If it was an intentional hoax and a send-up of purported ex-actor Phoenix's new career as a rapper, the humor was so heavily veiled by Joaquin's shades, thick beard, awkward silences, and nearly catatonic responses that it killed the bit. But judging from Letterman's less-than-amused comments — "What can you tell us about your days with the Unabomber?" and "Joaquin, I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight . . . We owe an apology to Farrah Fawcett" — it appeared that it was not being played for yucks.
At least Letterman has experience dealing with out-of-control or delusional Hollywood stars, as in past otherworldly episodes with the aforementioned drugged-out bimbo Fawcett and the hideously hyper-failed actor Crispin Glover, who caused Letterman to walk off the set when he attempted to kick him and was immediately dispatched during the commercial break. Perhaps the only upside to Phoenix's appearance was that he provided a living example of what P&J reported last week is a new addition to America's vocabulary: an "ignoranus" — someone who is both stupid and an asshole.
Some musical notes
John "Crawlin' Snake" Mac passed away last week right after the Phoenix went to press. He had been ill for some time, but it was still a shock to hear that one of the true stalwarts of the local music scene and one of the most unique blues/roots interpreters anywhere had died. John was a gregarious, charismatic man with a very personal approach to music that made it his and his alone. His many fans, friends, and musical collaborators know that he was a true original.
There were a couple of events honoring a pair of other local notables last weekend. Last Saturday at the Penalty Box on North Main Street in La Prov, a crowd of fans and a bunch of bands gathered to help out with the astronomical health care bills that are being piled up on Jon Jones, the well-respected veteran indie rock guitarist (Mother Jefferson, Backwash, Motormags). Jones has been battling a pancreatic condition that, reportedly, pretty near killed him. There will be more gigs because the health costs are astronomical, the condition is intense and lasts a long time, and Jones has many friends who are committed to doing what needs to be done to make Jones whole.
And at Bovi's in East Providence, the late John Packer's friends and former bandmates honored him and raised a bit of dough for the Jacqueline Walsh School for Music and the Arts in Pawtucket. Thom Enright played guitar with the Radio Kings for the opening set and people were thrilled to see him looking so good and back onstage. Keep it up, Thom.
'Hidden from Slavery'
That's the title of a landmark exhibit opening at the Providence Public Library on Thursday, February 26. The full title is "Hidden from History: Slavery in Rhode Island from Its Inception to Its End," and the reception will feature a lecture by Richard Ring, director of special collections at the PPL.
The project director for the display of documents and artifacts that go back to 1652 is Ray Rickman, former State Representative and longtime Casa Diablo regular. Considering the Biggest Little's long and pervasive involvement with the North American slave trade and the knowledge and acumen of Rickman at finding pertinent objects, this will be one of the more impressive history-oriented events of the year.