The Christmas season has always blended the pagan and the Christian, merging stories of Santa Claus and Jesus Christ, lighting evergreen trees and church candles, uttering wishes and prayers with equal conviction. But there are some strange partnerships this season in my neighborhood and surrounding communities. Nativity scenes seem to be on the rise, but they are not limited to Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise Men, the shepherds, the Baby Jesus and the odd donkey, sheep or camel. Every so often you see a penguin or a polar bear lurking among the barnyard animals. Reindeer and camels intermingle. While not yet part of the inner circle, Santa and Frosty are within a snowball’s distance of the Wise Men. One house down the street has propped up a cardboard Nativity on the left side of the front door and a complementary scene featuring Charlie Brown and the gang celebrating a Peanuts’ Christmas to the right of it. Even more disturbing are those lawns along Route 114 that showcase giant, grotesquely inflated, plastic blow-up Nativity figures. It’s one thing to see a glowing Baby Jesus the size of a giant pumpkin. It’s another to see the same Baby Jesus in 52 mph wind gusts, zipping around the yard in his manger, only to be strewn, punctured by a tree branch and flattened in the grass the next morning.
What is the most disturbing holiday decoration you’ve seen so far?
Trinity Repertory’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol” is only one of eight versions of the famed Charles Dickens tale now playing within driving distance of the average Rhode Islander. Scrooge runs amok at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut, the Artists’ Exchange in Cranston, the Attleboro Community Theatre in Massachusetts, the Swamp Meadow Community Theatre in Foster, the Granite Theatre in Westerly, the Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford and at a one-man show in Mansfield, Mass. While it seems like Scrooge overkill, it’s hard to blame strapped theaters for trying to conjure up the Ghost of Christmas Box Office Past to salvage a dreary ticket season.
Rhody Universe: David Byrne worked in a weiner joint
Back in the dark ages of the 1970s, David Byrne, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz hung around Providence as students at the Rhode Island School of Design. Eventually they would form three-quarters of The Talking Heads, considered one of the all-time great bands by music fans of a certain vintage. Ever since, as Byrne grew to iconic status, Providence adopted him as a favorite son. While the feeling isn’t exactly mutual, Byrne does remember his time in Providence, as recounted in the Nov. 28 edition of The Providence Phoenix. The most interesting revelation? Byrne once logged hours in a New York System, selling gaggers by the arm.