See Ya, Pal
Phillipe and Jorge lost a good friend when legendary reporter Jim Taricani passed away.
It would now be totally redundant to praise his dedication to great journalism and his courage to take one for the journalistic team in refusing to reveal a source, which earned him four months of home confinement. (He was sentenced to six months, but had it reduced for good behavior.) If you think that’s easy, try not leaving your own home for just a week.
But professional kudos notwithstanding, our recollection of Jim will be that every time we met him, he had a smile on his face, a laugh about two seconds away. He also had a great sense of humor amid his bouts with the mob and Buddy “Vincent A.” Cianci and his tribe. We shared a beer or twain with Jim over the years, and he always regaled us with hilarious behind-the-scenes stories that would never see airtime in his reporting. And when he lost his foot and part of his left leg in 2012 to the various ailments that plagued him over the years, we sent him our sympathies and a typical “Buck up, Bruce” message. To this, he responded that the upside of the procedure was that he could now get double the mileage out of a pair of socks.
We also recall a memorable “Send in the Clowns” dinner (what the late secretary of state Susan Farmer used to call evenings where your superior correspondents were guests) at Mac & Muffy Farmer’s home a number of years back with the Taricanis (Jim and Laurie) also present. Very funny and entertaining as we all swapped stories.
Yes, we lost perhaps the best newsman this state has ever produced. But more important, we lost a true gentleman with a spine and honesty like no other, who despite having to look into the abyss and acting on what he saw without fear or ever backing down, we had the departure of a great, optimistic and wonderful man who could always see the lighter side of the darkness.
(A shout out here to Tim White of Channel 12, who has grown into the best investigative reporter in the state. In a taped statement on WPRI after Jim’s death, he said when he rose to the position of investigative reporter at his station, the first person he called was Taricani to get his advice on how to do the job right. A fitting tribute to Taricani’s long-lasting impact, and Jim’s legacy will be how so very many reporters he has influenced.)
To adapt a quote from the cerebral and subtly hilarious singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett, sometimes Phillipe and Jorge sit and think, and sometimes we just sit. During these moments of deep reflection on heavy topics like the women’s soccer World Cup or what restaurant we will go to that evening, here are a few things of questionable value to our beloved readers worth pondering.
Outrun the Gun – If you were to be put in a room that you could not leave — forever — along with Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Conan O’Brien, and given a gun with two bullets in it, whom would you shoot? Note: If you didn’t use the second shot on yourself, we suggest seeking serious professional help because your brain is broken. Or you are an irretrievable masochist.
Don’t Say That – P&J are very high-strung individuals, quite easily annoyed. So it is with certain words that people seem addicted to using in ultimately futile attempts to make themselves sound either intelligent or on the cultural qui vive.
Here are three that make us either incandescent with rage, cringe or simply want to say, “Please, shut the fuck up.”
The first is “empower.” People actually have the audacity to say they have “empowered” someone or some group. Bullshit. People are already empowered; they just have to use it. We remember Channel 10’s reporters in 2016 saying they were “empowering” viewers by merely presenting the day’s political news. What arrogance and pretension.
Former Polish Solidarnosc leader and eventual president of Poland once said, “Rights are not things that are given. Rights are things that can’t be taken away.” Same goes for power. Use it or lose it, chumps.
The second is “journey.” Everyone now is on a journey through life. Well, unless you’re Odysseus or Don Quixote or plan on spending 40 days in the wilderness, all any of us are doing is just living a life: often mundane and boring, deeply absurd at most times and just plain unfair. So cut the ostentatious “journey” crap and keep moving.
Lastly comes “sustainable.” P&J understand what our civil advocates and Millenials are trying to say, but if you take 100 people, good of heart and healthy of mind, and ask them what “sustainable” means, you will get 100 different definitions. Sometimes a common middle ground on what it means can be reached, but usually only after a migraine-inducing argument, and at least one instance of “I’m going to have to kick your ass” being thrown into the intellectual mix.
Final nitpicky note: You don’t modify the word “unique.” Nothing is “very unique” or “sort of unique.” Unique is unique. And if we ever catch you using an expression like “he’s had a very unique journey,” we put a black bag over your head and throw you off the Newport Bridge.
Taking Da Bait
If there has ever been a case of false advertising, it has to be what is being billed as the Democratic presidential primary “debates.” More like the “posturing clusterfuck with photo ops and sound bites” that emerges when you put 10 candidates on the same stage for a two-hour period — two times, no less! — in which they come no closer to debating than Donald Trump does to telling the truth.
Instead, we get 20 desperate politicians yelling at the camera about what they would do if elected president. That isn’t “debating,” that’s a made-for-TV ad. How we long for the old “Saturday Night Live” skit with Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin going head-to-head, and the iconic “Jane, you ignorant slut” line.
Kamala Harris came the closest by tearing Joe Biden’s throat out with her bare teeth in criticizing his support for segregationist senators when he was also a solon and his opposition to school busing. She pointed out that she had been in the vanguard of students being bused to school as a ‘ute, and benefited from it. This left Biden looking momentarily like a senior citizen who forgot where he was or even how he had arrived there. His excuse was the usual insider political explanation which no one understood, but which predominates these clusterfucks. Say what you mean, and in plain English -- enough with the patronizing use of Spanish — because it not only turns people off, it pisses them off.