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Editor-in-Chief Sam Knowles Managing Editor of Features Charles Pletcher Managing Editor of Arts & Culture Clayton Aldern Managing Editor of Lifestyle Jane Brendlinger Features Editor Zoë Hoffman Arts & Culture Editors Anita Badejo Ben Resnik Lifestyle Editors Jen Harlan Alexa Trearchis Pencil Pusher Phil Lai Chief Layout Editor Clara Beyer Contributing Editor Emerita Kate Doyle Copy Chiefs Julia Kantor Kristina Petersen Copy Editors Lucas Huh Caroline Bologna Blake Cecil Nora Trice Chris Anderson Claire Luchette Kathy Nguyen Staff Illustrators Madeleine Denman Marissa Ilardi Kirby Lowenstein Sheila Sitaram Caroline Washburn Adela Wu Kah Yangni
dear providence gopika krishna
I‘ve never seen WaterFire, but on my first visit to Providence, my cab driver did spend the better part of an hour describing it to me. I found myself wondering: How does one set water on fire? Does one of the gondoliers pour gasoline in the river and then throw a match in after it? To my high school self, that seemed unsound. That vague curiosity was all I could recall two years later, as I sat on the train on my way to visit Brown for the first time. “We’ve arrived, all doors open,” the conductor yelled from a few compartments over. I grabbed my bag from the overhead and stumbled out the door. But wait. Why is there so much grass? Don’t cities have buildings? I glanced toward the sad sign toward the side of the road. “Welcome to Kingston.” This is all by way of saying that I would be a grossly unqualified guide to Providence. So for our special Best of Providence issue, we give you the work of our seasoned local veterans—Clay, Anita, Ben, Rémy, and Jane. When they’re not writing and editing for Post-, most are scavenging the city for tunes and art and organic ice cream. So turn to page 9 and check out our Prov favorites—from hideaways and haberdasheries (“It’s where they make hats!” the staff eagerly tells me) to museums and boozeries. Needless to say, I’ve got some exploring to do. Over and out,
4 features 6 features
life in d minor ben wofford
war of the wheels anita badejo
10 best of providence
a&c’s top 5s arts and culture editors
12 best of providence
best in chow jane brendlinger and rémy robert
14 arts &inculture unheard notes the visual
symphony anya ventura live at lupo’s jordan maizer
culture 15 arts & clayton aldern paper pressures
so bad it’s good? anna gaissert
sexicon MM a very sexy city the ladies of lifestyle
OUR ILLUSTRATORS cover // phil lai dear providence // caroline washburn live in d minor // madeline denman war of the wheels // phil lai a&c’s top 5s // kah yangni best in chow // madeline denman paper pressures // phil lai so bad it’s good? // adela wu unheard notes in the visual symphony // kah yangni live at lupo’s // kah yangni
Post- Magazine is published every Thursday in the Brown Daily Herald. It covers books, theater, music, film, food, art, and University culture around College Hill. Post- editors can be contacted at post. firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters are always welcome, and can be either e-mailed or sent to Post- Magazine, 195 Angell Street, Providence, RI 02906. We claim the right to edit letters for style, clarity, and length.
WE CAN REBUILD HIM Stuart Theatre Thurs-Sun
GUESTS PW Downspace Thurs-Mon
BEETHOVEN’S 9TH Veterans Memorial Auditorium Fri 7PM YOGA PARTY Waterman Co-op Sat 8PM
BROWN STAND UP COMICS PRESENT: LENT MacMillan 117 Sat 9PM
TOP TEN Things We Don’t Like About Providence
THURSDAY, MARCH 1ST, 2012
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8
Daily ar med robber ies.
F*cking cocaine . No booze between 2 and 6 a.m. F*cking cycler s.
Par king. Masturbator s in Julia and Kr istina’s backyard. Not Boston, New Yor k, Par is, Florence , et. al.
still pissed at Coachella.
No mo’ FishCo.
books is theatre is
picking up the pieces, putting it all together. barely a month into the semester and already tired of reading.
gopika KRISHNA contributing writer
The life of an abroad student can sometimes appear to be one of commitment-free, jet-set debauchery. And while my current time at Cambridge—full of four-course formal meals in seven-hundred-year-old grand dining halls—may seem like an upgrade from the daily Providence grind, there are more than a few things that I miss dearly about our rainy, hilly abode. Here are the top five: Bagel Gourmet Olé: From the moment I landed in the UK, one thought dominated my incredibly jet-lagged mind: Where can I find the nearest egg and cheese sunflower seed bagel (with extra hot sauce to boot)? BGO has everything that my hungry college soul needs: carbs, protein, caffeine at fairly cheap prices, and, most importantly, two locations that are roll-out-of-bed-in-PJs distance from both ends of campus. Also, the fact that nearly every store here closes by 5 p.m. makes BGO’s all day availability even more appealing. (Never underestimate the power of the dinner bagel.) Places to Buy Cheap Things: My definition of “thrift store” is pretty loose, but that’s exactly what I love so much about this city. While it’s pretty easy to find the classics like Salvation Army and Second Time Around, Providence offers many sources for buying secondhand and vintage wares of all kinds. There’s the treasure trove of kitsch known as Foreign Affair, the numerous student-run sidewalk/Main Green clothing sales, and, if you’re up for a walk, the Really Really Free Market downtown. And trust me, the merits of buying that $2 t-shirt are quite apparent when the highlight of thrifting in Cambridge is a $15 William & Kate nailclipper. Painfully Hip Coffee Shops: Let’s be honest, most college towns have more than their fair share of independent, fair-trade, gluten-free, indie music–blasting coffee shops. What makes Providence’s mocha meccas especially notable is that they somehow manage to do all things ethical and do them well. Take Blue State, for example, with granola scones that will haunt you with their healthy deliciousness, or Coffee Exchange with its organic, sustainable coffee. But my favorite thing about Providence coffee shops has to be the feeling of community that comes with quasi-awkwardly sharing those small tables with professors, fellow Brunonians, RISD-ers, and all other members of College Hill. Prospect Park: Providence may not be famous for its green space, but there are few spots as picturesque and charming as Prospect Park. What it may lack in size, Prospect Park makes up for in its beautiful vistas. Situated on top of College Hill, it looks over the entirety of the Providence skyline, from the Providence Place Mall to the State House.
absence makes the heart grow fonder
Its semi-isolated location makes it the perfect place to have a romantic, champagne-filled picnic with someone special, and its views provide a constant reminder of just how well Providence cleans up. Faunce: So technically Faunce isn’t part of Providence proper—but think of all it has to offer. Perfectly baked cookies and muffins? Check. Large study rooms with comfy couches that tempt you into mid-day naps? Check. Hydration stations? Check. Faunce is like the ultimate comforting parent-figure in swagged-out building form—always there to provide the good food, shelter, and iced coffee necessary for ultimate intellectual development. Although many of my fellow Brown-town residents may be lamenting its gray skies and 2 am curfews, it’s important to remember all the great things Providence has to offer. Even with all the luxuries I have at Cambridge, I dream of the day when I can finally sip coffee milk while watching the sunrise from Loui’s. So whether you’re in need of brain food or cozy shelters, The Divine City can be a veritable treasure trove of collegiate comforts, open to all who are willing to embrace it. Illustration by Caroline Washburn
film is tv is
suffer ing post-award show season depression.
cinching the gir th so we don’t fall off.
munching on the rhubarb, a tr aditional food of Leap Day.
reading about the GCB three times this week: once in Post-, twice in New Yor k Magazine.
Life in D minor
simmons, beethoven, and the american story
ben WOFFORD staff writer
What do Beethoven and Ruth Simmons have in common? Start with a man writing into the morning hours in dim light, paper strewn at his feet. This was Beethoven the artist as he mulled his fourth movement, Friedrich Schiller as he sketched the poem that inspired Beethoven the composer, and Thomas Jefferson taking his Enlightenment pen to monarchical sword as he hoisted his Declaration onto parchment. On March 3 the Brown Orchestra and Chorus will collaborate with Providence College to perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, one of the monuments of Western music, in honor of President Simmons. My job was to investigate what these dead white men have to do with Simmons. With some poking around, one finds that the SimmonsBeethoven connection offers broad historical ties, baring the layers of musical and cultural intrigue in a who’s-who of politics, poetry, and faith in Americana. Eventually, the myth and luster of Beethoven’s Ninth lands squarely at Brown’s doorstep. Of course, the symphony’s enormity could be an impediment to fair analysis. The concert’s logistics alone are unprecedented: Imagine the Brown Orchestra led by Professor Paul Phillips, the Brown Chorus by Professor Fred Jodry, and the Providence College Chorale by Professor
Todd Harper all in a concert hall downtown that will broadcast the sound like no other. “It’s really written for superhuman kinds of performers,” said Jodry. “If the chorus had to sing for the full hour, there would be dead bodies littering the stage.” (Thankfully, the chorus only comes in during the last 20 minutes.) Brown has never performed the Ninth, Jodry added. “The rehearsal process for this concert has been one of the most serious and disciplined of any,” said the orchestra’s principal trumpeter, Jacob Klapholz ’13, adding that while the Orchestra “rarely has extra rehearsals for concerts,” Beethoven’s Ninth warranted an obvious exception. The symphony’s history is no less daunting. The Ninth is Beethoven’s final symphony. The Fourth Movement’s famous “Ode to Joy” is a towering monolith of popular Western music, and Beethoven was almost entirely deaf when he composed it. But the chorus’s “Freude, schöner götterfunken” rising into the rafters does not simply mark the climax of a symphony; it also represents the pinnacle of a career that revolutionized the meaning of musical composition and stands for a political era that addressed questions of liberty through the philosophy of the Enlightenment.
