Monday, December 05, 2005


Sensational Jugglers The Passing Zone to Perform
for Bright Night Providence

PROVIDENCE, RI., 12/3/05
This year Bright Night Providence, the artist-run New Year’s Eve Festival now in its third year, will feature two men with rather unusual credentials. Yes, they have 5 Guinness world records between them, have shared the stage with such celebrities as George Carlin, Penn & Teller, Bob Hope, and Tony Bennett, and have been featured on film and television, but their real claim to fame is their remarkable ability to juggle and manipulate three running chain saws. Yes, real, running, gas-powered chain saws.

The men are Owen Morse and Jon Wee, and they have been performing their blend of juggling comedy together as The Passing Zone for over 17 years. “We met at a juggling convention in 1986”, says Wee, “and neither of us wanted to get a real job.” The duo have been juggling together ever since.

"The Passing Zone is one of the top juggling acts in the country" says Adam Gertsacov, director of the festival. "I met them this summer in Boulder Colorado when we were performing at the same festival. They were a big hit in Boulder. What I thought was so amazing about their act is that not only are they phenomenal jugglers, they are also incredibly funny. And when I saw their finale (a chainsaw-juggling ballet), I knew that The Passing Zone was something that would really rock Providence.”

“Their eyes lit up when I told them about our homegrown New Year’s Eve festival,” Gertsacov adds, “They were really excited about the artist-run aspect of Bright Night. "

“We are really looking forward to our shows in Providence,” says Morse. “Bright Night seems like a great way for people to get out and have fun, and our show is perfect for people of all ages."

The Passing Zone will perform three shows in Providence as part of Bright Night. In addition to the chainsaws, they will also juggle bowling balls, Chia pets, Garden Weasels, Thighmasters, and just about anything else they can throw. The shows will be performed at 6, 8, and 10 pm. Your Bright Night ticket (a Tyvek wristband) will guarantee you admission to one of those performances, plus more than 50 other performances at 17 other venues throughout the day (on a space available basis) For a complete schedule of performances, visit

Tickets to Bright Night will be available in early December at, and available at all BankRI locations. all OOP! stores, and at the EastSide Marketplace . For more information about tickets call 401-621-6123 or visit

To find out more about the Passing Zone, visit

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Demolition and Destruction on Westminster

There's been some amazing changes on Westminster (site of the former Traveller's Aid Building. They are tearing down the whole block, and going to put up a huge parking lot with retail on the sides. It's a NY style parking garage, I think, and desperately needed in the area. I believe the owners of the lot are Cornish associates has some great demolition shots, one of which is below.


Friday, November 18, 2005

My 104 year old Grandmother's Multimillion dollar idea

What kind of multi-million dollar idea can a centenarian hatch? Read and learn. It's a slightly long story,a tale of love, family, and the spunk of one very sharp old lady.

My 104 year old grandmother (who passed away in December 2004) was a really sharp lady. She had an eighth grade education, but was smart and funny and educated and ... she had moxie. She basically owned her own pearl stringing business for over 50 years, and as a single mother raised her three children in poverty during the 1930's 40's, and 50's.

She was a woman with a curious mind, who was always wondering about the world. In 2003, she came up with the idea for a new kind of men's dress-shirt - one that didn't have buttons ("Men don't want to fiddle around with the buttons in the morning," Granny would remark). She talked to one of my brothers (the one that went to the Harvard Business School) about this as a business idea. After lots of work by seamstresses in three countries, a prototype of the shirt was made and ultimately approved by Granny. Unfortunately, she passed away before she could see the shirt in production. (There's more to the story, and you can read the whole thing on the website

The shirts are now ready, and are being sold as an entrepreneurial memorial to Granny.

Why would you want to purchase a Grannyshirt?

  • The Grannyshirt has style- its kind of a cross between a Cuban "Guayabera" and an Indian "Kurta" - you could wear it out for a nice evening on the town or for business casual.

  • The Grannyshirt is custom-made - our own professional tailor in Thailand will make one just for you, in your size and in various colors. You just pick what you want and we'll have it custom-made, then shipped to your door.

  • The Grannyshirt is made of a light fabric, perfect for any season and, although designed for men, it is a loose-fitted shirt, so women can wear it too (order one size smaller).

  • The Grannyshirt has an amazing story - it will be a great conversation starter when somebody asks you "Hey, where did you get that cool shirt?"

  • 10% of every Grannyshirt purchase will be donated to a charity in Providence, RI (the city where Granny was born, lived and died) The charity will help people fight their way out of poverty-- which is exactly what Granny did.

  • The shirts are reasonably priced at $60 each (this price is a family and friends holiday price-- orders must be made by November 25 to get them in time for the holidays.

    If you'd like to find out more about the shirt, visit the website
  • Monday, November 14, 2005

    Blood From A Turnip

    Blood From a Turnip, Rhode Island's oldest late night puppet salon, starts its
    NINTH season on Friday November 18th at 10pm at its customary home at Perishable Theatre, 95 Empire Street, downtown Providence.

    Join hostesses Vanessa Gilbert and Marsian as they present the widest range in puppetry for adult style people, ranging from the video ventriloquism of BfaT
    favorite Evan O'Television to the puppet pastie moves of burlesque artist Lady Miss Iris. Physical theatre performer Marya Errin Jones and reluctant puppeteer,
    BfaT founder Vanessa Gilbert, will show object works in progress. Fall River native and sock puppeteer Dan Goldrick, will provide charming and personable musical interludes. An eclectic program for eclectic times.

    All seats are $5-10pm show, doors at 9:30pm-no reservations taken.

    Visit for slightly more information, but more importantly, just show up! You'll have loads of fun

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Denny Crane to attack Rhode Island

    At the end of last night's episode of Boston Legal, Denny Crane, the often bizarre attorney that has a penchant for cigars, women, and rightwing political causes (not to mention an alleged case of Mad Cow Disease) is asked what he would do if he were Mayor of Boston. Crane, played by William Shatner (in a turn totally unlike his Star Trek days), replies "Oh... I don't know.... attack Rhode Island. It's small."

