By Tiberiu Dianu
WASHINGTON, USA — The news of Barry Randall’s premature passing into the darkness came as a terrible shock and immense pain for me. Barry was publisher and managing editor at the Caribbean News Now from July 2003 to May 2019 (Caribbean News Net between July 2003 to July 2010). He passed away June 12, 2019.
How I met Barry
I came to know Barry in May 2016. At that time, I was looking for a publisher for an article I finalized in April, which I considered particularly important, about the relationship between the expansion of US Statehood, political discourse and American exceptionalism.
Many magazine editors had refused my piece because of its too avant-garde ideas, they said.
On May 13, 2016, I finally sent an email to Barry, asking if his magazine, Caribbean News Now, would be interested in publishing the article. The next day, May 14, without much fanfare, Barry replied briefly: “Many thanks. Can we get a picture (headshot) to go with it?”
So simple, yet so unreal.
Years have passed since that episode, but the article on US Statehood expansion continues to be by far my most favorite. Since then, I have remained the magazine’s constant contributor in the Op-Ed section.
Barry, the Mensch
So, it was Barry thereafter. Always attentive, quick to answer and warm in reactions. Few publishers I have worked with do possess these wonderful human qualities. That is why I have always felt close to Barry, throughout our work together, which lasted about three years.
As a perfectionist, I often used to find corrections and additions to be made after the articles were posted, and I used to ask Barry to fix them. I was doing it with a bent heart, knowing how busy he was. But he took care of everything, no matter how big or small the problem was. Many editors ignore the authors’ requests for later corrections due to lack of time and interest. Barry was not in that category.
I do not know how, but he always seemed to find time for those minor corrections and additions that, in the end made the article look better and the readers’ reactions more interested; all for the benefit of the publication. I am so grateful to Barry for these things, unimportant for many others.
Later, when our correspondence began to gain consistency due to the higher number of material I was sending to the magazine; Barry offered me new topics for reflection and publication, and I took them into account with much interest.
Other times, we used to change political views informally (sometimes with small differences of opinion), which brought us even closer.
Moderate and balanced
Barry was a moderate, a more conservative youngster who grew up to be more liberal. For me, that was quite surprising, since my logic of evolution was the exact opposite.
After he posted an article of mine about the perpetually young and utopian liberals, he quipped: “Thanks … looks like I’m the one of the scary, illogical perspectives lol.”
Another time, seeing my last sentence of an article about presidents Reagan and Trump, he just let it go: “I can probably expect some feedback from apoplectic Republicans … from Ronald to Donald!”
Witty and humorous
Our discussions were always warm and calm, without resentment and punctuated by humor.
Sometimes Barry found time and energy to comment extensively on my articles, both a pleasure and an honor on my part. His peppered humor made our debates extremely relaxing.
In mid-July 2016, in full scandal between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Hillary Clinton for her infamous emails, I got from Barry some cartoons published elsewhere. In one of them, Hilarious Hill “paraphrased” Bill Clinton’s famous sentence in the Lewinsky sex scandal: “I did not have a textual relationship with that server.”
Barry was not a Clinton family fan and he told me so on several occasions. He was more at ease on the center-left, but he considered Hillary was a flawed candidate for the 2016 presidential election.
Also, her call to be elected because she was a woman seemed artificial and demagogic to him. Let alone the Clinton Foundation’s “corruption schemes” in Haiti (a major topic for his Caribbean magazine).
In short, Barry did not shy away to be politically incorrect and our discussions were always sincere.
By the end of August 2016, Barry told me we should have some telephone conversations on some political-regional themes (such as the Clinton-Haitian axis or the United States and regional security). His rather busy schedule delayed these initiatives.
On September 14, 2016, there was an opportunity to meet Barry in person, in Washington, DC, the city where I live. There was a Judicial Watch conference on the Clinton Scandal update, where celebrities like the New York Times best-seller list author Peter Schweizer, Joseph diGenova and Chris Farrell would attend.
I would have loved to meet him. Unfortunately, our conflicting work schedules prevented us from seeing each other; and I continue to regret this until this very day.
Perfect professional and gentleman
Barry did not turn down any of my articles, ever, despite them not being exactly on the journal’s main topics of interest (thematically or geographically).
On occasion, he published, even articles about Romania my native country, reason for which I remain deeply grateful to him. This is another reason Barry was so special, compared with other publishers, who would prefer to stay in their own-defined thematic or geographical box.
My articles were always published promptly. In case of delays, Barry felt obliged to give me explanations (although he did not have to) about article backlogs or technical malfunctions.
Several times the magazine was attacked by hackers and its account was suspended. But Barry kept me up to date with the online rebuilding of the site and technical troubleshooting. He did so, for instance, on October 28, 2017 and May 16, 2018.
I could not thank Barry enough for backing up my opinions, which were not exactly the mainstream in the magazine. Instead, the magazine gained a variety of opinions and debates that turned it into a relaxing forum for the exchange of ideas. Barry did this despite the visceral reactions of some of the older readers of the magazine, more in tune with the old line of the publication, who threatened Barry with not reading his journal anymore.
Barry, in turn, thanked me for my contribution to the magazine’s variety of opinions. On November 12, 2016, three days after Trump’s victory in the presidential election, he wrote to me: “No problem… thanks for extending our range of published views! Of course, now people I’ve never heard before from want to say their piece!”
Lately, being caught with sending articles to the magazine, I sent emails to Barry as usual. I was not aware of his health, which had deteriorated towards the end of 2018.
My articles in the magazine were posted on June 10 and June 12, 2019, respectively. And only recently did I realize with consternation that in between a piece about Barry’s premature death was inserted. It was only then, I realized the terrible, but implacable reality.
I realized that my last articles were actually taken care of by new management, who had published them in the meantime. I take this opportunity to thank with gratitude the new managing editor of the magazine, Melanius Alphonse, a savvy contributor at Caribbean News Now. He made this transition as smooth as possible with much professionalism, decency and discretion.
An irretrievable loss
So, this is how Barry was. His loss for all of us will truly be irrecoverable. That is why, in these tragic moments, I want to send all my good thoughts about this great man, both to his family and to the editorial staff of the magazine.
Dear Barry (as I always wrote to him), you left us way too soon, but you went away to a more serene, painless and stressful place. For us, is still too high to reach.
Farewell to eternity, dear and much appreciated friend! May your soul, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.