"I gave myself to sin I gave myself to providence And I've been there and back again The state that I am in"
-Belle and Sebastian
As you may or may not know, I have been exiled to Providence, RI from Boston. I was hoping for Brooklyn, but this was as far as I got. It has its perks (cheap real estate, signs beckoning you to eat "hot wieners" everywhere, a shorter drive to Brooklyn,) but generally I'm not that fond of it, to be honest with you. Our neighborhood is rampant with stray animals (and coyotes, apparently,) and obvious drug deals go on outside our house in broad daylight. And this is in the neighborhood with the lowest crime rate in the city. Turns out, it's just because the police don't report or do anything about the crime. But at least no one gets shot.
Many of these problems stem from the fact that Providence city government is notoriously corrupt. It was run for about 30 years by the famous Buddy Cianci who, after being imprisoned for assaulting a man he suspected of having an affair with his wife by throwing a burning log at him and then peeing on him as he lay on the ground, won re-election after his release using the campaign slogan "Buddy Cianci - A Man Of Conviction." He is back in prison now for his part in the "Plunderdome" scandal of the 1990s. Government ties to the Patriarcha crime family are basically entrenched and accepted as a way of life there. Most people see government kickbacks as the cost of doing business, and basically it has worked. Providence has undergone a renaissance in the past 10 years, transforming itself (at least the downtown/East Side parts) from a depressing industrial city into a haven for artists and wealthy Brown students and their parents. Basically, Buddy got us a big ‘ol "classy" mall. They got a Nordstrom's and shit.
But less than ¼ of a mile from said mall is the famous Foxy Lady strip club where one can go at nine am for the "Legs and Eggs" breakfast and poon show. There are strip clubs everywhere you turn in Providence, all of them, I assume, mob-run. But I suppose as Providence strip clubs go, the Foxy Lady is also "classy." This is where Red Sox player Mo Vaughn was returning from when he got pulled over for drunk driving one night several years ago. It's like the Scores of Providence.
Not so classy is a large pink warehouse that can be seen from route 95 as it huddles on the waterfront between the tugboats and the oil tanks. "Cheaters Topless" croaks the sign. I have never been there, for any number of reasons. But one can on imagine the saggy boobs and whiskey voices on the ancient dancers, the lights kept stumblingly low to hide the crags in their faces and to keep the anonymity of the sad men in the audience, and the stabbings that go on in the parking lot. There are so many more: The Satin Doll, Castaways, I could make you a list a page long, but Cheaters holds a special place in my heart. I always imagine the dancers to look much like this woman who happened upon my band one night at the Safari Lounge (another fine Providence establishment.)