Category Archives: Humor

THE BEST MEDICINE (published rinewstoday 4/13/20)


King James Bible Proverb 17:22, “A merry heart doth good like a medicine.” Seems to be a precursor to the modern, “Laughter is the best medicine.”

Sitting at my desk on this 17th day of self quarantine I face the yawning gap of hours to fill. Based on the biblical advice I decided to revisit some of the moments which have made me flat out laugh. I discovered a wide range of sources; high and low brow humor plus slapstick to dark comedy.

Every time I hear the blaring trumpets and arching voices of the Hail Freedonia! anthem at the beginning of the Marx brother’s Duck Soup I know I’m in for an hour and ten minutes of hilarity. Groucho, as Rufus T. Firelfly, is still in bed, nightcap and all, when this over the top musical tribute starts. His dialogues with Margaret Dumont are comic gold. The “Hail! Hail! Freedonia!..” refrain is used several times in the film with the chorus and trumpeters hilariously losing enthusiasm with each new effort.

No writer has ever captured the dark comedy in a troubled time better than Joseph Heller in Catch-22. His protagonist, Captain Yossarian, flying bombing missions in World War II lives a life with a Sisyphus construct; whenever he nears the flight quota needed for discharge the quota is increased. In desperation he pleads his case to Doc Daneeka using a fellow pilot, Orr, as a proxy.
“Is Orr crazy?” he asks Doc.
“He has to be crazy to keep flying combat missions…..Sure I can ground Orr. But first he has to ask me.”
“That’s all he has to do to be grounded?”
“No. Then I can’t ground him.”
“You mean there’s a catch?”
“Sure there’s a catch,” Doc replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.”
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” Yossarian observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

William Shakespeare’s great play of comedy and confusion, As You Like It, contains one of the wittiest put downs ever recorded on paper. In Act 3 Scene 2 the main character Orlando snipes to the nobleman Jacques, “I do desire we may be better strangers.” What a lovely, lyrical insult by the Bard.

In a 1983 Cheers episode the plot involves Sam deciding to read War and Peace to impress Diane. He does this despite Cliff’s description of the novel, “They say the first 800 pages are a little bit slow.” Sam soldiers on spending three days doggedly attempting to conquer Tolstoy’s masterpiece. In the final scene Diane chooses Sam over his intellectual rival. He admits he didn’t quite finish the book and Diane blithely says they should see the movie.
Sam explodes, “There’s a movie!! Where’s Cliff? I’m gonna kill him.”

In this current pandemic disaster we tire of the human condition; politicians daily attacking each other, folks wrestling for toilet paper. It is a time to try and find tolerance and forgiveness for people’s flaws. The final scene in the 1959 film Some Like It Hot offers a perfect, humorous, example. When a frustrated Jack Lemmon, disguised as the female Jerry Daphne, finally pulls off his wig and declares that he is a man to discourage the wholly smitten Oswald, played by Joe E.Brown, Brown’s marvelous face broadens with an elastic smile and he concludes the movie by declaring, “Well, nobody’s perfect.”
– END –

Will Clooney’s “Catch – 22” Be A Bomb?


Joseph Heller’s classic novel Catch -22 has sold 10 million copies since 1961. It appears on almost every “best of” literary list. I’ve read it five times. Late in Heller’s career he tired of answering why he had never written anything to surpass it. He’d reply, “Who has?”

Having flown 60 missions as a bombardier in WWII Heller wrote from deep experience. It was, however, America’s involvement in the Korean Conflict and its Cold War policies which provided his anger and angst to produce this iconic work.

Now comes the unnerving news that actor George Clooney has helped produce a six episode version of Catch – 22 which will air in May. This is not the first attempt at transferring Heller’s brilliant portrait of military absurdity from the page to screen.

