Two excellent pieces in this week's BeloJo reminded Phillipe and Jorge why we continue to be devoted readers of Our Little Towne's organ of record.
The first, by columnist Mark Patinkin, focused on P&J's old friend Bruce Melucci. We have shared a cocktail or 80 with Bruce in his time, and there has never been a shrewder political operative in The Biggest Little. Unfortunately, his career was cut short by a stroke he suffered in 1987 at age 43.
It seems the Big Pink One literally crossed paths with Melucci, who was slowly making his way down the street, and struck up a conversation. His piece offered a wonderful window on Bruce's still-sharp mind — and will power out the keister. There are many politicians, on the campaign trail or in office, who could still benefit from Bruce's shrewd advice. And P&J have a strong suspicion many still do.
Melucci was a Leo's and Lupo's regular when those two nightclubs ruled the scene in ProHo and Downcity. His forays with Rich Lupo and co. to an Italian dining spot in Silver Lake were always good for a night's worth of stories.
Patinkin offered a taste of this man-about-town persona. But the most important thing he did was to remind people of Bruce's political legacy. He was one of those swinging geniuses who operated out of the public eye, but helped create policies that influenced all of our lives, whether we knew it or not.
A second tip of the sombrero to Mark Divver, the Urinal's assistant sports editor, for his tremendous piece on the late hockey legend Harvey Bennett, recently inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame.
Harvey played for the Providence Reds and was one of the most outstanding goalies in AHL history. Back in those days there were only six teams in the National Hockey League; in today's game of dozens of teams, Bennett would have been a lock as a starter, if not a star, on three-quarters of the clubs.
Bennett stuck around Rhody after his playing days and turned out the most famous hockey family in the state, with sons Curt, John, Harvey, Jr., Bill, and Jim — the latter now Providence's economic development director — all playing professional hockey.
Phillipe attended Brown with Curt and John. And it is no stretch to say that Curt was the finest American-raised player of his time — and among the most exciting players ever to play in the NCAA.
P. remembers living across the street from Curt the summer before he went to his first NHL camp and watching the player do martial arts exercises in front of his house. The exercises are provocative enough, but when the guy doing them is 6'4", weighs 225 pounds, and has steel cables for muscles, they border on intimidating.
The training came in handy, though. Phillipe ran across Curt's Brown hockey coach later that fall and asked for an update. It seems Curt, as he'd written in his most recent letter, had to fight the toughest player on the opposing team every night just to prove he was hard enough for the NHL.
In the early and mid-1970s, you see, players who came to the league via college were regarded as toffee-nosed wussies. After awhile, Curt decided to drop his gloves and pound away at the other team's enforcer as soon as the game began, just to get it out of the way.