Friartown, redux

PC players foul out. Plus, helping Johnny Mac, a Supreme shift, and ‘Monbo Time’
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  April 14, 2010

Phillipe and Jorge have always had a problem with Providence College basketball’s advertising campaign, which refers to the area as “Friartown” in a delusional suggestion that the squad has support throughout the local community. Largely ignored by the student body, with a rapidly graying fan base that lives on the memories of the glory years long gone by, PC basketball is about as big a draw as a Britney Spears-Lindsay Lohan spelling bee.

That is because of the thuggish behavior of players through the years. Recall local legend Marvin “Bad News” Barnes taking a tire iron to teammate Larry Kertvertis in the school cafeteria in the early 1970s and later trying to take a pistol onto an airplane (explanation: “I told him I had a ‘farm’ [firearm] in my bag”). A high-profile brawl involving as many as eight PC players 10 years ago should have made the admissions office doubly alert to the disposition of its scholarship athletes. PC hoopsters are about as worthy of being representatives of the Capital City as the famed mob boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca.

Now, two members of floundering PC head coach Keno Davis’s first recruiting class of obviously well-vetted young men of high character allegedly attack a fellow student in the wee hours near the college campus, without provocation, breaking his nose and eye socket and leaving him lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk.

One, Johnnie Lacy, had already declared his intention to transfer, while the second player, James Still, was coming back for his sophomore season. Well, make that “thought” he was coming back. Needless to say, the players were not returning from a Mensa meeting when they allegedly chose to arbitrarily beat the shit out of a stranger.

The NCAA and its basketball teams long ago forfeited any trace of being able to call their players “student-athletes,” with the exception of high-end programs such as this year’s two March Madness finalists, Duke and Butler. It is bad enough that the Friars sucked this year, with perhaps the worst defense ever seen in Big East history, but knowing the team is full of violent punks makes it worse. Keno’s boys may soon find themselves in different environs: ACI-town.

One of the veteran, ubiquitous figures on the Rhode Island music scene for well over 40 years now is John “Johnny Mac” McQuiggan. You may not immediately recognize the name, but Johnny Mac, over the decades, has been as responsible for your enjoyment of live music as anyone.

He’s the guy on the mixing board, but he knows lighting as well as sound and has worked with just about every top live act in the region and many national acts. In short, he is as respected a member of the music community around here as anyone (though that respect comes mainly from the “insiders”).

Recently, John suffered from a ruptured appendix (a very severe and dangerous case, requiring major surgery) and, besides being knocked out of commission for awhile, amassed quite a collection of medical bills.

Here’s a big shocker: like the vast majority of other artists around here, John’s got no health insurance! As usual, members of Vo Dilun’s extended music community have taken it upon themselves to address the issue. So, here’s the pertinent information: the benefit is on Sunday April 18, starting around 2 pm at the venerable Bovi’s Town Tavern in East Providence. Many local stalwarts and compatriots of Johnny’s will be performing including the Schemers, Rizzz, Violin River, Mike Tanaka and Friends, the Jack Babineau Band, Rick Mariotti, Scott Doggett, and Tanoose (hey, isn’t that the hummus- and pita-eatin’ guy from Rizzz again?).

P+J are alerting all fans of the Red Sox and the vintage Bosstown Sound of the 1960s that the Remains (aka Barry and the Remains) have a new single that should be available any day now.

It’s called “Monbo Time” and old-time Sox fans all know the title refers to Bill Monbouquette, the native of Medford, Massachusetts, who was one of the Sox’s star hurlers (1958-1965) back when the Sox’ primary objective was to avoid finishing beneath the Washington Senators in the American League standings.

In “Monbo Time,” the Remains (who, as regional rock fans should all know, opened for the Beatles on their last US tour, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, etc.) take us on a tour of the past 50 years of Red Sox history.

We expect to be hearing it played at Fenway before long (50 percent of all proceeds are slated for the Jimmy Fund). And it oughta resonate with all Sox fans, though it’s not likely to replace the straight-out-of-the garage Sox anthem “Dirty Water” by the Standells. Look for “Monbo Time” on iTunes and other online outlets real soon and go Sox!

Justice John Paul Stevens, who announced last week that he’d be stepping down from the United States Supreme Court after a long and distinguished career, did not move to the left in any appreciable way. What happened was the country (and, to a greater extent, the Supreme Court) moved to the right. As a couple of guys who were born during the Truman Administration, P+J can assure you that many conservatives of the past would be astonished by the current, rabid political landscape. (Would the late, great Senator John Chafee be run out of town on a rail these days as a “Commie symp”?)

Those who know something about our 20th-century history (a declining segment of the population, it would seem) realize how positively ridiculous it is for know-nothings to be spewing about how President Obama is a “socialist.” They obviously did not live through — or have no knowledge of — past presidential administrations like Eisenhower’s or Nixon’s. What would hopped-up opponents of the recent, middle-of-the-road health care bill have to say about wage and price controls, a Nixon initiative? Don’t you think that is a government intrusion far more profound than the health care bill?

And for those who suggest that Obama is “soft” when it comes to foreign policy, we would direct you to Eisenhower’s warning in his famous farewell address about “the military-industrial complex.” From the modern-day conservative perspective, these two iconic Republicans look a lot more like “socialists” than Obama.

Since P+J have no qualms about issuing shameless plugs for performers we know and would like to see succeed, we give you the Royalty, a Boston-area band whose bass player and singer, Susie Sugartone, is a colleague of Phillipe’s. They will be playing at AS220 on April 29 at 8 pm, and while anything that goes on at Bert Crenca’s shrine to art and coolness is worth seeing, we hope Susie and company rock the house.

The Royalty, a self-described indie rock band, claim to be influenced by Queen and sound a bit like Prince (geddit?), and we hope they also throw in a bit of the Kings of Leon sound. If Ms. Sugartone’s abilities come anywhere close to what she knows about fisheries, (always a key body of knowledge for a young rocker) you will be in for a fine evening. As always, be there or be square.

. . . to Mary Ann Sorrentino and Ron St. Pierre, two good friends who (shall we say) don’t always see eye-to-eye, but were recently elected into the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame. Mary Ann made her mark getting folks all wound up as one of the area’s top talk show hosts for years. (Of course, she also has a long and inspiring history as an advocate for reproductive rights and civil liberties.) Ronzo is, quite simply, the consummate radio performer. No one is more knowledgeable or professional. St. Pierre is also responsible for introducing and cultivating a few decades worth of radio talent in the local market.

. . . and also to the great Bert Crenca, who is being honored with one of Trinity Rep’s annual Pell Awards. The other two award winners this year are Liza Minnelli and George Wein, but neither has a beard as cool as Bert’s.  

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