In June of 1970 director Mike Nichols released his film version of Catch – 22. The results were mixed and many critics found the movie too confusing. One exception was the view of New York Times film maven Vincent Canby who declared that Catch – 22 was
“The most moving, the most intelligent, the most humane..oh, to hell with it!’s the best American film I’ve seen this year.”

As a fan of the book and as a Specialist 5th Class in the Army when the movie was released I approached it with wariness . I left the theatre conflicted, perhaps the only response possible to any iteration of this complex novel. The ensemble cast was amazing. I can now only picture Alan Arkin as Captain Yossarian. Arkin has the perfect furtive swarthiness to play the paranoid man trapped in the unending cycle of bombing missions demanded by Catch – 22.

Anthony Perkins, Orson Welles, Richard Benjamin, Jon Voit, Buck Henry and Bob Newhart were brilliant choices to play the menagerie of oddball characters created in Heller’s fertile imagination. Jack Gilford’s portrayal of the hangdog Doc Daneeka is a small, precious jewel. His explanation of Catch – 22’s provisions to Yossarian as they amble between roaring B-25’s taxiing on a dirt runway is a masterpiece in dialogue.

The book’s non-sequential, time warping scenes made the transition to screen difficult and Nichols only partly succeeded. Without a deep knowledge of the book, a viewer could be forgiven their confusion as time flits back and forth in a haphazard fashion.
Nichols main blunder was his elevation in importance of the black market profiteering escapades of Milo Minerbender. Too much time spent on Milo’s purloined grapes, cotton and parachutes caused the movie to almost lose its focus on the message of the insanity of war. Still Nichols managed to paint enough dark disturbing scenes of death, corruption and despair to avoid it becoming a comic take on war.

Press releases and trailers of Clooney’s adaptation hint at some changes. The purposeful chronological jumble of flash back scenes which propels the novel have been re-written to provide a more linear story line in Clooney’s effort. The video clips released also shows an emphasis on blood and gore. While true that many of Yossarian’s squad members perish, most of their deaths in the book are presented in an oblique manner.

Perhaps having six one hour episodes will allow a fuller rendition than the two hours of the 1970 version.

I was serving my own two year stint of duty at Fort Richards in Alaska when the film was released. I had already read the book twice. Therefore this reluctant soldier had to stifle a Yossarian like smirk when as part of my initial orientation, a one on one meeting with our young Captain he began thusly….

“Raftus, do you know why we are here?”

I thought silence the best answer, so he continued…

“If the big balloon goes up (military speak for a nuclear attack) the Russkies have an infantry battalion in Siberia ready to cross the Bering Strait. We are here to stop them.”

That sounded crazy, but arguing with him would only go against Catch -22.

– END –

My Final PawSox Pitch


The PawSox and the city of Pawtucket are losing their public relations battle. Alarmingly.

House Speaker Mattiello ominously reports his constituents tell him they, “love the PawSox…want them to stay, but, don’t give them any public money to stay.”

The PawSox and the city have to approach this project from an entirely new creative direction. Their efforts to gin up enthusiasm with artist renderings of nonexistent, nebulous business development near the Apex site is failing. There is no emotional connection.

Time for action. Time for a new collaboration.

An immediate roundtable meeting should be held. The attendees should be; Governor Raimondo, House Speaker Mattiello, Pawtucket Mayor Grebien, Brian Goldner – C.E.O of Hasbro, John J. Bowen – President of Johnson & Wales University, Richard I. Gouse – New England Institute of Technology President, Rosanne Someson – R.I.S.D. President, James A. Procaccianti – C.E.O. of Procaccianti Group, Colin Kane – Principal at the Peregrine Group plus Shane Brady and Arthur Sullivan from Brady/Sullivan Properties. Larry Merlo C.E.O. of CVS/Aetna and, of course, Larry Lucchino and the PawSox group.

This group of power brokers should first tour 210 to 270 block of Main Street Pawtucket. While they will see that this stretch contains mostly abandoned or vastly underutilized store fronts , what they should also see is a tremendous opportunity to revive this core of downtown all anchored by the new PawSox stadium just up the hill at the proposed Apex site.

