Now there's trouble busin' in from outta state
And the D.A. can't get no relief
Gonna be a rumble out on the promenade
And the gamblin' commission's hangin' on by the skin of its teeth
_"Atlantic City," by Bruce Springsteen
Actually, Phillipe and Jorge prefer the Band's version of Spring-steen's song, with Levon Helm rasping it out, but Bruce's lyrics are what matter. And this sounds like a pretty good description of what is happening in Vo Dilun of late. On weekends busloads of thugs from Massachusetts are making their way to the war zone of Richmond Street and the surrounding neighborhood we used to lovingly call "ProHo," back in the chic '70s, when the only watering holes on the block were the late, lamented Leo's and the old Met Café.
Now this once-cozy little area, among others, has become the home of mass brawls inside the local clubs, spilling out into knifefights on the mean streets outside. How chic! Or as the hoodlum army might say, "Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there."
Given the weekly outbreaks of violence, there has been comparatively little done to shut down this new haven for imported crime. Sure a few wrist slaps and handbags to the shoulder have been handed out by La Prov's licensing board. But given the level of violence and mayhem that seems to be almost overwhelming Providence police at times, the bar owners are doubtless cracking up laughing after walking out of hearings told their latest rumble on the promenade is only going to cost them a few nights business.
Did we mention that the reason we don't crack down on these fight clubs to a further degree — and the reason we continue to allow the under-21s into places selling alcohol, which is like handing an arsonist a Zippo and can of Ronsonol — is because they are ostensibly part of the Capital City's economic development efforts? We can't cut off any incoming revenue stream these days — we're almost bankrupt, don'tcha know?
That mentality may explain why the state is hanging its future hopes on yet another solid and ethical economic development scheme: full-strength casinos, with table games, so we don't have to rely on those cheesy slots alone to pull in cash from the Star Wars bar array of customers that frequent our gambling halls.
Yeah, get a few craps tables in there, some high roller poker, blackjack 'til you crack, load the place full of spaccones, and you've got Atlantic City North — or Vegas Northeast, if you prefer.
We can't let Massachusetts beat us to the punch. Indeed, a vote for Little Rhody casinos is a vote for your children's future. Sleep tight, and buy that Powerball ticket, Roger Williams.
BIG EASTBOUND AND DOWN
If you are not a sports fan, you may have wondered at the amazing outpouring of affection that followed the death of local legend Dave Gavitt last fall.
Yes, he was the Providence College basketball coach who took the made-in-Hollywood pairing of local boys St. Ernie D. and Marvin "Tire Iron" Barnes to the 1973 NCAA Final Four. And yes, he went on to become the school's athletic director.