When President Simmons takes her chair at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the moment will take on similar meaning. On paper, her achievements can’t be quantified in any one moment or project. The first black female president of an Ivy League School, Simmons grew the endowment to record figures and holds the highest student approval rating of any current Ivy President, beloved among current and former students. But Simmons’s legacy will extend beyond the tenure of her service. Consider an idea: What will you tell your kids about Simmons when you’re in the car driving them to Wayland for their first day of Orientation? “I think our commencement ceremony will end up being pretty emotional because of that,” observed Brown Chorus soprano Ellen Shadburn ’12, who was quick to point out the concert’s symbolic closure. “It’s the largest and arguably most important concert the chorus has ever sung in my time here,” she said. “It’s exciting to go out with a bang.” The famous Choral Finale sets Beethoven’s music to German poet Friedrich Schiller’s 1785 “An Die Freude”—“To Joy.” According to music professor David Josephson, Beethoven “worshipped” Schiller and his vivid Enlightenment themes. Beethoven and Schiller’s philosophical overlap runs deep. When Beethoven set Schiller’s poem to music, he wasn’t just transposing Enlightenment triumphalism into the symphonic realm; he was embodying the spirit of Schiller’s poetry. Beethoven came of age in Bonn, Germany in the 1780s, a city rife with the fever of American-inspired revolution. According to Professor Josephson, the harmonies of Jefferson’s “all men are created equal” and Beethoven’s “all men become brothers” unite in Schiller’s Enlightenment vision of nature and God together “beyond the Canopy of stars.” It’s one of the most beautiful moments of the entire symphony. Simmons epitomizes the most recognized parts of the Declaration and defies the morally problematic parts of its history. The twelfth child of a sharecropper in the era before Brown v. Board, Simmons worked her way through college and pursued her dream of succeeding in academia. When told by a colleague that she would never become a college president, Simmons claimed such comments only “enabled me to work harder.” Her ascension to the highest echelons of higher learning is an inspiration for all—a lesson of courage and motivation that most Brown students will carry with them throughout their lives. According to Boston Conservatory music professor Jan Swafford, even
though Beethoven didn’t set out “to preach a sermon about the pursuit of happiness,” he did intend to create an anthem that would “help bring [happiness] to pass for humanity.” It was an aim Jefferson shared. Simmons herself, I think, poetically captures the complexity between history’s inspiration and its murkier, less heartening realities. Jefferson’s “created equal” credo belies his influence in an early Republic that was built on slavery, and Beethoven’s “men become brothers” remains a vision just as lofty (and unrealized). As towering as Jefferson’s Declaration and Beethoven’s Ninth are, aren’t we simultaneously aware of their shortcomings—pinching reminders that, while their poetry conveys a dream, their charge to us is real and their exciting promises still unfulfilled? This lesson is certainly not lost on Simmons, who gracefully helmed the liberal lion of the Ivies while reconciling its sordid roots, forming the Steering Committee on Slavery in 2003. The Committee proposed concrete plans to rebuild Providence schools and make the dream college available to more students of color and disadvantaged socioeconomic status—proposals Simmons has acted upon. After my sixth interview in the Music Department, the Beethoven-Simmons association seemed clearer. When I asked Professor Harper why Providence College was invested in a tribute to Simmons, the answer seemed clear: Isn’t the “ode,” as it were, our own? “This is a tribute to an individual who represents a larger community, not just Brown or Providence,” said Harper. “This is something that reaches not just into the individual soul but across humanity.” “We can honor someone who epitomizes these virtues,” he continued. “The tribute is to her, but also the ideas and the values that she stands for.” As senior soprano Ellen Shadburn said, “Somehow, music makes a thing special and meaningful to us—it’s a way we mark things off as important, to be remembered. Art has incredible power that way.” In the end, I see our performance of “Ode to Joy” as our tribute to the fruits of hard work and midnight oil–burning, to the accomplishments left for all time by ephemeral efforts and fleeting orchestral swells. “Our early leaders … have left a portion of themselves behind,” wrote President Faunce, quoted in the Slavery Report. “It is not only ivy that clings to ancient walls—it is memory, echoes, inspirations.” All he left out was the canopy of stars. Illustrated by Madeline Denman
War of the Wheels
arts & culture editor
cles hanging from the ceiling in various stages of repair, like metal meat carcasses in a butcher’s shop. I spotted the gold Dunelt in the far corner of the yard, leaning against the weathered wooden fence. “Hello!” we called out. Through the screen of the duplex’s window, I could see the silhouette of a figure rising slowly from a sofa. Mike came outside. He was not a particularly big man, perhaps 5’8” or so, with short, wavy hair the color of faded straw and small eyes with soft creases around their edges. He wore what I call “90s jeans,” the kind with a pre-faded, grainy sky-blue wash, and his white t-shirt was smudged with what I assume was grease. As Grac had promised, he was nice and I got the sense he was an old soul. The slow cadence I had heard in his voice when we spoke on the phone made me think he would be older than the thirty- or fortysomething who stood before me. As I had already told him I was interested in the Dunelt, Mike directed me toward the corner where it waited. The bike wasn’t as much gold in person as it was brown, years of rust having caked on its surface, and the handlebars, which probably had been white once, were a urine yellow. It reminded me of shots of the Titanic sitting forlorn at the bottom of the ocean. I also realized from eye-balling the seat that it would be too high for me. Nearly toppling over after attempting to get on it soon confirmed this. “Maybe I should look at something else…” I said, my eyes scanning the rest of the yard. They finally rested on a small, baby blue ladies’ bike sitting at the end of the domino row.
how bicycles wreaked havoc upon my life in a single semester
“That one’s cute.” Mike, having followed my gaze, nodded and shot me a look of remorse. “Yeah, it’s not finished yet, though.” I glanced at a couple of other bikes. And then I saw it: a vintage, burgundyred, ladies’ Schwinn 3-speed. The seat was an original—leather, half-red, halfwhite, with a big, curvy “S” in the middle. The bike had a chain guard with some faded lettering on it. I remembered having seen it on the website and thinking it resembled something Pee-Wee Herman would ride—tacky, cheesy, gaudy. But in person, it was perfect. As I walked towards it, I realized the handlebars were red, too. And they were sparkly. “I LOVE this one!” I exclaimed, bypassing Grac. “Oh, that one’s for the fashionable girl,” Mike said. I didn’t need to be told twice. With a quick adjustment of the seat, I was on the bike and in the street, testing it out. Jeremy and Grac stood by the car and watched. “Isn’t it SO CUTE?!” I yelled, whirring past them. “Yeah, have you checked the brakes?” Jeremy called out. “The handlebars are SPARKLY!” “… Did you make sure the gears shift properly?” I clutched at the hand brakes a couple of times and clicked through the three gears. The bike braked. The gears moved. Seemed fine to me. “I think everything’s good!” I beamed as I got off and walked back into Mike’s yard. “I’ll take this one.” “OK, cool,” he said. “Was that you that was squeaking down the street? Sounded pretty loud.” “Oh, I hadn’t noticed anything.” “Well, did the brakes squeak when you squeezed them?” “Maybe, not really sure…” “Let me just oil them up for you before I leave.” A few minutes and $90 later, we left. I was giddy the whole way back to Providence. “It’s. Just. SO. CUTE.” I sing-songed for the millionth time from the backseat. “Yeah...it’s you.” When we arrived home, I began checking out my new ride more closely as Jeremy hauled it out of the Pilot’s trunk. I read the words on the chain guard: “Columbia SportsStar.” “That’s strange,” I said to myself. “Isn’t Columbia another bike manufacturer? I thought this was supposed to be a Schwinn…” I looked at the seat again, making sure I wasn’t imagining things. Yep, the letter on it was still an “S.” It would take me a little while to realize I’d just bought the Bike of Frankenstein. *** My first day with the bike, I took it for a spin around the block and down to India Point Park, growing more and more confident in my cycling abilities with each push of its pedals. Because it was a Monday and Legend Bikes was closed, I couldn’t purchase a lock for it right away, but instead kept it tucked away behind the door of the landing to my house. I darted in and out of the stairway every hour to make sure no one had stolen it. “Did you see the red bike downstairs?!” I asked every friend who stopped by. By the end of the day, I
