Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Inexplicable Podcast Review: Crimetown goes to the zoo in EP3

The old mayor, a dapper lookin' dude.

From now on, I’m going to be discussing the contents of Crimetown episodes, and specifically, spoiling the episodes. So, if you still aren’t following along, I’d recommend catching up on the past episodes. They’re usually in 30 minute chunks, and I highly recommend them!

Episode 3 starts out with a funny-but-sad story about how incompetent some of the workers at the Providence zoo were. Namely, the guy who kept feeding the tortoise even though it had been dead for three days. That was good times, or at least, as good of times as a story about a dead turtle can be. But, it was a good, immediate example of how cronyism worked in Providence before Buddy Cianci’s election.

Of course, as the episode details how he got elected to the mayor’s office, we quickly realize that graft of one kind is just going to be exchanged for graft of another kind. One of the mobsters, Jerry Tillinghast, flat out says that he arranged for a couple thousand Cianci votes. Since the final margin of victory was 709, it pretty much means the Mob delivered the election to him. The podcast has audio from Cianci, and while he doesn’t admit that the votes were delivered to him, he doesn’t deny it either.

The episode doesn’t really get into who Cianci beat in the election, not even mentioning his name, which Wikipedia tells me was Joseph A. Doorley Jr. Interestingly, his entry has this nugget: “The [Civic] Center became a focus of a corruption investigation in 1973. The director of the Center was convicted of soliciting a $1,000 bribe from a concert promoter. The lead investigator for this case was assistant attorney general Vincent Cianci, who used the case as a platform to run for mayor against Doorley on an anti-corruption platform.”

Mike Stanton, a Journal reporter who provided a lot of the reporting backbone for the podcast, also has the interesting piece on Cianci vs. Doorley. The podcast’s usage of audio – both recordings from Cianci, and fresh interviews with Tillinghast and others – is stellar though, and helps the vibrancy of the show.

So, Cianci wins the election by 709 votes, and surprise! The cronyism of the Democratic machine is replaced by the cronyism of the Mob. At least in the early days, they have interviews from Cianci supporters and Tillinghast supporting the idea that Cianci was legitimately working as hard as he could on behalf of the city. But, that’s contrasted with the ethical compromises he had to make – the no-work job for Tillinghast – and his own audio clips admitting that he had an enormous ego.

The fourth episode is seemingly ready to be dropped on Sunday, like the first three were. My enthusiasm is still high, so hopefully y’all are still giving this show a close listen.

I’ve written about podcasts here and there, and this entry from 2014, after Serial finished, is still mostly valid. And hey, I host a podcast! If you like pre-2000s video games, check out Your Parents Basement.

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