Quite a few were surprised when it was recently announced that P&J's old pal, legendary Vo Dilun boxing champeen Vinny Paz, is going to play a starring role as a WASPy US Senator in the Stage Door Theater Company's production of A.R. Gurney's play, Love Letters, in Westerly.

Your superior correspondents were less shocked by the news, because of an incident years ago that involved letters from the Pazman to P&J.

P&J befriended and wrote about the boxer previously known as Vinny Pazienza early in his career, when the sweet science was given short shrift in The Urinal; rumor had it The Other Paper's paramount chiefs took a dim view of the violent sport — even with a local up-and-comer right under their nose.

The young Pazmanian Devil was sent to Italy to pick up some experience in the boxing rings of Europe. Knowing him to be a very outgoing, smart, and eloquent kid, we asked if he would send us letters from abroad, keeping his local fans updated in The NewPaper, predecessor of the Phoenix.

When the first, highly anticipated missive arrived from Italy, P&J were a bit befuddled. It came in a small pink envelope, like a wedding announcement. Inside, the stationery was slightly perfumed, with scalloped edges and little flowers adorning the upper corners. It was the type of letter you would get from your grandmother on your birthday when you were five years old — a dollar bill folded inside.

It was, in short, an absolutely hilarious backdrop for Vinny's account of his journey: "The bastard butted me in the third round, so I decided I was going to beat the shit out of him in the fourth."

Not all of his reportage was that rough-edged. He balanced the mayhem with some marveling at the country of his ancestors. All in all, he had an unexpected way with words.

Incidentally, the letters were published nearly verbatim in the paper, because they required very little editing, and they were cohesive and compelling. Paz was — and remains — far from an uneducated fool. And his tale-telling, style, and grammatical aptitude were far superior to some of the efforts we have seen from today's crop of ostensibly well-educated college students.


HEAVY LIFTING

While P&J are big fans of Brooooce, we wish Mr. Springsteen had considered another title for his newest release — rather than lifting that of an all-time fave of ours at Casa Diablo.

We refer to Wrecking Ball by the eternally alluring Emmylou Harris, put out in 1995. It is simply a stunning recording. It won the 1996 Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Recording, though tagging it "contemporary folk" doesn't do justice to its range of styles and moods. If you get a chance, check out Emmylou's version of Steve Earle's "Goodbye" on that album. The tune is a killer of a haunting, tear-your-heart-out-and-stomp-on-it, failed romance ballad, and you will never forget it, trust us.


CAPTAIN BLOWHARD 101

Speaking of Bruces, P&J hope everyone noted that the University of Rhode Island is offering a three-semester "real world" experiential learning course titled "The Art, Craft and Business of Nonfiction," its prime focus being former Little Rhody Governor Bruce Sundlun.

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