Spare Change: Newport's North End winter of our discontent continues. What is RIDOT doing?

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Oddnendz gathered while searching the cellar for classified documents:

• It looks as the North End winter of our discontent continues. Last week, Barry Automotive closed its doors overnight.

The dealership announced the plan in December, though it took many by surprise when it happened.

Traffic at about 5 p.m. snarls on Admiral Kalbfus Road en route to the Pell Bridge. It crawls by the Farewell Street cemeteries, too.

A piece of history:These pieces of Newport's history sit in the Public Works yard as ramp project proceeds

If you’re keeping score, this project has brought us a motorcyclist fatality, a shuttered 7-Eleven, a diner chased out of business and a ton of traffic mishegoss.

And we’re only in January.

Sleep tight, Department of Transportation.

Jim Gillis
Jim Gillis

• R.I.P.:  Bobbie Bell. She lived across the street when I lived on Hammond Street 30 years ago.

She was welcoming and funny. And she knew all of the Fifth Ward. This is classic Newport:  I left Hammond Street in 1994 and rented from a classic character named Teddy Fitzgerald, who died last year.

I had no idea back then that Bobbie and Teddy were siblings. Of course.

• A guy who travels here from across the bay wonders how Newport officials feel about dumping grounds being the first thing commuters and tourists see.

I’m trying to weigh whether that is worse than fake palm trees and SLOTS on an old fronton building.

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Toss up?

• R.I.P.: Roger King. Roger knew a little about a lot and often a lot about a lot. Media, art, Newport folklore, dance you name it.

A chat with Roger was never wasted time.

• I enjoyed “The Fablemans” a lot. It’s essentially the Steven Spielberg story … about a young Arizona boy yearning to make movies amid family strife.

Michelle Williams is excellent as the boy’s flighty, depressed and encouraging mother. David Lynch, of all people, is outstanding in a small scene as a famed Hollywood director.

• I saw it a few weeks ago at the Jane Pickens Theater in Washington Square. You may recall that Spielberg gave the square a colonial makeover when he filmed “Amistad” in the winter of 1997.

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• Jeff Beck was my guitar hero in my teenage years.

He was a master improviser and could bend notes like few others. Beck arrived in the British Invasion with the Yardbirds and then formed the hard rock and blues-flavored Jeff Beck Group (with Rod Stewart on vocals).

That band played the 1969 Newport Jazz Festival and folded a short time later.

Soul, jazz, rockabilly, more hard rock. To me Beck reached his zenith in 1975 with an instrumental take on the Stevie Wonder ballad “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.”

His playing as usual was passionate and carried the longing of romantic breakup.

• Guess we now know the favors House Speaker Kevin McCarthy granted to win the job. The looniest and most ignorant in his party, the election deniers and QAnon kooks now sit on important committees.

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And George Santos, the Great Fabricator, is somehow still in office.

• Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Mike Pence holding onto classified documents? Are these papers what these guys read aloud to the grandkids?

• Just finished “Crosby; Stills, Nash and Young” by David Browne a few weeks ago. So I was less than surprised that David Crosby died last week at 81. I’m amazed he lived that long.

Crosby wasted a lot of money and some talent through the years mired in drug addiction.

But he was a significant part of two great groups … the Byrds and CSN (and sometimes Y) and wrote some beautiful tunes.

He played here in 2001 with an elevator-jazz outfit called CPR (not very good except on Crosby hits) and at the folk fest in 2007 with CS&N (a terrific headlining set).

He was a guest at the 2018 fest, singing with Jason Isbell.

Crosby led a sometimes wild life, loved and reviled by friends and left us with some great music.

Oh, and that voice.

Jim Gillis is a Daily News columnist. Send him email at

This article originally appeared on Newport Daily News: Spare Change: Newport's North End winter of our discontent continues