David Steece’s Paradox

I had never met a real live Mafia man until today. Don’t call it “the Mob,” David Blackie Steece prefers the Mafia (or Maf for short). And as far as the mafia is portrayed in movies “it’s B.S.” he says. I’m not sure what I expected when I showed up at Hastings today to meet the author of Paradox, the true narrative of a real gangster, but what I met was a man who firmly believed in the principals of family and integrity. And well, he was actually a really nice guy.
Mr. Steece was born into the life of a gangster. He was about 14 years old when his father was sent to prison and he was sent to “live with the family” in New Orleans. When he was about 16 years old and received his driver’s license, he was asked to go pick up a bag across town. When he returned and opened the bag – it was full of cash. He told me he learned “to never open a bag, ever.”

Inevitably, the young David became part of the mafia in New Orleans. But when he had a son in 1986, he knew with total conviction that he did not want his son to grow up to live that lifestyle. So he did something very surprising – some might say a paradox – he left the mafia and became a cop. He spent just one week as a uniform officer, making four arrests that first week, and was promoted to detective. He worked the narcotics beat and made it clear that his prior lifestyle made him a very good cop. He says they “couldn’t buy me.” When I asked Mr. Steece how the “family” reacted to his decision to going to “the other side” he says they asked him, “do you have a guilt problem” his answer “no, I can do more for getting dope off the streets this way.”

If there is one thing that Mr. Steece is adamant about it is “dope.” He says that “money is vicious” and those who deal in narcotics in the mafia are doing it for the money. That beginning in the 1980’s the “young turks” moved in and began selling dope and that “greed and money” is taking away respect. He himself doesn’t gamble, drink, or smoke and has a strident disgust for those who sell or do drugs.

After 8 years on the force, Mr. Steece moved with his son to Houston and then to Arkansas in search of better schools for his kids. He began to journal his life as a gangster and refers to these handwritten journals as a “long-hand joke.” Years later, after a failed attempt to run for mayor in a small town in Arkansas, a friend who was an editor urged him to take this initial draft manuscript entitled “Flashback” and turn it into a book.

He has been touring Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Kansas since the spring of 2010 (although a blood infection landed him in the hospital for a time) to promote Paradox. He visits bookstores, libraries and book clubs with his book Paradox. He will be at the Hastings in Paris through Saturday. I urge you to go buy a copy of his book, and while he’s signing, it be sure to get him talking. I’m pretty sure he will tell you two things: “don’t break your word”, and if you are going to do something, “do it right.” He sure told me. He told me that “if the mafia were running this country, we wouldn’t have these problems.” Well… that’s something to think about.

Article by Jenny Wilson