The higher play­ers of the drug war

Is the drug bust re­ally af­fect­ing the power set?

Red Magazine - - Editor's Note | Contents - WORDS BAMBINA OLI­VARES WISE ART NIMU MUALLAM

I was sit­ting at a dive bar in New York one night be­side my date, and a copy of The Post was in front of us. A well-known, wealthy fi­nancier, mar­ried to a reedthin, glam­orous, toast-of-high-so­ci­ety sort of woman, had just been or­dered to per­form X num­ber of hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice af­ter ad­mit­ting to a hit-an­drun of­fense in which he left an in­jured man ly­ing on the street.

He had to plead guilty, my date, who knew the wife, told me. He was high on coke, and if the case went to trial, that would all have been re­vealed. So he did what any smart busi­ness­man would do: he set­tled.

I’d like to think that drugs are the great equal­izer, in the sense that no mat­ter what you take and no mat­ter how much you pay for a gram, an ounce, or a bag, the drug abuser ends up look­ing pretty damn aw­ful af­ter a while. Wealthy or in­di­gent, your skin looks ter­ri­ble, you’re ei­ther bloated or ema­ci­ated, your eyes un­nat­u­rally di­lated or cata­ton­i­cally glazed.

But even in the world of drugs, it seems, there are class dis­tinc­tions, hence the rise not just of de­signer drugs to cater to the welloff, but of cheap but quick highs to cater to the less for­tu­nate—rugby and the ap­par­ently ubiq­ui­tous shabu. As the on­go­ing spate of ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings trag­i­cally demon­strates, even the poor need their fix; un­for­tu­nately, it is much eas­ier to shoot the stoned and de­fense­less than the in­tox­i­cated and lawyered-up.

There is a ten­dency to glam­or­ize up­mar­ket drugs and vil­ify the more pedes­trian ones. Men­tion co­caine and a so­phis­ti­cated back­drop ap­pears: glit­ter­ing par­ties, end­less cham­pagne, beau­ti­ful women, dap­per men, a yacht, a pri­vate plane, a sleek au­to­mo­bile, a pri­vate col­lec­tion of ex­quis­ite art. Even Pablo Es­co­bar—who ap­par­ently didn’t touch the very pow­der he pushed up into nos­trils ev­ery­where—traded up as soon as he could with the ob­scene prof­its from the co­caine trade, with his wife very quickly de­vel­op­ing a taste for ex­trav­a­gance and lux­ury.

Now, men­tion shabu and the im­ages that come to mind are dis­tinctly down­mar­ket, grimy, grubby, grasp­ing. The sub­lim­i­nal mes­sage? This is the drug you take when you can’t af­ford to get high in style. All you have to do is tune into the nightly news to con­firm this. Among the gunned down are lowly tri­cy­cle driv­ers and con­struc­tion work­ers and the un­em­ployed, whose uni­form is the kamiseta or worn T-shirt pocked with holes, faded, thread­bare shorts, and rub­ber slip­pers. They are just one among the masses. One among the teem­ing, in­ces­santly re­pro­duc­ing, yet chained to poverty masses. No yacht par­ties here with end­less cham­pagne. No tuxe­dos, ei­ther, or sil­ver plat­ters to serve the drugs in. Of course, this con­jec­ture is highly in­flam­ma­tory and—roll of the eyes, please—elit­ist. But it’s no less true. Even when it comes to drugs, our coun­try is still rife with class dis­tinc­tions. The thing is, a high is a high is a high. And it’s fleet­ing.

But is it re­ally worth it? Not at the risk of los­ing your looks. Be­cause I’m shal­low that way.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.