    If you don't watch the show, I suggest you do. It's quite good. The combination of TV veterans Candice Bergen, Shatner, and film eccentric James Spader, makes for a funny and interesting evening of television.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    WorkHouse Theatre Presents New Work

    A new physical theatre company started by Dell'arte Grad (my alma mater) Stephen Buescher, is presenting a new work at the Carriage House Theatre this week. It's based on the myth of Jekyll and Hyde. I haven't seen the work, but if it's anything like a Dell'arte show, it will feature bold physical choices, innovative use of language and set, and great intensity. I'm looking forward to it!

    November 10 - 13, 2005 8:30pm
    The Carriage House Stage
    7 Duncan Road, Providence
    Tickets are $15 General Admission and $10 Student/Senior
    For reservations please call 401-215-0990.

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are characters as familiar to us as any in a fairly tale, referenced so often in the English language the pair have become metaphor, cliché, cartoon—a well-meaning experiment gone terribly wrong. But Sawbones is not your grandma’s Jekyll and Hyde, sprinkled with the genteel delight of Victorian fainting. Sawbones is a return to the mysterious, sensational, and gruesome, true nature of the story. Workhorse’s piece of physical theatre abandons the typical notion of forcing Stevenson’s disordered tale into a sequential narrative. The ensemble invents a whirling incarnation more aligned with the ideas found in Stevenson’s original novella— as if Stevenson feverishly dreamt the story before writing it down. Like the warped neural fabric of the dreaming mind, Workhorse presents a story that leaps out of sequence, crosses the time line, and rips open the hidden corners of Dr. Jekyll’s thoughts. Using song and sound scape, original and found text, and movement, Workhorse transforms a pedestrian world of seemingly everyday events, exposing Jekyll’s deliciously vainglorious stumble toward oblivion.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    The Ship Street Canal

    Paul Pawlowski, Rhode Island based architect, has a bold and exciting concept for what to do about the area that will be "reclaimed" when I -195 finally gets moved (and no, his concept is not to leave it up as a Providence version of the Jamestown Bridge).

    He wants to build a canal to be called the Ship Street Canal-- to create more waterfront in our city. It will stimulate business, it will encourage tourism, and it will continue to re-create Providence as a city of the 21st century with 19nth century roots. He's created an entire proposal/presentation, and it's a proposal worth viewing. (The proposal won a merit award from the AIA/RI)

    You'll have an opportunity to view the proposal/presentation yourself on November 15th at 5:30 pm, when the Jewelry District Association's Canal Committee hosts Paul and his presentation at 116 Chestnut Street, Unit L.

    If you are interested in attending, you should contact Peter McClure or Phoebe Blake at 401-454-3699.

    Hope to see you there!

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Trinity Rep names new artistic director


    Trinity Repertory Company's next artistic director will be Curt Columbus, board chair Buff Chace announced today. The board of trustees unanimously ratified the search committee's recommendation in a special meeting on October 30th. Columbus, 40, is the associate artistic director of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, and artistic director of Chicago's summer Theater on the Lake. A Yale graduate, he teaches at the University of Chicago and DePaul University. He is a respected director, writer, dramaturg, and translator/adaptor of major Russian works such as Crime and Punishment. (which recently ended a run at The Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket.)

    Columbus will choose the plays for Trinity's 2006-2007 season, which will be announced this winter. Columbus' appointment is a dual one: Trinity Rep's artistic director is chair of the Brown/Trinity Consortium's graduate programs in acting and directing. He will begin work in January.


    Trinity Rep Website.

    Friday, October 28, 2005

    Perishable Theatre Director Steps Down

    Perishable Logo The Providence Journal recently reported that Jason Nodler, the newly appointed director of Perishable Theatre has stepped down after four months on the job. Apparently, Perishable's finances were a little bit different than he expected, and he felt that he couldn't continue with his planned course of action. He directed one play while at Perishable which closes tomorrow night. (To purchase tickets, visit ArtTixRI)

    While I don't really know the inside story at Perishable, this reminds me very much of Anne Bogart's entrance and departure from Trinity Rep. (This happened in 1988-89)

    Anne Bogart also had a "different idea" of the finances of the theatre when she took over (although to be fair, part of that was caused by her producing 8 dark and depressing plays in a row, which started a precipitous drop in theatre subscriptions)

    Both Anne and Jason had excellent pedigrees from the artistic side-- Jason had co-founded an amazing Houston theatre Infernal Bridegroom, and had helped to raise it from scratch. His concept was to do something similar with Perishable-- re-create the energy and excitement that has made Infernal Bridegroom one of the small theater success stories from around the country.

    But Providence is not Houston-- we are much smaller, much less population, and much more (dare I say it) provincial in our beliefs (the nice way to say it is SET in our ways)

    It's really difficult to replace somebody who has come to exemplify or personify the theatre to funders and to theatre goers. When Adrian Hall stepped down, and Anne Bogart took over, it was a momentous job for her to replace him-- he had been there for 20+ years-- and it was hard to imagine the theatre without him. And subscribers, funders, and even board members couldn't warm up to her--

    I believe that a similar situation has happened at Perishable. Mark Lerman was the heart and soul and living body of Perishable-- the glue that hung it all together. Replacing him requires somebody who is capable of being that glue, and the question remains-- who is the person who can do that, but in their own way. It took Trinity a while to find Oscar Eustis (Dick Jenkins came in as the director and helped right the boat, but it was Oscar, who spent a lot of time fundraising, and less time directing shows, that made Trinity back into the healthy financial institution that it is now.

