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We Were There: Grand Budapest Meets Grand Newport

Newport's Vanderbilt Hotel hosted a special VIP screening of Wes Anderson's new The Grand Budapest Hotel on its rooftop. I may have attended this event in a completely backwards fashion. I had never before been to hotel, and I had only seen brief snippets of The Life Aquatic. Apparently, I’m a terrible Newporter and I usually just tuned out of conversations involving Wes Anderson. Who were they talking about again? Wes Craven? Wesley Snipes?

I am now fairly certain that The Vanderbilt Grace has one of the best rooftop views in Newport, and come warmer weather... Oops. Don't want to give away this best-kept secret right before the tourists come stampeding in... Um, I mean, “supposedly” there is an outdoor bar up there, open air seating, a panoramic view of Newport Harbor, and something about movie screenings with truffled popcorn during the summer. No reason to venture up from Thames Street, really.

I’m also fairly certain that if your local cinema both supports and encourages drinking Prosecco through a straw, then you should in turn support them. Cheers, Jane Pickens.

Oh, and I think I need a second opinion on this one, but if Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino had a one night stand in Paris, would Wes Anderson be their lovechild?

As the credits rolled down the screen, it became clear that the pairing of these two venues, The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Vanderbilt Grace, made perfect sense for the event. There are some striking correlations between this fictional place and the boutique hotel. For instance, one might expect a stuffy, snooty, no Maxxinistas allowed type of atmosphere with any establishment rhyming with the word Shmanderbilt. However, upon walking through the door, it’s immediately noticed that every staff member of the The Vanderbilt Grace is incredibly friendly... like your dental hygienist on lithium friendly. I could only imagine that would be the standard of hospitality expected by Gustave H., concierge, …   More


High Stakes Scrabble…For Kids

You don’t need another reminder that kids, on the whole, are much smarter than you. They understand technology with an intuition that you can only dream of, rattle off facts faster than you can say “hold on a second, let me think,” come up with remarkably inventive ways of getting pretty much everything they want. They can also, more than likely, completely decimate you at Scrabble. This month, hundreds of tiny geniuses descend on Hasbro for the 12th annual National School Scrabble Tournament, April 26-27. Kids from across the United States and Canada will compete for a $10,000 prize. You might not be able to play – and you probably have better ways to spend your weekend than being shamed by a 7th grader – but you can watch the tournament via an innovative live stream.

But, if you are up for a friendly challenge, Julian’s still has their informal Monday night Scrabble league. Just show up with a board, sit down at one of their designated tables, and wait for an opponent to bring his or her best double word score.



Drive Like You Mean It

People of Providence, we’ve got to talk about your driving. It’s atrocious.

Look, I’m not going to get up on my high horse. I make stupid mistakes when driving and at some time or another I’ve been guilty of every offense I’ll enumerate here. But at least I’m trying, which is more than I can say for many of you out there. You need to hear these things, and I come to you as one of your own.

It’s taken me a long time to identify why exactly the driving in Providence is so bad. Of course, there are any number of factors that contribute to the problem, from pothole-riddled roads to the general awfulness of Rhode Island drivers, but there’s something particularly terrible about the driving I see in the city, and I’ve finally figured out what it is: nobody drives like they’re in a city.

City driving requires aggression and precision. You have to drive like you mean it. There are cars and people and obstacles everywhere. The conditions are always shifting. It’s constant start and stop. And people have places to be. New Yorkers, of course, have this mastered: they’re impatient, ruthless, even downright hostile – but they’re g. A good New York driver might just as soon run you over as smile at you, but they’ll never be in the way. They drive with purpose. To be effective while driving in New York City requires you to accept the possibility that somewhere along your way, you may need to intentionally kill someone. You don’t want to, and you’ll do your best to ensure that only those who truly deserve it get hurt, but it might have to happen. That’s driving with purpose.

People in Providence do not drive with purpose. They drift. They hesitate. They rubberneck. They expect others to compensate for their mistakes. Then there’s the infamous Rhode Island Roll-out – oh, lord, the Rhode Island Roll-out. You know the move: you’re trying to pull out into traffic so you gradually nudge your way out in a passive-aggressive attempt …   More


PVD Hoot Puts Musicians Before Beer

My first experience with PVD Hoot, Providence’s newest monthly open mic night, was on a particularly cold night after back-to back snowstorms. Most roads in the city looked like they couldn’t pick a plow out of a line up, but people came. That’s because since starting back in October, Hoot has established itself as an open mic not just of considerable artistic quality, but as one where the main attraction is the performer and not that night’s dinner special.

“A lot of bars and restaurants that have open mics are bars and restaurants that just happen to have an open mic,” says Hoot co founder Josh Aromin.

Sure there’s free beer and coffee courtesy of Narragansett and New Harvest, and Rocket Fine Street Food parks outside, but what’s important are the musicians, comedians and poets who show up to put it all on the line for the ten minutes they get on stage.

Adds Aromin’s partner, Sarah Mead, “The last thing you need is to be up there and have people talking and shuffling around. We want people to know we’re listening and we’re there for them.”

Performers are granted a level of attention and intimacy from the crowd that you don’t see at your run of the mill open mic night, and as a result Hoot has attracted a steady rotation of brave souls and curious onlookers. Aromin and Mead pride themselves on the caliber of both their performers and their audience. At one of their first shows, local musician Rich Ferri told the room not to expect the same quality of music from every open mic they go to.“It was the best compliment we could get,” says Aromin.

