Amsterdam Knowledge Base
True Story - The Customs Inspector and Me|
I cannot recall my log in info because I have been away from Channels so long..but I wanted to reply to the topic on the coffeeshop forum about Strangest Stoner Moments: Here is my absolutely true story from 1974..I think !!
I had just returned from a three day trip to Negril , Jamaica and was waiting in Miami for my partner to send me a plane ticket home to the Carolinas. I was staying with a old girlfriend while waiting. I was supposed to get some money from Western Union and kept calling every day and asking the status, but never any news. Finally one day they said the money was there, and the girlfriend and her girl pal and me went to the N. Miami Beach WU office. A hippy type chick was working the counter, and to make a long story short, someone with the same name as me had one thousand dollars coming and even though I knew none of the questions on the form , she believed my story and handed me the cash !!
I went out and asked the girls if they wanted to go to Jamaica!! Plane tickets at the time were around $ 109.00 round trip, cheap. We headed to the airport after picking up clothes, etc. and were back in Negril by nightfall at the Villas Negril, which was brand new at the time. Thirty five bucks for a one bedroom villa, fully furnished. Yeah, we had a great time and I will skip the details and get to the story:
Upon arrival back at Miami Int. airport, we filled out the little Immigration cards they give out that you carry thru til the end, and got in line with our baggage. I had the heels of my boots hollowed out and full of Mandrax pills ( methaqualone ) , and had a few ounces of primo weed stashed in my boots, and the girls had various drugs stashed in their panties, bra,etc. Their luggage was clean but I could not resist trying to get a large Vaseline jar of grass oil, green color and not so great a smoke, to be honest, stuffed into the toe of a tennis shoe in my suitcase.
I got to a lady Customs checker and she picked up my clothes and looked around. You could see the jar pushing the toe of the shoe out and I was , thankfully, so stoned and drunk that I did'nt react. The lady inspector put the clothes back and told me to go on. I made a promise right there that if I made it out of there I would never again be so stupid.
I moved away 50 feet or so and waited for the girls, who were right behind me in line, to clear and join me. The lady inspector was really giving them a close look, examining the lens cleaner for their cameras , really giving their luggage a going over ..thank God their luggage was clean.. I set my suitcase down and all of a sudden I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I turned around and there stood a uniformed Customs Inspector, shiny badges and very serious looking. He said " Are you ( My Name ) ?
Yes, I said. He said " You are under arrest ". All I could think of was to say " What for "? He smiled at me and said, " I'm just kidding, here , you dropped your card back there " He handed me the Immigration card I had carried thru the procedure and had obviously dropped along the way!!
I took it and thanked him and picked up my suitcase and headed for the door. My balls were so far up in my gut I could feel them bumping my heart, which was beating like a jungle war drum. I made it to the door and handed the last pig the card and went out.
I waitied for the girls in the parking area where we left the car and they told me that they almost lost it when they saw the Customs guy approach me. Only our intoxication prevented one of us from cracking under the pressure, guaranteed.
I never again have attempted to bring in so much as a seed and never will. I used all my luck up in Miami and do not expect any more breaks from Customs. That is an absolutely true story and one we will never forget. I went back to Negril again not long after that and had some incredible experiences with some Rastas in the jungle but thats another tale. The moral : Don't ever give up and break down and confess , no matter what. You never know whats serious , and what is a joke!!
Do you think grandma ever got her operation?
I absolutely HATE to lie.....but when i do i just pretend it's my mom....then I can lie perfectly under pressure!
and please tell the ransta in the jungle story!
Thanks for asking..Its kind of neat to relive the experience by writing about it..It is all true.I have had a pretty unusual life and their are many unique stories that I could tell..about working for the head of the Ethiopian Zion Coptics in Miami many years ago..but thats another day. Here is the Rasta story:
One day in Negril, it was hot , as usual, and I stopped in a little bar for a cold Red Stripe. There was an older, gray haired Rasta sitting next to me with long dreads and a quick smile. He asked if I would buy him a beer and I readily agreed. His name was Rasta John and he lived locally.
Before leaving Miami I had stopped at a few shops in Coconut Grove and bought a couple of rather unusual costume jewelry items. They were made with surgical human eyes..one was mounted on a ring and was blue, and the other was brown and made into a bracelet of leather that sort of stretched around the wrist. They were very realitic loking, with red veins and all.. Rasta John kept looking at the bracelet ( I had left the ring in my luggage , don't want to be too over the top with the human eyeball fashion statement, you know.. and he asked what it was.
I decided to goof on him as I was in a gregarious mood, and told him that where I had a home in the mountains of western North Carolina, near the Cherokee reservation , one could buy the eyes of dead Indians as they did not hold the remains sacred after death. He seemed amazed but I added some detail, improvising all the way, and he bought the story.
After a minute, I decided to let him in on the joke and he was laughing so hard so almost choked on his brew !! He seemed really tickled that I would play with his head like that and after another beer I decided to give him the bracelet. After all, the chances were great that it was the only one on the Island at the time, and he was thrilled to get it. He said that his friends would be fascinated by it and he put it on and showed it around to everyone in the bar. He asked me if I would like to blaze some sweetie and of course I agreed readily.
We left the bar ; it was nearing sundown, and I followed him to the Red Hill district and down some unknown road into the jungle. After we had walked a while, he stopped and gave a whistle, like a bird call , and waitied for a reply. It came, to my suprise , as we kept walking , that he would repeat the same call and answer system as we came closer to our destination.
you can't stop now!!!
We came into a clearing where there stood a rather large structure. It had a roof and three walls, with a central fire pit area in the middle of the open space and smalled huts around the edge. Ganja plants grew all around the area but Rasta John said that the main fields were a ways off.