Choosing to live off campus at Brown involves a number of decisions. For the most part, these decisions are ones I’ve made easily. “Why wouldn’t I go off meal plan? I love cooking!” “Keep studying on campus or in my house? I just won’t study. Problem solved!” However, when it came to the question of whether or not I should purchase a bike, I was a bit more torn. On the one hand, it would cut my campus commute in half. On the other, I couldn’t remember the last time I had really ridden a bike, and the idea of weaving my way through the narrow, hilly, and often oneway streets of the East Side was not one I was comfortable with. I spent the first week of last semester weighing my options, considering the pros and cons. But, as with all good and sound decisions, my choice to go for it was ultimately determined by one thing: peer pressure. Nearly all of my friends, who all also happen to live on the same block as I do, had purchased bicycles and, by golly, if they could manage pedaling around PVD, so could I. My roommate, Graciela, suggested I go buy my bike from a guy in Warwick named Mike, who fixes up old bicycles and sells them for as little as $60. So, on a warm and sunny September morning, Graciela, our friend Jeremy, and I drove Jeremy’s Honda Pilot down to Warwick. I was excited, as I already knew what I wanted: a vintage, gold, English Dunelt 3-speed I had seen on Mike’s website. We pulled up to Mike’s duplex and headed straight for the backyard, as he had instructed us. On the left, a row of bicycles stood like dominoes. Directly across from them, a shed contained bicy-
THURSDAY, MARCH 1ST, 2012
had exhausted myself of excitement and explanation so much that I’m pretty sure the last person to set foot in our place was greeted with a proud and princess-y “MINE!” The next morning, I went to Legend. I needed the lock, as well as lights. I also needed a basket for an enormous, burnt-orange bag I use to carry my books everyday (I call it “Pumpkin.” I don’t do backpacks.) Upon arriving at the shop, I was directed toward the rack of Kryptonite locks by a friendly, soft-spoken man in his mid- to late-thirties. I balked as he listed their prices: the cheapest one was $25. “The Keeper 12,” he noted, handing me the U-shaped lock. It was surprisingly heavy. “This should be fine, as long as you are locking your bike somewhere relatively safe.” “Well, what do you use?” I asked him, curious. “Oh, me? I have this huge, metal chain that I can wind around my bike several times when I need to lock it. I wear it around my waist while riding.” I decided I’d keep the Keeper. He then led me to the lights, and, having sensed my earlier distress, wasted no time in showing me the cheapest ones: $20. Finally, we arrived at the baskets. After attempting to decide between a front one or a side one, I settled for the side: $35. “There’s also an installation fee.” I paid for the lock and the lights and left, promising to be back for my bike, avec basket, before the shop closed at 6 p.m. When I came back, the receipt had already been printed for me. The total? $110.97. I stood in front of the cash register, refusing to believe my eyes. I quickly ran the math in my head: Bike: $90. Lock&Lights: $48 (with tax) Basket&Maintenance: $111
Total: $249 However, trying not to dwell on the serious dent I had just put in my September budget, I instead decided to focus my thoughts on the East Bay Bike Path ride I had agreed to go on with Grac the next day. *** The ride started off well enough. Grac and I found where we needed to get on the path and rode side by side, eventually marveling at Narragansett Bay. Approximately 20 minutes in, Grac shot me a quick look over her shoulder. “Do you hear that?” she asked. “Hear what?” “Is that…your bike?” I was hoping no one would notice, but the further we got into our ride, the less I could deny that my bike was, indeed, making a noise that I can only describe as…unique. Half-screech, half-squeak, I imagined it lay somewhere on the spectrum between a whale song and a hyena’s cackle. And it was loud. I began to realize that the noise only occurred when I pedaled so, for the next 10 minutes before we turned around and the subsequent half-hour back home, I switched between pedaling furiously for a few seconds at a time and then coasting as long as I possibly could, before I would nearly topple over and pedal again out of necessity. I called it “interval training.” When we arrived home, I tried not to feel dejected, reminding myself that there are worse things than having a bike that squeaks when you pedal. For instance, having a bike that doesn’t pedal at all. It was two weeks into the semester, when I’d finally learned to stop cringing with embarrassment each time I squeaked my way to class, that it first happened. I’d be pedaling as usual, listening to the soft click-click-click of the bike’s chain, when all of a sudden it would just stop catching, my legs meeting no resistance and spinning fruitlessly. For a while, I would steer myself toward the sidewalk,
hop off, and make the chain catch again. Yet, after a couple of days and numerous lack-of-catching conundrums, I realized it probably wasn’t the safest thing for me to consistently lose control of my bike in the middle of the street. I emailed Mike, who suggested I come back out to Warwick to let him take a look. I knew I’d have to borrow Jeremy’s car and pay him for gas, but that seemed like a small cost when compared with what I might face at Legend. “Oh yeah, this shouldn’t take long,” Mike said, surveying my bike after I wheeled it into the backyard. I ended up staying for 3 hours. The problem apparently had something to do with the wiring in the hubcap, so he had to replace my entire back wheel. He also greased the pedals, since I mentioned the noise. “You really shouldn’t have any problems with it from now on.” That is, until the next day when, as I was biking to the gym, it happened again. Click-click-click-click-click-SPIN-SPINSPIN-SPIN-SPIN. I nearly ran into one of the orange construction cones on the side of the street. I emailed Mike again who, this time, offered me a new bike altogether. “I’m getting the sky blue 5 speed you so admired ready, sound ok?” He was referring to a baby blue bike I had also mentioned was “cute” the first time I saw him. And he was nice enough to offer to re-install the basket I had already paid to have installed on my burgundy bike as well. So, the next weekend, I borrowed the Pilot again and shelled out some more money for gas. Mike was just taking the new bike off his work stand when I arrived.The seat was plain black, as were the handlebars. And they weren’t sparkly. I looked down, wistfully, at my burgundy Schwinn. “I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.” Now, if this were anything but my life, it would be impossible for me to write that, two hours after bringing my
new blue bike home, I realized the brakes squeaked. That two days after that, I took it to Legend Bikes, where I paid $25 more to have both of them as well as a couple of metal parts replaced. That, one week after that, my foot accidentally caught on the right brake cable mid-ride and subsequently ripped it out. That, a couple of weeks after that, I fell off my bike in the park and was left with a scar. That, a couple of days after THAT, my tire went flat and a friend of mine had to pump it up for me. That, the day after the friend pumped it up, the tire went flat again, indicating that my tube needed to be replaced. No, if this were anything but my life, none of these things would have happened, because most people just get to buy one bike for $90 at the beginning of their senior year and call it a day. But here I am, about $300 short of where I should be this semester and scuttling to class at times because I still forget I have to walk. For the remainder of last semester, my blue bicycle stayed locked to the fence behind my house, where I could see it from my bedroom window. My friends chastised me for leaving it out over Winter Break. They also conducted an emergency rescue mission on it upon learning that a city plow had buried it in snow when we arrived back in PVD. Today, it’s locked inside the house behind the front door. The bike’s lights are gathering dust on my desk, as I never did get around to putting them on after Mike took them off the Franken-bike for me (actually, scratch that—I never even put them on that damn burgundy bike in the first place). Its front tire tube still needs to be replaced, as does its right brake cable, which is wrapped haphazardly around the frame so it doesn’t hang off too much. My roommates don’t even bother to ask me when I’m going to take it to Legend anymore. I have neither the money nor the time. I do, however, have two feet. And they are doing just fine.
