A Likker Legend's Last F.U.

Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton was told to report to federal prison tomorrow for an 18-month stint after he was busted yet again for making his famed White Lightning. On Monday, Sutton went out on his own terms.

Sutton was one of the last of his kind: an unrepentant Appalachian moonshiner with a reputation for great "likker" and a penchant for pissing off the authorities (that's the tombstone he got for himself on the right).

Sentenced in January, the 62-year-old said he was too sick to be thrown in the slammer and wished to end his days at home. An expert in his field, Sutton attracted documentarians ranging from the Discovery Channel to Jackass star Johnny Knoxville.

The sentencing judge had a different opinion of Sutton:

A probationary sentence would do absolutely nothing to deter you from further crimes. To do so would send a message that this court will tolerate repeated violations of the law. To do so would promote disrespect for the law.

Your moonshining is a violation of the law...

[N]ot only are you not remorseful for your criminal conduct, you seem to be proud of it. 

Learn how to make moonshine from the master himself. Check out Knoxville's documentary, and learn about other vices, here. Neal Hutcheson "cult classic" The Last One here. Reason columnist Greg Beato explains the renaissance of DIY brewers after the government relaxed its alcohol laws. Managing Editor Jesse Walker writes about the hippie and the redneck's shared love. All things prohibition here.

Hat tip: Chris @ The Knight Shift, who's been covering Popcorn's story for sometime now.

A Popcorn Tribute:

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  • NLE||

    This reminds me of Redneck Zombies, good piece by the way.

  • ||

    To do so would promote disrespect for the law.

    Would youlike to know what else promotes disrespect for the law, Your Honor?
    Stupid, pointless, poorly-thought-out laws.

    Fekkin' eedjits.

  • Unemployed copy editor||

    Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton was suppose to report

    Suppose to?

  • TofuSushi||

    He was killed by Big Alcohol. The only thing he did 'wrong' was compete against the powerful corporations that still control the government.

  • ||

    The History Channel, a while back, had a two hour special on Moonshining. It traced the history of it from pre-revolutionary times (John Hancock was a rumrunner, for instance) all the way up to the present. It was extremely interesting, and completely sympathetic to moonshiners, almost admiring. If you get a chance, check it out.

    "POPCORN SAID FUCK YOU"

    Awesome.

  • Warty||

    What a hero.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    You forgot the Robert Mitchum classic of classics, "Thunder Road."

  • kinnath||

    Wine is fine, but likker is quicker.

  • TofuSushi||

    I like it when my likkee holds me by my kitten ears.

  • ||

    Ditto what Popcorn said.

  • ||

    I don't know if I've ever enjoyed his particular product, but properly made corn liquor is a joy to the eye, nose, tongue, teeth and stomach. I only have a quart or so left from the batch I get at Christmas every year.

  • Xeones||

    Ditto what Lamar said.

    Great tombstone, or the greatest tombstone?

  • ||

    Alan, don't forget the moonshining in The Last American Hero.

    Great tombstone, or the greatest tombstone?

    "Here lies Les Moore, killed by 3 shots from a .44. No Les, no more."

  • ||

    X,

    I'm partial to "I Told You I Was Sick."

  • libertarian democrat||

    I didn't watch the video, but from the frozen image that looks like a really really nice mandolin. I'm jealous.

  • ktc2||

    In light of the insanity of our laws, horrible conditions in prison, moronic judges and sentencing guidelines I expect to see more of this. What else is a peaceful person to do when convicted of a bullshit crime and sentenced to be raped and die (murder, shank, aids, etc.)? Death on your own terms seems the better option.

  • ||

    Here lie the bones of a man named Zeke,
    the SECOND fastest draw in Cripple Creek.

    or

    Once I wasn't
    Then I was
    Now I ain't again ...

  • Vines & Cattle||

    Is there a link for that tombstone photo?

  • JB||

    This guy goes to prison while Eliot Spitzer gets off?

    Fuck Ronnie Greer, the sentencing judge. Fuck him, fuck him, fuck him. Also, fuck anyone who works for the US government.

    I'm a little disappointed Popcorn took the coward's way. He and those like him should take a few of the fuckers with them. Maybe these fascist goons will think twice if it will personally cost them.

