Notoriety is the substantive form of the adjective ‘notorious,’ which is defined as “widely but unfavorably known or talked about.” Which means that being notorious is the same thing as being famous, only for all the wrong reasons. Some obvious examples defining the subtle difference between fame and notoriety would be: Jesus is famous. Hitler is notorious. Mother Theresa is famous. Lindsay Lohan is notorious. Yet in today’s world, which espouses an attitude of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” the distinction is lax. It doesn’t seem to matter whether one is famous or notorious. Either way, one is a celebrity. Which is what it’s all about.
Without a doubt, with the publication of Blood In Blood Out, the Aryan Brotherhood (AB) will have attained its highest pinnacle of notoriety or fame or celebrity, depending on your viewpoint. For this book is bound to make them famously infamous. Essentially, it is a voyeuristic exhibition of infamy, in which, like a peeping Tom, John Lee Brook gives the reader a view into an extraordinary world. A world of drugs, money, and violence wrapped around an inner core of mystical warriors.
Brook chummied up with bad guys – members of the Aryan Brotherhood – listening to macho skinheads tell incredible stories, and surveyed the connection between Cause and Effect. Bad guys who were there told him what took place. Hearsay, gossip, scandal, unconfirmed reports, and second-hand information from snitches and defectors make up part of the tale. Another part comes from rock solid facts. Put them together and you’ve got a hot, blue, and booming tabloid version of the worst parts of the Bible.
One thing’s for sure. John Lee Brook has a sense of humor. You know that from the way he spins the story. Witty, waggish, whimsical language expressed with tongue-in-cheek incredulity. Like: are you kidding me, man? There is no way that is true … is there? Maybe. But since the tale revolves around the production and distribution of illicit drugs, there’s a good chance it’s the real deal. If it were a movie, it’d be Kill Bill meets Alice in Wonderland, with Johnny Depp reprising his role from Blow. The Mad Hatter goosed up on meth. The Introduction sets the tone. The Introduction introduces an annotated history. Names and dates. A chronology of events, mishaps, and calamitous murders.
The good guys – FBI, DEA, U.S. Marshals – look good. They follow the rules and go by the book. And what’s weird is the good guys don’t achieve much fame. Which somehow seems backwards. The bad guys look baaaad. No rules. No book. Just fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. They become notorious.