The new line up looks like this.

210 Main Street becomes the Hasbro Experience Store. Hasbro, under relatively new C.E.O Goldner, has expanded from a toy company to an entertainment company deeply immersed in movies and television featuring well known action figures. Hasbro is noticeably attempting to spread its brand , the recent Hasbro Con in Providence is a prime example. At 210 Main Street families can explore the fantastic array of toys, games and videos which are part of the Hasbro brand before they walk up the hill towards Hasbro Stadium new home of the PawSox.

Hungry before or after the game? Fans will flock to The Home Plate the new restaurant operated by the students and faculty from Johnson & Wales University at the beautiful marble clad old Fleet Bank Building at 216 Main Street. Students live in micro dorm rooms above the restaurant bringing a youthful demographic back to the city.

The vacant 222 address, former home of the Newport School of Hairdressing, has morphed into the Giga Place, a new concept store which specializes in the repair, upgrading and reselling of all things digital brought to you by the New England Institute of Technology. Once again, young entrepreneurs will live in newly modified living spaces above their store.

The W.T. Grant Building at 250 Main Street provided fond memories for generations of Rhode Islanders during its initial incarnation. The interior is now divided into smaller sections perfect for R.I.S.D. to open an artist co-op featuring the wares of their talented students.

Merlo could spearhead a new CVS/Aetna wellness center at 268 Main Street. Certainly much needed with the closing of Memorial Hospital.

To Pawtucket’s credit there has been some positive development lately, micro-breweries, artist lofts and craft work shops have recently opened. However, these are all on the periphery of downtown.

Is my vision aggressive? Will it require many new collaborations? Yes, but, the pieces are in place. Johnson & Wales, R.I.S.D., New England Tech and Hasbro have all greatly expanded in recent decades adding great value to Providence, East Greenwich and Pawtucket. Brady Sullivan Properties has already established itself in Pawtucket and look at what the Procaccianti Group accomplished with the derelict Sockanosset Boys School in creating the Chapel View complex in Cranston. The PawSox themselves have committed to 50,000 square feet of new development.

We need all of these entities together to expand the goal from saving the PawSox to saving Pawtucket.

There is a certain vocal segment of people, Mattielo met many of them, who are pure obstructionist who would say “no” to a deal of 90% PawSox funding and just 10% of public money. Their mantra is “not one dime of my money.”

However, there is also, I truly believe, a majority out there who would love to see a renewed Pawtucket as well as saving the PawSox.

The alternative?

We lose the PawSox, Pawtucket continues to struggle and the rusting pyramid atop the Apex store corrodes and collapses.

– END –
Jim Raftus grew up in Pawtucket and now lives in Cumberland.

Wisdom Under the Marquee


Near the end of Amor Towles’ best selling novel A Gentleman in Moscow it becomes obvious the author has gone to great lengths and used his considerable talents to allow one of his characters to say, “Gather up the usual suspects.” This iconic line from the classic 1943 movie Casablanca, which captures the corruption and cynicism of people trapped in war, started me thinking about why lines from movies have stayed in my mind.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest released in 1975 remains my favorite movie. While there are many memorable moments in this biting satire of life in a psychiatric ward, based upon the Ken Kesey novel, the scene where Jack Nicholson’s character, Randle Patrick McMurphy, offers a stick of gum to the silent Chief as they are waiting for their electroshock treatments resonates the most to me.

“Mmm, Juicy Fruit.” intones the heretofore mute Chief much to McMurphy’s surprise and delight. As McMurphy extols, Chief fooled them, he fooled them all. This appeals to my sense of putting something over on everyone who is oppressing you. Chief had been making a statement by not making a sound.

