Vincent "Buddy" Cianci: 1941 - 2016
January 28, 2016 9:27 AM   Subscribe

 
HOLY FUCK! I didn't know he was capable of any action as human as dying.

I'm not trying to be a jerk and I'm sure* that there will be friends and family who will miss him but wow, he was a larger than life figure. This is pretty unbelievable to me.

*Like 85% sure. Eighty? 80% sure.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:31 AM on January 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


He once landed a helicopter on the lawn at my high school. I mean, not he himself, he wasn't driving it, but he was coming to present an award he endowed at my high school and he just showed up in a helicopter and landed it on one of the fields. I didn't know people like that ever actually died.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:32 AM on January 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


He spoke at my college graduation. He apologized for not being able to do his traditional forgiving of all outstanding parking tickets for new grads due to being under federal investigation. There are a million amazing stories about this guy, but I'll just say this: when he was mayor in the 90's, he lived at the corner of Benefit and Power, no joke.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:36 AM on January 28, 2016 [21 favorites]


Wait, so he was never married to a Nancy Ann?
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:41 AM on January 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


A few decades earlier would have been no great loss to Rhode Island, but better late than never.
posted by easily confused at 9:44 AM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


They broke into "Kelly & Michael" this morning to announce it, and Barbara Morse looked very somber. The footage showed him looking rather old and thin -- a far cry from his fleshy, be-wigged mayoral years.

I wonder what the balance will be between "repeat criminal" and "elder statesman" in the television coverage. (The Providence Journal articles will probably be complimentary.)

The book "The Prince of Providence: The True Story of Buddy Cianci, America's Most Notorious Mayor, Some Wiseguys, and the Feds" by local writer Mike Stanton is a good account of the case, though it's a dozen years old now and doesn't include more recent events.

And to think, they only unveiled his official portrait in November!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:46 AM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wonder what the balance will be between "repeat criminal" and "elder statesman" in the television coverage. (The Providence Journal articles will probably be complimentary.)

The Pro Jo obituary in the link is surprisingly even handed for the super corrupt mayor who beat a man with a fireplace log. I get that that's how (some) people in Rhode Island see him, but it's still crazy as an outsider.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:48 AM on January 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


On his tombstone: "That is not dead which can eternal lie…"
posted by zippy at 9:48 AM on January 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Will they keep selling his no-money-to-charity pasta sauce?
posted by wenestvedt at 9:48 AM on January 28, 2016


I guess life would be boring without people like him around. I guess.

🔫
posted by Melismata at 9:48 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


He once landed a helicopter on the lawn at my high school. I mean, not he himself, he wasn't driving it, but he was coming to present an award he endowed at my high school and he just showed up in a helicopter and landed it on one of the fields. I didn't know people like that ever actually died.

I should also point out that the state house was like a mile away so this wasn't 100% necessary.

He apologized for not being able to do his traditional forgiving of all outstanding parking tickets for new grads due to being under federal investigation.

Yeah, my senior year he couldn't present the award at my high school (which always came with a jar of his tomato sauce) what with, you know, being under indictment and all, so one of his aides showed up and made a bunch of jokes about how the mayor was indisposed and it was all very odd and kind of uncomfortable although the gentleman in question seems to be enjoying himself. There are all sorts of stories -- apparently all city employees, including teenagers lifeguarding for the summer and everything, used to get donation slips for Cianci's campaigns in their paycheck envelopes.

Providence is also a very small community; there's a bit in The Prince of Providence, the book about Mayor Cianci, where a gentleman who worked for the city is talking to another gentleman who is hoping to invest money about what's up with Cianci and the thing the book of course doesn't mention is that, beyond both being important city figures, these guys' daughters played on the same field hockey team in middle school (with me!). It's such a crazy place.

Remember when one of the FBI (I think? Federal of some sort) agents who had been wearing a wire explained under oath that part of the reason he wasn't able to record better audio was that Cianci's body odor was so bad and so pervasive that he couldn't get any closer to the man?

I never thought he'd be taken down by the feds but of course he was, and he came back, and now he's not coming back and it's so peculiar.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:49 AM on January 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


Data point for non-Rhode Islanders: in his most recent way-way-way-outside run for mayor, he rented space over a tattoo parlor around the corner from my office for an official campaign location. They ran out of bumper stickers in days.

He appealed to some very weird segments of society.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:51 AM on January 28, 2016


Also, from Wikipedia:

"In early 2016, the 74-year-old Cianci announced his engagement to model and actress Tara Marie Haywood, who is in her 30s."

