill the vacancy is expected to be fiercely competitive, effectively setting the stage for an easy win in the general election.
The Office of the RI Secretary of State said that the timing of a special election would, by law, be determined by the governor. “A vacant seat in the House of Representatives is filled through a special election. In collaboration with the Board of Elections, the Department of State will begin the special election process once requested by the Governor,” a spokesman told Motif. The law provides that the special election will be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the month.
UPDATE Feb 23: The office of Secretary of State Gregg Amore told Motif, “We are beginning to map out a possible timeline for the special election that would comply with elections law and create enough time to satisfy all of the procedural elements of holding a special election. Once the election is called for, there will need to be a candidate declaration period, a signature collection and verification period, and internal ballot preparation. Then, federal law requires that mail ballots are sent to overseas voters [primarily active duty military] 45 days before both the primary and the general. At this time, we believe that statutorily, the earliest a primary could be held would be August 8. If the primary were to be held on August 8, the general would likely follow on October 3. If the primary were to be held September 5, the general would likely follow on November 7. These are only preliminary, possible dates. Later dates are possible. No dates have been set or confirmed. The Department of State is working collaboratively with the Governor’s Office, the Board of Elections, and the local cities and towns to ascertain the feasibility of different scenarios.”
Cicilline previously served as mayor of Providence from 2003 to 2010 and in the RI House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He is an attorney by profession, graduating from law school at Georgetown University in 1986 and receiving a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1983.
In a statement, Cicilline said, “The chance to lead the Rhode Island Foundation was unexpected, but it is an extraordinary opportunity to have an even more direct and meaningful impact on the lives of residents and families of our state.” He characterized the RI Foundation as “one of the largest and oldest nonprofit community foundations in the nation.”
Cicilline did not address the issue in his statement, but it is a reasonable inference that a significant factor in his decision to leave Congress was his party’s loss of majority status in the Nov 2022 election, greatly reducing his ability to accomplish anything in the narrowly divided chamber after being relegated to the minority. In his previous term, he served on the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Judiciary Committee, holding the chair of the latter’s Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee.
“I write today to convey my deepest and most sincere gratitude to the residents of the First Congressional District. I am extremely grateful for the support of the people of Rhode Island, my dedicated staff, and the help of the many organizations and individuals that I have had the privilege to partner with over the past twelve years,” Cicilline said in the statement. “I once again extend my genuine and heartfelt appreciation for the honor to have served as your representative in the United States Congress.”
Continuity of office will be preserved, Cicilline said in the statement: “I will remain in office until I officially submit my resignation to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and Governor McKee on May 31, 2023. Constituents can continue contacting my office for assistance with federal agencies and to share your opinion or request information on pending legislative matters before Congress. After June 1, 2023, members of my staff will continue to operate offices in both Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. under the supervision of the Clerk of the House of Representatives until a new Member of Congress is elected. My office will provide additional information in the weeks ahead regarding this transition period.”
Pop Gun: Is America shooting down alien spacecraft?
The military has shot down four objects in US and Canadian airspace within the last few days, and this has led to reactions ranging from rational concern to irrational panic.
I’m not saying it was aliens, but…
At a Department of Defense press conference on Feb 12 Helene Cooper of The New York Times asked, “Because you still haven’t been able to tell us what these things are that we are shooting out of the sky, that raises the question, have you ruled out aliens or extraterrestrials? And if so, why? Because that is what everyone is asking us right now.” Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), answered, “I’ll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out. I haven’t ruled out anything.”
This bizarre “I haven’t ruled out anything” response from a four-star general to whether alien spacecraft are being shot down was not exactly helpful. Presidential Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was forced the following day to explicitly deny the alien attack rumors: “I just wanted to make sure we address this from the White House. I know there have been questions and concerns about this, but there is no — again, no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity — (laughter) — with these recent takedowns. Again, there is no indication of aliens or [extra]terrestrial activity with these recent takedowns. Wanted to make sure that the American people knew that, all of you knew that. And it was important for us to say that from here because we’ve been hearing a lot about it.” That led to a follow-up question: “Would you tell us if there were, really?” Amid laughter, she answered, “I’m just — you know, I loved ‘E.T.,’ the movie. But I’m just going to leave it there.”
A national Associated Press story quoted Jim Ludes, a former national defense analyst who now leads the Pell Center for International Relations at Salve Regina University in RI: “There will be an investigation and we will learn more, but until then this story has created a playground for people interested in speculating or stirring the pot for their own reasons… In part, because it feeds into so many narratives about government secrecy.”
