Sunday, January 19, 2014

Broken. Bad.

A stunning piece this morning in the New York Times business section, of all places, about the “Silk Road” narcotics mastermind:

Eagle Scout. Idealist. Drug Trafficker?

Expertly researched and brilliantly written, it  beggars comment.   Just a couple of crumbs of peripheral kibitzing:

(1)  Kudos to the Bureau, which not only got their man -- but got the goods.
(2)  This priviliged-kid drug-dealer additionally ordered hits upon those who crossed him, demanding “visual proof” of the deaths from the assassins.  There followed a scam (no hit, fake photos, payment made) which the article compared to some episode in “Breaking Bad”.  Just to observe:  Before that show, with its many threads, that motif was central to the Coen Brothers movie “Blood Simple”.


By coincidence, later today, my wife and I went out and saw “The Wolf of Wall Street”.    The movie is based upon real incidents from the 1990s (previously depicted on a smaller scale in “Boiler Room”,  but in addition parallels  that article from this morning’s newspaper.
In that case, the swindler -- who, in Di Caprio’s virtuoso mercurial embodiment, easily fills the big screen -- dealt in cold cash and Swiss bank accounts, rather than bitcoins as in “Silk Road” -- but his scams were similarly tentacular.  And he is patiently tracked, over years, by a fraud unit of the FBI.   The Bureau has so often been made the butt in movies, and my heart sank when, for a moment, it seemed as though the lead agent would succumb to his target’s blandishments:  but in fact he’s a straight arrow, and was simply giving the perp some rope with which to hang himself.
The Bureau lead is played with cool understatement by Kyle Chandler.   From my own experience I can testify that he is true to life.   The performance is truly refreshing, comparable to that of Ben Affleck in “Argo”.   Modesty, discretion, and dedication  are their marks of character.
Such men are hard to find in entertainment these days, as they are outshouted by superheroes and drama-queens.   They do go back, though;  worthy predecessors in the radio serials “Gunsmoke” and “Dragnet”, with Marshall Matt Dillon and Sergeant Joe Friday.

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