    Whoever Perishable chooses as their NEXT artistic director, they have a tough job ahead of them. They really need to glad-hand the funders, and show that they have the energy, fundraising skill, and personality to keep Perishable vibrant and alive. And they have to show that they have their thumb on the pulse of the audience. Jason had the artistic pedigree, but having never seen him work the room, I don't know if he had those chops, and it's possible he was never given the chance to display them.

    If I were to choose somebody as the next artistic director (and indeed, if you had asked me last year who should be the artistic director), I'd suggest Vanessa Gilbert, who was the associate artistic director at Perishable for a number of years, the recent director of the Magdalena Festival in Providence, has a good handle on how Perishable works already, and is a familiar name and face to the Providence theater and funding scene. Of all the local people in town, she'd be my first choice . (Not that Perishable has asked me for my opinion.)

    Perishable is a great theatre, and serves an important role in the local arts scene. It would be a LARGE SHAME to see it (pardon the puns) go bad just as it starts to ripen.

    Please note: Years ago, I was an actor with Perishable theatre, and worked extensively there. I occasionally do continue to perform there. (My Punch and Judy show was performed at Perishable last year). The above is just my opinion, and contains no real "insider knowledge."

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    Waterfire Halloween Story Extravaganza

    It may be chilly, but the stories will be hot -- and spooky.

    On Saturday, October 29, starting at 7pm, the American Story Theater will produce the final installment of WaterFire Presents Tales for October. We've moved the stories later, and added a 10pm show!

    All events are free, and there will be chairs and carpeting to sit on.

    Storytellers include Jeanne Donato, David Mello, Mark Binder, Marvin Novogrodski, Jeanne Jordan Bent, Marilyn Meardon and Carolyn Martino

    Shows will be at 7, 8, 9 and 10 pm. The early evening shows will be more family-oriented, and the later shows will have a more mature content.

    (Please do NOT bring kids to the 9 and 10 pm shows unless you're willing to be responsible for their nightmares.)

    More details are at

    More information about WaterFire is at

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    Acupuncturist emerges in Providence

    Emerging Energy Logo
    An acupuncturist has moved into my building, and I thought I'd point out her services. She is a licensed Chinese acupuncturist, and in talking to her, one of the things that I really liked is that she wasn't all "space-agey" about the benefits of acupuncture. We talked for a while about the placebo effect, and the fact that some people are going to feel better just because somebody spent an hour or so really talking and listening to them. I'm not denigrating acupuncture or its effects-- I'm sure that there's something to it- but I also think that part of it is just people don't get enough touching/caring/listening in their lives. (Hmmmm.. who's getting all touchey-feeley now?)

    Anyway, her name is Dr. Mary Claire Dilks, and her practice is called Emerging Energy Acupuncture Check it out, if you'd like!

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    Q. E. D. at the RITE Theatre Oct 11-22

    RITE, Rhode Island Theatre Ensemble presents QED by Peter Parnell. Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman, holds forth with wit and wisdom in this fascinating play. One of the twentieth century's great physicists, Feynman was also one of its great eccentrics. Not only did he develop the atomic bomb and quantum electrodynamics, buy he played the bongos, frequented topless bars and relished his bit parts in university theatre productions. Chris Perrotti portrays Feynman with honesty, joy and a full understanding of the true character of this great man.

    QED opens October 11 at 7pm and runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 7:00 pm through October 22.
    RITE is in residence at The First Universalist Church, 250 Washington Street, Providence.

    Tickets are $15 & $12. Thursday is Artist Night -- all tickets are $10. Call 383-5146 or log onto

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    Agriculturalists of RI, Unite!

    What: USDA Farm Bill Forum
    Date: Friday, October 14, 2005
    Time: 9:00 a.m. to Noon (doors will open at 8:00 a.m.)
    Place: URI Coastal Institute, South Ferry Rd, Narragansett, RI

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to hear the
    ideas, concerns, and advice of those in the local agricultural community.
    The USDA is conducting Farm Bill Forums across the country as part of a
    nationwide listening tour in preparation for the 2007 Farm Bill. These
    Forums are designed to allow the public an opportunity to share their
    opinions with the USDA on key policies or programs within the Farm Bill.

    Participants are to respond on issues facing the local community such as:
  • Challenges for New Farmers
  • Competitiveness
  • Conservation Goals
  • Farm Program Benefits
  • Rural Economic Growth
  • Expansion of Agricultural Products, Markets, and Research

    Seating will be available on a first-come basis for the Forum.

    The event will feature a display area on programs offered by USDA, local
    agencies and partners. There will also be a USDA Help Desk with
    representatives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the
    Farm Service Agency, and Rural Development who will be on hand to
    answer your questions on USDA programs.

    You may also provide your written comments at the Forum, via mail, on our
    web page at or via email to

    For more information, call the USDA Warwick Service Center at 401-828-1300.
  • Thursday, September 08, 2005

    The Aristocrats, American Style

    I wish I could say I wrote this, but I didn't. I found it on a weblog (link above)

    I did title it, though!

    The Aristocrats, American style

    So this guy walks into a talent agency and says to the agent, "Have I got an act for you! It's a family act, you'll love it."

    The agent says "Alright, lay it on me."

    The guy says, "Well, first the grandpa comes in, this is in the thirties, mind, deals with the Nazis and makes a ton of money off German banking and mining, see. He gets nailed for trading with the enemy in the war, but it doesn't matter much cause by now his family is incredibly wealthy. His son, the Father, flies a plane in the Second World War and later becomes head of the CIA, then later, vice president, and after that, a one term president. He does a half ass job and gets out, kinda sets things up for later. It's the kid, he's the real lynchpin of the act. It gets better."

    The agent nods, doodling on his dayplanner. "Please, continue."