  • ||

    Shame on you judge Sutton! I hope you sleep well in the knowledge of having driven an old man to his death. This was foreseeable, not an "unintended consequence". Shame on you!

  • Abdul||

    Couldn't the Duke boys have gotten Daisy to distract Roscoe and Enos long enough to race Popcorn across the Hazzard county line in the General Lee?

  • ||

    Let us have a moment of remembrance for a true American.

  • moman||

    He was 62? Jeezus!
    And they say drinking and smoking are bad for you.

    I'm quitting tomorrow.

  • ||

    And they say drinking and smoking are bad for you.

    It wasn't the drinking and smoking that got him.

    It was his decision to die a free man.

    I'm debating whether it would have been better to take a few with him. Tough call.

  • ||

    Oh, moonshine, oh moonshine,
    oh how I love thee.
    You killed me old father,
    but dare you kill me.

    I'll eat when I'm hungry
    and I'll drink when I'm dry.
    And if moonshine don't kill me
    I'll live 'til I die.

    RIP, Popcorn -- if you're really dead.

  • ||

    he lives belive me he lives not only in sperit but in these here hills

  • ||

    Stood up to the man,
    and he gave him what for.

  • ||

    It wasn't the drinking and smoking that got him.
    It was his decision to die a free man.


    I think moman's point was that he looked much older than 62. Regardless, I can only hope (in vain, I'm sure) that this will serve as a wake-up call to others that the ban on home-distilling is simply ridiculous. If they ever re-criminalized homebrewing, I would hope that I'd have half as much courage to stand up to the Federales.

  • ||

    http://media.knoxnews.com/kns/content/img/photos/2008/04/03/040408popcornsutton_t220.jpg

  • ||

    The Judge's comments put me in mind of Mae West's classic routine:

    JUDGE - Are you trying to show contempt for this court?

    MAE - No, judge, I was tryin' to conceal it!

  • JiggleTits||

    "You forgot the Robert Mitchum classic of classics, "Thunder Road.""

    I'm partial to this one:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066096/

  • ||

    Hoisting a Mudder's Milk in hiz honor!

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "I'm debating whether it would have been better to take a few with him. Tough call."

    No, not this guy. He was just a peaceful dude minding his own business. The prohibitionists and rent seekers don't need any fuel to equate non-harmful actions with violence.

    Cases like the Ryan Frederick situation are different because he was actually provoked by police hostility.

  • JB||

    Colonel_Angus, that's the problem; too many people just acquiesce and take it. People need to stop being victims, it only encourages the bullies.

  • ||

    Popcorn's likker was wonderful. It was a deep brown color with a smoky and complex flavor. The man was an artist!

  • Cactus||

    Such a shame.

    Rest In Peace Popcorn. You will be missed.


    And for the government thugs who killed him. Rot in hell you vile fascist sons of whores.

  • ||

    Great tombstone, or the greatest tombstone?

    Not bad, but I prefer the tombstones in Kurt Vonnegut novels. Breakfast of Champions is full of them. Gold.

  • Jones||

    G-men T-men revenuers too
    tried t' keep Popcorn from cooking his brew

    RIP Popcorn

  • ||

    Popcorn was an old school moonshiner. But to think him a role model is to miss the point. He lived the way he wanted to live, and died in a way that made him think he got something over on the man. He didn't. Being a 'shiner is illegal, and Marvin is dead. That ain't a win, no matter how you cut it. He didn't do anything other people in my family did except promote himself very well.

  • ||

    I recently watched "The Last One" - that man looked like he was an ill 80 year old.

    I am just a bit younger than he was, and sure don't look that far gone, yet.

    He polluted the area around his still something fierce. Didn't care a bit. Very odd character, but most moonshiners are a bit off. I think that comes from sampling their product.

  • ||

    That guy looked like he had to be 92 years old but was only 62!!!

  • ||

    not if u look deep into his eyes and his heart

  • ||

    Tells you how screwed up this country is, when our government employs dozens (perhaps hundreds) of federal agents and spends millions of dollars on pseudo-military operations to take down some good ole boy just brewing up some hootch or maybe growing himself some weed. There's two kinds of justice in this country, rich people's justice, and poor people's. Madoff and his type get the rich man's variety, guys like Popcorn get the poor man's. I hate to say that, but it's true. Popcorn and guys like him, sure they were breaking the law, but when you get right down to it, who were they hurting? The folks who bought his moonshine did so freely, no one forced them to drink it. What's the harm? Just shows how utterly gutless our leaders have become, because they lack the courage to go after the kingpins of crime, the big fish, but they can always find time to get themselves in the papers by stomping on some old man who'd have died a natural death soon enough if left alone. Pathetic.