bars, coffee shops, local bands, museums, desserts, burgers, study spots, hipster hangouts, food trucks, restaurant bathrooms, BYOB, picnic supplies, architecture, music venues, meat suppliers, liquor stores
THURSDAY, MARCH 1ST, 2012
best of providence
best of providence
A&C’s Top 5s
Bars and Pubs
for alcohol, art, amusement, and everything in between Hipster Hideaways
AS220 (115 Empire St.) AS220 sprawls across several buildings in downtown Providence and includes, among other features, artist residences, work studios and labs, a gallery, a live performance venue, a bar/restaurant, and a print shop. Yep, it’s one of those things. In any given week, you might mosey on down to one of its spaces to thrash to some black metal music, participate in a life drawing workshop, watch a poetry slam, discuss the arts in Providence, meet people wearing ill-fitting jeans and flannel, etc. Not to say that these activities aren’t awesome and fun—they are—but bear in mind, you may also find yourself inadvertently feigning familiarity with every cultural reference you hear and feeling an uncanny need to buy more oxfords afterward. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Coffee Exchange (207 Wickenden St.) The fact that we decided to include Coffee Exchange on this list instead of the coffee/tea one should tell you something ...Yeah, it’s that f*cking hipster. The sustainability-conscious “small batch coffee roaster” is a perennial favorite of SoPo (thanks, BlogDH) seniors and graduate students, as well as a hodgepodge of Providence locals. Its dark wooden interior and faux marble tabletops endow it with a sense of sophistication, while walls of bulletin boards and flyers—advertising everything from hot yoga to writing circles—manage to simultaneously keep it grounded in good ole’ PVD. On warmer days, you might sit outside on the sizable deck, watching bikers head toward the Point Street Bridge or cursing the Internet for not working before you eventually give up and read a philosophy book instead. And you thought the Bookstore Café was cool. Olneyville Obscure Entertainment District (25&39 Manton Ave.) (RIP) Often spoken of in hushed tones of mystery, this collection of warehouses and underground project spaces west of Providence proper played host to many of the most recent noise-rock, punk, and art events. Unfortunately, the mill complex that housed such provocatively named spaces as Witch Club, Building 16, and Castlevania was recently shut down. Look for new project venues in the coming months. RISD Fleet Library (15 Westminster St.) Of course, we all know that Brown carries a certain, uh, reputation, but let’s face it—our neighbor school and its artistic geniuses can make even the most avante-garde of Brunonians seem downright square in comparison. Exhibit A? Its library. Encompassing the first two floors of the former Rhode Island Hospital Trust Bank, the Fleet Library is a gorgeous juxtaposition of mod furniture with marble columns and an enormous vaulted ceiling. Throw in virtually unlimited access to art books, films, and image slides, as well as periodic exhibitions, and you basically have the hipster equivalent to heaven. And, guess what? Your Brown ID gets you in. Ba-bam! The Secret Restaurant (We can’t tell you) If you’re in the loop, you understand. If not, locate said loop. Eggplant-pesto pizza, watermelon-mint salad, house-made absinthe. Vegan and gluten-free options at every meal. Fridays at 7pm by reservation. Honorable Mentions: Whole Foods (601 N Main St./201 Waterman), You’ve Probably Never Heard of It (You’ve probably never been there)
clayton ALDERN, anita BADEJO, and ben RESNIK
Wild Colonial (250 South Water St.) The esteemed snobbery at Esquire named Wild Colonial one of the fifty best bars in America. It’s easy to see why: Wild Colonial is everything you want in a tavern. First-come, first-served darts and billiards. A great selection of frequently local, reasonably priced drinks. Cutthroat trivia. Perhaps the best part, though, is that Wild Colonial never seems too full. As busy as the bar may be, there’s always room for you. Even the corners are warm and homey. Looking for a snack? The nachos are in a perpetual state of absurd tastiness. Beyond its signature trivia night, the establishment plays host to the annual Grog and Dog Jog, a traditional team relay race with an added beer and hot dog component. It’s hard to go wrong with an event like that. English Cellar Alehouse (165 Angell St.) So it turns out the Alehouse on Angell is fantastic. While at peak hours English Cellar has the feeling of a raucous dive, the overarching vibe is generally welcoming and—dare we say—English. Check out the Alehouse’s vast library (read: six-page menu) of imports: If you can’t find a beer on the list that you like, beer is simply not for you. During the day, the booths provide wormhole-like transportation away from the daily grind of College Hill. And it’s definitely on College Hill. There’s literally no excuse to not go. Trump card: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout ... on tap. Grad Center Bar (90 Thayer St.) If we’re mentioning College Hill favorites, GCB reigns over all. The fact that this is a building on campus (one many of us have actually lived in) boggles the mind. GCB is the be-all and end-all in on-campus lazy debauchery. Billiards on the right, darts on the left, tables and a swanky couch in the middle: the layout always seems reminiscent of the sitcom that is your life. $2.00 Hoegaarden specials? We’ll take eight. Plus, you get a membership card. There’s noth-
ing like strolling into an establishment and guesting in a friend. In this case, however, the exclusivity is a sham (providing you’re actually of age—the bar is hugely stringent on IDs) and the good times are eternally rolling. The Salon (57 Eddy St.) The Salon is one of those Providence locales that no one seems to discover until sometime during junior year. However, the bar/nightclub—located just across the river and ever-so-conveniently one block away from Lupo’s—is actually kind of every Brown kid’s dream. Brown and RISD student nights numerous times a month? Check. A basement “cutting room” that plays host to everything from “SPEED GAY.TING” to indie dance parties? Check. A sizable bar, complete with dozens of hanging light bulbs, cheerful graphic prints, and picnic tables that look like they just sprang into the third-dimension out of an Ikea catalogue? Check. Seriously—grab an ID and jump on this. The Duck and Bunny (Bar Area) (312 Wickenden St.) Alright, hear us out here: yes, the Duck and Bunny is generally thought of as “that adorable place on Wickenden with the 16thcentury French vibe and delicious food.” However, it DOES have a bar inside it. And underneath the glass portion of the counter are cupcakes. That’s right—cupcakes. Including classics such as Red Velvet and Carrot, as well as more creative (and decadent) offerings, such as Banana Nutella and Strawberry Rose. They also come in $1.25 “Mini” sizes, which take more effort to eat in two bites than one. A low-key place where you can booze up AND indulge your sweet tooth? Yes, please. Honorable Mentions: The Scurvy Dog (1718 Westminster St.), McBride’s (161 Wayland Ave.), Hercules Mulligan’s (272 Thayer St.), Wickenden Pub (320 Wickenden St.)
Roz Raskin and the Rice Cakes The Rice Cakes always seem to find themselves atop lists subjectively ranking Providence bands. It’s because they’ve been pigeonholed into a very specific niche of funky, jazzy, punky alt-rock, and they’re the only ones that do it like the Rice Cakes. The three-piece is also hugely accessible. Fun-loving frontwoman Roz sat down with Post- in late 2011 to discuss their recent release, Monster Man. When bands want to talk to us, we like them. Bias? Absolutely not. In all seriousness, the Cakes’ engagement with local publications is indicative of their devotion to the Providence scene. They never stray too far from home, and when they embark on national tours, we know that they’re always coming back. And, you know, their music is a whole lot of fun. Nothing quite compares to a barefooted Roz pouncing on her keyboard. Brown Bird Since 2006’s Tautology, this acoustic folk duo has been releasing material at a blistering pace. And we’re not remotely tired of it. The whirlwind of string percussion, beard, and vocal harmony most often manifests itself as David Lamb on guitar and MorganEve Swain on stand-up bass— with both of them weaving in and out of a sung melody line. Hungry for the live experience? (You should be.) Check them out in Jamestown on March 2. What Cheer? Brigade There’s nothing quite like the 19-piece What Cheer? Brigade. The brassy street band prides itself on its ability to fill a space—both in terms of size and decibel level. Never amplified, What Cheer? is an instant headliner at any given show (regardless of whether or not they’re the actual headliner). But formal concerts are not the only venue for the group: The band is equally at home at community benefits as they are at playgrounds or cemeteries. Self-described as an “aggressive mix of Bollywood, The Balkans, New Orleans, Samba and Hip-Hop, played with the intensity of metal,” What Cheer? is a brigade you never want to miss. Lightning Bolt Juggernauts on the noise-rock scene (to which Providence is a disproportionately large contributor), Lightning Bolt consists of two fellows both named Brian, one of whom is responsible for the noise solo project Black Pus. Lightning Bolt is frantic and raw. For those unfamiliar with the band or genre, a good introduction may be the group’s February 24 release, I Found a Ring in My Ear, a twenty-minute noise jam of soaring proportions. Note: Noise-rock giants Black Dice might have taken this coveted Post- Top 5 spot were it not for their re-branding as a “Brooklyn” group. We all know you met at RISD ... Last Good Tooth One of RISD/Brown’s more recent births, Last Good Tooth sculpts a brand of folk that is so genuine, it hurts. Here at the Post- music department, last year’s The Meeting Was a Success remains one of the most consistently played albums. On it, the musicians strum, fiddle, and otherwise Americana their way through such diverse themes as the 9/11 attacks, The Princess Bride, and pill abuse. The well-honed balance of musicality and lyricism is only potentiated live. If you’ve ever seen Last Good Tooth, you know the power of the hushed crowd sing-along near the end of “Take ‘Em.” If not, make it a priority. Honorable Mentions: Black Dice, Noose, Deer Tick, Bangs, The Low Anthem, Throwing Muses, The Silks, We Should Worry
THURSDAY, MARCH 1ST, 2012
best of providence
Tea in Sahara (69 Governor St.) When it comes to this mini Moroccan cafe, it really is quality and not quantity that counts. What Tea in Sahara may lack in menu options (it offers about seven types of drinks and a few paninis), it certainly makes up for in taste, coziness, and undeniable charm. Hunker down in its warm red and orange interior, smoke a little hookah, and sip on a Moroccan mint tea so good, it just might change your life. Oh, also, it has been known to have couscous parties. Just sayin’. Malachi’s (134 Ives St.) First stepping into Malachi’s can be a bit disorienting. Not only is the floor checkered black and white, but its friendly and downto-earth staff may often be found sitting at one of the tables rather than standing behind the counter, leaving you wondering why the dude reading the paper is asking, “How can I help you?” Yet, confusion aside, this little café on Ives is one of the East Side’s best kept secrets. Super tasty, super cheap, and super comfy—with a couch and nice, tall stools— it’s just far and unknown enough that you can almost always find a free place to squat and study. And if none of that makes you to want to go, the buy-four, get-one-free drink cards (meant to accommodate those who get coffee every day of the work week) may just convince you to check it out. You won’t regret it. Café Choklad (2 Thomas St.) Those who talk about Café Choklad tend to be ardent worshippers—but not necessarily the ones going to the First Baptist Church in America across the street every Sunday. Featuring specialties like Wicked Hot Chocolate and Danish Harvati & cucumber sandwiches with mango chutney on cranberry pecan bread, this corner institution offers drinking and dining experiences that are nothing short of sinful. Also, thanks to Swedish ownership, you can get lingonberries on anything. (OK, actually, there are two menu items featuring lingonberries. But we bet you could ask for them on anything.) The Edge (199 Wayland Ave.) (RIP) We won’t say too much for fear of bitter nostalgia, but this Wayland Square coffee spot was spitting out damn fine mochas until just a few months ago. Stay tuned for developments. Blue State Coffee (300 Thayer St.) Though it may be an obvious choice, that doesn’t mean this College Hill favorite is an undeserving one. Blue State is all you could ever want in a coffee shop: it’s cozy without being cramped, hip without being pretentious, and subtly lit without forcing you to squint. It also serves up some kickass coffee. And tea. And pastries. And sandwiches. Not to mention, all the coffee is environmentally sustainable and fairly traded, and two percent of every sale goes to a non-profit organization. This means even if you go and spend the money you were supposed to be saving and/or neglect to learn the material you were supposed to be studying, you can still walk out feeling good about yourself. We’re getting the warm and fuzzies just thinking about it. Honorable Mentions: Pastiche (92 Spruce St.), Tealuxe (231 Thayer St.)