    "The kid comes in, and starts off with avoiding Vietnam by getting a nice position in the National Guard, see? But he skips out on that gig when he doesn't need it anymore. Then he runs a series of businesses into the ground. He can't run an oil company, he can't manage a baseball team, tries to run for Congress and fails, he does drugs and boozes, has trouble with basic life skills. But since his daddy's Vice President, or later, President, he gets whatever he wants. Gets bailed out every time. He runs for governor of Texas and wins, and sets a new record for executing people. He likes to joke about the executions, too, mocking the pleas for leniency. 150-odd prisoners go to the chair under the Kid as governor. And the Kid is wearing a cowboy hat and talking in a Texas drawl the whole time, even though he's from Connecticut. But it gets better, this is just the start."

    The agent nods, dropping his pen. "Umm.. alright.."

    "The Kid doesn't just wanna be a governor, he wants to be President. So he runs for President and.. tough luck, he doesn't win. So get this, his buddies on the Supreme Court have to squeeze him in. They push and push, and finally he's President. He doodles around for a few months and then boom! Some terrorists come in and flatten a couple skyscrapers in New York. Thousands of people die, jumping out of skyscrapers and getting flattened in plane crashes, and the Kid swings into action. He starts bombing where the terrorists are hiding, and looking for them. I mean, wouldn't you? But when he can't find them in a couple months he goes after a totally different country, attacking them 'cause they had oil and his Dad had trouble with them ten or twelve years ago. He says it's because this country was the real guys who flattened those skyscrapers, because they'll do it again with weapons of mass destruction if they get the chance. So the audience is right behind him. Now there's a big ass war right on stage and bombs are flying, people getting killed left and right. And the Kid, you'll love this, underequips the soldiers being sent in, not enough armor, and makes them do police functions in a hostile country for months and months and then years after he says we won the war. And we get to torturing the Iraqis, making them stand around with electrodes on their nutsacks, raping their wives and kids in front of them, attacking them with vicious dogs, pissing on their holy books, and the audience loves it, they clap and applaud. A real crowd pleaser, that sequence. But soon the kid has gotten 1800 American troops killed, wounded thousands more, and get this there were no weapons of mass destruction at all, the whole thing was for oil, and they keep lying about it, lying and lying and lying. And now there's tortured people all over the place. Meanwhile the economy's sputtering along, and another election comes up. The Kid wins this one, by a squeaker, 'cause the other guy wasn't likable enough. So people are starting to question the whole war thing, just a little, and the country we invaded is in the shitter two years later, and nobody wants to leave for fear it'll get even worse. And then.."

    The agent leans forward in his chair. "NOW what?"

    "Okay, big finish now. A category 4 hurricane comes in and wipes out half the Gulf Coast! Just flattens everything for hundreds of miles around. And the levees in New Orleans break, cause the kid cut the budget for them to finance the war, and the whole city is flooded! Now, the rich white folks got out for the most part, but the poor folks, mostly black, get stuck at the Superdome and the Convention Center by the thousands. And get this, the kid's on vacation so they wait for four days, sleeping in their own shit, starving to death, dying of thirst, we got dead grannies in their wheelchairs and dead bodies lying on the streets and floating in the water, godawful spread of disease and filth, looters running around shooting guns, we got no organization from the government, total chaos. And the Kid, the Kid's in charge and he blames the governor for not signing the proper forms, even though she did. And the Kid turns back offers of aid and says he'll handle it, and that's what he does, he handles it right into the ground. So we got 3,000 corpses in New York, 10 or 20,000 corpses in New Orleans, we got 1800 military corpses quietly shipped home in boxes, we got untold thousands of dead Iraqis, we got Iraq in chaos, we got guys with electrodes attached to their nutsacks and piss all over their Korans, we got New Orleans underwater, we got refugees packing domed stadiums and living in shit, we got five years of blood and carnage and the economy in the crapper, and we got $4/gallon gas. Everyone gets up and takes a bow, except of course the mounds of corpses littering the stage."

    The agent is completely flummoxed. Just flabbergasted. "So what the hell do you call this act?"

    The guy says, with a flourish, "The Aristocrats!"

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    Magadalena USA July 31-August 6, 2005

    MAGDALENA USA is bringing The Magdalena Project to the US in the northeastern city of Providence, RI; July 31-August 6, 2005. Under the artistic direction of Vanessa Gilbert, the festival will bring together international women theatre artists who create and perform their own work, in concert with local and national artists for an intensive seven days of exchange, skills development, critical reflection and performances. According to Ms. Gilbert, "All theatre artists metaphorically weave their experiences into work, and this festival will also weave these national and international participants into our community."

    In bringing together local and international women theatre artists, Theatre-Women-Weaving builds upon the growing network of The Magdalena Project, which was founded by Jill Greenhalgh in Wales, 1986. The aims for this first USA festival are ambitious: professional training exchange, the forming of local and international connections, and a continuation of the Magdalena focus on the "third theatre", a kind of contemporary work described by Eugenio Barba as a "socially aware, exploratory, actor-oriented form of drama". It's a performance tradition historically less established in the US than in other parts of the world, with a focus not on scripted plays, but on ensemble-based work generated by its practitioners.

    Participants in the Magdalena USA festival in Providence will be able to attend all performances, engage in workshops and training led by invited artists, and showcase their own work.

    To find out more, visit the Magdalena USA Website

    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    Gala to Celebrate Mark Lerman

    Mark Lerman, artistic director of the Perishable Theatre,(and a long time friend of mine-- we went to the same college and graduate school, and then have lived in the same city for 15 years) will be honored at a Gala on Monday June 20.

    WHEN:Monday, June 20th from 6pm to 9pm
    WHERE:Restaurant Prov, 99 Chestnut Street in downtown Providence.
    COST: $15, cash bar.
    HOW: click image below to purchase tickets online.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    Sasaki Plan-- Public Input Meetings--PROVIDENCE 2020

    Apparently a lot of meetings going on-- that's been the thrust of a lot of my recent emails!


