Cheap jokes R us

By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  April 8, 2009

About 10 years ago, a former BeloJo reporter who went to work for the New York Times was so concerned about the future of the Urinal in the Biggest Little that she went to the managing editor of the paper, John Geddes, who is a University of Rhode Island grad, to ask if the Times could do anything to save Vo Dilun's organ of record. His reported reply was "Why bother? We own the Boston Globe and they will eventually take over the market when the ProJo tanks."


Now it is reported that the New York Times Company, recently bailed out by unctuous Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim (seriously, that's his name — we guess Nathan Detroit and Magic Dick were taken), is threatening to close down the Globe unless the unions knuckle under to the NYT demands. How's that for those old left-wing, Pete Seeger-sucking, pro-union boys on 42nd Street?

All that is being asked of the people who do the real job of turning out a revered paper is $20 million in union concessions. Practically nothing in Madoff and AIG money. Naturally, like the Urinal's ownership, which is doing its own intentional wrist-slicing, no one from the Times or Globe leadership would comment.

The Globe was founded in 1872. It has won 20 Pulitzers. Tweet that.

Years (actually, decades) ago, your superior correspondents wrote jeremiads about what we saw as a totally misguided state "initiative" involving the government and the "gaming industry." Our reasoning was not based so much on whether gambling was a potentially big moneymaker for the state or whether it was morally a good thing.

Our concern had to do with a moral concern of a more nuanced sort: How could the state make claims to any sort of moral authority in any area when they are underwriting and supporting a business that is purely about exploitation? While one can argue that there is an entertainment component to casino gambling, the same argument does not hold up for scratch tickets. And, of course, it was scratch tickets and lotteries that the state first entered into — the most exploitative forms of gambling.

More than a decade ago, during one of those periods when debate was white-hot over whether the Narragansett tribe should have the opportunity to have a casino in Vo Dilun, your superior correspondents chimed in that, while we were no fans of gambling, especially as a government revenue stream, casino gambling was not nearly as noxious as scratch tickets. We would trade the casino for the scratch tickets any day.

Know this: the General Assembly, Governors Carcieri, former Governor Almond — the whole lot of them are utter hypocrites on this matter. They're like guys who show up to testify at the NA meeting in the church basement after scoring a bundle in the church parking lot an hour earlier. In terms of gambling, they have forfeited their right to be righteously indignant.

Due to the current economic climate there is no way anyone will walk away from our self-imposed gambling addiction, so let's make the most of it and get rid of the scummiest aspects of "gaming" (i.e., scratch tickets) and the truly depressing "slot parlors," and go with a full-blown casino. Let's move past the timid half-steps we've been doing for the past few decades as if we're still "semi-virgins."

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