Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rhode Island is famous for giving away the store.

Jef Nickerson over at Greater City: Providence wrote a post with some pictures today about some ABC pilot that's being filmed on Mathewson Street.  The pictures show downtown Providence tarted up to resemble Philadelphia, where the series is apparently supposed to be set.  I'd been hearing by and by about a pilot being filmed here, but I had no idea when or what it was.  I won't bore you with the details, Jef already has them in his post. 

Obviously, this whole thing grinds my gears, because otherwise I wouldn't be blogging.  I had this conversation with my friend Chaz a while back, when the state was thinking about canning its film industry tax credit.  The city has been routinely disrupted every so often because some bigshot is filming here.  You all know exactly what goes on:  every busy corner in town is suddenly blocked off, throwing traffic into disarray and shutting down local businesses until the filming is done.  In one famous instance, film crews went as far as to show up at the statehouse unannounced and demand it be closed for them to film. 

I guess some of this could be forgiven if any of it meant good publicity or real economic growth for the city-state, but little if any net gain is ever realized because hardly any of these things showcase the city, or even use it as the plot setting.  Providence is always used as a stand in for "bigger and better" cities, because frankly it's cheaper and prettier, but rarely if ever is our name even mentioned.  Sure, we all know it was filmed here, but to the average slob sitting in front of his living room TV in...wherever, it's Boston, New York, Philadelphia.  I'm sorry, but if you're going to show up here, take our tax dollars, disrupt daily life and shut down local businesses, you had better show our beautiful fucking city in your work.  It should be written into the tax credit, but God forbid our lawmakers give us a reason to be proud of ourselves or where we live.  It's dumb enough that we've even kept it to begin with, since it clearly does nothing but cost us money in a bad economy.  Meanwhile, we're closing down well-performing elementary schools, and allowing our buildings to rot away and be victimized by sleazy politicians who make them into parking lots that fund their latest run for mayor, because we certainly can't subsidize any of that shit. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Two feet of it.

It never ceases to amaze me, when I take a walk in the snow, why so many people complain so hard about it.

How is this not beautiful?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Providence won the very first world series.  1884.  Remember that.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Prentice Mansion

I was driving to class today when my friend Josh called me.  He found out that there was going to be an open house at the Prentice mansion today at two, and invited me to go with him.  Of course I agreed.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, it sits at the corner of Broadway and Tobey streets.  It looks like this:

It was built originally in the 1860s, and greatly expanded and remodeled in the 1880s.  Anyone who walks or drives by it for the first time asks "what's in that house?".  It's by far one of the most extravagant, pretentious Victorian houses I've ever seen.  It's been vacant and locked for about 8 years.  I was very excited to see what the inside had to offer, but also somewhat unprepared for it.  I took pictures, but since there was no electricity, I was forced to use my flash, so they're not of my usual quality.  For the sake of keeping this post to a reasonable length, I'll only post the most important ones, but there are more.

The Grand Staircase.  The scale here is a little misleading.  The newel post in the lower right is actually much taller than I am.

A pocket door on the first floor near the grand staircase.  You can see a bit of the ceiling detail in the upper left.

Probably my single favorite feature of the house:  the interior front doors, which have classic English arts and crafts painted glass, in an impeccable state of preservation.  The entire first floor is full of early Arts and Crafts woodwork.

A gas chandelier in the dining room.  This room, for some reason, looks like it was never renovated.  This is what the house would have looked like when it was new in the 1860s.  Very different from the richness of the rest of the house.

The Drawing Room.  Again, classic Arts and Crafts.  Unfortunately, the ceiling in this room lost the detailing that can still be seen in the main hallway.  It's also difficult to make out, but there's a marvelous parquet floor in this room, as there are in most of the others.

Stained glass windows in the elevator shaft.

Here's where it all gets very sad.  One of many standing puddles on the second and third floors.  Another winter, and this house might as well not have a roof.  The entire building is actually beginning to lean inward.

A family of Italian dressmakers lived and worked in the house during the first half of the 20th century.  This was their workshop, on the 3rd floor.  Much of the house actually bears the marks of their presence here.  In some ways, I love its eclecticism, but to be quite frank, a lot of the things they did were awfully tacky.

Last but not least, the view from the tower window.  One of the women on the tour with me remarked at how beautiful it was, and how amazing a state of preservation that Providence is really in, when you see it from a perspective like this.  It's very true.