    Revisions to framework for future economic development based on community feedback

    Providence - Mayor David N. Cicilline announced today that the architectural and urban design firm Sasaki Associates is returning to Providence to present changes to the "Vision for Providence 2020" based on further analysis and feedback from the community forums held in May.

    Sasaki Associates will present revisions to the public at two community forums:

    Wednesday, June 15th, 6:00 p.m.
    Bridgham Middle School cafeteria
    1655 Westminster Street

    Thursday, June 16th, 6:00 p.m.
    West Broadway Elementary School cafeteria
    29 Bainbridge Ave.

    For more information about the plan, visit

    Monday, June 13, 2005

    Artist Tax Exemption Meeting tomorrow

    The Artist Tax Exemption Act creates a zone within the Mill District in Providence that gives artists in 37 buildings eligibility to receive State Income Tax, Sales & Use Tax, and Tangible Property Tax exemption. House Finance Chair Costantino and Rep Lewiss introduced the bill and it goes in front of the House Finance Committee TOMORROW June 14 at 1PM at the State House - Room 35 in the basement. Please come to show your support and help pass this bill for artists!!!

    The legislation was originally intended for all the 250 buildings in the Mill District (or ICBD), but we were advised to reduce this number significantly to increase the likelihood of passing. The 37 buildings include Steel Yard, Monohasset Mills, Atlantic Mills, Ajay Land, Dirt Palace, Hive Archive, Carpenter Mills, Hope Brewery, Rau Fastener, PUENTE, Rising Sun, Wanskuck Mill & Hall, 111 Summer Street, and others in Olneyville, South Side and Westminster Street. They were chosen to represent buildings which are artist owned; where a concentration of artists currently have space; that have been recently redeveloped and rent prices are now prohibitive to artists; and, the most practical buildings on the market (or vacant) for artists to buy using this tax free zone as incentive.

    It will give those living and/or working in these buildings eligibility for tax incentives, similar to the DownCity Tax Free Zone. Artists would need to be qualified by RISCA in order to receive the benefits. A recent amendment to the bill means those artists living in these spaces will be eligible for all three incentives, while those working only will be eligible for the Sales & Use, and Tangible Property Tax. The work only incentive is the only such measure in any of the tax free districts throughout Rhode Island, and meets a direct need for the artist studios and creative businesses in these mills.

    Help us bring these incentives to the buildings where artists actually are, and help bring more artists back to these areas. The passing of this bill will truly reflect the city's committment to the artists and their promotion of an arts-friendly city.

    You can find out more information here: .

    Three Rallies This Week

    There are three really important rallies going on downtown this week:

    1) On Monday at 5pm, the Library Reform Group will be leading a rally on the steps of City Hall, calling on the Providence Public Library (PPL) to require public appointments to its Board of Trustees.

    2) Tuesday, June 14, at 7:15 at City Hall, a party with cake and pointy hats will be held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the First Source Ordinance. The ordinance requires that businesses receiving City loans, grants, or tax breaks hire Providence residents for new jobs created by those businesses—but it’s never been enforced.

    3) Wednesday is national Justice for Janitors day. At 4pm, custodians and other community members will be rallying at the Turk’s Head building at the corner of Westminster and Weybosset Streets, downtown. The rally will focus on custodians’ efforts to join a union. We’ll also be showing our support for the so-called “Displaced Workers Ordinance,” currently before the Council.

    More at

    JDA Meeting features Brown Expansion Plan

    Brown University will be presenting its “Institutional Master Plan” at the June 14th, 2005 Monthly JDA Meeting to outline its plans for expansion and to open it to discussion with the community.

    Presenting will be Michael McCormick, the Director of Planning, and Abigail Rider, the Director of Real Estate/Administrative Services, both from Brown University.

    The meeting will take place at:

    The Brown University Development Offices
    110 Elm Street, Providence
    Corner of Elm & Hospital Streets in the Jewelry District


    Please note that the doors are locked and require someone to buzz you in, so please be prompt. After about 5:10pm, you will be unable to get in.

    Read the complete agenda for the meeting here

    Monday, May 23, 2005



    Providence – Residents will have a chance to meet one-on-one with Mayor David N. Cicilline at the next Mayor’s Night Out scheduled for Wednesday, May 25 beginning at 5 p.m. at Pleasant View Elementary School, 50 Obediah Road in Providence.

    Each person or group will have an opportunity to meet privately with Mayor Cicilline for ten minutes, and appointments take place on a first-come, first serve basis.

    Next Month’s Mayor’s Night Out is scheduled for June 29 in the West Broadway/Federal Hill neighborhood.

    Thursday, May 19, 2005

    Opportunities for Teachers and Artists

    The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) are pleased to announce six new summer teacher institutes in the arts - open to teachers of all academic disciplines.

    Designed for teams of teachers, teaching artists, administrators, and others, the five-day institutes will help participants develop and refine the skills necessary to teach students the artistic, cultural and historical context of outstanding works of art. The institutes will also provide training in related disciplines, such as history, geography, science, and literature, and in assessment of student learning.
    During the institutes, teachers will develop curriculum units to implement after they return to their classrooms in the fall. In December, each institute will reconvene its participants for a full day to share their experiences in implementing the curriculum units, and to evaluate the success of the institute itself.