As dark fell, someone made a roaring fire and the tams came off as a dozen Rastas squatted around the fire chanting prayers and blazing huge spliffs and firing up the chillums. Smoke rose to Jah continually throughout the evening and I shared many spliffs and pipes with the brothers. At one point I got really paranoid and thought that I must be pretty stupid ; here I was, the only white boy within God knows how many miles and totally at the mercy of the natives..seeing the machetes alying around did'nt help assuage my fears and I think John picked up on my thoughts.. He came over and held out a calloused and huge hand, and said " Here brudda, eat dese ". I looked and saw several small mushrooms in his open palm and took them. What the hell, I thought , if they had bad intentions there is nothing I can do about it anyway and I might as well show them a Miami boy can take whatever comes along. Bluff works when nothing else will, sometimes..
Anyway, after about a half hour the shrooms kicked in and from that time on, throughout the entire night, the fears dissolved away and I had the most incredible experience of my life. I BECAME Rasta..I was one with them and sang and chanted and did what they did and listened to the Selassie stories and grooved right in. The Brothers, ( Sisters stayed to themselves a lot ) welcomed me as one of their own and Rasta John proudly showed his new bracelet all night , teasing the Brothers with the same Cherokee story I did and then sprining the truth as well..causing great mirth and laughs as John related how I had convinced him so well..
It was a magical time..I cannot really put into words the feelings of brotherhood and love that flowed from that humble place. I lost all traces of racial prejudice, and I came from a background of bigotry..my grandfather and his peers were all Klansmen in the early 20th century and the N word was used without hesitation as I grew up.
But that all changed as I saw the hearts and souls of materially poor but spiritually super rich people that happened to have dark skin opened their home and hearts to me without asking for anything at all. I learned more that night than all of my other years combined about the nature of man and of the soul.
I was offered and bought a Vaseline jar of grass oil and some dynamite weed ( from the Customs story ) and as the sun came up, Rasta John led me by the arm through the jungle back to the road to the Villas, making sure I was OK and within sight of my destination before he melted away into the bush. He hugged me and told me that I was welcome anytime and that the other Rasta had said that they thought I was destined to become Rasta some day. With tears in my eyes I bade him farewell and went back to the hotel to sleep and dream..
I never saw Rasta John again and I have not returned since the 70's to Negril. I became involved in another Jamaican based religions dealings in the early 80's ; While the Rastas revere Haile Selassie I , the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church was greatly influenced by the teachings of Marcus Garvey. The Coptics were super smugglers of fine ganja and were estimated to have brought in over a thousand TONS of weed before the Feds pounced on them in the mid eighties. That is a story that rivals the best of my true life experiences and if interested, I will try and relate some of the craziness that occured during my time as the Estate Manager bodyguard , chauffeur, and all around trusted personal aide for Keith Gordon and family. Keith was called " Niah ', the one closest to God, and he was considered a living embodiment of Jah in their eyes.
But the Rasta story ends here and I will always treaure my hours in the jungle with the blazing brothers and the universe opened up in love. I wish that every person on this tortured planet could experience it as well.
You doth tease Rick...........come on........oh my sister brought back from Alaska years ago a necklace and bracelet and earrings made of mink dicks. Nobody has ever guessed correctly what they are made of. When i tell them the light goes on and oh yes little hollow purplish shells with little heads. you can easily crush them with your fingers.....very fragile.
Tomorrow I will try and relate some of the Coptic experiences..When I type too much the whole things disappears on this forum and I have to start all over. I guess there is a limit but how to tell when it is approaching?? So I write a bunch and then submit and then continue so I dont lose it all..It happened yesterday with the Rasta story and I was too pissed and tired to replicate it then so I waited til today..
But the Coptics were a really uniques bunch and starting tomorrow Ill write some memories..thanks for the interest. Mink dicks? Hmm..that would be a hard one to guess, pardon the pun. more later..Peace!!
Excellent stories my friend - interesting times.
If I ever need to type in something of lebgth here, I tend to write it in notepad and then copy and paste it into the text box
Great story, Rick, keep 'em coming.
Tall Guy: thanks and I will continue relating some true craziness. And thanks to Guest for a good idea..Ill do the notepad thing,,makes sense!!
Here is just a few minutes worth of the very beginning of the Coptic story. More tomorrow.
I was at Ronnies Lounge in Miami on night and met a blonde lady named Jaynie. She was a very big girl, not flabby fat but solid and well shaped but definitely overweight. She was extremely intelligent and very good looking and really kind of fell for me at first sight. Now do not think that this is a typical event for me, even for a large lady, I am just an average guy and have rarely been approached by a woman and asked to have a drink.
She told me that she was a school teacher, and after a drink or two I met her cousin,Sandra , who she was with. In conversation, it turned out that Jaynie was the private teacher for the Coptic children!! They lived in a mansion on Star Island between Miami beach and the mainland ; very ritzy enclave guarded and private. Everyone in Miami knew about the Coptics as they had virtually slapped the Feds in the face with ganja smoking and proclaiming their rights to have it, etc. They had gotten wealthy and bold and thought they had a real chance of getting the herb legalized on the basis of religion. They were on local Tv all of the time and notorious as ganjamen.
Anyway, a few days later Jaynie called me and invited me to a party at the home of her good friend, who was to become my employer and friend.
She is deceased now and I will just call her " Mrs. G. " She was a robust, bold and friendly Jamaican woman with sparkling eyes and the strength of a bear. She had several kids and as I soon found out, Jamaicans swap children around from family to family quite normally. A sisters kids will move in and stay for years and it is accepted. They call the kids " pickney " the way Scots use " bairns "..Mrs. G. was married to the head man of the Coptics and as he was in Jamaica most of the time, she had a large house to run and quite frankly, had no formal education and was originally from a rather poor and disadvantaged prior life in JA..Thats before Niah got rich from ganja , of course!!
Through Jaynie, whom I was officially dating now, Mrs. G. fired her chauffeur , who was only driving her around and sat in the garage when not on the road. She had just purchased a massive estate in South Miami and needed someone to take charge and make things efficient and to show her how to adapt to American ways.