One of the main conceits in Steve Martin’s witty 1991 movie, L.A. Story is an electronic freeway traffic sign which mystically begins giving life and love advice to Martin’s character, Los Angeles television weatherman Harris K. Telemaker. After dispensing life changing riddles and prods to Telemaker throughout this delightful romp, when love conquers all the sign sparks out one final observation before returning to the mundane task of traffic control, “What I Really Want To Do Is Direct.” The perfect bon mot in a film which skewers the pretentiousness of life in the Los Angeles bubble of mini-celebrity. It also, contradictorily, expresses the universal desire to do something else, something glamorous with our lives.

When femme fatale Magenta gives the newly minted Rocky a lukewarm review of
“He’s ok.” in the 1976 cult hit The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rocky’s creator Dr. Frank N. Furter, played to ludicrous perfection by Tim Curry, snarls his response, “I didn’t make him for you. (Pause) I made him for me!” This perfectly phrased rejoinder shows that even a mad scientist from Transylvania can bristle at criticism of their life’s work. Sometimes you just have do things to please yourself.
1964’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned To Stop Worrying And To Love The Bomb showcases Peter Sellers’ acting skills as he plays three wildly disparate characters. However, it is Sterling Hayden’s portrait of deranged General Jack D. Ripper which stays with me to this day. After erroneously releasing war planes armed with nuclear bombs towards Russia, General Ripper rants to one of Sellers’ characters, “Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous plots we have ever had to face.” It only gets more bizarre from here in this send up of cold war paranoia and the insanity which can reside in people placed in powerful positions.

Reviewing my above choices of movies I seem to have gone to great lengths and used my modest talents to describe films about; mental illness, accidental nuclear war, transvestite chicanery and lives filled with vanity. To lighten my screed I’ll conclude by retrieving the earliest verbal movie memory I still retain.

Walt Disney’s 1946 release of the part animation, part actors film Song of the South was not without controversy. Some viewers and critics saw the movie as condoning the subjugation of blacks, but, the lead black actors in the project disagreed. What the toddler boy I was then came out of the theater with was the catchy, upbeat refrain from a song, “Zippa-dee doo da zippy dee day plenty of sunshine heading my way.” sung by James Baskett. Our current time in history warrants a tenacious, stubborn clinging to such optimism in the face of potentially grave adversity. We must still pursue “wonderful days”.

Six very diverse movies and I can’t say for certain why these particular lines still resonate with me. Perhaps that is just part of the magic of movies.

For now, I’m heading to an afternoon matinee at the Avon. That will “Make my day!”

– END –

My Day At The Cinemas 2/25/17


My wife and I decided a light, frothy movie might lift our moods. We had been feeling a bit down since, well, November 9th. We chose “La La Land” a movie described as a throwback musical which has been generating a lot of Oscar buzz.

We settled into our comfortable seats in the Cinemax Complex at Lincoln Mall. After forty two years of marriage posture equals language. Twenty minutes into “La La Land” my wife’s posture was not saying enchantment. She turned to me and quietly whispered, “I’m going to see if there’s a different movie I’ll like.”
The Cinemax has sixteen screens, her odds were good.

I hung in there for fifteen more minutes of increasingly lightweight singing and dancing, but, when Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s characters broke free of gravity in the Griffith Observatory and did a number while floating through the faux galaxy, they finally lost me.

Now the search was on. Which other movie had my wife chosen to watch? The small electronic billboards at the entrances to the sixteen theaters would only show the screen number for half a minute before changing to the title so I decided to just look in all the possible venues not worrying about what was playing.

As I walked down the dark alleyway of my first choice I could hear sniffling and crying from on the audience and on the screen a dog seemed to be in not the best of health. “A Dog’s Purpose” did not seem a likely choice, but, I still quickly scanned the crowd to no avail.

The next screen featured brilliantly colored Lego characters preparing for some sort of battle accompanied by deafening music blaring at full throttle. Why do theaters feel the need to assault young children’s eardrums? Well, my wife and I only get to these types of shows with our grandchildren. No need to check this crowd.

