That pesky First Amendment

By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  September 12, 2007

Real vo dilun art
Sophie Hawkes and Keith Waldrop, artists better known for their work with words, will be exhibiting works of visual imagery at the Po Gallery, 10 Dorrance Street in downtown Providence, from September 15 through October 6.
 
Mr. Waldrop is the noted poet, teacher (at Brown University) and, along with his wife, Rosemary, is the creative force behind the Burning Deck Press, one of the USA’s pioneering small presses. He will be showing a large selection of his collages.
 
Sophie Hawkes currently lives in France, but has deep Providence roots, having grown up here and graduating from Brown University (her father, the novelist John Hawkes, taught at Brown for many years). While she is more prominently known for her “day job” (she’s a noted translator of French literature), she is a painter and printmaker, and will also be showing puppets that she has created, inspired by Japanese Bunraku puppets.
 
Sophie is one of the original crew of genius-types that staffed the late, lamented Leo’s (pardon our alliterative buttocks). We haven’t seen her in decades, but her talent, wit, and beauty are virtually legend around Casa Diablo.
 
Upon hearing that Sophie has an upcoming Providence show, your superior correspondents started thinking about the extraordinary amount of talent that was just sort of hanging around Providence in the mid-1970s. That some of these people allowed P&J to hang around with them (provided, that is, that we were able to procure sex and drugs to be delivered to the nearest men’s or lady’s room) still does us proud.

One way to look at it
Word trickles back to Casa Diablo that some umbrage was taken about our item last week concerning the purchase of high-end SUVs for House Speaker Murphy and Senate President Montalbano, at a time when Rhode Island’s needy children are becoming the odd people out at the State House. This comes as the efforts we’ve seen in the past to help the less financially fortunate were seemingly absent in the last legislative session.
 
At issue, we understand, is our rather blunt and raw language, and the feeling that Governor Laughing Boy also bears a good deal of blame for the abandonment of those youths who are already suffering the most. In either case, there is plenty of guilt to go around.
 
But our harsh words were prompted by a comment P&J read years ago, by author, director, boxing fan, social critics, and philosophical dogsbody Norman Mailer in discussing, if memory serves, the CBS headquarters in New York City. The skyscraper, at 52nd Street and Sixth Avenue, is known as “Black Rock,” for designer Eero Saarinen’s forbidding black granite exterior, part of the “Brutalism” architectural style of the 1960s era in which it was built.
 
Mailer mused about the image this towering, cold, arrogant and dark building conveyed to the young, minority and poor kids who encountered it, and opined that it was essentially saying, “Fuck you” to them. The sense was that these underprivileged youths would never be allowed in the doors of the building, that they could never be part of the high-powered, high-salaried executive world that lived within, and that it effectively, through its menacing look, advised against daring any dreams of rising to the level of those who worked there.
 
Perhaps “Eddie Bauer” model Ford Explorers aren’t Black Rock, but the divide between haves and have-nots is not dissimilar. Those unsupported DCYF and child-care kids won’t be shopping for plush vehicles anytime soon.  

Send genetic maps and Pulitzer-grade tips to p&j@phx.com.

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