We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Look closely into the DNA of the average Rhode Islander and you’ll find lottery numbers. Scratch tickets in the Christmas stocking have become such a Rhody tradition that this year the state lottery director felt obligated to issue a public declaration suggesting to parents that giving instant tickets to children as stocking stuffers might not be the best way to ensure that celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas doesn’t turn into enrolling in a 12-step program.
White Christmas, Brown New Year
A rose care product company will pay tribute to the history of the Rose Bowl this Friday with a 32-foot tall, 55-foot long float made up of thousands of dried and live flowers, including four large “floragraphic” images of historic games on the gridiron. One of them will feature Brown University. Rhody’s Ivy League school gets the full rose treatment from Bayer Advanced for the landmark 1916 tilt between Brown and Washington State. That game marked the first time an African-American student, Brown’s Fritz Pollard, played in the Rose Bowl, the oldest of all the college bowl games, which kicks off annually on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif., shortly after The Tournament of Roses Parade. Pollard was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005. For the record, Brown lost 14-0.
A recent National Park Service study of Rhode Island’s Roger Williams Memorial offered little to cheer about. Among the criticisms: There’s no memorial at the memorial. Almost nobody knows where it is and those who do aren’t sure why it’s located on North Main Street. None of the park’s resources have national significance. The place can’t decide whether it wants to be a park or a landmark. There’s trash in the well that may (or may not) indicate the location of the stream where Williams originated his settlement. The state DOT even refused to put up signs for the memorial on the highway, citing the landmark’s insignificance. The lesson? Sometimes you founder when you try to honor a founder.
New Orleans on the Narragansett
Providence is considering adding streetcars to ease congestion and get traffic flowing again in parts of the city. Given Providence’s rich traditions in blues, jazz and dining, some locals already like to think of it as a cold New Orleans. The back-to-the-future tram look could bring us even closer. Providence residents, like those in New Orleans, already adopt a fatalist attitude toward big storms. The Hurricane of ’38 was the Katrina of its day. Locals celebrate bad weather by drinking near the Hurricane Barrier. And while the city may never have a streetcar named Desire, there is an adult entertainment club by that name.
One deeply disturbing but underreported consequence of climate change is the potential extinction of “size of Rhode Island” references. While ice shelves continue to break apart and float off to places like Australia and New Zealand, their remnants fall far short of Rhody length. Consider two of the most recent moving icebergs, variously described as “the length of seven football pitches,” “the length of Beijing’s ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium,” “twice the length of Hong Kong island” and “twice the size of New York’s Manhattan island.” Not a single Rhody reference in the bunch. Talk about an inconvenient truth. Not for nothin’ but when the world stops measuring its natural disasters and cataclysms in Rhode Islands, maybe it’s time to dust off those Mayan calendars.
This week’s question: What is your New Year’s tradition, or your favorite New Year’s memory?