“Lion” was the next possibility. In fact, a good possibility because my wife had left “Lion” early about two weeks prior. Her generous, good heart had too much empathy to watch the disconcerting travails of the young Indian boy at the beginning of that movie. We were at the single screen Avon for that show so finding her was much easier. I knew she would be at the Brown Bookstore, one of our favorite haunts. I had stayed for the end of “Lion” and had told her that everything had turned out fine. Maybe she ventured into “Lion” now to see the conclusion. As the screen came into view the young boy was wrapped in Nicole Kidman’s impossibly tall, impossibly pale motherly embrace. I scanned the audience, but, my bride was not to be found.

I rushed into the final theater not knowing the movie title. Before I could see the screen I could hear an odd mix of moans and a weird slapping sound. A quick glance at the screen showed me I was looking at “Fifty Shades Darker”. I rapidly retreated without surveying the audience. Frankly, I didn’t want to know! I could be certain my wife would not be in attendance. By the time I reached the exit for this theater I had convinced myself that every nun who had taught me, grades one through nine, at St. Leo’s in the 1950’s would be picketing against this movie just outside the door!

My fears were unfounded. My theater search was over. I walked out of the main lobby and into the mall where I discovered my wife had decided to browse the stores rather than try another movie.

We had a good laugh as I recounted my search.

Sometimes you do not need escapism to pull you out of the doldrums. Sometimes the silly, funny and inconsequential day to day events are all you need to soldier on.

My review of the first two thirds of “La La Land” can be summed up by my comment to my wife as we drove home, “Well dear, there’s nothing like a good movie and that was nothing like a good movie.”

Roll credits.

Why Atlanta Fans Deserve To Lose- Published Providence Journal 2/2/17


It seems most of America outside of New England is rooting for the Atlanta Falcons in this years Super Bowl. More accurately, most are rooting against our Patriots.

There is one factor these misguided folks are missing when choosing sides in Super Bowl 51, fan devotion. Atlanta has always been a horrible professional sports town and its fan base simply does not deserve a championship! It has been this way forever.

Here’s some personal history.

In May of 1995 I was in Atlanta for a week on business. Our group stayed at the CNN Omni hotel next door to the Omni Coliseum and we discovered that the Atlanta Hawks were playing an NBA playoff game against the Indiana Pacers. Unsure whether we could get tickets to a playoff game we ventured over to the Coliseum. There was barely a line at the ticket office. By the end of the first quarter the place was still only 50% full and so quiet you could hear conversations from two sections away. My recollection is that the final attendance was about 70% of capacity. As a Celtics season ticket holder during that time I
was astounded and appalled by this apathy.

A few nights later we decided to head over to Fulton Field to see if we could get in to see the Atlanta Braves versus the Philadelphia Phillies. The pitching matchup was Greg Maddux against Curt Schilling a dream pairing sure to draw a large crowd. As we neared the ticket booths we were approached by a scalper offering good seats. When we started bartering a security guard hustled over to speak to us. Thoughts of headlines reading, “New England executives nabbed in scalping raid.” raced thru my mind.

Instead the guard simply said, “ Could you move this transaction a little down the street?”

We slinked away and continued our negotiations. At Fenway Park you would always expect to pay a steep premium for scalped tickets to a big game. Not in Atlanta. There was a poorly disguised desperation in the sellers pitch. We wound up paying a total of $20 for four seats a dozen rows behind the Braves dugout!

I’ve wondered how Boston and Atlanta can be so different in their passion for professional sports. One reason may be long institutional memories. The Boston Celtics have always been the Boston Celtics and the Boston Red Sox have always been the Boston Red Sox. We New England baby boomers fondly recall Ted Williams, Jackie Jensen and Jimmy Piersall from the Sox and Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Bill Sharman of the Celts, heroes during our impressionable childhood years.

