He opened the doors to the Living Room, with enthusiasm and encouragement
By PHILLIPE & JORGE  |  September 27, 2006

Randy Hien was a sun around which thousands of people orbited. The ultimate “glass-is-half-full” guy, he drew people to him, especially children (he loved kids) and made such a huge difference, in so many lives, that his true value to his hometown of Lincoln and to Rhode Island at large is inestimable.

The local media have given Randy’s passing big play and rightfully so. While most of the emphasis has been about his quarter-century of mentoring kids as a Little League coach, P&J knew Randy, for more than 30 years, as the owner and head ramrod of the Living Room.

It is very rare for a clubowner to be loved and respected by the musicians and performers who worked his place, but this is the case here. A primary reason is how Randy always believed in giving young bands an opportunity and a place to play. For decades, the Living Room, in all its different locations, has been the place where bands just starting out got a chance to perform for an audience. He could have stuck with a more conservative policy, booking only big drawing acts (and plenty of them played the Living Room), but he always wanted to give local talent a chance. He opened the doors for so many, with enthusiasm and encouragement.

Once, about 20 years ago, Randy had booked the late, great Warren Zevon at the old “Big Bubble” incarnation of the Living Room, in the Foundry complex. Despite Jorge’s reluctance, Randy convinced him to open for Warren with a comedy routine. After about three minutes, it became clear that the packed house wanted nothing other than Zevon, and Jorge was pelted with a number of plastic beer cups, some of them containing beer. Randy and Jorge had a good laugh about this later on.

Randy Hien was one of the finest, most upbeat, generous, and nurturing individuals we have had the privilege of knowing. Thousands of other people no doubt feel the same way. Randy was among the best of men, and the love he generated will live on in the lives of those he touched.

Just for laughs
Phillipe & Jorge hope that the citizens of the Biggest Little realize we will become the laughingstock of the United States if we allow our Constitution to be amended to pave the way for the Harrah’s casino, ostensibly to benefit the Narragansett Indian tribe. “What cheer, Netop, what are you looking at?”

What a great Ben Dover move by our respected local Native Americans, whose leaders’ dignity diminishes when presented with a cash windfall. And don’t give us that preposterous bullshit ad about the kid playing a flute needing a hand up. Got parents, sonny boy?

Hey, Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas: make public your plan about exactly what percentage of gross revenues will go to education, human services, etc. And we really like how the new, highly touted casino PR bus has Florida license plates. Would this have anything to do with not paying local taxes?

If you think this state has been a corrupt embarrassment — from Lincoln Steffens’s 1904 line about “A state for sale,” to “Mobsters and Lobsters,” the new state motto (and with Governor Gerbster and our own Bud-I having gone to prison for their misdeeds), all that won’t hold a candle to this financial rape job. The pitch of the Indians and their puppeteers is studiously cadged to make a casino look like long-overdue reparations to the Narragansetts for past colonial impositions. As Phillipe’s sainted mother would say, “Eat me.”

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Related: Remembering Randy Hien, The politics of tragedy, Souls of the departed, More more >
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