What a long, strange trip

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What a long, strange trip

Good job, Australia.
If you were reading the papers last week, you probably heard: The arrogant Australian Navy busted a “North Korean freighter,” the Pong Su, for allegedly exporting “heroin.”
We hope you’re satisfied, Canberra. Here North Korea is striving to lift itself out of its temporary economic rut by creating an export-based economy. The income from the feel-good heroin would have been a shot in the arm for the struggling masses!
But now the poor Pong Su crew is in custody, far from their Dear Leader. And the results are bad for everyone else, too. Think about it: Smack for Australians and summits for South Koreans will only get more expensive, and the respective junkies will just have to steal more to pay for them.
But it’s not just Australia that’s to blame. Obviously, a conspiracy is afoot. Our resident think tank, the Itaewon Wanderings Imaginatory to Shed Light on Cabalist Evildoers, is already on the case, and has concluded that everything is in fact America’s fault, though we can’t yet say exactly how. But as journalists always fantasize, it involves manipulative Jews, simple-minded Christians and the Bechtel Group.
Speaking of drugs, Jesus and money, we’re reminded of how, back in our early wanderings, Itaewon’s hostess girls used to all be tweaked up on diet pills. The pills the girls liked best were called “fringar,” which in Spanish is a verb meaning “to pluck your eyebrows with pliers.” They were readily available and cheap at corner pharmacies (the pills).
How the druggists could sell diet pills to women skinnier than microphone stands is beyond us. But we talked to a high-ranking official at the Culture Ministry, who asked that his name not be used in this article, and he said that the girls usually got packs of 20 at a time back then, which would carry them for a weekend and a half, and asked if I needed some (pills).
Back then, at legendary-but-now-defunct bars like Mug Club and Love’s Labour Lost, the hostesses used to lunge as soon as you came in the door. Their poor little hearts would be pounding out of their flimsy tops. They’d be speaking English at 75 miles an hour. And they wouldn’t even be wearing high heels ―the fringars kept them on their toes.
The fringar fad died out in the mid-’90s after the pills caught on with the kids from Seoul Foreign School and overdoses during finals week got too common. The pharmacists started watching who was making the buys, and the hostess girls all got liver transplants and went clean.
Returning to North Korea’s situation, which is a lot easier to make fun of: The Pong Su case makes for a historic twist on one of Marx’s coolest aphorisms: “Opium is the cash cow for the Great Leader of the masses.”
Speaking of cows and dictators, here’s something else that stinks. If Seoul is subsidizing Pyeongyang’s heroin production by providing free fertilizer, why don’t the censors at the Culture Ministry let us see John Travolta score some (heroin) in “Pulp Fiction”?
We’ll ask the ministry guy about that and get back to you. We’re meeting him tonight for drinks.


by Mike Ferrin

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