RISD Museum (224 Benefit St.) Providence’s best-known art museum was founded just before the turn of the century to give the citizens of the city a little culture, and it’s been doing just that ever since. Now part of the Rhode Island School of Design, the space houses a potpourri of styles—exhibitions run the gamut from new installations by Spencer Finch to European paintings from the Middle Ages to examples of Chinese Taoist robes. Whether you walk out of the RISD art museum stimulated, inspired, or just confused, you’ll have helped make the Creative Capital of the Universe that much artsier. Providence Children’s Museum (100 South St.) Not every museum has to be about pretty pictures or old artifacts. For the kid in you (or the one tugging at your sleeve for a juice box), there’s the Providence Children’s Museum, the first and only museum of its kind in the Ocean State. Far from the toys-behind-glass horror that Woody was almost doomed to in Toy Story 2, the museum takes a strongly hands-on approach, letting little Rhodies explore water, anatomy, and the history of the state. Before you hurry there, though, be warned—when they say the Littlewoods treehouse is only for ages four and under, they mean it. Annmary Brown Memorial (21 Brown St.) It turns out that that huge, bronzedoored cube a block or two away from the university’s Main Green is more than just a somber reminder of our own mortality: it’s also a renowned art gallery and the location of a number of important historical mementos! Founded by General Rush Hawkins at the turn of the last century, the Brown Memorial has housed centuriesold paintings and Hawkins’ considerable collection of books. And if you want to get your morbidity on, there’s room for that too—the back of the building houses Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins’ tombs. John Brown House (52 Power St.) The Rhode Island merchant and statesman John Brown has lent his name to more than just our humble abode. It also graces some pretty killer digs. The John Brown House was the first mansion ever built in Providence, and its earliest fans are older than the country the building stands on: George Washington once popped in for tea, and John Quincy Adams called it “the most magnificent and elegant private mansion that I have ever seen on this continent.” Now belonging to the Rhode Island Historical Society, the Brown House has been reunited with its original décor, including furniture owned by the Brown family. Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology (21 Prospect St.) This innocuous building on the corner of the Main Green houses a renowned collection of artifacts from pre-colonial Providence to Papua New Guinea. Starting with the collection of the impressively named Rudolf Haffenreffer at the beginning of the last century, the museum has expanded well beyond its original intentions. The museum now serves as a base for student and professional research and houses a K-12 program devoted to molding young minds to have an interest in anthropology. Its diverse and niche offerings make the Haffenreffer one of the hidden gems in Providence’s museum scene. Honorable mentions: Museum of Natural History and Planetarium (25 Dorrance St.), Nelson W. Aldrich Museum (110 Benevolent St.), Culinary Archives (315 Harborside Blvd.), Roger Williams National Memorial (282 North Main St.), Providence Jewelry Museum (4 Edward St.) Illustration by Kah Yangni
best of providence
Best in Chow
jane BRENDLINGER and rémy ROBERT
Rémy and Jane have joined food columnist forces to give you the Best Food of Providence, all the delectable eats and treats that this fair city has to offer. From trucks to meat to bathrooms, these ladies get right down to the important stuff. Get your coats on, folks, ’cause we’re painting the town red. Best BYOB The joys of BYOB are almost too great to number: to begin with, it’s casual, affordable, and convenient; it’s welcoming to everyone, not just the 21+ crowd; and freed from the constricting chains of a typical wine list, it opens up to the imbiber a world of possibilities. All the same can be said of Sawaddee, the tiny (in all seriousness, a sedan is longer than the dining room is wide) digs that serve PVD’s best Thai. Those of us in search of a bit more, uh, spice than is provided at the Thai joint on Waterman, venture down to Hope Street for madefrom-scratch curry, papaya salad, and more unusual offerings from northeast Thailand. What makes one BYOB place better than another, you ask? One thing that gives Sawaddee the edge is its atmosphere; its dining room is the coziest around, making it especially conducive to popping open a bottle of wine (talk loudly enough, and the other 20 diners can toast with you). Another is the food itself, from a menu so big that you’ll be tempted to order a ton—what better way to wash it all down than with an ice-cold bottle of Woodchuck? And then there’s the niche it fills as a venue for first dates, dinner with the fam, and pre-gaming over satay with your suitemates: intimate, but fuss-free. I’ll definitely drink to that. —RR Best Drunk Eats I know what you’re thinking. I’m drunk, it’s 1 a.m., and I’m developing kwashiorkor: What should I eat? Between half a pizza at Nice Slice, an entire pizza from Domino’s, a loaded taco truck huarache, or two meal credits worth of mozzarella sticks at Jo’s, it’s a tough call. (Can you guess which one wins?) If you are on meal plan, Jo’s when you’re drunk on a weekend night is more than a munchies fix; it’s a cornerstone Brown experience. Jocks and computer science concentrators alike come together during their nights of revelry to refuel over plates of ketchup and grease. Without Jo’s, we’re just drunken wanderers, lost to the darkness; with Jo’s, we’re a drunken community. I’ll take that Spicy with, thank you. Spicy with. —JB Best People Watching Jo’s, Saturday 1:45 a.m. —JB Best Huge Bowl of Warm Soothing Stuff The words ‘medicine’ and ‘soup’ do not often find themselves next to each other, so at first their combination may seem a bit off-putting, suggestive of eucalyptus and Pepto-Bismol (weird). But at Angkor, it’s something far greater. So great, in fact, that it’s got to be a magical potion. Seriously. Their recipe for nam yaa, more commonly known as medicine soup, is a family secret of the owner’s, passed down from when his grandmother cooked for Cambodian royalty; mum’s the word on how it’s made or what mystical ingredients are tossed in to give it that extra kick. What we do know is that its “medicinal” quality comes from the blend of herbs and spices—lemongrass, galangal, ginger, garlic, honey, lime, cilantro—that makes the murky red broth sweet, spicy, and sour all at once. With the addition of ramen noodles, chicken or shrimp, and shredded carrots, it’s essentially everything you could ever crave, served up in one big vat. Back before they had VapoRub, people sipped this soup to clear their sinuses, soothe their fevers, warm their bodies (and alleviate their hangovers). Forget Campbell’s Chicken Noodle; this will fix what ails you. The only way it could be better would be if they delivered it straight to your extra-long twin bed. —RR Best Restaurant Bathroom Ever had to pee in a restaurant, visited their facilities, and thought, “Wow, I wish that was more entertaining”? It seems that the creator of Julian’s on Broadway once thought that too. The bathroom experience of this funky Providence establishment, known for its arty alty atmosphere and a killer Sunday brunch, is worth a pit stop. From the impressive Pez collection framed in glass, to the looping Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on a small antennaed television positioned right in front of the toilet, it’ll have you chugging water just to go back. —JB Best Meat For those in search of meat, Red Stripe conveniently divides its entrées into categories that are denoted by simple graphics of the animal in question. There are some stand-up poultry options, including a shepherd’s pie—that rustic classic whose “crust” is not a crust at all, but rather a heap of mashed potatoes—of duck confit, as well as a simple half-chicken roasted with lemon and rosemary, as juicy and lovely a bird as you could ask for. But my favorites can be found under the cow graphic. Steak frites were put on this earth to be good no matter what, and that remains the case here, especially if you pick the gorgonzola butter to dip your frites in. Best of all, though, are the meat and potatoes (an ambiguous but star-crossed duo), which at first seems like no great shakes—haven’t you had meatloaf and mashed potatoes before? But the meatloaf is nothing like what you grew up eating. You get the idea someone woke up one day and said, “Today, I’m gonna make some f*ckin’ meatloaf,” and this was born and it was good. It’s the epitome of comfort food, but cloaked in roasted onion gravy (worth its weight in gold), it feels special. At $12.50, it also costs less than nearly every other main course. And perhaps best of all, there’s so much cow on the plate that you may just have enough leftover to make a damn fine reheated lunch the next day. Look at you, being all money savvy! —RR
our picks in prov