    The six institutes now open for registration are:

    The ArtsLiteracy Project at Brown University: Summer Institute July 11-15, 2005(Providence, RI)

    The ArtsLiteracy Project Summer Institute will explore Whitman's Song of Myself through multiple media, imparting curriculum development, documentation, and assessment skills to its participating teachers. Teachers will learn how to choose a masterpiece for study in the classroom and how to engage students in grades 7-12 through the use of hip-hop poetry and theatre. To register or for more information contact Nancy Hoffman at 401-863-7017 or

    Portland Museum of Art: Winslow Homer's Weatherbeaten and the Role of Place in Art July 25-29, 2005 (Portland, ME)

    Winslow Homer's 1894 oil painting Weatherbeaten will serve as an anchor work through which participants will explore the role of "place" in works of art. Teachers will learn from experts in arts education and art historians, and meet with contemporary Maine artists for whom Maine's setting plays an important part. Teachers will learn how to use the study of local artists to enliven art and history for high school students. To register or for more information contact Stacy Rodenberger, Coordinator of School Programs at (207) 775-6148 ex. 3226 or For an application, go to

    Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire: Exploring Persian Culture through the Book of Kings July 25-29, 2005 (Littleton, NH)

    This institute will study the epic poem Shahnameh, a Central Asian literary classic written by the 10th century Persian bard Ferdowsi. Teachers will better understand how to engage students in grades 1-12 in the study of an ancient text through art and poetry. For more information contact Kelly Bryer, Member Services Coordinator, AANNH, 603-726-8843

    Shakespeare & Company: Re-Imagining Shakespeare in the Classroom July 31 - August 5, 2005 (Lenox, MA)

    Shakespeare & Company will assist teachers in developing dynamic approaches to teaching Macbeth through scholarly inquiry, experiential activities, and the creation of strategies and curriculum units that challenge students intellectually and emotionally. Teachers will learn how to make Shakespeare come alive for students in grades 4-12. To register or for more information, contact Mark Woollett at 413-637-1199 ext. 131 or

    Boston Public Library Foundation: Art, Architecture and the Public Square
    August 1-5, 2005 (Boston, MA)

    The Boston Public Library, in partnership with the Massachusetts Studies Project at UMass-Boston, will present the Library as a model of how public buildings function, not just as monuments to the collective memory, but as constantly evolving works of art. Teachers will learn from the institute how to use local cultural resources to enliven the social studies curriculum for grades 3-12.
    To register, contact MSP at 617-287-7654 or For more information, contact Christine Baron at (978) 927-5432 or

    DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park: Kinetic Sculpture and the Art of Wind Dynamics August 8-12, 2005 (Lincoln, MA)

    The museum will focus on the artistic, historical, social, and scientific significance of artist George Rickey's outdoor kinetic sculpture, Three Lines, and examine other kinetic sculptures on exhibit in the sculpture park. Educators will discover strategies to use these works as tools to underscore art and science curricula for grades 6-12. To register or for more information contact Donna Berube at 781-259-3603 or

    More information about the NEA Teacher Institutes project is available online at

    Project partners include the Western States Arts Federation, the New England State Arts Agencies and Departments of Education, and the New England Foundation for the Arts.

    Friday, April 08, 2005

    Your Name Here: Workshop at Perishable Theatre April 14

    Solo Performance Workshop—April 14 @ 7-10pm

    Before Eric Bogosian. . .before Anna Deavere Smith. . .before John Leguizamo. . . Susan Merson  devised and presented solo performance before there was a market for it-- before there was a vocabulary to talk about it;  before there was a technique to create it. You don’t have to recreate the wheel to begin inventing your own work--take Susan Merson’s SOLO PERFORMANCE WORKSHOP!

    Explore the basic, tried-and-true elements of solo play using hands-on writing and acting exercises sure to point you in the right direction to begin your solo performance journey, or to continue the work you’ve already begun. Bring pen and paper-- you won’t want to miss a single word! Susan Merson’s SOLO PERFORMANCE WORKSHOP will leave you armed with a basic outline, techniques to further your work, and a variety of options for creating your solo performance piece. DON’T MISS the opportunity to  take this valuable workshop and possibly jump start your solo performance career!!

    Susan will also be signing her book after the workshop. The workshop costs $50, and more info is available at The Perishable Theatre Website


    Tuesday, April 05, 2005

    Hanging Around Providence

    A Reuters story recently appeared about a Suspension conference that happened in Providence.

    Monday, March 28, 2005

    It's a Free Show...It's a Flea Show!

    The Flea Circus Goes To The Academy

    Low culture meets highbrow academics as the flea circus comes to Brown University on Saturday, April 2.

    This is no April Fool’s joke: next weekend, Brown University will be hosting a most unusual professor, and his even more unusual performers: Professor A.G. Gertsacov and his authentic Victorian flea circus will be gracing the stage as part of the eleventh annual Performance Studies International Conference.

    The show, the Acme Miniature Flea Circus, is an authentic Victorian flea circus that features trained fleas Midge and Madge (stars of the show) who perform spectacular circus stunts as seen before (and on top of) the crowned heads of Europe.

    Details Magazine called the show "One of the top alternative circuses in the country." The New York Times said "The appeal is irresistible... Gertsacov is every bit the fantastical impresario, in his purple top hat and cash-register voice, introducing us to the wondrous insects itching (sorry) to perform" And the Los Angeles Times says that "Professor Gertsacov holds the audience (and the stars of the show) in the palm of his hand."

    According to Gertsacov, ringmaster and proprietor of the Acme Miniature Circus, flea circuses were popular entertainments during Victorian times, but had nearly disappeared since the advent of television. The last popular American flea circus was Professor Heckler's of Time Square, which left New York in 1957. The rumor is that Heckler thought that the nude shows were giving his fleas a bad name.

    There are now only a handful of flea circuses still performing throughout the world. Gertsacov's is arguably the most famous. The Rhode Island native and his amazing insect stars have performed throughout the country, and in Canada, Chile, and Brazil. He recently spent three months performing in Times Square, less than two blocks from where Professor Heckler once had his fleas. Gertsacov has also been filmed for documentaries on the History Channel, the Travel Channel, and numerous news programs. He's even been a question on Jeopardy.

    Gertsacov's educated insect stars pull chariots, dance on a tightwire, and perform other circus-like stunts. While he does not reveal his method of training (a proprietary secret, he explains) , he assures the curious and the civic minded that he uses only methods of positive reinforcement to teach the insects their routines. "I treat them as if they are my own flesh and blood," Gertsacov says. "And in some ways, they are."

