An underground economy, border transients, poverty, and desperation fuel a drug scourge in the Chinese hinterlands.
A back-seat view of my father’s arrest
In this five-part series, veteran National Post reporter Peter Kuitenbrouwer digs into his remarkable childhood and the life of his father, whose Bob Dylan hairstyle and On the Road lifestyle embodied the drug-fuelled freedom dance of the ‘60s. He travelled along the California coast, where his father built a hippie commune in the redwoods and became a wanted man after plotting to blow up a lumber company’s model home. This is the story of a generation which is just now coming to terms with the dark side of their peace-and-love upbringing. In part 3, Peter writes from San Francisco:
On the afternoon of August 9, 1969, three towheaded children, aged 10, nine and seven, tumbled out of the Arrivals area at San Francisco Airport and into the arms of a tall, thin man. The man’s eyes glowed electric blue; topping his head was a wiry mass of brown curls worthy of Bob Dylan on the cover of Blonde on Blonde. My two elder sisters and I were arriving in California for a summer vacation with the man we called Papa.
My father wore a serape, a kind of poncho from Mexico, multicoloured pants and leather Mexican sandals called huaraches. Showing his huge teeth in a grin behind the impressive forest of his beard, he greeted us with warm hugs; from his clothes and hair rose a pungent smell of cannabis. Paul Kuitenbrouwer loves theatrics, and for him, August 9 proved a show-stopper. We walked to his latest boat of an automobile, a white 1961 Ford Galaxie, and saw it already contained three children. Two were our old playmates from La Jolla, California: Lareine and Rachel.
The third, a boy named Sean, is someone that my father’s later correspondence mentions, but whose identity, otherwise, is lost in time. My eldest sister believes there may have been a dog, too. After we piled in (who had heard of a seat belt?) my father steered us across the Golden Gate Bridge and swung the car onto California Highway 101, heading north. This crazy car trip seemed normal; the only constant of our childhood was chaos.
Part I: Growing up with a father on the run
Part II: Eviction and retribution
Police officers, judges, and prison guards opposed to drug prohibition gathered in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to mark an eye-opening milestone: the 40th Anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs. “America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse,” Nixon declared in a June 17, 1971 press conference. “In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.” Just two years later he escalated his rhetoric yet again, asserting that “this Administration has declared all-out, global war on the drug menace,” and creating the Drug Enforcement Agency. Ever since we’ve been doubling down on the strategy. It has never succeeded, even when we’ve gone much fartherdown the “get tough” road than Nixon ever did.
Read more at The Atlantic
Thirty-five years ago, on June 12, 1970, Pittsburgh Pirate and future Texas Rangers pitcher Dock Ellis found himself in the Los Angeles home of a childhood friend named Al Rambo. Two days earlier, he’d flown with the Pirates to San Diego for a four-game series with the Padres. He immediately rented a car and drove to L.A. to see Rambo and his girlfriend Mitzi. The next 12 hours were a fog of conversation, screwdrivers, marijuana, and, for Ellis, amphetamines. He went to sleep in the early morning, woke up sometime after noon and immediately took a dose of Purple Haze acid. Ellis would frequently drop acid on off days and weekends; he had a room in his basement christened “The Dungeon,” in which he’d lock himself and listen to Jimi Hendrix or Iron Butterfly “for days.”
A bit later, how long exactly he can’t recall, he came across Mitzi flipping through a newspaper. She scanned for a moment, then noticed something.
“Dock,” she said. “You’re supposed to pitch today.”
“The Netherlands plans to ban foreign visitors from pot shops in a move that opponents have labeled ‘tourism suicide,’” Mary Forgione reports.
Mark Twain’s almost-history as a drug lord.
In 1856, a twenty-one-year-old Mark Twain was stranded in Keokuk, Iowa, working for his brother’s printing office, bored to death by the small town’s soporific pace. Restless, he needed a change. He started reading about the Amazon River, and soon cooked up a scheme to sail to Brazil. In August, he wrote to his younger brother Henry about his plans. Fifty-four years later, he reminisced about the episode in an essay published just two months before his death in April 1910:Among the books that interested me in those days was one about the Amazon… [H]e told an astonishing tale about coca, a vegetable product of miraculous powers, asserting that it was so nourishing and so strength-giving that the native of the mountains of the Madeira region would tramp up hill and down all day on a pinch of powdered coca and require no other sustenance. I was fired with a longing to ascend the Amazon. Also with a longing to open up a trade in coca with all the world. During months I dreamed that dream, and tried to contrive ways to get to Para and spring that splendid enterprise upon an unsuspecting planet.