Best Food Truck Mama Kim’s. —JB Best Picnic Supplies Yes, it’s been a mild winter, but it’s been winter all the same. Spring will be a thing to celebrate, and there’s no more glorious way to fête its arrival than with a picnic. Did you know Pawtucket has a year-round farmer’s market? It’s just awesome that way. Don’t let the gray skies and leafless trees mislead you; instead, bop on over (or hop on RIPTA #99) to the Wintertime Farmer’s Market, every Wednesday and Saturday until May. Veggies, cheese, bread, chocolate ... the well-stocked picnic basket is the well-balanced one, so let loose. Across town, Tony’s Colonial Food Store on Federal Hill has a smorgasbord of imported Italian groceries as well as mobsterendorsed prepared foods. And may your last stop be Farmstead, mecca of curds. Their friendly (studly, flirty) cheesemongers will always jump in and help you find your cheese soulmate amid the Pandora’s box, but favorites include Midnight Moon (a goat milk gouda), Shelburne Farms’ twoyear aged cheddar, and the creamy feta marinated with peppercorns in hoity-toity olive oil. Follow the instructions on the label and use the leftover sludge as a salad dressing ... marinade ... erotic prop. —RR Best Cheap Cocktails Let’s face it, the GCB isn’t a real bar. It’s like a pretend-play bar to introduce newlyknighted 21-year-olds to the world of legal drinking. Bloody Marys are $4, a G and T is $3.25, and you can tell the bartender how to make a Dirty Shirley. Then you get into the real world. Put away the monopoly money, Mr. Moneybanks, ’cause that coke and rum is gonna take the shirt off your back. If you’re in the mood for something expensive, feminine, and delicious (and no, I’m not talking about myself), head to the Duck and Bunny. I like the Chamisa: pears, basil, and cane sugar muddled in prosecco. Supah classay. —JB Best Pizza Everybody knows Nice Slice is better than Antonio’s, and if they claim otherwise, they’re lying. Tortellini pizza is clearly: A) a mockery of your intelligence (possibly launched by extraterrestrials), B) an adolescent cry for attention, C) a gimmick by the Atkins marketing team to get your carb-overloaded self to jump on their bandwagon later, or D) all of the above. Nice Slice, meanwhile, has stickers by Shepard Fairey. And Cranberry Picnic. And Reed’s Ginger Beer. But several other worthy options beckon beyond the College Hill bubble, thanks to the omnipresence of Italian culture and food (shoutout to ma boyz in the Providence mafia!). Fellini’s combines the classics with some more novel pies like Sweet Heaven (bacon, ricotta, scallions, creamy parm) and Garden Vegetable (squash, scallions, tomato, onion, olive oil, black pepper—that’s it!). There’s even something for the carb-on-carb devotés: true to its name, the Kitchen Sink piles penne on the crust, along with a handful of other goodies. Since it’s on Wickenden,
it’s close enough to be convenient but far enough to feel like an adventure, which may just be a non-issue at the end of the day because (cherry on top!) they deliver. Honorable mention: Al Forno. Not quite the same feel as the others, not quite as nice to your wallet (and they don’t deliver.) But they do make a supa-fly pizza which is by all accounts deserving of a spot on your Providence bucket list. The thin, chewy flatbread crust gets a nice char from the grill, and the toppings—which change seasonally, so no by-the-slice ordering or wacky ingredient combos—range from calamari to summer corn. You cannot go wrong. Eaten at the bar as a shared main course, it even borders on budget-friendly. —RR Best Study Spot The new Tea in Sahara on Governor is an undiscovered gem for the café studier. From a selection of teas and coffees (a small coffee is $1.50, a low price for your studying tax!) to hookah and paninis, you’ll enjoy a treat while copping some valuable academic times with a quiet Morroccan ambience. As Jawad writes on the Tea in Sahara website, “The more relaxed atmosphere is ideal for chit chats while smoking a tasty hookah and sipping some mint iced tea.” Get there ASAP, before everyone else reads this article, and it turns out just like Blue State. —JB Best Burger In my imagination, there was once a burnout frat bro who, despite his vivid entrepreneurial sense, made a career out of smoking weed and drinking beer in his mom’s basement for a few months too many after he graduated from college. When he finally came to, he had an epiphany that birthed Harry’s Bar and Burger. There are other items on the menu—nachos, hot dogs, Harry’s mom’s chicken soup (yes, that is a thing)—but it’s all tomfoolery; if they wanted you to believe otherwise, they’d have called it Harry’s Bar and Nachos (not as much ring). These burgers are freshly ground, never frozen, and come in pairs as devourable little sliders. If you go during happy hour—3 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day—everything’s half off, which means you can have your own Noah’s Ark of sliders, and how badass would that be? If you’re overwhelmed by the choices, though, the M.O.A.B., a cheeseburger with bacon, mushrooms, and onion strings, makes a noble standby, especially when washed down with one of the many beers on stock (68oz. Das Boot, anyone?). The alcoholic milkshakes (elbow nudge to every other restaurant in the world) will make a supersonic (wo)man outta you. —RR Best Finger Food Wickenden’s Abssyinia offers a great selection of flavorful Ethiopian fare, all served on top of the spongy sourdough injera bread. A handful of injera sopping with curried chickpeas makes for a fantastic meal and saves on a lot of cutlery (environmentally friendly!). I recommend the vegetarian sampler, a dish for two that gives
best of providence
THURSDAY, MARCH 1ST, 2012
a taste of all seven of their vegetarian dishes. Yeah, you heard right. YOU NO LONGER HAVE TO CHOOSE. —JB Best Sandwich There is no shortage of sandwiches on College Hill. Geoff ’s is the most famous purveyor, and for good reason. Every Tuesday, their marvelous charity makes it possible for us to do half as much narrowing down of desired sandwiches. (I’ll take the Frigid Bitch AND the Providence Monthly, thankyouverymuch...) But y’all already knew all of this. What you may not know is the fact that Farmstead, in addition to a bangin’ assortment of cheeses and overpriced artisanal groceries, has a lunch menu to be eaten at the counter or taken back to the comfort and ambiance of your own Grad Center single. This stuff ’s special—we’re talking kimchi-brined pork with fennel and Swiss or a Reuben embellished with avocado and black turnip remoulade. The cheesemonger’s grilled cheese combines a mélange of hand-picked cheeses with bourbon-melted onions. Do not ask questions. Find this sandwich (but resist the urge to ask it to marry you; sandwiches cannot talk). —RR Best Liquor Store I know people have strong ties to their liquor stores, from the free birthday champagne at Spiritus to the mom and pop feel of friendly Madeira’s. And who can forget the time at Darwin’s when you first used your real I.D. with the cashier? Although it doesn’t quite have the character of all these local establishments, Bottles, next to East Side Market, can hold its own when you want to find alcohol. Well-lit and inviting, it has a great selection of wine, beer, and liquor, plus fun events like wine tastings on Thursday evenings (That’s right, free booze!). Plus, they have a rewards program where you can earn $25 of store credit. Sure, you have to buy $500 worth of alcohol first, but here’s the trick: you can get your friends to buy it there under your rewards account. Think of all the alcohol you can get with that $25. —JB Best Dessert I don’t know about y’all, but my absolute ideal dessert place is equally informed by Willy Wonka’s factory and the cozy café in Chocolat. It’s a tall order, but I’ve spent my life seeking it out and have never come as close to finding it as at Pastiche. The European-style café, housed in a cornflower blue building with sweet yellowstriped awnings, feels like it was plucked off a cobblestone street in Provence. Inside is an intimate little dining room (complete with working fireplace and mural of Italian countryside) where you can sit, sipping a cappuccino or reading a book or batting your eyelashes, idly nibbling a slice of marscarpone torte. And that’s where the Willy Wonka bit comes in: you will want to eat everything. Every last crumb of the cakes and pies, cookies and brownies, tartlets and scones—everything is fair game. Whether banana cream tart or torta di cioccolata is more up your alley*, something is bound to make you feel like you’re in the midst of a cinematic romance. And there are few greater things in this world than their peanut butter chocolate brownie, which is so rich and so dense that you should get two, use them at the gym in lieu of weights, and proceed to eat them both in under five minutes. *If torta di cioccolata is not up your alley, something is wrong with you. —RR Illustration by Madeliene Denman
arts & culture
Unheard Notes in the Visual Symphony
providence’s forgotten architecture
anya VENTURA contributing writer
While we may fetishize Providence’s colonial past, there’s much more to the city than quaint cobblestone. In his essay “The Visual Symphony of Providence,” historian William McKenzie Woodward writes that “the architectural melodies and harmonies reach full orchestral proportion” in this city where the vagaries of time are writ large in stone—from Victorian mansions to the husks of abandoned industry to modernist gems. Here is a chance to sing the praises of the unheralded and forgotten; as John Keats once wrote: “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard/Are sweeter.” Once a pillar of industry, Olneyville’s landmark Atlantic Mills complex (100 Manton Avenue) on the Woonasquatucket River is now home to the “Big Top Flea Market,” whose red-striped cupola—once topped by a glass lantern—a beacon to all who love claptrap. In the late 19th century, the building was a textile mill known for its worsted and cotton-wrap fabric and designed by the architect Clifton Hall. By the mid-20th century, the company had gone bankrupt like so many of Providence’s erstwhile industrial giants, although its signature towers endure. Downtown, only the façade of the iconic Rialto Theater (121 Mathewson St.) remains. At the turn of the century, entertainment-seekers flocked to Providence’s booming vaudeville theaters, many of which were operated by the violinist, poet, conductor, and theater owner Edward M. Fay, “the dean of Rhode Island Entertainment.” In 1906, Fay opened the Rialto, first known as the Scenic, in a former church. The theater remained for 30 years before the building was demolished to make way for offices, shops, and parking lots. Although the Modern Diner (364 East Avenue) is technically in Pawtucket, this factory-made dining car is still worth a mention. The first diner to make the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, the Modern Diner embodies the futuristic fantasies of the 1930s at their best— dreams built of stainless steel, enamel, and Formica. The diner’s Sterling Streamliner was built by J.B. Judkins Company and is still in use today. Run by a Johnson and Wales alum, the food is a notch above tra-