    Says Gertsacov of his participation in the Performance Studies Conference, “I feel very fortunate and honored to be included in this conference. It’s an amazing and rare moment when the top scholars and the top performers are both assembled together at the same time. I’m really looking forward to learning a lot.” Other performers at the conference will include Fred Curchack, Double Edge Theatre, Split Britches, Pig Iron Theatre, and many other very well known national and international performers.

    In addition to his performance at the conference, Gertsacov, who is also the director of Bright Night Providence, Rhode Island’s largest New Year’s Eve Celebration, will chair a panel titled “Popular Entertainment and the Carnavelesque.” This panel will take place on Saturday morning on the Brown University campus.

    The flea circus will be performed at the Trinity Rep Theatre, 201 Washington Street, on Saturday, April 2, 2005 at 9:30 pm. Admission is free (donations accepted)

    For more information about the conference, visit the PSI website: call them at 401-863-1510

    For more information about the flea circus, visit or call 401-351-2596.

    (High resolution photographs are available on the website at )


    WHAT: Acme Miniature Flea Circus
    WHEN:Saturday April 2, 2005 9:30 pm
    COST: Admission is free (donations accepted0
    WHERE: Trinity Rep Theatre, 201 Washington Street, Providence
    MORE INFO: or call 401-863-1510


    Friday, March 18, 2005

    Rhode Island Athlete To Play For U.S.


    Dan Gertsacov of Narragansett, RI has been named to the United States Maccabiah Rugby Team that will compete at the 17th World Maccabiah Games taking place this July, in Israel. The Rugby team will be one of the 27 United States sports teams competing at these Games; among the world’s largest international, Olympic-style events, according to Jordan Weinstein, General Chairman of the US Maccabiah Committee.

    Gertsacov is no stranger to top-level rugby competition. Dan currently plays for New York Old Blue in Manhattan, one of the premier rugby clubs in the United States. Formerly, he played with one of Rhode Island’s top clubs, Newport Rugby Football Club, as well as internationally for first division teams in Brazil and Chile. Gertsacov recently graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he captained the rugby club, and has a BA from the University of Richmond, where he first started playing rugby and went on to become the team’s two-time Captain. Gertsacov is employed as a Vice President at Univision Networks and resides in New York City.

    Over 7,000 athletes representing more than 60 countries will take part in the 17th edition of the Maccabiah, a quadrennial athletic competition for Jewish athletes. The United States is expecting to send a contingent of “more than 600 athletes and coaches,” reported Weinstein.

    "The leadership of participating countries has pledged to make the 17th Maccabiah the biggest and best ever. Maccabi USA is planning to assemble the largest US Maccabiah team in history. We believe that NOW, MORE THAN EVER, Israel needs our support!" Weinstein said.

    Previously, the U.S. Maccabiah Team has included such sports greats as swimmers Mark Spitz and Lenny Krayzelburg, gymnasts Mitch Gaylord and Kerri Strug, National Basketball Association stars Ernie Grunfeld, Dolph Schayes and Danny Schayes, golfer Bruce Fleisher, tennis pros Brad Gilbert and Dick Savitt and World Cup soccer player Jeff Agoos.

    Team USA will consist of teams competing in Badminton, Baseball (Boys), Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Fencing, Field Hockey (Women), Golf, Gymnastics, Half Marathon, Judo, Karate, Lawn Bowls, Rowing, Rugby (Men), Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Squash, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Ten Pin Bowling, Track & Field, Triathlon, Volleyball, Water Polo (Men) and Wrestling (Men)

    Opening ceremonies are scheduled to take place at Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv, and closing ceremonies will take place at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem.

    “Our formula remains consistent,” Jordan Weinstein said. “Sports is the attraction. The Land of Israel is the vehicle. Jewish continuity is our primary goal.”

    “It is a great honor for me to represent my country, as well as the state of Rhode Island, on the rugby field in Israel,” Gertsacov said. “It will be a tough two weeks of competition, against top squads from South Africa, Australia, England and other top rugby nations, but with the support of my team and my family who will be over there to cheer us on, I’ll do everything I can to help our team bring home that Gold Medal.”

    The U.S. Maccabiah Team is sponsored by Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel. Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel is a national, not-for-profit, volunteer organization that seeks to enrich the lives of Jewish youth in the U.S., Israel and throughout the Diaspora through cultural, athletic and educational programs.

    For more information about the Maccabiah Games, visit the Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel website at or call the Maccabiah Games hotline at 215/561-6181, fax to 215/561-5470, send e-mail to

    To arrange for photographs or interviews, contact Becca or Ami at the Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel office at 215/561-6900 or by e-mail to or

    Thursday, March 03, 2005

    The 20th Annual Girls' Night Out

    WHAT: The 20th Annual Girls' Night Out:Women Celebrating Women in Story and Song

    WHEN: Sunday, March 13, 2005 --- 7:00 pm

    WHERE: RISD Auditorium, 17 Canal Street, Providence

  • Jeanne Jordan Bent
  • Sparky Davis
  • Carolyn Martino
  • Marilyn Murphy Meardon
  • Diane Postoian
  • Valerie Tutson
  • WomanSpiritRising: A Feminist Chorus

    COST: $10; $6 - Students and Seniors
    FREE to RISD Students, Museum Members and Staff

    INFO: Carolyn Martino, 401-351-8090
  • Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    The Clown Blog

    I've started a new blog. It's to chronicle and keep all of my clown book reviews and other information. In this blog (as in my life), the word clown is given a large and liberal meaning, and includeds related arts such as puppetry, juggling, circus, mask work, commedia dell'arte, and other related stuff.

    Stop on by and check it out if you like.

