Some places defy expectations. Providence is not one of them. It is, as you might think, a comfortable corner of the world replete with beautiful brick buildings, a pretty river and lots and lots of students… at least in the immediate vicinity of the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown, where Randi and I were very kindly hosted by Rachel last weekend. (And some of the students are, y’know, those kind of students. I walked past one woman explaining to her friend how she’d ‘problematised’ something, which is still my most hated academic tic of all time. Please, please stop problematising things.)
So it was that we had a relaxing Rhode Island weekend in ‘mostly sunny’ Providence: eating lots of things with lobster inside, taking a boat tour up and down the river (on which we made up 50% of the tour’s audience) and celebrating Rachel’s completed thesis with sangria. Congrats!
Oh, and we also saw Zootopia, which was… astonishing. Forget the trailer I’d seen beforehand, which is ludicrously unrepresentative, and marvel that Disney have sneaked out a full-throated social commentary on bias and prejudice… all while being legitimately funny the whole way through. I don’t know how to describe it without making it sound po-faced and terrible, actually, so ignore me and just go see it yourself. If nothing else, as I watched the credits roll it became hilariously clear what a giant cultural gulf divides the country: Zootopia‘s ‘Mammal Inclusion Initiative’ on the one side, Donald Trump on the other.
(Exhibit #2: outside Planned Parenthood in Providence stands one lonely protestor, silently holding aloft his ABORTION KILLS placard. I wonder what he’d make of it all.)
I really did want to end this blog with lavish, heartfelt praise for poor unloved Amtrak, because my train from Boston to Providence really was fast, comfortable and cheap. Unfortunately, my train on the way back was delayed, so with a heavy heart I ended up bailing on my return journey and taking a $60 Uber to ensure I didn’t miss my flight. Which is sad, because it yanked me prematurely out of my Northeastern fantasy of a railway-loving America. Maybe Disney could do trains next.
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