I moved in a small apartment at the end of the main house and she bought all my suits ( I dressed suit and tie every day ) and provided me with a car ( Benz 450 SLC ) and food and 500 a week in cash, and that was in 1980!! Not bad for a single guy who was hip and knew the ropes in Miami!! There were about 5 or 6 kids there and a few maids sent in from JA...she had Cuban ladies come in and do the laundry..it was too big a job for the nannies and maids. My job entailed everything: security, from being an armed bodyguard to hiring installers for alarms and fortifying the house..and later, as the handler of a killer Doberman dual personality attack dog..to driving the limo to taking her to the local disco's and dancing when she was bored.
I dealt with all of the contractors who we used to make improvements around the estate and isolated her from salesmen and bothersome nerds like IRS agents and TV reporters!! I transformed her home into a showplace of taste and comfort and security..after all, they had unlimited resources and that makes it a bit easier!! I was responsible for the fleet of vehicles, and the story of the new limo is one I have to tell here:
We were driving along I - 95 in Broward County in the old limo, which was a plain jane type of Cadillac airport limo,,bare bones. We passed a limo and specialty car dealer and she yelled, " Rick, lets go get a new car!!".
I exited and we went shopping. They had a few Rolls, some Caddies, and a couple of stretch Lincolns. She saw one that she liked, gold with a moonroof..I told her that it looked like a pimp car. She asked me what a pimp was!! I told her she needed the whilte Lincoln stretch with 4" pile carpeting and rosewood paneling..It looked like the President or a Senator would step out of it..really classy. We bought it on the spot, leaving a check for 10 grand and I told him I would bring the old car in for the trade in and bring the rest of the payment in a week.
They called and said the papers were ready and I showed up with a paper bag with 28 grand in it for the balance!! They were true Florida salemen, no questions asked. The car was a beauty and we had great fun running around south Florida shopping and partying and living the good life.
The Coptics, however, were very serious about the religious aspects of their lives and followed a strict set of rules from Old Testament teachings.
It was not a bunch of guys scamming a church to smuggle, they were absolutely dedicated to their study of the Bible and the teachings of the Zion Coptic church. Mrs. G was pious when need be but when the brothers were gone she liked to loosen up and have fun. But when Niah was in town or when the Brothers were around, we tightened up .
Whew!! So many memories coming in at once. Ill pick this up later and try and stay to a timeline as we draw closer to the inevitable; the clash with the Government and the downfall of almost all of the principles..
Have you posted this here before? I know I have read this story before
"A hippy type chick was working the counter, and to make a long story short, someone with the same name as me had one thousand dollars coming and even though I knew none of the questions on the form , she believed my story and handed me the cash !!"
Dude. don't u believe in bad karma???
I think the bullshit meter is starting to click
I have not told this story here before, or anywhere else in writing. Must have been someone else with a similar tale. As far as KARMA, if the worst thing I had ever done in my life was to accept free money from a careless employee who disregarded all of the rules of their job and handed over money too easily, then perhaps.. But what about all of the good things I have done for others ? Does that balance out one act of greed or whatever? Too iffy for me. I gave my correct ID and simply could not answer the questions for the security part of the transaction and the simpleton behind the counter assumed that since I had the same name and had been calling and waiting for a transfer for a week, that I must be the right one. Assumptions can get you in a real pickle and maybe it was her Karma to learn a lesson about following procedure,eh?
Anyway, come to think of iot, I may have mentioned at some point in the remote past working for the Coptics but never have I realted the details..so who knows?? If you enjoy crazy personal true experiences then fine, if not then there are tons of other threads to enjoy. Peace!!
I know I have heard that story. Do you still live in Miami?
You should describe the "coptics" that you mention in greater detail. Much more common is the who are christians. I once had a good friend who was coptic, she liked her ganja but it had nothing at all to do with her religion. Great read no matter what! You should write a book, you have a style.
who are christians. I once had a good friend who was coptic, she liked her ganja but it had nothing at all to do with her religion. Great read no matter what! You should write a book, you have a style.
Gotta go with Bo here. I too was a bit confused since I had no idea the Coptic Church had any influence in Jamaica. I thought this was a Russian religious group.
There some links here that may help
And an interesting interview from 1979 on the subject
Good to see Stephen Glass is back writing again.
OHR-your tales are terrific. You made me recall so many similar times we had in the day. Mahalo plenty from one old hippie to another!
Dano: No, I left Miami gor good in 1982 and moved to North Carolina..It was too crazy down there and my parents moved to carolina when they retired and I wanted to be closer to them in their later years. They are still livng, thank God and I will move from here once they are no longer alive, as North Carolina is a beautiful place but full of Bush loving folks who get their news from Fox and their opinions from the Baptist church..I love this area..the mountains but I think California is in my future as I use ganja for medicinal and other purposes and am tired of playing the hide and seek game with the pigs.
Thanks for the comment about writing a book..I have been told that before ..I like writing and I have had a rather unusual life, although there are MANY others out there who have experieced much more than I..Maybe when my child raising days are over..
I am amaking firm plans to move to Haarlem, Holland for 8 months or so a year after my youngest is old enough to be on his own. My exwife was/is a schgizophrenic and left years ago so I have had to raise three great kids alone for the past number of years..when that privelege and obligation is finished I will spend most of the year in Holland and come back to fascist Amerika only to visit.
As for the Coptic church in Miami, which was a branch of the main Church in Jamaica, I will go into more detail later today when I get back from errands..The Church was founded many years ago by a few men, most well known was Walter Wells, Brother Wally , and several others.
I do not know at what point Niah, ( Keith Gordon ) came into it but he became wealthy owning shipping boats and the dumspter business in Kingston. That was after he coordianted a lot of local growers of ganja down there and started bringing in major loads into florida. You have to remember, in Florida in the sixties and seventies, the law enforcement was very lax..a few local boys could arrange a load and simply go fishing a few miles offshore and transfer a 100 punds or so and just trailer the boat at Haulover with no Customs or hassled at all. It was a wonderful time, before they got hip to how open the borders were.
it was'nt until the Night Train bust, run by the Balck tuna gang, got nailed that they had any idea of the weight being routinely brought in.