On a recent evening, Kai—who asked the Voice to use that name as an alias—finishes up a rack of ribs and a slice of cheesecake at a barbecue restaurant in Harlem. It’s only 7, but it’s been three hours since he last shot up. “I want to use right now,” he says, looking nervous. “I’m thinking of how, I’m thinking of how.” He takes out a cell phone and double-checks the Craigslist ad he had put up the day before, hoping someone will answer it soon. He sells drugs, he says, to support his own addiction, a fact that gets more obvious every minute since his last fix.
Despite the city’s crackdown, Kai says he has gone untouched by law enforcement for the seven years he’s been dealing on Craigslist. In his ads, he lays out strict e-mailing rules for his clients: include only a name and cell phone number. If a potential buyer follows the rules to the letter, he sets up a meeting in a public place—but he arrives without drugs. He says he can tell in a few seconds if a potential customer is legit, but makes each buyer lift up their shirt to show him that they’re not wearing a wire, and lift up each pant leg to show him that they’re not carrying a gun. Small talk builds to questions about drug use and then to specifics like quantity and price. Kai says he doesn’t negotiate.
The other day, while listening to the very nice TAL episode “Original Recipe”, in which the show reveals the original recipe for Coca-Cola, Ira Glass notes that because Coca-Cola is made from coca leaves, a controlled substance in the U.S., all the leaves Coke uses are first shipped from South America to New Jersey, where the Stephan company removes the cocaine and ships the rest off to Coke.
So what happens to all that cocaine? TAL doesn’t say. According to a 1988 NYTimes article, though, the coke is shipped off to another company, Mallinckrodt Inc. in St. Louis, which is the only legal source of medical cocaine in the U.S.
There has got to be a Scarface update here….
Morally, it is not much of a leap from legal asset forfeiture—in which cops take property from people who have never been charged with a crime, sell it, and use the proceeds for their department’s budget—to simply pocketing money from suspected drug dealers. Consider what was happening in Tenaha, Texas, until recently. Cops would pull over motorists, accuse them of drug activity with little or no evidence, and give them a choice: They could sign the cash, jewelry, and other property in their possession over to the police department and be on their way. Or they could fight the charges, risk a felony conviction, spend one or more nights in a jail cell, and possibly pay more in legal fees than their property was worth.
Legal niceties are often the only distinction between civil asset forfeiture and a shakedown. It is not hard to see how cops who routinely engage in the former might grow morally complacent enough to contemplate the latter. Audio from a 2008 raid on the home of Monroe County, Michigan, resident Rudy Simpson, which hit the Internet last month, catches two state police officers deciding whether to take his recording equipment, flat-screen TV, and computers. Simpson says they also took DVDs, a camera, a gold ring, and $400 in cash. The raid, justified by an “anonymous tip” that Simpson was selling pot, netted a small bag of marijuana and half a pain pill.
MARCY DOLIN: I’m lying on my bed, smoking a joint. I smoke about eight a day, and eat a marijuana cookie before I go to sleep at night. I like the peanut-butter ones. I’ve been using marijuana for about 35 years, ever since I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It takes the pain and muscle spasms away. Without it, I would be living on morphine and other horrible drugs. I couldn’t do that to my family. That’s no life, and I would have ended it. That’s the truth. I used to take a drug called Neurontin, and I just never stopped crying. I was in a fog, totally depressed. I told my doctor that I was going back to just marijuana; he said he would have me arrested if he could. What are they going to do? I’m 71 years old. Are they going to put me in jail? I’m not hurting anybody. It’s just here in my own house.
More than 30 people, including the actress known as “Snoop” from the Baltimore-based HBO series “The Wire,” were arrested Thursday morning across the city and its surrounding counties in connection with a large-scale heroin and marijuana operation.
Raids were carried out in the pre-dawn hours by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore police and a slew of other federal and state law enforcement agencies.
Felicia “Snoop” Pearson, known for her drug-assassin character on “The Wire,” was taken into custody at a downtown apartment on a state warrant, officials said.