Journalist Casey Sanchez reviews Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade for the Santa Fe New Mexican daily paper. Author Peter Maguire will appear at Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe in December for a book signing event along the Thai Stick Book Tour.
Here’s an excerpt from Casey Sanchez’s review:
When it comes to crazy, Thai Stick delivers the goods, names the names, and sketches out stories that read like movie vignettes concocted by Woody Harrelson and Oliver Stone.
Wave jockeys hollow out their surfboards to stuff them with hash, and disgruntled U.S. soldiers use their trip home from Vietnam to fool the U.S. Army Post Office to move hundreds of pounds of product in locked crates. The smugglers fear legal authorities, but more terrifying is the prospect of running into Ralph Baxter, a Hawaiian-Japanese architecture-grad-student turned gangster. Fond of dropping acid and heading out on heists, Baxter would load up his guns and rob surfers of their stash in Hawaii, leaving them to return the mainland empty-handed.
There’s an unforgettable portrait of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a quasi-religious hippie smuggling outfit that made initiates undergo a 50-hit LSD baptism. Nonprofit by design, the members plowed their Thai-stick profits into becoming the Johnny Appleseeds of acid, distributing “orange sunshine” across the country for free. “The Brotherhood was a messianic Utopian movement in American history. I would totally contend that they were a religious organization. They took massive amounts of LSD and thought they saw God; it was probably a reflection off the van,” Maguire said. “They could have made a hundred times more money, but they chose to distribute hallucinogens instead.”
The most epic tale belongs to Mike Carter, a hulking 6-foot-3-inch abalone diver who would captain the Ancient Mariner, a 98-foot halibut schooner loaded with 7.5 tons of vibrantly lime-green Thai stick. Carter, with the approval of his career Navy father, sailed from California to the Gulf of Thailand to pick up his load. With a .45 strapped to his thigh and a supply of Molotov cocktails in the crow’s nest, he negotiated deals with Thai suppliers, eluded U.S. Air Force jets in the Philippines, and survived a deadly storm in Alaska (meandering routes were mandatory) that left him without a working engine and a cargo that precluded any SOS calls.
We are thrilled to appear in the Santa Fe New Mexican and invite you to read the full article here: Sticks & stoned: Marijuana smugglers’ tales of yore