But thats another tale.
the Coptics had a base of followers in Jamaica, almost all black, and when Niah began reaching out to some Americans of caucasian heritage, the smuggling realy took off. The American branch was headed by a few ' Priests ", including Brother Louv ( Thomas Reilly ) a 6' 6" ganjaman who learned Coptic at Niahs knee and taught the other brothers the Coptic ways. Also, Brother Peter was a main player, along with a number of others. It was no joke religion..they arose before dawn to chant and blaze..and lived by a strict set of Old Testament rules governing what they could eat , down to how to conduct themselves in their marriages. They were very conservative in many ways and had no tolerance for giggling dopers who did not take the life seriously.
The cops tried to slip in an undercover pig to infiltrate them at one point and after a year of having to study the Scriptures and never learning one thing about their ' business' interests, he actually became a convert and confessed all!! During the Iran hostage crisis the Coptics hired Ramsey Clark, the former Atty. General of the US as their personal atty. and had a large brass plaque placed on the wall by their entrance gate that said " Coptic Universal Embassy " and offered to broker a peaceful solution to the events of the day. Of course the City of Miami beach made them remove it for zoning reasons but they made a lot of enemies with the authorities as they were very much in the face of all of the Feds and locals as well.
The women stayed to themselves a lot, and today the sect would be considered rather chauvinistic..but the men ran the show and the ladies had the babies and stayed to themselves in public. They were very private people and morally upstanding to the extreme. They could be trusted totally and were of the highest (!!) caliber of people. their word was as good as gold in all respects.
I remember the shcok on the faces of the assembled Brothers when I first became associated with them and they heard how I met Niah. An outsider, not a Brother yet, could not share a chillum pipe with a Brother..it simply was not ' kosher '. You could smoke spliffs galore, but not a shared pipe until you were accepted as one of them. Well, when Niah first came to Miami to the new house that Mrs. G. had bought, I was called to the master bedroom to meet him.
I had some really golded, almost yellow, ganja, Columbian I think, and sat with him and offered it to him for his pipe. He went throught the chillum loading ritual, and when done he blazed a big hit and handed the chillum to me. I managed to do pretty well and did not choke..although I could never match a Brotherf for the clouds of smoke that emanated from their lungs after a ' pull '. I did'nt think anything about it until one day at Star Island a Brother told me that regretfully, I was not allowed to share the pipe as I was not officially a Brother. " Thats Ok, " I told them " Niah shared the pipe with me the first time I met him and I could hardly keep up"!!. They were stunned..and after that they treated me with a respect that was directly a result of Niahs approval of me and the awe in which they hald him.
Now Niah was a very unique man ; have you ever met someone who looked at you and you immediately knew that they could see right through you? You knew instinctively that it was no use lying or exaggerating as that person would know the truth totally?? That is the way Niah was..His eyes were unlike any I had ever seem before. they did'nt look at you as much as they did peer right into your soul and I knew the first time I met him that it was no use pretending anything ..that he knew the deal all the way through. He was an amazing man..as clever as they come and as dedicated to their religion as a person could be.
He relied on me to keep things smooth in Miami at his personal home where his children lived and I was appreciated even more after I saved his youngest child, Eddie, from drowning in the indoor pool one day when Mrs. G was visiting him in Jamaica. It was no big deal, the toddler had pushed open the gate that a stupid and careless pol clkeaning guy had neglected to close and lock properly and went face down inti the water.
I happened , by the grace of God, to be on the phone in the TV room and saw it happen through a glass door. I jumped over the railing and pulled him out and patted his back as he coughed up pool water. He had not swallowed much and was OK. The look on the nannies face when we appeared soaking wet, me in my three piece suit and Eddie crying from fear..was priceless. The poor girl had gone to the bathroom and Eddie had slipped away as kids will do. The nannie, who like the rest had been brought from Jamaica to work there, was scared to death that she would be fired..I had to call Mrs. G. in Jamiaca , of course and tell her what happened. I stuck up for the girl as she was very good and attentive and was beside herself with shame and was taking a sound scolding from the other maids,etc. for her mistake. Mrs. G. gave her a sound tounge lashing but allowed her to remain. I was no hero and any adult would have done the same but it did'nt hurt my image with Niah and he treated me like a member of the family after that.
There is so much more,,the feds and the TV crews always asking for interviews when the heat started, and the fun of living like renegades with money to burn..but alas I must close for now and run to town...
More later, and I hope that this interests someone..it makes me happy to remember all of the crazy times back then and I hope that someone with knopwledge of some of this will read this and verify the truth of what I am saying and add any insights they have..anyway, more to come!!Peace!!
I do not know who Steven Glass is..?? I can verify my identity quite easily and will be gald to thru a PM with a trusted third party should anyone doubt the truthfulness of my story. I have nothing to hide and no reason to lie..Its kind of neat to recall those time and I share this for funs sake and to educate a little about Miami in that period and the Coptics in particular..I mean how many regular guys got to se the inside of things like that?? Anyway, more to come..
don't listen to jealous philstines rick..enjoying your story immensely.
Certainly beats the flaming and "what the strongest weed" threads..lol
We all smoked ganja of course, and it was not only allowed but a normal part of daily life. The kids had to keep it careful, of course, but even as young as 11 or 12 the youth were blazing a spliff after school to unwind. The kids were smart and made good grades and were very socially active. Part of my responsibilties involved supervision of the kids , and Mrs. G told me one more than one occasion that I should be more firm and not hesitate to punish them if needed, as they ' will not respect you " otherwise. they did'nt need much guidance though as they knew the bouandaries and were pretty mature for thier respective ages. As I was in charge of the household when she was out of town or not there, I had to maintain authority and make sure that all was running smoothly.
