Every time you think that American culture has reached absolute nadir, you look deep into the abyss only to discover…more abyss. A New York company has come up with a plan to stick a celebrity in a box in Bryant Park then invite visitors to take a peek to see who’s inside (but not before signing a non-disclosure release). Our nation’s celebrity fixation being what it is, there’s no doubt that the “starbox” will be a big hit. Before long, B-list celebs will be lining up in droves to be Duct-taped into cardboard boxes all over Manhattan, the way they used to scramble for gigs on “Tales from the Crypt,” “The Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island.” Speculation is rampant on who might be the first boxed celebrity, but the bigger question might be: Can all of New York really keep a secret?
While pondering the notion that America at its lowest common denominator has always been a cross between freak show and peep show, the staff at Half Shell has found a subversive silver lining in the starbox gambit. We like to call it “Rhode Islander in a Box.” It’s a complete rip-off of the New York idea (payback for messing with our chowder) but it does allow for comic possibilities.
Rhode Islander in a Box, or RIB, could be transported by Segway to all corners of Little Rhody, depending on the occasion. We could unveil Rhode Islander in a Box at WaterFire Providence, for example, somewhere between the stone gargoyles and the Del’s Lemonade cart. Rhode Islander in a Box could be rented out for Gaspee Days, the Black Ships Festival or the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Newport. It could have its own float at the Bristol Fourth of July Parade or its own Providence Art Window. At all of these locations, for a nominal fee to cover shipping and handling, viewers could actually gawk at the Rhode Islander in a Box for a predetermined length of time, an activity that on the surface is completely pointless, but on further examination, is even more so.
The key question, of course, is: Which Rhode Islanders would you like to see in a box? Keep in mind that these need to be living, breathing Rhode Islanders. (Note to self: The box will need air holes.) We’re not looking for Rhode Islanders who, may they rest in peace, have already been boxed. Roger Williams himself, tree root though he may be, does not belong in a box. We want contemporary, box-worthy Rhode Islanders: Like, say, Joe Mollicone. James Woods. Richard Hatch. Arlene Violet. Maybe a Cardi Brother. Maybe a Farrelly Brother. Maybe the alto saxophone player from Roomful of Blues.
And if we ever get around to a “Pop Goes the Weasel” version, how about: Buddy in a Box?