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Norland Senior High alum Bruce Perlowin has some damn good managerial skills. Back in the '70s, the teenage hippie-cum-drug lord ran what feds called "the West Coast's largest marijuana-smuggling ring," complete with a fleet of 90 ships that hauled 500,000 pounds of pot from Colombia to the San Francisco Bay Area. All of that illicit grooviness ended with his 1983 indictment, nine years behind bars, and a city full of aging flower children left to wonder, Where'd all the good weed go, maaaan?
Now out of prison, the idealistic 57-year-old marketer of androgenic herbs is planning an ambitious 40-year reunion for his Northwest Miami-Dade alma mater. The idea: Bring the class of 1969 together for a four-day "music festival extravaganza" in the Bay Area. But there's a twist. Classes from "ten years behind and ten years ahead" are invited too.
Not everybody is banging celebratory bongo drums. Ron Sachs — perhaps the other biggest name to come out of the school during that era — is accusing Perlowin of using the fest as a marketing scheme for his business. Says the former Miami Herald reporter and spokesman for Gov. Lawton Chiles: "It's a clusterfuck... The guy's a complete scam artist."
Sachs, who was his class president and editor of the school paper, wasn't friends with Perlowin, a popular slacker known for peddling nickel bags between classes. The disagreement has become a sort of figurative meet-behind-the-school brawl 40 years later. The match: preps vs. potheads.
In an email to Perlowin — copied to hundreds of alumni — Sachs writes, "Someone needs to call you on this... Your background alone gives me pause about putting you in charge of even a Christmas tree-decorating committee."
(Sachs says the reunion was canceled last week. Perlowin counters it's still on but that it has gone from "official" to "unofficial.")
Perlowin, who contends the festival profits will go to charity, scoffs at Sachs's disses. He says the notion he's not qualified to organize the event is just plain silly. "I had a worldwide empire that I ran," he quips. "Who else could do it better?"