Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Buddy Cianci - The Prince of Providence

Buddy Cianci was mayor of Providence from 1975 to 1984, the tail end of which I was a young sprout living in Providence. Buddy was notorious for many things - his shady cronies, his temper, his difficulties with the opposite sex, even his toupee. While I was living in a boarding house on Benefit Street, my fellow tenants included ex-cons, recovering alcoholics, furloughed mental patients, a gaggle of art students and even a couple of budding journalists. I hobnobbed with some folks in the latter three categories, who themselves rubbed shoulders with other folks in the first two categories. Buddy was the talk of the town in those days, and everybody in the boarding house pitched in their two cents. Rumor had it that Buddy had been accused of rape during his law student days at Marquette University in Wisconsin, but that the whole case had been hushed up and Buddy had been allowed to go free. Rumor also had it, and indeed had it from all sides like the rat-a-tat-tat from a tommy gun ambush, that Buddy even had Mafia connections. Ironic, considering he first made his fame prosecuting mob boss Raymond Patriarca in the early 70's. But still, this was Providence and Buddy was Italian... He ended his first run as mayor in the most humiliating way possible, in the role of a spiteful beta male who reputedly abused his wife's boyfriend "for three hours" with "a lit cigarette, an ashtray and a fireplace log". Consequently, he resigned. Like many another hyper-aggressive fireplug of a guy, Buddy had fight in him to burn (in a fireplace, if necessary). He promptly found a new venue for his motor-mouth predilections as a radio talk show host, stayed in the public eye (not to mention its ear) and eventually got himself re-elected in 1991. He served several more years as mayor, eventually landing on the wrong side of the law yet again. In 2001, he faced charges for "racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, witness tampering and mail fraud". He defied the charges and stayed in office until convicted of conspiracy in 2002, after which he was sentenced to five years in federal prison. He is the subject of at least one biography. Hollywood apparently has (or had) a movie about him in the works, with Oliver Platt in the title role. Good casting! I say, "Why not?" Buddy was more fun than a barrel full of Mush-Mouth Menino monkeys.

Buddy Cianci (Wikipedia)
The Prince of Providence (
The Many Faces of Buddy (Providence Phoenix)

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