Did you know December 5 is the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition? On Dec. 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, 13 years after the 18th amendment banning the manufacture, sale or transport of “intoxicating” liquors for drinking purposes was placed into effect.
Florida talk radio host Cindy Graves will do a special segment on the anniversary that many of us appreciate in substance (literally) even if we didn’t know this date was special. Graves hosts Politics, Business and Mayhem on WBOB 600 AM radio each weekday from 12 noon until 1 p.m.
Americans have learned more about the Prohibition era from pop culture than many of us ever learned in school.
The popular HBO series Boardwalk Empire, with talented actor Steve Buscemi in the linchpin role of Nucky Thompson, brings home the violence and profits that marked a time in history when social justice was an unknown entity and most men, at least in the South, still carried a gun. As an aside, I first came to admire Buscemi’s talents in the film Fargo, although it was not his first.
The film Lawless provides another raw look at the lifestyle of a bootlegger, this one set in Tennessee rather than Boardwalk Empire’s Atlantic City. This film recounts the Bondurant family’s bootlegging lifestyle and like the HBO series, also gives a good account of the corruption of government officials who were complicit in reaping profits from moonshine and other illegal beverages. The two most engaging characters for me were Forrest Bondurant (Tom Hardy) and Gary Oldman (Floyd Banner)—Forrest has a reputation for invincibility and that, of course, gives the film a mythic flair. The Southern accents in the film ring true, a feat most filmmakers are unable to accomplish.
Critics weren’t overwhelmed by Lawless although it got mostly positive reviews. I think this is probably a cultural issue in part. If you grew up in the South, you’ve probably seen homes and geographic settings similar to those in the film, especially in rural areas where development hasn’t erased the past. I’d rate the film 5 out of 5 for the riveting journey it provides the viewer, from both a historic and literary standpoint. The fact the film was shaped by a historical novel written by a descendant of the legendary Bondurants makes it even more interesting.
What would that have been like, to not be able to legally order a glass of wine with a nice meal? Today we often hear comparisons of prohibition of marijuana to the Prohibition Era. I think that’s an accurate comparison. When alcohol was illegal—at least for the people because the political class still had it when they wanted it—a cottage industry in crime blossomed into national organized crime with officials benefiting on both ends. I’d say that’s true today with marijuana.
At any rate, Graves always has interesting shows and today will be no different. Listen on the radio or at WBOB 600 AM online and celebrate the fact that if you imbibe, you’re doing it legally now, unlike our kin who had to sip their whiskey on the sly.
You can follow Graves on Twitter @cindygravesFL.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Dec. 5, 2012)