The alien spacecraft stuff aside, why is anyone upset about this at all?
Nations have flown reconnaissance missions over foreign territory since the invention of aircraft: military balloons were in use as early as the French Revolution in the 1790s and in widespread use by the time of the American Civil War in the 1860s.
Balloons have not usually been perceived as threatening per se. In the final months of World War II between November 1944 and April 1945, Japan launched 9,300 “Fu-Go” balloon bombs with the expectation they would be carried by the atmospheric jet stream and start fires in the Pacific Northwest region of the continental United States. Although about 300 of the balloon bombs were found or observed, only one had any noticeable effect, killing the pastor’s wife and five children on a Sunday school picnic in the Fremont National Forest in Oregon.
From 1947 to 1949, the US Project Mogul flew reconnaissance balloons over the Soviet Union equipped with microphones capable of detecting the sound of nuclear tests; it was an early example that crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, that gave rise to the original alien spacecraft rumor. The US Project Genetrix (WS-119L) was a more advanced photographic surveillance balloon that was regularly flown over Russia and China in the 1950s at altitudes of up to 100,000 feet until it was largely replaced by the U-2 aircraft. In the mid-1950s, the US experimented with the E77 balloon bomb intended to disseminate chemical or biological weapons to destroy crops; it never entered production or deployment. The US Project Flying Cloud (WS-124A) was another balloon delivery system for chemical or biological weapons, but it was dismissed after testing as infeasible and ineffective. The US currently maintains a fleet of “aerostat” balloons as part of the Persistent Threat Detection System used in Afghanistan and Iraq to monitor hostile movements such as planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along roadways.
The US has employed the Lockheed U-2 aircraft since 1955 and still maintains a fleet in active service: one was shot down over Russia in 1960 (pilot Francis Gary Powers was captured and repatriated in a prisoner exchange) and another over Cuba in 1962 (pilot Rudolf Anderson Jr. was killed). The 1962 incident came in the context of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was itself a consequence of the US detecting Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba from U-2 aerial photos; Maj. Anderson was the only American casualty of the crisis that threatened to set off World War III.
“Freedoms of the Air” is the formal diplomatic term for the post-1944 international standards and agreements that allow free passage of commercial aviation, including refueling and carriage of passengers and cargo, across borders. A comparable rubric for military aviation was proposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1955, and the Treaty on Open Skies finally came into existence under President George H.W. Bush in 1989, ratified by the US-allied NATO and the Soviet Union-allied Warsaw Pact in 1992; President Donald Trump withdrew the US during his lame-duck period between losing the presidential election in November 2020 and the inauguration of President Joe Biden in January 2021. The Open Skies concept, according to Eisenhower, was to allow each country to verify that other countries were not unilaterally preparing or mobilizing for war or otherwise violating arms control agreements.
Balloons are cheap and easy to deploy. In 2009, MIT students Oliver Yeh and Justin Lee headed a few miles westward to the town of Sturbridge where they launched a $150 helium balloon project carrying a burner phone and digital camera that sent back real-time photos every few seconds, reaching an altitude of 93,000 feet (almost 18 miles) where the curvature of the earth is plainly visible and the sky appears as the blackness of outer space. In 2018, we reported on a Brown University student group building an earth-orbiting satellite: before members were qualified to work on the satellite project, they were introduced by building a balloon project. One of the project leaders said, “A lot of our first-years and sophomores join the high-altitude balloon team. We’ve launched two and they have 360-degree cameras, and they were either the first or the second 360-degree cameras on high-altitude balloons, the highest 360-degree cameras ever, [reaching 80,000 feet]. We put on electronics kind of similar to what we have on the satellite, such as an altimeter – which is not on the satellite – but also gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, temperature. Each balloon tests something that we want to test for the satellite.”
The Chinese spy balloon that started the present frenzy was reported by US defense intelligence agencies as having flown from China to Alaska, then over Canada, and finally into the continental United States. My inference is that it was intended to maintain an altitude of about 100,000 feet but something went wrong and it descended instead to about 60,000 feet, at which point it was visible to the naked eye over Montana. With ordinary private citizens able to see it just by looking up into the sky, or at least with little more than a decent set of binoculars, that put the US government into an awkward position where they had to acknowledge its existence. Despite statements by defense and intelligence professionals who assessed the spy balloon as posing little threat, especially because China has numerous sophisticated surveillance satellites in earth orbit but probably decided to use balloons to save money.