I left this place feeling many different emotions at once.  I felt blessed to have been able to see it.  I felt furious that someone could care so little for such an amazing place.  I felt hopeful because it's being sold, but also hopeless because there's so much damage.  I felt plain sad more than anything else, because so much has been lost.  I've never believed in prayer, but I may just break down and pray for this house, because its fate is totally out of my hands.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I was Chinese for Halloween one year when I was a kid.  True story.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Statute of Liberty

I got into an argument recently on Rhode Island's Future, a blog that I often read, but don't often comment on because I end up getting into arguments with dogmatic idiots of all political types.  I'll refrain from naming the person I was arguing with because I'm not that tacky, but I will say that he's a self proclaimed libertarian who seems to comment on every single post made there.  Seriously, all of them, or close to it.  I'm not quite sure how he affords the free time it takes to be such a prolific writer there, but I digress.  In conversation with him, I found out he's part of something called "The Free State Project" (read:  cult of ridiculous puritans).  I'd never heard of this before.  Apparently it's a signed agreement by 20,000 such "liberty activists" to move to New Hampshire, the Texas of New England, where they will "exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property."  In other words, dodge taxes at all costs, and drive their uninsured cars and motorcycles around without helmets or seatbelts (because seatbelt laws are a hostile infringement on your right to eject yourself and your children through your windshield if you fucking feel like it!).

Seriously, is this what it's come to?  This is just about the most absurd thing that I've ever heard of.  Read through the website, particularly the list of 101 reasons to move to New Hampshire.   I suppose it only hurts the people involved since, hey, they're the ones that have to live up there.  Still, I can't help feeling incredulous.  I would comment further, but I would be up all night.  I'll leave that up to you guys.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Misery Date

I got wasted a couple weeks ago with Nicholas.  We ended up spending a few chilly hours alone on a moonless beach just south of Gaspee Point, looking out at the bay and talking while huddled under blankets.  At one point, he cut in.

"It sucks loving someone who's not around, huh?"

I paused because I couldn't figure out how he had pinpointed my emotions so perfectly without any background info.  We talked a little more about it, but I made him guess as to who the mystery guy was.  He got it wrong, and eventually I changed the subject because I was uncomfortable.  Nicholas reads this blog, so now he gets to find out who it is, and so do you!

Flash back to last winter, right around Thanksgiving I guess.  I met a guy who was in his senior year at RISD at the time.  We instantly liked each other very much.  We dated sort of quietly for a time, while I thought much too hard about the circumstances.  He was graduating in the spring, and pretty much had no choice but to move back home to Virginia for a while once that happened, until he figured out whatever his next move was.  To me, this read as an expiration date.  The first guy I ever fell in love with also moved away.  I stupidly followed him, and it ended up costing me everything I had, including two years of my life that I'll never get back.  I was scared of it happening again, so in typical self sabotaging fashion I told this guy I couldn't see him seriously, and disappeared for a few months.

I suppose I thought that if he were out of sight, he'd be out of mind, and I could spare myself the heart wrenching breakup wrought by shitty circumstances down the road.  Unfortunately, the damage had already been done.  I was more or less in love with him already.  As it got to be early spring, I started to panic, realizing that this person I was crazy for would be leaving here thinking I was a heartless jerk, so I sort of renewed my relationship with him in the last couple months before he left.  In retrospect, I don't know why I bothered.  I guess it was a last attempt to win some influence over this person who I knew I'd miss terribly.  It was also an apology I knew wouldn't be good enough.  Anyhow, he graduated and left.  Since Virginia is an incredibly dull place that he hates, I thought maybe there was still a chance I'd see him back here again.  I just found out he got a job in San Francisco, and he's moving there as we speak.  My feelings about it, as with everything else on earth, are complicated.

I'm happy that he got out of Virginia.  He's entirely too smart and too creative to live in a place like that, at a time like now.  I'm also happy because it's a great opportunity for him, and I have many more reasons to be in San Francisco than I'd ever have to be in Virginia (which is to say I'd only go to Virginia to visit him).   If/when I get to visit my friends out there again, he'll be on the list as long as he can put up with me. But over the top of that, I have the familiar, horrible sinking feeling: the feeling that this means I'll never see him again.  Even if that isn't true, the fact remains that as an amazing guy, he can have anybody he wants, and there is certainly no shortage to be had.  I'm basically a distant memory with nothing to offer.

There are those people who can blindly follow their heart wherever it takes them, and things just seem to work out.  I am not one of those people (as much as I'd love to be), and when I give in and indulge myself, things do not work out.  The situation with this guy brings me into direct conflict with my spectacular ability to be screwed over by fate.  I am always caught between what I want and what's right for me.  Having fucked up so much in the past trying to do what I wanted, I find myself trying extremely hard to resist it and do what's right for me.  Doing what's right for me turns me into a bored, miserable person.  Doing what's right for me is what led me to run away from him in the first place.  Furthermore, doing what my heart tells me to do often requires a choice between two things that I love equally.  In this case, it would be a choice between a person I love, and a place I love; this beautiful, bizarre corner of the earth called Rhode Island where I live.  Even if I "went for it," how could I make that choice?

I guess it's all very selfish, but it tears me up because it just doesn't seem fair.  None of it does.