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It’s Starr time


Phillipe & Jorge hit some of Our Little Towne’s superior watering holes last weekend to try to suss out one of those pesky rumors that just won’t go away in some circles. We were unsuccessful in finding out whether there is any truth to the tale about a noted public official and a well-known entertainer getting into an appropriately described "catfight" of sorts in the back of a limousine. Regulars at Wheels and the Alley Cat all seem to have heard the rumor, along with at least one of Providence’s finest, whose recounting of the tale reached P&J. Since there were three different versions, and only the two alleged participants and a driver present, nobody really knew a thing.

In hunting down this admittedly silly (i.e., very Cool, Cool World-worthy) rumor, we did get a pretty good story about something completely different.

On Sunday, April 18, we were at the Hot Club to help Josh Miller celebrate his 50th birthday. We had read parts of the New York Times earlier in the day, including the brief (and notably bitchy) interview with former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Starr, basically, would not deign to answer about half the questions in the interview, obviously proving willing to take questions at all because he’s got a new book to flog. More about Mr. Starr in a minute.

Well, we were running rumor central by our old friends Terry and Pat Moran, who were also at the party, when they said, yes, they’ve heard that rumor too. "We certainly don’t know if anything really happened," Terry told us, "but here’s one that I can guarantee is true, because we were there."

The Morans’ oldest daughter is attending Vanderbilt and, as it turns out, one of her sorority sisters is Mr. Starr’s daughter. There was a big family weekend on campus a while back and part of the celebration at the sorority was a costume party. Yes, you’ve probably guessed it: Mr. Starr’s daughter came dressed as Monica Blew-him-ski and her boyfriend pretended to be William Jefferson Clinton. The daughter, it seems, has not had the same operation to remove one’s sense of humor that her father obviously underwent.

WAY OUT

The recent decision by superior House Majority Leader Gordon Fox to come out during a State House rally to support gay marriage, reiterated during his subsequent testimony during a hearing on a related bill, was a shocker, to say the least. It reminded Phillipe and Jorge of a friend, Dan Woog, who made a similarly brave declaration under equally startling circumstances.

Dan, a Brown University grad, is now the head soccer coach at Phillipe’s high school alma mater — P. attended high school and Brown at the same time as Woog — a soccer powerhouse that, coincidentally, boasts among its graduates current Brown soccer coach Mike Noonan. Long involved in the sport via youth soccer and as a soccer reporter for national magazines, Woog was in the closet when he won election years ago as president of the US Youth Soccer Association. Perhaps feeling the same discomfort at not having revealed himself, as eventually done by Representative Fox, Dan decided to announce his superior persuasion at a very intimate moment among close friends. This came when he gave the keynote address to the USYSA membership in an auditorium filled with more than 1000 people. To say people in the audience were dumbfounded would be an understatement. The more dumb than founded among the group stormed out of the room, but Woog received a huge ovation when he finished. The whole concept that gay men or women should not be allowed to fraternize with kids, for whatever reason (see: Boy Scouts of America), is a hot button issue, yet Dan took it head-on.

Woog was targeted for some anonymous vitriol after being named a high school head coach. His series of interview books — relating the difficulties faced by gay high school students and athletes — has nonetheless made him a well-respected author on the issue. As with playing soccer, it takes balls. Kudos to Messrs. Fox and Woog for demonstrating this.

MATTER OVER MIND

Phillipe and Jorge like to rail about the paucity of good movies on the market today. This is the case unless one believes that shunning original films in favor of remakes of charmingly atrocious TV shows like Starsky & Hutch is a good plan. Anyway, let us note how anyone who has had even two-thirds of their allotted 15 minutes of fame now feels obligated to write a book detailing their personal history. As P&J are wont to remark when confronted with endless, self-absorbed conversationalists, "Tell me more, you fah-scin-ate me!"

At least in the case of movies, there is the dead giveaway in the title. Any movie that employs a name as its subject — Ace Ventura, Little Nicky, Billy Madison, Dickie Roberts, Joe Dirt, Ford Fairlane, or Deuce Bigalow — is going to suck big-time for the most part, and almost invariably include some B-list celeb, clapped-out comic who at some point had a bit job on Saturday Night Live. So buyer, beware, or Caca Empty, as they say in Latin.

