A new beginning?

By PHILLIPE + JORGE  |  December 22, 2008

Frank Rich, in the December 21 New York Times, dissected this very well, but he has no more power to do something than you or I. Congress does, and it should be brought to task immediately. Our financier friends are shamelessly getting a free ride on our dime, and not having the good manners to even give us cab-fare home after screwing us.

Once Brian Williams, Katie Couric, and Charlie Gibson became the face of corporate TV news, you know we had jumped the infotainment shark. And don't even mention Wolf Blitzer.

P&J's two latest bête noires are David Gregory, the Howdy Doody look-a-like lightweight who makes nice with the likes of Ann Curry, and who makes Couric look sincere and secure, and Matt Lauer, who could not be more shallow. Now the host of Press the Meat, Gregory may be causing even the spotlight-hogging Tim Russert to spin in his grave in embarrassment.

The second talking head that gives us the willies is a 60 Minutes headliner, the Niles Crane impersonator Scott Pelley. Could you find anyone more superficial and pompous than this posturing prince of preening? P+J hear rumors that Pelley is being groomed to take over for Bob Schieffer as the host of Face the Nation, which is the best excuse your superior correspondents can find for sticking with WRIU's Sunday morning world music and R&B programming.

Last Sunday, the George Wiley Center's Henry Shelton, who's been speaking truth to power in Vo Dilun longer and stronger than anyone we know, told P&J during the Murphy/Dean annual holiday party in Edgewood, about an action at the State House Christmas tree on Tuesday.

Here are some particulars: There is about $35 million available to our state in federal money to enhance existing programs to help those in need. The Wiley Center estimates that at least 40,000 Vo Dilunduhs, half of whom are elderly or disabled, are eligible for food stamps, and hundreds are also eligible for home winterizing funds. It is merely a matter of the state making an effort to apply for the funds.

Most of the salaries for the necessary 90 new hires will be paid for with federal funding. Ninety jobs in a state that needs jobs badly!

So what is holding back the Biggest Little from making the effort to improve the lives of those in serious need? Could it be the political philosophy of the governor, and the brainless sheep in the General Assembly? It appears so.

There are waiting lists for families who are trying to reduce their heating costs. Why can't we do this?

Thinking back on the past year, we are especially grateful for the lives of two friends who passed away, two people who energized the arts and music scene for years. Jeff Thomas and John Packer were special people who inspired many. Bless them for their creativity, courage, and inspiration.

Thom Enright, another great musician, continues to inspire us as he battles a very tough case of brain cancer. Veteran drummer Tom DeQuattro (who worked with Thom with Duke Robillard's Pleasure Kings through most of the 1980s) mentioned on the phone to your superior correspondents from Florida last week, "I just can't believe the strength of that man." Those who attended the Hi-Hat concert for Thom in early November saw an unparalleled outpouring of affection, and a once-in-lifetime concert featuring virtually all of the major RI-based rock musicians of the past 35 years. Keep going, Enright.

Send inaugural tix and Pulitzer-grade tips to p&j@phx.com.

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