The Braves, on the other hand, began in Boston, moved to Milwaukee then landed in Atlanta. Their long ago mythic heroes, Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews and Warren Spahn spent their glory years in Milwaukee. Likewise, the only Hawks NBA championship was in 1958 when the team played in St. Louis. Names like Bob Pettit and Cliff Hagan mean nothing to the citizens of Atlanta.

Another factor may be the large number of transplants, many northerners, who have invaded Atlanta since the 1980s. In some sections of the city you must search to discern a true Southern accent. Hard core Pats, Celts and Sox fans are life long New Englanders who love their teams even more than their chowda!

A final, significant, reason for the lack of enthusiasm given the Atlanta pro teams is the regions passion for other sporting events especially college football and NASCAR. Whereas Boston College football has had only a couple of years of rabid fan following, the Flutie factor, the NCAA’s Georgia Bulldogs program is revered. Sports talk radio shows in the South, as they exist, spend an inordinate amount of air time discussing pit crew times and checkered flags.

Still, these are all flimsy excuses for the present day lethargy of the Atlanta fans towards their professional franchises.

The hardy New Englanders who brave frigid temperatures, howling snowstorms and two hour parking lot traffic jams to cheer on their Patriots deserve to have another February duck boat victory parade through the historic streets of Boston !

– END –

Accountability (Published Prov. Journal 12/21/16)


By now you’ve probably seen one of the large,blue Rhode Works signs placed near several infrastructure projects in Rhode Island. They use stop light colors to tell the public how close the repairs are in two categories; budgets and completion deadlines. A green circle means all is fine, a yellow means a slight overage of money spent or work days required, while a red circle signals something has gone seriously wrong. The hope is that such visible monitoring will get contractors awarded these lucrative contracts to do their absolute best to honor their part of the bargain. The goal is accountability.

Wouldn’t it be wise, and certainly very entertaining, if we could apply this accountability system to other public sectors which affect our daily lives?

Imagine such signs posted just outside the entryways to our Rhode Island House and Senate chambers. Picture the consternation of the members of these august bodies if red circles were seen next to such items as; ethics reform, dismantling legislative grants, line item vetoes, budget adherence and other items which a majority of citizens have long clamored for.

On a more prosaic, but still important, level it might be eye-opening if such standards could be applied to the hard working, ever expanding, weather forecasting teams of our local news stations. If their predicted ‘NorEaster deflates to a few snow showers in Foster-Gloucester there’s a red circle attached to their green screens for the following days broadcast. While this may seem harsh, any entities which describe themselves as “pinpoint” and “accu” weather are just inviting scrutiny.

Hopefully one added advantage of this accountability monitoring would be the simple lesson to people and organizations to stop the practice of using improbable, over inflated promises to gain attention and approval.

The recently completed election cycle provides stunningly clear examples of the use of hyperbole with various candidates promising to; provide free college tuition for everyone, deport eleven million people and, even, put an opponent in jail. Then at a post election victory rally the new President – Elect, went so far to admit to his followers that the promised jailing, “…just sounded good before the election.” !

So much for accountability.
In 1978 as a fledgling sales representative I had a first time meeting in the office of the owner of a small, family business. On his desk was a typical wood base name plate with his name in brass lettering, “Bob Poirier, Sr.”. On a shelf behind him was another name plate which read, “JDWYSYWD”. About a year after this meeting, having formed a solid business relationship with him, I finally asked what “JDWYSYWD” meant.

He replied, “Just Do What You Said You Would Do.”

I have never heard a better description of accountability.

My goal in writing this Commentary was to encourage, companies, organizations, politicians and ordinary people to consider their utterances, live up to their words and honor their promises. I think my mid article transition was a little fuzzy, so I’m assigning myself a yellow circle.

I still have some work to do.

– END –


I Blame Alf, For Everything.


It was 1989 and my young children couldn’t believe I had banned them from watching the popular television comedy, “Alf”. Surely, a somewhat lame show about an alien, Alf, being taken into the Tanner family’s suburban home after crashing his spaceship into their garage couldn’t be a problem.

To me, it was. Quite often the main premise of the show featured Alf, played by a furry sock puppet, conspiring with the young Tanner children to fool the Tanner patriarch, Willie. The father, as played by actor Max Wright, is portrayed as an easily bamboozled, bumbling incompetent. Alf and the children speak of Willie with barely disguised disdain.

The parent in me bristled. Looking back I think on a scale of 1 to 10 for parental discipline I landed at around a solid 6. There was never any corporeal punishment, I’m not a believer, and I’d say there were very few occasions when my voice reached the “he’s losing it” level. But, I did insist upon and tried to teach respect. Not respect exclusively for their parents, but, for anyone whose actions and life choices earned respect. Hopefully as they grew up this would include worthy relatives, teachers, coaches, employers and friends.

I saw Alf as a bad seed, subversive to the concept of treating people fairly and decently. An over reaction on my part? One could argue, but, lessons must start somewhere. As Alf left the airwaves, new more pernicious shows took its place. Ever diligent I banned “The Simpsons” after my first viewing of this animated paean to a dysfunctional family.

Young minds are bombarded with many outside influences. There has been an exponential leap in these avenues since my early parental boycotts. Now the media blitz is 24/7 available on devices small enough to fit around a kindergartener’s wrist, if they are allowed. The quantum increase in the amount of violence, vulgarity, cynicism, misogyny, crassness and dishonesty which is served daily to our youngsters is bound to have a troubling affect.

As I wrote the above list of issues it struck me that the worrying description fits not only for movies, games and shows, but, shockingly news broadcast as well.

I have struggled mightily to not write the typical 70 years old curmudgeon man Commentaries. Attempted to not be the fossil who craves the antiseptically white washed “Ozzie & Harriet” or “Father Knows Best” portrayals of America in the 1950’s and 60’s. I am well aware that in this bygone era racial and gender inequality were just barely being addressed, Senator McCarthy conducted his witch hunts and we all cowered at the threat of nuclear destruction. However, the overall tenor of discourse both person to person and region to region seemed much more civilized and positive than today’s unhealthy mix of fear and anger.

Events since the turn of the millennium; terrorist attacks, Mid-East wars, a deep recession and the just concluded bloody election cycle seem to have greatly weakened our ability to work together to form a consensus with any dignity or respect.

We need an attitude adjustment and I’m not certain how we can begin, but mutual respect would seem to be a lynchpin.

All I know is that my now adult son and daughter both have a strong sensibility of who and what deserves their respect. They have even forgiven me for my parental censorship during their youth.

However, my daughter, mother of my two wonderful grandchildren, still does not understand why I would not let her wear stirrup pants.



Unfortunately it looks like Donald Trump may not make it to Rhode Island before the primary election. Luckily I have a friend who works maintenance on the Trump Air One jet who found the discarded notes for Trump’s Little Rhody speech.

“ I love Rhode Island! I often fly over it on my way from New York to the Cape.

How about that Buddy Cianci? Is he a character or what? We should have him up on the stage here with me.

When I am President I’m not only going to make America Great Again, I will Make Rhode Island Great Again! We have to get back to the principals of your terrific founder, Andy Williams.

First of all, you need revenue. Looks like you are going to put in toll booths. Well, believe you and me, I will build the most beautiful, the greatest toll booths the world has ever seen right here in Rhode Island! Trust me, they will be magnificent and I will get Connecticut to pay for them! How? Negotiations.
And if any truckers try to sneak around your tiny state by using the roads in Massachusetts and Connecticut we will bomb the #!&* out of them.

Next we’ll deport all the folks in Rhode Island whose ancestors did not come over on the Mayflower. Then, the 40,000, or so, folks, beautiful folks by the way, who are still left in Rhode Island can all go on the state payroll and live off the public trough. How amazing is that? I have such a good brain.

