Author Archives: Ed Robinson

About Ed Robinson

Author, Leap of Faith/Quit Your Job And Live On A Boat

Elk River Falls. Wow!

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Popcorn Sutton

Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton (October 5, 1946 – March 16, 2009) was an American Appalachian moonshiner and bootlegger. Born in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, he grew up, lived, and died in the rural areas around Maggie Valley and nearby Cocke County, TennesseeHe wrote a self-published autobiographical guide to moonshining production, self-produced a home video depicting his moonshining activities, and was later the subject of several documentaries, including one that received a Regional Emmy Award.

Sutton committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in March 2009, aged 62, rather than report to federal prison after being convicted of offenses related to moonshining and illegal firearm possession. Since his death, a new company and associated whiskey brand have been named after him.

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“Jesus turned the water into wine, I turned it into likker.”

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Sutton had a long career making moonshine and bootlegging. Sutton said he considered moonshine production a legitimate part of his heritage, as he was a Scots-Irish American and descended from a long line of moonshiners. In the 1960s or 1970s, Sutton was given the nickname of “Popcorn” after his frustrated attack on a bar’s faulty popcorn vending machine with a pool cue. Before his rise to fame at around 60 years of age, he had been in trouble with the law several times, but had avoided prison sentences. He was convicted in 1974 of selling untaxed liquor and in 1981 and 1985 on charges of possessing controlled substancesand assault with a deadly weapon, but he received only probation sentences in those cases.

He was a short, skinny fella, who always wore his hat – that was kind of his claim to fame, his hat that he always wore. And his bib overalls – he always wore bib overalls. Even when he came to federal court, he was wearing bib overalls. He was a friendly fellow, and of course every time you would talk to him, he would say, “Ray, I’ve run my last run of moonshine, I’m not gonna do it anymore, I’m just getting too old to be doing this stuff.”

— Radio reporter Ray Snader on “Popcorn” Sutton, 2009
He appeared in various documentaries and feature films including Mountain Talk, and This is the Last Dam Run of Likker I’ll Ever Make. In 2007, a fire on Sutton’s property in Parrottsville led to firefighters discovering 650 gallons of untaxed alcohol there, for which he was convicted and put on probation again by Cocke County authorities.
In March 2008, Sutton told an undercover federal officer that he had 500 gallons of moonshine in Tennessee and another 400 gallons in Maggie Valley that he was ready to sell. This led to a raid of his property by the ATF, led by Jim Cavanaugh of Waco siege notoriety, In January 2009, Sutton, who had used a public defender as his attorney in the case and had pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 18 months in a federal prison for illegally distilling spirits and possession of a firearm as a felon (a .38-caliber handgun). Sutton, 62 and recently diagnosed with cancer, asked the U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer to allow him to serve his sentence under house arrest, and several petitions were made by others requesting that his sentence be reduced or commuted, but this time to no avail. The judge noted that Sutton was still under probation in Tennessee at the time of the federal raid, and said that putting a man on probation again after being convicted five times of various crimes would not serve the community interest. He also noted Sutton’s appearances on film surrounded by firearms and demonstrating how to make illegal moonshine. He said he had considered a harsher sentence of 24 months, but had decided on 18 months after considering Sutton’s age and medical condition.
Sutton committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning on March 16, 2009, apparently to avoid a federal prison term due to begin a few days later. His wife Pam, whom he had married about two years before his death, returned home from running errands and discovered her husband in his green Ford Fairmont (which was still running) at the rear of their property in Parrottsville, Tennessee. Mrs. Sutton said, “He called it his three-jug car because he gave three jugs of liquor for it.” His daughter said he had told her in advance that he would commit suicide rather than go to jail, adding that “the strength to die the way he lived: according to his own wishes and no one else’s.”
A conventional grave marker was used the head of Sutton’s grave, reading “Marvin Popcorn Sutton / Ex-Moonshiner / October 5, 1946 / March 16, 2009”. He had also prepared a footstone in advance for his gravesite, and for years he had kept it by his front porch and had kept his casket ready in his living room. The epitaph on his footstone reads “Popcorn Said Fuck You“.

A bottle of the namesake whiskey

On November 9, 2010, Hank Williams Jr. announced his partnership with J&M Concepts LLC and widow Pam Sutton to distill and distribute a brand of whiskey named after Sutton that was asserted to follow his legacy.

They were quickly sued by Jack Daniels due to the similarity of the bottle and labeling. The two parties settled out of court. The terms were not disclosed, but the bottle changed.

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I’m sure this stuff is available near me. I’ll have to give it a try. Cheers Popcorn!

Linville Falls

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Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway lies Linville Falls. The hike to the falls is a moderate one, according to the park service. It turned out to be a bit difficult for us flatlanders. Jeez, we’re out of shape and have no mountain legs whatsoever.

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The Upper Falls is the first viewing point along the trail.

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From there it’s up, up, and up to see the falls from the highest vantage point.