When I was first hired, the kids were being driven to public school in South Miami in a limo..they really did'nt like that as it made them stand out as different to the other kids and being black , with a foreign accent and having money made them stand out even more. A substantial part of each morning and afternoon were spent picking up kids at various level school and as Mrs. G. wanted to expand her schedule to include more open time, I decided to change things.
First, I arranged for a private school bus service that operated there to pick up all but the youngest ( Peter,8,,Eddie was too young for school at 3 ), he was picked up by the private school bus )..David was the other boy at 11..Also there were three girls, most of who, were the children of Mrs.G's sister, Pet, who lived in Jamaica.
So the days were free for business and shopping and Mrs. G and I kept busy taking care of all of the details of running a large home and her multiple business interests. Part of my job was to go to Star ( we called the Coptic ' mansion' at # 43 Star Island " Star " for short )..and pick up her allowance each week, plus any other funds needed for various projects. This is how I met the principles and they had the cash and ganja that we needed to operate. At first she was getting 6 thousand a week but it quickly became apparent that she needed more and they increased it to 10 grand a week for living expenses. If she needed largher amounts, a Brother would appear at the house and stack up piles of hundreds on the bar counter as needed.
One day I called over to Star and told a Brother that I was headed their way and needed some ganja for the house smokers. When I arrived , the usual Brother who took care of me was'nt there and another guy brought me a package, about a quarter pound, which was average for a weeks worth..gave it to me and I left. It was some of the tastiest and strongest smoke I had ever had and the next time I went to Star the Brother who gave it to me told me sheepishly how Brother Louv had chewed his ass for giving me his personal stash of Thai weed!!! I was shocked and asked him why , if there had been a mistake, why one of them did'nt just call and tell me and I would have returned it and gotten some regular weed. No, he said..they would never do that.." You work for Niah ", said the Brother. I got an idea then about the reverence they held him in and later I would learn just how dedicated to Niah they really were.
Now, I want it known that I never was allowed in the ' inside ' of the Coptic church as far as smuggling or any illegal activities go,,,other than carrying money sometimes..but I never was a part of the really heavy stuff and had my hands full just trying to protect the family and home and try to make it run as efficiently as possible under the circumstances. I was not a " Brother " in the religious sense and so I make no claim of being more than what I was..It was a kick though to be a part of an obviously robust enterprise that was based on prodigious amounts of ganja and cash !!
In truth, Mrs. G. did'nt want a Brother as a confidant and employee as they would have frowned on her more...unCoptic lifestyle..She did not adhere to the strict requirements of the sect and she knew that she could count on me to be totally discreet and be able to play both sides so that Star knew nothing they should'nt and she was able to enjoy herself and relax knowing I was hip and non-judgemental.
Over a period of months, we made improvements to the property..lights along the wall..the wall was 10 feet high and the estate covered at least an acre of covered house with a guest house and indoor/outdoor pool. One day she told me she wanted tress, not saplings but TREES planted along the outside of the wall. I spent a few days in nurserys and spent a number of thousands of dollars getting it done, and the very next day after having them planted, they were taken up and stolen right out of the ground!!I spent a lot of time translating what she said she wanted into a feasible plan. I would get an idea from her what she wanted, then call contractors and negotiate costs and supervise the job and pay the bills...window cleaners, pool cleaners,groundskeepers, all trying to rob as much as they could...they smell money and charge twice as much and I had to ferret out the opportunists and hire the reliable ones so she did'nt lose money.
It became apparent that no one there was happy trying to cook for everyone and the kitchen was a madhouse daily. We put in all new stainless commercial appliances and had a showroom kitchen but no real cook..so, she decided to hire a cook and head maid married couple that had been recommended by an agency. They were from Egypt and had worked for embassies and wealthy people before and as a cook he was quite talented. His wife would coordiante the activities of the Jamaican maids..they had a young son, about 9, so there were plenty of kids to play with.
They moved into the seperate guest house and quickly found out that life can be very strange indeed!! They had to cook for a large group of people several times a day and when the Brothers would arrive for a visit, blazing huge spliffs everywhere they went, they did their best to not notice. And the language barrier between the Jamaican maids and the Egyptian housekeeper was hilarious to behold.
One day Mrs. G. announced that Niah needed a new car and so we were going car shopping !! I knew that it was unlikely to be an ordinary day, as shopping trips with her were always an experience. She loved to spend money and we would go from mall to mall buying and me running packages to the limo all day..Most of the things she bought were hung in a closet for a few months and then given to the maids or to the Cuban ladies that came to do the laundry.
Anyway, we went to the Mercedes dealer in Coral Gables,,I think it was Bill Ussery, if my memory is right..and we looked around. She took a fancy to the 450 SLC's, a hardtop but still a sports car, very fast and handled incredible..the saleman finally said " Would you like one today " and Mrs. G. said " No, I want three !!" " I'll take one silver one, one blue one and one brown one ". The salesman only hesitated for a moment and almost peed his pants with excitement as he frantically started the paperwork..you could see the poor guy was so fearful that it was all a joke or that she was going to change her mind..but she bought all three, cash. She did'nt even bargain and gladly paid the 38,500 or whatever it was at that time.. She shipped the brown one to Niah in Jamaica and we kept the blue and silver ones at the house with the stretch limo and a Cadillac that was used for errands and a Ford pickup for hauling furniture and assorted stuff.
When she would get bored, sometimes we would go to a ritzy nightclub in the Grove or wherever and dance and party. No, I never had any relationship with her other than as an employee that was like a part of the family..strictly on the up and up. One must be careful when working for families to keep a certain distance, as getting TOO close and familiar can be a disaster to objectivity and will screw up any value a person has. It is a balancing act and I believe that I did it pretty well.
Mrs. G. had a lot of money to play with and decided to open a dress and shoe store in South Miami. The only problem was the location : she was selling expensive items in a middle class neighborhood. Nobody ever bought anything!! Had the shop been on Miami Beach or in one of the high end shopping areas, it would have done great but she could not be convinced to move it.
