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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

(Let’s Go To) Pwvaavvadints Vho Dieland (Again)

[Editor’s Note: Originally offered in 2006]
{ Author’s Note: I wish the editor would stop putting so much of my personal information on the Web. Now everyone knows that’ I’m at least two years old. }

It’s the most stubborn local patois to emulate. About no one ever gets the twang right, when they try it in the movies or on TV. It’s slightly more Joisey than Bawstin, but it ‘taint neither, really. I watch Outside Providence occasionally, just to see the dimbulb Alec Baldwin try it, over and over, and crash and burn.

Providence is the capital of the smallest state, with the biggest name, in the Union: The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. We walked one of the nicer streets in the capital plantation, Benefit Street, and took some pictures for your…er… benefit.

Actually not all that many bricks on display on Benefit Street; the street is too old and the houses from the 18th and first half of the 19th century are generally all clapboard. That last one’s a bed and breakfast of some sort. I can highly recommend it, because I’ve never been there. I never can highly recommend any bed and breakfast I’ve ever actually stayed in, because it’s like staying over other people’s houses except you’re not a guest and you have to give them money. But bed and breakfasts are better than hotels, which all look the same no matter how much they charge, so I don’t like them either. In the one, they’re pushing their way into the room at some ungodly hour to give you orange juice you don’t like while you’re standing in your man-pajamas, ie: underwear. In the other, the fire alarms actually work, but everyone in the place has the same attitude you have in a bad neighborhood in a city –don’t make eye contact.

I stay home a lot.

But not today; we’re wandering around. Benefit Street runs along the side of College Hill, and is nice and flat, but take a turn and it’s San Francisco east, for a block or two, anyway.

These houses were being demolished back in the fifties, until someone started one of those groups that has the werewithal and the tongues to lick lots of stamps and envelopes and save things and cadge money from strangers and pass laws and do all that other mysterious stuff. It was still pretty seedy looking here and there back in the early seventies, and it’s beginning to fray a little around the edges lately too, but Benefit Street still is one of the most pleasant places anywhere to walk with your honey and your male heirs.

More tomorrow.

3 Responses

  1. We live just outside Manchester in the north of England. The area around has been decimated, even in the last fifty years houses perhaps 500 years old have been destroyed in the name of progress. People are powerless against local and national government. Around the country areas of great natural beauty are built over, flood planes are built on, but, not for much longer. Most of the large building companies are in major financial difficulty and the government is broke. So let us hope this period of destruction is coming to an end.
    Sorry for the rant. Regards, Nigel.

  2. Hi Nigel- Thanks for reading and commenting.

    I can’t remember who wrote about it, I think it was Theodore Dalrymple, but he outlined how the British version of “urban renewal” had done to his town what the Nazi blitz never could.

    My ancestors in Boston lived in a neighborhood that was flattened to make way for the ugliest building in the universe, so I know how you feel.

  3. Thank you. When I clicked on the link I realised I had read the previous post.
    Always interesting and thought provoking. Seems it happens everywhere. Nigel.

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