    Friday, February 25, 2005

    Drinking Liberally


    A new group that is sweeping the nation is Drinking Liberally . It's a political discussion group over beer. They call themselves an informal, inclusive weekly Democratic drinking club. Here's a little bit of their kind of inclusive advertising friendly slogans:

    You can raise your spirits while you raise your glass, and share ideas while you share a pitcher. Drinking Liberally gives like-minded, left-leaning individuals a place to talk politics. You don't need to be a policy expert and this isn't a book club - just come and learn from peers, trade jokes, vent frustration and hang out in an environment where it's not taboo to talk politics.

    Bars are democratic spaces - you talk to strangers, you share booths, you feel the bond of common ground. Bring democratic discourse to your local democratic space - build Democracy one drink at a time.

    I haven't been yet, but I plan to one of these days.

    In Providence, here's their meeting plan:

    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    Rhode Island's Future: The Fight For Clean Air Continues

    Rhode Island's Future: The Fight For Clean Air Continues

    Here's a call for action to attend a rally to help Senator Chaffee do the right thing.

    Attend Rally to Protect Clean Air Act from
    Bush Administration’s Rollbacks!

    WHEN: 11 am, Tuesday, March 1, 2005

    WHERE: Senator Chafee’s Providence office, 170 Westminster Street

    WHO: Rhode Island Public Interest Research Group, Clean Water Action

    WHY: On March 2nd Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee is scheduled to vote on the "Clear Skies Initiative," which would gut the Clean Air Act allowing more pollution into the air while doing nothing to stop global warming. We will hold a press conference and rally outside Senator Chafee’s office urging him to protect the environment and public health by opposing any weakening of the Clean Air Act. Clean Water Action will also be releasing new data that shows how Clear Skies lets big polluters off the hook

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    Rhode Island's Future: A Great New Blog

    Rhode Island's Future is a great new political blog that has appeared in the last couple of months. It calls itself "An insider's guide to politics and culture in Rhode Island." There's a lot of great opinion and thought pieces about what's going on in Rhode Island. There are currently 6 contributors.

    Of course, it has a political opinion, as a blog should, but they present a lot of compelling ideas. I highly recommend reading it and thinking about what they have to say. If you don't like their opinions, you could always start your own blog.!

    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    Museum of Natural History New Exhibits

    Museum of Natural History and Planetarium

    Current Events

    From Observation to Illustration

    On exhibit February 13 - April 25, 2005

    A joint presentation with the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, New England Chapter, this exhibit will showcase their works in a variety of media complemented by specimens from the Museum’s collections. Among the show’s highlights are renderings in watercolor, acrylic, pen and ink, and other media featuring the full spectrum of natural history subjects. From fungi and lichens to seed pods, orchids, butterflies, and birds, this exhibit leaves no stone unturned! We invite you to see the works of these talented local artists along with specimens from our vaults making a debut appearance.

    Monday, January 31, 2005

    Fleas Featured on BBC Radio Program

    A remembrance of entomologist Miriam Rothschild includes flea circus owner Professor A.G. Gertsacov

    January 31, 2005 Providence, RI

    Professor A.G. Gertsacov, Rhode Island flea circus impresario and proprietor of the Acme Miniature Circus, was featured on BBC radio program "Outlook" today. The occasion was a remembrance of Dame Miriam Rothschild, a noted British zoologist who was known for many years as "Queen of the Fleas" for her outstanding research in studying and cataloging fleas. Dame Rothschild passed away last week at the age of 96.

    The show features a 15 minute interview with Gertsacov, as well as other noted flea authorities, including entomologist Amorette Brandt of the Royal Natural History Museum, and Ian Burgess, an insect specialist who sells insects to British scientists. On the program, Gertsacov recites flea poetry, does a bit of an old-fashioned flea circus "grind" from the show, and talks a little bit about the amazing acts he has taught his fleas to perform.

    Gertsacov, who has performed his show over 700 times in the last 8 years, says of Rothschild, “She was an amazing woman who dedicated an enormous amount of her time, intellect, and money to a tiny creature. She really contributed to the world’s scientific knowledge of the flea in a great way.”

    To hear the show, visit the website" And click on "Listen to Monday's show" (To listen to the show you need Real Media's free player (available for free at

    The entire flea interview starts at minute 26:30 and Professor Gertsacov's entrance into the program starts at minute 34:30

    The show will be archived for the next week on the radio program website.

    For more information about the flea circus, visit Gertsacov's website

    Sunday, January 02, 2005

    Pier Market to Close: Victim to Greed (or perhaps its just the times)

    The Pier Market, a small community market in the heart of Narragansett (and minutes away from the beach) is set to close because the developer and owner of the land (Gilbane Properties) decided to triple its rent.

    This is from the Rhode Island Policy Reporter on December 7:

    As was reported in the Projo this morning, Gilbane Properties, the landlord, offered to raise the Pier market's rent from $75,000 per year to $225,000.

    I called Wes Cotter, the Gilbane Properties spokesman quoted in the story, and he told me that they aren't losing any money there, but the property is "undervalued" and they can get much more out of it. For the record, the town assesses the grocery building at $180,000. With its share of the land underneath it, the taxes on the market are around $6,500.

    While tripling rents from one year to the next is clearly an excess, I also don't think that Gilbane should be forced to keep their rent at way below the market value. It's a hard question--because from an individual perspective, it makes perfect sense to maximize your income and utilize your assets to their best value. But what Gilbane apparently hasn't factored in is that the community is not a cash tree that they can shake. Gilbane is part of the community, and their desire to "monetize" should take a 5-10 year plan to raise the rent to a more "market-value" number.

    The same thing with the information that follows the article about the approximately 88 apartments that will be renovated, and rents increased.

    A new RI blog!

    I said, new above, but really, it's only New to me!

    I just was doing a search for "Bright Night" information. and found a blog that was linking to the event that I didn't know anything about!

    (It's always nice when that happens!)

    Looking through, this guy seems to have a great blog, with photos, opinions, news snippets, and personal commentary.

    I definitely would recommend checking it out.