The Pot Smuggler vs. the Political Flak
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 a 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 plotting a 40-year reunion for the Northwest Miami-Dade high school. The idea: Bring the class of 1969 together for a four-day "music festival extravaganza" in the Everglades. And 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 from 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 the editor of the school paper, wasn't friends with Perlowin, a popular slacker known for peddling nickel bags between classes. And the disagreement has become a sort of figurative behind-the-school brawl 40 years later. The match: preps vs. stoners.
In an e-mail Perlowin -- and 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."
But Perlowin, who contends the festival profits will go to charity, scoffs at the letter. 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?"
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