Flick on your radio or TV in Rhode Island and you'll likely hear the voice of a man who goes by just one name: "Buddy." His full name is Vincent Albert Cianci, Jr., and he's the longest-serving mayor of Providence — a man who, depending on whom you ask, either rescued the city from its post-industrial decline or starred in the thickest chapter in the city's long history of corruption.
Buddy was convicted twice while in office. The first time was for a Rhody-style interrogation — allegedly involving an ashtray, a lit cigarette, a fireplace log, and demands for $500,000 — of a man he suspected of sleeping with his ex-wife. After a plea deal, he received a suspended sentence and stepped down from office. In just over five years, though, he was back at City Hall, helping secure deals for malls, hotels, sports teams, skating rinks, and other jewels in the crown of his beloved town's "renaissance."
Life was good for Buddy until the US government handed down a 97-page indictment that accused him of running City Hall as his own personal criminal operation. To date, Buddy's life has inspired countless articles, two books, and one off-Broadway musical that included the lyric, attributed to the mayor during his trial, "The toe you stepped on yesterday may be connected to the ass you have to kiss today." The Hollywood rumor mill has two separate feature films about Buddy in production.38 Studios
When retired Red Sox hero Curt Schilling needed a boost for his World of Warcraft-style video game production company, 38 Studios, private investors declined. Lawmakers and officials here in Rhode Island, however, offered him $75 million dollars in loan guarantees. The company predictably failed and, when it did, a media shitblizzard ensued, during which Governor Lincoln Chafee (who inherited the deal from his predecessor) called the loan "the worst investment that's ever been made I think in the history of Rhode Island." These days, Schilling is firing accusations via Twitter, his former company is mired in bankruptcy, and Rhode Island taxpayers are on the hook for over $100 million. We do have something to show for it, though. A group of former 38 Studios employees recently emerged from the ruins to form Summer Camp Studios. Their first release was an iPhone game titled "Fart Cat."