Yup, boring.
posted by Melismata at 9:57 AM on January 28, 2016


Years from now I'm going to remember January 2016 as "that month when all those famous people died". Jeez.

There's...a lot you can say about Buddy, both good and bad. Endless stories, for sure. He was sort of like Providence's own version of Al Swearengen. He had an incredible vision for what the city could be, and loved Providence more than anything, was charming and smart, and he was also a corrupt, amoral, egotistical, short-tempered, violent bully.

I am gonna miss occasionally tuning into his talk radio show. After he got out of prison and figured out he wasn't going to get reelected (god the ego of that man, to think he could go to federal prison for political corruption and then get elected to a political office higher than dogcatcher) he really didn't give a fuck at all, and sometimes had a really insightful inside-baseball view of all the other local political scandals.

I didn't realize he had just gotten engaged....I'm not really sure what to say about that.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:57 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also,
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 10:03 AM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


The only thing I know about Buddy, besides his rep as a total loon, is that his ex wife's name is Nancy Ann. Which made her married name hilariously assonant and sing-songy.
posted by that's candlepin at 10:09 AM on January 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I hope the Coen Brothers make a biopic about him.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:09 AM on January 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


I should also point out that the state house was like a mile away so this wasn't 100% necessary.

To be fair, your high school was probably up a hill, so a helicopter makes perfect sense.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:12 AM on January 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Seeing him at his current age, I thought, "But wasn't he the youngish mayor of Providence?" And then I realized that I am old.
posted by xingcat at 10:17 AM on January 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Waterfire was kind of neat. So long, Buddy.
posted by bondcliff at 10:18 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


his ex wife's name is Nancy Ann
Buddy's wife was named Sheila. His daughter was named Nicole. Nancy Ann Cianci is, alas, an urban myth. It's gonna be interesting to track how often this "fact" gets passed around in the next few days.
posted by neroli at 10:23 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Nancy Ann Cianci is, alas, an urban myth.

Yeah, but with a username like "that's candlepin," I am going to grant a pass on this one.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:25 AM on January 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yeah, but with a username like "that's candlepin," I am going to grant a pass on this one.

I am a Southerner, with a Rhode Islander wife, and I often am moved to ask:

What is it with you people and the weirdo forms of bowling?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:29 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


What is it with you people and the weirdo forms of bowling?

Surely you don't include duckpin in that?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:32 AM on January 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


It is the best form of bowling.
posted by bondcliff at 10:32 AM on January 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Nancy Ann Cianci joke never gets old.
posted by briank at 10:33 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Alas! Nancy Ann Cianci, I hardly knew ye. But hey, that's candlepin--sometimes you roll a perfect ball and end up with a two!
posted by that's candlepin at 10:33 AM on January 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


Being from Boston, Buddy always struck me as larger than life. He was horrifying and amusing in equal measure and I was incredibly glad he wasn't in my state. (A friend of mine volunteered in a legal aid clinic in Providence told me that the city is exceptionally dirty.) I have no idea what his legacy will be. For those who lived under him, what was Providence like during and after him?

On preview, candlepin bowling is great for kids. Lighter, smaller balls. The prospect of knocking a pin down and then getting it spinning was great. Also, it feels more comfortable (at least for me) as strikes are incredibly rare and no one has ever bowled a 300 with it.
posted by Hactar at 10:35 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wow, he apparently enjoyed levels of corruption that even Illinois politicians would be impressed by.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:38 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


It seems impossible that the reaper could really best him. Larger than life is right.

.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:42 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


He used to show up to my college's football games and play cymbals with the band, who would then break into the theme from The Godfather.
posted by the_blizz at 10:49 AM on January 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


It is the best form of bowling.

My six-year-old son may be the youngest person in the world to have rolled duckpin, candlepin, and standard bowling.

Oh, and, bye Buddy, Ya bastid.
posted by waitingtoderail at 10:56 AM on January 28, 2016


It's gonna be interesting to track how often this "fact" gets passed around in the next few days.

Print the legend.
posted by mpbx at 11:34 AM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I grew up with Frank Rizzo as mayor of Philadelphia, and went to college in RI when Providence was an industrial dump.

If Frank Rizzo was the last big man in big city politics, Buddy Cianci was the most formidable little man in big city politics. Love him or hate him, he at least made the city look a hell of a lot better.
posted by prepmonkey at 11:54 AM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh Gawd.

Cianci.

Had so many run-ins with him, as did friends and family. Threats etc. you name it.