The Biden administration came under heavy political criticism, especially from Republicans in Congress, for not shooting down the balloon as soon as it entered American airspace over Alaska, but we have never done anything like that before. We especially do not want to get into a situation where we shoot at their surveillance systems and they shoot at ours, for exactly the reasons Eisenhower explicitly articulated that some surveillance serves the interest of preserving peace. It was also revealed that this Chinese spy balloon was the fifth known incursion into US airspace since 2017, although as noted the military did not seem to see these as any threat worth responsive action. Of course, the lack of response may have been a mistake emboldening China to grow increasingly aggressive, eventually permitting their balloon to be seen from the ground. (The Chinese claim that the balloon was a meteorological research project is laughable.) It has also been revealed that US intelligence was aware of an extensive Chinese spy balloon project overflying 40 countries on five continents.
NORAD gathers an avalanche of radar and sensor data about everything flying in or above the atmosphere, reportedly as small as a grain of rice, and they have to filter these huge quantities of information in order to discard anything they can dismiss as no threat. They have spent decades looking for things that are big and fast, such as bomber aircraft or intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), so everything small and slow was pretty much ignored. After the Chinese spy balloon fracas, now they seem to be letting balloon-like objects through their filters and this is why we shot down three more objects without even fully understanding what they are.
Why are we shooting down these objects? Maybe the government knows and they’re not telling us. Maybe the government doesn’t know, either. Maybe these are homemade weather balloons constructed by a couple of ambitious college students or hobbyists.
At some point, we’re going to run into a revival of Lawnchair Larry, a man who in 1982 tied 45 helium balloons to an aluminum chair and ascended to an altitude of 16,000 feet, shutting down Long Beach Airport in California. After he landed, an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration famously said, “We know he broke some part of the Federal Aviation Act, and as soon as we decide which part it is, some type of charge will be filed. If he had a pilot’s license, we’d suspend that, but he doesn’t.” At least he didn’t face a Sidewinder missile.
2023 Inaugural Spoken Awards – Winners
Spoken words have power – to spread ideas, create new thoughts, spin up ideas, or even just amuse or entertain. They are the OG medium of communication, artistic expression and journalism.
To recognize the practitioners of art forms such as spoken word, storytelling and stand-up comedy, Motif embarked on a new kind of awards show / community gathering, in partnership with FundaFest, the Langston Hughes Poetry Reading, R1 Indoor Karting, Mr. Orange Live and the SWAP Meet.
The first ever Spoken Awards took place at the end of Funda Fest, on Friday, Feb 3, 6:30pm. at R1 Indoor Karting, hosted by April Brown, Chip Douglas, Nirva Lafortune and Joe Wilson Jr.
Over 60 people came out despite it suddenly becoming the coldest day of the year (it was warm inside the venue), and the performances were an incredible show of talent throughout the night, with intimate exposure to artists who can hold entire stadiums in thrall. The love and powerful sense of community throughout the night was deeply inspiring, and Motif thanks all who came out and were a part of a magical night. Winning is fun, but the spirit of the night made it clear that this wasn’t about who won, it was about celebrating a community and a venerable art form.
You can see all the nominees here. Here are the winners. Congratulations to all!
Comedy: new voices
Favorite event / night
Providence Poetry Slam
Narrative music / Hip-Hop / Rap
Juan Wilson Jr.
Langston Hughes Poetry Award
Ramona Bass Kolobe
Favorite Live Performer
Honorable Mention Favorite Spoken Word
Mr. Orange Live
Overall Favorite Spoken Performer
LIVE Audience Judging
Audience Award Storytelling
Audience Award Spoken Word
Audience Award Comedy
Read Meg Coss’s interviews with a selection of winners here!
RI Prepares for Dangerously Cold Extreme Weather: Emergency action by state and local governments
Dangerously extreme cold weather is predicted Fri, Feb 3, through Sat, Feb 4, that will combine ambient temperatures dropping to -6F with sustained winds of 25MPH and gusts of 45MPH to produce wind chills below -20F. (See motifri.com/wx-2023-02-02 for forecast details.) State and local governments are taking emergency actions to keep the public safe and, at the worst case, prevent deaths.
