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A Tender and Often Humorous Memoir
on April 1, 2014
I first heard about this book when Terry Gross interviewed the author on "Fresh Air." I just had to read this book. And it is a wonderful read--and memoirs are often not that much fun to read.
The author was 30 years old when he discovered that his father was not an antique dealer in Vermont, found this out after he'd become a journalist and used those skills to explore some evidence that his father was, in actuality, a rather notorious marijuana dealer. Note that the senior Tony Dokoupil dealt only in marijuana and did so at the historical moment when an increasing number of post-Vietnam Americans began to imbibe!
The writer saw little of his father, but instead lived with his mother who knew all along what her former-husband was up to. And what he was up to was handling on the wholesale market tons and tons and tons of bailed marijuana, first from Mexico and later from Colombia.
Maybe some of my fascination of this story relates to place. I was raised in Vermont and actually used to buy antiques. So I knew several antique dealers. Then in the 90s my domestic partner and I moved to Key West. Later we would move to South Beach. And those are the places where the subject of this memoir spent much of his time transporting and selling his product. The way it is portrayed in this memoir is just fun to read.
I love the tone of this memoir, a son who is not condemning but at moments in the writing sees the humor of the life of his father--and of his mother who took her son to New Mexico to dig up a bunch of money the dealer had buried there. Let's face it, a dealer just doesn't walk into a bank with bundles of money to deposit.
Eventually he is caught. And what happens and how he got a rather reduced sentence is also fascinating.
This is just a great read. And a wonderful point of view about marijuana's distribution.Even though I lived all through this era (the Nixon-Reagan years), I just wasn't aware of the history. Who knew that marijuana wasn't actually illegal until Tricky Dickie got into the White House and tried to save all of us from the horrors of what would happen were we to puff on a roach? I didn't. And this is only one little piece of the information in this really wonderful book--and it really does have wonderful moments of humor.
So let me leave with this wonderful sentence from the book, reflective of the humor. This comes after the author--Little Tony--reveals in summary what occurred for him when he was a youngster and after he'd been treated to some rather exotic travel experiences with Big Tony: "If you smoked Colombian weed in the 1970s and 1980s, I owe you a thank-you card.
I will await mine although the very little weed I did smoke was undoubtedly cheap stuff from elsewhere.