February 26, 2010

Friday Night Follies

Justin Katz

Slightly different atmosphere at the Newspaper Guild Follies, this year — at least for me. I can't walk through this crowd quite so anonymously as last year:

I just had a very pleasant conversation with National Education Association Executive Director Bob Walsh, who told me that he really doesn't have a problem with open negotiations. We'll have to work to make that happen. Interestingly, as soon as I snuck up behind him to introduce myself, his cohort of unionists (including the Parisi guy of Central Falls fame) drifted away.

7:59 p.m.

Here's the inside, as folks filter in, all competing to be more fashionably late.

We're sitting near Linc Chafee, who arrived directly from making Dan Yorke bang his head against the wall.

And David Cicilline schmoozed on by.

Just spotted Bob Kerr, by the way; he looks just like his picture, only taller and more liberal.

8:08 p.m.

I've been chatting with the Rhode Island Republican Assembly member next to me, who has never been to one of these events. Indeed, he had never heard of the Follies. I explained that it's the sort of event that a certain crusty level of the state's society considers important, but that most people don't know exists, much less that it's supposedly important. He rejoined that one would think, even so, that it would be mentioned, after the fact, in the Providence Journal or something, making me wonder whether it's meant to be the Important Folks' night out.

Well, glad to be at the everyman table, engaged in the subversive activity of reporting on the state's newsmakers' night out. Frank Caprio and others have just characterized what I'm doing as "working"; it'd probably be more appropriate to label it "avoiding dealing with my anti-social tendencies."

It just occurred to me, by the way, that I haven't spotted anybody from the Moderate Party. Perhaps they've yet to be informed of the comme il faut.

9:25 p.m.

On the cover of the program this year is former Chief Justice Frank Williams:

I can only imagine that they've withheld most of the juicy lyrics from the program book, but one notable song is "Negativi-tea":

I'm sick and tired of paying tax To feed the faces of government hacks
Pisses me off and drives me crazy...

We plot an overthrow all night
Tea Party every day!
We take the Statehouse down all night
Tea Party every day!
We stick it to Washington all night
Tea Party every day!

No names included.

9:36 p.m.

A way-left activist nun, Sister Ann Keefe won the John Kiffney Public Service Award and has been giving a pretty long speech, with lots of knocks against the Catholic Church, it seems.

It's already getting a little late. Hope they get this thing rolling and that the band drank a lot of coffee tonight.

9:41 p.m.

Only a culture of vanity could make a must-attend event of some borderline karaoke with costumes simply for the reason that people in the audience might hear themselves mocked.

Once again, I'd like to offer thanks to cell-phone Internet connections.

9:48 p.m.

Surprise appearance by Patrick Kennedy for a "top ten real reasons I'm not running"

10 Being closer to Carcieri will make anyone's poll numbers look better
9 Finally run against a Chafee to see who could actually find a real job first
8 Press Secretary job for Marsh... Marsh... Coackley
7 After this much time in Congress, Whitehouse has mastered the foot-in-mouth, and I can move on now
6 NBC was looking for an Irish guy with funny hair to fill the late-night spot
5 Tiger Woods asked me to help him with his long game, to lobby to make viagra was covered in prescription drugs
4 Toyota hired me as a consultant, don't know why, I can't seem to get my car to stop either
3 Bishop Tobin would be a perfect choice for a test driver, because he never knows when to apply the brakes in the first place
2 Training for a rematch with the LA airport security guards
1 Hard to maintain sobriety around a party animal like Jack Reed

Let me say that I'm very happy to be at a small collection of tables that cheers and boos at all the wrong things, given the room.

9:57 p.m.

Abe accuses Chief Williams to the tune of "Creep" by Radiohead.

10:07 p.m.

The tea party song is to the tune of Kiss's "Rock and Roll All Night."

10:10 p.m.

Followed by a "Whitehouse Rag" mocking Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's rant.

10:17 p.m.

Interesting that a song about the governor's race to the tune of "Age of Aquarius" ('the four of us/you're stuck with us") had a change of line. In the program, it says "Laffey's an arch conservative," but in the performed version they changed it to something inaudible about John Robitaille. Tough to write a song about current events in this political environment, I guess.

10:24 p.m.