ditional standard greasy spoon fare. One might have first dismissed downtown’s Cathedral Square (Westminster and Weybosset Sts.) as the lonely fairground of pigeons, a desolate stretch of brick fronting the 1879 Gothic Revival Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul. In contrast to the ornate cathedral, this Italianstyle piazza bears the clean, modernist lines of its creators, the superstar architect I.M. Pei and landscape designers Zion and Breen. Although the square was built to facilitate a better pedestrian experience downtown, it has yet to live up to this expectation. The Beneficent House (1 Chestnut
St.) is Providence’s best example of the angular Brutalist architecture known for its use of poured concrete. Designed in 1969 by Paul Rudolph, former dean of the Yale School of Architecture, the public housing complex represents the International style popularized by the high modernist le Corbusier. The high-density vertical column, surrounded by open space, was meant as a palliative to urban congestion; the building a container for the utopian impulses of the 50s and 60s. The Beneficent House is considered a jewel of the era’s Weybosset Hill Urban Renewal Project. Illustration by Kah Yangni
Live at Lupo’s
an ode to a concert venue
jordan MAINZER contributing writer
What do you look for in a music venue? If you’re a regular concert-goer, you might evaluate a venue according its acoustics, the type of music it generally features, and its location. Or, you might look for a particular layout: one that doesn’t limit dance floor space with seats, or one with easy access to the bar. However, because most people tend to only see shows that correspond to their own musical tastes, they may not appreciate one key characteristic of a venue: diversity. Luckily, you don’t have to walk far to try. One of the most diverse venues I’ve ever been to lies just at the bottom of College Hill: Providence’s own Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel. While the three concerts I’ve seen at Lupo’s—Franz Ferdinand with Born Ruffians, Andrew Bird with St. Vincent, and Interpol with School of Seven Bells—certainly reflects my own “indie enough that I actually remember the opening bands” taste in music, the venue plays host to a much wider variety of genres, such as blues, jam band, hip-hop, metal, electronic, and alt-rock. In this way, Lupo’s, established in 1974, is almost like Providence’s own House of Blues, even if it doesn’t hold the same brand-name recognition. Not only is its layout similar to most House of Blues venues (a stage, an upper mezzanine, and a bar in the center, to name a few features), but Lupo’s also attracts a wide array of prestigious acts. A simple glance at the upcoming schedule reveals that Lupo’s is already gearing up to host two acts with current radio hits, Tyga and Fun., established harder-rock acts such as Chevelle and Marylin Manson, and WBRU-approved alt-rock acts such as They Might Be Giants and The Kooks. The venue also has a tendency to bond audience members—a quality that transcends any single night’s act because Lupo’s is a remarkably intimate place. When most people describe concert venues as “intimate,” they primarily use the word as a euphemism for “small.” However, while Lupo’s is certainly small, its unique layout does more than confine concertgoers within a tiny space—it also aids in giving Lupo’s its signature sense of community. The dance floor isn’t surrounded by much loitering space and is also right next to the bar (for those who need something to conquer their shyness before they boogie down). Even the balcony seats provide a similar visual and audio experience to standing in the general admission area—and without the back pain. It’s because of this intimacy that I feel, despite only having seen three concerts there, that I have my own personal relationship with Lupo’s. In fact, I follow the same routine every time I go. First, I enter through the line that doesn’t have to show an ID for a drinking wristband. I immediately ask for a cup of water at the bar and I receive a cup of water with a little attitude on the side, as the bartender sarcastically smirks at my perennially underage self. I awkwardly stand on the dance floor for about five
minutes. I know I’m going to be standing still for a while, so at some point I have whomever I came to the concert with hold my place while I scour the merchandise table: the $25 t-shirts, the vinyl albums that would make for great floor decorations next to the posters I never hang, and the tote bags that nobody ever buys. After about two minutes, I decide that I’d rather drink coffee that week than have my taste in music printed across my chest for maybe one or two people to notice, and I return to the floor. Regardless of the act, the actual duration of the concert yields the same personal series of events: if I know the act well enough, I know all the words to the songs better than anyone in the crowd, and I have the innate ability to recognize which song an act is about to play from the first few practice chords. (I’m not shy about
admitting this because I’m not bragging. Rather, it speaks to the type of unhealthy musical obsession that Lupo’s can satiate.) After the first set and the totally obvious encore ends, I dash out so as to beat the crowd. But, I always immediately reminisce about certain moments of the concert—that’s what counts. Although each individual experience at Lupo’s depends much on the artists themselves, its diversity, intimacy, and surprising proximity to Brown nevertheless makes it perhaps the best and most convenient venue around to see live music. It is (most of the time) cheap, Baby Boomer-free, and filled with people you know. There’s a reason the answer to every incoming First-Year who asks “So, like, what do you guys do for concerts?” is always one word: “Lupo’s.”
arts & culture
clayton ALDERN managing editor of arts & culture
Let me take you back to the end of the seventh season. There was the group tribute song à la “Seasons of Love.” The frantic, shoeless secretary-cum-saleswoman running across the terminal to meet her recently de-microphoned boss. That fleeting, final goodbye hug. Steeped in sorrow and wracked with bitter sobs, I was left spiraling toward utter blackness. While I’ve since been informed that not everyone took it this hard, the departure of the Coloradobound airplane confirmed that The Office was suddenly sans Michael Scott—and it hurt like a motherf*cker. The season proceeded to end a bit haphazardly, with the temporary introduction of Will Ferrell as Deangelo Vickers and one of the most disturbing scenes ever aired on network television: Deangelo’s scored and mimed motivational juggling act. When Michael’s exit was compounded by Deangelo’s basketball hoop-induced hospitalization and Dunder Mifflin’s subsequent search for a manager, our favorite Scranton paper company was left with an uncertain future. My interseason mantra was this: The newest incarnation of The Office could work if one of two things happened: either a) Ricky Gervais replaced Carell, or b) Ed Helms replaced Carell. The first of those options was a pipedream. The latter? Not only plausible, but luckily for us, it happened. Halfway through season eight, I’m happy to report that the Dunder crew is in excellent shape. The promotion of Office veteran Andy Bernard to Regional Manager has played out beautifully. In this case, the writers did exactly what they needed to do, demonstrating that the show was sustainable by focusing on the groundwork they had already lain in previous seasons. Even the new addition to the title sequence is perfect. Where Michael adjusted his Dundee, Andy now bobbles his bobblehead. Over the course of the new season, Helms flushed out engaging new layers in the Cornell graduate. We’ve seen Andy believably come into himself as a dynamic leader, a feat of which the Andy of seasons-past could only dream. We’ve also seen him as secretary, a job at which it turns out he’s stellar. Forget the writing and direction—it’s tempting to say that Ed Helms is single-handedly saving the series. But that’s not the case. Barring a few hiccups, the rest of the characters, scripts, and plot-points succeed tremendously. Erin (Erin!!) begins to grow up, first letting loose at the holiday party and then making plans to move to Florida—attempts at coming to terms with the fact that Andy has a new girlfriend. While Pam and Jim get a little boring and baby-centric, Darryl finds a love interest. Dwight releases 300 mosquitoes in the conference room in an effort to prep his team for a special project in Florida.
THURSDAY, MARCH 1ST, 2012
michael, andy, and the reinvention of the office
Dwight may also be a father. We won’t even begin to consider the possible ramifications for the Scranton world. That said, the triumphs of the new Office should not be confused with universal performance at top form. The eighth season certainly has its shortcomings, the most glaring of which is Robert California (the new Sabre C.E.O., played by James Spader). The injection of a new character was a good call, but Robert’s dark eccentricity comes off as overcompensatory. Kaling, Novak, et al. are a writing dynasty and should have had a bit more faith in their product. The Office pulls through when we see characters we love reminding
us why we love them. Case in point: the most recent episode (“After Hours”) is one of the absolute silliest episodes in years— and Robert is mercifully absent. To find true equilibrium, the writers need to trust themselves and pull in the reins. Excursions to Tallahassee and Gettysburg will only distract us for so long. The Office is at its best when the core characters are up to their usual antics in the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin. Bring ‘em home. We’ll be here waiting with our World’s Best Boss mugs and replication Dundees. Illustration by Phil Lai
So Bad it’s Good?
