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A beautiful blue sky that rained lives

September 11, 2011

They stood for 30 years, twin symbols of America’s lofty standing and influence in the world, almost 1,400 feet of steel and glass stretching toward Heaven in a marvel of modern engineering. And then in the aftermath of two twin ten-second pulses of released energy, World Trade Center’s Twin Towers were no longer standing. There, and also at the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C., and in a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001, 2,976 innocent people were murdered for the simple act of showing up for life that morning.
We can never forget – nor should we – the scenes of how they died that day: Those who were on the planes that had been turned into bombs and were careening toward their horrific destinies. Those on the upper floors of the Twin Towers who were awaiting help that would never come and making heartbreakingly sad last calls on the phones to loved ones. Those who were vaporized in the initial explosions that burned as high as 2,900 degrees Fahrenheit. And those that died in the acts of trying to save those trapped in that living Hell. If the sounds of the grief we felt as a nation that day were compressed into one burst of noise, we’d all fall deaf.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers

Friday update: Full power restoration inches closer

September 2, 2011

Slowly, the lights are popping back on in East Greenwich.
As of midday Friday, only 305 National Grid customers remain without power in East Greenwich, according to the utility company's website. All but 251 of National Grid's 5,993 local customers lost power as a result of Hurricane Irene's damaging visit to the area on Sunday.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers

Updates: School pushed back to Tuesday; Summer's End still on

August 31, 2011

The East Greenwich School District's 2011-12 opening has once again been postponed as power outages and other problems created by Hurricane Irene continue to plague the system.
Opening day has now been pushed back to Tuesday, Sept. 6, the third time it has been pushed back a day this week. Kindergarten orientation will also be held that day, with the first day of kindergarten classes now scheduled for Wednesday. Freshman orientation at East Greenwich High School has been postponed indefinitely.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers

Cleanup continues; school opening delayed

August 30, 2011

(This story has been updated to reflect postponement of school opening to Friday.)

While East Greenwich cleans up after Hurricane Irene and residents slowly regain power, school vacation has been extended yet another day.
School opening has been pushed back a second day to Friday, but as of Tuesday afternoon, several of the town's schools did not have power back, including East Greenwich High School. The School Department's Peirce Street offices were closed and its main 885-3300 number was not operative Tuesday afternoon.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers

East Greenwich battens down for Irene

August 26, 2011

Residents forced to evacuate by the oncoming Hurricane Irene and requiring shelter will be bused to Red Cross shelters out of town, local officials said Thursday night.
A scheduled work session between the Town Council and East Greenwich Fire District Board of Commissioners turned into an emergency planning conference as they discussed plans to deal with what could be Rhode Island's first direct encounter with a hurricane since Bob pounded the area in 1991.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers

Boesch Farm plan draws a crowd

August 26, 2011

While the prospective new tenant of Boesch Farm has won over some of his previously skeptical new neighbors, other remain worried about the transition of the 85-acre farm from organic vegetable growth to the raising of small animals and livestock.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers

Reading for a cause

August 12, 2011

“An Evening with Authors” may be growing larger and be leaving East Greenwich for this year’s event, but the town’s large book club community will still be a major presence at the Sept. 21 book party, which will again bring popular authors to Rhode Island.

