Cartel of Defiance

cartel of defiance (noun): 1. In medieval combat, a formal declaration, delivered by herald, of a combatant's intention to fight and refusal to submit. 2. An electronic assemblage of engaged and enraged citizens. 3. An intertextual mode of reading, writing, and thinking that puts the current political, cultural, and personal moment in dialogue with text/art from the past in counterargument to the ahistorical Memory Hole into which America seems to have slipped.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Fixer

"Sometimes con mobs operate through one fixer who buys protection wholesale, so to speak, for all types of criminals. This is likely to be the case in cities under 30,000 in population, where one man handles all types of protection for a price. More often, however, they locate the big store in a community permanently, say, as a merchant might locate a dry-gods store there. This means that they must have sound connections with the forces of law and order--connections which can be depended upon to withstand stormy times. It also means that often the fixer must have a specialized technique for this type of work--fixing con touches. Hence, con men sometimes depend upon one powerful fixer who works constantly in their interests for a stipulated percentage--usually fifty per cent of the insideman's share after he has paid off the necessary expenses incidental to playing the mark."

-- David W. Maurer, The Big Con, Ch. 7 (1940)

11 Comments:

Blogger &y said...

This entry is a big, disorganized mess. I apologize for that. The problem is, I've been staring at various passages from Maurer's chapter on fixing ("Tin-Mittens") for months now, trying to craft an adequate post on the topic....

But there are just too many con mobs (GOP, military-industrial complex, big oil, Chalabi, ...), too many marks (us, the press, the world, ...), too many crimes (oy), and too many fixers (Congress, DeLay, Rove, Abramoff, Baker, Robb-Silverman, WaPo editorial page, ...) to sort it all out. Not to mention all the recent Enron-trial news: every article screams "The Big Con" in a blinding, banner-headline typeface.

So I ended up cramming a whole slew of them into one entry. I probably should have just posted the excerpt, not bothered with the hamhanded links, and left the connections up to the reader's active, cartelian imagination.

--------------

Bonus!

In the "unencumbered by links" spirit, here is an unadulterated passage from the same chapter:

"All habitual and professional criminals employ the fix in one form or another. The legitimate citizen is often aware of the process involved, for any motorist who has had a traffic ticket fixed for him has invoked the same principles that the professional criminals use--except that he usually pays for the small favor he receives with a cigar, political support, or simple good will. But the legitimate citizen seldom if ever does business through the fixer. The fix for professionals is administered through a more or less permanent fixer who is a part of the underworld-political set-up in every city which harbors any sort of organized crime--and that means every city of any size in the United States. It is not implied that a fixer is necessarily a part of any party political machine--a good fixer can weather many a change in administration--but he usually pays off to that machine, directly or indirectly, in cash. This fixer is sometimes a respectable and legitimate citizen, often an attorney, but in some places he has a hand in the rackets. His underworld connections are legion."

12:12 PM  
Blogger wg said...

The ur-text of the Bush administration...

Vercotti: Anyway I decided then to open a high-class night club for the gentry at Biggleswade with International cuisine, cooking, top-line acts, and not a cheap clip joint for picking up tarts, that was right out, I deny that completely, and one night Dinsdale walked in with a couple of big lads, one of whom was carrying a tactical nuclear missile. They said I'd bought one of their fruit machines and would I pay for it.

Interviewer #2: How much did they want?

Vercotti: Three quarters of a million pounds. Then they went out.

Interviewer #2: Why didn't you call the police?

Vercotti: Well I had noticed that the lad with the thermo-nuclear device was the Chief Constable for the area.

1:56 PM  
Blogger awol said...

The last time you posted from _The Big Con_ I was so taken with the excerpt (and the links) that I bought the book online. I always meant to thank you for that as it's a great read. (This seems actually like a good instance of the "virtual" crossing over into the real, as the book had a happy place on my nightstand for a couple of weeks -- not quite as dramatic as when Kid Oakland and WG met in person but still pretty cool).

I'd like to try to do a post sometime linking the most vulgar part of the long con -- that moment where you play on the word "place" or some other verbal slip -- and the WMD evasions in Iraq. (Can't find the book right now though).

9:15 PM  
Blogger awol said...

And, just to link this posting and the last:

FIRST POLICEMAN
Alright, stop it now.

SECOND POLICEMAN
Alright, stop it now. Alright! Come on. Stop breaking the State peace. You naughty boys. Alright, that's enough.

Alex looks up.

ALEX
Oh, no.

DIM
Well, well, well, well, well, well, well, if it isn't little Alex. Long time no viddy, droog. How goes? Surprised are you?

ALEX
Impossible... I don't believe it.

GEORGIE
Evidence of the old glazzies. Nothing up our sleeves. No magic, little Alex? A job for two, who are now of job age. The police.

9:19 PM  
Blogger &y said...

You're welcome awol. I'm glad you liked the book. There are some parts where it kinda drags and other parts where I wish Maurer had put a little more effort into the linguistic side of his story (Such as this magnificent, nearly inscrutable passage from The Mob Section 5: "And the Mickey Finns were always ready for some punk grifting kid who thought he would crash the joint. They gave him one, then sloughed the donicker on him, and you should see him cop a heel out of that scatter." Surely that deserved some sort of special comment from Maurer the linguist.)

Looking forward to your someday post on WMD and "place" (The Wire), "sell short" (The Rag), etc.

Vulgar: "My god, man! What have you done?! I told you to deal with Saddam! You attacked his country?! We're ruined! Aaaah!"

By the way, major props to Kid Oakland for using a grifterified online name. I've been meaning to let him know how much Holly (especially) and I (just specially) love that monicker--it's probably the best pseudonym in the Internet.

P.S. Great tie-in with the last post.

P.P.S. That really is the ur-text, wg. It's uncanny. Every word is spot-on. "President Bush and Vice President Cheney formed an Iraq group within the White House which they called 'The White House Iraq Group' and used...."

11:10 PM  
Blogger wg said...

A late night thought, stemming from the discussion of books and the crossover from virtual into the real: Looking at "Crashing the Gate," and now Glenn Greenwald's book (#1 on Amazon!), and even "Confessions of a Former Dittohead" by Kossack advisorjim, don't we think it's about time that Kid Oakland wrote his own blog-rooted book? Don't you think there'd be an audience for K.O. in book-form? Perhaps we should assemble a Cartelian flash-mob and show up over at k/o and browbeat him into it...

2:16 AM  
Blogger awol said...

That's weird. I just heard the term "flash mob" for the first time last night (used perfectly to describe the remarkable student protest that actually stopped Bush from visiting the Hoover Institute at Stanford) and now here it is again. Cool.

10:49 AM  
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