Bootleggers Unite!


The more effort put into suppressing the ability to catch a buzz, the more it will find a way to flourish.

CULLMAN—Bootleggers in Cullman County are still nursing a massive election-day hangover.
The morning after Cullman voted to permit the sale of alcohol, bootleggers woke slowly, groggily to the harsh reality of a wet Cullman for the first time since the days of prohibition. Amid the pounding in their head, a thought surfaced: would their loyal customer base, now able to buy beer on every corner in Cullman, suddenly dry up?
From the peaks of Lacon Mountain to the valleys of Smokerise, the results of the referendum to go wet have left a sour aftertaste and sense of queasy uncertainty in this close-knit community of enablers.
“Buzz kill,” murmured one prominent bootlegger, who wished to remain anonymous to protect future political ambitions.
The bootlegger industry, an often overlooked but no doubt important segment of Cullman’s economy, is facing the prospect of a severe downturn and may eventually qualify for federal relief funds.
What gives? Having joined a handful of counties that remained dry after the Volstead act repealed prohibition in 1933, why did Cullman vote wet for the first time in more than 75 years? Were people jonesin’ for a more convenient buzz, or was this part of the recent dissatisfaction and broader desire for change?
“We’re taking it one day at time,” said the bootlegger. “Lot of folks still can’t believe it happened, but they better have a backup plan. Denial aint’ just a river in Egypt!”
In the same election, Californians defeated a bill that would make marijuana legal to purchase in small amounts. Proponents of legalizing marijuana apparently couldn’t be bothered to tear themselves away from their Captain Crunch and Family Guy long enough to go to the polls.
In the heady marijuana debate, opponents of legalization argue that it is a gateway to hard drugs. If you’re stoned you’re most certainly on the wrong side of the law. Which, in a kind of circular logic, is why proponents of legalization say that the law should be changed.
Prohibition was enacted by the 18th amendment to the Constitution in 1917 and was ruled an abysmal failure when overturned later. It created a criminal culture of speakeasies, smugglers and moonshiners, and an intoxicating lure of easy money for lawmen willing to look the other way.
As an aside, where would NASCAR be without prohibition? The hot-rods that moonshiner’s souped up in the 1920s to outrun the law were the forerunners to today’s multi-billion dollar stock car race industry.
The more effort put into suppressing the ability of folks to self-medicate, the more creative or desperate people will become to cure their cravings. There are unsubstantiated reports that Cullman County is home to a disproportionately high number meth labs and Oxycotin users. Would folks get hooked on meth if they could buy Boone’s Farm at the 7-11?
In the mid-1800’s it’s estimated that one quarter of all Chinese were addicted to opium. Opium trade in booming China was big business for the Brits. Seeing far too many of its subjects wasting away in opium dens, the rulers of Qing Dynasty tried to stage a tea party of sorts, rejecting the opium trade and making it illegal. This would be a huge hit to Britain’s coffers.
So they anchored their formidable navy just off the coast and shellacked China into to what is now referred to in Chinese education as “the century of humiliation.” This “opium war” is the reason Hong Kong was ceded to the Brits for 100 years, and why today, drug penalties in China are very harsh. Distributors can be put to death.
Alcohol sales in China are booming though. It’s one of the top export destinations for French wine. It’s very common to see expensive Bordeaux wine mixed with sprite. It’s a karaoke classic.
Fake booze abounds. Somehow, there are more bottles of the legendary 1982 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild wine on sale in China than were ever bottled in France…
No matter where you live, or what your poison, please vote and drink responsibly. And if you see a bootlegger down on his luck, give him a break. Maybe they can unwind at Cullman’s first Oktoberfest with real beer next year.
Prosit and Gan Bei (“bottoms up”).

Trevor Hale, a Cullman native and self-described “ignoramus abroad,” has lived and worked in Beijing, Stuttgart, New York, Detroit and Birmingham. Living in Beijing for the last six years, he has had a front row seat for China's rapid (if not always graceful) ascension. Growing up, he was caught most Sunday mornings eating orange rolls at the All Steak restaurant, when he was supposed to be in church. He travels extensively with his son Spencer and is happy to be B-Metro's international correspondent.

One Response to “Bootleggers Unite!”

  1. Steve says:

    Nice story but Cullman hasn’t had bootleggers in years. We are also not in the dark ages but I guess you have to have someting to criticize. We also believe in enforcing immigration laws just like in the constitution was written.. We also believe that marriage is for a man and a woman. We also belive this is a Christian nation not Muslim. We also belive Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died for or sins. Go run down th Chinese for not believing that .
    Good riddance to you.

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