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We got quite the workout climbing to the top and checking out the different overlooks along the way. Coming back down was much easier. I wanted to go down to the base of the falls, but didn’t want to climb back out, so we skipped it.

The drive from our cabin was forty minutes and quite scenic. The hiking part was no walk on the beach, but well worth it.

When we got to Florida, I gained an interest in Florida history, the Everglades, etc. Now that we’re in North Carolina, I have a sudden interest in waterfalls! Look for more waterfall posts in the future, but not too soon. I need time to recuperate.

The Porch

Our first post at Creekside Musings was about the Creek. We sit on our porch and watch the little brook and listen to it babble by. We’ve made the porch into a pretty cool hangout spot.

I didn’t want Kim to miss the old lounge area we had on Leap of Faith.

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We started stacking wood today. This is about 1/4 of the pile we had delivered.

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The porch runs the length of the house, about 32 feet. It’s 8 feet deep with an additional two feet of overhang. We can sit out here in the rain without getting wet.

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And of course, we view and listen to the creek all day long.

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The Creek

The little stream running through and around the property was a big plus when we decided to move into a log cabin.

Welcome to the new blog! (Formerly Quityourjobandliveonaboat.com)

The following pictures were all taken within a few hundred yards of our door. We’ll explore the interior of the cabin in a future post. Today, we walk the creekside.

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It’s a real pleasure to listen to the proverbial babbling brook. I could sit and watch it all day.

Florida’s Toxic Water

The area we live in is becoming uninhabitable. The dangerous state of our ecosystem is beyond alarming. We don’t just live near the water, we live ON the water. Lately, it’s gotten hard to stand. We’re suffering respiratory issues. We cough through scratchy throats. Sometimes our eyes are irritated as well. The death and destruction all around us are sad to witness.

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That’s Boca Grande, playground of the rich and famous.

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This was from Lemon Bay, Englewood, Florida.

 

We have a combination of severe Red Tide and Blue-Green Algae. The Red Tide has been hanging around for months. Locals say it’s the worst they’ve ever seen. From Boca to Venice, the beaches are off-limits. The best thing about living here is going to the beach, or was anyway.

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Further south, the problem is thick and green. Who wants to get anywhere near that?

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The fish died first, but now we’re seeing dead manatees, dolphins, and sea turtles. These animals don’t have gills. They don’t directly breathe the water. They do breathe the air just above the surface though. It’s clearly toxic.

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Everything in the water is dying. The local economies will follow if something doesn’t change.

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I don’t have a solution for Red Tide. There is no easy answer. The algae is a different matter though. It’s a man-made problem that can be fixed. So far, the political will to address that problem hasn’t existed. All of this will continue throughout our rainy season. Come winter, the waters will clear and the problem will be forgotten while the snowbirds bring money into the local economy. Finding solutions will be put on the backburner once again, and it will happen all over again next year.

We love this place. Bad water is not the sole reason for us wanting to leave. For those that remain, I hope for a real solution in the near future.

Stunning Turn of Events!

Wow. Sometimes when change comes it comes really fast. As most of you know, Kim and I are moving to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Our guy up there is the owner of Eagle Ridge Log Homes. His family has owned “McGuire Mountain” for generations. We went up there to meet with him and look at what he had to offer. We made a deal in principle on a cabin. We put down a deposit, but did not finalize the paperwork. That was scheduled for August 1.

We announced our plans and began preparing for a new life, and lifestyle. We saw another cabin up there on the same mountain, but were told it was promised to someone else. That deal apparently fell through. So Mr. Log Cabin builder calls us to offer the second cabin for our consideration. He said he’d happily transfer our deposit. He said he had someone who really wanted the first place, so he wouldn’t be put out at all. I had some pictures of the second cabin, and then got a lot more. We’ve never stepped foot inside. Kim and I talked it over at length, and decided we liked the second place even better.

Sooooo, scratch the first cabin. We’re pleased to introduce you to the NEW, new cabin.

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We like it better for several reasons. One is its proximity to the creek. Wow, love this.

Another reason is having a fireplace instead of a woodstove. It doesn’t provide as much heat, but it’s more romantic and allows more space in the living area.

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The kitchen is much nicer as well.

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Overall it has slightly less square footage. The difference is in the loft and the second bedroom.

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But it has a garage underneath that the other didn’t have.

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The lord works in mysterious ways. We’ve made a good relationship with this builder. We’re bending the rules here changing course in mid-stream, but he seemed eager to please.

The view is also much nicer.

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Just upstream is a little waterfall.

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Amazing. It has two bedrooms and two baths plus the loft. It has the same whirlpool tub as the other one. It has much more property, more privacy if that’s possible, and the creek right there in the yard. Our move-in date remains August 1, just to a different address. I thought Kim was excited before, now she’s off the hook.

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This is still really happening, just slightly different than our original plan. It’s a good thing, trust me. I think the word “serendipity” applies here.

Anyone want to buy a boat?