anna GAISSERT contributing writer
Mediocre artists are no longer forgotten. With outlets like Facebook and YouTube, it’s no wonder why. These online communities feature the stuff of some of our most talentless artists. Rather than being forgotten, their work goes viral and is immortalized. What emerges are two competing poles: the crème de la crème and the crème de la crap. Why are we drawn to music we know is crappy? I’m not talking about the kind of music you and your friends collectively scoff at. These are the songs we know we shouldn’t like, but do anyway. The ones that require prefacing before being played aloud. The ones you immediately, and frantically, go to skip when they start playing on your iTunes shuffle. In your music library, there’s a clear divide. There’s the music you’re publicly interested in, and the music you wouldn’t dare share with your hipster friends out of the very real fear of being shunned. These songs force you to wrestle with your inexplicable predilection for the terrible, a side of yourself you can’t fully understand. When there’s no merit or artistic value to back up your interests, how do you justify these tastes? All you know is that this guilty pleasure song, well, it’s…good (that is, you’re left with a positive emotional response) and it’s catchy (you’ve played it about fifteen times in a row in the SciLi and you’re hoping no one’s caught on). Whatever it is, this enjoyment, this interest, it’s hard to defend. For fellow crappy music lovers, I advise that you stand by your preferences. The music speaks for itself. Your friends with higher tastes probably haven’t gotten a good dose of whatever it is you’re into. If they had, they’d definitely be on board.
the odd allure of tween pop
This music, for me, is contemporary female pop, the stuff of Willow Smith, Miranda Cosgrove, and Selena Gomez. That’s right. I think “Love You Like a Love Song” by Selena Gomez is a great song. I could quibble about its incorrect use of simile and its failure to employ words gainfully: (“There’s no way to describe what you do to me. You just do to me, what you do to me”). But I won’t. The whole thing is just so cheesy, it’s fantastic. The music video, if you haven’t seen it, is equally inspiring. It opens in a colorfully-lit Japanese karaoke bar, Selena’s hair huge and curled, lips cherry red. A series of bizarre and perplexing scene changes ensues, none of which are easy to describe, one of which involves a mariachi band in an open (puzzlingly-pink) field. These artists are nothing like the ladies I listened to in middle school—Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, P!nk. They were often singing about issues that Willow, Miranda, and Selena don’t purport to know about. With this music, we indulge in the straightforward and the positive, and that’s refreshing. This goes back to owning what you’re into. If it’s cheesy, feel-good, idealistic and…awesome, then enjoy it. That’s the beauty of having so many different streams of music, isn’t it? And hey, if you really like it, there must be something to it. The music, like deep-fried Twinkies or old episodes of 7th Heaven, appeals to base interests that can’t really be explained by merit or quality. There’s not a whole lot of depth to it, but sometimes we just need something shallow and digestible. Fortunately, modern culture throws plenty of it at us. Illustration by Adela Wu
n. a student-run organization, known as Brown University Sexual Health Education and Empowerment.
education team to benefit Providence public schools, inspired by pre-existing outreach programs like SHAPE (formerly PHASE) and SPACE. A founding member of BRUSHE (Brown University Sexual Health Education and Empowerment), I was really zealous about our new program, through which we’d facilitate sex ed workshops with eighth grade girls from Roger Williams Middle School. The school’s principal expressed deep concerns about these girls’ inexperience with formal sex education, especially as compared to their overexposure to sex as citizens of a part of Providence known for prostitution, strip clubs, and bathhouses. We were excited to connect with these girls, get cozy, and talk about tampons and condoms and consent. We were “needed.” As you might expect, the girls at Roger Williams did not welcome us with open arms, crawl into our laps, and ask about body odor. They were smart, and they were skeptical. They were also only seven years younger than I. What did I know about their communities, their individual lifestyles, their sexual preferences? What could I teach them that they hadn’t already seen on MTV or read online? I had to step back and totally reconceptualize my role as a workshop facilitator—it was audacious of me to expect to befriend these young women, to earn their trust in some spontaneous, automatic way. I realized my goal was, foremost, to go through the curriculum I had prepared, answer questions, and impart some knowledge about my own experiences with and education on puberty and sexuality (I do claim some authority on these matters—in addition to studying and discussing sexual health in my daily and academic life, I was formally trained for the program). And I had to do all this knowing that these girls’ Providence was not my particular Providence, nor was it some raw underbelly of Providence that I’d only caught glimpses of in the personals section of The Phoenix. Their Providence was a community of families and friends, teachers, workers, peers, restaurants and rivers, soccer fields and schools. I don’t mean to characterize community service endeavors as imperialistic or presumptuous, and especially not BRUSHE, whose members are incredible, sharp, empathic people with a vast variety of worldviews and experiences. Our program continues to alter lives in positive, qualitative ways. My point here is to illustrate the ways our experiences vary from person to person, even within the bounds of a single city—a single small New England city in a tiny little state. If we’re going to engage fully in Brown’s hometown, we must be open to Providence—the parts we see and the parts we don’t. Get involved and learn more about BRUSHE by emailing brownbrushe@ gmail.com.
They don’t tell you on the Brown tour that, next to WaterFire, Providence’s main tourist attraction is its red-light district. Former Mayor Buddy Cianci led the city through a radical cultural renaissance in the 90s, a beautification project that resulted in the Providence Place Mall, the Fleet Skating Center, the train station near campus, and the gentrification of areas around College Hill. A prime example is the former prize-fighting polestar Wickenden Street, known now for its sustainable coffee roastery and elaborately flavored cupcake shop. Even for the college students who get off campus regularly—biking to Olneyville for shows, hitting up the Asian market on the East Side, or watching the iron pour at the Steel Yard downtown—the Providence sex scene remains a secret to most of us, an underbelly we’re prepared to ignore. Last year, members of Brown Students for Choice founded a new sex
A Very Sexy City
where to go when you have someone to do
the ladies of lifestyle
dence ... in all of Rhode Island ... in all of the world! Okay, well, that’s not true, but we’ll go ahead and say that most students here consider College Hill the center of the known world anyway. Let’s call this the pinnacle of the SciLi challenge: go ahead and take all those shots in the elevator, and then go up one more floor—to the roof, of course—and get down while you are very much up. Up on the roof, that is, because we can’t promise that after 14 shots of Burnett’s you’ll actually be able to perform in the other sense of the word. Colosseum Bathroom None of the editors of this fine publication are willing to admit whether we’ve actually been to Colosseum or not. No, not even during the strange in-between times when FishCo was gone and WhisCo was just a twinkle in the eye of the Dropkick Murphys. So, if we could imagine the Colosseum bathroom, it would be ... probably less than perfect. But think of the perks: you’d probably have a great time, and you’d probably never have to see your partner in crime again. Or at least, if you did see him or her, you wouldn’t remember the connection. Dunkin’ Donuts Center Rink Ice, ice baby. Pull a power play with that special someone and check your body into overtime. With stadium seating and surround sound play-by-plays, this is not your cozy, intimate love nest. But with all those slammable, bangable surfaces, you’re sure to score. Bonus points if you do it on the Zamboni. Double bonus if you can pull this off during a Providence Bruins game (that’s a thing, right?). Westin Presidential Suite We’re not sure why this would be any better than your average hotel party, but we’re also not sure if hotel parties are ever average. If we imagine this scenario as a money-is-no-object sort of dealie, it starts to look better and better. Think of the movies: rose petals on the bed, champagne on ice waiting on the bedside table, R&B emanating from somewhere, candles in the bathtub. This could get really classy, really quickly. Of course, you can always take it down the other road: get absolutely tanked, awkwardly attempt sexual contact and pass out on those 1000-thread count sheets. Big Nazo’s Lab Did you catch the crazy costumes in last year’s production of Pippin, where the king wore a space suit with a giant monster claw? Or were you just strolling the other day by the river, where crazy foam creatures approached passers-by, and did you cross the bridge to avoid an awkward confrontation? These outlandish creations come from Big Nazo’s Lab, a downtown art studio packed with elaborate, fanciful, and disturbing costumes. So imagine donning a mask with bug eyes, a long beak, and extroardinarily large sneakers, and getting down to the zaniest roleplay you’ve ever had. Abandoned Overpass Sweeping views, the thrill of adventure, and climactic heights—if epic is what you’re going for, then the abandoned I-95 overpass may be just the ticket. The panoramic vistas of the Providence River are sure to get your blood racing, and the potential for ProPo interruptions gives you all the thrill of the SciLi stacks in an infinitely more picturesque setting. However, those windy heights are not for the faint of heart—you may think your enthusiastic exertions will be enough to keep you warm, but we recommend bringing a sleeping bag just to be safe. Nothing kills the mood like frostbite in unwanted places. If you could get down anywhere in Providence, where would it be? The Posteditors have some ideas for you. The Waterfire Gondolas A little fire, a little night music, a little voyeurism, what more could you want? Taking a ride on one of those darkly lit WaterFire boats with that special someone could literally result in the motion of the ocean (maybe if the gondola driver got lost, we guess). If you like BrownBares, you’d probably enjoy a hookup in this easily discernible location. And for the record, if you take us up on this, please take pictures, post them on Brown Bares, and give us a call. Beneath the Biltmore Sign Is there a song written about this particular location? Meet me beneath the Biltmore sign? If you can figure out how to get yourself to the top of that building, it just might be worth it. Just imagine, you and someone you, erm, like bathed in the red glow of an iconic Providence symbol. You won’t even have to worry about keeping the lights on or turning them off—the Biltmore has made the decision for you. Top of the SciLi The tallest point in all of Provi-
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