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by Peter Moskos

October 25, 2010

A Dog That Barks

White dog... that's moonshine, hootch, likker. Who hasn't dreamed of distilling up a little batch in their basement (What? Is it just me?). It's also generally illegal. Max Watman, I nice guy I met once (what's how I learned about his book) has written a gem, Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine. I'm enjoying more than any other book I've read in a while. Well written, informative, and with a very lively and personal style. I'm about 55 pages from the end, but I wanted to post his guide to "How to Be a Criminal," scattered throughout the book, based on people who failed (interestingly and tellingly, the fourth commandment of crack, never get high on your own supply, does not make the list):
Item 1: Do not, while on probation or having recently come to the attention of the law, engage in large-scale felonies with strangers.

Item 2: Surprisingly, drugs and crime don't mix. Stoners will forget what they have to remember, crackheads are unreliable, meth heads are crazy. Even drunks--they'll either get pulled over for driving drunk or they'll get in a fight.

Item 3: Do not write down the keys to the code. If you can't count to ten, think of another code.

Item 4: Read up on the law you are breaking.

Item 5: It's important to understand that criminal justice attends no only to the crime committed but to every ancillary activity involved in the perpetration, and especially perpetuation and concealment, of illegal activity, and that those acts, because they suggest intent, because they are part of a scheme, often carry heavier sentences than what we would normally think of as the illegal act. If you view it in a forgiving light, the law could be seen to forgive reckless impulse ("I was lonely and drink and I picked up this hooker") and punish a pattern of concealment and manipulation ("I set up this bank account so that I could withdraw cash without my wife noticing and pay for hookers").

Item 6: Do not hire as underlings people whose next strike will be their third.

Item 7: Buy equipment at tiny mom-and-op hardware stores with no computer systems and no video.
You can buy the book here.

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