The RI Department of Housing has asked homeless shelters to extend their hours and until Sun 5pm will fund transportation costs to individuals in need to the 24/7 warming station at the Cranston Street Armory, using both RIPTA and, in rural and outlying communities, Uber.
The RI Department of Health (RIDOH) issued advice for coping with extreme cold:
Dress in layers.
Cover exposed skin. Wind chills this low may result in frostbite on exposed skin in as few as 15 minutes.
Limit outdoor time.
Add blankets to your home’s emergency kit.
Eat frequently. Food gives the body energy to produce heat.
Do not drink a lot of alcohol or caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine cause your body to lose heat faster.
Check on older family and friends; infants and older adults are more at risk for health problems related to extreme temperature.
Your baby should wear the same layers adults would comfortably wear plus one additional layer. Avoid using one big, bulky blanket.
Know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.
Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
Make a winter emergency kit for your car. Add extra blankets and a wind shield.
Make sure your tires have enough air pressure and that your heater works.
Check your car’s antifreeze levels.
Tell your friends and family if you are traveling somewhere. If you can, bring a mobile phone with you.
Limit outdoor time for your pets.
Bring outdoor pets inside.
Extreme cold can cause your water pipes to freeze and sometimes break. Leave your water tap open so they drip. Open the cabinets beneath the kitchen sink to let warm air near the pipes.
Be careful with indoor heaters; keep space heaters three feet away from anything that may catch fire.
Conserve heat. Don’t open doors or windows unless necessary. Close off unneeded rooms.
Do not use generators, grills, or camp stoves inside.
Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning. Put a carbon monoxide detector near your bedroom so you can hear it if you are sleeping.
RIDOH warns that the most immediate health risks from extreme cold are frostbite and hypothermia:
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body can lose heat quickly and develop frostbite or hypothermia or both.
Frostbite most often impacts noses, ears, cheeks, chins, fingers, and toes. Signs of frostbite include discolored (red, white, or greyish-yellow) skin and numbness. If you notice signs of frostbite, get into a warm area as soon as possible and call a healthcare provider. Warm the affected area with warm water or with body heat. Frostbitten areas can be easily burned because they are numb. Do not use hot water, heating pads, or the heat of a stove or radiator for warming.
Signs of hypothermia include shivering; exhaustion; confusion, memory loss, slurred speech; bright red, cold skin in infants, and very low energy in infants. If you notice signs of hypothermia, take the person’s temperature. If their temperature is below 95°F, this is an emergency, and the person should get medical attention immediately.
The RI Office of Energy Resources is working with RI Energy (the successor to National Grid) which has “secured incremental electric resources and have additional crews available as needed” and placed “LNG [liquefied natural gas] facilities on standby and staffed to vaporize as needed.”
Life-Threatening Cold Fri – Sat: Wind Chill Advisory as Low as -30F
At Providence, a Wind Chill Advisory is in effect for Fri 10am – Sat 10am with ambient temperature down to -6F and wind chill as low as -30F due to sustained wind of 25MPH with gusts to 45MPH. The worst of the severe cold will be Fri 6pm – Sat 12pm when wind chill consistently below -10F is expected. Suburbs outside the metropolitan area will likely be even colder.
Providence may see a new record low ambient temperature, exceeding -3F set Feb 3, 1955, and -2F set Feb 4, 1918. The normal low for both dates is 22F, and records date back to 1905.
The cold snap will be brief with temperatures recovering to 15F – 20F by Sat afternoon, to 45F by Sun and Mon, and to 50F by Tue and Wed.
Northern New England could see wind chills to -60F and parts of New York could see wind chills to -40F. Heating systems could be stressed to the point of failure and vehicles could fail to start and run reliably.
Snow Wed Changing to Rain Wed Night: High winds, a fraction of an inch before being washed away by heavy rain
At Providence, snow beginning Wed 3pm – 5pm will change to rain 5 – 8pm, but less than 1 inch is expected before being washed away by heavy rain with temperatures rising to 50F before ending Thu 6 – 8am. Wind gusts to 40MPH are likely for several hours during the peak of the storm.
A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect Wed 1pm to Thu 1am covering most of northern RI as well as central and western MA and inland CT. Travel may be difficult especially during the Wed evening commute, and the combination of heavy rain and gusty wind may take down tree limbs and power lines.
Probability of accumulation at least 0.1in is 94% and 1in is near 0%.