She had a team of seamtresses working 5 days a week cranking out beautiful clothes ( suspiciuosly most of which fit her!!) and a manager that kept the books. 800 dollar dresses, 300 dollar shoes..and accesories, and it was fun to watch someone from the neighborhood walk in and look around and run out when they saw the price tags !! The the clothes would wind up in her closet and again end up with the maids..We had the fanciest domestic staff in Miami!! Money meant almost nothing to them and Mrs. G. was learning the American ways all too well.
When people have money and the word gets out, there are many jewelry stores and fine furniture places more than willing to send items on ' approval ' to see if the boss likes them and wants to purchase them. I knew that a disater was in the making if I did not insure the security of the items and I made sure that all of the items that she did not want got returned and that she paid in a reasonable amount of time for the ones she did. Grateful store owners gave me gold chains and rings and other perks for insuring that these things went smoothly. I worked basically 7 days a week, if needed..although I had plenty of leisure time, for sure.
In the next part of the story, I will get into the FALL..when the Feds came down on us all and it blew up in our faces. There was extensive TV coverage and I am curious if they still have archives of that era as I was the one running interference between the snoopy feds and Tv crews and the principles there..hmm. Anyway, as the Coptics got caught with some major loads and the coverage got more notorious things got crazy there and the most incredible true stories are yet to come!! More soon..Peace!!
Rick this really is a great story - I'm loving every installment. Thanks again for taking the time to share this. I think you should write a book, your writing style is great, and it's a unique viewpoint of an interesting time in an interesting place.
70's Miami, Ganja, Crazy Jamaicans, Religion - this would make a great movie too! Get on it bro, seriously.
Its hard enough just to keep things going here with kids to raise and so many distractions..life is very strange right now and believe me if there was a way to do more than I am doing I would try. I have a really bad back, degenerative discs , and am undergoing medical treatment for that, as well as major dental work right now. My Social Sec. disability hearing is coming Tuesday after a TWO YEAR wait and if that goes well then I will finally get some financial relief and an income assured for life.
My daughter is Bi-Polar and my youngest son has Aspergers Syndrome and my entire focus is pretty much on trying to get them on a course in life that will allow them to be secure and safe..I am dedicated to my kids and getting on Channels and remembering the old days is about the only time I dedicate to myself..its a way for me to escape for an hour here and there and I really appreciate others reading it and sharing the old days. I would very much like to write a book but how to start and being a novice means that I need halp in getting it done and marketed ..It seems a nice dream but for now I have to spend most of my day serving the needs of my kids and taking care of staying alive and dealing with the medical and other issues that are hounding us lately.
BUT, things WILL get better and soon I will be able to devote more time to this project..I seriously would like to write a book..there is so much junk literature out there that surely a true story might have a chance..We will see. In the meantime, I will spend some time tonight relating more Coptic stories and will post them here later this evening. And thanks again for caring and reading,,,it is encouraging for sure. Peace!!
Were you once "Old Hippy Guy" on this forum?....Met with last Hamlet etc...?
Great reads..I am really enjoying the story.. I did a on the Zion Coptic Church...interesting stuff.
Don't sweat the doubters. People will contest anything. Their posturings reminded me of another story, so it's all good.
BoHannon: Yes, thats me. I was really active a few years ago when I went to Amsterdam and met LastHamlet and his ex and had a great time at the Channels get-together at De Kuil..that was some trip!!
I have gone thru hell for the past few years and I stayed away because I had nothing but bad news and after my ex was committed to a mental hospital , and I lost my big new home to foreclosure, and I was injured and became disable..well, I did'nt have much good news and people do not want a constant bummer being related all of the time..so I stayed away. Many Channles folks helped me in a variety of ways and I have not forgotten them and never will. I only hope that very soon I will have things straightened out and be able to repay some of the kindnesses shown to me.
Thanks Priapus for the encouragement and I will return to this story as soon as possible, hopefully tomorrow. I am preparing for my disability hearing tomorrow morning so my mind is focused on that..but I want to relate more of the events of the time and will do so very soon. My attorney says that I have a really good chance of prevailing and if so I will be set for life with a steady income and enough of a settlement to pay back all past debts and still have some in the bank for a rainy day ( In Holland, hopefully!!).
So hang in there with me for a little longer and oldhippy will return in full, blazing away and ready again to be a part of the wonderful Channels family. God Bless, and Peace!!
More to come in the next day or so..
This reminded me of an incident I had with the customs inspectors in Italy about 15 years ago.
It was a beautiful Saturday in June, Belmont Stakes Day, not too hot and not too crowded. It was the perfect day for thoroughbred racing.
My friends and I liked to hang out in the Paddock area, behind the grandstands in the back of Belmont Park under the Tote Board. (The Tote Board is where the betting odds are displayed for the upcoming race). Of course there were drinks to be had and joints to be smoked. At one point, I was rolling a bit fatty when a guy walked up to me dressed in streetclothes, pulled out a badge and asked me politely to move away from the tote board please? But I digress.
Anyway, I smoked a boatload of weed that day. Right after the big race, I called a taxi and went straight to JFK airport because I had to fly to Milan Italy that night for a business conference. Got on the plane and crashed. Woke up the next day in Milan's Malpensa airport, got off the plane and collected my bags and got in line to go through customs.
While I was in line, I noticed these two big German shepherds on leashes being walked along the line in which I was waiting. All of a sudden I had a new best friend. This dog was wagging his tail like I had raw steak in my pocket. Next thing I knew, the dog's handler was wagging his finger at me and motioning for me to come with him.
It was only then I realized I reeked of THC! I was still wearing my clothing from the previous day. Next I remembered I had brought about a joints worth of weed with me and a small piece of hash (less than a gram).
