You see, Pope Benny is not one for frills — never mind the new indoor variation on the Popemobile, a moving platform that transports His Holiness up the aisle in St. Peter's Basilica lest he get worn out by the hike before hitting the lectern. And don't think the job is going to his head, just because he started the Christmas midnight Mass two hours early since he had a big day planned for the 25th ("I only vill zay ven Chrizzmazz begins, zat iss an order! Yahwol!).

Superficial glitter? Wouldn't think of it. Oooh, are those real diamonds?


According to a story in Tuesday's BeloJo, former North Providence Councilman John "Zam" Zambarano, aka "Moe" of the Nawt Prov Stooges, wants his conviction on extortion charges (including the alleged shakedown of a local wiener joint) vacated because he was treated for a "major depressive disorder" at Butler Hospital when he pled guilty. Moe says that his lawyer, Thomas Briody (a former television reporter and novelist as well as a highly respected defense attorney), provided him with "ineffective counsel" by not "adequately investigating" his mental condition.

As you'll recall, Moe was arrested along with his fellow councilmen, Larry (Joseph S. Burchfield) and Curly (Raymond L. Douglas III) for plotting to take bribes from and extort businesses. All are currently in the slammer, but rather than being satisfied practicing eye pokes and triple-slaps, Moe wants out. (Apparently access to seltzer bottles is severely restricted in federal lockups and Moe feels that his mastery of the Stoogely Arts is rapidly deteriorating.)

While P&J do take mental disorders seriously, we feel that Moe's claims will be difficult to prove since those familiar with Stooge history would consider a "major depressive disorder" to be a natural state for Moe. We breathlessly await the judge's finding on this motion.

SO LONG, 2011

It's been a hard year here in the Biggest Little. We once again bid farewell to some of the people who have made Vo Dilun the special place it is. We will miss them all.

• Larry Friedlander, the man who created the Hi-Hat, one of the state's nightclub jewels. He loved music and created a spot with style and grace.

• John Hardiman, Rhode Island's public defender. He took the concept of justice seriously and dedicated his life to the proposition that everyone deserves a fair shake.

• Bruce Sundlun, the immortal "Captain Blowhard," war hero, governor, enemy of rabid raccoons everywhere. Perhaps the most colorful political figure of our lifetime, the governor gave us more column fodder than any single person in the last 33 years.

• Les Daniels, historian, writer, and our beloved colleague and mentor. Les argued passionately that comic books are art and wrote fine horror fiction. We were pleased to see that The New York Times recognized Les as the giant that he was.

• Providence Councilman Miguel Luna, defender of immigrants and the poor in our community.

• Bishop Robert Farrow, a civil rights champion and community activist.

• Dave Gavitt, the man who put Providence College basketball on the map and was the prime architect of the Big East.

There were many more prominent Vo Dilunduhs who passed away in 2011 and contributed to our state's special nature and we thank them all.

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