Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Road Island

First, apologies for the late blog. Flu, fever and a wild Monday snowstorm conspired to send me into a state of delirium. (Even managed to lose my cell phone, despite spending most of the past 48 hours in bed or on the couch.) When your body is achy, and you have a one-hour commute, you tend to feel every pothole, so it’s just bad luck (and bad weather) that this is the worst season for potholes in Rhode Island in years. On Stony Fort Road in Kingston, I struck potholes deep enough and frost heaves high enough to challenge the topographical maps that suggest Rhode Island is a state without canyons and mountains.

But the sorry state of the road in Rhode Island isn’t limited to torn-up asphalt. Our bridges are among the worst maintained in the nation and trying to park in places like Newport and Providence may soon take over from standing in line at the DMV as the most frustrating quintessential R.I. experience. The parking garage at the Providence Place Mall - an existential concrete void so lacking in common sense that a group of Providence artists actually lived in it for more than a year without anybody noticing - is the physical manifestation of Sartre’s “No Exit.” Closer to home, the chaotic comings-and-goings at the parking lot contained within Belmont Shoppers Park in Wakefield seems purposefully designed for accidents, sending pedestrians, vehicles and shopping carts into a free-wheeling blitzkrieg of human Frogger.

This week’s question, for those of you who only visit online: Where is the worst pothole or parking lot in Rhode Island?

Otherwise, this Thursday the Arts & Living section will reveal its new design, a more contemporary look with the added benefit of creating more editorial space. For those of you who get the paper: What do you like or dislike about the new Arts & Living section?