I was escorted into a small windowless room and was told to take off all my clothing. It was time for the proverbial strip search. As I slowly took off my clothing I went from being scared shitless to being slightly bemused. These guys went through my clothing slowly and diligently but did I say SLOWLY? After a while I thought to myself, for the little bit of product I had on me what was the worst they would do, not let me into Italy? (Only problem was this was a business trip and I was travelling with co workers, what story would I tell them?)
This process took so long, I considered showing these guys where my stash was hidden, but ultimately deciced to let them find it on their own. And they did finally. Once they found my tiny stash, they left the room, so I got dressed and waited for the other shoe to drop.
After about 15 minutes the two inspectors returned, along with another guy on uniform (their superior I guess). This new guy motioned for me to sign this piece of paper that he put in front of me. It was written entirely in Italian (which I do not speak, read or write) and there was no one to translate for me (this entire episode not one word was spoken that I understood). Not knowing what else to do, I signed on the dotted line.
I was then given back my bags, escorted out of room and allowed to proceed on my way, no more questions asked.
It was a strange experience. I went from scared to death, to bored silly, to frustrated and ultimately to relief in the space of about an hour.
NYNY (forgot to log in)
Guest: Great tale!! Here is more musings:
More Musings- Trouble in Ganja Heaven
Things rolled along for months with no major problems. We were enjoying the good life, eating out and nighclubbing often , attending parties and generally just having a grand old time.
I was not to last , however. As the Coptics grew bolder , inviting the TV stations in Miami to come and film them blazing away on huge spliffs and challenging the Federal Government to do something about it , they got what they asked for. They were sincerely convinced that they had the legal resources and the righteous cause to enable them to declare victory over the ' bumble clot ' government. They pumped huge sums into legal fees, advertising ( see old High Times issues from the period for an example ) and in general were daring the pigs to a duel at 'high noon " ( pardon the awful pun!!).
I am leaving out a lot of story but in essence , here are the basics:
A local TV station was doing an ' expose ' of the Church and discovered that Mrs. G. was the titled owner of a plot of land out in the Evereglades , in the middle of nowhere. The strange thing about it was that there was a large and very well graded landing strip there and no roads in or out where heavy equipment could have been transported to do the work of making the strip!!
Because the Coptics had lost a major load nearby sometime earlier at a local farm , the authorities were of course trying to link the strip to them smuggling loads of ganja from Jamaica. Of course the Feds were all over them putting a case together but we were blissfully unaware of that at the time. A TV reporter came to the house and wanted to interview us but I kept him away from Mrs. G and had her make a statement through her lawyer. The papers were taken care of by Niah and she knew nothing of course.
Now the Coptics had lost some major loads..30 TONS here and 40 TONS there..But overall they managed to bring in an estimated 2-3 MILLION pounds of ganja before the downfall. No Coptic was ever charged with selling, and no Coptic was ever charged with any other drug , only ganja.
Thats a lot of weed. One day, we were suddenly in mourning as Brother Carl was decapitated when a twin engine plane carrying a small load of about 1000 pounds of sinse hit a guy wire on a radio station tower at night at about 300 knots flying under the radar , slicing through the cockpit and taking Brother Carls head off and dumping it in the pilots lap. I met the pilot, a guy named Tony Darwin , who was a crackerjack pilot of jets and prop planes and had brought in so many loads that he should have retired..but so few do when the money is so big.
He crash landed the plane not far from the landing strip ..it was an absolute miracle that he was able to keep it aloft after the damage to the plane from the guy wire , and he bailed out when it stopped and left the load and hauled ass out of there. That brought even more heat on. Brother Carl was learning to fly and left behind a wife and kids and a lot of very bereaved Brothers and associates.
Niah came to visit and as he was being driven to Star ( by me ) to wait for his ride to the airport to return to Jamaica, he was looking over his shoulder. That was the first time I ever saw him do that and I wondered what was up. He told me that the next time I saw him would be in Jamaica and that we would have a great time. I dropped him off at Star and went home.
Then one day about a week later , about 6 am , I was awakened by the sounds of a bullhorn and a loud voice saying " FEDERAL AGENTS , COME OUT OF THE HOUSE WITH YOUR HANDS UP !! I looked out the window and there were a few dozen pigs..DEA, Customs, FDCLE , IRS, Dade County, you name it.
When they saw me look out one of the made a signal and they started bashing the front door with a sledgehammer. I ran to Mrs. G. while pulling my clothes on and yelled at her " The cops are everywhere !!". She stormed to the front door, which was being slammed and brass was flying off the edges and she yanked the door open and yelled at the first pig " Why are you rasclots lickin down me door ? " The DEA thug shoved a rifle in her face and another pointed a pistol at my head. The big brave cops rounded up all of the kids and maids and the cook and his wife and sat us all down in the living room. I remember it was very close to Thanksgiving as I distincly recall thinking " Oh shit, I'll be eating Thanksgiving dinner in jail "..
They searched the house looking for Niah and the Brothers but they were not there much and they took no one away. They had warrants for people but not a search. After I realized that I was not going downtown,I got a little bolder. I asked for ID and those big heroes would not even show any ID at all!! The DEA and FBI agents refused to show any proof of their identity and when they asked me to come into the dining room, where they intended to ' interview us, I refused.
" I don't have anything to say to you that I can't say in front of these people " I told them. I went back and sat down. No one else after that would talk to them either and they started packing up and leaving. The front door was pretty much demolished and as I was surveying the damage and thinking of how to secure the house that night , one of the agents standing next to their car called me by name and said, " Hey , you want to see our ID ? Come on over here and we'll show it to you." I knew all that was going to lead to was an ass beating and false charges so I told them no thanks. The bastards had no courage and no manners and not a bit of class..just standard jackbooted fascist thugs like they are everywhere.
When things had settled down Mrs. G. called Niah and told him what had happened. When she was done she called me into her bedroom and said " Rick, don't EVER let those fuckers suprise us like that again ". " Yes, Ma'am. " I said and I proceeded to fortify the house as fast as contractors could be hired. I installed bars on all the window. I had a massive steel door, very beautiful, with lions entwined around the frame and it guaranteed could not be kicked in, beaten in or damaged in any way short of a blowtorch.