Now comes a slew of written personal reminiscences, predominantly of those in the business of politics, who want to tell us their boring, insufferably self-serving, perhaps only half-truthful, abysmal life stories, or reveal how clever they are at their profession or something unrelated, like cooking. These are all over the airwaves, shamelessly hawking this swill. Think Karen Hughes, James Carville, James Carville and Paul Begala, James Carville and Mary Matalin, and now, Tim Russert. While P&J have enjoyed Tim for years as the host of Meet the Press, and still do, his head has expanded to the size of his waist. No, Tim, we do not want to ever, ever, ever read Big Russ and Me, which will doubtless be an exercise in pointless anecdotes and "teachings" about growing up in Buffalo as the son of "Big Russ." There should have been an embargo on such sentimental claptrap immediately after Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson hit the best sellers for no-minds list, along with whatever was the fad diet book of the time. Tim, please dear God, stick to politics — and take up less TV face time than you will no doubt try to command to hump this sack of crap. And like all the other sad, desperate people churning out this junk, get over yourself.

P&J ARE THE NEW SIEGFRIED & ROY

Your superior correspondents like to steal a good joke any time we hear one, and we do the same with clever ideas whenever we can pull it off. We will, however, credit the legendary British satirical magazine Private Eye’s occasional "Neophiliacs" column, which plays off the long-lived, empty-headed, but trying sooo hard-fashionista journalism ploy of describing some new color/trend/ product as "the new black." Below, some of the more intriguing — and serious — offerings of Fourth Estate intelligentsia brought to light by the gang at Private Eye:

"Why blueberries are the new black."

Observer Food Monthly

"Duck is the new chicken."

The Nation’s Favourite Food, BBC2

"Curvy is the new thin."

Voyeur, Virgin Blue’s in-flight magazine

"On BBC1, old is the new new."

— Matt Wells, Guardian

"China is not the new Japan."

The Times

"Krakow, the new Rome."

Guardian travel supplement

"Bingo halls — they’re the new nightclubs."

— Chris Moyles, Radio 1

"Is spiritualism the new bingo?"

Daily Echo, Southampton

"Is fourth the new first?"

— Des Lynam, The Premiership, ITV

"Are deer the new mink?"

Shooting Times

Sleep tight, Coco Chanel.

ADIOS, PORKY

A couple of weeks back, at a Phoenix-sponsored fundraiser to benefit AIDS Project Rhode Island and Cherry Arnold’s nonprofit Buddy Cianci documentary, your superior correspondents were roasted. One of the roasters, ace BeloJo reporter Scott MacKay, noted, "These guys are old. Have you noticed that half their column is obituaries these days?"

Sad to say, it’s true. Last week, another dear friend, the legendary trombonist Porky Cohen, passed away. Most will remember him for his years in Roomful of Blues, but he was also a pioneering big band player back in the 1940s. In fact, Porky was the first white guy to play in the Lucky Millinder Orchestra, one of the crack units of that era. He played with some of the best of that time — Charlie Barnet, Artie Shaw, Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen, and others. That’s because he was that good.

His stint with Roomful in the ’80s made him an icon to a younger generation. Loved for his humor and kindness, as well as his musical acumen, Porky was a giant on the local music scene, and a mentor to generations of musicians. There are dozens and dozens of great Porky stories, since the man was a legendary cut-up. We’ll refrain from sharing the details here. Suffice to say, Porky was a gas, and his many fans and friends will miss him dearly.

SO MUCH FOR ADVICE AND CONSENT

So, what do you think of the legislation, amended to change the way that gubernatorial appointments will be handled, that cleared the Senate Finance Committee last weekend? Currently, when the governor makes an appointment, the Senate has 30 legislative days to confirm or reject that appointment. If no action is taken, the appointment automatically goes through. Under the amended bill (the amendment was introduced by Senator Frank Ciccone), if no action is taken, the appointment is automatically rejected!

This grants the Senate virtual veto power over any appointment made by the governor. And since no action is needed, the whole thing can be done behind closed doors without explanation. Phil West from Common Cause rightly explains that this measure stands the new separation of powers act on its head. It’s bad stuff, and it ought to be sent away to die. West is right. Passing something like this would turn separation of powers into a joke.

By the way, you probably first read about this in Tuesday’s BeloJo. That is, unless you live in the Blackstone Valley. Jim Baron, the Times of Pawtucket’s top-notch political reporter, had the whole story on Saturday.

Send razor clams and Pulitzer-grade tips to p&j[a]phx.com.

The Phillipe & Jorge archives.
Issue Date: April 23 - 29, 2004
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