Keepin' the Rabble Out

The Sun-Sentinel goes off the record for trains and buses

What in God's name are the top dogs at the Sun-Sentinel thinking?

It's a newspaper, right? It's supposed to advocate open discussion of ideas, no? And it sure as hell should be impartial. At least, that's what this grimy old 'Pipe thinks.

But that doesn't seem to be the case. A letter signed by editorial writer Tim Dodson indicates that the boys at New River Center fail to understand their roles. The March 16 missive sent to Palm Beach County Commissioner Jeff Koons indicates that a half dozen top local transportation officials, including Richard Kaplan, Mike Masanov, and Katy Sorenson, will attend an "OFF-THE-RECORD" meeting to discuss how to win more money from the feds. Dodson capitalized the letters.

Ol' Brown Eyes can still do it, bambino.
Ol' Brown Eyes can still do it, bambino.

"Off the record is how you get a free flow of ideas," says Dodson, who contends the confab was the idea of Publisher Bob Gremillion.

Not only is it unclear whether the meeting is legal under Florida's Government-in the-Sunshine law, but the whole idea stinks. Comments Steve Doig, a former Miami Herald editor and director of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University: "Off the record is problematic. So is facilitating a meeting like this. How can someone working for a newspaper advocate a meeting that is closed to the very press that is supposed to be covering it?"

Adds Mike Foley, former managing editor of the St. Petersburg Times and now a University of Florida professor: "For a newspaper to host an off-the-record meeting creates an incredible perception problem. How will they be able to scream foul when someone else holds a closed-door meeting?"

Crosby taught Tailpipe how to make his old baritone purr and rumble, and Sinatra trained him to bend notes like a trombone stepping off a curb. But if this well-tuned tube ever wanted to sing in the plaintive, high-pitched Neapolitan style (not on the stage but in the shower, of course), he'd go straight to Jimmy Roselli. The much-neglected Jimmy Roselli. Ol' Brown Eyes himself showed up the other day at the Florida Atlantic University auditorium for his first concert in the state in 50 years.

There was Roselli in his dressing room, 20 minutes before curtain, tux-clad, nursing a glass of chamomile tea and honey, talking about his stunted career. The 78-year-old crooner coulda been a hit-parade contender. He could have transcended his current niche status as an over-the-hill Italian-American heartthrob. Roselli could have become another household name, like his boyhood rival Frank Sinatra, had Ol' Blue Eyes himself not put a headlock on Roselli's career.

"He put the kibosh on me," he says, flashing his polished ivory choppers.

Roselli tells the story with practiced indignation. He and Frankie used to live down the street from each other in Hoboken, New Jersey. One of Jimmy's biggest fans was Sinatra's mother, Dolly. One day, she sent a couple of "half-assed wise guys" to ask him to sing for her, Roselli says. Insulted that she wouldn't ask him herself, Roselli impetuously told them, sure, he'd sing -- for $25,000. Big mistake.

"Well, she got furious," Roselli says, "and she went back to Frank."

All of a sudden, airplay on the big radio stations dried up for Roselli, particularly on the New York pop giant WNEW, which in the 1950s served as a kind of Sinatra flagship. "[Sinatra] didn't want them playing Jimmy Roselli, but I told him every time I met him to go and fuck himself," he growls. Nobody from the Sinatra estate called back for comment.

Roselli never got much national exposure. Only a tight, older group from the New York tristate area follows him still. Finding him on the radio today is as difficult as ever. In South Florida, WJNA-AM (640) would seem to be a natural home for him, but Music Director Paul Dunn contends that Roselli, as a "straight-ahead high-note singer," doesn't have the swingin' hipness that makes Sinatra their most-played artist.

Horse doobies, Roselli's fans scoff. "Those dirty bastards will never play Jimmy Roselli," says Ron Lawrence, a Fort Lauderdale liquor salesman who copped third-row seats for the concert. "From his grave, Frank still has the power to stop Jimmy."

Roselli hadn't played the Miami area since Eisenhower was president. In Boca the other night, he slew. With a 34-piece orchestra churning away, his rendition of the Sinatra standby "My Way" sounded like Caruso stumbling into a martini bar. As he slid into his signature hit "When Your Old Wedding Ring Was New," women began dabbing their eyes with handkerchiefs.

Up near the rafters, some little old ladies kept hassling him to "sing some Itaaaaaalian, Jimmy!"

Here's where Roselli always left Sinatra in the dust. "Frank couldn't sing his ass in Italian," Roselli told Tailpipe. "Everything he did in Italian had to end with an 'o.' It was a fuckin' disgrace."

Tailpipe knows a few things about passing gas. That's why this cylinder is spitting fumes over a state bill that would create a new type of health-care professional: anesthesia assistants. These workers are supposed to perform the same complicated tasks now being done by nurse anesthetists.

The big difference: Nurse anesthetists must have bachelor's degrees in nursing and several years of intensive-care experience before they are even allowed to enter a rigorous three-year master's program in anesthesia. These new anesthesia assistants, meanwhile, need only study the subject two years in graduate school. They can have a bachelor's in, say, literature.

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