The obituary mambo

Passings near and far; Huzzah for Harley; Farewell, World Cup
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  July 14, 2010

As some of you may know, on a biweekly basis your superior correspondents chat with former mayor and current local talk radio titan, Vincent A. “The Bud-I” Cianci. He frequently chides us about the fact that the “Cool, Cool World” frequently runs obituaries: “So, who died this week?”

Perhaps it has to do with P+J’s advanced age or vast network of friends and acquaintances, but the Bud-I’s observation is quite accurate. And, sad to say, this is one of those weeks when the Grim Reaper has been especially busy and Casa Diablo has been particularly sad.

Bob Fish, the president of WSBE, Rhode Island’s PBS Channel 36, passed away on July 9. He was a legend in the broadcast business around here. He ran Boston’s WRKO-AM and, along with Janet “Jake” Karger, owned WHJJ/WHJY during that AM/FM franchise’s boom days in the ’80s. Jorge worked for Bob and Jake on both AM and FM sides and can tell you that Bob was a great guy to work for. He was an energetic and gregarious guy, a real character.

At one radio station Christmas party in the mid-’80s, Jorge was sitting at the boss’s table when then-co-worker, the Bud-I, entered with the same attractive date for the second year in a row (his now-ex, Wendy Materna, as it turned out, but we didn’t know her). Jorge blurted out, “Buddy’s using the same dating service as he did last year.”

Yes, this was pretty dumb, but Bob couldn’t help but repeat it as he was greeting the assembled crowd. This inspired the Bud-I to make a public proclamation indicating that Fish might have engaged in some carousing during a recent trip the two had made to broadcast some shows from New York. Basically, the entire evening quickly turned into cojone-shattering one-upsmanship. It was a lot of laughs.

Bob Fish will be greatly missed by his many friends and admirers.

About 40 years ago, Jorge was in a band called the Fabulous Motels and one evening we did a concert at Brown University with a small theater group from New York led by the legendary Tuli Kupferberg. That began a relationship with Tuli that went on for a couple of years as we communicated back and forth via USPS. Tuli was a sweet, thoughtful man — and a legend — so we Motels were quite flattered by the fact that he liked what we were doing.

The particulars of Tuli’s legend? The inspiration for a character in Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” a key text (along with On the Road and Naked Lunch) of the beatnik/bohemian era, he was a classic hipster prototype, a poet and musician whose life was all about anarchy and creativity.

By the late ’50s some of his poetry had been anthologized, and in 1964 he and another boho poet, Ed Sanders, started the Fugs, a rock band that, while never destined for any sort of mainstream popularity, was a touchstone for later bands with similar scatological and satirical leanings (Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention immediately come to mind). The group’s rough DYI sound also foreshadowed the punk assault of a decade later.

P+J particularly recommend Tuli’s song “Morning, Morning,” one of the most moving and accessible in the Fugs’ oeuvre. Tuli passed away on Monday; he was 86 years old.

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