Then outside of the door I had iron railings installed around the enclosure area so first you had to get thru the gate at the wall ( the gates were all locked down tight after that ) , then get buzzed into the locked ' cage ' surrounding the door , and then thru the door itself.
No more suprise visits.
Then, Mrs. G. decided that if anyone, pigs or thieves or anyone, tried to gain entry, that they deserved to get torn to shreds and so we went shopping for a dog. We found a dog trainer in Ft Lauderdale who was an Israeli ex-commando and trained attack dogs for law enforcement and private citizens as well. We settled on a big Red Doberman named Duke , about 100 pounds and a really pretty dog. They said training would take three months and asked how bad we wanted him to be.
It turns out that you can get them to attack so so, but can be recalled easily..or more viscious and harder to recall, or to kill and be really hard to recall. Mrs. G, said that if they came over our wall, fuck 'em and they deserve to die. So we paid the $ 6500.00 and after three months we got a call that the ' handler ' needed to come and start the training that would be required for handling Duke . Guess who got nominated for that job?
I was intodeced to Duke muzzled and we spent some time just hanging around getting to know each other..and then the muzzle came off and I got more relaxed around him although I was NEVER really at ease around him..The trick is being a good enough actor to not let the dog know your feelings. He had to be treated like a solider and not a pet. A few days after our last get-to know-you session, the trainers delivered him to the estate. We had some workmen install a large fenced in area in the back yard for Duke to live in, with a slanted roof for rain.
When the head trainer put him in the enclosure he pulled me aside and gave me a warning ; " Look at this " he said , and pulled back a large bandage covering most of his right arm. Underneath were about 40 stitches. " During our final training session , I was the ' bad guy ' " said the trainer. " After it ended , I got a little too close and Duke whirled around and in mid air snapped at my arm. Be careful , this dog is a killer ." Duke was a ' dual personality attack on command ' dog and the trainer gave me a hand signal and a specific sound ,l sort of like " pffftttt " that would cause him to attack whoever was nearest when I did it. Also, Duke constantly gauged peoples ' vibes ' and if he did'nt like your vibe he would attack.
I was nervous as shit but Duke was actually a very nice dog and after a while I got more comfortable with him and took him for walks around the perimiter of the wall to show him his patrol area , and fed him and sat with him is his enclosure to get more familiar with him.
The poor Egyptian cook was scared to death of him and prayed constantly while walking from his little house to the main house. I got a real kick out of watching him and Duke delighted in running up to him and sniffing him and the poor guy just knew that he was a Duke meal someday.
Anyway,we tighened security and made sure that we were never suprised by the forces of evil again. But the cows were already out of the barn and as it turned out , we had no need to fear another raid. The Feds had charged the Brothers with a slew of offenses and they had to prepare for trial.
While out on bail, a large group of Brothers from Miami was caught red handed in Deer Island, Maine , with about 35 tons on a boat. They made bail again. Then they got busted again. Made bail again. The publicity was incredible and we could not leave the property without reporters clamoring for a story or nosy neighbors making snide remarks. We lived behind the Congressman, and across from some other big shot and the ' normal ' people thought we were outrageous , and we were!!
As the trial of the Brothers approached, Niah called ( He was to stay in Jamaica for good as Jamaica does not recognize ' conspiracy ' as an extraditable offense ) and said that I was to drive the Brothers to the Federal Courthouse in the big white Lincoln limo for trial every day with the Coptic flag flying from the antenna !! If you can find newsreel film from that era, I am sure that it will show me opening the doors and helping the spliff blazing Brothers out of the limo. Yes, thats right. They were blazing huge spliffs on their way into the Courthouse and did'nt give a damn who saw it. What were they going to do ? Charge them with possession of a few grams when they were accused of having hundreds of tONS at various times? What a crazy scene it was.
Anyway, the next part of the story is the trial and the eventual disbanding of the Miami headquarters and the jailing of the leaders. They only got from 8 years or so down to about 5. Today they would have gotten life for the weight they moved. Funny, is'nt it ? As time goes on, the ignorance and viciousness of the drug pigs and the scumbag politicians increases along with the penalties and the gentle herb people keep being victimized in greater and greater numbers and for what ? So the criminals with badges and in Washington can enrich themselves and maintain their criminal enterprise capturing and enslaving the peaceful and innocent ganja people.
This is progress? We as a people should be ashamed that we have allowed the worst elements of society to not only make our laws, but enforce them as well!! Politicians and pigs , they deserve what baby seals get in Canada but we are too concerned about " American Idol " or ....shit, don't get me started..
More of the story to come. For those who are following this THANK YOU for allowing me to remember and share. Peace!!
Still following, and still enjoying greatly. Really sorry to hear about your troubles Rick, what a shitstorm of misfortune. Like Mr Churchill said, "If you're going through hell, keep going." BTW how did your hearing go? I hope things worked out as you hoped. Sounds like you could use a month in the Dam after all you've been through.
Thanks for asking...the hearing went well. the attorney told me that he believes that we prevailed!! So I am really encouraged about that... Yes, things will get better and I definitely absolutely positively need some time in the coffeeshops to unwind!!! I spend a lot of time daydreaming about being back in the Bluebird on that couch blazing a sweet one while eating apple pie and drinking my hot chocolate..mmm.
And De Kuil is a favorite of mine although I will spend more time now in Haarlem at Nol's places. I had a great time there and am going to rent a place year round in a few years and just come to the US for visits . I really love Haarlem and the area around it and I am looking forward to retiring there as soon as my responsibilites are fulfilled here. More story soon!! Peace !!
Ah..my favorite bedtime stories. :D I wish my life could be that exciting. I'm sure the doubting dumbasses feel the same way, but they're just too insecure to admit it. :P