Thursday, January 19, 2012

“High: Confessions of a Pot Smuggler”

By Brian O’Dea
ISBN No. 978-0-679-31279-6

The pitch, as they say in the book business, must have sounded great: real-life golden boy from well-to-do Newfoundland family is abused by priest, gets addicted to drugs, becomes a major marijuana trafficker, goes to prison for a decade, gets released, takes out a snarky job-wanted ad in a daily newspaper, and ends up mentoring other entrepreneurial convicts on a TV show. How great is that?
As dramatic arcs go, “High” has a lot going for it, it’s raw, rude, and relevant, especially with the on-going public debate about legalizing weed. It’s also a very funny book. In denial about reporting to prison, O’Dea waits until the day before his sentence starts to call the district attorney and tell him he’s, you know, just not ready – could he have another month to get his stuff in order? (Yes, apparently.) When he tells his creditors where he’s going for ten years only the phone company won’t let him off the hook, asking him, “Will you pay us when you get out?”
Thirty years ago budding criminals were “Scared Straight” by hardened convicts. Today, hardened criminals have CEO aspirations. Which came first – or are they the same thing? Is this progressive – or Kardashian - of our society? Given the sorry history of white collar crime (Enron, Bernie Madoff), headhunting in prison makes sense: this is where the captains of industry start out, end up, or start out again.