Politically you people have some major issues. You’ve got way too many Democrats running the place and how did you ever let a woman become your governor? Don’t get me wrong, I love women. I saw some good looking babes today while I was having lunch up on your Federalist Hill. But, you can’t put one in charge. I mean there will be some days she won’t be in her right mind. Know what I mean guys?

I also hear that you are having some problems with your new state marketing campaign. Cooler and Warmer? C’mon, who is better at branding than me, The Donald? I just put my name on everything; Trump Vodka, Trump Steaks, Trump Casino and they’re all doing…..oh, never mind.

Let’s talk about your baseball team, the PawSox. I love baseball! In fact, if Dad hadn’t made me take a gazzilion dollar loan to buy some property when I was just a kid, I would have been a major league pitcher. I had a Hall of Fame arm.
Anyhow, back to the PawSox. When I’m elected President I’ll get the PawSox owners to not only pay to build a stupendous new stadium in Pawtucket, but they will pay to keep the birthing room & ER at Memorial Hospital open, and they will pay to finally fix those neglected gardens in Slater Park. I don’t care if PawSox owner Larry Lucchino is a fancy lawyer who was a partner with Edward Bennett Williams, he’s never negotiated with someone as smart as The Donald!

Well, I’ve got to fly now. Let me say in conclusion, Miscquamitville Beach in Westerly, Beneficial Street in Providence, Izzy’s Dough Boys in Warwick and the Twin Pines restaurant in Cranston, these are the things that make your great state of…. uh, Rhode Island wonderful!

O.K., get me to T.J. Brown airport in a hurry!

When i’m elected president/potentate

Up until now I’ve chosen not to run for President because I felt that the job was too restrictive. Things like laws, the Constitution and having those two other pesky branches of government severely cramp what you can do on the job as Chief Executive.

Apparently, according to the leading candidates for the 2016 election, things have changed. You can ban an entire religion from coming to America. I thought that might be unconstitutional. You can carpet bomb a region. Guess Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention can be ignored. A President can also mandate how much corporations can pay in compensation to their CEOs. So, that’s not a move that would wind up in front of the Supreme Court in about a week?

Unfettered of such restraints, I’d gladly throw my hat into the political ring. Sounds as though we will now have a Potentate President. Here’s a few of the actions I’d take from my throne in the Oval Office.

I’d immediately fire Roger Goodell because I want to tackle the most important issues first.

Political campaigns would be limited to six months in duration because we all want our lives back.

We would annex the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Ireland and all those other places where U.S. companies go to escape paying taxes.

I would declare each American citizen to also be classified as a corporation because turn about is fair play!

I would cap political contributions from anyone, or anything, at $500. The Johnson brothers who run a little plumbing business would instantly be as influential as the Koch brothers.

I would ban any television ad from airing at meal times if they contained any of the following words; “diarrhea”, “constipation” or “ an erection lasting more than four hours ”.

There would be no more political affiliations. Folks would have to really pay attention to a candidate’s ideas not just the single letter listed next to their name on a ballot.

Gun owners could only purchase enough ammunition to fit in Barney Fife’s shirt pocket where Sheriff Andy made him keep his bullet. This stockpiling of arsenal and ammunition has to end.

Cell phone manufacturers will have to modify their products so they don’t work if the phone is traveling more than three miles per hour. Safer roads, more enjoyable train and bus rides and, maybe, more actual conversations, anyone?
The Food and Drug Administration will only be allowed to ban, or even speak badly about, foods or beverages which don’t taste good. Even snide comments about chocolate or wine will be cause for dismissal.

Eligible voters who do not vote will not be allowed to walk on sidewalks, or clear their throats, until the next election. They only have themselves to blame.

I will revoke the Providence Journal’s word count limitations on Commentary pieces because I have only just begun……

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