Here's a look at February's PVD Hoot:

PVD Hoot from Providence Monthly on Vimeo.   More


Providence Public Libraries Give Back

In these days when so many of us read on Kindles, iPads or even on iPhones, some believe that the printed book has had its day. Wrong! Physical books are essential– particularly for children learning to read. Many of us take for granted the piles of books lying around our houses. But this is not the case in many homes in Providence. In fact, all too many children in Providence have no books except for those they get in school.

This is just one reason why being able to borrow books from Providence Community Library (PCL) is so essential – whether to enable families to read together, to help children read during the long summer break (and prevent them from falling behind grade level reading), or just to allow children to explore the worlds of The Cat and the Hat, Harry Potter and more.

To ensure that Providence kids have access to books, PCL is holding a fundraiser, Books to Bank On, at the Knight Memorial Library, 275 Elmwood Ave., on April 1 from 5:30-7:30pm. Highlighting the party will be readings from favorite children’s books by Ed Shea, director of 2nd Story Theater; Bob Colonna, the director of RI Shakespeare Company; Anne Scurria of Trinity Rep and Barry Press, director of Living Literature.

Although Providence’s children might not have the luxury we will have of hearing their childhood books brought to life by great actors, with your help they will enjoy the needed experience of curling up with a good book at home. 



New Owners of an Old Favorite

Hudson Street Deli, the longtime favorite on the West Side, has gone through multiple incarnations since being Westminster Street’s go to grocer in 1922. As of last month, the deli once again finds itself under new ownership.

Bryan Rinebolt and Chrissy Teck - local residents who share a passion for community and wholesome eats - do not plan on implementing another round of drastic changes. Instead, the new owners will keep the current sandwich menu the same while adding a variety of options such as fresh pressed juices, healthy smoothies and more vegetarian/vegan/gluten free selections. 68 Hudson Street. 228-8555


Things to Do

The Great, Nearby Escape

Now that it’s safe to put the shovel and snowmelt into storage, fill up your gas tank and hit the road for a day trip. Check out this infographic for our top picks of nearby attractions.



Answers to the Great Providence Scavenger Hunt


1. Providence College.

2. Henry Barnard School.

3. Camille’s.

4. Westminster Street.

5. Justine’s, Providence’s only currently operating speakeasy.

6. The Cranston Street Armory, which once housed the National Guard, but is now vacant save when it’s used for party space. The two movies that used the Armory are Outside Providence and Underdog.

7. The Wedding Cake House, which is actually the Kendrick-Prentice-Tirocchi House.

8. Antonelli’s Poultry on the Hill. Owner Chris Morris had his eye on the giant cock for years and finally bought it when the liquor store went out of business.

9. Broad Street. There’s a group of Latin American food trucks that do a booming business after dark there.

10. Johnson & Wales (Harborside Campus, to be exact).


11. The Knowledge District.

12. The Providence Children’s Museum.

13. Public Kitchen and Bar, housed in the Renaissance Providence Hotel, which was constructed in the 1920s as a Masonic Temple.

14. Local 121, in AS220’s Mercantile Block on Washington Street. The basement held a speakeasy during Prohibition, which is why their downstairs live music space is called The Speakeasy.

15. Grant’s Block, at the corner of Union and Westminster, which is also the summer home of Movies on the Block and hosts Food Truck Tuesdays year-round.

16. The Superman Building.

17. General Ambrose Burnside, whose statue sits in Burnside Park next to Kennedy Plaza. In addition to running successful campaigns in North Carolina and Tennessee during the Civil War, he was also an industrialist and a U.S. Congressman.

18. Union Station was the original home of Providence’s train station.

19. The Independence Trail, Providence’s answer to Boston’s Freedom Trail.

20. The trolley, which is what the tunnel was originally built for.


21. Governor Stephen Hopkins House.

22. The Providence Athenaeum, where literary giants like Poe, Thoreau …   More


Pulling Rabbits Out of His Hat (Or is it Cowl?)

Regardless of what happens during the rest of their season, PC basketball coach Ed Cooley deserves our kudos for the remarkable season he and his team of overachievers have put together. The heart-stopping double overtime, one-point victory over Marquette ranks as one of the best games in years at the Dunk. Despite a team that rarely played more than seven players and survived the loss of three of its key players, one because of an injury, two because of off-court issues, the team ended up in fourth place in the new Big East despite being a pre-season pick for the bottom. In addition to the team’s competitiveness, the outstanding play of NBA superstar-to-be Bryce Cotton and Cooley’s own personal marketing skills and charisma, PC has been attracting sell-out crowds as the season draws to a close. Wonder what this talented man knows about economic development?



Spend Easter at Duck and Bunny

Cute golden chicks, adorable ducklings and big eyed baby bunnies are pretty much the poster children (well, poster animal children) for any sort of Easter celebration... so what better way to spend your egg-centric Easter Sunday than by munching on eggs at the Duck and Bunny?

The Wickenden Street snuggery is trading their regular brunch menu for a three-course prix-fixe offering from 10am-4pm. Expect to see a selection of crêpes and unique egg dishes. If weather allows, soak up some sun while sipping on a sparkling cocktail in the Duck and Bunny’s picturesque back garden.

Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of the elusive Easter Bunny. Then again, if you do see a fluffy bunny trying to give chocolate eggs to children, you may have indulged in a little too much Easter brunch booze. 312 Wickenden Street. 270-3300.


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