    Popcorn, sorry to see you go... wish you'd decided to hang around so we could see you give those idiots the finger a few more times!

    "American by birth, Southern by the grace of God"

  • ||

    Copper Kettle lyrics
    Get you a copper kettle
    Get you a copper coil
    Fill it with new made cornmash
    And never more you'll toil.

    You'll just lay there by the juniper
    While the moon is bright
    Watch the jugs a'filling
    In the pale moonlight.

    My daddy, he made whiskey
    And my grandaddy did too
    We ain't paid no whiskey tax
    Since seventeen ninety-two.

    You'll just lay there by the juniper
    While the moon is bright
    Watch the jugs a'filling
    In the pale moonlight.

    Make you're fire with hickory
    Hickory, ash, and oak
    Don't use no green or rotten wood
    They'll catch you by the smoke.

    You'll just lay there by the juniper
    While the moon is bright
    Watch the jugs a'filling
    In the pale moonlight.

    Get you a copper kettle
    Get you a copper coil
    Fill it with new made cornmash
    And never more you'll toil.

    You'll just lay there by the juniper
    While the moon is bright
    Watch the jugs a'filling
    In the pale moonlight
    In the pale moonlight.

  • ||

    My wife and I used to own a bed-and-breakfast in Waynesville, NC. On the front porch was a big wooden barrel that we had bought at some antique sale.
    Once afternoon a man with a beard approached Kris and asked her if she'd like to sell the barrel. He told her that it was ideal for storing whiskey.
    She didn't sell--she thought he was kidding. Only later did we learn that we'd been paid a visit by Popcorn Sutton.

  • ||

    The worst thing about immoral laws is that only immoral people can enforce them. If a man is willing to send someone to jail for smoking, or drinking, or brewing then he isn't fit to have power over others. The laws are constituted such that decent people are excluded from being policemen, judges etc...

  • Hucbald||

    Of course, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and George Washington ALL distilled their own spirits, but I'm sure that wouldn't mean anything to a shyster judge like Sutton. The law killed this man, just as if Sutton pulled the trigger himself. "Live Free or Die" ring a bell?

    I really don't see any cure for this short of dragging the likes of Sutton out into the street, tarring and feathering them, and running them out of town on rails. Seriously. It's very far beyond merely ridiculous.

  • ||

    Hey judge(magistrate, really)
    What "crime" and what "law"? Surely even a private corporate stooge like you knows you can't hold a real man under your phony, color of law statutes?

  • ||

    I hope that your family will get threw all of this. Please remember that he was a good man, and you knew best you where there. I know that he was good my Papaw knew him and said so, and he made the best. It was an art too bad no body saw that. Your family is in my prayers...

  • ||

    JB and others, Popcorn was really sick with cancer when he decided to check out. He was in no condition to take on anything or anyone. He knew he wouldn't last a month in jail.

    It's just so sad. Prohibition is no good for anyone, ever.

  • Larry Wright||

    My wife and I own Timberwolf Creek Bed & Breakfast in Maggie Valley, NC.

    The Moonshiner Shack that popcorn built for Ernestine is just up the road a bit past us. One afternoon I was watching Sandee unload her truckful of dirt on her garden alongside the road, documenting it with my camera.

    It was late afternoon and quiet. The sun was nearing the mountain.

    As I stood there watching her I joked to Sandee, 'The only thing better would be if I had a cold beer.'

    Not two minutes later Popcorn stops to say hi. Sandee says to him, 'What's wrong with this picture? I'm doing all the work and he's just standing there.'

    'Looks 'bout right to me', he says.

    I said, 'I told her the only thing better would be to have a cold beer.'

    He said 'Will git one outta my cooler back there.'

    I got one out and he pulled away.

    Manna from Heaven.

    Popcorn was my Angel of Mercy.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=362749&l=3ff7385995&id=1003099655

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