There's no mini-vacation from life's little lessons

August 4, 2011

We all like to make a difference in lives, to think we're hip and tolerant creatures, to pat ourselves on the back for being such wonderful, understanding beings. It's not always necessary (or welcome).
Sometimes it's better to let nature take its course.
I had both lessons reinforced on my recent journey to Cape Cod. The first required a ride out to Provincetown. The second took place virtually outside my back door.
It takes a lot to nudge my butt off the private beach at Linnell Landing in Brewster (shared mainly with a large family reunion whose weeklong bocce tournament is as competitive as any Cape Cod Baseball League game I've ever seen), but an overnight storm blew in a brisk wind from the north and the only real break we've had from the heat and humidity this month. My wife and I decided it was a good day to drive out to P-Town.
The sky was cloudless, the waves at Race Point were spectacular, and downtown was packed with visitors, including quite a few families. There was absolutely nothing to be afraid of on this day. I could even picture the Bachmann clan enjoying some ice cream out by the dock, or the Santorum kids begging their parents to let them take home the large, fluffy black cat crashed out on a pile of T-shirts and scarves at Shop Therapy (I'd be willing to block their view of the rack of bumper stickers near the entrance).
I have one major issue with P-Town, however: that its largest parking lot requires one to cross or creep down Commercial Street. I just wish the town's founding fathers, when they laid it out, had ensured it was wide enough for two horse-and-buggy contraptions, let alone two cars.
And that led to a mini-confrontation.
After crawling around a van parked halfway up a curb, I finally reached the right turn that would take me out of downtown. A middle-aged female couple, however, did not watch where they were going as I slowly made the turn and practically walked into the side of my car.
In most places, that would prompt one or both parties to engage in a little name-calling, middle-digit waving or a few words unfit for general interest print publication. Instead, it prompted this sniff from one of the women:
“Heterosexual tourists!”
Now, I've been called the gay F-word a time or two in my life, but this is the first time I've heard “heterosexual” as a perjorative. My mind raced with choice replies like “Thank you, Madame Obvious!” or “Sorry, my wife's not switching teams!”, but thankfully, I had enough room ahead to drive away. (And I would've been lucky to get away with only a “Shut up!” from the passenger seat.)
It did leave me a little shook, though, hearing people whom I accept as they are attack me for what I am (although I could pass for a bear – P-Town has a lot more of those these days than the stereotypically young, ripped, fastlane-type gay male party animals). After all, they were old enough to have dealt on numerous occasions with being attacked for what they are (at least beyond the town line).
What I would like to tell them most, after some consideration, is that their behavior was right in the wheelhouse of those who exploit mistrust and dislike of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community for political gain or broadcast ratings points.
By the time we returned to our studio on Cape Cod Bay, the air had warmed enough for some beach time, although we were just past low tide. At low tide, I could walk over the dune to the beach, stroll nearly a half-mile past the high tide line, and barely be up to my ankles in water.
It was strange to see small signs out in the mud flat, at a 50-yard perimeter around what looked like a piece of driftwood, perhaps something left from the previous night's storm.
Only, that piece of “driftwood” on the sandbar which usually featured bocce for blood had some protection from two women warning kids to stay away from it. Good advice – the dark gray seal, one of several species that inhabit the waters around the Cape, is known to scare easily, bite humans and often perceive them as unfriendly.
Walking around the perimeter, I wondered if the little guy was alive. I could see him laying on his side, occasionally sticking his head up to see what was going on. The poor thing had been beached, and would have to wait awhile for the tide to come back in.
The women, local wildlife and conservation volunteers, had called the state Department of Environmental Management to notify them of the beached seal, and kept it under observation until help arrived.
Human help never arrived, but the ocean's cycle did lend a hand.
Not long before sunset, the tide arrived. With the signs having been removed, I cheated a bit, getting close enough to photograph “Buster,” as the kids named him, but still keeping a respectful distance. Finally, the water crept far enough over the sandbar to sweep him away.

Reaching for the note

July 30, 2011

On July 20 the East Greenwich Free Library hosted Singer/Song Writer Greg Cooney's One World, Many Stories, Songs and Smiles. Greg, who teaches choir and drama at Mt. St. Charles Academy, grades 7-12, kept the children entertained with fun stories, songs, and musical games from around the world. In this show the children were also able to play a variety of musical instruments.

EG’s Summer’s End to feature Pagnano

July 25, 2011


The featured performer for this year’s Summer’s End concert can boast of having spent the past 15 years working with a music legend…and having received his big break in show business from a boxing legend.
John Pagano, a Providence native whose repertoire ranges from pop chestnuts to rhythm and blues, will be performing with the R.I. Philharmonic at the town’s annual concert, to be held Friday, Sept. 2, at Eldredge Field. Rain date for the show is Saturday, Sept. 3.
Pagano, who began his career in the ’80s as an R&B singer, has been a featured vocalist since 1997 with Burt Bacharach, the pianist and songwriter responsible for many entries in the canon of pop music standards over the past 50 years. Along with two female singers and an 11-piece orchestra (including his brother Vinny, its drummer), they have toured throughout much of the world, most recently a six-date swing through Italy.
“The girls cover many of his hits, and I do all the male songs,” says Pagano, who usually performs “This Guy’s In Love with You,” “What the World Needs Now (Is Love Sweet Love),” “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” “Any Day Now” and “God Give Me Strength.”
Now living in southern California, Pagano returns roughly every three months to visit his family, and tries to work in a shown or two while he’s in the area.
Before meeting Bacharach, and before recording a CD on MCA, however, came his “discovery” by that noted musical talent scout…Mike Tyson (yes, the former world heavyweight champion).
“I played in a band called Xpo around Albany with my brother. Mike trained about a half-hour away, and he came and saw us and took a liking to my band and my voice. He said I ought to sing the national anthem at one of his fights,” Pagano remembers.
In 1989, Pagano stood in the center of the ring as the Las Vegas Hilton and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to Tyson’s successful title defense against Frank Bruno.
In the audience that night was an assistant to Irving Azoff, one of the recording industry’s giants, then chairman of MCA records.
“She saw me in the elevator on my way to the afterparty, and I met Azoff two days later,” Pagano says. While he had been discussing a record deal with Warner Brothers at the time, he ended up signing with MCA, which led to his first encounter with Bacharach and his then-wife, songwriter Carole Bayer Sager.
“Azoff took me over to see him because he was looking for material for my album, but Burt didn’t have anything that fit,” says Pagano.

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