Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Price Of Fame

I always liked the old school gangsters and outlaws. These new guys got no class. You look at the Fed's Most Wanted list, and it looks like somebody was taking pictures of guys on skid row on casual day. Bums. Back in the day a criminal knew how to dress. What's the point of raking in the dough if you still go around like you can't carry change because of the holes in your pockets?

And most of these current guys are just plain nut jobs. Back in the 20s and 30s, you had guys who robbed and killed, but they didn't usually do it because the dog told them to do it.

Of all the depression era criminals, two stand out above all the rest. There's nobody more famous than Al Capone and John Dillinger. Guys who have never heard of Dutch Schultz or Baby Face Nelson can usually tell you something about these guys. Think of gangster, and you think of Capone. Think of bank robber, and you see Dillinger (or Jessie James if you're into the whole cowboy thing.) These guys are legends now, but they were already famous while they were alive. How many gangsters do you know who hold press conferences and make the cover of Time like Capone? They were stars. That is why we remember them, and that is why they went down. Were either of these guys the most evil or dangerous in their line of work? Far from it. Dillinger would offer his hostages taxi fair and let them wear his coat if it was cold. Capone fed thousands of people during the depression and even paid the medical bills for innocent bystanders wounded when a rival gang tried to rub him out. No, these guys became targets because they did things in a big loud way.

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