At Whit's end

The 'ProJo' loses a strong voice; a medical emergency; take a stand
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  May 22, 2013

There is a common misconception that Phillipe and Jorge aren't enamored of The Other Paper, especially its editorial stances. Nothing could be further from the truth.

P&J have been informed (after friend Scottso MacKay at WRNI broke the news weeks ago) that the Urinal's longtime veep and editorial page editor, Bob Whitcomb, will be leaving his job on June 1. Over many years, P&J have exchanged emails, gossip and arts views behind the scenes with Whit — the latter because his wife, Nancy, is a well-known local painter. He is one of the more cultured (a former Dartmouth College student of Frank Robinson, who later became RISD museum director and one of RI's all-time greats in P&J's book), well-travelled (a former financial editor at the International Herald Tribune), wryly sarcastic (with the asset of self-deprecating humor), and discerning people you will ever meet.

Through his years as head ramrod of the editorial and op-ed section, Whit has done a remarkable job bringing a wide variety of opinions and well-wrought official BeloJo positions to the public. By bringing in contributors like the sublime genius Dr. Stanley Aronson on a regular basis, Whit sculpted one of the most entertaining, balanced, and thoughtful editorial sections of any paper in the country. Since P&J read other local media organs cover-to-cover wherever and whenever we travel, we know of what we speak.

Even if P&J strongly differed with Whit on certain issues such as building a deepwater port at Quonset Point, at least he could back it up with solid reasoning. (If enviros feel he was a bit brass-necked in that position, we refer you to his excellent book on an offshore turbine project in Massachusetts, co-authored with Wendy Williams, Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Energy, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future.) And, as he is a raging libertarian, P&J have often tweaked Whit when he got called out in Letters to the Editor for alternately being a whore for the conservative party and a screaming left-wing lunatic.

As Whit begins his phase-out, the Urinal will be losing not just a great journalist, but also a wonderful, witty, cosmopolitan gentleman, whom we are proud to call a friend. Over his tenure he has,however subtly, helped make Rhode Islanders more informed, tolerant, and just plain better folks. Thanks, Whit, and good luck in your future endeavors, as the fortune cookies say.


PAGING HERMAN MELVILLE

Top hats off to Peter Johnson of RI Economic Development Corporation counsel Nixon Peabody (Tricky Dick meets Rocky and Bullwinkle — who knew?) for his statement regarding a legal screw-up at the Quonset Business Park.

"Unfortunately," Johnson said, the flub was "due to a scrivener's error."

Outside of an old English novel, P&J have never, ever heard the word "scrivener" used by any American, except a drunk ordering "a Captain and Coke and a scrivener. Or is that a screwdriver?"

But of course we all know that scrivener means a clerk, scribe, or notary, and that it comes from the Old French escrivein, from Latin scriba, because that's the kind of knowledge that is abundant in Vo Dilun's learned business and political community.

In placing blame for the clerical error, may P&J suggest counselor Johnson check out anyone named Bartleby?


DAVE NEEDS A HAND

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