back arrowView show

Whitey, We Hardly Knew Ye

Episode description

A conversation with Howie Carr, David Boeri, and Richard Marinick.

Jimmy Bulger, known as Whitey, was a nasty curse on the old Irish urban village of South Boston. At the same time, he was the gift that kept on giving to true-crime storytellers who never met him – to Hollywood, and movie stars like Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson, Liev Schreiber. It’s still hard to believe: Whitey had been a street thug, a loan shark, drug overlord, serial killer, then a fugitive – for years under FBI supervision and always bonded by loyalty with his kid brother Bill, at the pinnacle of statehouse politics. And then in a last spasm of violence — on the receiving end this time, in a wheelchair, in his new Federal prison, Whitey Bulger was beaten to a bloody death, assassinated at the age of 89, himself finally The Departed.

Richard Marinick with Chris in Southie

The Bulger Brothers, Jimmy and Bill, have been the biggest Boston Irish family story since the Kennedys, a sort of nightmare rewriting of Boston politics that made the whole town feel meaner and smaller than it is. From the seventies through the nineties, William Bulger presided over the State Senate and then the University of Massachusetts; older brother Whitey was the killer boss of drug crime, loan sharking, organized violence in Boston and beyond. And the dreaded power of the Bulgers felt irresistible, mostly unspeakable, still unfathomable. Johnny Powers, who preceded Bill Bulger in South Boston politics and the Senate presidency, and who detested the Bulgers, put it to Chris once: “It’s as if Al Capone’s brother was president of the Illinois State Senate, and everybody pretended not to notice.”

The gruesome assassination this week of Whitey Bulger, in a Federal prison in West Virginia where he’d just taken up residence, marks one more bitter end of a long-gone era.

The post Whitey, We Hardly Knew Ye appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

episodes iconMore Episodes

Midterm Scorecard

November 9th, 2018


A conversation with David Bromwich, Jill Lepore, David Bosworth, Briahna Gray, and Mark Blyth.

The political armies, red and blue, both won tough …

Trouble in the House of Saud

October 26th, 2018


A conversation with Stephen Kinzer, Sarah Leah Whitson, Steve Simon, Chas Freeman, and Shireen Al-Adeimi.

Speaking of Saudi Arabia, in the ghastly light of Jamal Kashoggi’s dismemberment: what more do we care to know, …

Behind the “Leonine Gaze” of Frederick Douglass

October 18th, 2018


Historian David Blight on his new biography of Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass, scarred and tormented seeing men made slaves, set the course of his life to show how a slave became a man. In the cadences of the …

Hothouse Earth

October 12th, 2018


A conversation with Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, environmental policy expert Adil Najam, and social and political theorist Ajay Singh Chaudhary.

Farewell Tour

October 4th, 2018


TDS is the acronym. Trump Derangement Syndrome is the full name: a distaste for Donald Trump so severe that sufferers abandon all logic and reason, …

A Less Perfect Union

September 28th, 2018


“What’s past is prologue,” Shakespeare’s phrase from “The Tempest,” is carved in stone in front of the National Archive in Washington. Ronald Reagan …

Original Sin

September 21st, 2018


The Roman Catholic Church is staring transfixed at a cascading scandal of crime and non-punishment. Sex crimes by priests against children are …

Game, Set, Match!

September 14th, 2018


It’s only a game, we used to say, but this season, between the US Open in tennis and pro-football’s opening games, our wide world of sports is an …

A New Labor Movement

September 7th, 2018


It’s Labor Day week 2018, and “The American Worker” doesn’t fit any single poster shot. Is it the Uber driver – working flex time in the ‘gig’ economy, for a magic dispatcher of taxis around the world? Is it the …

Loading ...

Download the RadioPublic app for
 FREE and never miss an episode.

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store