OK, let me adjust my commentary some. Much of the material has actually been very funny, particularly the stand-up segments. Perhaps it's a taste thing that makes me prefer the jokes that aren't meanly and personally political. A skit about prostitution in the State House was excellent ("some quality time with the best endowed constituents in your district").

10:38 p.m.

So far, the two biggest insultees have been Bishop Tobin (and the Catholic Church) and John DePetro, although the former has been the target of more heart-felt slights and the latter has been a name-dropped poke.

11:08 p.m.

The mystery guest for the evening — a much-hyped reveal every year — is Allan Fung, mayor of Cranston dancing around in karate gear to "Kung Fu Fighting," reworded "Allan Fung Fighting." Rhode Island has become a parody of itself.

Comparing Steve Laffey to Brett Favre: "Steve, just go back to Tennessee, I hear the Titans need a quarterback." Knows his audience, I guess.

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Hey, Justin, schmooze Bob Kerr. Maybe he has inside scoop as to who the Surprise Guest will be at the end of the evening.

[Presumably, Barney "Dining Table" Frank won't make a repeat appearance this year.]

Posted by: Monique at February 26, 2010 8:55 PM

You seem to be getting into the political game pretty thickly. When do you see your kids? Isn't this the disconnect we here about when excoriating Washington politicians?

Posted by: David S at February 26, 2010 9:23 PM

I'm unable to get the lyrics of "Negativi-tea" to work to the tune of "Synchronicity" by the Police, unless I extend the day-ay-ay-ays to ridiculously long lengths.

Posted by: Andrew at February 26, 2010 9:44 PM

The tea party song is to the tune of Kiss's "Rock and Roll All Night."
This is obviously why I don't do pop-culture posts.

Posted by: Andrew at February 26, 2010 10:14 PM

Kennedy: “It’s just so hard to maintain my sobriety around a party animal like Jack Reed.” Now that's funny. Great line Congressman.

Posted by: mikeinri at February 27, 2010 7:34 AM

Great Program cover.

Posted by: Monique at February 27, 2010 8:06 AM

Justin any Gordon Fox is a white guy jokes?
Lemme guess ....no!
Hoping Gov. Carcieri continued his snub. We know Buddy Cianci wasn't there.
Follies just ain't what they used to be.
Found it hilarious that John Mulligan, normally playing the role of Jack Reed's houseboy down in DC, wrote a story on Patches at the Follies complete with the top 10 list. I have no idea why. In the past the ProJo never reported on the Follies which is why most people don't even know what they are. Guess they're still working overtime trying to make Patches look .......errr........uhhhh..........hmm........

Posted by: Tim at February 27, 2010 9:52 AM

I can tell you Fox and Buddy were pretty much untouched (although Buddy's obsession with Esserman these days is beyond anything the Follies could parody).
The Don was not present, but his office usually buys a table - his flag is planted in the room. And Coleen Conley was in the house.
The ProJo traditionally runs a small item the next day, mainly to mention the Kiffney Award winner (Sister gave a great speech, but boy, is she going to hell LOL).

Posted by: rhody at February 27, 2010 2:08 PM

Rhody-if you don't live in Providence,please STFU about what kind of police chief we should have.Your background in law enforcement must come from atching The Shield or some similar crap on tv.
Esserman is a disgrace.
You sound like Jerzyk(except not nearly as intelligent)when he talks about who WE need as mayor on RIF.Matt announced he has re-located in Pawtuxet Village some long time back(plus or minus a year?)so who is mayor in providence shouldn't concern him.
BTW I live in Providence -most probably near you since we share a State Senator.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 27, 2010 2:17 PM

Joe, since I know you're a big Amanda Milkovits fan, I can only feel pity you were not present at the Venus last night.
That's all I'm gonna say.

Posted by: rhody at February 27, 2010 3:28 PM

You were there?I now am sorry I didn't go.You could've made some of your smart remarks directly to me.
I have no clue about why I missed something with Amanda Milkovits.I think she writes a good story most of the time.That's about it.
I'm a "fan" of Maggie Cheung,but she's not a political figure.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 27, 2010 7:28 PM

Would've been my pleasure to join you for a beer, Joe. I met people of all political stripes, and even a real live Tea Partier who enjoyed the show. I'll see if I can hook you up with the DVD when it's ready.

Posted by: rhody at February 27, 2010 8:52 PM
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