DAVID ANDREW STOLER
FORMER PHOENIX WRITER AND EDITOR (1997-’00); WRITER AND FILMMAKER
It was the NewPaper that got me into this mess in the first place — for the simple reason that I had never seen anyone write like that: serious, seriously irreverent, smart, right-on and very much right now. A stack of them had been thrown at me when I was new to the city and was tasked with finding content for a radio show: “This is how you find out what’s going on around here.”
Johnny Lydon once said one of the best things about being in the Sex Pistols was going into a new town and getting to meet regular people and just asking them, “What’s life like for you?” The NewPaper is the best embodiment of that idea I have ever come across — not of the New Journalism or the Free Press or the Alternative What Have You, but of the idea of the “paper” being the last best hope normal people have for expression and empowerment in a world of media Babel.
That is what I learned from Jody Ericson, my first editor there, and Lou Papineau, my mentor and the paper’s guiding light — to ask the basic question, to listen, and record — and it has informed everything I have written or tried to do since.
To give the powerless a voice is one of the most generous acts I can think of, and the NewPaper
has been doing it since 1978. It showed me and many others that there is a different way of writing — a more important way — and we are out there, in the world, carrying its mission forward, and will be, whether a new issue comes out next Thursday or not.
WRITER, TEACHER, CO-AUTHOR OF 2PAC VS. BIGGIE: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF RAP’S GREATEST BATTLE [WEST PALM, FL]
As a teenager who spent more than a few middle-school evenings on Thayer Street, I remember encountering the Phoenix inside those stores and restaurants that seemed hip and cosmopolitan to my sheltered 15-year-old self. The Phoenix showed me that there was another Providence beyond the one I knew: a city more complex and more engaged than what I saw on the East Side.
Deep, essential news reporting. Insistent, individual local political voices. Artists left of the dial. Advertisements from wonderfully distinct local merchants. I’m sad that we’re losing the Phoenix. I’m sad that we’re losing a rich connection to the broad, tenacious Providence that glimmers beyond the edges of what other news outlets choose to show us.
SELF-DESCRIBED “CRANKY LADY”
Someday we are going to have to explain that there was news created by a team of professionals who talked to people face-to-face, checked multiple sources, and argued about editorial clarity. And that there was an Other Paper. I get sick to my stomach thinking about the implications.
The Phoenix has been my trusted guide for doing Providence since I first starting sorting through this town in 1985. I’d look at “8 Days a Week” to see what fun I might miss otherwise, check “Cool, Cool World” for some gossip and outrage from Casa Diablo, and read many, many column inches of insight about RI politics. In the pre-“40 under 40” days you knew you had made it when you were mentioned by P&J, hopefully under a nifty pseudonym for something witty you said at Leo’s.
Thank you to all of the folks who have made the Phoenix. Our democracy is less without you.
PHOENIX CONTRIBUTOR SINCE 2001; DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT at the PROVIDENCE ATHENAEUM
I don’t remember when I started reading the Phoenix, except that it was still the NewPaper, and it was in an earlier century, when we walked around unconnected; one still had to go out in active search of printed information to know what was going on. Once one had gleaned the information, one then had to wait for things like bands and movies to actually come to town in order to experience them. The Phoenix was where we learned what things would be worth waiting for that week. It was also a place that cultivated new voices with sardonic but significant things to say about our crackpot little city and state and beyond. “Phillipe & Jorge’s Cool, Cool World” was required reading, as was “E.L.” (later Ted) Widmer’s “Rhode Island Almanack,” which managed to simultaneously skewer and shower with love present-day RI by means of forgotten tales from its history, always ending with a slyly relevant excerpt from Roger Williams’s 1643 lexicon of the Narragansett’s language.
I left for several decades and then returned, and sometime around 1999 or so I ran into Ian Donnis at a standing-room-only talk at the RI Historical Society on “The History of the Colonial Postal Service.” Our shared experience at this bizarre and quintessentially Providence event somehow led to my writing occasionally for the Phoenix
for the next dozen or so years. Ian was a dream editor; one turned in copy and had it published seemingly unchanged but so much better. David Scharfenberg, Lou Papineau, and Phil Eil have also been wonderful to write for. Kudos, too, to Johnette and Bill Rodriguez for their intelligent, engaging cultural criticism over the years.
The Phoenix wore its erudition lightly, but it’s hard to see where we’ll find the kind of thoughtful, original analysis of our evolving moment in time and space that it provided week after week.
I miss it already.
PHOENIX CONTRIBUTOR; RHODE ISLAND SIERRA CLUB PROGRAM MANAGER, 2012 INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS (RI 2ND DISTRICT)
It was thrilling the first time that I saw my name on the byline in the Providence Phoenix, and I’m humbled that I was asked to write again for the most honest paper in town several more times. However, my fondest memories of the Phoenix are of Phillipe and Jorge coming to my defense during my campaign for Congress, humiliating Channel 12 for refusing to allow me to debate.
Who now will come to the defense of us commoners?
FORMER PHOENIX NEWS EDITOR (2009-’13); BOSTON GLOBE POLITICS AND PUBLIC POLICY REPORTER
This is a city of artists and intellects, crooks and cranks.
It’s got a river running through the middle. In the summer, they set it on fire.
There’s a guy who works amid the industrial debris of Allens Avenue, shaping high-end surfboards that are shipped around the world.
Oil Can Boyd plays in an amateur baseball league on the outskirts of the city.
Lightning Bolt came out of here. So did Deer Tick. A two-time felon may soon win election as mayor. Again.
This is a city of stories. And many of them the Phoenix told better than anyone else.
Every city needs an alternative weekly. But this one, perhaps, more than most.
We’ll miss it.
PHOENIX DRIVER SINCE 1988
I think I speak for all of the Phoenix drivers when I say that we are stunned following the announcement that this week’s issue is our last. I remember feeling like this when Johnny Carson announced that he was retiring as the host of The Tonight Show. I had taken for granted that he would always be there. His departure left a hole, a vacuum, and a feeling that something important to the common good was gone. The end of the Phoenix leaves a similar hole, but this time it is much more personal. More like a kick to the solar plexis.
Week after week, year after year, this paper has chronicled our culture and “stuck it to the man” in an irreverent and entertaining style that everyone could appreciate. Our writers have shaped the political landscape and helped to build and maintain a thriving community for our artists, inventors, and musicians.
For more than a quarter of a century, it has been an honor to deliver the “best” weekly paper in the State of Rhode Island. I have enjoyed your ridiculous questions (“Is that this week’s Phoenix?”) and your astute observations (“Hey the Phoenix guy, it must be Thursday!”) and I will miss them sorely.
But fear not. Although Carson and Leno are gone with Letterman close behind, we now have Fallon, Ferguson, Meyers and, excuse the pun, a host of others who have filled their shoes. It is just a matter of time until another group of miscreants and dreamers “rise from the ashes” to publish a “new paper” — a paper that will take on arguably the most important question of our time: Why do drunken people insist on karate kicking newspaper distribution boxes?