He was certainly larger than life, and maybe his one redeeming quality was his huge ego which required Providence become the great romantic city of North America in the vein of Paris or Rome was coupled with enough intelligence that he was able to put into action (and take complete credit for, natch) some very good ideas on urban planning and culture from some great local minds, most of them professors and alumni of the area colleges and Universities.
posted by stagewhisper at 12:01 PM on January 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is just another bump in the road for Buddy. He's made comebacks from worse situations. I give it 5 years before he runs for mayor again.
posted by dchase at 12:29 PM on January 28, 2016 [27 favorites]


Print the legend.

When the FBI's investigation into Cianci's corruption receives a codename like Operation Plunder Dome, it's the facts that are going to become legend.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:34 PM on January 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


He'll find a way out of it.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 12:37 PM on January 28, 2016 [4 favorites]





My six-year-old son may be the youngest person in the world to have rolled duckpin, candlepin, and standard bowling.


Head up to Ontario and get some five-pin in too.
posted by thecjm at 2:25 PM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


.

He was awful in all the comical ways (attacking a man with a ciggarette, accepting bribes, etc.), and also in the less talked-about ways (accused of rape, gutted a lot of social programs, used the police to carry out personal grudges), but he was also very much Of Providence. And he will be missed.

although smallish pet peeve, he really had very little to do with waterfire or the renaissance, he just happened to see a good PR opportunity and run with it, as executives are wont to do
posted by likeatoaster at 3:30 PM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Shep Fairey will have a comment on hizzoner's passing? When a friend's father died in the early 90s, Cianci showed up at the funeral (of course, he attended the opening of an envelope). Much to the chagrin of the family as their father did not support/like/want to be associated with him in any way. Unfortunately, he had been a city judge and you get the Bud-I along with that!
posted by Saddy Dumpington at 3:34 PM on January 28, 2016


This article, Dead Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci Was Just a Vicious Goon gives a bit more info on the really nasty felony assault he was convicted of, and also offers a perspective about how a lot of people feel about his legacy.
posted by likeatoaster at 3:50 PM on January 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's years since I read Stanton's book, and I had forgotten how many truly shabby things that Cianci did.

o-o
Not a dot, but manacles.
posted by wenestvedt at 4:20 PM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I met him when the Poetry Slam Nationals came to Providence in 2000. He pulled every string he had to make it happen - and it was regarded as one of the best ever Nationals at the time. He was glad-handing all these transgressively weird poets from across the globe like he was at a Lions' Club dinner, meeting and greeting artists was something that was professionally and personally important to him.

He was a brutal, petty little tyrant, corrupt to the bone. He was an efficient manager, visionary urban planner and patron of the arts and sciences. These things can both exist in the same man.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:53 PM on January 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm learning that my local politicians are dull.
posted by telstar at 6:31 PM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


He was mayor when I was at school in Providence. He shook my hand at graduation. I really liked living in that town, even just as a College Hill shut in. Farewell.
posted by dame at 7:44 PM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


You have to give him credit, though: he took a really run down city and made it nice. Yeah, he had a lot of help, and money to pay for it seemed to appear from nowhere, but it happened, and it wouldn't have happened without him.

So he assaulted his ex-wife's boyfriend in a bathroom, went to jail, had a radio show while in prison so popular he became mayor again when he got out, among many other crazy things. I'd say a much improved Providence makes up for it all and then some.
posted by eye of newt at 10:46 PM on January 28, 2016


(reads more details about his various assaults) okay maybe I'm overstating things
posted by eye of newt at 11:01 PM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


THE ARISTOCRATS
posted by schmod at 6:18 AM on January 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I won't believe it until I hear it from Salty Brine.
posted by yerfatma at 6:44 AM on January 29, 2016


When I first heard the news, I admit that my first thought that he had finally found a political scam that even he couldn't chill down and live....

That would have been in keeping with his persona, at least.

Fucking cancer is having quite the damned year.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:00 AM on January 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


yerfatma, the only thing we have heard from Salty Brine lately was an explosion last summer.

That was ultimately thought to be caused by a copper pipe's corrosion, which is close enough to "corruption" that I think we can accept it as the beach's condemnation of Cianci.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:40 AM on January 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I realize that this is a loooong-shot, but does anyone else remember the song WBRU made (or just constantly played) in 1984 after he was kicked out of office for the first time? It was "Buddy C. Is Not Our Mayor" -- a Weird Al style parody version of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean". I'd LOVE to track down a copy of that!
posted by nixxon at 4:30 PM on January 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


« Older The Tree Farm   |   You CAN Go Home Again -- But Dating Is Tough Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments