White Dog.jpg
"Chasing the White Dog" gets a bit bogged down by NASCAR.
My taste buds are tired. My tongue has needed a vacation ever since I


Chasing the White Dog: a Book Review

White Dog.jpg
"Chasing the White Dog" gets a bit bogged down by NASCAR.
My taste buds are tired. My tongue has needed a vacation ever since I met your mom, so after last week's sushi debacle , I thought I'd take a break from tasting anything and read a book for a change.

I recently reported on Drinking Lessons at the Sorrento, where we sat around the hotel's intricate antique bar, drinking moonshine and listening in amusement as author Max Watman read from his book, Chasing the White Dog.

I finally finished reading Chasing the White Dog, so let's discuss. The story opens with Watman's first taste of moonshine: He was drinking with his friend in one of those shitty "Cowgirls, Inc" style bars where chicks dance on the bars and everyone seems to be wearing an Ed Hardy T- shirt. I was baffled that Watman, who generally seems like a sensible guy, would waste his time in a place like that, but he was, after all, probably pretty trashed.

Watman's narrative drifts into a contemptuous account of the life and times of Popcorn Sutton, a grizzled moonshiner of indeterminate age who sold restored Model A Fords, appeared on stage with Willie Nelson, and apparently modeled his style of dress after Rip Van Winkle. Watman admits that he originally perceived Sutton to be a fraud until the Feds caught him with 850 gallons of illegal corn liquor. The first chapter, of course, sets the theme for the book: In the murky world of illegal liquor production, reality is as volatile as the output of a homemade still.

The book zigzags between the discussions of the history of moonshining, and Watman's writing about his own plan to make "White Dog." His attempt to procure distilling supplies at a brewery store is especially amusing: Watman makes awkward conversation and drops surreptitious hints to the store employees like a kid buying condoms for the first time. He scales down a recipe for George Washington's own moonshine and is rewarded with two ounces of harsh rotgut.

Later chapters retain the same lively tone as the opening. Watman discusses the history of distilling in America, tries to go to an illegal ghetto "Nip Joint" in Virginia, follows a high-profile court case, and interviews Colorado craft distillers Jess Graber and George Stranahan.

Everything bogs down a bit in the middle of the book when Watman gets stuck talking about NASCAR. The legendary sport of rednecks started with seed money obtained from moonshining, and early NASCAR drivers were hot-rodding, part time 'shiners themselves, who, like the Dukes of Hazzard, honed their driving skills by outrunning the Feds.

Chasing the White Dog is an interesting read. It's quick and garrulous and utterly nerdy, but fuck it: Remember that we're talking about ALCOHOL here, so it inherently rules.

Rating: 7 alcoholics out of 10

PS Today's entry is the closest thing you're ever going to get to a "clips show" from me, so enjoy.

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