Get Off the Grid! Saul Goodman's Guide to Staying Off the Radar by Saul Goodman & Steve Huff is a humorous guide on going to ground from the fast-talking lawyer from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
Well this book, Get Off the Grid, comes at a perfect time. Recently, I was one of millions who purchased a VPN—virtual private network—after the government voted to let ISPs sell our browser history. So after shaking my fist at the thin air and writing my congressman another letter he will “file away,” I took matters into my own hands.
Perhaps, I mused, Saul Goodman can help with even more tips. Well, it turns out, maybe only a little in my case because he’s talking about getting really gone, gone baby. We’re talking flying way close to the ground. Who is he to offer such advice? Let Mr. Goodman introduce himself:
For the purposes of our chat today: names don’t really matter—Saul, Jimmy, Flippity, Flappity. These days, there’s a totally different name on my state-approved identification. That same jejune moniker adorns the rental agreement to my humble fifty-shades-of-beige, extended-value apartment—not to mention a number of other very important documents of record, including a birth certificate with conceivably accurate information. And while I mentally and spiritually remain a New Mexican bar-certified legal eagle … we’re not quite there anymore, Toto.
Ok, I remember this dude now. A few years back he was a lawyer defending three young men who had sexually violated a corpse and sawed off the deceased’s head. He lost the case when he argued the unusual defense to the jurors that they too were once young and probably did something stupid that they’d rather no one ever found out. Yet a videotape of the heinous deed sealed the boys’ fate.
Whew! Not sure how that kind of guy gets a book deal, but let’s face it, someone with his credentials must have something constructive to provide, one way or the other. He must, right? I missed an earlier offering called Don’t Go to Jail!—don’t violate a cadaver would be one useful tip for that reference manual.
In Grid, he talks about burner phones, surfing software, where to disappear to (including thoughts on the hobo option), stopgap measures, social media (don’t!), changing your appearance, identity brokers, and he gives plenty of examples including the likes of Whitey Bulger and lesser known but fascinating characters like poet Weldon Keys and the Somerton Man. Ok, that last one may have been a spy who got himself clipped, but still, it shows individuals over the years can vamoose if they are dedicated to the cause. Invested.
The good folks who assisted me in transferring to the glamorous Undisclosed Location Lifestyle I currently lead let me in on this surprising secret: you can steal someone else’s identity just about as easily as you could pluck a candy bar from a baby’s greasy fingers. To paraphrase celebrity exponent of the Boston accent Matt Damon in the film adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley, it’s almost easier “to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.”
The solution, Mr. Goodman elucidates, is to get away. Maybe, for instance, “find a job working fast food at a mall in a snowy Midwestern city.” Which, the way he talks, comes from experience.
One of the kicks from reading Get Off The Grid!, besides all the very quirky analogies—my favorite is a reference to “prepubescent moonshine”—is here is a man that’s been there and done it. Get Off the Grid! Saul Goodman’s Guide to Staying Off The Radar is for anyone that enjoys a humorous read (because Saul/Jimmy tells weighty subject matter in an appealing, funny way) to the nefarious Criminal Element.
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David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.