Old fart at play

Richard Walton's birthday bash. Plus, Super Susan, and a farewell to Dom.
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  May 13, 2009

Richard Walton, our favorite lefty who we bring in from the bullpen in tight situations, is having his 80th birthday party in Pawtuxet (that's Gaspee Plateau in Cranston, for youse Vo Dilun ignoramuses), right next to the river. For details, contact richard@richardjwalton.org. But let our old boy explain about his event:

"Ever since they started in 1988, they've probably been the biggest annual social gathering of peaceniks, economic/social justice activists, progressives, liberals, all-round lefties and folkies in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut. I'm speaking, modestly of course, about the annual potluck, fund-raising birthday parties of Richard Walton to benefit Amos House and the Providence-Niquinohomo [Nicaragua] Sister City Project. Over the years since my 60th birthday, we've collected about $65,000.

"It's a pretty good place for a party. Plenty of room for grownups, kids, dogs, Frisbees and last year even a 1920s Model T Ford showed up and gave guests rides around the neighborhood. So not only come, but please help spread the word. It's an INclusive party not an EXclusive one and, quite literally, the more the merrier. Even some conservatives have been known to enjoy themselves but no reactionaries. They wouldn't be seen dead with the likes of us."

Screw them if they can't take a joke.


While we applaud Mark "Pinky" Patinkin for taking note of the contributions that Susan Farmer has made to Vo Dilun in his front-page piece in last Sunday's BeloJo, we think that the article was not as emphatic as it could have been. And yes, your superior correspondents are completely biased in this. For a number of years in the '80s, we proudly co-sponsored an annual bowling tournament with the then-Secretary of State to benefit the Fund for Community Progress.

Besides being the first woman elected to statewide office in the Biggest Little, Muffy almost singlehandedly saved the state's public television station. And — we remember it well — this was not a given or a cakewalk at the time. When Muffy was appointed by then-Governor DiPrete to run Channel 36, the standard line was that this was some sort of political payoff and that she was not sufficiently well-versed in broadcasting to be running such an entity.

P&J knew that this was all bullshit. If a seasoned "broadcasting executive" had been brought in to run Channel 36 at that time, the station would have been operating out of Boston for the past two decades. What Susan Farmer quickly surmised was that public television run by and for Vo Dilunduhs was going down fast if she didn't rev up the fundraising machinery. And Susan Farmer knew how to do that. Believe it when we tell you that we have a real local Vo Dilun public television station because of the talents and vision of one person.

We won't get into how Susan Farmer modernized and streamlined the Secretary of State's office from a lazy backwater into a responsive and dynamic office, but she did that too. And we could go back further to the Civil Rights era and note that she was there too.

Susan (and Mac) Farmer have been on the side of the angels in this state and we are all the richer for it. But Farmer is way more important than that story indicated.

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